In Fairfax, Kosovars Settle in
Lutfie Musliu, a refugee from Kosovo whose 11-year-old son was killed during the war, gave birth to a healthy baby boy in Fairfax County last month. She named him Lulzim, after her dead son.
The Musliu family was the subject of two stories in The Washington Post last summer, one chronicling their search for the dead child in Kosovo and the other describing their difficult transition to life in Fairfax County. Nearly 100 readers wrote or called with offers to help them, and volunteers visit the family almost every day to tutor their children.
Indrit Bregasi, a refugee worker with Lutheran Social Services, says the family's spirits have improved a great deal since Lutfie gave birth to the 8-pound baby on Nov. 23 at Inova Fairfax Hospital.
Lutfie's husband, Feti, has been working full time at an industrial laundry plant and also has taken a part-time job on weekends.
"Lutfie's very happy, and Feti's doing much better," Bregasi said. "He's a totally different person now, laughing more and eating more."
Their other children, Arberesha and Liridon, have started school, and Arberesha has learned so much English that she often serves as a translator for other children from Kosovo, Bregasi said.
Feti's brother, Bafti, is doing well, too. He left the laundry plant, found work with a package shipping company and now is looking for a better job.
Bafti's wife, Minivere, has been cleaning houses and recently applied for a job at a Holiday Inn. When Minivere is working, Lutfie cares for her two children.
Bregasi said more than a dozen other families from Kosovo have resettled in the Washington area, and he is busy trying to find them housing, jobs, furniture--everything needed to start a new life in the United States.
-- Philip P. Pan
Out of Prison, Not Bitter
Last Christmas, Anthony Gray sat in prison, a 31-year-old serving two life sentences after being convicted of raping and murdering a woman from Southern Maryland.
Gray had been in prison for more than seven years before he was released in February, having been cleared of the crime. This Christmas found Gray working to rebuild his life.
"He has obtained a good job, he has a fiancee, and he seems to have adjusted very well," said Joel Katz, Gray's attorney. "He still wakes up at night with bad dreams of still being in jail."
Gray was convicted of the 1991 stabbing death of Linda Mae Pellicano. But then another man's DNA was discovered to have matched evidence found on the body of Pellicano, 38.
Even after that man was convicted of killing Pellicano, Gray remained in prison for nearly a year as the legal process took its course. The case was reopened after Calvert County State's Attorney Robert Riddle became convinced in 1992 that Pellicano's killer might still be at large.
Gray had confessed to the crime because he was confused and believed it was the only way he could escape the death penalty, his lawyer and other supporters have said.
Katz, an Annapolis lawyer, plans to ask state officials early next year to compensate Gray for being wrongly imprisoned.
"Quite frankly, I think somewhere in the area of $7 to 8 million might adequately compensate him," Katz said. "They've taken his youth away."
Gray hasn't shown any bitterness about his years in prison, his attorney said.
"He's very thankful," Katz said, "that justice has prevailed."
-- Raymond McCaffrey
Teens Win Stock Contest
A team of students at Montgomery County's Walt Whitman High School finished first in a national stock market simulation game in which more than 3,500 student teams from the United States and Canada participated.
Starting with a hypothetical $100,000 at the beginning of October, the Whitman students put together a virtual portfolio that increased in value to $445,739 during the fall semester, posting a gain of 345 percent at the end of the stock market tournament last week.
The school's 15-member stock club, which made up the team, made 156 simulated trades during the competition, which was sponsored by CNBC. About halfway through, it abandoned a conservative buy-and-hold strategy in favor of a more aggressive approach in which it made weekly--and sometimes daily--changes in its positions.
"We started out by picking stocks for the long term," said Andrew Liebeskind, a junior who was the portfolio co-manager. "We switched over to a short-term strategy, and that's when things took off."
The other portfolio co-manager, Oliver Tannous, said, "We decided it would be better to get riskier stocks."
Their big break came on the day before Thanksgiving, when they bought stock in Ariel Corp., a New Jersey-based maker of modem cards for Internet access providers, at $6.69 a share. Two days later, they sold at $36.75 a share. That single trade boosted their portfolio's total return from 37 percent to 195 percent at the time.
Yet they knew when to step back: Two weeks before the end of the tournament, when they were already comfortably in the lead, they sold all their high-flying stocks in favor of the security of cash.
The first-place prize is 200 shares of stock in General Electric Co.--currently valued at more than $31,000--that will be presented to the school.
-- Manuel Perez-Rivas