Black Farmers End

Loan Bias Protest in La.

A group of black farmers ended a four-day takeover of a small federal farm building in northeast Louisiana yesterday and set their sights on more protests to demand an end to discrimination.

The Black Farmers and Agriculturalist Association accuses local officials of being racially biased in handing out federal loans, even as the U.S. Department of Agriculture is paying more than $600 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit by black farmers.

About 60 farmers peacefully took over the Oak Grove USDA office on Monday and held it through Thanksgiving night. The group, with about 2,000 members of mostly southern farmers, held similar protests on July 1 in Brownsville, Tenn., and on Sept. 9 in Star City, Ark.

Top federal agriculture officials agreed to meet with the group on Dec. 14 to discuss ways to channel more loans to black farmers.

Gunman Kills 2 People

At Thanksgiving Party

TACOMA, Wash. -- A gunman fired through a window into a Thanksgiving party, killing a woman and a 5-year-old boy and injuring two others.

The gunman stood on the front lawn and opened fire at close range into a large crowd inside the home, neighbors said. Neighbors said they heard about eight gunshots in rapid succession. The man fled.

At least three generations of one family lived in the home, neighbors said.

* MIAMI -- More people have fallen sick with stomach problems on a Disney Cruise Line ship that is being pulled out of service for a week for a complete disinfecting, a company official said. By noon yesterday, 164 passengers and 23 crew members out of a total of 3,500 people on board the Disney Magic had reported being ill with stomach problems during a cruise through the Caribbean, said Angela Bliss, a company spokeswoman. The company had reported that 140 passengers and 20 crew members had become ill on the voyage as of Thursday.

* ORLANDO -- A blast of cold, dry air swept into Florida, bringing temperatures as low as 25 degrees into the Panhandle cities of Tallahassee and Perry. "It is kind of unusual to see it that cold in late November," said Greg Mollere, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tallahassee. Orlando hit 41 degrees overnight, about 15 degrees below normal, and temperatures were expected to drop further by the weekend.

* DEDHAM, Mass. -- A dominatrix pleaded not guilty to charges that she chopped up a client after he died of an apparent heart attack during a bondage session and then dumped the body parts in a trash bin, court officials in Massachusetts said. Barbara Asher was indicted by a grand jury in Norfolk County, Mass., on charges of manslaughter and unlawful disposition of a body in the disappearance of New Hampshire resident Michael Lord. She was released on her personal recognizance.

* NEW YORK -- The mother of a former student at the Boys Choir of Harlem has filed a $5 million lawsuit against the school, the city Board of Education and the counselor convicted of sexually abusing her son. Alzada Harris alleges in papers filed on Wednesday that officials at the academy knew that the counselor, Frank Jones, had an improper relationship with her teenage son and at least one other student but did nothing. Calls to the Board of Education, principal John W. King and Jones's lawyer were not immediately returned.

-- From News Services