Fewer Arrests in 2nd Registration

LOS ANGELES -- Fears of massive arrests did not materialize during the second phase of a post-Sept. 11, 2001, crackdown requiring thousands of men from mostly Arab or Muslim countries to register with U.S. immigration authorities.

Few problems were reported Friday, a marked change from last month, when about 400 people were arrested or detained after the first registration deadline.

Preliminary numbers showed that more than 124 foreigners with suspected visa violations were arrested across the country during the second registration period, said Jorge Martinez, a Justice Department spokesman.

Skakel Conviction Called Unjust

NORWALK, Conn. -- Michael Skakel's murder conviction stemmed from a poor job by his attorney and prosecutors who were influenced by celebrities such as Dominick Dunne and Mark Fuhrman, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said in a magazine article.

Kennedy, who is Skakel's cousin, made the accusations in a 15,000-word article, "A Miscarriage of Justice," in the January-February issue of the Atlantic Monthly.

Skakel, 42, is serving 20 years to life in prison. He was convicted in June of the October 1975 beating death of Martha Moxley, his neighbor in Greenwich. She was bludgeoned with a golf club when she and Skakel were 15.

Kennedy wrote that he knows Skakel well, noting they attended hundreds of alcoholism recovery meetings at which they shared their innermost thoughts. He credited Skakel with helping him get sober and said, "I am certain he is innocent."

Prosecutor Jonathan Benedict said Skakel had confessed to the crime and made incriminating statements over the years. "What sunk Michael Skakel was his own words," Benedict said.

Dunne issued a statement saying he would respond in an upcoming article in Vanity Fair. He said that he was simply an observer, and that prosecutors and the jury were responsible for Skakel's conviction.

Christmas Tree Now Toys at Zoo

NEW YORK -- The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree reappeared transformed into toys for polar bears, otters, monkeys and other creatures in the Central Park Zoo.

About half the Rockefeller Center tree was recycled at a New Jersey sawmill and turned into "enrichment toys." That's what zookeepers call the sensory-stimulating toys that keep the animals mentally and physically fit.

At the park zoo just off Fifth Avenue, Gus the bear licked peanut butter stuffed into drilled holes of the 76-foot Norway spruce. The otters foraged for small fish hidden in pieces of a hollowed-out trunk. And the Japanese snow monkeys picked at apples and oranges hanging from an arching branch of the tree.

A segment on the tree toys will air Monday on the National Geographic Channel, which helped pay for the project.

* DENVER -- Columbine High School gunman Dylan Klebold died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his left temple, according to an autopsy report sealed after the 1999 killings, the Rocky Mountain News reported. The report from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said Klebold and Eric Harris committed suicide after they killed 13 others at their high school.

* PHILADELPHIA -- Breath-alcohol detectors installed in the cars of convicted drunk drivers prevented them from driving under the influence 10,142 times in the first year of Pennsylvania's Ignition Interlock Law, according to a study. Drivers must pass a breath test before the system will allow them to start their vehicles, and they must periodically test themselves throughout their drives.

* SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- A tree-sitter protesting the planned removal of a 400-year-old oak tree to make way for a road to a planned residential development was hauled off a platform on which he had been living since Nov. 1, but said the legal fight will continue.

-- From News Services