USA TODAY International Edition 2010.12.13


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USA TODAY International Edition 2010.12.13

  1. 1. c INTERNATIONAL EDITION Sharing a Heisman winner, 1B nomadic spirit mJohnny Depp, Angelina Jolie and their wanderlust. Interviews, 5B mReview of ‘The By Peter Mountain, Sony Pictures Tourist,’ at The Tourist: Traveler, mysterious woman. NO. 1 IN THE USA Monster storm blasts Midwest mUp to 2 feet of snow, blizzard conditions paralyzes travel, 3A By Craig Ruttle, AP mVikings-Giants game moved to By Ann Heisenfelt, APRunaway choice: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton reacts during a Collapsed roof: Snow falls into the field in the Metrodome inNew York news conference after winning the Heisman Trophy award. Detroit after Metrodome collapse, 1B Minneapolis Sunday. As healthMonday, December 13, 2010Newslinen News n Money n Sports n Life Ambassador costs rise, pat-down flap mIndia complains about Mississippi air- CEO perks By Mick Bullock, AP port pat-down of Am- bassador Meera Shan- kar, left. 3A bolstered Execs keep benefits as workers’ dwindle By Gary Strauss USA TODAY Though millions of workers face rising health in- surance costs and dwindling benefits in 2011, many By Martin E. Klimek for USA TODAY CEOs will retain employer-paid medical plans and John Madden: “What we try to do is make the video game look like the real game,” he says of the Mad- health benefits worth thousands of dollars. den NFL series. Since 1989, more than 85 million copies have been sold. Hundreds of top corporate managers get medical By Alex Brandon, AP benefits and supplemental coverage far beyond‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal BOOM! Madden still what’s offered to rank-and-file employees. Benefits include “executive” physicals and reimbursementsmRepublicans, lead by Sen. John for out-of-pocket costs, deductibles and co-pay- ments, according to corporate filings.McCain, block repeal of ‘don’t ask,don’t tell’ law that prohibits gaysfrom serving in the military. 4A calls the plays “The great hypocrisy is this is going to the people best able to pay for this stuff,” says Nell Minow of the Corporate Library. “Executives should pay for this on their own or be covered by the same plan as More shop Though retired, he’s an not Madden the coach or even the announcer. It’s Madden the video game,” says Peter Moore, everyone else at the company.” Some companies are eliminating gold-plated and save NFL giant in video games who as president of EA Sports, oversees the de- velopment of sports games published by parent medical benefits to senior managers, a move that’s at the discretion of corporate directors. And the with apps By Mike Snider company Electronic Arts. “Madden, I think, ac- tually likes the fact that there’s that relevancy to new health care law could make the plans more costly in the future. But, for now, most company mRetailers USA TODAY a younger demographic.” plans — covering both rank-and-file employees as scramble to cater Since retiring, Madden, 74, has spent more well as executives receiving supplemental benefits PLEASANTON, Calif. — The last time most time brainstorming with the designers who — are grandfathered at least until 2014. to growing number football fans saw John Madden was nearly two create the most popular versions of the game, Lawyer Scott Sims, a health care specialist with of smartphone years ago when he retired from those for the Microsoft Xbox 360 corporate consultant Aon Hewitt, estimates up to shoppers, 5A, 6A eBay broadcasting NBC Sunday Night Football and retreated to his home Cover story and Sony PlayStation 3. A new edi- tion is released annually before the 50% of publicly held companies offer senior man- agers enhanced health care plans. here near San Francisco. No longer National Football League’s exhibi- Polaris Industries’ “Exec-U-Care” plan providesThree cops guilty in Katrina shooting crisscrossing the country in his Watch John tion season begins. “He is more fo- five senior execs up to $50,000 a year for health Madden Cruiser — his dislike of air Madden at cused on the game than ever,” says coverage, the snowmobile and motorcycle market- Two other New Orleans police officers acquitted travel is legendary — he lives and work with his Moore. er says in Securities and Exchange Commission fil-in man’s death in ’05 and subsequent coverup. 3A. conducts business within this 5- development team. Last Sunday, Madden huddled ings. Polaris also covers yearly Mayo Clinic exams Video at mile circle of Northern California. for more than six hours with the for CEO Scott Wine, other executives and spouses.mMoney: WikiLeaks protest use botnets But the Hall of Fame coach remains a player team of game designers working on Madden “Staying healthy is part of our culture,” spokes- An effort by supporters of WikiLeaks to take when it comes to Madden NFL, especially since NFL 12, next season’s version. It was the second woman Marlys Knutson says.down Internet retailing sites at the height of Christ- he has more time to oversee the billion-dollar annual daylong football fest with Madden and Kohls provides senior execs with up to $50,000mas shopping got a boost from hackers, 5A video game series. There’s a generation that the creative team; additional meetings and in yearly supplemental health pay, a perk needed likely only knows him as that video-game guy. for “a competitive total rewards package that sup-mSports: AL baseball rivals spend wildly “You say ‘Madden’ to a 25-year-old, and it’s Please see COVER STORY page 2A u ports retention of key talent,” the retailer says in its Yankees, Red Sox each have committed $1.2B in latest proxy statement.future salary agreements in bid to rule AL East. 1B. Cereal marketer Ralcorp gives execs up tomLife: Retirees flock to Mexican town San Miguel offers cheaper cost of living, Western High gas prices: ’Tis not the season $10,000 “per illness” for expenses not covered by its standard employee health plan. Typically, the health care costs are a small part oftrappings for boomers seeking slower pace. Story at overall compensation and less than, say, Prices at the pump on Gas prices climb use of the corporate jet. Wine’s medical bills cost Polaris $14,000 last year, while his overall compen-USA TODAY Snapshots® S DA track to hit $3 a gallon The national average price for regular gasoline is sation was $1.9 million. Del Monte CEO Richard Wolford got $22,680 for medical bills. Total com- at its highest point in more than two years. By Gary Strauss (Price per gallon) pensation: $8.9 million. Value of Nobel Prizes e USA TODAY “These are just a small piece of a larger trend. Ul- $3.50 $3.15 timately, they will go the way of the buffalo,” says hasn’t changed muchc Motorists, brace yourselves for a lump of coal this $3.00 Alden Bianchi, head of the executive compensation Adjusted for inflation and cost of living va or o of living, alue holiday season: higher-priced gasoline. $2.50 practice at law firm Mintz Levin. of original Nobel Prizes vs. today: origin l Nobel Prizes g today oday: Nationwide, a gallon of regular unleaded gas av- From 2003 to 2009, the average cost of employ- $2.00 $2.96 Note: Pri Note: Prizes awarded in izes aw d d in awa ded wa 2010 2010 eraged $2.975 on Thursday and more than $3 a gal- er-sponsored family health care premiums rose Swedi h krona; ollar Swedish krona dollar S d n ll value value on Nov. 22 v 22 22. $1.5 million 1 illi illion lon in 20 states. That’s up nearly 10 cents the past $1.50 41%, according to the Commonwealth Fund, which 1901 1901 week and 34 cents higher than December 2009, $1.00 promotes health care reform. AAA spokesman Troy Green says. Some firms are cutting back. MetLife and Seagate $1. $1.1 illion $1.1 million lion li $0.50 Benchmark crude oil opens today at $88.37 a Technology have cut executive physicals. Burger barrel. If crude crosses $90 for the first time since 0 King stopped providing senior execs and depen- 2008 and continues to rise, as many industry ex- 10/13/08 12/6/10 dents up to $100,000 a year for out-of-pocket costs. Source: Energy Information Administration perts forecast, the average price of regular unleaded But the fast food chain boosted their allowance for could hit $3.15 or higher by year’s end. By Veronica Salazar, USA TODAY discretionary perks by 25%. Gasoline is already at or near that in California, “Even if they do away with these programs, com- Connecticut, Maine, New York, Rhode Island and $1 increase in crude oil, gas prices rise about 2.5 panies will find a way to make up the costs,” says Washington. cents per gallon. Eleanor Bloxham of the Value Alliance. “It’s the psy- By Anne R. Carey and Karl Gelles, USA TODAY Slumping demand usually pushes gas prices low- Near term, few energy analysts expect crude oil chology of taking care of those at the top.” er from autumn to late February. However, the to approach the $147 a barrel record set in July strengthening global economy, weaker dollar, rising 2008, pushing U.S. prices above $4 a gallon. overall commodity prices and surging energy de- But even $3 a gallon gas will pinch some consum- International special edition mand overseas will likely continue propelling ers. “If they have to pay more for gas, they’ll have This is a special edition of USA TODAY designed prices into spring. less to spend on other things,’’ Green says. and edited for readers around the world. “A move through $90 a barrel seems very likely, The higher gas prices could be partially mitigated Additional content and late-breaking news and and then we could quickly test $100,’’ says Telvent by the tax deal, including a temporary cut in payroll sports scores can always be found at DTN senior energy analyst Darin Newsom. “You taxes, agreed to by President Obama and GOP law- could easily see a 15- to 20-cent rise (in gas prices) makers. “To offset the impact of the tax package, ¡¿H¢ApB-740214¿ (k)a the next three weeks, if not sooner.” you’d have to see a $60 rise in crude oil prices,’’ Consumers are unlikely to get a break anytime says economist Brian Bethune of IHS Global Insight. soon. “I don’t see anything that’s going to turn this “Some people are going to get zapped a bit, but it By Dave Martin, AP puppy around and send it south,’’ says Cameron depends on where you live,’’ Bethune says. “In rural Hanover industry analyst Peter Beutel. “For the areas where people drive trucks and have long next two to 12 weeks, the forecast is higher prices.” ways to go, higher gas prices tend to bite. In urban Snowbirds help Gulf recovery nience store chains. National Association of Conve- the average commuter is probably driving a much m Winter tourism is ‘vital’ after ©COPYRIGHT 2010 USA TODAY About 70% of the nation’s gas is sold at conve- areas, more people use public transportation and a division of Gannett Co., Inc. nience Stores spokesman Jeff Lenard says for every more fuel-efficient car.” disastrous summer of oil spill, 3A
  2. 2. 2A · MONDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2010 · USA TODAY‘Madden NFL’ video game series has earned billionsContinued from 1A says. “I don’t know that you have to do that. It’s a one-point game.”teleconferences are conducted throughout the year. Click. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron USA TODAY was invited to eavesdrop, and Mad- Rodgers tosses a shovel pass. “That’s an old play,”den was as sharp as he ever was in the booth, riffing Madden says, “founded by Lee Grosscup at the Uni-rapid-fire on the play-by-play action, and delivering versity of Utah. It resurfaces regularly. It can’t be in-pointed and blunt pronouncements. “What we try tercepted, and if the guy drops it, it’s an incompleteto do is make the video game look like the real pass, not a fumble.”game,” Madden says. “Discussing while watching Click. Cincinnati Bengal Carson Palmer com-the real NFL game live, I think, is a real benefit.” mands the screen. “He’s having a weird thing,” What seems like small talk has big repercussions Madden says. “He used to be an elite quarterback.”for EA. Since John Madden Football made its debut He continues, “I don’t see how people get onin 1989, more than 85 million copies have sold, Brett Favre. He has started for 20 years. Some ofearning $3 billion-plus. Renamed Madden NFL in these guys can’t get through a practice.”1994 when EA Sports licensed NFL team names, Click. A referee appears on screen. “This guy isMadden is the top-selling sports video game fran- the worst referee in football,” Madden says. “I guar-chise and second overall only to Nintendo’s Mario antee you he will blow two calls if you watch.”games, says Anita Frazier, analyst with market White interjects, “Do you think they might gotracking firm The NPD Group. back to a developmental league?” Madden “is kind of the perfect “They have to,” Madden says.Cover video game,” says industry analyst Michael Pachter at Wedbush Securi- Keeping it realstory ties. It’s always profitable, “and no- body hates Madden. There is no Tali- When EA approached Madden in 1986 about a ban in it. There is no excessive computer game, he expected the result to be aviolence in it. The Supreme Court is not going to teaching program. He insisted on having 11 playershave to hear a case about Madden. It is . . . one of By Martin E. Klimek for USA TODAY per team on screen. “I didn’t want to be a part of itthe few games parents play with their children. You Viewer’s choice: John Madden watches games with his development team at his Goal Line Productions unless it was going to be real, you know, real foot-can be competitive without being destructive.” facility in Pleasanton, Calif. Team members include Larry Richart, center, and Anthony White, right. ball, where people would really get something out Pachter says 5 million to 6 million games are sold of it,” he says. “That was really our mission state-annually, and this year, EA Sports is releasing ver-sions on the Apple iPhone and iPad, as well as a The Madden franchise ’92 allows players to be injured. u1992: John Madden Football ers’ faces. u2002: Madden NFL 2003 of- ment and really how we have gone forward.” He’s indirectly taught generations of fans, NFLMadden Superstars game on Facebook. “To say I uJan. 9, 1977: John Madden’s ’93 introduces no-huddle offense fers online gaming. Madden players and coaches about the game. “Every playerknew that someday we were going to be on tele- Oakland Raiders beat Minnesota and clock stoppages in games. leaves Fox to join Al Michaels on plays it,” Moore says. “There is a crop of coaches,phones? Heck, I didn’t know everybody was going 32-14 in the Super Bowl. u1993: The game’s latest ver- ABC’s Monday Night Football. the Sean Paytons of the world, who will say, ‘Yeah, Ito have a telephone. We just kind of grew with the u1978: Madden, 42, retires sion is named Madden NFL ’94. It u2006: Madden and Mi- learned to love football through Madden.’ ”technology,” Madden says. after 10 seasons as the Raiders’ has real team names and logos. chaels move to NBC for Sunday The game has been profitable for Madden, too. coach with a record of 112-39-7. u1994: Madden NFL ’95 adds night games. Madden is inducted EA would not comment on his compensation, butIdeas at the ready u1979: He joins CBS. real players’ names. Madden and into the Hall of Fame. Pachter estimates that EA pays Madden $2 million u1981: Madden is teamed Summerall move to Fox Sports u2009: Madden retires. to $2.5 million annually, nowhere near his estimat- Madden has some topics in mind when the nine- with Pat Summerall on CBS’ lead to broadcast NFC games. u2010: Madden NFL 11 is ed $9.5 million a year Sunday Night Football pack-man team from EA Sports arrive Sunday at Goal football broadcasting team. u1998: Madden NFL ’99 al- available for Apple iPhones and age but much more than his pay as an NFL coach.Line Productions, a 7,000-square-foot soundstage u1989: EA creates John Mad- lows gamers to run an entire or- iPads. A Madden NFL Superstars As time runs out on the meeting, game designersand studio run by Madden’s son, Joe. There, Mad- den football game for Apple II, ganization. Facebook game is launched. note some ideas they will explore as they try toden films commercials, produces a twice-weekly Commodore 64 and DOS. u2000: Madden NFL 2001 on transform Madden’s insights into game features:radio show for Sirius Satellite Radio, and does a dai- u1991: John Madden Football PlayStation 2 simulates real play- Source: USA TODAY research uBetter integration of screen radio segment with San Francisco’s KCBS. uReplays that more clearly show how the de- Dressed in a blue windbreaker, khaki pants and Madden also gives you the full football experi- “On here are all the NFL coaches films through fense reacted in the previous shoes, Madden sets aside coffee for in- ence. For starters, he knows how to tailgate. He week 12,” he says, queuing up an interception from uAn option that would let players feel more liketroductions. Quickly, the talk turns to football and points the developers to a breakfast buffet that in- the previous week’s game between the Indianapo- Manning by calling two consecutive plays in thethe recent spate of violent hits on the field that have cludes an omelet chef handing off custom orders. lis Colts and San Diego Chargers. Earlier, Madden huddle or at the line of scrimmage.led to a number of concussions and other injuries. Also on the menu: pancakes, biscuits and sausage had commented that TV does not do “a good “If there’s three or four nuggets and gems that “These collisions are caused by these spread of- gravy, hash browns, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, enough job” of showing the defense. He’s still un- are integrated into next year’s game that come outfenses” that stretch the field with four or five wide juice, coffee and Bloody Marys. (When lunch time sure what type the Chargers are using when (safety of (the meeting), then John is paying for himself 10receivers, he says. By the time players collide, “they rolls around, the smorgasbord switches to barbe- Eric) Weddle picks off a Peyton Manning pass times over,” Moore says.have so much speed.” He speculates with EA Sports cued beef, chicken tacos and chili verde.) meant for Reggie Wayne. “(Weddle) was lurking,”art director Mike Young whether NFL stadiums hadroom to slightly widen the field, and if that might Plates filled, everyone takes seats at tavern-style tables and gawks at the video display at the other Madden says. “We used to call that ‘the lurk.’ ” Meanwhile, all eight NFL games have begun, and Corrections & Clarificationsraise or lower the number of collisions. end of the studio: 10 HDTVs, including a 120-foot a video director constantly switches the action on USA TODAY is committed to accuracy. To reach us, contact Standards Editor Brent Jones at 1-800-872-7073 or e-mail Please This give-and-take between Madden and the projection screen surrounded by nine additional the projection screen to the biggest play of the mo- indicate whether you’re responding to content online or in the newspaper.creative team is essential to revising the video 63-inch flat-panel displays, each with different NFL ment. The result: a jazzy call-and-response thatgame to keep up with the real NFL game. From broadcast feeds. Audio from the projection screen flows between Madden and the developers. Mad- The last name of Joseph diGenova, a Washington,Madden, “we get an unbelievable amount of ex- booms through an array of loudspeakers. “It’s the den delivers the kind of commentary heard in his D.C., lawyer and former U.S. attorney, was mis-pertise and knowledge on all things football,” says ultimate sports bar,” says EJ Heiser, who runs two 30 years of broadcasting. For instance, when the big spelled in Thursday’s 1A cover story.executive producer Phil Frazier, who like most of production companies with Joe Madden. screen has a commercial instead of football, a frus-the designers flew in from Orlando. (The game is After kickoff, Madden settles into a cozy leather trated Madden shouts, “Gimme anything!” A Newsline item on 1A Thursday misstated thedeveloped at EA Sports’ EA Tiburon studio in Mait- chair surrounded by the developers. Sitting next to Click. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew recommended age range for flu shots. U.S. Healthland, Fla.) “When you are sitting with the coach, Madden, assistant designer Anthony White flips Brees throws a bomb to wide receiver Robert Mea- Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recommends vaccina-that makes it that much more real.” open a laptop connected to a hard drive. chem for a touchdown. “Caught them in a blitz,” he tion for everyone 6 months and older. THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN A VOLVO. 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  3. 3. USA TODAY · MONDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2010 · 3A Nation Nationline Blizzard dumps 2 feet of snow on MidwestSmart on verdict: The Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS — The inflatable roof in the afternoon because temper- atures were falling and at a certain point, road salt would no longer be ef-‘Justice can be served’ of the Minnesota Vikings’ stadium col- lapsed Sunday and roads were closed fective. “We’re really urging everyone to After more than eight years of waiting, Elizabeth throughout the upper Midwest as a stay off the roads today and stay hun-Smart has finally heard the word she’s been waiting storm that dumped nearly 2 feet of kered down at home,” Pritchard said.for: guilty. A federal jury in Salt Lake City Friday snow in some areas continued to The storm had already dropped upconvicted street preacher Brian David Mitchell of crawl across the region. to 18 inches of snow in parts of north-snatching a then-14-year-old Smart from her bed in A blizzard warning was in effect for ern and central Wisconsin, he said,June 2002 at knifepoint in the dead of night and parts of eastern Iowa, southeastern and light snow continued Sundayforcing sex on her while he held her captive for nine Wisconsin, northwestern Illinois, and morning.months. For Smart, 23, the decision closes the door northern Michigan, according to the Some 420 air travelers spent theon one horrific chapter of her young life and opens National Weather Service. Surround- night in Grand Forks, N.D., after fouranother. She’ll soon leave Utah for France to com- ing areas including Chicago were un- planes were diverted from Minneapo-plete a Mormon church mission, then plans to finish der winter storm warnings. lis, where the storm had closed all buta music degree at Brigham Young University. The Metrodome’s Teflon roof col- one of that airport’s runways. After a By Kelly Humphrey, AP Mitchell, 57, could spend the final chapter of his lapsed after Minneapolis got more traction truck broke down on the onelife in a federal prison. He’ll be held in the Salt Lake than 17 inches of snow. No injuries Winter blast: Gusting winds blew snow across the Minnesota Veterans Cem- operational runway, planes circled theCounty Jail until his May 25 sentencing, which were reported. The snowfall that end- etery on Saturday at Camp Ripley, Minn. where 1,500 wreaths had just been airport until they had to head to otherSmart’s father noted Friday is also National Missing ed Saturday night was one of the five placed as a part of Wreaths Across America, a campaign to honor veterans. regional airports for fuel.Children’s Day. Defense attorneys aren’t yet certain biggest in Twin Cities history, National Some passengers stayed at the air-whether they will file an appeal for a man who Weather Service meteorologist James gan work at 4 a.m. Sunday but were more than big drifts,” Arndt said. port, others got hotel rooms.loudly sang hymns and Christmas carols in court McQuirter said. Some surrounding struggling with drifts as high as 5 feet, Although roads were open in Wis- “It was chaotic, it was crazy com-and never spoke to anyone, including his lawyers. communities got more than 21 inches Minnesota Department of Transporta- consin, state officials urged drivers to pletely. We were packed like sardines Mitchell’s federal public defender, Robert Steele of snow, he said. tion spokeswoman Rebecca Arndt stay home because blowing snow se- and we were shocked,” passengersaid he’ll now advocate for an appropriate prison Interstate 90 from Albert Lea to the said. Plow drivers also were ham- verely limited visibility. Tod Pritchard, Leah Edmondson told WDAZ.placement for Mitchell, preferably a federal prison South Dakota border and state high- pered by a large number of stalled a spokesman for Wisconsin Emergen-hospital. Steele maintains that Mitchell is mentally ways remained closed. Plows that had cars. cy Management, said travel was ex- uVikings-Giants game moved toill and noted that he also suffered a seizure in court been pulled off the roads Saturday be- “Stalled vehicles slow them up pected to become even more difficult Detroit, 1Bduring the trial. The decision ultimately rests withthe U.S. Bureau of Prisons. On Friday, Smart smiled as the verdict was read,while a bedraggled, bearded Mitchell sat at the de-fense table, singing hymns with his hands before hischest, as if in prayer. “I hope that not only is this anexample that justice can be served in America, butthat it is possible to move on after something ter-rible has happened” Smart said, after she walkedwith her mother through a crush of media. By Denis Poroy, APFire stoked by explosivesControlled burn: A ranch-style house packedwith bombmaking material burns Thursday in Es-condido, Calif., as firefighters aim to neutralize the Photos by Dave Martin, APvolatile chemicals. Crews built a 16-foot firewall toprotect the closest home a dozen feet away. Flocks of “snowbirds” fly south: A couple walk down the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala., on Nov. 8. Winter may make up for a tough summer in the region. Snowbirds help Gulf recoveryGuilty verdict in post-Katrina death In a case that could have widespread repercus-sions on how law enforcement agents deal with di-sasters, three former and current New Orleans po-lice officers were found guilty Thursday in theshooting death of a civilian and subsequent coverupduring the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.Two other officers, one no longer on the force, were By Marty Roney USA TODAY Winter tourism is ‘vital’ after for the state’s office of tourism. The state doesn’t have a beach tourism segment like Alabama or northwestacquitted. The jury of seven women and five menconvicted former officer David Warren of man- GULF SHORES, Ala. — Tourism offi- cials in the areas of the Gulf Coast hit disastrous summer of oil spill Florida, she says. Louisiana has marsh and wetlandsslaughter in the shooting death of 31-year-old Hen- hardest by spring’s BP Deepwater Ho- mostly along the coast, not the widery Glover outside a strip mall on Sept. 2, 2005. rizon oil spill say winter tourism ap- sandy beaches of Alabama, Mississip- The jury also convicted Officer Gregory McRae of pears to be normal or better as snow- pi and the Panhandle.burning Glover’s body in a car. Lt. Dwayne Scheu- birds flock to the region in numbersermann was acquitted of that charge. Lt. Travis approaching those of previous years. Northerners appearMcCabe was convicted of writing a false report on The return of those mostly olderthe shooting. Former lieutenant Robert Italiano was visitors from northern climates seek- Mary Lou McCann of Toronto is acleared of that charge. ing warmer locales is “vital” to a re- member of the board of directors of During the trial, prosecutors said Warren shot gion that banks on tourism dollars and Noah’s Ark at Panama City Beach, Fla.Glover four days after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. was battered in the summer by dwin- The group catering to snowbirds is af-When two friends and a passerby took a bleeding dling numbers of visitors, says Linda filiated with the United MethodistGlover to a makeshift police compound for help, Whitlock of the Gulf Coast Area Church. She traveled to the coast inMcRae and Scheuermann handcuffed and beat the Chamber of Commerce in Baldwin late October and plans to stay untilfriends, prosecutors said. County, Ala. April 1. McRae later drove away the car with Glover in The snowbird season heats up on “We are starting to see membersthe back seat and torched it near a river levee, they the Alabama and Florida Panhandle from Alberta, the east coast of Canadasaid. Glover’s scorched body was later found in the coasts in late December and early Jan- and Wisconsin making the trip, so theback of the car. — Rick Jervis uary, says Karen Harrell, who pub- Northerners are beginning to appear,” lishes Snowbirds Gulf Coast, a winter she says.U.S. death rate drops to record low visitor magazine. Betty and Marv Hastings of Ankeny, The U.S. death rate dropped slightly to an all-time “The season appears to be on track Beaches cleaned: Dick MacDonald visits Orange Beach, Ala., on Nov. 9. Iowa, plan to travel to Orange Beach,low in 2008, according to new government data re- to equal or even be better than last Ala., this year just as they have sinceleased Thursday. After accounting for the aging season,” she says. The snowbirds, she 2009, winter visitors generated an “Few actually swim in the Gulf of 2003.population, the number of deaths per 100,000 says, “closely followed news of the oil economic impact of about $29 mil- Mexico in winter, but they do like They direct the Iowa SnowbirdsAmericans fell from 760.2 in 2007 to 758.7 in 2008. spill” through news media and lion, he says. walking on the beach,” she says, “and Club, which has 175 to 200 members.Death rates fell significantly for six of the 15 leading friends. “Some are true part-time res- “We are predicting a slight increase for the most part, the beach cleanup “We’re looking forward to return-causes but rose significantly for six others. idents and spend up to six months of visitors this winter,” Bellinger says. efforts have been successful.” ing,” Betty Hastings says. “It’s a great Stroke dropped from third place — a spot it had here,” Harrell says. “That’s based on reservations at our Gulf Shores saw about a 33% de- area. We followed the news of the oilheld for 50 years — to fourth among the leading kill- Parts of Alabama, Louisiana and the condominiums and hotels.” cline in tourism-related income in the spill, of course. We’ve had friends goers of Americans, according to a report from the Florida Panhandle were among some Tourism also is likely to increase this summer because of the oil disaster, down on shorter trips, and they tell usNational Center for Health Statistics, part of the of the more heavily affected areas af- winter in Panama City Beach, a pop- Mayor Robert Craft says. everything is cleaned up and back toCenters for Disease Control and Prevention. ter the BP oil spill, says Ed Levine, a ular snowbird destination on the Flor- “This past summer was expected to normal.”“Chronic lower respiratory diseases,” which include scientific support coordinator for the ida Panhandle, says Dan Rowe, presi- be the beginning of the good times,” Aside from spending money, snow-asthma and emphysema, moved up to third. National Oceanic and Atmospheric dent and CEO of the Panama City he says. “Everything pointed to peo- birds will become ambassadors for — Rita Rubin Administration (NOAA). Beach Convention and Visitors Bu- ple wanting to travel again after the the region when they return home, reau. tough economic conditions of 2008 says Craft, the Gulf Shores mayor.Utility cleared in N.H. woman’s death Some areas expect increases “I do not believe that the BP oil spill and 2009. Our first-quarter totals for “It’s important that our winter visi- Virginia Tech could face fines and a loss of student will have a negative effect on our win- this year were up about 12% over tors find clean, safe beaches,” he says.aid for failing to quickly warn its campus about a Higher-than-average snowbird ter visitation,” he says. The tar balls 2009. . . . We were going into the “We’ve had a few of our businesses gogunman on the loose in the hours after two people numbers are expected in northwest that washed onshore after the spill spring and summer season with a under, but most of our stalwarts re-were killed and before the shooting rampage left 30 Florida, says Mark Bellinger, president have been cleaned up and people are great deal of momentum. Then the main.”more people dead on April 16, 2007, the Depart- and CEO of The Emerald Coast Con- returning to the beach, Rowe says. spill happened.”ment of Education said Thursday. vention and Visitors Bureau. The bu- Snowbirds, or “winter guests,” are Snowbirds are less of a tourism fac- Roney reports for the Montgomery In a letter to Virginia Tech President Charles Steg- reau covers the areas of Destin, Fort looking to get away from the snow tor in Louisiana, says Melody Alijani, (Ala.), the department said the school violated the Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island. In and ice, Harrell says. director of research and development Contributing: Marisa Kendall.Jeanne Clery Act, a federal law requiring schools togive “timely warnings” about safety threats on Ambassador singled out for pat-downcampus. The department will decide whether sanc-tions are needed. Punishments could include finesor revoking eligibility for federal student aid. Morethan a third of Tech students receive such aid. Virginia Tech disputes the findings and will ap-peal. School administrators “acted appropriately” India diplomat’s screening sparks call for apology India’s Washington Em- bassy, said the State De- which hosted the visit. Witnesses said Shankarbased on the information they had at the time, uni- By Elizabeth Crisp Saturday by a Transportation Security partment had “reached asked for a private screen-versity spokesman Larry Hincker said. USA TODAY Administration screener at Jackson- out to the ambassador and ing, but her search was Virginia Tech e-mailed a warning at 9:26 a.m. Evers International Airport. has regretted what hap- conducted in a clear box. JACKSON, Miss. — Secretary ofApril 16, two hours and two minutes after police ar- Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krish- pened.” “The way they pat them State Hillary Rodham Clinton ex-rived at a dorm where two students had been shot. na called the pat-down “unaccept- Witnesses told the Jack- down — it was so humili- pressed concern Thursday over the — Donna Leinwand able” and said his nation would com- son (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger ating,” said Tan Tsai, a re- pat-down of India’s sari-clad ambas- plain to the U.S. government. This is that Shankar was singled search associate at MSUBy Melanie Eversley with staff and wire reports sador to the U.S. at the airport here the second time the ambassador had out of a group flying out of who was with Shankar. AP over the weekend, an incident that been singled out for a pat-down in the the airport for a thorough “Anybody who passed by Please recycle has prompted calls for an apology past three months, he said. pat-down, despite having Shankar: Given en- could see it.” from Washington. “We are going to take it up with the shown her diplomatic pa- hanced pat-down. The TSA maintainedHow ‘in-the-know’ are you? Clinton told reporters in Washing- ton that the State Department was government of United States, and I hope that things could be resolved so pers. She was told she was that it followed guidelines chosen was because she was wearing in the search of Shankar. Test your smarts with USA TODAY’s weekly looking into the incident, but didn’t that such unpleasant incidents do not a sari, a traditional Indian robe. The news quiz. Visit apologize. Ambassador Meera Shan- recur,” Krishna said. witnesses included an entourage Crisp writes for The Clarion-Ledger in this afternoon and through the weekend. kar, 60, was selected for a pat-down Virander Paul, spokesman for the from Mississippi State University, Jackson, Miss. Contributing: AP.