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Rick Lazio's failed and expensive campaign against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is over, but the fund-raising continues.

Struggling to repay about $3 million in campaign debt, the former Republican congressman from Long Island is writing would-have-been constituents to raise money and to take some last swipes at the Clintons.

Lazio gave up his seat in Congress to become the Republican point man for one of the longest, most bitter and most expensive campaigns in American history.

A copy of Lazio's Jan. 19 letter was obtained by the Associated Press. The former congressman told potential donors his late entry into the campaign was only one of its problems.

"In the end, she had too much liberal money, too many hired guns, too many negative ads . . . too much positive propaganda from her adoring media friends, and too much help from the White House."

Probe of pupil killed in gym focuses on movable doors

ITHACA (AP) -- A safety mechanism failed to stop a two-story-tall motorized room divider from crushing a middle school student. Investigators just don't know why it was not working.

Rashad Richardson, 12, was fatally injured Monday during a gym class at Boynton Middle School when he became trapped between the gym wall and the slow moving panels.

Ithaca School District Superintendent Judith Pastel said Thursday the motorized door was supposed to be equipped with a spring-loaded key mechanism. If the operator wants to open or shut the door, he or she must hold the key in the "on" position. If the key is let go, it's supposed to snap back to the "off" position.

Investigators said earlier this week the teacher operating the door turned the key on and then walked away. The gymnasium was empty at the time, but, at some point, Richardson entered the gym and was caught by the sliding door panel as he attempted to cross the room.

Pastel was unsure if the safety mechanism in the 30-year-old door was broken or tampered with but said that was one aspect of the continuing investigation.

Mom allegedly beat sons during cross-country trip

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Brooklyn grand jury issued a 41-count indictment against the mother of two boys who she allegedly beat so severely during a cross-country odyssey that one of them lost part of his lips.

The woman, Linda Harley, 38, is charged with beating her sons, Clarence, 7, and Ernest, 8, with a knife, a metal pipe and a stilletto-heeled shoe as they traveled from New York to Los Angeles and back, the New York Times reported Friday.

In what might be the most alarming detail of the six week journey, is that while Harley traveled with the boys back from Los Angeles to New York on an Amtrak train, no one alerted authorities to the boys' very visible, severely infected facial wounds.

Harley had had a history of drug problems, but her family said she had managed to pull her life together and was doing well until late last year.

Audit faults inspections of senior citizen centers

ALBANY (AP) -- A state audit found that state health inspections of senior citizen centers and other facilities haven't been done on time, that inspectors weren't properly trained and complaints weren't recorded.

"Senior citizens' health should not be jeopardized by shoddy inspections," said state Comptroller H. Carl McCall.

The Health Department's Bureau of Community Sanitation and Food Protection is charged with monitoring the food protection programs of local health departments, including those run by 36 counties, nine run by the state and the system run by the New York City Health Department.

"If the Health Department doesn't keep good records, how can anyone be sure that the inspections are getting done?" said McCall, who told supporters Thursday that he plans to run for governor in 2002.

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