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AROUND THE STATE

Schumer asks Justice Dept. to target underage drinking

WHITE PLAINS (AP) -- Sen. Charles E. Schumer is asking the U.S. Justice Department to look into the underage drinking problem in Westchester County, where there have been several startling episodes of teenage drunkenness -- and one death -- in the last year.

The New York Democrat called on the department to study why alcohol is so readily available to minors and why there is excessive drinking among minors in Westchester.

"When teenagers are literally dying for a drink, we need to do everything in our power to fix the situation," Schumer said. "Teenagers have always tried to drink and can access alcohol too easily. This is nothing new, and it's certainly not just a local problem. But we still don't know exactly how to deal with it."

The problem has recently won wide attention in Westchester. From the Chappaqua football team's beer-and-a-stripper party to Scarsdale's chaotic homecoming dance, where as many as 200 students arrived drunk, inebriated teens have raised the concerns of adults.

Developer presents design for 7 World Trade Center

NEW YORK (AP) -- Marking an important step in the rebuilding of ground zero, developer Larry A. Silverstein on Wednesday presented the design for a new 7 World Trade Center, just north of where the twin towers stood.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Silverstein's decision to rebuild 7 World Trade shows that "we will not be intimidated by the terrorists. We are just not going to let them destroy our way of life."

Bloomberg and Silverstein joined Gov. George E. Pataki and other officials in unveiling the design for the 750-foot-tall tower.

The new building, scheduled to open in late 2005, has been designed with enhanced safety provisions, including sturdier fireproofing than is required by the current building code, and wider stairs for rapid evacuation.

N.Y. City mulls housing homeless on old ships

NEW YORK -- Desperate for ways to combat surging homelessness as winter nears, New York City is studying whether retired cruise ships could be converted into shelters.

The city's commissioner of homeless services and other officials flew to the Bahamas on the mayor's private jet Wednesday to inspect several retired ships in what they called a fact-finding trip.

So far this year, the city has contracted with social service providers to set up 18 new shelters in failing hotels -- in many cases angering neighbors who were unaware of the plans. In all, the city now has about 125 family shelters.

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