The teachers' union votes this evening on the latest contract proposal from the Providence School Department. Union leaders, who have voiced concerns about the offer, have not yet decided whether to recommend ratification.

Members of the Providence Teachers Union executive board scheduled a 5p.m. meeting to decide what recommendation to make. A meeting of the entire membership was scheduled for 7pm.

Public health officials in Rhode Island were trying to allay concerns about bio-terrorism in the light of new Anthrax discoveries in Washington D.C. and New York City, as a local congressman called for clear protocols for first responders in cases of suspected bio-terrorism.

Providence – A high profile New York law firm is renewing its request to represent the mother of slain providence police officer, Sergeant Cornel Young, Jr. in her multi million dollar wrongful death lawsuit.

Leisa Young retained Johnnie Cochran in the lawsuit, which claims that inadequate training and supervision by Providence police contributed to her son?s death. Judge Robert Lovegreen denied a request from Cochran and three associates to practice in Rhode Island, saying he could not see why the case warranted more than two out-of state attorneys.

The Rhode Island Department of Health today was following up about a dozen reports of suspicious powders that came in over the weekend. None of the tests involve people who fear Anthrax contamination. A department administrator says the first lab results were expected this afternoon, but its not clear if word of negative tests would be released to the public.

    Providence – A local professor is heading to Italy this week to take in part in meetings about forming a new government in Afghanistan. Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady teaches Middle East politics at Providence College, but is also leader of the Afghan Social Democratic Party in exile.

    Ahady has been an advisor to the former King of Afghanistan. He plans to ask the king not to make too many concessions to the Northern Alliance in planning a new government.

    Providence – Providence will not, for now, drop an illegal weapons charge against an Amtrak passenger who says he carries a knife as a religious symbol. Sher Singh, who practices the Sikh religion, was taken off a train and arrested the day after the terrorist attacks.

    Singh?s lawyer, Mark Laroche claims police searched and arrested his client, because Sing wears a turban and has dark skin. The state?s concealed weapon law, says Laroche, violates Sikhs? right to practice their religion.

    Providence – The Coast Guard has lifted the restrictions it had imposed on the Port of Providence.

    The lifting coincides with the departure of a French cargo ship which the Coast Guard escorted out of Narragansett Bay at about 10 a.m. today.

    Coast Guard spokesman Lieutenant Joel Roberts said additional restrictions could be imposed again depending on circumstances.

    ?It will be different from ship to ship, port to port, vessel to vessel," he said.

    The Coast Guard established a security zone around the port and part of the Providence River on Monday afternoon.

    The Port of Providence is closed for security reasons.

    The closure coincides with the arrival of a French-registered cargo ship.

    "The reason the Port of Providence was closed was that we had our first cargo vessel call in the port since the invasion of Afghanistan and it was also the vessel's first United States port of call," said Coast guard spokesman Lieutenant Joel Roberts.

    He said the port and a portion of the Providence River are closed indefinitely.

    Following the attacks on terrorist camps in Afghanistan, Rhode Island is in a state of "heightened alert."

    Governor Almond has ordered an increased law-enforcement and National Guard presence at high-risk locations -- but Green State Airport was the only one he would name.

    Rhode island National Guard Major Michael McNamara says all guard facilities have been warned to increase their vigilance with security measures but there have been no reports of anything out of the ordinary.

    Rhode Islanders are reacting with mixed emotions to the beginning of military action against the perpetrators of last month?s terrorist attacks.

    While some posted signs of support on highway bridges or in stores windows yesterday while about 40 protesters gathered in front of the Federal Courthouse in Providence.

    ?The U.S. has no concept that there are reasons behind this and we have to explore those reasons and push for peace all over the world as opposed to making Afghanistan more of a breeding ground for fundamentalists who are pissed at our government,? one man said.

    Members of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation are voicing support for the military strikes that began in Afghanistan yesterday. Democratic Senator Jack Reed and Congressmen James Langevin and Patrick Kennedy say it?s an appropriate response to the September 11 attacks on the United States. ?These individuals are people that hate democracy and hate America and everything that we stand for. It was not going to stop there. These are people who would continue to attack America given the opportunity.

    Johnston – Johnston High School was evacuated today, after an apparent prank that sent more than 20 students and teachers to the hospital.

    Johnston Police arrested a 15 year-old boy, who is a student at the school for the prank. The boy put chlorine tablets in a soda bottle with rubbing alcohol, which released chlorine gas, according to police. He faces a felony charge of placing a bomb in the school.

    A recently completed survey provides the first statistical hints about how much the national tourism slump is affecting Rhode Island. The survey released at a tourism summit shows that 76% of hotels and restaurants responding have had decreases in business since September 11. Nearly half the businesses responding have already cut workers or are planning lay offs.

    Many tourism leaders are asking for immediate state assistance. But top state lawmakers attending the summit want to wait before committing state funds.

    Providence – A federal judge has denied Johnny Cochran and his legal team permission to represent the mother of the late Police Sergeant Cornell Young Junior. Magistrate Judge Robert Lovergreen is not objecting specifically to Cochran representing Leisa Young. He said in an order this week that there is no need for so many out of state lawyers.

    Providence – After 11 years at the helm, Colonel Edmund Culhane is retiring as Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police. Governor Lincoln Almond announced today that the retirement would take effect on October 21. The governor also announced the promotion of Major Steven Pare to Colonel and Superintendent.