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Archive for Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Briefly

June 11, 2002

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Mexico: Sun puts on a show with partial eclipse

Sky-gazers along the Pacific Coast of Mexico and Southern California had the best view of the first partial solar eclipse of 2002.

In most places in the United States, only tiny portions of the sun's surface were obscured, if any at all. On the East Coast the eclipse occurred after sunset.

But in California and Mexico, it was dramatic.

The event began across the International Dateline at sunrise today in Southeast Asia. The moon's shadow partially darkened the sun, then widened as it sped eastward on an 8,700-mile journey across the Pacific.

Houston: Prosecutors to retry sleeping lawyer's client

Prosecutors said Monday that they would retry a death row inmate whose conviction was reversed because his lawyer slept through parts of his trial nearly 20 years ago.

Calvin Burdine, 49, last week won the right to a new trial when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a lower court's reversal of his conviction. Harris County prosecutors indicated then they probably would retry the case.

The state had appealed a federal appeals court's decision that Burdine's 1984 capital murder trial was unfair because his court-appointed attorney, Joe Cannon, slept at times during the trial.

Burdine's lover, W.T. Wise, was found stabbed to death at the Houston trailer they shared. Burdine confessed to police, but later recanted. He contends an accomplice killed Wise, 50.

Cannon, who has since died, denied falling asleep.

Salt Lake City: Father takes polygraph in daughter's abduction

Six days into the search for a 14-year-old girl reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint from her bedroom, police said Monday they are no closer to solving the case.

Police Capt. Scott Atkinson said 40 FBI agents and 60 police investigators continued to sift through the thousands of tips being called in to the police. But the case has not advanced.

"At this point, we're no closer to solving her disappearance," Atkinson said.

The FBI is evaluating a polygraph test given Sunday to Elizabeth Smart's father. Police won't say why they asked Ed Smart to take the test; they did say that they may test other family members, too.

In a statement released Monday evening, Ed Smart acknowledged the test. "When asked by law enforcement I fully cooperated because I have nothing to hide," he said. "We are doing everything in our power to bring back Elizabeth."

Texas: Selena fans protest weapon's destruction

The weapon used to kill Tejano singing star Selena was destroyed on Monday under a judge's orders, despite protests from historians who said the revolver was a priceless piece of Mexican-American history.

The .38-caliber Taurus revolver was run through a shredding saw and was scheduled to be thrown into the Corpus Christi Bay. Selena, 23, was killed by the gun seven years ago, just as she was on the verge of crossing over to the English-language market.

The destruction of the weapon was bemoaned by some who said it should be kept for posterity.

New Jersey: Rare quartet of Bibles displayed at Princeton

Copies of the first four printed editions of the Bible have come under the ownership of a single collector for the first time in more than 150 years.

The collector, 88-year-old William Hurd Scheide, completed his collection of the four rare books last year after buying the Mentelin Bible, printed by Johann Mentelin in 1460 in Strasbourg, for seven figures.

Though word of the acquisition has been trickling through the antiquarian book world since the purchase, the deal became widely known after a May 31 public presentation of the Bibles at Princeton University during the school's Reunion Weekend.

The Mentelin Bible joins a Gutenberg, the first major Western book printed from movable type, in 1455 in Mainz; a copy of what is known as the 36-Line Bible, printed in Bamberg in 1461, possibly by Albrecht Pfister; and "The 1462 Bible," also printed in Mainz, by Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer.

Washington, D.C.: Government gives tips for safe trailer towing

The government is publishing a new set of tips for safe trailer towing to help an increasing number of Americans who own SUVs and pickups that can pull trailers and other vehicles.

Agency officials suspect the use of trailers is on the rise and accounts for many of the increasing number of accidents. Sport utility vehicles, pickups and minivans, which often are used to tow trailers, now account for about half of new vehicle sales.

The guide is available online at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/Equipment/towing/index.htm.

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