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Archive for Wednesday, March 6, 2002

Nation Briefs

March 6, 2002

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Washington, D.C.: Tourism hopes pinned on blossoms of spring

Through depression, recessions, war and national crises the cherry blossoms of the nation's capital have bloomed each spring. The question this year is how many tourists will come to see them.

"The trees are fully budded up, it's going to be a very prolific bloom," according to Robert DeFeo, chief horticulturist with the National Park Service. He predicted Tuesday a peak blooming period of April 1-5 for the 2,730 Yoshino trees around the Potomac Tidal Basin.

"This is probably our most important Cherry Blossom Festival ever," said Bill Hanbury, president of the Washington Convention and Tourism Corporation. He noted that the economy of the area  where 262,000 jobs are directly tied to the tourism, hospitality and travel industries  has suffered since Sept. 11.

"This will really be the first indicator for us that we're back to some true degree of normalcy," Hanbury said.

Arkansas: Cockpit fire forces emergency landing

A cockpit fire forced a United Airlines 757 to make an emergency landing Tuesday at Texarkana Regional Airport. None of the 106 people on board was injured.

Ninety-nine passengers and a crew of seven were aboard the Orlando, Fla.-to-San Francisco flight, airline spokesman Joe Hopkins said.

The pilots aboard Flight 275 reported smoke and a small fire in the cockpit, Hopkins said. He said the fire was extinguished before the plane landed.

Michigan: Suspect arrested in courthouse killings

A man shot and killed his ex-wife and two other people in a courthouse parking lot Tuesday in Mount Pleasant, then holed up for several hours inside his home before surrendering, police said.

The shooting was a "domestic-type of deal," said police officer Charles Lyon.

The three victims had been headed to a probation hearing at the Isabella County Courthouse. Lyon said authorities believed they were going to testify against the suspect, Thomas Wendt.

It was not immediately known why the suspect was on probation, but Lyon said he had been in court before for a domestic violence case, among other charges.

Houston: Judge approves Enron severance

The New York judge overseeing Enron Corp.'s bankruptcy approved a plan Tuesday to distribute about $1,100 in severance money to each of the approximately 4,500 workers laid off when the company filed for bankruptcy in December.

Last week U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Arthur Gonzalez approved creation of a $5 million fund set up by Enron to be distributed to former employees based on hardship.

During a conference call with attorneys representing employees Tuesday, he approved dispensing the funds in equal amounts so the money would get to workers more quickly, said Lowell Peterson, a New York attorney representing former employees.

Enron hasn't said when checks will be distributed.

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