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Archive for Monday, May 20, 2002

Nation Briefs

May 20, 2002

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Pennsylvania: Volunteers sweep field for Flight 93 wreckage

Volunteers crawled or walked side by side through a western Pennsylvania field in what could be the last search for debris and human remains from the crash of hijacked United Flight 93.

The roughly 125 volunteers skirted the scarred, barren hilltop near Shanksville where the Boeing 757 crashed on Sept. 11, instead concentrating on a patch of woods to search for airplane parts, personal effects and body parts that may have been shaken loose from the trees by wind, snow or rain over the past eight months.

"That was the area we hadn't really completely canvassed in the fall. The first time the weather kind of closed in on us," said Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller.

After the 3-hour search Saturday, workers had filled scores of buckets with metal, insulation and wire, and filled a 5-gallon bucket with remains.

Flight 93 was the only one of four planes hijacked on Sept. 11 that didn't kill anyone on the ground.

Connecticut: Report: Cardinal paid accused priest's debts

As bishop of Bridgeport, Cardinal Edward M. Egan gave a priest accused of abuse thousands of dollars to settle bank debts and pay for a defense lawyer, court documents show.

The documents obtained by The Hartford Courant show the diocese resisted compensation for Gavin O'Connor's alleged victim, but paid the priest as much as $17,000 in 1989.

At the time, O'Connor had been accused of molesting boys for years.

The payment was condemned by the plaintiff's attorney in court as a payoff intended to buy O'Connor's silence in the case pending against him and the diocese, the paper reported. The diocese denied that claim.

Egan is now cardinal in New York.

Nebraska: Search is on for Lewises, Clarks

Listen up, Lewises and Clarks. A parade celebrating the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark expedition is in need of participants.

Jim Morely is trying to get as many males with the same last name of famed explorers Meriwether Lewis or William Clark as he can to sign up for a parade in Blair on June 15. The parade is a kickoff to Nebraska's celebrations the Lewis & Clark expedition that traveled up the Missouri River and reached Nebraska in the summer of 1804.

The Blair parade is an attempt to celebrate the expedition, gain attention and raise some money for the celebration of the bicentennial.

Virginia: 9-11 flight grounding allowed atmosphere test

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks spurred the government to ground all commercial air flight for days. Now that action may help researchers better deal with global warming.

Researchers at NASA Langley Research Center have been studying contrails, the clouds formed by aircraft emissions. The pollution can form cirrus clouds, which are thin, wispy clouds that form 20,000 or more feet in the air. They are believed to have the most influence on climate because they spread over large areas and tend to trap sunlight.

The post-Sept. 11 grounding allowed researchers to study just a few such contrails instead of the thousands produced by aircraft normally in flight. Researchers were able to track just 10 planes that flew in the eastern part of the country from about Ohio to Virginia. The crafts' contrails created cirrus clouds that lasted nearly seven hours and stretched over nearly 8,000 square miles. By calculating normal conditions, researchers determined that the normal volume of aircraft would have produced clouds covering about 77,000 square miles.

That kind of coverage was assumed for cirrus clouds across the planet, not just a portion of the United States.

New York: Manhattan Project physicist dies at 84

Boyce D. McDaniel, the Manhattan Project physicist who was the last man to check the atomic bomb before the first test of the device in July 1945, has died. He was 84.

McDaniel, who also had a distinguished career at Cornell University, died of a heart attack May 8 in Ithaca.

He had just finished his Ph.D. work at Cornell in 1943 when he was invited to join the Manhattan Project team. As part of the cyclotron research team, he played an important role in helping to identify the amount of the isotope uranium-235 needed to create the atomic fission to detonate the world's first nuclear bomb.

By summer 1945, enough U-235 and sufficient plutonium-239 had been processed to create the bomb. Two bombs were dropped, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August of that year.

Ohio: Pets finally permitted to answer nature's call

A great sigh of relief has come over thousands of pooches and felines: They can now relieve themselves guilt-free on the lawns of Summit County, Ohio.

For the previous two decades, it has been illegal for any animal dogs, cats, horses or even hamsters to answer nature's call in public or private in Cuyahoga Falls.

City Law Director Virgil Arrington said last week that the on-the-books ban was discovered recently after a resident complained that a neighbor's dog continually left unpleasant surprises in the yard.

City officials went to research the law and discovered that one section, adopted more than 20 years ago, orders pet owners to clean up after their animals. But another section of the same ordinance explicitly prohibited defecation in Cuyahoga Falls by any animal. Doing so was a misdemeanor carrying a potential $100 fine.

"The ordinance was written stupidly," Arrington concedes.

Although the ban has been in place for years, Arrington said no one has been cited for defecation by an animal. "They (the pets) have been going anyway," he said.

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