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Archive for Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Briefly

June 25, 2003

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Beijing

SARS travel advisory lifted

The World Health Organization on Tuesday lifted a warning against travel to China's capital because of SARS, the last remaining place on its list.

The decision was based on factors including the number of current SARS cases, quality of surveillance and the effectiveness of prevention measures, said Shigeru Omi, WHO regional director for the western Pacific region.

"After careful analysis, WHO has concluded that the risk to travelers to Beijing is now minimal," Omi said.

Toronto and Taiwan remain on a list of places with recent local transmissions of severe acute respiratory syndrome, but travel advisories against them have been lifted.

New York City

Federal judge resigns, calls system unjust

A federal judge said Tuesday he was quitting what he called an unjust criminal justice system, fed up with Congress' quest to boost prison sentences and prevent judges from deciding how long someone is imprisoned.

"Congress is mandating things simply because they want to show how tough they are on crime with no sense of whether this makes sense or is meaningful," U.S. District Judge John S. Martin said.

The result, he said, is a slew of lengthy prison sentences for low-level drug dealers "who society failed at every step."

"Sentences should be just. We shouldn't be putting everybody in jail for the rest of their life," Martin, 68, said.

While many judges have criticized sentencing guidelines, it is unusual for a judge to publicly cite the frustrations of the job in stepping down.

Boston

Northwest flight safe after engine failure

A Northwest Airlines flight headed for Amsterdam returned to Logan International Airport Tuesday night after one of its engines failed, authorities said.

There were no injuries, said Jeff Smith, a spokesman for the airline.

Flight 38 took off around 7 p.m. with 255 passengers and 10 crew members on board. As the DC-10 took off, people in the terminal saw flames coming from an engine on the plane's tail, said Massachusetts Port Authority spokesman Phil Orlandella.

The plane landed safely about 20 minutes after it took off, Orlandella said.

New Mexico

Fire jumps Rio Grande, forces hundreds from homes

A wind-driven fire Tuesday roared through brush along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, forcing about 1,000 people to evacuate.

The fire, which had grown to 600 acres by Tuesday evening, left 16,000 homes and businesses temporarily without power and destroyed a house under construction. Gov. Bill Richardson declared a state of emergency.

No one was hurt except a firefighter who suffered a minor hand injury, officials said.

The fire started along the west side of the Rio Grande, then jumped the river and threatened an area of north Albuquerque where many high-priced homes are located.

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