Gubernatorial candidate calls for hand recount
The Democratic gubernatorial candidate -- trailing her GOP rival by just 42 votes -- on Thursday urged her party to order a statewide hand recount of all 2.8 million votes for governor, regardless of the cost.
"My request of the state Democratic Party is simple: Count the entire state or don't count at all," Christine Gregoire said.
Democrats are expected to order a full statewide recount or a partial count today.
The recount costs at least 25 cents a ballot, or more than $700,000 for a statewide count.
Gregoire, 57, the three-term attorney general, trailed Republican rival Dino Rossi, 45, a former state Senate power, by just 42 votes after a mandatory recount was certified this week.
Democratic governors steer toward moderation
Democratic governors, determined to grab control of their party, said Thursday they would jointly support moderate candidates from outside Washington, D.C., to lead the Democrats.
No sitting governor is interested in heading the Democratic National Committee, said the governors who gathered for the first major meeting of party officials since widespread Democratic losses in the presidential and congressional elections last month.
The Democratic governors, including Kansas' Kathleen Sebelius, said their party must move geographically from Washington and philosophically to the middle to attract moderate voters. That move starts with the party leadership, they said.
Democrats will vote at their February meeting on a replacement for chairman Terry McAuliffe.
Naval Academy alumni board rejects gay group
The governing board of the Naval Academy Alumni Assn. on Thursday rejected a bid from graduates who sought to establish a predominantly gay and lesbian alumni chapter.
No U.S. service academy has officially sanctioned a gay alumni chapter. The Naval Academy's alumni association rejected the gay group last year as well.
The group has been operating and inducting members for more than a year, even though it does not have the official sanction of the alumni association. Now 68 members strong, it is the only group the association has ever denied affiliation.
The association released a list of reasons this week why the request could be rejected. The reasons included the group's scattered membership and the location of its headquarters in San Francisco -- a region already served by an alumni chapter.
Study questions risk of benzene in workplace
Blood changes, including a steep decline in disease-fighting white cells, have been found in workers persistently exposed to low levels of benzene, a common industrial chemical known to pose a leukemia risk at high concentrations.
Researchers reported Thursday in the journal Science that workers in a Chinese shoe factory exposed to less than one part per million of benzene experienced a significant decline of white cells and found their blood-forming cells were less vigorous than normal.
U.S. occupational guidelines limit benzene exposure to one part per million, but the study found changes in the blood from lower exposure.
Benzene is one of the most frequently used chemicals in American industry. It is used as a solvent and to make plastics, resins, adhesives and synthetic fibers.
DNC reports edge in election fund raising
Capping a stunning year of record fund raising by both sides, the Democratic National Committee said Thursday it outraised President Bush's GOP this election cycle. Its Republican rival wasn't disputing that, but noted the money didn't buy victory.
Figures the DNC planned to file with the Federal Election Commission showed the DNC took in at least $12 million more than the Republican National Committee since Jan. 1, 2003.
DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe said he considered the fund raising -- combined with a lack of debt -- all the more remarkable because the party finished the 2000 presidential race with $18 million in bills to pay.
The DNC said it raised at least $397 million from January 2003 through Nov. 22, the period covered in its new campaign finance report; the RNC said it took in $385 million.
Lawmaker: Abstinence programs misleading
Rep. Henry Waxman says federally funded abstinence education programs that are used in 25 states contain false and misleading information about contraception, abortion and sexually transmitted diseases.
A report this week from the California Democrat said 11 of the 13 most widely used programs underestimated the effectiveness of condoms in preventing pregnancy and the spread of disease, blur science and religion or get fundamental scientific facts wrong.
The abstinence programs will receive $170 million in the current government spending year, more than double what the government was spending in 2001.
South, West riskiest regions for pedestrian
Cities in the South and West are the most dangerous for pedestrians, with four in Florida earning the dubious distinction of being the deadliest of all.
A private study released Thursday concluded that sprawling, newer cities in the South and West tend to be built with wide, high-speed roads that are especially dangerous for walking.
The Surface Transportation Policy Project report found that the 9,746 walkers who died in 2002-2003 were more likely to be killed on busy streets without crosswalks. Nearly 40 percent died where crosswalks weren't available.
People are three times more likely to be struck and killed on streets in Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla., Orlando and Miami-Fort Lauderdale than they are in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio.
The report can be seen online at www.transact.org.
New York City
Rescued 9-11 officer marks retirement
A Port Authority rookie detective who was among the last people pulled alive from the rubble of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, retired from the force. "I was just a cop doing my job," he said during an emotional farewell Thursday.
Will Jimeno, 37, graduated from the police academy and joined the Port Authority force in January 2001 in a ceremony at the trade center, where eight months later he nearly died.
With the collapsed ruins of Tower One around him, his left leg and foot crushed, Jimeno made his peace with God and thought mostly about the unborn second child he thought he would not live to see. After 13 hours buried under 20 feet of rubble, Jimeno was pulled free.
In attendance were other Port Authority officials, Jimeno's parents, wife and two daughters -- including Olivia, who was born Nov. 26, 2001.
Government targets teen drugged driving
Some teen drivers think it's less dangerous to drive after smoking marijuana than after drinking alcohol, a perception the government wants to change.
The Bush administration's drug policy office is spending $10 million on a television ad and other efforts to teach teens and their parents about the danger of drugged driving. Brochures also will be distributed in high schools and state motor vehicle offices.
In a recent study, 30 percent of teens said "planning to drive" was a reason not to drink. But only 18 percent cited "planning to drive" as a reason not to take drugs. The survey questioned 3,574 middle and high school students nationwide in spring.
Annan faces challenge from U.S. officials
Three years after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is the target of escalating attacks in the United States and a U.S. senator has called for his resignation over a deepening corruption scandal in the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq.
Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and dozens of other countries have rallied to support the beleaguered U.N. chief -- but not the United States.
President Bush twice on Thursday refused to say whether Annan should resign, and didn't use the opportunities to back him. Instead, Bush demanded "a full and fair and open accounting" of the oil-for-food program.
The demand for Annan to step down came from Sen. Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican who is leading one of five U.S. congressional investigations into the oil-for-food program. The program began in 1996 to help Iraqis cope with U.N. sanctions imposed after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
U.S. ambassador seeks Taliban reconciliation
The top U.S. official in Afghanistan called on the Taliban to give up their three-year insurgency, pledging Thursday that most who surrender will be left in peace if they acknowledge the authority of President-elect Hamid Karzai.
An estimated 100 to 150 Taliban leaders, including former head Mullah Omar, commanders of the insurgency and those associated with al-Qaida are ineligible for the offer.
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said he was working with Karzai's government on a reconciliation plan that could be expanded to include Afghans exiled by earlier conflicts.
Appeals court strips Pinochet of immunity
An appeals court ruled Thursday to strip former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet of immunity from prosecution for a 1974 car bombing that killed an exiled Chilean general and the man's wife.
It marked the third attempt to try Pinochet in Chile for abuses from his 17-year dictatorship, none so far successful.
The 14-9 decision by justices on Santiago's Court of Appeals opens the possibility Pinochet could stand trial for the bombing that killed former army chief Gen. Carlos Prats and his wife, Sofia Cuthbert, in Buenos Aires.
Prats, a former chief of the Chilean army, had opposed the 1973 coup that put fellow general Pinochet in power.
Pinochet's attorneys are expected to appeal Thursday's decision to the Supreme Court.
Election polls close
Two days of elections that began with a flood of voters ended in a trickle Thursday, leaving officials baffled about the apathy in a hard-fought race for a successor to the man who has led Mozambique for 18 years.
Balloting that began with long lines Wednesday dwindled with the advent of the stifling afternoon heat. Heavy rain also affected voting in some areas.
Polling stations were mostly deserted Thursday, the final day of voting for President Joaquim Chissano's successor and a new parliament. Election workers who had expected a crush simply rested in the shade.
At midday, national television said turnout was less than half what had been expected. By day's end, one polling station in the far north with 36,000 registered voters reported only about 6,000 ballots cast.
Seventeen parties ran for parliament and five fielded presidential candidates.
U.N. on patrol after outbreak of violence
U.N peacekeepers patrolled the streets of Haiti's capital as gunfire rang out Thursday, a day after a prison riot and shootouts killed a dozen people and left scores injured during a visit by Secretary of State Colin Powell.
City workers dragged the bullet-riddled body of park gardener James Hipolite, 24, from the steps of a national monument in front of the National Palace on Thursday morning. Witnesses said the man was shot when U.N. troops fired in response to shooting near the palace after Powell met with Haiti's interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue on Wednesday in Port-au-Prince.
Latortue was named to head an interim government supported by the United States after a three-week rebellion that forced ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile Feb. 29.
Scientists confident water flowed on Mars
After studying thousands of images from Mars, scientists now are convinced that liquid water once flowed on the surface of the red planet, increasing the odds that life may have existed there in the distant past.
As a result, space travelers should act as if there once were -- and perhaps still are -- living creatures on Mars that must be protected from destruction or contamination, according to Jeffery Kargel, a senior planetary scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Ariz.
In an article in this week's edition of the journal Science, which will be out today, Kargel also pointed out the risk that earthlings could be infected by alien microbes brought home from Mars.
Proof that there used to be liquid water on our neighboring planet comes from pictures and chemical readings by a NASA robotic rover inside a crater near the Martian equator. Scientists said the new evidence removed any doubts and qualifications that marked previous claims of finding water.
Plane crash kills five
A small plane carrying Seventh-day Adventist Church officials crashed Thursday soon after taking off from an airport in a rural, mountainous area, killing all but one of the six people on board.
The only survivor, co-pilot Jim Huff, walked away from the crash site and was taken to a Chattanooga hospital, Sheriff John Cupp said. No information on his condition was immediately available.
The twin-engine Cessna 421 crashed, caught fire and broke apart in a thicket of trees about 1 1/2 miles north of the Collegedale Municipal Airport. Airport manager Frank Zarski said the plane crashed because of engine failure.
The pilot, John Laswell, and four passengers were killed.
Church officials said the passengers killed were Dave Cress, the conference's president; Jim Frost, its executive secretary; Jamie Arnall, director of communication; and Clay Farwell, assistant to the conference president.
Sister-in-law testifies about Scott Peterson
In testimony occasionally marked by tears from the defendant and his family, Scott Peterson's sister-in-law and friends described him as friendly, thoughtful and sincere Thursday as his attorneys tried to persuade jurors to spare his life.
Peterson wept softly at the defense table as his sister-in-law Janey Peterson testified, including when she told jurors about the first time she met his wife, Laci, whom Scott Peterson was convicted of murdering Nov. 12.
"She took my breath away. She was just bubbly and fun and energetic and beautiful," she testified, while Scott Peterson's mother and sister sobbed in the gallery.
The testimony came on the third day of the trial's penalty phase, where the jury will decide whether the 32-year-old Peterson should be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole for the 2002 murders of Laci Peterson and the fetus she was carrying.