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Archive for Saturday, May 8, 2004

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May 8, 2004

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Maryland

Four students wounded in high school shooting

Four students were wounded Friday in a drive-by shooting at a high school outside Baltimore, authorities said.

The victims were students who stayed after school to attend a charity basketball game. Three of them suffered non-life-threatening injuries, while the fourth was in surgery, Baltimore County Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan said.

Witnesses told police a car with about four people inside pulled up to Randallstown High School at about 4:30 p.m., and the driver and a passenger got out of the car, police spokesman Bill Toohey said. The driver shot four or five times, then handed the gun to the passenger, who also fired. The car -- a black BMW with tinted windows -- then sped off.

PITTSBURGH

Methodist delegates vote for church unity

United Methodists hugged and wept as they overwhelmingly endorsed church unity Friday, a day after a rift over homosexuality broke wide open with an evangelical proposal to split the denomination.

Choking back emotions, delegates spoke in support of the unity resolution at the end of their national policy meeting, which is held once every four years. The measure passed 869-41, with eight abstentions.

"Our denomination was very clear today. We are going to continue as the United Methodist Church as we know it," said the Rev. John Schol of West Chester, Pa., who organized a group to draft the resolution. "I think we'll come back in four years a stronger denomination."

DALLAS

Man seeks divorce from wife who killed sons

A man whose mentally ill wife beat two of their sons to death with rocks has filed for divorce, citing personality conflicts and the interests of the couple's surviving toddler.

In a divorce petition filed Thursday, Keith Laney seeks sole custody of 2-year-old Aaron, who was severely brain damaged in the attack at the family home in New Chapel Hill, 100 miles southeast of Dallas.

Laney's wife, Deanna, was acquitted by reason of insanity last month in the deaths of Joshua, 8, and Luke, 6, and the beating of Aaron in May 2003.

Psychiatrists said Laney did not know her actions were wrong at the time because she suffered from psychotic delusions that God told her to kill her children.

Massachusetts

Patron killed on coaster was improperly secured

A man who fell to his death from a roller coaster at Six Flags New England was not properly secured in his seat by a park attendant and was so big he should not have been on the ride in the first place, state investigators say.

The Department of Public Safety report, released Friday, blamed an unidentified 20-year-old attendant for not making sure Stanley J. Mordarsky was safely restrained in the Superman Ride of Steel on May 1.

Mordarsky should have been denied admission because his girth prevented a T-bar lap restraint from fitting against his thighs, the report said.

Mordarsky, 55, had cerebral palsy, used a motorized scooter and was 5-foot-2 and weighed 230 pounds, according to his family.

California

Largest fires contained as weather cools

Firefighters on Friday finished surrounding the largest of the blazes that charred nearly 29,000 acres of southern California brushlands and forest and signaled an ominous start to this year's fire season.

Evacuation orders were lifted for residents near two destructive blazes in Riverside County that burned more than 25,000 acres and damaged or destroyed dozens of structures east of Los Angeles.

The fires were declared fully contained Friday morning after cooler temperatures provided a measure of relief.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Space groups promote moon, Mars mission

Thirteen advocacy groups, industry associations and space policy organizations announced their support Friday for President Bush's vision to send astronauts to the moon and Mars.

The show of unity was unusual in a field where scientists and industry officials have often clashed over space mission priorities such as equipment types and destination points. The move reflected concern about the need to promote a revitalized U.S. space program, the groups said.

"It is critically important for this nation to delineate and execute a clearly defined federally supported space exploration agenda," said Marc Schlather, president of ProSpace, a space policy organization.

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