Archive for Saturday, October 2, 2004


October 2, 2004



Violence breaks out for second day in capital

Violence erupted again Friday in the Haitian capital as the decapitated bodies of three police were found, bringing the death toll to at least seven people in two days of protests for the return of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

At least four police officers were killed amid the violence, including two who were shot and killed Thursday and whose headless bodies were found Friday in the slum of La Saline, national police chief Leon Charles said.

He said a third officer was shot Thursday and his body was immediately recovered, while the headless body of a fourth was found Friday near Cite Soleil, a slum teeming with gangs of Aristide loyalists.


U.N. begins repatriation of 340,000 refugees

The United Nations launched a massive voluntary repatriation program Friday to return an estimated 340,000 Liberian refugees still scattered across West Africa after a long, brutal war that ended last year.

On the three-year project's first day, 97 refugees were airlifted from Accra, Ghana, on a U.N.-chartered plane to Liberia's main airport. Another 77 refugees were due to travel overland from neighboring Sierra Leone, said Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency in Geneva.

Nearly one-third of Liberia's people are believed to have fled their homes during fighting since 1989.


Cabinet approves legalizing gay marriage

Despite vociferous opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, Spain's Cabinet proposed legislation Friday giving homosexuals the right to marry and adopt children.

Parliament was expected to review and approve the legislation promptly. That would make Spain the third nation to legalize gay marriage.


Great white shark sets captivity record

Thought it was safe to go back in the water? Turns out, 16 days wasn't enough.

A young great white shark reached a milestone Friday as it began its 17th day on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Notorious for their inability to thrive in captivity, no other great whites are currently on display anywhere in the world -- and none has ever been keep on exhibit for more than 16 days.

Commercial halibut fishermen inadvertently snagged the young female shark in late August off the coast of Huntington Beach.

The aquarium is keeping the shark on long-term exhibit in its 1 million-gallon Outer Bay tank, which contains 75 other large fish and turtles. The tank is a little larger than one Olympic-size swimming pool.

The shark is 4 feet, 4 inches long and weighs 62 pounds. It could grow to about 21 feet.

Washington, D.C.

Army tests surveillance blimp over Washington

A whale-sized naked white blimp this week hovered over the nation's capital, testing high-tech surveillance gear and unnerving some Washingtonians.

"It didn't have any markings on it. I didn't know what it was doing," said Amy Marks, who lives in Washington and works for the National Organization for Women. "It was pretty strange."

The Army leased the 178-foot airship from the American Blimp Corp. and mounted sensors and infrared and electro-optical cameras on it, to test its utility to detect possibly threatening ground movements.

The blimp could provide real-time images for the surveillance of pipelines, shipping channels and ports, according to an Army statement. It also could help catch or deter anyone planting roadside explosives.


Alcohol cited as cause of student's death

A 19-year-old student whose body was found the morning after a party in a fraternity house died from alcohol poisoning, officials said Friday.

Blake Adam Hammontree had a blood alcohol level of 0.42 when he died, or five times the legal limit for drunken driving, said Kevin Rowland, chief investigator for the state medical examiner.

Hammontree was found Thursday morning in an upstairs living area of the Sigma Chi fraternity house near the Norman campus of the University of Oklahoma.

A freshman, Hammontree was a Sigma Chi pledge who had been drinking at the house Wednesday night during a fraternity function, Rowland said.

University President David Boren has said he would shut down the fraternity's operations immediately.


Sheriff: Elderly father beat disabled daughter

An elderly man who spent years caring for his mentally and physically disabled daughter apparently bludgeoned her to death with a hammer in their home, authorities said.

Joseph Brosz, 84, was jailed on suspicion of murder in the slaying of 56-year-old Sylvia Brosz, whose body was found Thursday.

"The suspect indicated that he was unable to provide care for his daughter," sheriff's spokesman R.L. Davis said. "That appears to be the motive."

Davis said that he did not know the specifics of the woman's disability but that her father had been taking care of her full time. Davis said it was unclear when the woman was killed.


Record label mailing racist CD to teens

An anti-discrimination group is warning parents about a "white power" music label that is using bulk mailing lists to send racist CDs to teenagers across the country.

An official of Panzerfaust Records said it was pressing 100,000 copies of a "pro-white sampler CD" in a campaign dubbed Project Schoolyard USA, after a similar effort earlier this year in Germany.

"Panzerfaust has intentionally designed its CDs to lure unsuspecting teens with a free giveaway that has the appearance of being just another free compilation of cutting-edge music," Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said.

The CD features songs such as "White Supremacy," "Hate Train Rolling" and "Commie Scum."


Students carpooling to school killed in crash

Four teenagers carpooling to school were killed in a collision Friday, along with the driver of a second car, as they tried to pass three 18-wheelers on a two-lane road.

The accident happened just after 7 a.m. outside the town of Cleveland, about 45 miles north of Houston, said Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Troy Dyson.

The students were identified as Matthew Montemayor, 17, his sister Jennie, 15, Brenlin Russell Johnson, 18, and Gina Adana, 17.

The fifth victim was identified as Willard Bell, 32, who worked at a privately run state jail in Cleveland.


Whereabouts of nuclear fuel still a mystery

Utility officials have yet to locate four pounds of missing radioactive nuclear fuel at a shuttered nuclear power plant, but federal regulators insisted the search must continue.

"You have to exhaust all avenues to find it, and we expect you to continue searching for it," Bruce Mallet of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told Pacific, Gas & Electric Co. officials at a public meeting Wednesday.

Three pieces of a nuclear fuel rod were discovered missing during an inventory in June at the Humboldt Bay Power Plant in Eureka, and may be among hundreds placed in a deep storage pool before the plant closed in 1976. So far, a search has yielded 40 fuel fragments that are being analyzed to see if they match the missing pieces.


Suspicious powder found at newspaper

A suspicious powder found in an envelope forced about 70 employees of The Des Moines Register to evacuate the building Friday for about four hours.

The powder caused no apparent harm, officials said.

The envelope, with a return address in West Virginia or Virginia, was opened in an office, according to the newspaper's Web site.

An accompanying letter included the message: "To the Media: This is snail poison. We are no safer with Bush than before."

Brian O'Keefe, a fire department spokesman, said the Secret Service had ruled out any threat to President Bush, who is scheduled to visit Des Moines on Monday.

New Orleans

Gay rights advocates challenge amendment

Gay rights advocates on Friday brought a court challenge to a recently passed Louisiana constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriages and civil unions.

Attorney Randy Evans said the lawsuit revived several issues rejected by state courts as premature before the Sept. 18 election.

They include the contention that the amendment was illegally adopted by the Legislature because it included more than one purpose -- banning civil unions as well as marriages -- and that it was illegally placed on the ballot for a day when there was not a statewide election already scheduled.


Hurricane damage delays shuttle's spring launch date

NASA's spaceflight leadership council decided Friday to delay the spring 2005 launch date for the first shuttle scheduled to return to space since last year's Columbia tragedy, citing hurricane damage and more work needed to meet a panel's recommendations.

The council said a shuttle launch in March or April was "no longer achievable." The group asked shuttle program officials to analyze whether a May or July date was more feasible for a shuttle launch, and to report back to the panel later this month, NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said.

NASA's shuttle fleet has been grounded since space shuttle Columbia disintegrated during re-entry in February 2003, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

Hurricanes Charley and Frances caused widespread damage in mid-August to NASA's Florida launch site.

United Arab Emirates

Supposed al-Qaida tape urges Muslim youths to attack U.S.

An audiotape that surfaced Friday purportedly by al-Qaida's second-in-command urged Muslim youths to carry out pre-emptive strikes against the United States and its allies.

The tape aired by Al-Jazeera television identified the speaker as Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian-born confidante of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. After a technical analysis, a U.S. intelligence official said authorities were able to determine with "high confidence" that the voice was that of al-Zawahri.

Less than a month ago, a videotape showed al-Zawahri proclaiming the United States would be defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The tape aired Friday urged young Muslims to fight on even if al-Qaida leaders were killed or captured.


Laptop computers stolen from Bush campaign office

Three laptop computers containing campaign plans were stolen overnight from the Bush-Cheney state headquarters office, Republican officials said Friday.

Between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m., after the last campaign worker had gone home from the office in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, someone threw a rock through the office window of Jon Seaton, executive director for President Bush's state campaign, said Chris Vance, state GOP chairman.

The computers contained much of the Bush-Cheney campaign strategy for the state, Vance said.

"This looks like it was politically motivated," Vance said in an interview.


Blair back home after heart surgery

Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived home Friday after a successful operation to correct an irregular heartbeat, and doctors expected him to make a "rapid and complete recovery" with a very low risk of recurrence.

"I'm absolutely fine, thanks," said the 51-year-old Blair, grinning as he entered his No. 10 Downing Street residence.

Blair's heart condition -- supraventricular tachycardia -- is caused by rapid electrical activity in the upper parts of the heart and results in a sometimes irregular, rapid heartbeat.

Blair entered Hammersmith Hospital on Friday morning for the 2 1/2-hour procedure.


Beirut car bomb wounds lawmaker

A lawmaker who defied Syria and voted against extending President Emile Lahoud's term survived an assassination try Friday when a parked, explosives-rigged vehicle blew up in Beirut.

Marwan Hamadeh was wounded in the face in the attack, which killed his driver and injured a body guard.

Hamadeh, a former economy minister, belongs to a bloc of parliamentarians led by Druse leader Walid Jumblatt. Jumblatt withdrew Hamadeh from Premier Rafik Hariri's Cabinet last month to protest the extension of Lahoud's presidential term.

Jumblatt's decision to withdraw his ministers from the Cabinet soured his relations with Damascus, the main power broker in Lebanon, where it maintains thousands of troops.


Detainee describes U.S. torture, killings

A Briton being held at Guantanamo Bay was tortured, held in solitary confinement for almost two years and "partially witnessed" U.S. military interrogators killing two detainees at an American base in Afghanistan, he said in a letter released Friday by his lawyers.

Moazzam Begg made the allegations in an uncensored letter that was released to his legal team by American officials -- something his lawyers described as an "oddity."

The Pentagon said its policy is to treat all prisoners humanely.

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