Thirteen people die of heat-related illness

A blistering heat wave is being blamed for the deaths of at least 13 people in Phoenix, prompting officials to ask for donations of ice and water bottles for those sweltering without air conditioning.

Eleven of the victims since Saturday were homeless, and the other two were elderly women, including one whose home cooling system wasn’t on, police said Wednesday.

Phoenix has endured above-average temperatures every day since June 29, with a peak of 111 degrees on Tuesday, and a high of 108 was forecast Wednesday. Even during the coolest part of the day, the mercury descended only to 89 Wednesday morning, and some mornings haven’t gone lower than 91.


Senate trims Bush’s foreign aid request

The Senate on Wednesday cut President Bush’s request for foreign aid and the State Department’s budget by about 3 percent to free $1 billion for domestic programs.

The $31.8 billion measure passed by a 98-1 vote after a debate that spanned four days, even though the bill was devoid of controversy.

The House had passed an even larger cut of about $3 billion from Bush’s request when passing a similar bill last month.

The Senate cuts fall mainly against Bush’s $3 billion request for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which rewards countries that pursue political, economic and human rights reforms. The Senate measure would provide $1.8 billion for the fledgling program.

Of the $2.5 billion appropriated in previous years for the Millennium Challenge program, only $15 million has made its way to needy countries so far, according to a report accompanying the bill. That means lawmakers in both the House and Senate aren’t rushing to meet the administration’s full $3 billion request for the program.


Exhumation considered in civil rights slayings

The conviction last month of an ex-Ku Klux Klansman in the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi may not be the end of the case. One victim’s brother is weighing the possibility of exhuming his body to recover bullets that might show whether more shooters were involved – and could still be alive to prosecute.

Dr. Michael Baden, a renowned forensic pathologist who reviewed the medical evidence for the recent murder trial of ex-Klansman Edgar Ray Killen, said there could be at least two recoverable projectiles in James Chaney’s body to be used for comparison.

Baden cautioned that even a positive ballistics match would leave important questions unanswered.

“We can’t say whose hand was on the weapon when it was fired,” Baden said.