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American Scene

- - Saturday, April 18, 2009

Frank saplings may come to U.S.

NEW YORK — Saplings from the tree Anne Frank used to measure the seasons while hiding from the Nazis could be planted in 10 cities across the United States.

The Anne Frank Center USA wants to plant the trees in 10 U.S. cities to symbolize the growth of tolerance. The 3-foot saplings would come from an ailing horse chestnut tree in Amsterdam.

Possible locations for the trees include the planned Sept. 11 memorial in New York City, the White House, and the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. The center plans to issue a request for proposals for other sites.

Anne Frank was among the Jewish occupants of an Amsterdam building who were rounded up by the Gestapo. She died of typhus at age 15 in a concentration camp.

Gay rights groups honor Milk

NEW YORK — When Harvey Milk attended high school in suburban Long Island in the 1940s and later taught math and history and coached basketball there, he kept his sexuality a well-guarded secret.

"Like most men of his generation," biographer Randy Shilts wrote in "The Mayor of Castro Street," "Milk assiduously stuck to the double life he had carefully followed since his high school days."

More than half a century later, the Long Island Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Services Network will honor the slain gay-rights activist posthumously to draw attention to gays and lesbians with small-town roots. Mr. Milk's nephew, Stuart Milk, is accepting the award for his uncle on Saturday.

"Things have changed dramatically since the late 1940s when Harvey Milk graduated from high school," said David Kilmnick, founder of the network of three organizations. "But there's a lot more to be done."

Mr. Milk, the focus of renewed attention this year when the biographical drama "Milk" won two Oscars, became one of the country's first openly gay elected officials when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.

In November 1978, Mr. Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were fatally shot by Dan White, a disgruntled former city supervisor. Mr. Milk was 48.

Spring snow closes roads

DENVER — A slow-moving storm has dumped more than a foot of snow in parts of Colorado and Wyoming, and plenty more is on the way in some places.

A 140-mile-long stretch of Interstate 80 and many smaller roads in Wyoming were closed Friday. Authorities also have closed a a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 25 from Wellington, Colo., to Cheyenne, Wyo. There have been no reports of weather-related injuries, but officials have warned of whiteout conditions in northern Colorado and on mountain roads.

Denver and Colorado Springs were expecting 10 to 20 inches of snow by Saturday night. Forecasters called for more than 2 feet of snow in mountain towns higher than 6,000 feet.

Owner: Nephew left house before crash

OAKLAND PARK, Fla. — A small plane sputtered and dove into a house shortly after taking off from a local airport Friday morning, slicing the home down the middle into two charred pieces.

The plane, believed to be a twin-engine Cessna 421, crashed around 11:20 a.m., and the house burst into flames. The owner's nephew barely escaped the catastrophe, leaving moments before the aircraft hit to visit his aunt.

"For now, it's a bit difficult to explain how I feel," said Oscar Nolasco, 52, who has lived in the home for nearly 20 years. "Everything is gone."

The house was about two miles from the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, where the plane had just taken off. Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said one person was on board, but it wasn't known whether that person survived.

Rescue shuttle moved to pad

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space shuttle Endeavour is on a launch pad, ready to rocket off on a rescue mission if shuttle Atlantis needs help when it goes to repair the Hubble Space Telescope next month.

Endeavour rolled out early Friday to a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center and is on standby in case the astronauts on Atlantis need a safe ride home. Atlantis is on a separate launch pad less than two miles away.

Ever since space shuttles resumed flying after the 2003 Columbia tragedy that killed seven astronauts, NASA has had a rescue plan in case of irreparable damage. Most of those missions have been to the space station, though, where astronauts could camp out for two months. The Hubble mission doesn't offer a safe haven.

JCS chief: No plan to beef up border

SUNLAND PARK, N.M. — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has toured a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border but says there are no plans to send troops there as some governors are seeking.

Adm. Michael G. Mullen took a brief tour of the border in and around El Paso, Texas, on Friday. He said his first trip to the area should not be taken as a sign of any intentions to send the military to the border as a bloody drug cartel war plagues Mexico.

Adm. Mullen said his briefings from commanders with the Army's Joint Task Force North at nearby Fort Bliss and the U.S. Border Patrol were designed only to ensure continued cooperation among authorities.

Soldiers run anti-drug and other security missions along the Mexican border, but the governors of Texas and Arizona want significantly more troops there.

From wire dispatches and staff reports