- - Wednesday, September 8, 2010

CALIFORNIA

FBI investigating airline bomb hoax

LOS ANGELES — The FBI on Wednesday was trying to determine whether a passenger staged a bomb hoax that prompted a search of a Thai Airways jetliner at Los Angeles International Airport.

“The working theory at this point” is that a passenger aboard Flight 794 scrawled the bomb threat on a restroom mirror, but no arrest was made, and the investigation continues, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

There was no indication that a crew member was involved, she added.

Making a phony threat against an airliner is a federal crime that carries a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, Ms. Eimiller said.

The plane, carrying 171 passengers and 18 crew members, was heading from Bangkok to Los Angeles when the threat was discovered.

ILLINOIS

Pediatricians group backs doctor flu shots

CHICAGO — The nation’s largest pediatricians group is endorsing mandatory flu vaccinations for doctors, nurses and other health care workers.

In a new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics says mandatory vaccination of health care workers is needed to protect patients. The group says it’s ethically justified and long overdue.

According to the academy, voluntary vaccination programs just haven’t worked. Too many health care workers still shun annual flu vaccinations. Evidence shows some have passed along flu to patients.

The academy says it should be up to hospitals to devise mandatory vaccination programs and enforce them.

MICHIGAN

Detroit mayor calls fires ‘natural disaster’

DETROIT — Detroit Mayor Dave Bing defended a stretched fire department Wednesday and its response to what he termed “a natural disaster” after wind-whipped flames destroyed dozens of occupied and abandoned homes across the city.

Mr. Bing said firefighters confronted conditions “that were not man-made” starting Tuesday afternoon. Wind gusts of up to 50 mph forced flames to jump from house to house, eventually encompassing 85 homes and garages - many abandoned - across several neighborhoods.

No injuries were reported.

When pressed on whether the fire department was adequately staffed, Mr. Bing sidestepped the question and pointed out that no one was killed.

“A natural disaster [that’s] what this was,” he said at a press conference. “You just cannot plan for that.”

MONTANA

‘Greedy antics’ cost firm $229 million

BILLINGS — A federal bankruptcy judge says he will not reward the “greedy antics” of financial giant Credit Suisse by ordering the repayment of $229 million it lent to the exclusive Yellowstone Club.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ralph Kirscher, in a Tuesday order, denied a request from club creditors that former owner Tim Blixseth repay all the money he took from the resort to finance his lavish lifestyle.

Credit Suisse arranged a $375 million loan to the club in 2005, with $229 million still outstanding.

Judge Kirscher says the firm was complicit in Mr. Blixseth’s diversion of that money and should not benefit from any judgment against him.

Mr. Blixseth still must pay other club creditors more than $40 million.

OKLAHOMA

Judge keeps stay of execution

OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge has declined to lift a stay of execution for an Oklahoma man whose lethal injection was put on hold because the state ran out of one of the drugs used in the procedure.

Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot to lift the stay for Jeffrey David Matthews after the state acquired enough sodium thiopental to execute him. But the Oklahoman newspaper reported Wednesday that Judge Friot has kept the stay in place until an Oct. 15 hearing, when he’ll hear arguments from defense attorneys.

A nationwide shortage of the anesthetic led Oklahoma to alter its lethal-injection procedures. Matthews’ attorneys objected to the change, prompting Judge Friot to delay Matthews’ scheduled August execution.

Matthews was convicted of murdering his 77-year-old great uncle in 1994.

VIRGINIA

Philanthropist Kluge dies

CHARLOTTESVILLE — John Kluge, who built an investment in a radio station into the Metromedia broadcasting empire, has died. He was 95.

The University of Virginia says Mr. Kluge died Tuesday at his home near Charlottesville.

Forbes magazine’s ranked Mr. Kluge as the richest man in America from 1989 to 1991 with a net worth of more than $5 billion. He was 35th on the list in 2009.

Rupert Murdoch bought seven TV stations from Metromedia in 1985, enabling him to form the Fox television network.

Mr. Kluge also made millions in cell-phone and restaurant businesses, and gave hundreds of millions of dollars to Columbia University and other institutions.

Mr. Kluge was born in Germany and immigrated as a child. He got into the radio business after World War II.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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