- - Sunday, September 16, 2012

SAN ANTONIO — The Air Force chose a woman Saturday to lead its basic training unit at a Texas base where dozens of female recruits have alleged they were sexually assaulted or harassed by male instructors within the past year.

Col. Deborah Liddick is taking command of the 737th Training Group, bringing a distinctly new face of authority to Lackland Air Force Base here. Six male instructors have been charged with crimes ranging from rape to adultery, and there are others still under investigation.

The Air Force announced Col. Liddick’s appointment in a statement that didn’t mention the sex scandal or highlight choosing a woman to lead a unit in which the number of women identified by military investigators as potential victims is approaching 40.

About 1 in 5 recruits at Lackland are women; most instructors are men.

“I look forward to and have the utmost confidence in having Col. Liddick take the reins of basic military training,” Col. Mark Camerer, commander of the 37th Training Wing at Lackland, said in the statement.

Lackland is where every new American airman reports for basic training. It graduates about 35,000 each year.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Baby is born in parking parking lot of racetrack

LOUDON — A New Hampshire woman and her baby are doing fine after a birth in the New Hampshire Motor Speedway parking lot.

Shawna Arnold began going into labor Friday and she and her boyfriend began driving to a hospital. But when she realized she was about to give birth on the way, so they stopped at the racetrack parking lot in Loudon.

Ms. Arnold told WMUR-TV that she and the father delivered the baby, named Katie, in their car. An emergency medical technician at the track then assisted them. The couple and the baby were taken to a hospital.

Speedway General Manager Jerry Gappens has awarded the baby two tickets to NASCAR races for the rest of her life.

LOUISIANA

On Bourbon Street, party but don’t preach at night

NEW ORLEANS — A ban on preachers along Bourbon Street after dark is creating a First Amendment fight.

The ordinance against aggressive solicitation was put in place nearly a year ago, but arrests during a gay pride festival two weeks ago were perhaps the first time the law had been enforced.

The ordinance passed in October bans spreading “any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise.” City officials say it’s a public safety measure to keep people moving at night along the crowded, raunchy strip.

During the Southern Decadence festival over Labor Day weekend, a group of nearly 10 street preachers were arrested. They are vowing to challenge the ordinance.

COLORADO

Widow of hijacked 9/11 pilot died accidentally

DENVER — A Colorado coroner said the widow of a man who piloted a plane hijacked on 9/11 died accidentally in May.

Deputy Coroner Carl Blesch said Friday that Sandy Dahl, 52, died in Jefferson County of acute heart failure caused by the combined effects of alcohol and multiple prescription drugs.

Her husband, Capt. Jason Dahl, was the captain of United Flight 93.

The flight was en route from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco. It went down in Pennsylvania as passengers fought terrorists onboard.

CALIFORNIA

Death Valley recognized as world’s hottest spot

DEATH VALLEY — California’s Death Valley has racked up another extreme accolade — it’s now deemed the world’s hottest place.

Long known as the lowest, driest and hottest spot in the United States, Death Valley this week was named as the hottest place on the globe by the World Meteorological Organization.

An international team of weather experts said the title comes after it investigated a long-held record from El Azizia, Libya, and found that an inexperienced weather observer recorded the temperature incorrectly.

The Libyan record was logged as 136.4 degrees on Sept. 13, 1922 — 90 years ago Thursday. It was set after the observer broke a more reliable instrument and used a complicated and less reliable type of thermometer, experts said. They believe the temperature was off by about 5 degrees.

The new official highest recorded surface temperature is 136 degrees on July 10, 1913, in Death Valley. The average daily high temperature in Death Valley last month was 113 degrees. The hottest day this year was July 11, with 128 degrees.

TEXAS

No bombs found after threats empty 2 campuses

AUSTIN — Tens of thousands of people streamed off university campuses in Texas and North Dakota on Friday after telephoned bomb threats prompted officials to warn students and faculty to leave as quickly as possible. Both campuses eventually were deemed safe and reopened by early afternoon, as authorities worked to determine whether the threats were related.

The University of Texas received a call about 8:35 a.m. from a man claiming to be with al Qaeda, who said he had placed bombs throughout the 50,000-student Austin campus, said University of Texas spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon. He claimed the bombs would go off in 90 minutes, so all buildings were evacuated at 9:50 a.m. as a precaution, Ms. Weldon said.

The deadline passed without incident, and the university reopened all buildings by noon.

North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani said 20,000 people were evacuated from his school’s main and downtown campuses in Fargo after the school received its threat. FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said a call that included a “threat of an explosive device” came in about 9:45 a.m., but he declined to give further details. He said the agency was trying to determine whether the two campus threats were related.

From wire dispatches and staff reports