- The Washington Times - Monday, November 20, 2000

Air crash probe tests safety mechanism

SEATTLE Federal investigators are testing a safety mechanism that may have failed and caused an Alaska Airlines jet to crash off the California coast last January, which could shift blame to airplane maker Boeing Co., the Seattle Times reported yesterday.

A small control piece called an "end stop" may have broken off the doomed jet's horizontal stabilizer apparatus, causing the pilots to lose control of the plane, the paper reported, citing classified documents from the National Transportation Safety Board's crash probe.

Previously, the NTSB focused on Alaska's maintenance of the narrow-body MD-80, which plunged into the sea on its way from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to San Francisco and then to Seattle, killing all 88 people on board.

Boeing has argued that the end stop fell off on impact, but the Seattle-based airline, a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group Inc., has argued that Boeing's tests were invalid, the Times reported.

Car owner finds body in trunk

LOS ANGELES A man whose car was stolen in the Los Angeles area got more than he expected when police found the vehicle and returned it a few days later.

The owner opened the trunk hours after the car was returned Friday, and found the body of a man who had been missing since Nov. 10, said Harry Drucker, a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy.

The car, a Buick Park Avenue, was recovered by police from the city of Maywood southeast of Los Angeles.

"They contacted owner, who goes to get car, opens the trunk and finds there's a little something extra in there that wasn't there before," Mr. Drucker said.

The victim, identified as Mark Jaimes, 22, was apparently shot to death and his body shoved into the trunk of the car, said sheriff's deputy Cruz Solis.

Minnesota Somalis send millions home

MINNEAPOLIS Somali refugees in Minnesota have been wiring millions of dollars back to their troubled homeland and federal officials are investigating to determine whether some of it is buying weapons for warring clans, the Star Tribune reported yesterday.

Most of the money is humanitarian aid for people unable to leave the East African country, according to Somalis living in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, the Star Tribune said.

However, some Somalis told the newspaper there is an organized collection system in Minnesota that pressures them into contributing for guns and clan-based militias.

At least $75 million has been sent to Somalia in the past four years, with an average of $2 million a month now leaving Minnesota for Middle Eastern banks, the newspaper said.

The investigation centers on how the money is collected and where it goes.

Safety campaign focuses on drunks

In time for the busy Thanksgiving travel week, a national safety campaign by law enforcement agencies is focusing on drunken drivers and motorists who fail to buckle children.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children, with more than 2,000 victims each year. Nearly one-quarter die in alcohol-related accidents while 60 percent of the children killed are completely unrestrained.

More than 10,000 law enforcement agencies, beginning today, have pledged to ticket drivers with unrestrained child passengers and arrest drunken drivers. Police in many states will operate roadblocks to check for drunken drivers and seat belt use.

"Officers across the nation are sending the same message," said Ida Gillis, national president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. "If you put innocent lives at risk by not buckling up kids or by driving drunk, we're going to find you and law enforcement action will be taken against you to protect our children."

Of the approximately 500 children under 14 killed each year in drunken driving accidents, two-thirds were passengers in a drunken driver's car, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control published in May.

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