- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2002

Helms to undergo open-heart surgery
Veteran Republican Sen. Jesse Helms is to undergo open-heart surgery this morning to replace a worn-out pig valve inserted in his heart 10 years ago, aides said.
"He checked in several times throughout the day," said Mr. Helms' chief of staff, Jimmy Broughton. "He sounds just fine. He's not groggy or anything."
Mr. Helms' office declined to answer media queries early yesterday but planned to release a statement by the end of the day.
Mr. Helms, 80, North Carolina Republican, was admitted to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda on Monday after feeling ill Sunday.

General to co-chair bombing probe
A top Air Force pilot trainer will co-chair the investigation into last week's "friendly fire" bombing of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, and the U.S. Army's top general is going to Canada for the memorial service for those killed.
The Pentagon announced yesterday that Brig. Gen. Stephen Sargeant, commander of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, will chair the American probe with Canadian Brig. Gen. Marc Dumais. And U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki will attend Sunday's memorial service for the four killed, said Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke.
The four died and eight were injured when an American F-16 pilot on a night patrol apparently mistook the Canadians for enemy forces. The pilot thought he was acting in self-defense when he dropped a 500-pound bomb on them, U.S. officials have said. The Canadians were conducting a live-fire training exercise.

Freight train ran red light before crash
PLACENTIA, Calif. A freight train ran a red light moments before slamming into a commuter train, killing two and injuring about 260, investigators said yesterday.
The accident during Tuesday's morning rush hour left Metrolink passengers dazed and bloodied. Some were thrown from their seats; others clambered out windows of the double-decker commuter train.
"There is no question the Burlington Northern train should have stopped," National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Marion Blakey said.
She stopped short of blaming human error, saying officials were continuing to investigate.

Abstinence programs extended in House vote
A House committee voted to renew a contentious sexual abstinence program yesterday after rejecting a Democratic attempt to let states decide whether to include discussion of birth-control methods.
The vigorous debate stood in sharp contrast to five years ago, when Congress tacked the program onto massive welfare legislation with virtually no public discussion.
Majority Republicans defended the "abstinence-only" program, and the House Commerce Committee voted 35-17 to extend it for another five years.
Democrats spoke in favor of "abstinence-plus" programs. They would emphasize that abstaining from sex is a person's best choice and the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and disease, but they would urge those who have sex anyway to use condoms or other protections.
The federal law bars discussion of the benefits of birth control and instructs programs to teach that any sex outside marriage has harmful consequences.

Defense suggests Skakel tutor admitted to slaying
NORWALK, Conn. Defense attorneys for Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel yesterday suggested yesterday the defendant's tutor had admitted to killing Mr. Skakel's neighbor in 1975.
Defense attorneys asked the judge to allow testimony and evidence they say will implicate the former tutor, Kenneth Littleton, as the killer. A hearing on the request was scheduled for tomorrow.
Eugene Riccio, Mr. Littleton's attorney, said he is not aware of any confessions by Littleton. "Mr. Littleton has maintained his innocence and will continue to do so," Mr. Riccio said.
Mr. Skakel, a nephew of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, is accused of beating a neighbor, Martha Moxley, to death with a golf club traced to the Skakel family. Both were 15 at the time.

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