- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002

Iraq urged to act in missing pilot case

The State Department said yesterday Iraq should officially present its offer to allow a team to investigate the fate of missing pilot Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher.

"We made clear the other day that if Iraq has something to say about Cmdr. Speicher, they can react directly to us through our representation in Baghdad," spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Other channels for the offer include the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva or a three-party commission, also in Geneva, Mr. Boucher said.

Cmdr. Speicher was declared killed in action after his F-18 jet went down in Iraqi in 1991.

Rare plane crashes in Seattle bay

SEATTLE A vintage four-propeller Boeing aircraft crashed in Seattle's Elliott Bay yesterday, floating near the city's downtown while Coast Guard vessels plucked crew and passengers to safety.

The U.S. Coast Guard pulled at least four crew members and passengers from the airplane, a lavishly refurbished Boeing 307 Stratoliner, a rare aircraft built in the late 1930s.

"Up until an hour ago, this was the only flyable example in the world, so it's quite a historical loss," said Craig O'Neill, a spokesman for Seattle's Museum of Flight.

The 33-seat plane is owned by the Smithsonian Institution.

Two dead in crash of Navy helicopter

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. A Navy helicopter crashed yesterday in a remote area of the Sierra Nevada range, killing two persons and injuring the four others aboard, officials said.

The helicopter had taken off from the China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division. It went down about 100 miles north of Los Angeles in rugged terrain, said Navy spokeswoman Doris Lance.

The four injured were taken from the site by helicopter. Their injuries didn't appear life-threatening, a nursing supervisor said.

Lincoln address sells for nearly $3.1 million

NEW YORK A 12-page handwritten manuscript of President Lincoln's last address sold at auction for nearly $3.1 million.

Christie's auction house said the sale on Wednesday was a world auction record for an American historic document.

Lincoln delivered the address, which began, "We meet this evening not in sorrow but in gladness of heart," from a window of the White House on April 11, 1865. It was two days after Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his army and three days before Mr. Lincoln was shot.

ACLU sues Denver over 'spy files'

DENVER The American Civil Liberties Union said yesterday it has asked a judge to order Denver police to stop collecting and sharing secret files with other government agencies on residents who have attended peaceful demonstrations.

Maggot infestation probed at VA hospital

Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony J. Principi reassigned two administrators of the VA hospital system yesterday and ordered investigations into a medical journal's report that maggots infested the noses of two comatose patients in one facility.

According to the report in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the VA Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., was so overrun with mice and flies in 1998 that mice sometimes dashed over employees' feet in the hospital chief's offices.

"Failure to maintain sanitary standards is unacceptable, both with employees and with managers charged with maintaining standards," Mr. Principi said.

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