- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 30, 2002

Three soldiers die in training accident

FORT IRWIN, Calif. A mortar round fired from an armored vehicle exploded prematurely during a training exercise early yesterday, killing three soldiers, military officials said.

One other soldier was wounded, but the injury was not life threatening, said Maj. Rob Ali, a base spokesman. The soldier was taken to Weed Army Community Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.

The accident happened shortly before 2:30 a.m. The soldiers were engaged in a military exercise when a 120 mm mortar round exploded as it was being fired from its carrier, Maj. Ali said.

Oprah declines invitation to Afghanistan

CHICAGO Talk show host Oprah Winfrey declined President Bush's offer to join an official U.S. delegation to tour Afghanistan's schools, saying she didn't have time.

The trip was to celebrate young girls' return to school after the fall of the Taliban regime.

"Due to her responsibilities to the show, she is not adding anything to her calendar," a spokeswoman for Miss Winfrey's Chicago-based company said yesterday.

Without Miss Winfrey on board, the White House postponed the trip that was to feature some of the administration's top women, possibly including National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, the Chicago Tribune reported yesterday.

Judge dismisses Citadel suit

CHARLESTON, S.C. A federal judge has formally dismissed a lawsuit filed nine years ago that challenged The Citadel's all-male admissions policy and helped open the gates of the state military college to female cadets.

"The Citadel has eliminated to the extent practicable the discriminatory effects of the past," and female cadets are in the position they would have been in had the school never been male-only, U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck wrote in the order filed late Thursday.

Shannon Faulkner sued in 1993 to become the college's first female cadet. She enrolled two years later under an order signed by Judge Houck but left after less than a week, citing stress and her isolation as the only female cadet.

Late Enron official's kin: Keep note private

HOUSTON A note that a former Enron Corp. executive left for his wife before he committed suicide in January contains personal, intimate family information and should remain private, the family's attorney said.

In a 26-page letter to the state attorney general last week, the family pleads for a hearing on the issue. The Attorney General's Office has until April 12 to decide whether to release the note written by J. Clifford Baxter, 43, shortly before he left his home in suburban Houston early Jan. 25 and shot himself in his locked Mercedes-Benz.

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