- The Washington Times - Friday, October 17, 2003

Six persons dead in high-rise fire

CHICAGO [-] Six persons were killed yesterday in a fire that trapped workers in smoke-filled stairways and hallways of a high-rise office building in the heart of downtown, officials said.

“The people that have passed away appeared to be for the most part from one area in one stairwell,” said Fire Superintendent James Joyce.

Some of the victims inside the 35-story Cook County administration building were not found until after the fire was brought under control. Firefighters were conducting a floor-by-floor search when some of those trapped called 911 on their cellular phones.

Mr. Joyce said he did not know how the fire started in the building, which has an alarm system but no sprinklers. He said the injured — at least 15 people were hospitalized — were found in the stairways and hallways from the 16th to the 22nd floors.

General apologizes for religious comments

A top Pentagon general apologized yesterday to those offended by his statements casting the war on terrorism in religious terms.

In a statement, Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin said he never meant to offend Muslims.

“I am not anti-Islam or any other religion,” Gen. Boykin said. “I support the free exercise of all religions. For those who have been offended by my statements, I offer a sincere apology.”

Pentagon officials released Gen. Boykin’s statement late yesterday after spending hours deliberating how to calm the storm of criticism surrounding Gen. Boykin’s comments. The general’s statements came in speeches — some made in uniform — at evangelical Christian churches.

In several speeches, Gen. Boykin said the real enemy was not Osama bin Laden but Satan.

“I have frequently stated that I do not see this current conflict as a war between Islam and Christianity,” Gen. Boykin said. “I have asked American Christian audiences to realize that even though they cannot be in Iraq or Afghanistan, they can be part of this war by praying for America and its leaders.”

Missing boy found dead in woods

LINCOLN, N.H. — A 10-year-old boy who disappeared in the New Hampshire woods was found dead yesterday, apparently from exposure, four days after he became separated from his family.

The body of Patric McCarthy was found about 21/4 miles from where he was last seen playing Monday near the family condominium on the edge of the White Mountain National Forest. The area had been searched several times, said Col. Jeff Gray of the Fish and Game Department.

“Basically [the searchers] had to be right on top of him to locate him in the vegetation,” Col. Gray said.

Col. Gray said Patric apparently died of exposure, and that the state medical examiner would determine when he died. He said there was no sign of foul play or of a fall.

Judge steps down over language comment

OMAHA, Neb. — A judge who told a man to speak to his daughter primarily in English stepped down from the case Thursday, accusing his critics of misinterpreting his comments.

Sarpy County District Judge Ronald E. Reagan told the father during a Sept. 15 visitation hearing that he should communicate with the 5-year-old girl primarily in English for the sake of her education.

“The principal form of communication during the periods of visitation is going to be English,” Judge Reagan said at the hearing. “That does not mean that you can’t instruct and teach her the Hispanic language.”

Eloy Amador only recently met his daughter because he was serving a five-year prison sentence for drug possession, his attorney has said.

Since the hearing, nine people in Omaha asked to meet with Judge Reagan to discuss possible cultural bias in his courtroom.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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