- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006

FLORIDA

Shuttle crew arrives at center for launch

CAPE CANAVERAL — Space Shuttle Discovery’s crew of seven arrived at the Kennedy Space Center yesterday for this weekend’s launch, a day after a top NASA engineer who praised his colleagues for voicing doubts about the wisdom of going ahead with the flight was removed from his job.

Charlie Camarda said in an e-mail to colleagues Monday that he was forced out as chief of the engineering directorate at the Johnson Space Center and that he had been offered another position working for NASA’s Engineering and Safety Center.

He did not offer a reason for his removal, and a NASA spokesman would not comment on Mr. Camarda’s departure.

Discovery is scheduled to lift off Saturday.

GEORGIA

Three feared trapped in motel explosion

BREMEN — A two-story motel partially collapsed after an explosion yesterday, and three persons were feared trapped in the rubble,authorities said.

Investigators said it appeared that a gas explosion rattled the 73-room Quality Inn & Suites shortly before 9 a.m., collapsing the roof from above a corner of rooms and dumping debris onto cars parked below.

Bremen Fire Chief Clark Farr said six to eight rooms were destroyed and that the damage was around a laundry-maintenance room.

Most of the motel’s occupants had checked out by the time of the explosion, and only three or four people were inside, said Bremen Police Capt. Richard Harrison.

A 44-year-old maintenance worker, Reese Helton, was missing and feared trapped in the collapsed corner of the building. Two more men may be unaccounted for, but they had no local personal contacts and may have been transients or day laborers, said Capt. Alex Cohilas of the Clayton County Fire Department.

KENTUCKY

Plane returns after smoke seen

LOUISVILLE — A Delta Connection flight made an emergency landing at the Louisville airport shortly after takeoff yesterday after a flight attendant saw smoke inside the plane and a smoke detector went off in a lavatory, officials said.

There were no reported injuries aboard the flight, which had 49 passengers plus crew, said Trish Burke, a spokeswoman for the Louisville Regional Airport Authority.

“It immediately returned to the field, landed safely, the passengers were safely evacuated,” Miss Burke said.

The flight, operated by Chautauqua Airlines for Delta Air Lines, was headed to Cincinnati, Chautauqua spokesman Warren Wilkinson said.

MICHIGAN

Iraqi pleads guilty in arson intimidation

DETROIT — An Iraqi national living in the Skokie, Ill., area pleaded guilty yesterday to setting fire to the car of a human-trafficking victim as an act of intimidation. The victim was identified as an Eastern European woman who was forced to work as an exotic dancer in Detroit-area strip clubs.

Duay Joseph Jado, 27, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts to violating the Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering Enterprises Act by crossing state lines in spring 2004 to commit arson.

According to a plea agreement and other court records, after a dancer escaped from Beauty Search Inc., the corporate cover for the human-trafficking organization, a ringleader paid Jado to set fire to the dancer’s car. The records said the arson deal was in retaliation for the woman’s escape, for her failing to repay an outstanding debt purportedly owed to Beauty Search and to intimidate other dancers not to follow in her footsteps.

With yesterday’s pleading, eight persons have been convicted of crimes associated with the Detroit-area trafficking conspiracy, including another suspected ringleader, Aleksandr Maksimenko, of Livonia, Mich., who pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to violate the civil rights of the dancers through involuntary servitude, as well as immigration and money laundering conspiracies.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman Kadia Koroma said Jado remains in custody pending his sentencing.

NEVADA

Police shoot man at airport checkpoint

LAS VEGAS — Police shot a man at the city’s international airport yesterday after he grabbed a 3-year-old boy at knifepoint and ran through a security area, authorities said.

The child was unharmed and returned to his mother, who was at the airport, said Elaine Sanchez, spokeswoman for McCarran International Airport.

After the 25-year-old man grabbed the boy, he ran through an exit lane intended for passengers leaving the gates, officials said. Three officers confronted him at the other side of the checkpoint, police said.

The checkpoint was shut down for about 10 minutes, but there were no delays or service interruptions at the airport.

OHIO

Welding rod makers found not liable

CLEVELAND — A jury yesterday found makers of welding rods were not liable for the health problems of a former civilian worker at a Navy base in a ruling that could influence thousands of similar claims.

Ernesto G. Solis, 57, claims years of exposure to welding fumes at his job at a Navy base in Corpus Christi, Texas, damaged his health because of exposure to manganese within welding rods. Scientific research has been at odds over whether such exposure can lead to neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, which diminishes movement and speech.

Mr. Solis, who has a tremor in his right hand, had his hands folded in front of him when he left the courtroom and did not comment on the verdict.

The Solis case is the first to go to trial of about 3,800 cases filed nationally that were consolidated in 2003 before U.S. District Judge Kathleen O’Malley in Cleveland. The cases seek to draw a link between manganese contained in welding rods to harden a weld and neurological impairment in welders.

TEXAS

Yates sobs at video during murder trial

HOUSTON — Andrea Yates sobbed as prosecutors played a crime-scene videotape in court yesterday showing her 7-year-old son floating dead in a bathtub and the bodies of her four younger children laid out on a bed.

The murder trial is Mrs. Yates’ second in the drowning of her children. Her 2002 conviction was overturned last year because of erroneous testimony.

As in her first trial, Mrs. Yates has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. If the jury agrees, she could be committed to a state hospital, with periodic hearings to determine whether she should be released. A guilty verdict would mean life in prison.

The defense says Mrs. Yates suffered from severe postpartum psychosis and did not know that drowning the children was wrong. Both sides are expected to call most of the same witnesses as in the first trial.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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