- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2007


$26.6 million paid to Columbia families

ORLANDO — NASA paid $26.6 million to family members of the astronauts who died on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003, a newspaper reported yesterday, citing recently released documents.

Documents obtained by the Orlando Sentinel through a federal Freedom of Information Act request show that former FBI Director William Webster helped negotiate out-of-court settlements with the families.

NASA obtained money for the settlement through a congressional appropriation in 2004, NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said.

The U.S. space agency had not disclosed the settlement to protect the privacy of the Columbia families, Mr. Beutel told the Associated Press yesterday.

The released documents did not say how much money each family received.


Soapy suds fill city streets

BOISE — City streets got an unscheduled cleaning as a sudsy citrus-scented foam erupted from manhole covers like geysers.

The bubbles spewed from a three-block stretch on the city’s east side last week after American Linen accidentally released detergent into the municipal sewer lines. The combination of gravity and churning water whipped the soap into a sudsy foam.

Officials say the company had a malfunction, caused by human error, in its automated detergent-loading device, releasing 167 gallons of a harmless but concentrated detergent.

Crews worked during the day to disperse the suds before they reached the treatment facility, then used soft-spray hoses and yard blowers to reduce foam levels closer to the plant.

Meanwhile, there was a similar problem in Wasilla, Alaska. Clusters of foamy bubbles spewed from the city’s sewer lagoon, witnesses said.

Bill Harvey, deputy public works director, said that ice thawing on the city sewer treatment lagoons leaves an accumulation of residue and foam on the surface. He also suspected the treatment plant may have gotten a “good jolt” of soap residue.


Baby eagle hatches, survives cold spell

GORHAM — A baby eagle hatched and survived a cold spell that produced subzero wind chills.

Worried viewers of 24-hour streaming video on the Internet finally saw the fuzzy head of an eaglet Thursday morning, a research biologist said. The BioDiversity Research Institute had set up the camera to capture images of the nest 70 feet up a tree in Hancock County.


Remains identified from 1944 crash

PONTIAC — The remains of a World War II navigator listed as missing in action for almost 63 years have been identified two years after they were found in Croatia, the brother of the deceased pilot said.

Air Force 1st Lt. Archibald Kelly’s B-24 crashed on July 22, 1944, south of Dubrovnik, Croatia, near the Adriatic Sea. The plane carrying 10 crew members was returning from a bombing raid on oil fields in Romania.

Fellow crew members who survived the crash told Sam Kelly, 83, that his brother was the first to jump from the damaged aircraft, but he was struggling to straighten out his parachute and crashed into a mountain. He was 23.

Mr. Kelly said he and his wife, Katie, were notified in February by the Defense Department that dental records matched the skeletal remains found in a shallow grave near the village of Cavtat. The remains, first discovered by children in 2005, also included a button from an American military uniform, said Capt. Robert Frazer, a casualty assistance officer.

Lt. Kelly’s remains were being held in a military facility in Hawaii and until they are shipped to Michigan for a May 12 funeral.


Newspaper finds 57 altered photos

TOLEDO — A photographer for the Blade who digitally changed a front-page photo of an Ohio baseball team also altered 57 other pictures that were published in the newspaper or on its Web site this year, the newspaper said yesterday.

Allan Detrich, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1998, erased people, tree limbs and utility poles from some of his photos, Ron Royhab, the Blade’s vice president and executive editor, said in a column.

After reviewing Mr. Detrich’s work, the newspaper said it found that 79 of the 947 photos he submitted since Jan. 1 had been altered.

Mr. Detrich, who began working for the Blade in 1989, resigned April 7 after acknowledging that he altered a photo of Bluffton University baseball players kneeling March 30 at their first game after the bus crash that killed five players in Atlanta. Photos of the team in other Ohio newspapers showed the legs of someone standing in the background. The legs did not appear in the Blade photo, taken from a similar angle.

Mr. Detrich told his editors that he altered the baseball team photo for his personal files and mistakenly sent it to the newspaper.

In an e-mail sent yesterday to the Associated Press, Mr. Detrich declined to comment on the Blade’s findings.


Police arrest man after standoff

TULSA — A murder suspect surrendered to police after a three-hour standoff at an apartment complex that was complicated by a crowd of bystanders who threw rocks at officers, authorities said.

After dispersing the crowd, officers negotiated with murder suspect Rico Starks, 19, for several hours before he surrendered at about 12:30 a.m. yesterday, said Officer Scott Walton.

He said police were not sure whether Mr. Starks had been armed because he had been moving from location to location in the evacuated building.

Officer Walton said officers were first called to the scene about 9 p.m. and encountered neighborhood opposition. The officers called in reinforcements to help disperse the crowd. Some of the additional police wore riot gear and carried batons.


Heavy equipment just misses driver

LA CROSSE — Friday the 13th turned out to be lucky for one Wisconsin woman.

Sara Wrobel narrowly missed a 15-to-20 ton piece of construction equipment that became unhinged from a dump truck and fell in front of her as she backed out of her driveway.

She said she walked out of her house a few minutes early Friday and pulled out of her driveway, and as she waited for her garage door to close, the equipment — a rock screener — fell.

“I heard this weird noise, and the thing crashed right in front of me,” said the pregnant woman, due any day.

The screen became unhinged from the dump truck, hit a telephone pole, flipped over the embankment and landed on the driveway, she said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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