- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2009

ALASKA

Volcano continues to rumble, not erupt

ANCHORAGE | Groans and steam emanated from Mount Redoubt yet another day, but the volcano showed no dramatic burst of energy, geologists noted Sunday.

“It looks like a volcano that wants to erupt, and our general impression is that it’s more likely to erupt than not,” said Tina Neal with the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

As a precaution, Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage, about 100 miles northeast of Redoubt, was moving five C-17 cargo planes to McChord Air Force Base in Washington.

On Saturday, geologists observed a quickly growing area of vigorous steaming at the 7,100-foot level on the north side of the mountain. Volcanic gas also was detected.

A hole in a glacier clinging to the northern side of the volcano had doubled in size since Friday, spanning the length of two football fields.

ARIZONA

Bus crash site combed for clues

DOLAN SPRINGS | Federal investigators on Sunday closely examined a stretch of rural Arizona highway near Hoover Dam looking for clues to the cause of a tour bus crash that killed seven Chinese tourists.

The six investigative team members would be measuring and photographing the site, evaluating the condition of the highway, and looking for skid marks and other clues, said National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson.

“These markings can be very important in telling the story of what happened,” Mr. Knudson said.

The bus crashed Friday on a straight stretch of U.S. 93, about 70 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

The tourists had left Las Vegas early Friday on a trip to the Grand Canyon, and were returning when the bus veered right and then left across the median, rolling at least once before resting across the southbound lanes of the highway.

Seven people were killed, 10 others were injured.

GEORGIA

Civil rights group leader steps aside

ATLANTA | The president of the civil rights group that Martin Luther King helped found has resigned.

Charles Steele Jr., 62, said Sunday that he would continue working as a consultant for the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Mr. Steele said the “time is right to bring on new leadership.”

The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native became SCLC president in 2004, inheriting a group that was near bankruptcy. He led it to solid financial footing, opened conflict-resolution centers overseas and helped build a new headquarters.

Mr. Steele said SCLC Vice President Byron Clay of Kenner, La., will be interim president until a successor is found.

The SCLC was co-founded in 1957 by King and other civil rights leaders to advance racial equality.

PENNSYLVANIA

Carbon monoxide sickens 17

PHILADELPHIA | Investigators think a gasoline-powered generator running a fan for inflatable playhouses produced carbon monoxide at a child’s birthday party, sending 17 people to a hospital.

Children were playing in two large moon bounce balloon playhouses that were being kept inflated by the fan, Fire Department Capt. John Cleary said Sunday.

Six of those sickened at Saturday’s party were ages 3 to 16.

None of the injuries was considered life-threatening.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Instructor dies on skydive jump

CHESTER | A skydive instructor who was sharing a parachute with a first-time jumper apparently died of a heart attack in the air, authorities said.

Officials said the instructor was identified as George C. Steele of Sumter, S.C.

The first-time jumper was able to parachute to the ground safely Saturday in Chester County. He tried to revive the 49-year-old instructor after they had landed, but the coroner’s office said it was too late.

They were skydiving in a tandem jump, where instructors are strapped to the backs of their students.

The first-time jumper was described as an active member of the military in his 30s, but his name was not immediately released.

TEXAS

Hispanic to lead university system

AUSTIN | A Mexican-American pediatric surgeon will become the nation’s first Hispanic to preside over a major university system when Dr. Francisco Cigarroa takes the helm at the University of Texas System, which faces financial woes and complaints about diversity.

Dr. Cigarroa, a 51-year-old pediatric transplant surgeon from Laredo, looks at his new job as the system’s new chancellor starting Monday as an opportunity to exceed expectations.

“Challenges really don’t dissuade me from pursuing important opportunities,” Dr. Cigarroa told the Associated Press. “If you’re an optimist, you see opportunities, and that’s the way I’ve been brought up.”

Dr. Cigarroa, as the chief executive officer of the UT System, will help administer an $11.5 billion operating budget and preside over 15 campuses with more than 194,000 students.

He faces complaints about soaring tuition costs, a growing battle over admissions policies and a hurricane-ravaged medical school and health center in Galveston.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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