- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fire destroys downtown block

COLUMBUS, Ohio | A fire that burned for hours Saturday destroyed a block of buildings in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Fire Battalion Chief Doug Smith said his men were “battling the elements,” as winds helped spread the blaze Saturday. Between 13 and 17 businesses, including a restaurant and a candle shop, were blackened.

At least 100 firefighters were rotated in and out of frigid weather to fight the blaze. The National Weather Service said temperatures were in the teens with about 18 mph winds.

The only injury reported was a firefighter being treated for facial burns.

Coast Guard ends search for couple

LONG BEACH, Calif. | The Coast Guard suspended its search Saturday for an elderly couple missing from a cruise ship since Tuesday.

The aerial search for the 90-year-old man and his 79-year-old wife between Long Beach and northern Mexico was halted after officials determined that their chances of surviving in the water were slim, said Chief Warrant Officer Scott Epperson.

“Factoring in their age and weights, their survivability in 59 degrees water was about 4 to 6 hours,” he said. “The last time they were seen was 84 hours ago.” Officials also consulted with the couple’s relatives, who agreed to suspending the search, Chief Warrant Officer Epperson said.

Miami-based Carnival said the couple’s cabin door was double-locked from the inside with a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the handle. Their belongings remained inside, and the door leading from the cabin to a private balcony was unlocked.

Suspect missing in hedge-fund fraud

MIAMI | A Florida hedge fund manager accused of defrauding investors out of millions is missing, and his family is worried because he left a note indicating he was “distraught,” police said Saturday.

Authorities were interviewing investors and looking into claims that Arthur G. Nadel stole from them, said Sarasota Police Capt. Bill Spitler. It was too soon to say exactly how much was invested, but there were reports the hedge fund could be out $350 million.

“The victims that I know of, I know some of them personally, they have no reason to lie,” Capt. Spitler said.

Mr. Nadel, who operated under the name Scoop Management Inc. in Sarasota, was last seen Wednesday morning by his wife. She reported him missing later that day. Mr. Nadel, 75, left a note for his family, although neither authorities nor his wife would divulge its contents.

“The reason we were called was because he was distraught and they became concerned,” said Sarasota County sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Chuck Lesaltato.

Peg Nadel said she was cooperating with the authorities and all the investors, but wouldn’t go into any detail. Local authorities were working with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI in the ongoing fraud investigation.

Obama sets meeting with the Joint Chiefs

On his first full day as president, Barack Obama will meet with high-ranking military officers to discuss the Iraq war, a conflict he has vowed to end after six years of fighting, a top adviser to Mr. Obama said Saturday.

Wednesday’s meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other military commanders and aides will fulfill a key campaign promise and bring the war back to the political forefront after months of being overshadowed by the economy.

Especially in the early stages of his two-year campaign, Mr. Obama vowed to end the war in Iraq and cited his opposition from the start as proof of his judgment, a stance that helped him eclipse Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

The Obama adviser, who would speak Saturday only on the condition of anonymity because the Wednesday meeting had not been formally announced, said the session would include several top commanders and aides in addition to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The military meeting will be one of many events on Mr. Obama’s jam-packed first full day as president. Although he may not get to bed before 3 a.m. after attending 10 inaugural balls, Mr. Obama also has scheduled a church service, economic and diplomatic meetings and a White House reception for hundreds of visitors.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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