- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009


8 found in pipe near border

SAN DIEGO | Eight people, including a 16-year-old boy, were found inside a drainage pipe at the nation’s busiest border crossing late Saturday after a daylong search by authorities.

None of the six males and two females - all thought to be illegal immigrants - appeared to have suffered serious injury, said Vince Bond, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“They were dehydrated and hungry,” Mr. Bond said.

Investigators planned to interview the group and determine their nationalities.

Authorities began searching for the group after a motorist reported seeing about 12 people enter a storm drain in front of inspection booths at the San Ysidro port of entry that connects San Diego with Tijuana, Mexico. However, surveillance cameras showed only eight going into the storm-drain opening.

The opening is in American territory just south of San Ysidro’s 24 vehicle-inspection booths, Mr. Bond said. To get in, they removed a grate in one of the middle lanes.


Space shuttle launches, belatedly

CAPE CANAVERAL | Space Shuttle Discovery and its crew of seven rocketed into orbit Sunday evening, setting off on a space station construction mission cut short by launch delays that dragged on for more than a month.

Discovery rose from its seaside pad just as the sun was setting, a spectacular sight for a space agency anxious to get the flight going. The shuttle was visible for several minutes.

A hydrogen leak prevented Discovery from lifting off Wednesday and, before that, hydrogen valves kept the shuttle grounded for weeks in February. Launchpad repairs took care of the leak, and the astronauts were able to board their spaceship and lift off.

Cmdr. Lee Archambault and his crew, which includes two former schoolteachers, should reach the International Space Station Tuesday.


Services resume after pastor slain

MARYVILLE | The church where the senior pastor was fatally shot during his sermon resumed services Sunday with support from a guest preacher whose church in Texas also was bloodied by a gunman’s rampage.

The Rev. Al Meredith of Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, opened his sermon to roughly 200 people at First Baptist Church’s early service by apologizing that he wasn’t “Pastor Fred.”

“I’m so sorry it’s just me,” Mr. Meredith said as he choked back tears. “I am so sorry this happened to you. We’re praying for you.”

Police said the Rev. Fred Winters was shot through the heart during last weekend’s early service at First Baptist by Terry Sedlacek. Police said he later tried to injure himself with a knife, wounding two men who subdued him.

On Sunday, two dozen police officers stood outside the main doors, partly because some congregants had voiced fear about whether it was safe to return to the church.


Flight passenger diagnosed with TB

ROMULUS | The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a passenger on a Northwest Airlines flight from Frankfurt to Detroit has been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

Northwest said the passenger was on Tuesday’s Flight 51 to Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus.

CDC spokeswoman Shelly Diaz told the Associated Press the risk is low that other passengers might contract tuberculosis. She said Sunday that health officials were seeking to contact 17 passengers seated near the sick passenger so they can be tested for tuberculosis as a “cautionary move.”

Miss Diaz said details about the sick passenger weren’t being released. WDIV-TV reported the tuberculosis case Sunday morning.

Northwest Airlines was acquired last year by Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc.


Whale monitoring near harbor ends

ALBANY | Monitoring for endangered right whales off New York harbor is ending because the project has lost funding in the state’s current budget crunch.

Acoustic monitoring by Cornell scientists shows the rare right whales swimming off the harbor, where federal officials have recently lowered ship speed limits to help protect the slow-moving mammals during migrations from Florida to New England and Canada.

Monitors that have recorded the whales’ calls south of Long Island for a year are not being replaced, scientists said.

“We just brought them in last week,” said Chris Clark, director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “We ran out of money. We had to stop the process for right now.”

Biologists estimate 300 to 400 North Atlantic right whales remain, having been fished to commercial extinction a century ago and vulnerable now to ship collisions and entanglement in fishing gear.


Miss Oregon’s dad suspected in fraud

PORTLAND | The father of Miss Oregon was a member of a Serbian military unit that slaughtered unarmed Muslims in Bosnia in 1995, the U.S. government says in an immigration case.

Milenko Krstic, 52, is accused of visa fraud. The government, however, hasn’t said he took part in killings.

His daughter, Danijela, 24, serves as queen of the Oregon pageant. Crowned in June, Danijela Krstic was the first foreign-born winner of the pageant. A call to a Miss Oregon official was not returned, and attempts to reach family members were unsuccessful.

Last week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his attempt to throw out his 2007 indictment, reversing a Portland judge.


Husband accused in ax attack

TACOMA | Authorities in Washington state said a man was being held for investigation of first-degree murder after his estranged wife and his stepdaughter were killed in an ax attack.

Pierce County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Ed Troyer said deputies were sent to a home in the Tacoma suburb of Orting late Friday after a man called 911 to report that he’d attacked his wife and stepdaughter.

They found the man’s 52-year-old wife dead and his 33-year-old stepdaughter injured. The stepdaughter died at a hospital.

Mr. Troyer said deputies suspect the man attacked the victims and then painted messages on the side of a shed including “Living in hotel. Money running out. Nowhere to live.”

Court records showed that the wife had filed for divorce in January.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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