- - Monday, August 2, 2010


Vets group chief dies of heart attack

MARINA DEL REY | Air Force veteran Dwight Radcliff, president of the United States Veterans Initiative, has died of a heart attack. He was 55.

Family spokeswoman Nicole Ward said Mr. Radcliff died of heart attack Saturday at Marina del Rey Hospital.

Mr. Radcliff was a tireless worker for U.S. Vets, which helps thousands of veterans and their families find jobs, homes and counseling. The group recently broke ground on a $35 million affordable-housing complex for low-income vets in Los Angeles.

Mr. Radcliff joined the group in 1997 after his own struggle with substance abuse and homelessness.

He played guitar and went on tour with Stevie Wonder in the 1980s. He most recently played with a veterans band called Living Proof.


Testing for spill kill effort delayed

NEW ORLEANS | BP said engineers have delayed until Tuesday a test on whether it can begin pumping mud into the blown-out Gulf of Mexico well in hopes of choking it off for good.

The company said Monday the test was pushed back a day after a small leak was discovered in the hydraulic control system.

The test will last several hours. It involves probing the broken blowout preventer with an oil-like liquid to decide if it can handle the so-called “static kill” process.

If the test is successful, the company plans to start slowly pumping the heavy mud down the well as early as Tuesday.

BP engineers said the static kill may permanently plug the well, but they may not know for sure until they finish a relief well in another week or so.


NASA scrambles to fix space station

CAPE CANAVERAL | NASA is scrambling to come up with a repair plan for a serious malfunction that’s knocked out half of the cooling system on the International Space Station.

Engineering teams have been working nonstop since one of two cooling loops shut down Saturday night. A pump that drives ammonia coolant through the lines on the right side of the space station has failed.

Astronauts Douglas Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson will venture out Thursday to replace the pump. A second spacewalk will be needed to finish the job, probably Sunday.

NASA says the six residents are safe and the outpost is stable. But lots of equipment remains shut off to prevent overheating.


Landmark auto-repair bill doesn’t pass

BOSTON | A bill that supporters say would allow Massachusetts consumers to get vehicles fixed at a wider range of repair shops has failed to gain approval.

The legislation, called the “Right to Repair” bill, was passed by the Massachusetts Senate in July, but it never came up for a House vote before the legislative session ended Saturday.

The bill would have required auto dealerships to sell codes, tools and information needed to repair cars to independent auto dealerships and vehicle owners.

Independent repair shops says they need the information to repair many cars. Opponents argue that the proprietary information would end up in the hands of companies that make generic parts.

Massachusetts would have become the first state to pass such a measure.


Pastor returns after gay report

MINNEAPOLIS | A Lutheran pastor who opposes homosexuals being allowed to lead congregations said he is attracted to men, but said he’s not a hypocrite because he never acted on his urges.

The Rev. Tom Brock told the Associated Press on Monday that he has known for many years that he is attracted to men. He said he is still a virgin at age 57 and doesn’t consider himself gay because he hasn’t acted on his attraction.

Mr. Brock’s sexuality became an issue after a gay magazine reported on his membership in a support group for Christians battling same-sex attraction. He was put on leave while a task force at Hope Lutheran Church looked into the matter.

Hope Lutheran’s executive pastor said the task force found Mr. Brock credible, and he was back in the pulpit on Sunday.


Court: Prison can ban Muslim scarf

PHILADELPHIA | A U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia said prison officials can ban employees from wearing Muslim head scarves out of safety concerns.

The judges said the case is a close call. But they said prison officials have legitimate concerns the head scarves can hide contraband or be used by an inmate to choke someone.

The 2-1 decision is a defeat for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The commission thinks the three Muslim women employed at the Delaware County Prison in Thornton had to compromise their religious beliefs to keep their jobs.

Monday’s ruling upholds a district judge who dismissed the EEOC lawsuit.

The suit was filed against the Geo Group, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based contractor that operated the prison.


Bernanke: Economy still short of full recovery

CHARLESTON | The U.S. economy is improving but has yet to recover fully, with high unemployment and a weak housing market leaving consumers unsettled, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said Monday.

This means U.S. monetary policy must remain accommodative until the economic recovery is on a sustainable path and job creation picks up, he said.

“We need to make sure that monetary policy continues to provide the support the economy needs until we begin to see growth, sustained growth and particularly growth in jobs,” he said in response to questions.

His remarks come as manufacturing data showed the sector’s expansion moderating to its slowest pace since December, and ahead of a July employment report expected to show a second month of net job losses.

In a speech to state legislators that focused heavily on the problems faced by budget-strained state and municipal governments, Mr. Bernanke said constraints at the local level were also hindering the national rebound.

“We have a considerable way to go to achieve full recovery in our economy, and many Americans are still grappling with unemployment, foreclosure and lost savings,” he said.


Survey: Escalade most likely stolen

ARLINGTON | The blinged-out Cadillac Escalade SUV, a favorite of A-listers such as Tiger Woods, is once again the vehicle voted most likely to be stolen, according to an insurance industry group.

The F-250 crew cab pickup, Infiniti G37 luxury sedan, Dodge Charger with its high-power HEMI engine and Chevrolet Corvette Z06 round out the list of the top five vehicles most likely to be the subject of insurance theft claims.

Least likely targets of thieves are family vehicles like the Volvo S80, Saturn Vue, Nissan Murano, Honda Pilot and Subaru Impreza.

The Highway Loss Data Institute, which is part of the Arlington-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, calculated theft claim rates for vehicles from the 2007-2009 model years. The data reports thefts per insured vehicles on the road.

The Escalade, which starts at $62,495, has ranked as the most-stolen in six of the last seven reports. A theft claim is filed for one out of every 100 insured Escalades, the group said, and the average insurance payout is $11,934. That compares with an average of $6,883 for all vehicles.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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