Thursday, October 27, 2005


Airport to weed lake used by floatplanes

ANCHORAGE — Officials at Anchorage’s main airport are trying to kill weeds at a lake heavily used by floatplanes.

Workers this week will drain a couple of feet from Lake Hood with hopes that freezing temperatures will kill the weeds. They also hope to buy a special “aquatic vegetation harvester” to remove 10-foot swaths of weeds during summer.


City to dispense medical marijuana

SANTA CRUZ — The City Council has voted to create a municipal department to dispense medical marijuana and has promised to fight federal regulators in court over local control of the drug.

The panel voted 4-2 Tuesday to create an Office of Compassionate Use, a five-member advisory board that would coordinate medical marijuana distribution within the city.

The program would help the city ensure that qualified patients get medically prescribed marijuana, while local and federal authorities spar over the issue, officials said.

California law has allowed medical marijuana use since voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that the federal government can continue to prosecute users.


Ruling lets airport resume expansion

CHICAGO — Work on a massive expansion of O’Hare International Airport aimed at reducing some of the nation’s worst flight delays can resume over opponents’ objections, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The city of Chicago won approval from the Federal Aviation Administration Sept. 30 for a nearly $15 billion project to add runways and reconfigure others. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ordered a halt to construction the same day to allow time to consider objections from expansion foes.

The same court’s ruling Tuesday allows construction to continue while it considers the opponents’ request to block the project. The city said it will resume construction work today.

The Chicago suburbs of Bensenville and Elk Grove Village and a church that owns a cemetery in the path of the expansion are among opponents asking the court to block the O’Hare project.


Katrina death toll climbs to 1,053

NEW ORLEANS — The death toll attributed to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana has grown to 1,053, according to figures released Tuesday.

The number of bodies received by a morgue in St. Gabriel near Baton Rouge and by coroners in 13 parishes rose to 1,061, up from 1,056 on Oct. 21. But that total included the bodies of eight persons whose deaths have since been ruled unrelated to the storm, the state Department of Health and Hospitals said.

Almost half of the bodies have been identified. Many of those names have not been released because of difficulty locating family members or because autopsies are pending, said Bob Johannessen, a department spokesman.


Convicted killer of sisters executed

BONNE TERRE — A man convicted of killing two sisters who authorities said were pushed from an abandoned Mississippi River bridge was executed early yesterday.

In a final statement made to prison officials, Marlin Gray again denied involvement in the 1991 deaths.

“I go with the peace of mind that comes from never having taken a human life,” Gray said.

Gray, 38, was pronounced dead at 12:07 a.m. He was convicted in 1992 of two counts of first-degree murder as an accomplice in the deaths of Julie and Robin Kerry.


IRS agent charged with stealing comics

LAS VEGAS — An Internal Revenue Service agent has been charged with stealing comic books from a store in Las Vegas.

At a court hearing Monday, Steve Riddle, owner of Velvet Underground Comics, accused Bert Lott of months of shoplifting. Exchanges between Mr. Riddle and Mr. Lott’s attorney, Bill Terry, became so heated that Justice of the Peace Deborah Lippis adjourned the hearing until next week.

Mr. Lott reportedly put 14 comic books in a bag during a visit to the store in July, but he was arrested while still in the store.

Mr. Terry questioned Mr. Riddle about his tax records, asking him whether they were complete.


‘Miracle building’ of 9/11 reopens

NEW YORK CITY — A 23-story landmark known as the “miracle building” for withstanding fallout from the 2001 terrorist attack on the adjacent World Trade Center had a grand reopening Tuesday.

Built in 1907, 90 West St. was seriously damaged while seven buildings near it, including the Twin Towers, were destroyed. Debris from the South Tower started fires that burned for days and damaged the building’s northern facade, roof and interior.

In its new incarnation, 410 apartments fill the former office building, which was the work of architect Cass Gilbert. At a cost of $100 million in tax-exempt bonds, a new copper roof was put on 90 West and thousands of terra cotta tiles and gargoyles were restored to the facade.


Train delayed by bomb threat

WESTERLY — An Amtrak train from Boston to Washington was delayed for more than two hours Tuesday evening as law enforcement investigated a bomb threat, authorities said.

A man called Amtrak in Boston and said an explosive device was “set to go off” on Train 177, which left Boston at 5:35 p.m. carrying 115 passengers.

The train was stopped in Westerly, the next available stop, at about 7:30 p.m. The eight-car train let off passengers and underwent a thorough search, Westerly police Capt. Lauren Matarese said. No explosives were found.


Mormons cite troubles in Venezuela

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is reassigning its missionaries in Venezuela to other Spanish-speaking countries, a church spokesman said.

“The church has experienced difficulty over the past few months in renewing visas for missionaries, and in obtaining new visas, in Venezuela,” Dale Bills said Monday.

Missionaries serving in Venezuela also will be reassigned to missions in the United States and Canada where needed, Mr. Bills said.

U.S. relations with Venezuela have been rocky, with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez saying his government is preparing for a U.S. invasion. The U.S. government denies it plans to invade.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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