Nation Digest

NATION DIGEST

October 03, 2005

New Orleans cathedral offers 1st Sunday Mass since Katrina

NEW ORLEANS -- Churchgoers gathered to pray at the historic St. Louis Cathedral, convening in the building described as the "soul of the city" for its first Sunday Mass since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans more than a month ago.

Emergency workers and soldiers - many of them out-of-towners who descended on Louisiana after the hurricane - mixed with returning residents as they prayed for the resolve to continue.

Yesterday's Mass was being held while relief workers and crews continued the massive task of draining the floodwaters. Water was still being pumped out of the heavily flooded Lower Ninth Ward. Officials expected the pumping to be completed by midweek, said Mitch Frazier, spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers.

Electricity had been restored to about 29 percent of New Orleans customers and about 98 percent of Jefferson Parish customers, said Chanel Lagarde, a spokesman for Entergy Corp.

Associated Press

Vt. accepts limits to Medicaid funding

Montpelier, Vt. -- A growing inability to pay ever-increasing Medicaid costs has forced Vermont into an innovative deal with the federal government that critics fear could jeopardize a safety net dating back to the Great Society. Gov. James Douglas says he's confident his Global Commitment to Health, in which the state has agreed to accept limits to federal Medicaid funding over the next five years, will give state officials unprecedented flexibility to manage the health insurance program for the poor and begin to control costs. The program went into effect Saturday. Vermont's approach could provide a road map for reforming an entitlement program whose costs have risen beyond most governments' ability to pay.

DeLay says he can do job without title

Washington --A defiant Tom DeLay, removed as House majority leader because of a criminal indictment, said yesterday he can do his job even without the title and pledged to continue his close partnership with House Speaker Dennis Hastert in pushing the GOP's agenda. The Texas Republican, known for keeping colleagues in line and raising prodigious amounts of cash to help elect GOP candidates, said he is only guilty of working to defeat Democrats.

Firefighters gain on three Calif. blazes

Los Angeles --Firefighters gained ground yesterday against three wildfires burning across Southern California but worried about a forecast for hot winds. A 1,045-acre fire in Burbank was 67 percent contained after firefighters were aided by cooler, overnight breezes, said Capt. Ron Bell of the Burbank Fire Department. But firefighters were concerned about a forecast for warmer winds. Elsewhere, more than 1,000 emergency personnel battled a blaze in and around San Bernardino National Forest.

Ga. authorities link fatal home invasions

Ellenton, Ga. --Authorities have linked a string of home invasions that left five Mexican immigrants dead with an armed robbery that occurred last month after reviewing descriptions of weapons used in both crimes. Javier Guzman and Juventino Leon were assaulted in their trailer Sept. 13 by three men wielding chrome pistols and baseball bats, similar to the weapons used in the south Georgia slayings Friday.

Associated Press

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