Nation Digest


December 30, 2006

. — Electrical malfunction starts fire that kills 5, hurts 8 in Pa.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- An electrical malfunction near Christmas decorations inside a rowhouse sparked a morning fire yesterday, leaving five people dead and eight others injured.

Fire Capt. Bob Scheirer said the fire spread to the front porch, then to neighboring porches and swept through half a small city block.

The house had no working smoke detectors, Scheirer said.

The fire broke out about 6:30 a.m. Six children and two adults were treated for smoke inhalation and released, a hospital spokesman said.

Scheirer said two of the fire victims were found in a second-floor bedroom; the other three were found on the third floor.

The Morning Call

La. officer charged with murder in 2001

NEW ORLEANS -- One of the seven policemen charged in a deadly gunfight on a bridge during the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina had previously been charged with murder in the 2001 death of a suspect, but the charges were dismissed. Fraternal Order of Police lawyer Donovan Livaccari said yesterday that Sgt. Kenneth Bowen had "acted within his rights to protect himself" in that case. Records show that the city agreed to pay the suspect's mother $12,500 to settle a lawsuit. Bowen, five colleagues and another officer who has since left the force were indicted Thursday in the shooting deaths Sept. 4, 2005, of two men and the wounding of four other people on the bridge.

Bush family moved for tornado warning

CRAWFORD, Texas --President Bush and first lady Laura Bush were moved to an armored vehicle on their ranch yesterday when a tornado warning was issued in central Texas, the White House said. The vehicle was driven to a tornado shelter on the ranch at 1:30 p.m. CST, and the president, Mrs. Bush and their two Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley, sat inside until the weather cleared, deputy White House press secretary Scott Stanzel said. They were never moved into the shelter, he said. The shelter is a few hundred yards away from the president's house on the ranch.

Fla. judge rejects vote code request

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. --A judge ruled yesterday that the Democrat who narrowly lost the race to succeed Rep. Katherine Harris cannot examine the programming code of the electronic voting machines used in the disputed election. Circuit Judge William Gary ruled that Christine Jennings' arguments about the possibility of lost votes were "conjecture" and did not warrant disclosing the trade secrets of the voting machine company, Election Systems & Software. The Jennings campaign said it will appeal.

Biden presses for document access

WASHINGTON --The incoming head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and other U.S lawmakers are pressing governments to speed up ratification of an agreement that will open up access to millions of documents from the Nazi era in Germany. Earlier this month, Democratic Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., who takes over as head of the committee when Congress reconvenes Jan. 4, urged countries that have to go through a ratification process to move quickly so that the public can view the vast war-era archive. Biden sent similar letters to other countries on the commission that oversees the archive.

Boy, 16, killed in crash with father

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. --Neither father nor son saw each other until it was too late as they approached the crest of a hill on a rural gravel road. Steven Roth, 41, in his pickup truck, collided with his 16-year-old son Samuel B. Roth, who was doing a wheelie on his dirt bike. The boy died before paramedics arrived. "I don't know that I could find either one of them at fault," Sheriff John Montgomery said. The crash took place Thursday near the family's home, along a road just wide enough for two cars to pass each other. "I can't imagine what the family is going through," the sheriff said. "My heart goes out for them. I've got kids of my own. I can't imagine."

From wire reports

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