Ivan strengthens, kills 23 in Caribbean
St. George’s, Grenada Hurricane Ivan took aim Thursday at Jamaica and possibly Florida after killing 23 people in five countries and devastating Grenada, where police fired tear gas to stop a looting frenzy and frightened students armed themselves with knives and sticks.
Ivan, the deadliest hurricane to hit the Caribbean in a decade, pummeled Grenada, Barbados and other southern islands on Tuesday. On Thursday, it strengthened into a Category 5 storm – the most powerful, with 160 mph winds – and was expected to hit Jamaica, where officials urged a half million people to evacuate coastal and flood-prone areas, today. The dead included a 75-year-old Canadian woman who drowned in a canal swollen by flood waters in Barbados after going out in the storm to search for her cat, and four youngsters in the capital of the Dominican Republic who were swept away by a giant wave Thursday even though the storm was nearly 200 miles from land.
Rocket attacks injure one in Afghan capital
Kabul Afghanistan As many as five rockets were fired in quick succession in the Afghan capital late Thursday, injuring at least one Afghan resident, officials said.
The string of explosions rang out on the anniversary of the slaying of anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massood, who was assassinated two days before the Sept. 11 attacks that triggered the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
The rocket attacks came less than two weeks after a car bomb killed about 10 people at the U.S. security firm in Kabul which supplies bodyguards for President Hamid Karzai.
On Thursday evening, one rocket damaged a simple mud house in the city’s central Qala-e-Musa district, injuring one woman, residents said.
Police said another house was also hit, but that no one was injured.
Two ships to be named after 9/11 attack sites
Washington The Navy announced Thursday it will name two planned ships after the places where two of the planes hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001, crashed.
The USS Arlington will be named for Arlington, Va., where the Pentagon is. The USS Somerset will be named for the county in Pennsylvania where it is believed hijackers deliberately crashed their plane after passengers rose up against them.
The ships are amphibious transport docks, the eighth and ninth of the San Antonio class. Each will have a crew of 363 people and will be capable of carrying 699 Marines.
Both the Arlington and Somerset will be built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in New Orleans, the Navy said.
An earlier ship of the same class was named USS New York after the site of the World Trade Center attacks.
Baby who survived days alone out of hospital
Austin, Texas A 6-month-old infant who survived for up to five days alone near the body of her dead father has been released from a hospital.
Asia McCoy, who had been listed in critical condition after police found her in the dwelling Aug. 29, was released Wednesday.
Police believe her father had been dead for four or five days. His death is under investigation, but foul play isn’t suspected.
Asia remains in foster care.
Cracker Barrel settles discrimination suit
Nashville, Tenn. Cracker Barrel agreed Thursday to pay $8.7 million to settle allegations the restaurant chain mistreated black customers and discriminated against black employees.
More than 40 plaintiffs in 16 states alleged blacks were denied service, assigned to segregated seating, subjected to racial slurs and served food taken from the trash. Also, about a dozen employees complained that blacks were segregated from white workers and generally received “back of the house” assignments such as cook and dishwasher.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, David Sanford, said the settlement “represents good closure to a bad period.”
The company and representatives of the plaintiffs would not discuss specifics of the settlement, including how the money would be divided.
Company spokeswoman Julie Davis disputed the claim that food was taken from the trash, but would not comment on the other allegations.
Earlier this year, Cracker Barrel settled a Justice Department lawsuit alleging similar discrimination at its restaurants. The company agreed to a number of operational changes but did not admit any wrongdoing and paid no fines or penalties.
That settlement included a finding that black customers at many of the country store-themed restaurants were treated poorly and that those who complained were treated less favorably than whites.
Cracker Barrel operates 505 restaurants in 41 states.
Robber holds up bank with a pitch fork
Aiken, S.C. A robber who used a rusty pitchfork to stick up a bank got away – and so far, finding him has been like looking for a needle in a haystack.
The man, wearing sunglasses and a mask, entered Security Federal Bank Tuesday morning and threatened employees with the 4-foot-long pitchfork. The man took an undisclosed amount of money.
The robber dropped the farm tool as he ran from the bank through a wooded area to a golf course behind the bank, police said.
Bloodhounds tracked the robber to a fast food restaurant parking lot, where police say the man got into a white van driven by a woman.
No customers were in the bank during the holdup, and no one was injured.
Cheney says indicators miss eBay’s impact
Cincinnati Indicators measure the nation’s unemployment rate, consumer spending and other economic milestones, but Vice President Dick Cheney says it misses the hundreds of thousands who make money selling on eBay.
“That’s a source that didn’t even exist 10 years ago,” Cheney told an audience in Ohio. “Four hundred thousand people make some money trading on eBay.”
Puppy shoots man who was trying to shoot it
Pensacola, Fla. A man who tried to shoot seven puppies was shot himself when one of the dogs put its paw on the revolver’s trigger.
Jerry Allen Bradford, 37, was charged with felony animal cruelty, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday. He was being treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound to his wrist.
Bradford said he decided to shoot the 3-month-old shepherd-mix dogs in the head because he couldn’t find them a home, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
On Monday, Bradford was holding two puppies – one in his arms and another in his left hand – when the dog in his hand wiggled and put its paw on the trigger of the .38-caliber revolver. The gun then discharged, the sheriff’s report said.
Deputies found three of the puppies in a shallow grave outside Bradford’s home, said sheriff’s Sgt. Ted Roy.
The four others appeared to be in good health and were taken by Escambia County Animal Control, which planned to make them available for adoption.
Las Vegas monorail closed again
Las Vegas The Las Vegas monorail was closed one day after it reopened when a piece of a train’s undercarriage fell off Wednesday and landed in a busy street.
No one was injured when a slip disk — similar to a large washer — came loose and fell about 25 feet to the pavement, monorail spokesman Todd Walker said. The 6-inch disk weighing one to two pounds first struck a power rail, causing electrical arcing but no serious damage to the track.
The monorail had reopened Tuesday after being closed for six days following a Sept. 1 incident in which a 60-pound wheel fell off one of the trains. Nobody was hurt. The wheel apparently was installed improperly at an assembly plant.
The $650 million private venture began operating in July. Walker said the fully automated monorail, which travels along a 3.9-mile route, will reopen when Clark County inspectors and system officials say it’s safe.