The final American revival meeting led by the Rev. Billy Graham opened Friday evening with thousands of people filling a city park for a last chance to see him.
Many arrived hours early to get seats for the first of three daily rallies that were expected to attract tens of thousands of people.
“Since this is his last one, I want to be here to honor him,” said Mary Jo Noia, a nursing supervisor from Brooklyn, who had volunteered at a Graham crusade in Boston and called it “life-changing.”
Graham, 86, is suffering from fluid on the brain, prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease. He uses a walker due to a pelvic fracture and is largely confined to his home in Montreat, N.C.
Yet the evangelist known as America’s pastor has vowed to preach on each day this weekend. His pulpit has a movable seat hidden from view, so he can sit if he feels unsteady. His son and successor, the Rev. Franklin Graham, will stand by to preach in case his father is unable.
Graham has said this weekend’s meeting will be his last U.S. crusade.
Journalist Alexander dies of cancer at 79
Trailblazing journalist Shana Alexander, whose verbal skirmishes with conservative James J. Kilpatrick on CBS’ “60 Minutes” were spoofed in a “Saturday Night Live” skit, has died of cancer. She was 79.
Alexander died Thursday at an assisted living facility in Hermosa Beach, said her niece, Hannah Bentley.
Alexander wrote for magazines including Newsweek and National Geographic and was the first female staff writer employed by Life magazine. She was also the first female editor at McCall’s magazine.
But Alexander was best known for her “Point-Counterpoint” segments with Kilpatrick at the end of each “60 Minutes” broadcast in the late 1970s.
“Point-Counterpoint” was so popular it was frequently parodied in a “Saturday Night Live” skit. Jane Curtin played the liberal Alexander role and Dan Aykroyd, in the Kilpatrick role, began his remarks with the line, “Jane, you ignorant slut.”
U.N. will ask France to take genocide case
United Nations The United Nations will ask France to take legal action against a former U.N. employee accused in the killings of 33 Rwandans in the 1994 genocide, after an internal review found the world body bungled his case and failed to protect its Rwandan staff.
Callixte Mbarushimana, who has lived under refugee protection in Paris since 2003, vehemently denies the charges and says he would welcome his day in court. Rwanda has a warrant for his arrest on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
For the last year, U.N. officials have quietly pressed Rwandan authorities and the U.N. war crimes tribunal for Rwanda to seek his extradition, without success, and are turning to France.
Blaze, explosions rock propane plant
A fire at an industrial plant sent huge fireballs shooting into the sky Friday afternoon and cast a towering cloud of black smoke over the area.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries and no word on the cause of the rapid-fire series of spectacular explosions at Praxair Distribution, which processes propane and other gases for industrial use.
Company spokeswoman Susan Szita Gore said she wasn’t certain how many of the plant’s 70 employees were there at the time, but all employees were evacuated safely.
The explosions appeared to come from tanks outside the plant and from the plant itself.
Firefighters held back at first before trying to battle the blaze as the blasts sent flames more than 150 feet in the air.