January 19, 2008 in Nation/World

High-level diplomat quitting in March

The Spokesman-Review

A top architect of the Bush administration’s policy of greater diplomatic engagement announced his resignation Friday amid signs that U.S. efforts on key issues have been losing momentum.

R. Nicholas Burns, the State Department’s third-ranking official and one of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s closest aides, said he would leave his post in March for personal reasons.

Burns was a key member of the State Department inner circle that helped Rice formulate the strategy that began moving U.S. policy toward diplomatic conciliation beginning in 2005, after Bush’s first term, when wars in Iraq and Afghanistan marked a hard-line U.S. stance toward its adversaries.

Mojave, Calif.

Space tourism firm fined over safety

Scaled Composites, the fledgling space tourism company founded by aviation innovator Burt Rutan, was fined $25,870 on Friday as a result of an accident in July that killed three workers at Scaled’s Mojave testing facility.

The fine covered five alleged violations of workplace safety codes, including a failure to maintain a safe working environment and to properly train workers handling hazardous materials.

In 2004, Scaled became the first private company to launch a reusable manned rocket into space. That craft was SpaceShipOne. At the time of the accident, Rutan’s company was working on a component for SpaceShipTwo, the six-passenger commercial model.


Gun-wielding man taken into custody

Police arrested a man carrying a shotgun outside the Capitol on Friday, authorities said.

The man, who was not immediately identified, was in custody and no one was injured, U.S. Capitol police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said. The man also was wearing a tactical vest and had a bow in his car.

An officer first spotted the man near Union Station, about two blocks from the Capitol. The man’s vehicle had wires coming out of the glove box and propane tanks inside.

Police used a robotic camera to see inside the vehicle, Schneider said, then destroyed the suspicious items inside with a powerful water hose.

Marlton, N.J.

Mortgage firm exec commits suicide

An executive of a collapsed subprime mortgage lender jumped to his death from a bridge Friday, shortly after his wife’s body was found inside their New Jersey home, authorities said.

The deaths of Walter Buczynski, 59, and his wife, Marci, 37 – the parents of two boys – were being investigated as a murder-suicide.

Walter Buczynski was a vice president of Columbia, Md.-based Fieldstone Mortgage Co., a high-flying subprime mortgage lender that made $5.5 billion in mortgage loans and employed about 1,000 people as late as 2006. However, it has since filed for bankruptcy.

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