January 26, 2008 in Nation/World

Nation in brief: Katrina money OK’d for port project

The Spokesman-Review

The federal government on Friday approved Mississippi’s plan to divert $600 million in hurricane housing funds to a port improvement project, angering critics who say tens of thousands of people made homeless by Hurricane Katrina still need help.

In his letter to Gov. Haley Barbour, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson said that although he’s concerned about using the housing money for the port project, congressional language associated with the use of block grant funds “allows me little discretion.”

“I’m sure that you share my concern that there may still be significant unmet needs for affordable housing, and I strongly encourage you to prioritize Gulf Coast housing as you move forward,” Jackson wrote.

Mississippi plans to restore public infrastructure and publicly owned facilities at the State Port at Gulfport that were destroyed during Katrina, and to improve the port’s operating capacity.

The plan has drawn harsh criticism from several groups working on recovery efforts in the region who say housing is too scarce not to devote all possible resources to it.

Los Angeles

One dies, 1 missing in avalanches

Mountain avalanches killed an off-duty ski patrol worker and left another person missing Friday as California strained under nearly a week of snow and rain.

One avalanche struck Friday afternoon at Wrightwood in the snow-laden San Gabriel Mountains. Michael McKay, a 23-year-old employee of the Mountain High ski area, was pulled from the debris, the San Bernardino County coroner’s office said. He died at a hospital later that afternoon, a hospital spokeswoman said.

As night fell, searchers were still looking for another person who was missing after a second avalanche about a half-mile from the first, on national forest land.

The avalanches were outside Mountain High’s boundaries. The resort, which was closed by high winds a day earlier, remained open.

An avalanche advisory was issued for the ski area at nearby Mount Baldy, a 10,000-foot peak about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, and the lifts there were closed.


Snow day, no; detention, yes

A Virginia high school senior who created an online storm when he called a school official’s home to complain that snow hadn’t closed schools will serve a Saturday detention.

Devraj “Dave” Kori, 17, called the home of Fairfax County, Va., school administrator Dean Tistadt last week after about 3 inches of snow had fallen. He made the call from his cell phone on a lunch break at Lake Braddock Secondary School. Fairfax County schools prohibit cell phone use during the school day.

Kori left his name and number. The administrator’s wife, Candy Tistadt, called Kori back and left a message of her own on his voicemail, protesting the call to her home. “Get over it, kid, and go to school!” she said.

Kori posted her taped message on a Facebook page. It also was posted on YouTube, creating major Internet buzz, intense news media coverage and debate about privacy.

The YouTube posting received 20,000 hits by Wednesday afternoon, when Kori said he asked a friend who had originally posted the message there to take it down.

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