FRESNO, Calif. – Thousands of sobbing mourners in military uniform and traditional Laotian dress paid their respects Friday to the late Gen. Vang Pao, a key U.S. ally in the Vietnam War and hero in the Hmong diaspora.
A stately procession marked the opening of an elaborate, six-day funeral service in Fresno, where thousands of Hmong refugees have resettled.
Vang’s extended family – including his 25 surviving children – a member of the Royal Lao family in exile, and the former CIA officials who recruited him to lead a covert guerrilla army in the jungles of Laos followed his flag-draped casket through packed city streets.
DNC will tap ‘grass-roots’ funds
WASHINGTON – The Democratic National Committee plans to pay for its 2012 convention nominating President Barack Obama without donations from political action committees or corporations, a change from past gatherings.
The DNC said Friday that the convention would be the first financed by grass-roots activists and rank-and-file party members. DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse says the funding for the Charlotte, N.C., event would underscore the theme of the “People’s Convention.”
In addition to banning all cash from registered lobbyists, the DNC also plans to ban donations of more than $100,000.
Drug cuts risk of early delivery
LOS ANGELES – For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a drug to reduce the risk of premature delivery, although it required the manufacturer to conduct more studies to demonstrate the drug’s efficacy.
The agency gave the nod to a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone, which is normally produced during pregnancy, to be injected into women who have already had a spontaneous preterm birth. The weekly injections, to be marketed under the name Makena, are for use only in women who are carrying a single fetus and who have no other risk factors for an early delivery.
Airliner, C-17s nearly collided
WASHINGTON – Federal safety officials said Friday they are investigating the near collision of an American Airlines jet and two military transport planes last month about 80 miles southeast of New York City, the latest in a string of close calls over the past year.
American Airlines Flight 951 was en route to Sao Paulo, Brazil, about 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 20 when a warning system alerted pilots to an impending collision with the two U.S. Air Force C-17s, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement.
The airline pilot, responding to the collision warning, took evasive action, the board said. Alarms also went off at the Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic control center near Islip, Long Island, and showed up on controllers’ radar screens. The controllers ordered the planes to change course, the board said.
Janitor enters not-guilty plea
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A janitor pleaded not guilty to murder Friday in the death of a Northern California school principal who was shot after sending the suspect home to “cool off” over a personnel dispute.
John Luebbers, 44, was charged after telling investigators he fired two shots and struck Principal Sam LaCara, 50, in the office at Louisiana Schnell Elementary School in Placerville, police said.
Luebbers told police that LaCara had fired him Wednesday just days after the two friends had gone golfing. School officials, however, said Luebbers had only been sent home for the day after the two had an argument about the district’s selection of a new nighttime custodian.