Firefighters gain upper hand on wildfires

Saturday, June 25, 2005

CAREFREE, Ariz. -- Residents who fled a wildfire began returning home as the blaze turned away from their community near Phoenix, and firefighters also gained ground on a wildfire that burned homes in California. The order was lifted late Thursday, and about 67 people had returned by Friday morning. The blaze has burned about 46,000 acres and forced the evacuation of 250 homes. The largest charred 15,000 acres south of Las Vegas and prompted the evacuation of 100 people from a Boy Scout camp.

Ex-Soviet dissident will not head Jewish Agency

JERUSALEM -- Natan Sharansky, former Soviet dissident, lost a bid Friday to become head of one of the world's most important Jewish organizations, the Jewish Agency. A unanimous vote by 115 delegates to the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency's parent organization, instead elected Zeev Bielski, who is mayor of the central Israeli city of Ra'anana, said agency spokesman Yarden Vatikay.

Romania stunned by nun's death in exorcism

TANACU, Romania -- Maricica Irina Cornici, 23, believed she heard the devil talking to her. She was treated for schizophrenia, but when she relapsed, a monk and four nuns tried a different method: exorcism. Last week, Cornici was bound to a cross, gagged with a towel and left in a dank room at the convent for three days without food -- where she died of suffocation and dehydration. Daniel Petru Corogeanu, a 29-year-old red-bearded monk, served as the convent's priest and allegedly led the exorcism. He and the four nuns were charged with aggravated murder on Wednesday after testifying for 11 hours to prosecutors. If found guilty, they could face up to 25 years in prison.

PBS targeted for having a political agenda

WASHINGTON -- PBS finds itself at the center of a political uproar over whether public television promotes a liberal agenda. The man alleging the bias is Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, a Republican who heads the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. CPB provides federal funding to public broadcasters including the Public Broadcasting Service, which receives about 15 percent of its operating budget, or $48.5 million, from the corporation. PBS has denied the charges of a liberal slant. It moved this month to hire an ombudsman to review its programs and announced a revision of its editorial practices. Among them: a requirement that commentary and opinion be labeled as such.

IRA apologizes for 1973 death of teenage girl

BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- The Irish Republican Army apologized Friday for shooting 14-year-old Kathleen Feeny to death in 1973 during a botched ambush on a British army patrol. The outlawed group said a new internal investigation had confirmed what the public had long believed -- the IRA did it. The statement was the latest act of public contrition from the IRA, which killed about 1,800 people from 1970 to 1997 as part of a failed campaign to abolish Northern Ireland as a British territory.

Court upholds EPA on older plants' pollution

WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals courts on Friday rejected claims by thirteen states that the Bush administration's decision to let older power plants spew more pollution into the air undermines public health in violation of the Clean Air Act. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia sided with the Environmental Protection Agency, saying New York and a dozen other states failed to show how the administration's new regulations violate the 1970 environmental law. The Bush administration argued its decision to let power and other industrial plants modernize without making them install expensive new pollution controls will remove barriers to innovation and increase productivity. Environmental critics said it will also increase pollution.

--From wire reports

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