Nation briefs 07/10/03

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Report: Rush to Baghdad, mistakes led to ambush

WASHINGTON -- The unprecedented speed of the Army's drive to Baghdad contributed to mistakes that ended in the deaths of 11 U.S. troops and the capture of six, including Pfc. Jessica Lynch, an Army report says.

The report on the ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company in the first days of the war says communications failed when the support unit fell too far behind combat troops advancing toward Baghdad.

"Human error further contributed," says the 15-page draft report.

It paints a picture of troops losing their way -- their lumbering tanks, wreckers and other heavy trucks breaking down and getting stuck in desert sands.

As time passed during the 60- to 70-hour ordeal, the troops got little sleep, batteries for some radios ran down and at least one vehicle ran out of gas.

A number of troops reported their weapons malfunctioned.

Former lounge singer to succeed Ann Landers

CHICAGO -- Newspaper readers who once turned to Ann Landers for advice can now ask Amy.

Amy Dickinson, a journalist who raised her daughter as a single mother and worked as a receptionist, lounge singer and Sunday school teacher, will take over Landers' advice column, the Chicago Tribune said Wednesday.

The column, named "Ask Amy: Advice for the real world by Amy Dickinson," begins July 20 and will run seven days a week in the Tribune. Worldwide syndication with Tribune Media Services will begin Sept. 1.

Dickinson's new column will fill a void created by the death of Esther "Eppie" Lederer, who for nearly five decades doled out advice to thousands of readers under the name Ann Landers.

Lederer died last year at 83. Her column appeared in 1,200 newspapers worldwide with 90 million readers daily.

The Tribune also will continue to publish the daily Dear Abby column. It formerly was written by Lederer's sister, Pauline Phillips, and now is written by Lederer's niece, Jeanne Phillips.

Final report on Columbia delayed until August

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The board investigating the Columbia disaster will not issue its final report until the end of August, a full month later than planned, in order to allow enough time for editing the massive document.

"It's editing all the material and trying to do a thorough job, rather than trying to rush to the finish line," Columbia Accident Investigation Board spokeswoman Laura Brown said Wednesday.

The board's chairman, retired Navy Adm. Harold Gehman Jr., had intended to release the report by the end of July to beat the August congressional recess. He wanted lawmakers to look over the 100-plus-page report while on vacation, to give them a jump-start when they returned to work in September and a slew of hearings on NASA.

Nike buys Converse for $305 million

BOSTON -- The company made famous by Chuck Taylor sneakers is getting a Nike swoosh.

Nike announced Wednesday that it is buying Converse for $305 million in a deal that gives the nation's No. 1 shoe maker an important piece of the growing retro footwear market: "Chuck Taylor All Star" sneakers.

-- From wire reports

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