Nation digest 03/02/06

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Video: Bush clearly warned about Katrina

WASHINGTON -- Federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage. Bush asked no questions during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared." The footage -- along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by The Associated Press -- show in detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.

Lionel Tate pleads guilty to robbing pizza man

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Lionel Tate pleaded guilty Wednesday to the armed robbery of a pizza delivery man last spring, which could net him up to 30 years in prison but spare him a possible life sentence for violating probation in the 1999 killing of a girl. Broward County Circuit Judge Joel T. Lazarus scheduled sentencing for April 3, and said Tate, 19, could receive between 10 and 30 years in prison. The guilty plea is the latest twist in the long-running case of Tate, who was convicted of killing 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick when he was 12 and was once the youngest person in modern U.S. history to receive a life prison sentence. Tate came to national attention after the boy's lawyers claimed that girl was accidentally killed when Tate imitated pro wrestling moves.

Surgeon general: Fat beats terrorism threat

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- America's obesity epidemic will dwarf the threat of terrorism if the nation does not reduce the number of people who are severely overweight, the surgeon general said Wednesday. "Obesity is the terror within," Richard Carmona said during a lecture at the University of South Carolina. "Unless we do something about it, the magnitude of the dilemma will dwarf 9-11 or any other terrorist attempt." Obesity rates have tripled over the past 40 years for children and teens, raising their risk of diabetes and other diseases. For the first time, Carmona said, children are being diagnosed with high blood pressure. "Where will our soldiers and sailors and airmen come from?" he said.

Record-breaking heat, winds fuel grass fires

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Grass fires raged across Oklahoma on Wednesday, injuring two firefighters, destroying homes and forcing evacuations of schools and businesses, authorities said. The largest fires burned in Stephens County in southwestern Oklahoma, where two volunteer firefighters suffered severe burns battling a blaze that was at least eight miles long. Their conditions were not immediately available. Near Meridian, the blaze destroyed several structures and forced the evacuation of a nursing home.

-- From wire reports

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