Nation briefs 6/21/04

Monday, June 21, 2004

Frist says activist judges forced gay marriage debate

WASHINGTON -- Senate action on banning gay marriage has become a priority because judges are redefining marriage as more than just the union of a man and woman as they allow same-sex couples to marry, the Senate majority leader said Sunday. Sen. Bill Frist rejected a suggestion that he scheduled the debate in mid-July to embarrass his fellow senator, John Kerry, who a few days later will be nominated as the Democrats' challenger against President Bush in November's election.

Commission: al-Qaida close with Iran, Pakistan

WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Sept. 11 commission said Sunday that al-Qaida had much more interaction with Iran and Pakistan than it did with Iraq, underscoring a controversy over the Bush administration's insistence there was collaboration between the terrorist organization and Saddam Hussein. Thomas Kean made the comment even as he and other commissioners tried to steer clear of the debate over one of the administration's primary justifications for invading Iraq.

Lake Michigan bodies identified as man, two sons

PLEASANT PRAIRIE, Wis. -- A father and two sons missing from Chicago for more than a month were identified Sunday as the bodies that washed ashore on Lake Michigan bound together by nylon rope and tied to bags filled with sand. The victims were identified as Kevin L. Amde, 45; Davinci Amde, 6; and Tesla E. Amde, 3. The bodies were found Saturday by a resident on a beach in Pleasant Prairie, just north of the Illinois state line.

Airliner lands at Air Force base by mistake

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A Northwest Airlines flight that was headed to Rapid City, S.D., landed a few miles off course at Ellsworth Air Force Base, and passengers had to wait in the plane for more than three hours while their crew was interrogated. Passengers on Northwest Flight 1152, an Airbus A-319 from St. Paul, expected to be welcomed to Rapid City Regional Airport on Saturday, but after about five minutes they were told to close their window shades and not look out, said passenger Robert Morrell.-- From wire reports

Officials weigh charges for search-and-rescue missions

SALT LAKE CITY -- Search-and-rescue missions in Utah's rugged backcountry don't come cheap. For years, lost hikers and wayward rafters have sometimes had to foot the bill when rescuers pluck them out of the red-rock wilderness. Problem is, many of them don't pay. As the number of rescues has risen along with tourism, local officials have struggled to find ways to fund the missions. Now Grand County is turning collection agencies on those who fail to foot the bill.

Attempt set for first private manned spaceflight

MOJAVE, Calif. -- Aviation enthusiasts began gathering Sunday in the high desert in hopes of seeing the first flight into space by a privately developed, manned rocket. Thousands of people were expected to be watching early today when an exotic jet-engined airplane named White Knight was set to take off from Mojave Airport carrying the rocket-propelled SpaceShipOne.

-- From wire reports

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