Nation digest 02/22/05

California crews rescue 3 trapped by mudslide

LOS ANGELES -- Mudslides trapped people in their homes Monday and forced others to flee as Southern California was soaked by yet another of the powerful storms that have pounded the region this winter. At least three deaths were blamed on the weather and part of the area's commuter rail service was halted. Rescuers pulled three people from about 10 feet of mud that flowed into a town house in Hacienda Heights, a suburb east of Los Angeles.

Two shot and wounded at Mississippi shipyard

PASCAGOULA, Miss. -- A veteran employee opened fire at a shipyard Monday, wounding two co-workers, police said. Police charged Alexander L. Lett, 41, with two counts of aggravated assault, but were still trying to figure out what prompted the shooting in southern Mississippi. Lett was a quality inspector who had worked at Northrop Grumman Ships Systems more than 20 years, police said. About 30 people were in the vicinity Monday morning when Lett began shooting inside a warehouse with a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol, police said. Lett was being held on $500,000 bail at the Pascagoula Municipal Jail.

Economic growth, jobless rates expected to dip

WASHINGTON -- Economic growth will slow this year but will still be sufficient to reduce the nation's unemployment rate, business economists say. In its latest economic outlook, the National Association for Business Economics predicts the economy -- as measured by gross domestic product -- will expand by 3.6 percent this year and next. If the projections being released today prove accurate, that would mark slowing from the 4.4 percent growth clocked in 2004, the strongest showing in five years. GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States and is considered the broadest barometer of the country's economic health.

Sailor gets medal for WWII appendectomy

RALEIGH, N.C. -- More than 60 years ago, Wheeler Lipes performed a successful emergency appendectomy in a submarine 120 feet below the Pacific Ocean -- an act that has finally earned him a medal from the Navy. Lipes, then 22, relied on makeshift instruments -- bent spoons for retractors and alcohol from torpedoes for sterilization. He and an assistant wore pajamas rather than operating room gowns. Lipes, now 84, was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal on Sunday. He said his patient, Darrel Dean Rector, was the courageous one.