U.S. plane bombs Iraqi air defense site

Thursday, June 20, 2002

WASHINGTON -- An American fighter jet dropped a bomb on an anti-aircraft artillery site in northern Iraq on Wednesday after Iraqi air defense forces fired on U.S. planes patrolling a "no fly" zone, officials said.

All U.S. planes departed the area safely, according to a brief statement issued by U.S. European Command, which is responsible for U.S. military operations over northern Iraq.

U.S. and British warplanes have been enforcing "no fly" zones over northern and southern Iraq since shortly after the 1991 Gulf War. Iraq considers the zones to be illegal and has vowed to shoot down an American pilot.

Space shuttle returns with record breakers

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The three men who spent a record 6 1/2 months on the international space station came home Wednesday aboard space shuttle Endeavour, which set down in the Mojave Desert after three straight days of bad weather in Florida.

The shuttle swooped out of a blue desert sky, heralded by twin sonic booms that rattled the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Because of the cross-country detour, the space station crew members' reunion with their loved ones had to be delayed: Their families were left waiting for them at Cape Canaveral, Fla., more than 2,200 miles away.

"I'm sure there are several folks eagerly waiting to see you for a delayed Father's Day celebration," Mission Control said.

Three Union Pacific freight trains collide

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. -- Three Union Pacific freight trains collided Wednesday, injuring four crew members and igniting a fire that shut down a Nebraska highway.

The fire may have been caused by diesel fuel from the train engines, railroad spokesman Mark Davis said. The fire was doused two hours after the 4:30 a.m. accident, and no hazardous material was involved.

Four of the six crew members suffered minor injuries, Davis said.

Union Pacific runs about 130 trains each day on the stretch of track a few miles east of North Platte, in southwestern Nebraska.

According to Davis, an empty westbound coal train was rear-ended by another empty coal train. An eastbound train carrying auto parts on a nearby track somehow got entangled in the wreckage, possibly by running into a derailed car.

The trains each had two locomotives, and they were hauling a total of 275 cars. Some of the cars piled up on top of each other, and one lay across part of two-lane U.S. Highway 30, which was closed.

Purple reigns: M&M fans choose new color

TRENTON, NJ -- The results are in: purple reigns.

The maker of M&M's said Wednesday that purple will be the latest color for the little chocolate candies. The decision came after more than 10 million people in 200 countries voted on the Internet and over the phone on whether to add purple, pink or aqua to the mix.

"Our consumers have spoken. Purple it is," said Paul Michaels, president of Masterfoods USA in Hackettstown.

Purple received 41 percent of the vote. Aqua had 37 percent and pink had 19 percent. Purple will join the existing mix of red, blue, brown, green, orange and yellow in August.

The new color was the subject of a star-studded New York gala Wednesday night with performances by Ashanti and Wyclef Jean.

--From wire reports

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