Nation digest for July 20

Saturday, July 20, 2002

Hijackers' roommate to remain in INS custody

BALTIMORE -- A judge ruled Friday that a Jordanian man who lived with two Sept. 11 hijackers will remain in custody until his immigration case is resolved, the man's attorney said.

Rasmi Al-Shannaq, 27, has been charged with overstaying his visa. His hearing Thursday before an immigration judge in Baltimore was closed to the public.

Attorney Jim Wyda said his client was ordered to stay in the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The next step will be a hearing on whether he should be deported, Wyda said. A date hasn't been set.

Fleet of firefighting tankers grounded

DENVER -- The nation's firefighting fleet of heavy air tankers was grounded Friday during one of the worst wildfire seasons on record after the second deadly crash since June in which a plane broke apart while battling a blaze in the West.

Thirty-two of the planes were ordered to remain on the ground for 24 hours by the National Interagency Fire Center.

In the meantime, wildfires across the West are being fought with smaller, single-engine tankers, helicopters, smokejumpers who parachute into burning areas, and ground crews equipped with bulldozers.

On Thursday, a PB4Y-2 Privateer crashed, killing the two crew members, while battling a wildfire 45 miles northwest of Denver. The National Transportation Safety Board and U.S. Forest Service are investigating.

Gov. Bush's daughter released from jail

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Noelle Bush, Gov. Jeb Bush's 24-year-old daughter, was released from jail and allowed to return to a drug rehab center Friday, two days after being locked up for allegedly taking prescription pills from a nurse's cabinet.

"I would not allow you to go back to the facility if I didn't think you could do the program," Circuit Judge Reginald Whitehead said in giving the president's niece a second chance in rehab.

Bush was jailed Wednesday for contempt of court for violating the terms of her court-ordered drug treatment program. She was accused of taking prescription pills from a cabinet in a nurse's office.

Whitehead sent Bush to jail for three days. Jail spokesman Allen Moore said any part of a day was counted as an entire day.

NASA may never know reason for fuel-line cracks

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA said Friday it may never figure out what caused the fuel-line cracks that have grounded the space shuttle fleet, but is moving closer to deciding how to fix them and is hoping for a late-September launch.

"It's going to be difficult to really define what the root cause is," said shuttle program manager Ron Dittemore. "It could be a number of things."

All four of NASA's space shuttles have small cracks in some of the metal liners for the hydrogen fuel pipes.

The problem was first detected in June. Within three weeks, similar cracks had been found in each space shuttle.

-- From wire reports

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