Nation digest 7/23/02

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

California governor signs bill to curb car exhaust

LOS ANGELES -- Gov. Gray Davis signed a law Monday that would make California the first state to restrict automobile emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases believed to contribute to global warming.

He predicted other states and the federal government would eventually follow suit.

Automakers waged a multimillion-dollar campaign to fight the bill, which places restrictions on new cars and light trucks beginning in 2009. They insist the move will increase the price of vehicles.

The legislation does not affect big rigs and other large commercial vehicles.

Backers of the bill maintain cars and light trucks are responsible for as much as 40 percent of California's carbon dioxide emissions, which form a heat-trapping blanket in the atmosphere.

Automakers counter that the legislation is meaningless because it will reduce greenhouse gases globally by less than 1 percent.

Student who roomed with Moussaoui pleads guilty

NEW YORK -- A Saudi student who briefly shared a room with Zacarias Moussaoui in Oklahoma pleaded guilty Monday to false statement charges, admitting he lied about their association.

Hussein al-Attas, 24, of Norman, Okla., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to seven false statement charges.

Friends of al-Attas have said he gave Moussaoui a ride from Oklahoma to Minnesota, where Moussaoui enrolled in a flight school.

Moussaoui was arrested last summer after administrators at the Minnesota flight school became suspicious of his intense desire to fly jumbo jets even though he had poor flying skills.

A French citizen of Moroccan descent, Moussaoui is the only person charged with conspiring to help 19 hijackers who plunged two passenger jets into the World Trade Center, a third into the Pentagon and a fourth into a field in Pennsylvania.

Tennessee church wall collapses, killing four

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A church wall collapsed as worshippers were leaving a prayer service, killing the pastor's wife, daughter and stepson and another child in a minivan crushed by the debris, police said.

Three other children were injured in the Sunday collapse.

Witnesses said firefighters and volunteers dug for 15 minutes outside the 81-year-old New Greater Hyde Park Missionary Baptist Church to clear away a mass of bricks, mortar and stone that fell onto the minivan.

Gwendolyn Gray, 42, wife of the pastor, the Rev. James Gray, their daughter Whitney Gray, 11, and the pastor's stepson, Germaine Ford, 13, were killed instantly, police spokeswoman LaTanya Able said.

Also killed was Keisha Mitchell, 11, who was not believed to be related to the family, said police Lt. Walter Norris.

Man accused of dropping wife from hotel balcony

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. -- A man was arrested and charged Monday with dangling his wife by the ankles from a hotel balcony and dropping her nearly 60 feet to her death.

Colleen Dame, 46, fell from the fifth floor of the Lani Kai Island Resort into the sand Sunday night, sheriff's Lt. Richard Dobson said.

Christopher Dame, 47, was jailed on a charge of second-degree murder.

Police believe he dropped her deliberately, Dobson said.

The couple from nearby Cape Coral had gotten into an argument while drinking at a bar in the hotel, Dobson said.

Four arrested on charges of stealing moon rocks

TAMPA, Fla. -- Four people have been charged with stealing moon rocks from Johnson Space Center in Houston, the FBI said Monday.

Undercover FBI agents arrested the suspects Saturday in Orlando, FBI agent Sara Oates said. Three were from Houston and one was from Utah.

"We had an undercover operation in which we knew somebody had access to these moon rocks and was attempting to sell them," she said. "We successfully arrested four individuals and recovered these treasures."

-- From wire reports

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