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p0239 BC-WorldBriefly 03-11 1986

AP News in Brief

24 killed by bombs in Pakistan’s Lahore

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s security crisis deepened Tuesday as massive suicide bombs tore through a seven-story police headquarters and a house in Lahore, leaving at least 24 people dead and more than 200 wounded.

The two blasts happened about 15 minutes apart in different districts of this eastern city. The first tore the facade from the Federal Investigation Agency building as staff were beginning their working day. It also damaged scores of homes in the neighborhood.

City police chief Malik Mohammed Iqbal said an explosive-packed car was driven into a parking lot and detonated next to the building — which houses a department of the federal police’s anti-terrorism unit — knocking out the walls of several offices and part of a stairwell.

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Rarely has a suicide blast in Pakistan caused such serious structural damage to a major government facility.

Twenty-one people were killed, including 16 police, officials said. Mian Muhammad Ejaz, a top city administrator, said over 200 people were wounded. Doctors at Lahore hospitals said the dead included a 3-year-old girl, and 32 students hit by flying debris at a school near the police building.

The second explosion shattered the office of an advertising agency in a residential neighborhood, about 15 miles away. Police investigator Tasaddaq Hussain said two children and the wife of the house’s gardener were killed.

Iqbal said both blasts were suicide attacks.

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Space shuttle Endeavour blasts off from Cape Canaveral to begin longest space station mission

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Shuttle Endeavour and a crew of seven blasted into orbit Tuesday on what was to be the longest space station mission ever, a 16-day voyage to build a gangly robot and add a new room that will serve as a closet for a future lab.

The space shuttle roared from its seaside pad at 2:28 a.m., lighting up the sky for miles around as it took off on a multinational flight involving Canada and Japan.

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It was a rare treat: The last time NASA launched a shuttle at nighttime was in 2006. Only about a quarter of shuttle flights have begun in darkness.

"Good luck and Godspeed, and we’ll see you back here in 16 days," launch director Mike Leinbach radioed to the astronauts right before liftoff.

"Banzai," replied Endeavour’s commander, Dominic Gorie, using a Japanese exclamation of joy. "God truly has blessed us with a beautiful night here, Mike, to launch, so let’s light ’em up and give ’em a show."

They did. The shuttle took flight with a flash of light, giving a peach-yellow glow to the low clouds just offshore before disappearing into the darkness.

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New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer’s future thrown into doubt as he is named in prostitution scandal

NEW YORK (AP) — Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who took office with the vow "Day One, Everything Changes," started day one of his life after allegations of a prostitution scandal with his outlook so changed that many wondered if he could remain in power.

The first-term Democrat was caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet a prostitute from a call-girl business, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still going on.

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Spitzer allegedly paid for the call girl to take a train from New York to Washington — a move that opened the transaction up to federal prosecution because she crossed state lines.

The governor has not been charged, and prosecutors would not comment on the case Monday.

There was no word on Spitzer’s plans, but Assembly Republican leader James Tedisco said Tuesday he received a call Monday from Lt. Governor David Paterson, who would assume the governor’s office if Spitzer resigned.

Tedisco said Paterson raised the possibility of such a scenario by asking if Tedisco, who has been at odds with Spitzer, would be willing to start fresh with him.

"He called me to ask if we would give him the benefit of the doubt, and go forward," Tedisco said. "I told him we would."

Spitzer was to be in New York City Tuesday, but had no public events scheduled.

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Mississippi Democrats head to polls, with Barack Obama riding high

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Democrats are deciding the last in a series presidential contests between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton before the two rivals settle in for a six-week battle to win Pennsylvania.

Mississippi’s large black electorate in Tuesday’s voting makes it fertile ground for Obama, who has swept the other Deep South states and has pulled huge margins among black voters. Clinton, the New York senator and former first lady, campaigned in the state last week, but by Monday was in Pennsylvania, where the primary is April 22.

Obama, the first-term senator from Illinois, spent the day in Mississippi, drawing enthusiastic crowds in Columbus and Jackson, the capital. At stake are 33 delegates and another chance for Obama to ease the sting of last week’s losses to Clinton in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island.

With Clinton’s camp saying she has little chance in Mississippi, the campaigning here focused largely on national issues.

Obama used his Monday morning visit to Columbus to try to squelch speculation that he might accept the vice president’s slot on a ticket headed by Clinton. He noted that he has won more delegates, states and votes than Clinton.

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2 veteran US senators, congresswoman to convene hearings on AP’s probe of medications in water

By The Associated Press

Two veteran U.S. senators said they plan to hold hearings in response to an Associated Press investigation into the presence of trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.

Also, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., has asked the EPA to establish a national task force to investigate the issue and make recommendations to Congress on any legislative actions needed.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, who heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, chairman of the Transportation, Safety, Infrastructure Security and Water Quality Subcommittee, said Monday the oversight hearings would likely be held in April.

Boxer, D-Calif., said she was "alarmed at the news" that pharmaceuticals are turning up in the nation’s drinking water, while Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat who said he was "deeply concerned" by the AP findings, both represent states where pharmaceuticals had been detected in drinking water supplies, but not disclosed to the public.

"I call on the EPA to take whatever steps are necessary to keep our communities safe," said Boxer in a statement.

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Vatican updates its thou-shalt-not list: Genetic manipulation, pollution, mind-bending drugs

VATICAN CITY (AP) — In olden days, the deadly sins included lust, gluttony and greed. Now, the Catholic Church says pollution, mind-damaging drugs and genetic experiments are on its updated thou-shalt-not list. Also receiving fresh attention by the Vatican was social injustice, along the lines of the age-old maxim: "The rich get richer while the poor get poorer."

In the Vatican’s latest update on how God’s law is being violated in today’s world, Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, was asked by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano what, in his opinion, are the "new sins."

He cited "violations of the basic rights of human nature" through genetic manipulation, drugs that "weaken the mind and cloud intelligence," and the imbalance between the rich and the poor.

"If yesterday sin had a rather individualistic dimension, today it has a weight, a resonance, that’s especially social, rather than individual," said Girotti, whose office deals with matters of conscience and grants absolution.

It’s not the first time that the Vatican has sought to put a modern spin on sin. Last year, the Vatican took on the problem of highway accidents, issuing a kind of "Ten Commandments" for drivers against the sins of road rage, alcohol abuse and even rudeness behind the wheel.

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Madonna and John Mellencamp lead this year’s class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees

NEW YORK (AP) — Madonna, pop music’s quick-change artist, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday and paid tribute to people who encouraged her and even critics who panned her for helping drive her career.

Heartland hitmaker John Mellencamp, with his son Speck playing guitar and his parents watching from a balcony above the Waldorf Astoria Hotel ballroom, joined the rock-kicking with a rumbling version of "Authority Song."

"I wrote this song, and I still feel the same way today as I did when I wrote it 25 years ago," Mellencamp said.

Philly soul producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, literate songwriter Leonard Cohen, British rockers the Dave Clark Five, and surf instrumentalists the Ventures were among the other inductees.

Madonna recalled key moments of her career, from playing her demo tape for record company president Seymour Stein when he was in a hospital bed hooked up to an IV, to her shock at looking out from the stage at thousands of girls dressed like her. "It freaked me out," she said.

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McCain advisers lobbied in tanker deal that McCain tried to referee

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top current advisers to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign last year lobbied for a European plane maker that beat Boeing to a $35 billion Air Force tanker contract, taking sides in a bidding fight that McCain has tried to referee for more than five years.

Two of the advisers gave up their lobbying work when they joined McCain’s campaign. A third, former Texas Rep. Tom Loeffler, lobbied for the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. while serving as McCain’s national finance chairman.

EADS is the parent company of Airbus, which teamed up with U.S.-based Northrop Grumman Corp. to win the lucrative aerial refueling contract on Feb. 29. Boeing Co. Chairman and CEO Jim McNerney said in a statement Monday that the Chicago-based aerospace company "found serious flaws in the process that we believe warrant appeal."

McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in waiting, has been a key figure in the Pentagon’s yearslong attempt to complete a deal on the tanker. McCain helped block an earlier tanker contract with Boeing and prodded the Pentagon in 2006 to develop bidding procedures that did not exclude Airbus.

EADS retained Ogilvy Government Relations and The Loeffler Group to lobby for the tanker deal last year, months after McCain sent two letters urging the Defense Department to make sure the bidding proposals guaranteed competition.

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Rockets’ 19th straight victory overshadows big nights for LeBron James and the Celtics

By The Associated Press

LeBron James and the Boston Celtics added to their amazing seasons, and neither got much attention.

For now, all eyes remain on the Houston Rockets.

Tracy McGrady scored 19 points in less than three quarters and Houston routed cold-shooting New Jersey 91-73 on Monday night for its 19th consecutive victory, matching the third-longest winning streak in league history.

The Rockets won their 10th straight game by double digits, tying an NBA record last reached by the Nets in 2004, and are one game behind the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs for the top seed in the Western Conference. Houston hosts the Lakers on Sunday.

Before that, the Rockets can match the second-longest streak in NBA history with a win in Atlanta on Wednesday night. The Milwaukee Bucks won 20 in a row during the 1970-71 season.

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