CHICAGO — The judge who presided over Rod Blagojech’s corruption trial says he’ll likely set the retrial for early January and reiterated that he probably won’t allow the former governor to have more than two taxpayer-funded lawyers. The judge said Thursday he would be open to allowing more attorneys if they volunteered their time, or allowing attorneys paid for by a benefactor. He said the trial date will likely be the first week of 2011, but not on Jan. 3, just after the New Year’s holiday. The judge said the date revolves around the complications of getting a jury selected.
California: Hard landing
The tires of a JetBlue Airbus A320 caught fire Thursday during a hard landing in Sacramento that left 15 people with minor injuries and sent passengers down emergency slides to escape the aircraft. Passenger Michelle McDuffie said people onboard felt a thud when the plane touched down at about 12:50 p.m. after a flight from Long Beach, but nobody thought there was an emergency until the crew shouted for everyone to exit on the inflatable slides. McDuffie saw the burning tires when she was on the ground.
Texas: Record fine for airline
Federal officials are seeking a record penalty of $24.2 million against American Airlines over maintenance lapses that caused thousands of canceled flights in 2008. American said the civil penalty was unwarranted and it would appeal. The dispute dates to 2008, when American had to cancel more than 3,000 flights — inconveniencing 350,000 passengers — until wiring could be fixed to the satisfaction of the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA said Thursday that the improper harnessing of wires on American’s Boeing MD-80-series jets — about half its fleet at the time — could have led to fires and even fuel-tank explosions.
Utah: Injured doing baptisms
A Las Vegas man injured while performing submersion baptisms in the name of the dead has sued The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for medical expenses. The civil suit filed Wednesday in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court claims Daniel Dastrup suffered severe back injuries, including a herniated disk, after performing about 200 baptisms at the LDS temple in Raleigh, N.C., on Aug. 25, 2007. The lawsuit contends the church was negligent in failing to warn Dastrup that the repetitive nature of the proxy baptisms — bending, lifting and twisting — could result in physical injury.
Massachusetts: Shark worries
A practical joker has taken advantage of recent shark sightings and caused a scare with a fake fin. Police said about 50 people were drawn to a Somerset cove on Wednesday night after someone reported seeing a shark fin in the water. Police told the Herald News of Fall River that several 911 calls came in to Somerset and Swansea police. Responding officers soon realized that the “shark” was just a piece of Styrofoam cut into a fin shape, wrapped in gray duct tape and weighted down. There was no word on who pulled the prank.
North Korea: Inmate freed
Looking gaunt but relieved, an American freed after nearly seven months jailed in North Korea left Pyongyang today in the company of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Aijalon Gomes, 31, hugged Carter just before they boarded a plane at Pyongyang’s airport, footage aired by broadcaster APTN in North Korea showed. The former president “courteously requested” a special pardon for Gomes, which leader Kim Jong Il granted, North Korean state media said.
Britain: Weight-loss surgery
The number of weight-loss surgeries in England jumped more than tenfold from 2000 to 2007, a new study says. A surgeon at St. Mary’s Hospital in London monitored the number of weight-loss surgeries done in government hospitals from 2000 to 2008. Overall, they found 6,953 such operations were performed, including three different types of surgeries, all designed to shrink the size of the patient’s stomach. In 2000, there were 238 weight-loss surgeries, but by 2007 there were 2,543 such operations.
Argentina: Big tumor found
Doctors were shocked when they looked into a woman’s uterus searching for an orange-size tumor but found something that resembled a giant rock instead. Surgeons ended up removing a 56-pound tumor from the 54-year-old woman. It was 19 inches across. “We were totally shocked,” the doctor Thursday in discussing the procedure that was conducted earlier this year at Gandulfo Hospital in Lomas de Zamora.
From Herald news services