Nation, World Briefs: National Debt Clock has run out of zeros

NEW YORK — In a sign of the times, the National Debt Clock in New York City has run out of digits to record the growing figure. As a short-term fix, the digital dollar sign on the billboard-style clock near Times Square has been switched to a figure — the “1” in $10 trillion. It’s marking the federal government’s current debt at about $10.2 trillion. The Durst Organization says it plans to update the sign next year by adding two digits. That will make it capable of tracking debt up to a quadrillion dollars.

Debate falls short of V.P. face-off

The second match-up between Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., proved a strong draw with television viewers Tuesday. More than 63 million people tuned in to watch the debate in Nashville, Tenn., a sizable increase over the 52.4 million who watched their first forum Sept. 26. That makes Tuesday’s event the ninth-most watched presidential debate since Nielsen Media Research starting tracking the audience in 1960. But the presidential candidates still couldn’t match the interest level in their running mates, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., who garnered 69.9 million viewers for their sole debate on Oct. 2.

Stop using song, band tells McCain

Yet another band is complaining about John McCain’s use of their song to promote his campaign. This time, it’s the Foo Fighters. The rockers sent out a missive telling the Republican presidential candidate to stop using “My Hero.” They said they learned it was being used through news reports. Soul legend Sam Moore also has asked the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to stop using “Soul Man.”

Man in suitcase was drug ‘mule’

An autopsy has revealed that a man found dead in a suitcase in a White Plains park was a drug “mule” who had 50 packets of heroin in his body and probably died when one or two of them broke open. Investigators expressed surprise that the body of the man, estimated at 50 to 60 years old, had not been cut open for the drugs. The heroin would have been worth an estimated $100,000 on the streets, a Westchester County police spokesman said Tuesday.

New Jersey: Smoking ban delay

The latest casualty of the economic crisis may be the ban on smoking in Atlantic City casinos. The City Council moved Wednesday night to postpone for a year a law that was to take effect next week banning smoking on the gambling floor. The casinos and the head of their largest workers union asked the council to put the ban on hold until the economy improves.

Maine: Big bucks for an old Colt

An auctioneer says the sale price of a historic Colt Walker pistol has broken a record for all guns made by the company. The James D. Julia auction house said an anonymous bidder paid $920,000 on Tuesday for the .44-caliber revolver. It was made for U.S. marshals in the 1840s and its previous owner says he never fired it. The gun was an heirloom passed down from John McBride’s great-great-uncle. The 80-year-old from Montana said some of the money will be used to buy land in that state.

Texas: Castration probation

A convicted child molester who pushed for the Texas law that allowed him to be voluntarily castrated more than a decade ago may go back to prison for allegedly possessing sexually explicit material. Authorities held a hearing Wednesday to determine whether to revoke Larry Don McQuay’s supervised release. McQuay, 44, who claimed to have molested hundreds of children, could be held in prison until 2016, the end of his original 20-year sentence on three counts of indecency with a child.

Ohio: Arrest for nude phone photos

Police in Newark have arrested a 15-year-old girl on juvenile child pornography charges for allegedly sending nude cell phone photos of herself to classmates. The girl was arrested Friday and held over the weekend. Police did not identify the girl by name. Authorities were also considering charges for students who received the photos.

Nepal: Crash near Everest kills 18

A small airplane crashed and caught fire Wednesday as it tried to land in foggy weather at a tiny mountain airport near Mount Everest, killing 18 people, including 16 tourists from Germany, Australia and Nepal, officials said. Witnesses raced onto the tarmac in search of survivors but there was only one — the pilot. The 19-seat Yeti Airlines plane, which had taken off from the capital, Katmandu, snagged its wheels on a security fence during its landing at Lukla airport, about 40 miles from Mount Everest, the general manager of the Katmandu airport said. The DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter caught fire and came to a stop on the airport grounds, he said.

From Herald news services

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