EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 11, 2013

Around the World and Nation


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Firefighter camaraderie draws thousands to Arizona

PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) — Firefighters William Benitez and Lou Larosa were fresh out of the New York City Fire Department when terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people, including hundreds of first responders.

The days ahead were tough as the two rookies and their colleagues attended dozens of funerals, while thousands of their fellow firefighters came from around the country to show support.

It’s that camaraderie among firefighters that drew Benitez, Larosa and nearly a dozen others from their department, including the chief, to a massive memorial service in Arizona honoring 19 members of the Prescott-based Granite Mountain Hotshots. The elite crew died June 30 when a wind-fueled, out-of-control fire overran them as they tried to protect a former gold-mining town from the inferno.

“It’s very important to have a big showing ... show the family there are people there for them,” Benitez said Tuesday after the service that drew some 8,000 people.

Egypt’s Muslims will refuse offer to join a new government

CAIRO (AP) — A spokesman for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood says the group will reject any offer to join an interim government to replace the administration of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

Newly appointed Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi is to begin forming a Cabinet on Wednesday, and has said he will offer the Brotherhood — which helped propel Morsi to the presidency — posts in a new government.

A Brotherhood spokesman dismissed any talk of joining a military-backed administration, and said talk of national reconciliation is “irrelevant.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns for his security.

Morsi was deposed on July 3 after four days of massive protests demanding he step down, prompting the military to step in and oust him.

Quebec oil-train derailment site a crime scene

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (AP) — Quebec police are pursuing a painstaking, wide-ranging criminal investigation of the inferno ignited by the derailment of a runaway oil train that killed at least 15 people and left dozens missing in the burned-out ruins of a downtown district.

Quebec police inspector Michel Forget ruled out terrorism as a cause, but said Tuesday that an array of other possibilities remain under investigation, including criminal negligence. Other officials have raised the possibility that the train was tampered with before the crash early Saturday.

“This is an enormous task ahead of us,” Forget said. “We’re not at the stage of arrests.”

The heart of the town’s central business district is being treated as a crime scene and remained cordoned off by police tape — not only the 30 buildings razed by the fire but also many adjacent blocks.

Investigators continued searching for the missing, fearing three dozen more bodies are buried in the downtown area closest to the tracks. The death toll rose to 15 with the discovery of two more bodies Tuesday.

Details in airliner probe raise questions

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (AP) — Investigators are trying to understand whether automated cockpit equipment Asiana flight 214’s pilots say they were relying on to control the airliner’s speed may have contributed to the plane’s dangerously low and slow approach just before it crashed.

New details in the accident investigation that were revealed Tuesday by National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman were not conclusive about the cause of Saturday’s crash, but they raised potential areas of focus: Was there a mistake made in setting the automatic speed control, did it malfunction or were the pilots not fully aware of what the plane was doing?

One of the most puzzling aspects of the crash has been why the wide-body Boeing 777 jet came in far too low and slow, clipping its landing gear and then its tail on a rocky seawall just short the runway. The crash killed two of the 307 people and injured scores of others, most not seriously.

Phone companies charge millions for costs, web data cheap

WASHINGTON (AP) — How much are your private conversations worth to the government? Turns out, it can be a lot, depending on the technology.

In the era of intense government surveillance and secret court orders, a murky multimillion-dollar market has emerged. Paid for by U.S. tax dollars, but with little public scrutiny, surveillance fees charged in secret by technology and phone companies can vary wildly.

AT&T, for example, imposes a $325 “activation fee” for each wiretap and $10 a day to maintain it. Smaller carriers Cricket and U.S. Cellular charge only about $250 per wiretap. But snoop on a Verizon customer? That costs the government $775 for the first month and $500 each month after that, according to industry disclosures made last year to Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass.

Meanwhile, email records like those amassed by the National Security Agency through a program revealed by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden probably were collected for free or very cheaply. Facebook says it doesn’t charge the government for access. And while Microsoft, Yahoo and Google won’t say how much they charge, the American Civil Liberties Union found that email records can be turned over for as little as $25.

In tiny tourist town, mayor is 4-year-old

DORSET, Minn. (AP) — Supporters of the mayor in the tiny tourist town of Dorset can stuff the ballot box all they want as he seeks re-election. The mayor — a short guy — is known for his fondness of ice cream and fishing. And he’s got the county’s top law enforcement official in his pocket.

Say hello to Mayor Robert “Bobby” Tufts. He’s 4 years old and not even in school yet.

Bobby was only 3 when he won election last year as mayor of Dorset (population 22 to 28, depending on whether the minister and his family are in town). Dorset, which bills itself as the Restaurant Capital of the World, has no formal city government.

Every year the town draws a name during its Taste of Dorset Festival, and the winner gets to be mayor. Anyone can vote as many times as they like — for $1 a vote — at any of the ballot boxes in stores around town.

House Republicans grapple on fate of11 million here illegally

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans confronting the politically volatile issue of immigration are wrestling with what to do about those already here illegally, with most Republicans reluctant to endorse citizenship for 11 million unauthorized immigrants but also shying away from suggestions of deportation.

As the House GOP prepares to meet Wednesday to debate the way forward on immigration, many lawmakers seem to be gravitating toward offering legal status of some kind for millions here illegally. But exactly what and how are far from clear.

For some, a guest worker status would be as far as it goes, while others are leaving open the possibility that once they’re in the country legally, immigrants eventually could attain citizenship through existing channels of family or employer sponsorship. Still others are focused on citizenship for people brought to the country as youths, military veterans and perhaps others who’ve lived in the country for years and proven their contributions to society.

But with Democrats demanding nothing less than a straightforward if lengthy path to citizenship, like the provision in the Senate-passed immigration bill, it’s questionable whether a compromise could get to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Researchers test home sensors as safety net for seniors

WASHINGTON (AP) — It could mean no more having to check up on Mom or Dad every morning: Motion sensors on the wall and a monitor under the mattress one day might automatically alert you to early signs of trouble well before an elderly loved one gets sick or suffers a fall.

Research is growing with high-tech gadgets that promise new safety nets for seniors determined to live on their own for as long as possible.

“It’s insurance in case something should happen,” is how Bob Harrison, 85, describes the unobtrusive monitors being tested in his apartment at the TigerPlace retirement community in Columbia, Mo.

Living at home — specialists call it aging in place — is what most people want for their later years. Americans 40 and older are just as worried about losing their independence as they are about losing their memory, according to a recent survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Common-sense interventions like grab bars in bathrooms and taping down rugs to prevent tripping can make homes safer.

as seniors deal with chronic illnesses. Technology is the next frontier, and a far cry from those emergency-call buttons seniors sometimes wear to summon help.