hHeat wave rages on
DENVER -- Voda the polar bear holds a frozen fish popsicle in her mouth as zoo keepers provide the bear with frozen treats to keep the animal cool at the Denver Zoo. Temperatures surpassed 100 degrees for the fourth day in a row on Friday. A heat wave continues to grip much of the nation. In Phoenix, police say 14 homeless people apparently have died of illnesses brought on by too much sun and not enough water. Seven non-homeless residents have died as well.
Power outage makes Cubans uncomfortable
HAVANA -- Several dozen government employees arriving home from work milled for hours outside their 20-story apartment building, waiting for power to be restored so they could take the elevator up and cook dinner.
Across town in a tiny, dilapidated apartment, 76-year-old Angela Vargas gasped as the image of President Fidel Castro flickered out and back on again on the television screen -- a sign of the continued instability in Cuba's aging electrical system. Sweltering summer heat in the 90s, blackouts of more than 12 hours and water shortages have increasingly frayed Cubans' nerves.
Base closing delays may incur bill veto
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is threatening to veto a sweeping defense bill if lawmakers try to delay the latest round of military base closures to spare installations back home. In a statement, the administration said it would "strongly oppose any amendment to weaken, delay or repeal" the base-closing process and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld would recommend that the president veto any bill that includes such a provision. Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, who is trying to save Ellsworth Air Force Base, late Thursday proposed an amendment to the defense bill that would require the Pentagon to complete several operational reviews and return U.S. troops from Iraq before Congress signs off on the final version of the base-closing plan.
Licenses suspended duringKid's Palace investigation
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The state suspended the licenses of two church-affiliated day-care centers where children allegedly were sexually molested, forced to eat worms and pick each other's noses during employee-led games of "Truth or Dare." The former director of the Kid's Palace centers and one employee have been charged, and the investigation is continuing.
The emergency suspension order issued Thursday bars Kid's Palace from reopening either center without appealing, said John Harrell, spokesman for the Florida Department of Children & amp; Families.
Man who threw grenadecharged after shootout
TBILISI, Georgia -- A man who confessed to throwing a live grenade toward President Bush during a rally in Georgia was charged with premeditated murder Friday in the killing of a policeman during a shootout that preceded his arrest. Vladimir Arutyunian, who has been hospitalized since he was detained Wednesday, admitted in video footage shown Thursday that he threw the grenade that landed near a podium where Bush was speaking in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, in May, officials said. The grenade malfunctioned and did not explode.
Images inspire donationsfor U.N. relief in Niger
GENEVA -- Donations to fund United Nations humanitarian work in drought-stricken Niger have jumped dramatically in the last week because of increased media attention and images of starving children, the U.N. humanitarian chief said Friday. Some 3.5 million people, about a quarter of Niger's population, are facing hunger of "catastrophic proportions," according to Jan Egeland's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The situation could leave almost 1.2 million children on the brink of starvation in the west African nation unless humanitarian help is provided immediately, OCHA said.
Egeland estimated thousands of children are dying in Niger but said it was hard to make a more precise assessment, as no comprehensive survey has yet been carried out.
Vindicator wire services