1 killed in cruise ship fire
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica -- A fire apparently started by a cigarette broke out aboard a giant cruise ship early Thursday as it sailed through the moonlit Caribbean, leaving one passenger dead, 11 people injured and at least 100 rooms scorched. The Star Princess, carrying 2,690 passengers and 1,123 crew members, bore evidence of the nighttime drama as it pulled into Montego Bay's port. About 85 exterior cabins were blackened from the fire, a stark contrast to the otherwise gleaming white exterior of the ship. Metal was twisted, evidence of the heat of the blaze. "We consider ourselves very lucky," Klemens Fass, of Toronto, Canada, told The Associated Press after he and his wife were evacuated with other some passengers. A smoldering cigarette is suspected as the cause of the blaze, said Horace Peterkin, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, who toured the ship after it docked here.
Tennessee minister slain
SELMER, Tenn. -- A popular and charismatic Tennessee minister was found shot to death in his parsonage Thursday, and a search was launched for his missing wife and three young daughters. The woman and the girls were found safe later Thursday in Alabama when a police office spotted their van parked on the side of the road and pulled over to help. All were in good physical condition, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said, and no one else was with them. Church members went looking for the Rev. Matthew Winkler, 31, when he did not show up for an evening service at the Fourth Street Church of Christ. They used a key to enter the parsonage and found him dead in a bedroom late Wednesday, Burks said. The Rev. Mr. Winkler's family was gone, along with their minivan. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said there were no signs of forced entry at the parsonage.
Abandons purchase
WASHINGTON -- A leading Israeli software company abandoned its plans Thursday to buy a smaller U.S. rival in a $225 million deal because of national security objections by the Bush administration. Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. in Ramat Gan, Israel, formally withdrew its proposal near the conclusion of a rare, full-blown investigation by a U.S. review panel over the company's plans to buy a smaller rival, Sourcefire Inc. Check Point had been told U.S. officials feared the transaction could endanger some of government's most sensitive computer systems. Lawyers for Check Point offered to attach conditions to the sale that executives believed were onerous but were intended to satisfy the concerns expressed by the review panel, the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, said one person familiar with the process. But no agreement could be reached.
Texas cracking down
AUSTIN, Texas-- Get falling-down drunk in a Texas bar and it may cost more than a bruised backside. Try $500 or a few hours in jail. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is sending undercover officers into bars to look for the exceedingly drunk, issuing citations or making arrests for public intoxication even if the patrons haven't left the building. The program is aimed at reducing drunken driving. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Texas had 1,264 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2004, the most in the nation. The crackdown is aimed not only at those who are drunk, but at the bars and bartenders who continue to serve them. So far, it has resulted in about 2,200 arrests or citations around the state.
Police storm Minsk camp
MINSK, Belarus -- Police stormed the opposition tent camp in the Belarusian capital Minsk late Thursday, detaining scores of demonstrators who had spent a fourth night in a central square to protest President Alexander Lukashenko's victory in a disputed election. The arrests came after a half dozen large police buses and 75 helmeted riot police with clubs pulled up to Oktyabrskaya Square in central Minsk about 3 a.m. The police stood around for a few minutes and then barged into the tent camp filled with protesters. An Associated Press reporter on the scene said they wrestled about 40 to 50 of the demonstrators, who were resisting, into buses. The rest of the approximately 200 demonstrators were taken into custody without apparent resistance.
U.S. steps up pressure
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration told China on Thursday that it will be looking for concrete actions to lower trade tensions between the two nations in advance of a U.S. visit next month by Chinese President Hu Jintao. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, who will hold talks with Chinese officials next week in Beijing, said his message would be that the administration was looking for China to play a responsible role in the global trading community. "This is a time for results," Gutierrez said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We will be very candid about our expectations and about where we believe that action needs to take place in order for China to achieve that role as a responsible stakeholder" in the global economy.
Associated Press
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