Bridge Collapse Prompts Questions; Gang Raids and Stun Grenades; Alleged Abuser Is Multimillionaire; Wildfires Spark Old Resentments; Grisly Mob Boss Trial in Windy City; Subway Plus SUV Embarrasses Mayor
Bridge Collapse Prompts Questions
The recovery work was slow and dangerous, an underwater minefield of sharp debris and strong currents, after the Interstate 35W highway bridge in Minneapolis crumbled into the Mississippi River on August 1. The eight-lane span, under renovation at the time, was listed as "structurally deficient" by federal inspectors in 2005. An average of 141,000 cars a day traversed the bridge.
Remarkably, the moment of collapse was captured by a security camera, giving investigators "the equivalent of a cockpit flight recorder," said one official from the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB has solicited citizen videos and photographs to help piece together the hows and whys of the tragedy that by week's end had claimed six lives and injured more than 100.
Lawmakers were predictably quick to call for reforms and a top-to-bottom review of the nation's bridge inspection system. But government officials have long been informed about the state of the country's infrastructure: One in eight bridges around the country has received a "structurally deficient" grade from the feds. President Bush, anxious to avoid the sort of scathing criticism that came on the heels of the administration's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, visited the disaster site to offer words of comfort.
Gang Raids and Stun Grenades
The predawn raid began not on the streets of Baghdad but just outside Los Angeles in a housing project known as Ghost Town. More than 400 officers spread out across the neighborhood, cordoning off city blocks and throwing flash grenades as part of a federal crackdown on violent and drug-peddling gangs across the country. Before the noonday sun was at its peak, 43 suspects were under arrest. Agents also seized firearms, four cars, four houses, and even a hotel that was allegedly used to funnel cocaine, crack, marijuana, and other drugs. But investigators didn't find everyone they were looking for. A dozen suspects remain on the loose.
Alleged Abuser Is Multimillionaire
In the '90s Judith Leekin collected children. Using aliases and different addresses, she adopted 11 children in all from New York City's foster care system and brought them to her Port St. Lucie, Fla., home. Last week she was accused of making them prisoners and pocketing some $2 million in child welfare over the years. The eight found living with her, including one who is blind and others who could barely walk, said they were often handcuffed together. In their midteens to mid-20s, most of her adoptees were uneducated and had never seen a doctor. Some were handicapped, a bonus for Leekin since New York gives up to $55 a day for special-needs kids up to the age of 21. The children were adopted before the city instituted measures, in 1999, to fingerprint prospective parents.
The case came to the attention of police after an 18-year-old girl was found wandering around a grocery store 200 miles away, where she had been abandoned by Leekin.
Wildfires Spark Old Resentments
This summer's pox of wildfires in the West, including a blaze in Montana last week that chewed up nearly 50 square miles near Helena, is stirring old resentments of the federal government in Boise, Idaho, as well.