Nation roundup for October 1


More babies share beds despite risks

CHICAGO (AP) — The government’s latest infant bed-sharing numbers show a troubling trend: the percentage of U.S. babies sleeping with parents or another child more than doubled since the early 1990s, despite public health messages linking the practice with sudden infant death syndrome.

Nearly 14 percent of adults, mostly mothers, surveyed in 2010 said their infants usually shared a bed, either with parents or another child, instead of sleeping alone in a crib. That was up from about 7 percent in 1993, and the increase was mainly among blacks and Hispanics. The practice had leveled off among whites after an increase in the 1990s.

Bed-sharing was most common among blacks; nearly one-third of those surveyed said their infants usually shared a bed.

“That’s a concern because we know that blacks are at increased risk for SIDS,” said study co-author Marian Willinger of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the study. “We want to eliminate as many risks as we can for everybody, particularly in that population where we’re seeing increasing disparities.”

SIDS refers to deaths in the first year of life that remain unexplained after autopsies and thorough investigations of the death scene and infants’ medical history.

Storm hammers Pacific Northwest

SEATTLE (AP) — A rare tornado damaged industrial buildings south of Seattle as an early winter storm dumped record amounts of rain and knocked out power for thousands in the Pacific Northwest.

The tornado at 7:20 a.m. Monday hit the industrial area of Frederickson, tearing a hole in the roof of the Northwest Door factory, blowing out car windows at a nearby Boeing factory, and damaging a building where sections of a downtown Seattle tunnel project were being assembled.

A team from the Weather Service office in Seattle went to the scene and confirmed the tornado from eyewitness accounts, meteorologist Johnny Burg said.

There were no injuries.

The damage, including a jagged 40-by-40-foot hole in the roof at Northwest Door, stopped work at the factory that makes garage doors. About 100 workers evacuated.

“It looked from the inside like a wave going along. You could actually see the roof flexing,” Northwest Door President Jeff Hohman said.

Work at the Boeing plant resumed while repairs were underway. There was no damage to parts or equipment, Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said.

The tornado blew out the windows of about two dozen cars in the Boeing parking lot.

Guard might get off in Iraq deaths

WASHINGTON (AP) — Prosecutors are seeking dismissal of charges against a former Blackwater Worldwide security contractor accused in a 2007 shooting of Iraqi civilians.

In a court filing Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., asked a federal judge to dismiss the indictment against Donald Wayne Ball “with prejudice” — meaning that he could not be charged again in the case.

The Sept. 16, 2007, shooting occurred when security contractors guarding U.S. diplomats opened fire in Nisoor Square, a crowded Baghdad intersection, killing 17 Iraqi civilians. A federal appeals court in 2011 resurrected the case against the contractors after a judge had earlier dismissed it. Prosecutors are weighing whether to move forward with charges against four other contractors.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said the government has exercised its prosecutorial discretion in ending the case against Ball based on its assessment of the admissible evidence against him.

Ball’s lawyer, Steven McCool, disputed the government’s characterization, saying prosecutors had no evidence that his client had broken the law.

“It is disingenuous to suggest that Donald Ball is anything other than an innocent man who was wrongly accused of a crime,” McCool said Monday.

Allegiant Air fleet of MD-80s return

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Allegiant Air says its fleet of MD-80 aircraft is back in service after an overhaul of emergency exit slides.

Company spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said Monday that service was normal nationwide, with no delays or cancellations because of the maintenance work.

About 10 percent of Allegiant passengers endured cancellations for several days after the airline grounded its 52 MD-80s on Sept. 19 to check and service each exit chute. The planes seat 166 passengers.

Officials acknowledged missing a 2007 manufacturer’s recommendation to overhaul chutes every year instead of every three years.

The maintenance gap was discovered Sept. 16 after an emergency evacuation of an Allegiant flight in Las Vegas. No one was hurt.

Las Vegas-based Allegiant serves about 100 mostly small cities and vacation destinations including Florida, Las Vegas, Hawaii and the Phoenix area.

 

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