Monday, June 26, 2006

9/11 Skeptics Share Theories

LOS ANGELES -- About 1,200 people gathered over the weekend for what organizers billed as the largest conference on the conspiracy theories that consider the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to be a result of official negligence or a U.S. attempt to incite world war.

"There are so many prominent people . . . who have stated that the evidence is overwhelming that 9/11 was an inside job," syndicated radio talk show host Alex Jones said at a news conference.

Conspiracy theorists are convinced that the U.S. military command "stood down" on the day of the attacks, that the hijackers were trained at U.S. military bases and that the World Trade Center towers collapsed because of a series of controlled explosions set before they were hit by two hijacked planes. Suggested motives include expected benefits for U.S. arms and oil conglomerates, and revolutionary plans for a new world order headed by the United States.

The theories have been derided by critics as wild and far-fetched. The official Sept. 11 commission cited government intelligence lapses in the failure to prevent the attacks by al-Qaeda that killed nearly 3,000 people. A 10,000-page investigative report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology held that jet-fuel fires led to the twin towers' collapse.

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? NEW YORK -- Tens of thousands of raucous paradegoers braved a steady downpour and lined Fifth Avenue for the annual gay pride parade. It was one of several gay pride parades across the country over the weekend, including a similar-size one in San Francisco.

? The U.S. population -- 299,061,199 as of midday yesterday -- is on target to hit 300 million this fall, and it is likely that the milestone baby, or immigrant, will be Hispanic. Latinos are driving the population growth and accounted for almost half of the increase last year, more than any other ethnic or racial group, the Census Bureau said. Hispanics make up more than 14 percent of the population.

? DENVER -- A gunman opened fire Sunday afternoon at a Safeway Inc. distribution center, killing one person and injuring five others, including a police officer, before being killed. Several fires set by the gunman were burning inside the estimated 1.3 million-square-foot building near Interstate 70, authorities said.

? SAN FRANCISCO -- A University of California chancellor died Saturday in an apparent suicide jump from a 43-story apartment building, authorities said. Denice Dee Denton, 46, the chancellor of the Santa Cruz campus, was depressed about personal and professional problems, her mother, Carolyn Mabee, told the San Francisco Chronicle. Denton had been criticized for demanding $600,000 in renovations to her house on the campus and a $192,000-a-year university position created for her longtime partner, Gretchen Kalonji.

-- From News Services

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