Saturday, May 19, 2007

2 Weather Service Officials Resign

MIAMI -- The top two leaders of the National Weather Service announced their resignations Friday, two days after the director of the National Hurricane Center blasted federal overseers for attempting to diminish both agencies' identity and absorb their budgets.

David L. Johnson, who has served as director of the National Weather Service since January 2004, said he will step down on June 30. John E. Jones Jr., the service's deputy director since 1998, will retire on the same day after 35 years in the government.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration controls the weather service, which in turn controls the hurricane center. NOAA recently has been under fire for its efforts to promote itself and diminish the name recognition of its component agencies.

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· NORFOLK -- A military jury recommended that a Navy lawyer be sentenced to six months in prison and dismissed from the service for sending a human rights lawyer the names of 550 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in an unmarked Valentine's Day card. Lt. Cmdr. Matthew M. Diaz was convicted Thursday of communicating secret information about detainees that could be used to injure the United States and three other charges of leaking information to an unauthorized person. He could have received 14 years in prison.

· NEW ORLEANS -- An attorney defending the owners of a nursing home where 35 patients died after Hurricane Katrina struck argued for the right to present evidence that the government was responsible for the deaths. James Cobb said in court papers that Salvador and Mabel Mangano could not have anticipated that levees would break and flood the area around the nursing home.

· GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- A pilot from the Snowbirds, the Canadian Air Force's aerial aeronautic squad, died when his jet crashed during rehearsal for weekend performances at Malmstrom Air Force Base, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

· CANUTE, Okla. -- Seven people died when the sports-utility vehicle in which they were riding went airborne and struck an embankment on Interstate 40. Police said the driver may have fallen asleep.

· LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Military officials announced that they were suspending training at an aerial bombing range where a flare dropped during a training mission may have caused a 27-square-mile wildfire. The fire continued to burn Friday, but a steady rain was assisting firefighting efforts.

· MINEOLA, N.Y. -- A jury found the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, the nation's sixth-largest, and a church parish negligent in a case involving a youth minister who repeatedly raped and sodomized teenagers in his care. The jury awarded two victims a combined $11.4 million in damages.

-- From News Services

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