N.Y. Panel Proposes New High-Rise Rules

NEW YORK -- A task force assigned to evaluate the safety of the city's high-rises after the World Trade Center collapse proposed broad changes in the building code, including a ban on the type of trusses that were used in the 110-story twin towers.

"We want . . . to encourage people to live, work and build here, and to do that, we need to assure them that the buildings are safe," said Patricia Lancaster, commissioner of the city Buildings Department, which convened the task force 11 months ago.

The task force said the adherence of fireproofing on the lightweight "open web bar" trusses used in the trade center has been called into question by investigations into the collapse. The group proposed prohibiting the trusses in future buildings more than 75 feet tall until the National Institute of Standards and Technology sets a standard for their use.

The panel's 21 recommendations included several that would affect existing buildings, including a mandate that all commercial buildings more than 100 feet tall install automatic sprinkler systems within 15 years.

* HEWITT, Tex. -- A bus carrying a church group swerved to avoid a crash, then hit another vehicle and rolled over on a rain-soaked interstate, killing seven people, authorities said. Five of those killed were on the bus and two were in a sport-utility vehicle hit head-on as the bus swerved into oncoming traffic, police said. The bus carried more than 30 people, and many of them were injured, five critically.

* BOSTON -- After top clergy cleared the Rev. John Geoghan of sex abuse charges in 1979, a former aide to Cardinal Bernard Law allowed Geoghan to travel to Rome to help him get over "a traumatic experience." Bishop Thomas Daily of Brooklyn said last year in a deposition made public yesterday that Geoghan was allowed to attend theological classes in Rome after a woman accused him of molesting boys. Geoghan, a convicted child molester, was defrocked in 1998.

-- From News Services