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Putin arrives, predicts missile deal within reach

President Vladimir Putin of Russia arrived on his first official visit to the United States on Monday hours after predicting that a deal was within reach that would allow President Bush to speed ahead with tests of an antiballistic missile system.

That deal would be the centerpiece of a meeting that begins this morning in Washington and moves on Wednesday and Thursday to the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas.

When Putin arrives at the White House this morning, he and Bush are widely expected to exchange their bottom-line figures for the mutual reduction of their nuclear arsenals.

But, with at least five or six statements expected during the course of the summit, any arms control deal is not expected to be the first, or only, tangible result of Putin's visit.

Today, Putin and Bush will release some of the five or six joint statements and letters that administration officials said their staffs have drafted in recent days.

Big Tobacco case nears jury

WHEELING, W.Va. _ Routine screening of longtime smokers for lung disease makes as much sense as using mammograms for the early detection of breast cancer, a lawyer argued Monday as a landmark class-action lawsuit against the tobacco industry wound down.

With new technology that can spot lung tumors much sooner than chest X-rays, "We've got a chance to do something here that's never been done before," attorney Scott Segal said.

Segal represents some 250,000 healthy West Virginia smokers suing four cigarettemakers for a screening program they say could lead to the early detection of lung cancer, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Segal will continue his closing arguments today, and six jurors will then begin deliberations. They have 21 days of testimony and 33 pages of legal instructions to consider.

The smokers contend they deserve medical monitoring because Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Brown & Williamson manufactured and sold a defective product with no regard for their customers' health.

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N.Y. POLICE COMMISSIONER: Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg has chosen as his new police commissioner the man who held the post during the first World Trade Center attack in 1993.

Raymond Kelly, 60, was police commissioner for 14 months under former Mayor David Dinkins and was given high marks for his handling of the first trade center attack.

Kelly would replace Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who announced last week that he had declined Bloomberg's invitation to remain.

KIDNAPPING SUSPECT: A man accused of kidnapping a 6-year-old girl from the front yard of her New Jersey home last week was arrested Monday at a hospital where he was being treated for a drug overdose, authorities said.

Barry Sherman, 37, a self-employed photographer from Neptune City, N.J., was charged with kidnapping, terroristic threats and child endangerment.

The girl, Anna Cardelfe, was playing in front of her Spring Lake home Thursday when she was lured and then forced into a car. The next day, she was found unharmed at a mall in Eatontown, about 10 miles from her home.

SPACEWALK: An American and a Russian astronaut ventured out on a spacewalk Monday to hook up cables and test a crane on the international space station.

Frank Culbertson and Vladimir Dezhurov routed seven antenna cables for the Russian docking system. The men also inspected a Russian solar wing that never fully deployed. All the screws and bolts appeared to be in place.

BISHOPS' CONFERENCE: The nation's Catholic bishops on Tuesday will, for the first time, name an African-American priest to the top post of the American church.

Bishop Wilton D. Gregory is expected to be easily elected the 12th president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, according to officials of the organization.

SOUTHERN WILDFIRES: Sheila Boyd, left, and her brother, Elmer Justice, stand Monday at the scene of a house fire near Pikesville, Ky., where Boyd's daughter, son-in-law and the couple's three children died. Kentucky's fires have burned 146,500 acres this year, the worst in a Southern wildfire season that has affected Maryland, the Virginias, the Carolinas and Tennessee. A Forest Service helicopter making water drops in Kentucky crashed Monday, authorities said. The pilot was hospitalized in fair condition.

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