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The East Coast cooked under an unforgiving sun Tuesday as record-toppling temperatures soared to 100 or higher from Virginia to Massachusetts, utility companies cranked out power to cool the sweating masses, and railroad tracks were so hot commuter trains had to slow down.

The temperature broke records for the day in New York, where it hit 103, and in Philadelphia, where it reached 102. It was also over 100 in cities from Richmond, Va., to Boston, and Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn., also set records.

"It's safe to say this is one of the hottest days in about a decade for many locations in the Northeast and even inland," said Sean Potter of the National Weather Service. "You'd go back to 2001 or maybe 1999 to find a similar heat wave."

In downtown Philadelphia, pedestrians and drivers appeared to move a little more slowly amid the high humidity, blazing sun and baking sidewalks. Robert McCarron, 44, wore a navy suit and tie as he walked four blocks from a downtown subway station to an office building for a job interview. "If I was going to a job, you'd better believe I wouldn't be wearing a suit," he said.

With people cranking up the air conditioning, energy officials said there was tremendous demand for electricity, but the grid didn't buckle. Few power problems were reported and the operators of the regional electrical systems that serve the Middle Atlantic, New England and New York said they had ample capacity. Usage appeared to be falling just short of records set throughout the Northeast during a major heat wave in 2006.

Deaths blamed on the heat included a 92-year-old Philadelphia woman whose body was found Monday.

Associated Press


Percent of U.S. bachelor's degrees in science or engineering, compared with 63 percent in Japan, according to Time magazine. As a result, it says, the United States is falling behind countries such as China, Japan and South Korea "as a hot spot for innovation."

Tiny telescope aims to curb blindness

U.S. health officials have approved a first-of-its-kind technology to counter a leading cause of blindness in older adults - a tiny telescope implanted inside the eye.

The Implantable Miniature Telescope aims to help in the end stages of incurable age-related macular degeneration, a creeping loss of central vision that blocks reading, watching TV, eventually even recognizing faces. Because of safety risks - and the challenge of learning to see with the telescope - the Food and Drug Administration warned Tuesday that only patients 75 or older with severe macular degeneration who also have a cataract that needs removal will qualify.

France says burqa ban is about values

France's justice minister went before Parliament on Tuesday to defend a hotly debated bill that would ban burqa-style Islamic veils in public, arguing that hiding your face from your neighbors is a violation of French values.

Michele Alliot-Marie's speech at the National Assembly marked the start of parliamentary debate on the bill. It is widely expected to become law, despite the concerns of many French Muslims, who fear it will stigmatize them.

Associated Press


"W.S. Merwin has been named the nation's 17th poet laureate. The person is given the responsibility of raising the national appreciation of poetry. Let's hope he has better luck than the other 16."

Jim Barach, political humor blogger (