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Originally published September 5, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 5, 2007 at 2:07 AM

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Nation Digest

B-52 carried 5 nuclear warheads

A b-52 bomber mistakenly loaded with five nuclear warheads flew from Minot Air Force Base, N. D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug Aug. 30...

A B-52 bomber mistakenly loaded with five nuclear warheads flew from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30, resulting in an Air Force-wide investigation, three officers told the Military Times on condition of anonymity.

The B-52 was loaded with advanced cruise missiles (ACMs), part of a Defense Department effort to decommission 400 ACMs. But the nuclear warheads should have been removed before being transported to Barksdale, the officers said. The missiles were mounted onto the pylons of the bomber's wings.

ACMs carry a warhead with a yield of 5 to 150 kilotons and are designed for delivery by B-52 strategic bombers.

Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Ed Thomas said the transfer was safely conducted and the weapons were in Air Force custody and control at all times.

Air Force officials wouldn't specify whether nuclear weapons were involved, in accord with policy, Thomas said.

San Diego

Alcohol blamed in huge brawl

Police donned riot gear and used smoke and tear gas to break up a hostile crowd throwing bottles and cans during a huge, alcohol-fueled Labor Day brawl at Pacific Beach, authorities said.

Fifteen people were arrested and face charges of fighting and being drunk in public. Another person was briefly detained for his own safety. No officers were injured.

City Councilman Kevin Faulconer went to the scene and said alcohol likely played a part in the fighting. He said that because of the brawl he is proposing to ban alcohol on the beach, one of only a handful in Southern California that still allow drinking.

Jena, La.

Teens' charges in attack reduced

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Prosecutors on Tuesday reduced the attempted-murder charges against two more teenagers among the "Jena Six," a group of black high-school students arrested after an attack on a white schoolmate.

Five of the teens were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, carrying sentences of up to 80 years in prison. The sixth faces undisclosed juvenile charges.

Civil-rights advocates have decried the charges as unfairly harsh.

On Tuesday, charges against Carwin Jones and Theo Shaw were reduced to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy. That same reduction was made earlier for Mychal Bell, who was tried and found guilty and could be sentenced to 22 ½ years at a hearing Sept. 20.

Also awaiting trial are Robert Bailey Jr. and Bryant Purvis, who still face attempted- murder charges, and the unidentified juvenile.

Justin Barker, 18, was attacked Dec. 4.

New Orleans

Mayor considers bid for governor

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin could be days away from announcing he will run for governor of Louisiana, a move many in the city regard as preposterous.

If Nagin, 51, runs, he will do so on his stewardship of New Orleans. But this is a city in great distress two years after Hurricane Katrina, with large swaths empty, an appalling homicide rate and a sluggish recovery. Nagin's disapproval rating stood at 65 percent in a recent poll.

"He's clearly seeing his election potential differently than most of Louisiana. Statewide, Ray Nagin is dead in the water," said G. Pearson Cross, an assistant professor of politics at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. "One thing is clear: New Orleans has not had the forceful and dynamic leadership necessary to get recovery on the right track."

Also

The District of Columbia on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that struck down the city's 30-year-old ban on private handgun ownership.

Seattle Times news services

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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