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Palin's husband refuses to testify in inquiry

ANCHORAGE, Alaska: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's husband has refused to testify in the investigation of his wife's alleged abuse of power, and key lawmakers said yesterday that uncooperative witnesses are effectively sidetracking the probe until after Election Day. Todd Palin, who participates in state business in person or by e-mail, was among 13 people subpoenaed by the Alaska Legislature. Palin's lawyer sent a letter to the lead investigator saying Palin objected to the probe and would not appear to testify today. "The objections boil down to the fact that the Legislative Council investigation is no longer a legitimate investigation because it has been subjected to complete partisanship and does not operate with the authority that it had at the time of its initial authorization," McCain-Palin presidential campaign spokesman Ed O'Callaghan said.

Calif. engineers banned from cell phone use

LOS ANGELES: California regulators reacting to the deadly wreck of a commuter train issued an emergency order yesterday banning train operators from using cell phones on duty. The Public Utilities Commission's unanimous decision to pass the temporary order came a day after investigators confirmed that the engineer of the Metrolink commuter train was text-messaging while on duty on the day the train ran a red light and collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train. Last week's wreck in Los Angeles killed 25 people, including the engineer, and injured more than 130. Under the new order the board approved in San Francisco, violators could be fined up to $20,000 per violation or have their operations shut down.

New 'Smart bridge' opens in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS: A steady stream of motorists crossed the new Interstate 35W "smart bridge" as it opened early yesterday, a little more than a year after the old one collapsed into the Mississippi River and killed 13 people. A vanguard of squad cars, fire trucks, ambulances and maintenance trucks slowly led a parade of cars, motorcycles, trucks and buses across the new bridge in downtown Minneapolis just after 5 a.m., reopening one of the busiest arteries in the Twin Cities. Many drivers honked and a few waved American flags to inaugurate the span. The new $234 million bridge contains hundreds of sensors that will collect data. The purpose of the "smart bridge" technology isn't to warn of another impending disaster; it's to detect small problems before they become big ones, said Alan Phipps, design manager for the project with Figg Engineering Group Inc. of Tallahassee, Fla.

Oldest man celebrates his 113th birthday

TOKYO: The world's oldest man celebrated his 113th birthday yesterday in southern Japan, telling reporters he wants to live another five years. Tomoji Tanabe, who was born Sept. 18, 1895, received birthday gifts, flowers and $1,000 cash from the mayor of his hometown of Miyakonojo, on Japan's southern island of Kyushu. Tanabe told reporters he wants to live "another five years or so," according to city spokesman Akihide Yokoyama. That was a slight downgrade from last year, when he said he wanted to live "for infinity." The former city land surveyor, who lives with his son and daughter-in-law, is in good health and sticks to the habits that have gotten him this far. He rises early and reads the newspaper each day, drinks milk every afternoon and eats regular meals. He also avoids alcohol and does not smoke. The world's oldest person is 115-year-old Edna Parker, who was born on April 20, 1893, and lives in a nursing home in Indiana.

Police hold 2 suspects in fatal grenade attack

MEXICO CITY: Two men were being held as possible suspects in the fatal grenade attack this week on an Independence Day celebration in western Michoacan state, authorities said yesterday. The two were detained in northern Zacatecas state late Wednesday after being hospitalized with injuries after a car crash. The men were held by the Mexican army, which is leading the government's campaign against drug traffickers. Authorities said they were investigating whether a Michoacan-based drug gang known as La Familia was involved in Monday's twin grenade attack in Morelia, the state capital. Seven people died, and more than 100 were hurt. Officials previously blamed organized crime, but they did not specify a group. A third suspect was arrested in Michoacan, Mexican media reported. But state officials confirmed only the Zacatecas arrests and gave few details.

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