U.S. plane intercepted by North Korean jets

WASHINGTON

Four armed North Korean fighter jets intercepted a U.S. reconnaissance plane over the Sea of Japan and one used its radar in a manner that indicated it might attack, U.S. officials said yesterday.

Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said it was the first such incident since April 1969 when a North Korean plane shot down a U.S. Navy EC-121 surveillance plane, killing all 31 Americans aboard. The latest incident happened Sunday morning, Korean time, and there was no hostile fire, Davis said.

The most recent crisis involving U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was in April 2001, when a Chinese fighter jet collided with a Navy EP-3 plane, forcing it to make an emergency landing on China’s Hainan Island. The fighter pilot was killed and the American crew was detained for 11 days.

U.S. officials have said they have no plans to invade North Korea but are growing increasingly concerned about the North’s reactivation of a nuclear reactor that is part of a suspected weapons program. Washington believes Pyongyang already has one or two nuclear weapons.

The dispute over nuclear weapons development increased last week when North Korea restarted a 5-megawatt reactor that could produce plutonium for such weapons.

High court hears telemarketer arguments

WASHINGTON

The telemarketer’s pitch sounded good – contribute money for Vietnam veterans down on their luck – but only pennies of each donated dollar went to help those in need.

The solicitation may have been misleading, but several Supreme Court justices seemed hesitant yesterday to call it a crime.

The court heard arguments and is expected to rule by summer on whether charity fund drives that shade – or ignore – the truth about how donations are spent amount to fraud or free speech.

“We ask this court not to hold that half-truths are constitutionally protected,” Illinois Assistant Attorney General Richard Huszagh told the justices. His state wants to go after a professional fund-raising firm for allegedly defrauding donors to a charity the fund-raisers called VietNow.

Telemarketing Associates Inc. took in more than $8 million on behalf of the veterans’ charity, and pocketed 85 percent of the money. Would-be donors allegedly were told their money would go for food baskets, job training and other services for needy veterans, with no mention of fund-raising costs.

EPA claims kids have higher cancer risk

WASHINGTON

Babies and toddlers have a 10 times greater cancer risk than adults when exposed to certain gene-damaging chemicals, the government said yesterday, in proposing tougher environmental guidelines that would take into account the greater hazards to the very young.

If its guidelines are made final, the Environmental Protection Agency would for the first time require that the substantially greater risk to children be weighed in the development of regulations covering a variety of pollutants.

While scientists have long known that very young children are more vulnerable than adults to gene-harming chemicals, this is the first time the EPA has formally proposed calculating the difference in assessing the danger from some pesticides and other chemicals.

The guidance on cancer and children is part of a broader reassessment of how the EPA evaluates cancer risk.

Church objects to sex abuse report

CONCORD, N.H.

Bishop John McCormack apologized to victims of sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests yesterday, but the church also said it did not “necessarily agree” with everything in a state report detailing how the Manchester Diocese mishandled abuse cases.

The New Hampshire attorney general’s office was scheduled to release a nearly 200-page report yesterday with the evidence it would have used in seeking criminal charges against the diocese.

The state also was set to release 9,000 pages of church documents to accompany the report.

A small portion of the documents were being held back at the last minute because a priest named in them got a court order yesterday barring their release, said Will Delker, a senior assistant attorney general. That delayed the release of the state’s report.

Ads used to boost movie theater profits

LOS ANGELES

Bob Morales and his wife sat through advertisements for the Cartoon Network, the NBC show “Boomtown” and AOL Broadband.

Morales would have accepted the promotional barrage at home in front of the television, but it annoyed him to go through it at the movie theater.

“That’s why we come to a theater, so we wouldn’t see advertising,” said Morales, at a Regal Cinemas Theater in Pasadena for a weekend matinee of “About Schmidt.”

While common in Europe and elsewhere abroad, the ads are annoying lots of U.S. ticket buyers. The industry believes customers will adjust.

Some ads appear just before the previews, the period known as “lights down,” and have sparked complaints that audiences are being deceived about the true start time of a movie.

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