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Nation in brief

Ammonia explosion kills worker

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 12, 2003

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- An explosion ripped through a food additive plant Friday, killing a worker and spewing a cloud of ammonia over parts of Louisville.

Residents near the D.D. Williamson & Co. plant were asked to stay inside their homes and some were evacuated after the explosion at 2 a.m. shook windows more than three miles away.

The blast ruptured a tank holding 40,000 pounds of ammonia. Firefighters tried to control the leak, but the tank was empty six hours later.

Five workers were inside the plant at the time of the explosion. Four escaped uninjured, but the fifth -- Louis C. Perry, 44, of Louisville -- was killed.

Perry had noticed the leaking tank and was walking toward the area at the time of the blast, said fire Capt. Ronel Brown. Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Eddie Robinson said he died of multiple blunt force trauma.

The plant makes caramel coloring for food products and drinks. The ammonia was used as a refrigerant, said R.N. Bartlett, spokesman for Jefferson County Emergency Management.

Ammonia inhaled at high doses can be fatal, but the levels released after the explosion were not dangerous, he said.

Court says atheist can pray at council meetings

SALT LAKE CITY -- An atheist who sought to pray in City Council meetings for deliverance "from weak and stupid politicians" got the blessing of the Utah Supreme Court on Friday.

The court ruled that if officials in Murray, Utah, want to pray during government-sponsored events, the opportunity to pray must be equally accessible to all who ask.

The Supreme Court's 4-1 ruling reversed the dismissal of a lawsuit that Tom Snyder, 71, filed in state court in 1999.

"Thanks to the Supreme Court for reaffirming that constitutional protection," Snyder said. "There should be no government preference for one religion over another or a preference for religion over nonreligion."

Richard Van Wagoner, the attorney who represented the city before the high court, said he and his clients were disappointed. "Murray City has been placed in a constitutional dilemma," he said.

Bush, Cheney report income in tax returns

WASHINGTON -- President Bush reported $856,056 in adjusted gross income for last year and paid $268,719, or about 31 percent, in federal income taxes, the White House announced Friday

Bush and his wife, Laura, listed as income his presidential salary and investment income from trusts that hold their assets.

The White House also released the 2002 tax return filed by Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne. They reported $1.2-million in adjusted gross income and owed $341,114 in taxes.

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