The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, February 11, 2000, Page 2, Image 2

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Problems similar to those of Alaska Airlines crash keep planes on ground \
Alaska Airlines MD-80 series planes
were grounded on Thursday after
problems were found in the
jackscrews, a focus of the investiga
tion into the crash of Alaska Flight
The problems were discovered in
Seattle and in Portland, Ore., during
inspections that started after a dam
aged section of the jackscrew was
pulled from the wreckage of Flight
261, which was an MD-83.
The planes “were found to have
metal Filings or shavings in or around
the horizontal stabilizer jackscrews,”
said Ted Lopatkiewicz, spokesman
for the National Transportation
Safety Board.
‘‘And so they are being withheld
from service until our investigators
can get there and look at them. Our
investigators will be getting to them
The jackscrew drives the horizon
tal stabilizer, a wing-like device on
the tail that controls a plane’s up-and
down motion.
It is powered by two motors and
resembles the corkscrew-like device
that opens many automatic garage
doors. If it were damaged during a
flight, aviation experts said, the pilots
would not be able to control the pitch
of the aircraft.
Flight 261’s cockpit voice
recorder revealed that pilots had
problems with the horizontal stabiliz
er after .taking off from Puerto
Vallarta, Mexico; for San Francisco
and Seattle.
The plane plunged into the sea on
Jan. 31, killing 88 people.
A damaged 2-foot section of the
jackscrew was recovered this week
with the main wreckage of the MD
83 about 10 miles off the coast. The
NTSB was trying to determine
whether the screw’s threads were
stripped and whether the damage was
a possible cause or an effect of the
On Wednesday, Boeing Co. urged
all airlines that fly MD-80 jetliners
and related aircraft to inspect their
fleets for evidence of damage.
Several, including Alaska, had
started their inspections before the
manufacturer’s announcement.
Alaska checked 31 of its 34 MD
80s, and found two with shavings
around the jackscrew. An airline
” This is the right and prudent thing to
Eliot Brenner
FAA spokesman
spokesman refused to comment far
Nearly 70 airlines worldwide fly
about 2,000 of the planes being
inspected. Allmajor U.S. airlines had
an inspection program under way
Alaska, American and Delta air
lines started their inspections before
Boeing issued its recommendation,
and they cautioned that the action
could result in some minor schedul
ing delays.
Delta said no problems had been
found in initial inspections. Other
than Alaska, the other airlines,
including Northwest, Continental
and US Airways, did not immediately
disclose their findings.
The Federal Aviation
Administration said it will study the
inspection records and order further
action if it Finds evidence of a safety
“This is the right and prudent
thing to do,” FAA spokesman Eliot
Brenner said.
“We’ve been talking to the carri
ers and strongly encouraging them to
make this inspection as rapidly as
Boeing announced in 1997 it
would phase out the MD-80 and MD
90 passenger aircraft models it inher
ited when it bought McDonnell
Meanwhile, about 400 people
attended a Wednesday night memori
al in Seattle for the victims, many of
whom were from Washington state.
“This is a real tough time,” said
Kelly Ryan, a United Airlines flight
attendant who lost family members in
the crash.
“I think everyone is still in a state
of shock.”
Hijacking leads to increased security
■ Afghan airline will
carry armed commandos
to prevent another hijacking.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -
Hoping to prevent another hijacking,
the Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah
Mohammed Omar says armed com
mandos will be on board all flights of
the state-run airline from now on.
After about half the 150 people
flown to Britain on a hijacked Afghan
airliner sought asylum on Thursday,
the Taliban also appealed to British
authorities to punish the hijackers.
“They must be punished, other
wise it will be an example for others
that they can hijack a plane and get
asylum if that is what they want,” said
Civil Aviation Minister Akhtar
Mohammed Manzoor. “It’s not right
that they should endanger all the pas
sengers to get asylum.”
Whether the hijackers themselves
have requested asylum is still unclear.
But few people in the Afghan capital
were surprised to hear that the four
day drama had ended with so many
Afghanis asking to stay in Britain.
While the aftermath unfolded at an
airport outside London, it was a typi
cal day in Kabul, where beggars roam
rocket-ruined streets and children
shuffle through the snow in plastic
sandals. For most of the city’s one mil
lion people, a piece of bread is the only
food they can afford.
“It’s no wonder that so many peo
ple want to live outside this country.
We have nothing here - look at us,”
said Ghulam Nabi, an unemployed
laborer with seven children. “In this
country is poverty, 20 years of fight
ing, no work, no money, including me.
I have nothing.”
During 20 years of war, first
against Soviet soldiers and later
between warring Islamic factions, mil
lions of Afghans have left their home
land in search of peace.
Private and public refugee agen
cies say Afghans make up one of the
world’s largest refugee populations,
second only to Palestinians. Since
1979, when the first Soviet soldiers
rumbled across the Afghan frontier to
shore up a government allied With
Moscow, 6 million people have left the
While many have returned to their
homes, agencies estimate 2.6 million
Afghans still live as refugees, most of
them in neighboring Pakistan and Iran.
One million Afghans live as refugees
in their own country.
“Everyone wants to leave the
country because of no work, no
money. This is not new,” said Abdul
Wahed, a pharmacist. “These people
on the plane, for only $20 they are in
Europe where there is food, money
and work. There is everything there.”
Most of Afghanistan is ruled by
” These people
on the plane, for
only $20 they are
in Europe...”
Abdul Wahed
the hard-line Taliban religious army,
which espouses a strict brand of Islam
that is particularly difficult for women
- who have been forced out of work -
and girls, who have been refused per
mission to attend school beyond age 8.
The opposition, a collection of
small parties led by ousted President
Burhanuddin Rabbani, destroyed
nearly 70 percent of the Afghan capital
in bitter factional fighting before
being thrown out by the Taliban in
|Wjj?S.A! Hfc Jr€
Scattered snow showers Mostly cloudy
high 24, low 15 high 31, low 20
Editor: Josh Funk ____..
Managing Editor: Lindsay Young , , , Questions. Comments.
Associate News Editor: Dane Stickney ^or aPJn?\Prr»^»coo*IOn e^0r
.Associate News Editor: Diane Broderick .
Opinion Editor: JJ Harder <* e-mai1
Sports Editor: Sam McKewon
A&E Editor: Sarah Baker General Manager: Daniel Shattil
Copy Desk Co-Chief: Jen Walker Publications Board Jessica Hofmann,
Copy Desk Co-Chief: Josh Krauter Chairwoman: (402) 477-0527
Photo Chief: Mike Warren Professional Adviser: Don Walton,
Design Co-Chief: Diane Broderick (402) 473-7248
Design Co-Chief: Tim Karstens Advertising Manager: Nick Partsch,
Art Director: Melanie Falk (402) 472-2589
Web Editor: Gregg Steams Asst Ad Manager: Jamie Yeager
Asst Web Editor: Jewel Mlnarik Classified Ad Manager: Nichole Lake
Fax number: (402) 472-176)
World Wide Web:
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weekly during the summer sessions.The public has access to the Publications Board.
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Postmaster: Send address changes to the Daily Nebraskan, Nebraska Union 20,1400 R St.,
Lincoln NE 68588-0448. Periodical postage paid at Lincoln, NE.
Marriage tax bill
wins House passage
Dispatching an election-year valentine,
Republicans won House passage
Thursday of legislation that would cut
income taxes $ 182 billion over 10 years
for all married taxpayers, including the
25 million couples who pay a “mar
riage penalty” compared with single
The vote, timed to coincide with
Valentine’s Day next week, was 268
158 to send the bill to the Senate.
Although 48 Democrats joined all
Republicans in favor, it was short of a
veto-proof edge.
Senate passage is far from certain,
and President Clinton is threatening a
veto over the bill’s cost and timing, yet
House GOP leaders trumpeted the
measure as the first in a series of tax
cuts that would return a portion of pro
jected budget surpluses to taxpayers
and limit the growth of government.
“We need a tax code that doesn’t
punish married couples,” said House
Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-IU.
“They need to buy braces for the
kids. They need to buy insurance for the
car and the home. They don’t need the
federal government picking their pock
It was a day for politicians of every
stripe to ally themselves with the popu
lar issue, even if they opposed this par
ticular bill. Despite his veto warning,
Clinton said at a Capitol Hill appear
ance: “We know we should do this.”
However, he wants marriage penal
ty tax relief targeted more toward
lower- and middle-class taxpayers.
The “marriage penalty” occurs
because millions of couples who file
joint tax returns are forced to pay taxes
at higher rates than they would if they
were single and filing separately, espe
cially if each spouse earns roughly the
same income.
Democrats complained that half of
the bill’s total tax cut would go to cou
ples who already receive a bonus and
would consume a large chunk of the
projected budget surplus before plans
are laid to ensure the future solvency of
Social Security and Mecidare, to pay
down the national debt and to guarantee
adequate government spending.
■ Russia
Despite Grozny defeat,
rebel attacks continue
GROZNY, Russia (AP) -
Rebels attacked two military trains
and pulled the Russians into one of
the fiercest battles since abandon
ing the Chechen capital, officials
said Thursday.
The ambush, and increasingly
frequent guerrilla attacks on
Russian units elsewhere, demon
strated that bands of well-armed
rebels are still able to move around
Chechnya in spite of the military’s
claims to control most of the repub
The train had been sent to repair
railroad tracks north of the capital
Grozny, but was crippled Tuesday
near the town of Aigun when rebels
detonated three remote-control led
mines under its locomotive and
opened fire.
■ Washington
Steve Forbes abandons run
for presidential nomination
Forbes cashed it in Thursday and
ended his costly quest for the
Republican presidential nomina
tion, saying “we were nosed out by a
He said he left with no regfets,
offered no candidate endorsements,
and said “no” to the question of run
ning in New Jersey for the Senate.
Campaign workers, 80 or so,
applauded a final reprise of the flat
tax, anti-abortion speech he’d used
in his second truncated presidential
He spent more than $30 million
of his publishing fortune on the
2000 campaign, and more than $37
million in 1996.
■ Virginia
Girl sentenced to 18 years
for second-degree murder
teen-age girl who beat a young
mother to death over a traffic dis
pute was sentenced Thursday to 18
. years in prison.
Kurebia Hampton, 17, read a
statement apologizing to the family
of Natalie Giles Davis, 24, who was
killed in a scuffle that broke out last
June in Dale City, Va.
Hampton could have received
up to 40 years in prison for her sec
ond-degree murder conviction.
Davis and her family were head
ed to church when they encountered
a car blocking the road out of their
Davis exchanged harsh words
with the teen-agers, who jumped in
another car and blocked the one
Davis was riding in.
After Davis got out of her car, a
fight broke out, and her head was
slammed to the ground and kicked.
She died several days later.
■ Tennesee
Infamous 'Ernest,’Jim
Varney, dies of lung cancer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Jim
Varney, the rubbernecked comic
who portrayed his rube character
“Ernest” from hundreds of televi
sion commercials to a series of
movies, died Thursday. He was 50.
Varney died of lung cancer at
his home in White House, Tenn.,
about 20 miles north of Nashville,
said his attorney Hoot Gibson.
Varney became a cult figure in
the 1980s in a series of regional
commercials, portraying Ernest P.
Worrell, a know-it-all good oP boy
whose best-known phrase was
“Know-what-I-mean?” and who
addressed a character known as