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  1. #61
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    Where in Manhattan could the Madison Square Garden move to?

    Madison Square Garden should move to make way for roomier N.Y. Penn Station, planners say | NJ.com

    At New York Penn Station, the hemisphere?s busiest transit hub, Madison Square Garden occupies the penthouse and rail riders get the dingy basement.
    But the cellar-dwellers are ready to emerge from the darkness.

    As the New York City Planning Commission and City Council consider whether to renew the 50-year permit that allowed the Garden to operate on top of Penn Station, the three transit agencies that use the station below ? including NJ Transit and Amtrak ? are asking for skylights, better signage and improvements to entrances, elevators and taxiway pedestrian access as a condition for renewal.
    The Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the arena that is undergoing a nearly $1 billion renovation, wants a permit to operate in perpetuity.

    But some regional planners and politicians, who say having the Garden atop the transportation hub chokes the much-needed expansion of Penn Station, instead would like to see only a 10-year permit renewal, allowing time for the Garden to find an alternative location in Manhattan.

    The civic groups Regional Plan Association and Municipal Art Society formed an alliance to advocate for the overhaul of Penn Station and relocation of the Garden. They called on regional planners and politicians to "seize a unique opportunity this year to envision substantial changes to Penn Station, where overcrowded and grim public areas have plagued hundreds of thousands of daily commuters for nearly five decades."
    It has all the makings of a record-breaking title bout at MSG?s famed boxing ring.

    In this corner, weighing in with hundreds of thousands of basketball and hockey fans and concertgoers, "The World?s Most Famous Arena."
    And in this corner, weighing in with hundreds of thousands of commuters, North America?s busiest rail station.
    Carmelo Anthony and the rest of the Knicks would play in a different building if some regional planners and politicians had their say.Debby Wong/USA TODAY Sport

    When the ornate Beaux Arts original Pennsylvania Station was demolished in the early 1960s to make way for a train station topped by Madison Square Garden, passenger rail was thought to be waning. About 200,000 passengers a day used the station that had grand, soaring ceilings.
    Ridership has since tripled, but the space inside the building largely remains the same.

    "While Madison Square Garden serves as a major entertainment venue and lively civic asset, the original permit clearly reflects very different urban development priorities from those of today," representatives from NJ Transit, Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road wrote in a letter to the planning commission. "The City?s actions permitting the siting of the arena and the Two Penn Plaza office tower in the place of the iconic station building set the course for the irrevocable loss of a spacious rail terminal and great civic landmark.
    "Despite significant subsequent investments by the station?s rail carriers to better accommodate these passengers," the letter continued, "travelers have for decades been confined to functionally inadequate accommodations in the makeshift underground station, and have been hampered by severely limited street-level access at a handful of poorly marked and architecturally flawed entrances that are in some cases all but hidden from the street."

    Along with the letter, the transit agency representatives provided photos of passengers packed like sardines, a hard-to-read Pennsylvania Station entrance sign and delivery vehicles blocking traffic outside the station.
    Madison Square Garden, owner of the Knicks and Rangers, said in a statement that virtually all special permits are granted without "artificial expirations" and that no other sports arena or stadium in New York City has a time limit imposed.

    "The Garden ? a company that has recently invested nearly $1 billion in its Arena and helps drive the city?s economy by supporting thousands of jobs and attracting hundreds of annual events ? is being unfairly singled out because of a decision that was made 50 years ago: to demolish the original Penn Station," the statement read. "Adding an arbitrary expiration for reasons unrelated to the special permit process or requirements would not only set a dangerous and questionable precedent, but would also hinder our ability to make MSG and New York City the long-term home of even more world-class events, and would harm a business that has served as a significant economic driver for the city for generations."

    John W. Nabial Sr. of West Windsor, who commutes from Princeton Junction to Manhattan, would like to see walls demolished "to remove the catacombs feel to much of the station" and have more room left for the flow of passenger traffic.
    He also would like to see more access points to the street level and have rail platforms become wider or more accessible, along with better ventilation and lighting.

    Commuter Tom Calabria, who takes the train from West Windsor to New York, said the signs and monitors for outbound track assignments are "horrific" on the lower level because they are at eye level and people stand in front of them.
    "They constantly bring crowded trains in on platforms that have an outbound train on the opposite side, so half the escalators are going the wrong way," he added.

    Drew Galloway, assistant vice president of policy and development at Amtrak, said cramped conditions at the station get so stifling that "several times each year, we literally have to close the station to avoid dangerous overcrowding."

    "It?s like the Oklahoma Land Rush at 5 p.m. at 34th Street and 7th Avenue," he added, getting knowing chuckles this month during a presentation in Atlantic City on Amtrak?s proposed Gateway train tunnel from Secaucus to the south side of New York Penn Station.
    New Jersey transportation expert Martin E. Robins, director emeritus of the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, has had the claustrophobic feeling of being stuck on crowded platforms at Penn Station, has had long waits for cabs and has had to weave his way through seas of people to get to the other side of the station.

    Still, he thinks major destinations such as Madison Square Garden should be close to rail terminals, and hopes the sides work out their differences.

    "This would be a useful way in which the city of New York, which now has a considerable amount of planning capacity, could work with Amtrak, the Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit to take advantage of this lease negotiation and improve those conditions," Robins said. "If the railroads find that there are inadequacies, they should be addressed."

  2. #62
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    The City Planning Commission denied Madison Square Garden's MSG +0.81%request to operate indefinitely on its current site, reopening questions about moving the arena and shifting a hot-button political issue to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

    The commission voted unanimously Wednesday to give the 45-year-old arena a 15-year operating permit, creating a political countdown for a deal to move the arena from 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue and clear the way to rebuild Pennsylvania Station, which sits below the complex.

    Typically the planning commission grants such permits indefinitely, but in the case of the Garden, the seemingly routine process has been complicated by long-standing issues around improving Penn Station.

    "What a 15-year period can do is to create an opportunity for city, state and federal government agencies to reach an agreement with Madison Square Garden and the railroads for a comprehensive plan to relocate the arena and rebuild Penn Station" said City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden at the vote Wednesday.

    The final decision on the permit rests with the City Council. It is likely to defer to Ms. Quinn, because she represents the West Side area that includes the site of the Garden.

    The council will also have to consider a provision created by the City Planning Department that would make it possible for Madison Square Garden to receive an indefinite permit. That could happen if the Garden reaches an agreement with the Long Island Rail Road, NJ Transit and Amtrak to allow them access to add more stairwells, elevators and escalators to improve access to Penn Station.


    Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers looks on during pre-game ceremonies at Madison Square Garden in April.
    .
    The decision forces Ms. Quinn, the front-runner for the Democratic mayoral nomination, to weigh the interests of the Dolan family?powerful local political players who have a controlling interest in Madison Square Garden Co. and Long Island's Cablevision Systems Corp. CVC +0.72%?against her local community board and prominent civic groups.

    Ms. Quinn's office has communicated with some of those groups, including the Municipal Arts Society and the Regional Plan Association, who are pushing for a 10-year permit.

    "We're very pleased that the planning commission has set a time limit. We need to make sure it stays in and is strengthened in the city council," said Robert Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association.

    The speaker hasn't yet met with representatives of the Garden because they haven't requested a meeting, said Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Ms. Quinn. He said she was open to meeting with all parties.

    "As with all [land use] applications that come before the council, Speaker Quinn looks forward to reviewing the proposal and working to ensure that an open dialogue with all interested parties is maintained," Mr. Goodman said.

    Over the past decade, a plan was proposed to move Madison Square Garden?to the Ninth Avenue side of the Farley Post Office complex?as part of the post office's rebirth as Moynihan Station. Garden officials maintained they were willing to move, but withdrew that offer when public funding commitments fell through.

    They have said since that deal fell apart they've spent significant money on improvements to the facility and needed the "fairness and predictability" of an indefinite permit.

    "We hoped and expected that City Planning, which currently issues virtually all special permits without term limits, would base its decision on the merits of the permit application. Instead, the Garden?a key driver of the city's economy that supports thousands of jobs, and which is currently investing nearly $1 billion of its own money in its arena?is effectively being held hostage by a decision by public officials," said Kimberly Kerns, a spokeswoman for the Madison Square Garden Company.

    The Dolans have weighed in on previous land-use issues. Several years ago, with support from Ms. Quinn and other local and state officials, they were instrumental in the defeat of a proposal to build a new stadium for the New York Jets on the West Side.

    Recently, however, the family has encountered political difficulties, including disputes with Cablevision employees in Brooklyn. Labor-union officials said they would pressure members of the city council to limit the permit.

    "We plan to lobby aggressively at the City Council to make sure that the community's concerns are addressed and MSG doesn't get an unneeded loophole," said Bob Master, legislative and political director of the Communications Workers of America District 1.

    State Assemblyman Richard Gotffried, a Democrat, said he was "mystified" by the opposition to Madison Square Garden. He said he supported an indefinite permit.

    "I think putting a sunset on the permit is wrong, especially such a short sunset. Madison Square Garden was ready to pack up and move to make way for a new Penn Station entrance. The reason that never came together was because the other players never got their act together," Mr. Gottfried said.

  3. #63
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  4. #64
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    Trucker bumps I-5 bridge, sees horror behind him | General Headlines | Comcast

    Trucker bumps I-5 bridge, sees horror behind him

    MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) ? The trucker was hauling drilling equipment when his load bumped against the steel framework over an Interstate 5 bridge. He looked in his rearview mirror and watched in horror as the span collapsed into the water behind him. Two vehicles fell into the icy Skagit River.

    Amazingly, nobody was killed. The three people who fell into the water escaped with only minor injuries.

    Officials are trying to find out whether the spectacular collapse of a bridge on one of the West's most important roadways was a fluke ? or a sign of a bigger problem with thousands of bridges across the U.S.

    Authorities focused first on trying to find a temporary span for the Skagit, although it won't come in time for the tens of thousands of Memorial Day vacationers who would travel between Canada and Seattle.

    "You cannot overstate the importance of this corridor to Washington state," Gov. Jay Inslee said. Traffic on I-5 and surrounding roads was backed up for miles, a situation the governor said would continue indefinitely.

    Officials were looking for a temporary, pre-fabricated bridge to replace the 160-foot section that failed, Inslee said Friday. If one is found, it could be in place in weeks. If not, it could be months before a replacement can be built, the governor said.

    The spectacular collapse unfolded about 7 p.m. Thursday on the north end of the four-lane bridge near Mount Vernon, about 60 miles north of Seattle and 40 miles south of the Canada border.

    "He looked in the mirrors and it just dropped out of sight," Cynthia Scott, the wife of truck driver William Scott, said from the couple's home near Spruce Grove, Alberta. "I spoke to him seconds after it happened. He was just horrified."

    The truck driver works for Mullen Trucking in Alberta, the Washington State Patrol said. The tractor-trailer was hauling a housing for drilling equipment southbound when the top right front corner of the load struck several of the bridge's trusses, the patrol said.

    Scott, 41, remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators. He voluntarily gave a blood sample for an alcohol test and was not arrested.

    Scott has been driving truck for 20 years and hauling specialized loads for more than 10.

    "He gets safety awards, safety bonuses ... for doing all these checks, for hiring the right pilot cars and pole cars," his wife said.

    Initially, it wasn't clear if the bridge just gave way on its own. But Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste blamed it on the tall load.

    The truck made it off the bridge, but two other vehicles went into the water about 25 feet below as the structure crumbled.

    Dan Sligh and his wife were in their pickup heading to a camping trip when he said the bridge before them disappeared in a "big puff of dust."

    "I hit the brakes and we went off," Sligh told reporters from a hospital.

    Bryce Kenning, of Mount Vernon, said the bridge seemed to explode in front of him. The 20-year-old slammed the brakes and could see the edge of the pavement approaching, but there was nothing he could do.

    "It was like time was frozen ? like a roller coaster where you're not attached to the tracks," Kenning said in a phone interview. "I'm sure it was just one of the loudest sounds ever to hear this thing explode and fall into the water like that, but I didn't hear a thing. I just witnessed it happening in front of me."

    Ed Scherbinski, vice president of Mullen Trucking, said in an interview with The Associated Press that state officials had approved of the company's plan to drive the oversize load along I-5 to Vancouver, Wash., and the company hired a local escort to help navigate the route.

    Mike Allende, a state Department of Transportation spokesman, confirmed the truck had a permit.

    "We're still trying to figure out why it hit the bridge," Allende said. "It's ultimately up to the trucking company to figure out whether it can get through."

    State officials approved the trucking company to carry a load as high as 15 feet, 9 inches, according to the permit released by the state. However, the southbound vertical clearance on the Skagit River bridge is as little as 14 feet, 5 inches, state records show. That lowest clearance is outside of the bridge's vehicle traveling lanes, Transportation Department communications director Lars Erickson said Friday. The bridge's curved overhead girders are higher in the center of the bridge but sweep lower toward a driver's right side.

    The bridge has a maximum clearance of about 17 feet, but there is no signage to indicate how to safely navigate the bridge with a tall load.

    The permit specifically describes the route the truck would take, though it includes a qualification that the state "Does Not Guarantee Height Clearance."

    It's not rare for trucks to strike bridges in Washington state ? it's just that such accidents don't usually cause the structures to collapse.

    The state DOT said there were 21 bridge-strikes involving trucks last year, 24 in 2011 and 14 in 2010.

    Officials performed a special inspection six months ago of the bridge that collapsed because there were indications it had been struck by a different vehicle.

    A report released Friday says the checkup was done due to "impact damage," and inspectors identified tears, deformations and gouges on the northbound side of the bridge. The report also summarizes a variety of parts on the bridge that have been subjected to "high-load" hits.

    In that Nov. 29, 2012, impact, an overheight truck struck a metal overhead truss on the bridge, DOT spokeswoman Broch Bender said. An inspection crew "thoroughly investigated and determined the bridge to be safe," with only minor repairs required. She said those minor repairs were added to an existing list of bridge maintenance items to be completed at a future date.

    There are no signs leading up to the Skagit River bridge to warn about its clearance height. State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson said that under federal and state standards, the clearance is tall enough to not require signage.

    Inslee said it will cost $15 million to repair the bridge. The federal government has already promised the state $1 million in emergency funding.

    Traffic could be affected for some time. The bridge is used by an average of 71,000 vehicles a day, so the roadblock will cause a major disruption in trade and tourism.

    The closest detour is a bridge about a quarter mile east of I-5, which is mostly used by local traffic between Mount Vernon and Burlington. Officials are also recommending detours using state Routes 20 and 9 that add dozens of miles to a trip.

    A Federal Highway Administration database lists the bridge that collapsed as "functionally obsolete" ? a category meaning that the design is outdated, such as having narrow shoulders and low clearance underneath. But it was not classified as structurally deficient.

    The 1,112-foot-long bridge, with two lanes in each direction, has four spans, or sections, over the water supported by piers. It's a steel truss bridge, meaning it has a boxy steel frame.

    The northernmost span is the one that collapsed.

    The mishap was reminiscent of the August 2007 collapse of an I-35W bridge in Minneapolis that killed 13 people and injured another 145 when it buckled and fell into the Mississippi River during rush-hour.

    The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the Minneapolis bridge failed because steel gusset plates that connected the structure's beams and girders were too thin.

  5. #65
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    King Gives Up Royal Yacht, but Donors Want It Back

    King Gives Up Royal Yacht, but Donors Want It Back

    In hard times like these, everyone has to make sacrifices. And King Juan Carlos of Spain wanted it known that he was doing his part, too.

    Two weeks ago, the royal palace announced that "for austerity reasons," the king would hand over to the government one of his most famous possessions, a $27 million, 136-foot yacht he received as a gift 13 years ago to replace one given to him by King Fahd, the former ruler of Saudi Arabia.

    If only it were that easy.

    On Monday, the gesture turned instead into an ownership battle after the businesspeople who paid for the yacht announced that if Juan Carlos did not want it, then they wanted it back.

    In a letter to the administrators of Spain's national patrimony, the foundation representing the businesspeople emphasized that the gift had been made with the stipulation that the yacht be used by the king and members of his family.

    The 35-ton aluminum yacht, Fortuna, is moored off the island of Majorca, where the royal family has a palace and vacations each summer. The 30 or so executives who contributed to its purchase include hotel owners and bankers with links to Majorca and other Balearic Islands, whose regional government contributed a small part of the cost of the yacht, too.

    The gift was presented as a way of thanking the monarch for helping to promote Majorca, one of Spain's major tourism destinations. But Majorca, too, seems to be a problem.

    It has become the scene of a corruption case undermining the reputation of the royal family and centering on accusations that the king's son-in-law, I?aki Urdangarin, embezzled millions from lucrative contracts for sports events organized on behalf of regional politicians.

    Last week, the Majorca-based judge who is leading the inquiry said he would investigate whether Princess Cristina, Mr. Urdangarin's wife and the king's younger daughter, had engaged in tax evasion or money-laundering.

    Mr. Urdangarin has not been charged with any crime. But the case has intensified pressure on the monarchy at a time when the king's popularity has fallen to record lows in opinion polls, and there have even been some calls for the king to abdicate in favor of his son, Crown Prince Felipe.

    The king came to the throne in 1975, when the monarchy was reinstalled after the death of the dictator Gen. Francisco Franco, but as the head of one of Europe's poorest royal families after decades in exile. Recently, however, as resentment has mounted here over high unemployment and cuts to social services by a government struggling to balance its budget, the family's wealth has come under greater scrutiny.

    It is not that the king, who is 75 and has had several health problems recently, would miss the Fortuna all that much; he made only one outing on the vessel in 2012. But a representative of the royal household said the yacht's future was not for the palace to decide.

    Carmen Matutes, the president of the foundation that is trying to reclaim the yacht, told the Spanish news media on Monday that her organization had no intention of keeping it, which is understandable. Just filling its fuel tanks costs more than $30,000, according to Spanish news reports. And then there is the crew.

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  7. #67
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    Have Researchers Found Amelia Earhart

    Have Researchers Found Amelia Earhart?s Plane?

    This week marked a new chapter in the decades-long search for the plane piloted by aviator Amelia Earhart on what would become her final mission in June 1937. Researchers with the Earhart Project, a division of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), have released sonar images that they believe show the remains of Earhart?s twin-engine Lockheed Electra lying 600 feet below sea level off the coast of an uninhabited island in the South Pacific?just 350 miles from Earhart?s original destination on her fateful journey.

    Amelia Earhart?s daring round-the-world-flight was cut short when her Lockheed Electra disappeared over the Pacific Ocean on June 2, 1937. Though rescue workers began scouring the area for signs of life, neither Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan or their plane were found. In an official report, the U.S. government concluded that the two seasoned flyers, unable to locate their destination of Howland Island, ran out of fuel, crashed into the water and sank. Earhart was declared legally dead on January 5, 1939, but the question of why and where her plane went down remains one of history?s biggest mysteries. In the seven decades since the Earhart disappearance, a number of hypotheses that differ from the official government line have emerged.

    Some theorists, for instance, believe Earhart was actually a secret agent working for the U.S. government. They suggest that the plane crashed after its pilots intentionally deviated from their course to spy on Japanese-occupied islands in the Pacific, or that Earhart and Noonan landed on one of them and were taken prisoner. Yet another theory holds that Earhart returned safely to the United States, changed her name and lived a long life in obscurity. Less fanciful and far more likely is the widely held belief that due to pilot or mechanical errors Earhart and Noonan were forced to touch down on a remote South Pacific island called Nikumaroro, which at the time of their disappearance was uninhabited and known as Gardner Island.

    It?s Nikumaroro and its surrounding waters that have been of most interest to the TIGHAR team. Researchers have been combing Nikumaroro since 1989, assembling a collection of artifacts that includes improvised tools, shoe remnants and aircraft wreckage that is consistent with Earhart?s Electra. During a 2010 expedition, the team uncovered some compelling clues. While foraging in a spot where they had previously identified traces of a campfire, they came across three pieces of a pocketknife, shells that had been cut open, fragments of a glass cosmetic jar, bits of makeup and?perhaps most intriguing of all?bone fragments that may be from a human.

    They returned to the site, located in the Pacific Republic of Kiribati, in July 2012, armed with two underwater research vehicles capable of collecting hours of data, including side-scan sonar and high-definition video. When the mission was cut short due to technical issues and inclement weather, the TIGHAR team spent several months scouring the materials they had collected. Almost immediately, imaging specialists identified a debris field, approximately 600 feet below the surface, which contained several man-made objects. And, most importantly, the location, shape and size of the debris field matches up with a photograph that many believe holds the key to the mystery of Earhart?s disappearance, the Bevington photo. This grainy, underwater photograph of what appears to be a large man-made object jutting out off the coast of Nikumaroro was captured by British naval officer Eric Bevington in October 1937, just months after Earhart vanished. The team at TIGHAR had long suspected that the debris captured in the Bevington photo was actually the landing gear from Earhart?s plane. TIGHAR?s next step will be the recovery of the items in the debris field, though the non-profit group has not yet begun to raise the more than $3 million needed for the mission.

    In addition to possibly locating part of Earhart?s plane, TIGHAR also thinks it may have found even more proof for its theory that Earhart and Noonan crashed their plane and became castaways on the uninhabited island before their eventual deaths. Working in conjunction with a chemist, they have been testing the cosmetic jar fragments they recovered in the 2010 expedition. Based on the high mercury levels found on the fragments, TIGHAR believes it has identified the substance once held in the jar as a brand of ointment used to bleach skin and remove spots?something the freckle-faced Earhart was known to have used. Even more intriguing to researchers is the fact that the fragments seem to have been intentionally shaped for use as cutting tools, possibly by Earhart and Noonan in their attempt to survive on a deserted island.

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    40,000 killer bees sting man to death | US National Headlines | Comcast

    A hive of 40,000 Africanized honey bees, known as "killer bees," killed a Central Texas man and hurt a woman who came to his aid.

    It happened in Moody, about thirty minutes south of Waco.

    McLennan County Chief Sheriff?s Deputy Matt Cawthon told the Waco Tribune-Herald that Larry Goodwin was driving a tractor on Saturday when attacked. Goodwin ran to a house about 50 yards away and tried to use a garden hose ward off the swarm.

    A woman came out to help and was also stung. Goodwin was pronounced dead on the scene.

    Allen Miller, owner of Bee Be Gone, who later destroyed the hive, said Goodwin apparently hit a pile of wood that housed a hive. Miller estimated it contained about 40,000 bees.

    He said Africanized bees attack much more aggressively and in greater numbers than European bees.

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    Last edited by Gregzs; 06-19-2013 at 05:46 PM. Reason: description

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    They better have him at a non-disclosed location cause even non-racists are ready to don white hoods and lynch that fuckface coward bitch made pussy faggot...
    Coarse edged youth, the irish pendants string from their smiles
    not yet plucked as to slacken the seams
    and drag down the features of age,
    no folds or creases from unkempt wear
    eyes of tranquilty, crystalline-beads
    no sign of despair in their hair, nor their hearts
    but oh they have yet to be experienced and that makes aging so very worth it...ML circa2012

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    Humerus reunion: Doc returns Vietnamese vet's arm | General Headlines | Comcast

    Humerus reunion: Doc returns Vietnamese vet's arm

    HANOI, Vietnam (AP) ? An American doctor arrived in Vietnam carrying an unlikely piece of luggage: the bones of an arm he amputated in 1966.

    Dr. Sam Axelrad brought the skeletal keepsake home to Texas as a reminder that when a badly injured North Vietnamese soldier was brought to him, he did the right thing and fixed him up. The bones sat in a closet for decades, and when the Houston urologist finally pulled them out two years ago, he wondered about their true owner, Nguyen Quang Hung.

    The men were reunited Monday at Hung's home in central Vietnam. They met each other's children, and grandchildren, and joked about which of them had been better looking back when war had made them enemies. Hung was stunned that someone had kept his bones for so long, but happy that when the time comes, they will be buried with him.

    "I'm very glad to see him again and have that part of my body back after nearly half a century," Hung said by telephone Monday after meeting Axelrad. "I'm proud to have shed my blood for my country's reunification, and I consider myself very lucky compared with many of my comrades who were killed or remain unaccounted for."

    Hung, 73, said American troops shot him in the arm in October 1966 during an ambush about 75 kilometers (46 miles) from An Khe, the town where he now lives. After floating down a stream to escape a firefight and then sheltering in a rice warehouse for three days, he was evacuated by a U.S. helicopter to a no-frills military hospital in Phu Cat, in central Binh Dinh province.

    "When I was captured by the American forces, I was like a fish on a chopping-board," Hung said last week. "They could have either killed or spared me."

    When Hung got to Axelrad, then a 27-year-old military doctor, his right forearm was the color of an eggplant. To keep the infection from killing his patient, Axelrad amputated the arm above the elbow.

    After the surgery, Hung spent eight months recovering and another six assisting American military doctors, Hung said. He spent the rest of the war offering private medical services in the town, and later served in local government for a decade before retiring on his rice farm.

    "He probably thought we were going to put him in some prisoner-of-war camp," Axelrad said. "Surely he was totally surprised when we just took care of him."

    As for the arm, Axelrad said his medic colleagues boiled off the flesh, reconstructed the arm bones and gave them to him. It was hardly common practice, but he said it was a reminder of a good deed performed.

    The bones sat in a military bag in Axelrad's closet for decades, along with other things from the war that he didn't want look at because he didn't want to relive those experiences.

    When he finally went through the mementos in 2011, "it just blew me away what was in there," Axelrad said at a hotel bar in Hanoi early Sunday, hours after arriving in Vietnam with his two sons and two grandchildren on Saturday evening. "That kind of triggered my thoughts of returning."

    It had taken a little luck for Axelrad to reunite Hung with his amputated arm. He traveled to Vietnam last summer ? partly for vacation, but also to try to find the man.

    He said he wasn't sure Hung was still alive, or where to begin looking for him. Axelrad visited An Khe but didn't ask for him there because he assumed Hung would be living in northern Vietnam, where he grew up.

    By chance, Axelrad toured the old Vietnam War bunker at the Metropole Hotel in downtown Hanoi. His tour guide was Tran Quynh Hoa, a Vietnamese journalist who took a keen interest in his war stories.

    Hoa later wrote an article in a widely read Vietnamese newspaper about Axelrad's quest to return the bones to their owner. Hung said his brother-in-law in Ho Chi Minh City read the article and contacted the newspaper's editors.

    Hoa, now a communications officer for the International Labour Organization, arranged Monday's reunion in An Khe, near the coastal city of Qui Nhon, and served as an interpreter for the veterans.

    "It's just time for closure," Axelrad said a day before the meeting.

    Hung was surprised to be reunited with his lost limb, to say the least.

    "I can't believe that an American doctor took my infected arm, got rid of the flesh, dried it, took it home and kept it for more than 40 years," he said by telephone last week from his home. "I don't think it's the kind of keepsake that most people would want to own. But I look forward to seeing him again and getting my arm bones back."

    Hung served Axelrad and his family lunch, shared memories and reflected on all the time that had passed. Axelrad said he was pleased to learn where and how Hung had been living for so many years, and to meet his children and grandchildren.

    "I'm so happy that he was able to make a life for himself," Axelrad said.

    Vietnam is now a country full of young people who have no direct memory of the war, which ended in 1975 and killed an estimated 58,000 Americans and 3 million Vietnamese. But the war's legacy persists in the minds of combat veterans who still are processing the events and traumas they witnessed in their youth.

    John Ernst, a Vietnam War expert at Morehead State University in Kentucky, said he knows of a few American veterans who have traveled to Vietnam to return personal items to former enemy soldiers as a way to bring closure.

    "It is a fascinating phenomenon," Ernst said by e-mail Sunday. "I always wonder what triggers the decision to make the gesture."

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    Ancient Pyramid Torn Down by Developers: Peru | XFINITY News Blog by Comcast

    Ancient Pyramid Torn Down by Developers: Peru

    Peruvian authorities say a pair of real-estate developers have ruined a 4,000-year-old pyramid, and they?re facing criminal charges, the BBC reports. ?Irreparable damage? was done to the 20-foot-high pyramid, says an archeologist. The El Paraiso complex, near Lima, had 12 pyramids; the companies tried to tear down three others before witnesses stopped them.

    El Paraiso was a religious and administrative area dating much earlier than the Incas, experts say. Now, ?we are not going to be able to know in what ways it was constructed, what materials were used in it, and how the society in that part of the pyramid behaved,? the archeologist tells the AP. (In more encouraging archaeological news, researchers in Peru made an exciting find recently: Big Peru Find: Royal Tomb That Hasn't Been Looted - 63 bodies, vast trove of artifacts inside

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