Bus Crash Injures 25

LANCASTER, Pa., Aug. 13 (UPI) — A bus crashed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on its way to St. Louis Saturday, injuring 25 passengers, officials say.

The Greyhound bus overturned on the turnpike at 6 a.m., 1 mile east of the Lebanon-Lancaster exit, WGAL-TV in Lancaster, Pa., reported.

The bus driver, Kareem Edward Farmer of Philadelphia, and most of the injured passengers were transported to a hospital for medical attention; four passengers were picked up by another bus and continued to Pittsburgh.

One woman was trapped on the coach bus and had to be freed by crews, KTVI-TV of Pittsburgh reported.

The westbound lanes of the turnpike were closed for cleanup and investigation of the accident.

5 Escape From Connecticut Halfway House

HARTFORD, Conn., Aug. 13 (UPI) — Law enforcement authorities were searching for five inmates who escaped from a Hartford, Conn., halfway house before dawn Saturday, police said.

Officials at the Stillman Halfway House alerted police at 12:30 a.m. Saturday that Omar Hernandez, 35, Tory Keith, 21, Willie Hughes, 32, Dajuan Hill, 27, and Luis Padua, 22, were missing from the facility at 199 Retreat Ave., The Hartford Courant reported.

Four of the five men have been convicted on drug charges; Hill was convicted on first- and second-degree burglary, the newspaper said. Police were conducting a criminal investigation.

One Dead In Texas Mid-air Plane Collision

CONROE, Texas, Aug. 13 (UPI) — One person was killed Saturday when two planes collided in mid air over Lake Conroe in Texas, authorities said.

The two planes hit each other at 11:45 a.m. Saturday over the northern part of the lake in Montgomery County, KTRK-TV, Houston, reported.

One aircraft was able to land safely, while the other crashed, the TV station said. At least one of the planes appears to have taken off from Lone Star Airport.

One burned body was pulled from the wreckage. Police said it was unclear whether anyone else was on board the crashed plane.

Body Of Drowned NYPD Officer Found

SMITHTOWN, N.Y., Aug. 13 (UPI) — The body of a New York Police Department officer who disappeared while kayaking with his 5-year-old son was recovered Saturday from Smithtown Bay, police said.

Authorities found the body of Patrick Luca, 41, shortly before noon Saturday after a massive search overnight, NBC-TV, New York, reported.

Luca’s son, who was rescued Friday afternoon, told Coast Guard officials he saw his father, who was not wearing a life jacket, “go down” after their kayak turned over, the TV station said.

“Thankfully the boy was wearing his life jacket and a Good Samaritan was in the area to recover him,” said John Olsen, the command duty officer on watch.

“On behalf of the New York City Police Department, I extend deepest condolences to the family and friends of Officer Luca, and our appreciation to the Suffolk County police for their support,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement.

Report: Syrian Tanks Enter Latakia

LATAKIA, Syria, Aug. 13 (UPI) — Syrian government tanks rolled into Latakia Saturday, with residents fleeing under heavy gunfire, human-rights activists said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in London said women and children fled en masse after tanks and armored personnel carriers descended on the southern district of Al-Ramleh, which has seen large demonstrations against President Bashar Assad in recent days, Radio France Internationale reported.

Another activist in Homs said two tanks flanked by troops entered Jussiyeh on the border with Lebanon, causing more residents to flee across the border.

The Observatory said 2,150 people are confirmed dead since the beginning of protests in May, and at least 16 people were killed Friday by Syrian forces.

Small Cairo Rally Calls For Secular Egypt

CAIRO, Aug. 13 (UPI) — A demonstration calling for a secular state in Egypt drew a few hundred protesters to Tahrir Square in Cairo.

The protest was held Friday evening after iftar, the daily meal that breaks the fast held during daylight hours in Ramadan, CNN reported. Those gathered in the square, scene of huge demonstrations earlier this year calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, demanded a civil state, an end to rule by the military and no sectarianism in government.

Ahmed Maher, leader of the 6 April Youth Movement, blamed the government for the relatively small size of the demonstration. He told Al-Masry Al-Youm that Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his Cabinet had sown confusion about whether a “For the Love of Egypt” rally to counter a July 29 Islamist demonstration was to be held Aug. 6 or a week later.

“The prime minister’s office had given promises in exchange for delaying the march, and these were to release a statement supporting a civil state and endorsing the march the following week. They did neither, so we are here today,” he said.

SEC To Look At S&P Downgrade Of U.S. Debt

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (UPI) — Regulators will examine the straw that broke the Wall Street camel’s back, S&P’s downgrade of U.S. debt from AAA to AA+, sources told The Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. Treasury Department has said the downgrade by credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s is the result of a $2 trillion mathematical error. S&P, however, says it began the calculations that led to the downgrade with different assumptions, the Journal reported Saturday.

S&P’s announcement of the downgrade after markets closed Aug. 5 sent markets on a roller coaster ride, with the Dow Jones industrial average logging four consecutive swings of at least 400 points, the first time ever for the index.

The downgrade came after months of negative economic data and a prolonged debate in Washington over raising the debt ceiling that escalated tension on Wall Street.

Sources told the Journal the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the downgrade.

Part of the investigation is likely to include how air-tight the news of the downgrade was kept before it was officially announced.

S&P President Deven Sharma said he was not aware the agency’s analysts were working on a downgrade when rumors began to circulate about a pending S&P credit rating shift.

“Maybe outsiders were leaking it. But it’s hard to say,” Sharma said.

If the news was being shared before the official announcement, it is possible savvy investors could have made money or saved money through investment decisions that would be considered profiting on confidential information, the essence of insider trading.

North Korea: Don’t Hold Joint Exercise

SEOUL, Aug. 13 (UPI) — A joint military exercise by South Korea and the United States could undermine possible peace talks, North Korea said, demanding the drills be canceled.

The annual joint drill, this year called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, starts Tuesday in the Yellow Sea off the west coast of South Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Earlier this week North Korea’s military delegation warned South Korean and U.S. officials to cancel the exercises, saying they would damage potential peace negotiations.

The drills this year will simulate destroying weapons of mass destruction.

South Korean military forces have remained on high alert in the region of the scheduled exercises since a North Korean artillery attack in November killed four people, two of them Marines, on Yeonpyeong Island.

Peace talks have been stalled for months and in July a North Korean diplomat met with U.S. officials in New York to find ways to restart them, the report said.

The New York meeting followed an earlier meeting between nuclear envoys of both countries on the sidelines of an Asian security conference in Indonesia.

Iowa Straw Poll Could Cut GOP Field

AMES, Iowa, Aug. 13 (UPI) — Saturday’s Iowa straw poll could weed some candidates out of the crowded Republican presidential field.

The poll may be make-or-break time for Tim Pawlenty, who served as governor in neighboring Minnesota and has invested more time and money in Iowa than his rivals, The Hill reported. It also could be critical for Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and for two lagging candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

Pawlenty said Friday he would have to “reassess” his decision to run if he does badly.

“We may not have any choice, if it went that way,” he told reporters at an Iowa breakfast sponsored by Politico.

Two strong candidates have decided to ignore the poll. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is in South Carolina, where he is expected to make his candidacy official, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has stayed away for the most part along with former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.

The straw poll tends to be a measure of the quality of a candidate’s ground operation in Iowa. Supporters are being lured to Ames with food and in Bachmann’s case performances by country singers, the Des Moines Register reported.

‘Comfort Women’ Bill Voted Down 8 Times

SEOUL, Aug. 13 (UPI) — Japanese legislators who support a bill to compensate World War II Korean “comfort women” have not given up, a former lawmaker said Saturday.

Haruko Yoshikawa, a member of the Japanese Communist Party, told a conference in Seoul that the Diet or parliament rejected a bill she and other woman legislators drafted eight times, the South Korean Yonhap News Agency reported. The bill, first introduced in 2001, would provide an official apology from the Japanese government and financial restitution.

“Though submitted eight times, the bill was dismissed each time,” Yoshikawa told a conference sponsored by the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. “After the Liberal Democratic Party took power, it was hard to even submit the bill.”

While she is no longer in the Diet, her allies plan to keep pushing, Yoshikawa said.

Japan has admitted girls and women from other countries were forced to provide sexual services for Japanese soldiers during World War II. But the government says private groups were responsible.

Historians have estimated the number of comfort women at more than 200,000. Most were from Korea with some from China, the Philippines and Taiwan.