Among other items: Official dies in fall from atop 50 mph car; painkiller Bextra tied to heart problems; and woman sentenced for bank-holdup spree across the West.

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Terrorists may seek to down aircraft by shining powerful lasers into cockpits to blind pilots during landing approaches, federal officials are warning in a bulletin distributed nationwide.

The memo sent by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security says there is evidence that terrorists have explored using lasers as weapons, although there is no specific intelligence indicating al-Qaida or other groups might use lasers in the United States.

“Although lasers are not proven methods of attack like improvised explosive devices and hijackings, terrorist groups overseas have expressed interest in using these devices against human sight,” the memo said.

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In September a Delta Air Lines pilot reported an eye injury from a laser beam shone into the cockpit during a landing approach in Salt Lake City. The incident occurred about 5 miles from the airport. The plane landed safely.

FBI and other federal officials are investigating.


Phoenix


Official dies in fall from atop 50 mph car

A top city official died after he crawled out of his fast-moving vehicle, stood atop its roof and extended his arms outward before tumbling off, authorities said yesterday.

Kevin Keogh, a 28-year city employee who started as a management intern and became its top finance manager, died after he plunged from the vehicle and struck the pavement and a tree Wednesday in nearby Scottsdale, police said. He was 55.

It was not clear whether Keogh jumped or accidentally fell from the vehicle, which was traveling at about 50 mph, police said. It’s likely Keogh put his vehicle on cruise control before climbing out.

Phoenix City Manager Frank Fairbanks said he learned from Keogh’s wife that the finance official was battling a relapse of a tropical disease.


Washington


Painkiller Bextra tied to heart problems

The government is warning of potential heart problems associated with the use of the painkiller Bextra in people who have had heart-bypass surgery recently.

The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday it is adding the warning to the labels of Bextra, as well as strengthening the label warnings that there is the possibility of severe skin reactions with the drug.


Denver


Woman sentenced for bank-holdup spree

A woman accused of helping her boyfriend rob banks across the West like a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison and ordered to repay $231,000.

Nova Guthrie, 31, and her boyfriend, Craig Pritchert, were accused in a string of holdups in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and New Mexico from 1997 to 1999.

ALSO

Jack Whittaker, who won a record $314.9 million Powerball jackpot on Christmas Day 2002, has reported his 17-year-old granddaughter missing, Charleston, W.Va., police said late yesterday.

Providence, R.I., television reporter Jim Taricani, 55, was sentenced yesterday to six months of home confinement for refusing to say who leaked him an FBI videotape of a politician taking a bribe.