Among other items: Speeding trucker cited in 80-vehicle crash in Pennsylvania; race may be factor in Maryland subdivision arson; Kia Spectra scores lowest in crash test...

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After winning re-election and “reshaping the rules of politics to fit his 10-gallon-hat leadership style,” President Bush for the second time was chosen as Time magazine’s Person of the Year.

The magazine’s editors tapped Bush “for sharpening the debate until the choices bled, for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes — and ours — on his faith in the power of leadership.”

Time’s 2004 Person of the Year issue is on newsstands today.

The magazine gives the title to the person who had the greatest impact, good or bad, over the year. After a grueling campaign, Bush remains a polarizing figure in the United States and around the world, and that’s part of the reason the magazine selected him, said Managing Editor Jim Kelly.

Asked on ABC’s “This Week” how Bush reacted when he learned of Time’s decision, White House chief of staff Andrew Card said yesterday that the president was “not worried about what pundits might be saying.”

Mercer, Pa.

Speeding trucker cited in 80-vehicle crash

A tractor-trailer traveling an estimated 55 mph in whiteout conditions jack-knifed across Interstate 80 yesterday, setting off a chain-reaction pileup that wrecked up to 80 vehicles.

No deaths or critical injuries were reported, but the late-morning crash blocked the westbound lanes in western Pennsylvania for more than eight hours, State Police said.

State Police Trooper Ted Hunt said the truck driver who started the crash was cited for driving at an unsafe speed.

Hospital officials reported treating about 24 people.

Indian Head, Md.

Race may be factor in subdivision arson

Racial animosity is among the possible motives in the fires that caused $10 million in damage in Maryland’s largest residential arson case, a spokesman for federal investigators said yesterday.

Four men have been charged with arson at the Hunters Brooke development in Indian Head, where fires Dec. 6 destroyed 10 houses and damaged 16. No one was hurt; many of the homes were under construction.

A federal law-enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said two of the four suspects in custody allegedly made racial statements to investigators during questioning. The suspects are white, and many of the families moving into the development are black.

There had been speculation the fires were set by environmental extremists because some environmental groups had complained the houses threatened a nearby wetland.

But no evidence has been found to support that theory, police said.


Kia Spectra scores lowest in crash test

The Kia Spectra is the first vehicle since 2001 to get the insurance industry’s worst safety rating in a frontal crash test, according to results released yesterday.

The Spectra, a small, four-door sedan that starts at $13,240, got the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s lowest rating of poor after a crash-test-dummy’s head, chest and legs were injured in the 40 mph crash test. The last car to get that rating was the Chevrolet Cavalier in 2001.

“Most manufacturers have figured out how to design vehicles to do a good job protecting people in frontal crashes,” said Adrian Lund, the institute’s chief operating officer. “Kia lags behind its competitors.” Kia Motors America said it has met with institute officials to determine how to improve the vehicle’s performance.


The woman accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart with her husband so the man could keep the girl, then 14, as a second wife has filed for divorce, according to court documents. Wanda Barzee, 59, has been at the Utah State Hospital since the beginning of the year after a judge ruled she was mentally incompetent to stand trial. She filed for divorce from Brian David Mitchell on Nov. 23 in Provo.