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RACHEL MARTIN, host:
Thanks, Alison. Powerful Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's brother in law is dead. Gunmen killed Riyadh al-Nouri in Najaf. Al-Nouri was a top aide to Sadr. He was shot to death on his way home from Friday prayers. This comes after recent heavy clashes between the Mahdi army and Iraqi and American forces. The toughest fighting was in Baghdad, Sadr's city, and Basra. The Mahdi army is a Shi'ite militia loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr.
"I'm sorry, and thank you." That was the word from the chief executive of American Airlines yesterday in response to yet another mass of flight cancellations. The airline scrapped more than 900 flights and plans to ground another 570 today. That makes almost 2,500 flights canceled over the past three days for failing to meet government safety standards. American CEO Gerard Arpey said yesterday he was profoundly sorry and he thanked customers for their patience.
Mr. GERARD ARPEY (Chief Executive Officer, American Airlines): We're offering them full refunds. We're trying to accommodate them on other airlines, if other airlines can help them, and we're trying to put them on other American Airlines flights.
MARTIN: So what was the problem? Potential wiring hazards that could cause fires or problems with landing gear. The cancellations have delayed or stranded more than 140,000 passengers. Meanwhile more signs of turbulence in the sky, Frontier Airlines has filed for bankruptcy. It's the fourth U.S. carrier to file in recent weeks, along with ATA, Skybus and Aloha, but unlike them, Frontier will keep flying while it regroups.
In Zimbabwe the main opposition party there says it will boycott any runoff in the presidential election, because the party insists that its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the poll outright. It's been almost two weeks since Zimbabwe held national elections. Results are still not public. Yesterday the opposition head accused President Robert Mugabe and his governing party of carrying out a constitutional coup d'etat. Independent monitors say Tsvangirai won the vote but probably not by enough to avoid a runoff.
And a year after the Virginia Tech shootings, families of the victims now have one kind of closure. Most families have agreed to an 11 million dollar state settlement. The deal will compensate those who lost loved ones, pay survivors' medical costs and avoid a court battle.
And if you like wild salmon, get ready to open up your wallet a little wider. It's going to get a lot more expensive now that federal fisheries are shutting down all commercial salmon fishing in California and Oregon. NPR's Martin Costi reports.
MARTIN COSTI: Most salmon runs are just a fraction of what they used to be, but Don McIsaac, the executive director of the Pacific Fishery Management Council says, this year, the drop has been especially sharp.
Mr. DON MCISAAC (Executive Director, Pacific Fishery Management Council): There's an unprecedented low level of Sacramento Fall Chinook. Never been seen this low before. Collectively on the west coast what people are looking at here will be the worst ocean salmon fishery season in history.
COSTI: Scientists blame a variety of factors in the rivers where the salmon spawn, such as dams, lower water levels because of irrigation, and urban development. Shutting down the Ocean Salmon Fishery this year paves the way for a possible fisheries disaster declaration, which could lead to government aid for the fishing industry.
MARTIN: NPR's Martin Costi reporting. That's the news. It's always online at npr.org
WOLFF: This is NPR.
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