New York

Crews dismantling Coney Island tower

NEW YORK - Coney Island's swaying tower is now a shrinking tower.

Demolition crews using two cranes finished their work Friday dismantling the 275-foot Astrotower, reducing it to 92 feet, Department of Buildings spokeswoman Kelly Magee said. Work will resume early today, she said. It was unclear how much more of the tower would be removed.

The noticeable swaying of the nearly half-century-old observation tower, which hasn't carried passengers for years, led to a shutdown Tuesday of a two-block section of the surrounding Luna Park amusement park. The area includes the iconic Wonder Wheel and Cyclone roller coaster and the boardwalk.

Luna Park spokesman Tom Basgil said he didn't know whether the tower would be removed or restored.

Remains of firefighter killed on 9/11 are ID'd

NEW YORK - Firefighter Jeffrey Walz phoned his wife and his parents on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, telling them he was being called into action, his brother recalls. His relatives would never see him again or even have any of his remains to bury, until now.

The city medical examiner's office said Friday that it had identified some of Walz's remains, making him the 1,637th person identified among the thousands of remains found in and near the rubble of the World Trade Center after the terror attacks. Authorities have painstakingly tested and retested the material as technology became more refined.

Walz, who was promoted to lieutenant after his death at age 37, died in the trade center's north tower. His remains were collected during the initial recovery effort in 2001 and 2002, but they were retested and identified just recently, medical examiner's office spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said.

Altogether, 2,753 people perished in the attacks at the trade center, and 343 firefighters were among the victims.


Rail strike ends as unions agree to continue talks

OAKLAND - Commuter rail service resumed Friday in the San Francisco Bay Area after unions called off a strike and agreed to extend a labor contract for a month while bargaining continues.

Thirty-five trains were put back in service in time for an expected light evening commute, the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency said.

The current contract between BART, the nation's fifth-largest rail system, and its two largest unions will be extended for 30 days after expiring earlier this week.

"The parties will continue to negotiate just as hard as they are now," California Labor Secretary Marty Morgenstern said late Thursday. "The battle's not over. The job's not done."

Key sticking points in the labor dispute include salaries, pensions, health care and safety.

Interceptor missile misses target over Pacific Ocean

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE - A weapon designed to blast nuclear missiles out of the sky failed to hit its target over the Pacific Ocean during a test Friday, military officials said.

A ground-based interceptor missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base and was supposed to hit its target - a missile launched 4,000 miles away from the Kwajalein Atoll, according to the Missile Defense Agency.

But the interceptor did not hit its target. Officials will try to determine the cause of any anomalies that may have prevented a successful intercept.

Rescue groups sought to save 130 dogs

LOS ANGELES - More than 130 dogs saved from a hoarder in California two weeks ago need to be saved again - but only rescue groups can save them now.

The dogs were seized from Rainbow's End Animal Sanctuary in Apple Valley on June 18, where they had been living in one large pack for years without proper food, medical care or human interaction, San Bernardino County Animal Care and Control officials said.

Some dogs had to be euthanized for health reasons. The rest can only be released to rescue groups because of the costly and extensive medical care and behavior work they need. For the same reason, most rescue groups may only be able to take one or two dogs, said Doug Smith, the supervising animal control officer at the Devore Animal Shelter, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

Any nonprofit rescue group in the country with the proper credentials can save a dog, Smith said. The rescue groups will have to provide transportation for the dogs, too.

The Associated Press