Some of the strongest blasts since the start of the war shakes Iraq's capital.
The Iraqis say more than 50 people were killed during the overnight bomb and missile attacks.
And, a Botetourt county Marine is one of three killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq.
As the sunshine returns the temperatures will climb. I'll have your warm hometown forecast.
News 7 at Noon starts right now...
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The war in Iraq hits close to home for a Botetourt County family.
Sergeant Michael Lalush of Troutville died Sunday in a Huey helicopter crash in Southern Iraq.
Lalush would have turned 24 in just a few weeks.
Good Afternoon, I'm Kimberly McBroom.
We'll have more on Sergeant Lalush in a moment, but first, U-S military leaders are still on the defensive about an incident at a roadway checkpoint.
U-S troops killed seven Iraqi civilians.
But U-S military commanders say Iraq is to blame because it's been using civilians as human shields.
Also, Saddam Hussein is reportedly about to speak on Iraqi television.
Let's go now to Teri Okita in Kuwait City, who joins us with an update.
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[SUPER=201-Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf/Iraqi Information Minister;]
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AS COALITION FORCES BATTLE FOR CONTROL OF IRAQ, U.S. COMMANDERS SAY
THEY'RE DOING EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO AVOID CIVILIAN CASUALITIES ... BUT,
THEY SAY, IRAQ'S USE OF GUERRILLA TACTICS AND HUMAN SHIELDS IS MAKING
SOT: BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS, CENTRAL COMMAND
"THE BLOOD IS ON THE HANDS OF THE REGIME FOR THEIR DECISIONS AND
WILLINGNESS TO USE THE POPULATION THIS WAY."
(NATZ OF CHECKPOINT)
MILITARY CHECKPOINTS HAVE BECOME A HOT SPOT ... AFTER A SUICIDE BOMBER
KILLED FOUR MARINES OVER THE WEEKEND . IN TWO SEPARATE INCIDENTS
TUESDAY, TROOPS OPENED FIRE AND KILLED TWO IRAQI FIGHTERS WHO CHARGED
AT CHECKPOINTS. THAT COMES A DAY AFTER EIGHT IRAQI CIVILIANS WERE
KILLED NEAR NAJAF ... WHEN THE DRIVER OF THEIR VAN REFUSED TO STOP.
SOT: MOHAMMED SAEED AL-SAHAF/IRAQI INFORMATION MINISTER
"THE BOMBARDMENT OF THOSE CROOKS TARGETING CIVILIAN QUARTERS IN
DIFFERENT IRAQI CITIES."
FOR THEIR PART, IRAQI OFFICIALS ACCUSE COALITION FORCES OF ATTACKING
CIVILIANS ALL OVER THEIR COUNTRY. THEY SAY OVER 600-CIVILIANS HAVE BEEN
KILLED SINCE THE WAR BEGAN.
THAT WAR IS HEATING IN NORTHERN IRAQ. U.S. SPECIAL FORCES AND KURDISH
FIGHTERS HAVE CAPTURED WHAT THE PENTAGON BELIEVES WAS A CHEMICAL WEAPONS
"IN MY OPINION...THIS SITE WAS INDEED USED FOR SOME TYPE OF CHEM OR BIO
The war in Iraq has claimed the life of a Marine from Botetourt County.
Sergeant Michael Lalush of Troutville was killed Sunday in a Huey helicopter crash in Southern Iraq.
The 23 year was born in California but moved to Troutville with his family, while in high school.
Lalush graduated from Lord Botetourt in 1997 and immediately began his career with the Marines.
Last night, NEWS 7 spoke with Lalush's parents who say their son "loved the Marines and his country and felt he was doing the right thing."
Mike Lalush would have turned 24 in just a few weeks.
He leaves behind his parents and a sister.
(LAW-lush) Lalush was a helicopter mechanic and was named the Mechanic of the Year for the Marine's Western District.
He was one of three Marines killed in the crash. His commanding officer says he's lost three sons.
Byron Pitts has more.
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((WHEN THIS MARINE HELICOPER SQUADRON FIRST ARRIVED IN THE REGION FROM CAMP PENDLETON, CA THERE COMMANDION OFFICER TOLD THEM 'SOME OF US MAY DIE, BUT WE WILL ALL GO HOME.' LATE SUNDAY HIS REMINDER, BECAME REAL.'
'MY HEART GOES OUT TO THE FAMILIES!
For the Commanding officer of HMLA 169... the loss of three Marines... was like the loss of three sons.
'WE ALL SUFFERED A GREAT LOSS. WE SAID BEFORE WE CAME OVER IF SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENED WE WERE ALL COMMIITTED TO GO ON WITH THE MISSION.
BUT UH, WE GO ON WITH HEAVY HEART.'
And Sunday night... the day's mission was nearly complete. The Huey had stopped for refueling. In the dark.. and the dust... the helicopter's giant propeller blade stirred up the sand causing what's called 'brown out'... Temporarily blinding the pilot and crew. The Huey lurched forward and crashed.
For week's their commanding officer reminded his pilot's 'brown outs' posed nearly as great a threat as the Iraqi army.
THIS IS THE DAY WE ALWAYS HOPED WOULD NEVER HAPPEN BUT BECAUSE WE'RE PROFESSIONALS BECAUSE WE'RE COMMITTED TO THE CAUSE BECAUE WE DO WHAT WE DO, WE MENTALLY PREPARED OURSELVES FOR THE POSSIBILITY OF THIS LOSS.
(18:59)IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT MENTAL PREPARATIONS YOU MAKE WHEN SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENS IT BECOMES ABSOLUTELY PERSO
NAL. SOME FAMILIES OF MARINES HAVE SUFFERED LOSS ALREADY, IT'S A TERRIBLE THING.
Byron Pitts, CBS NEWS, with the US Marine Corp in Iraq.))
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The war has also claimed the life of a marine from Richmond.
31-year-old Staff Sergeant Donald May Junior of Richmond was one of three Marines listed as missing after they disappeared near the Euphrates River last Tuesday.
May's mother says there are ``no words'' to describe her loss.
The only son of two Marines who had a life-long love of the military was killed when his tank went off a bridge into the water.
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((BRENDA REESE MAY/MOTHER: HE GOT OUT AFTER HIS FIRST FOUR YEARS AND HE STAYED IN RESERVES AND HE TOOK UP ARTILLERY BECAUSE OF THE LOCAL BATTERY HERE IN RICHMOND AND WHEN HE DECIDED TO GO BACK HE DECIDED TO GO INTO TANKS LIKE HIS FATHER.))
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Yesterday, Governor Mark Warner offered his condolences to May's family.
The Marine is survived by a son, a daughter and a pregnant wife.
U-S forces in Northern Iraq say they and the Kurds are knocking out suspected terrorists linked to al-Qaida.
Special force members took the unusual step of appearing before reporters today.
Allen Pizzey reports.
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Track over pics:
STARTS WITH CBS MATERIAL
None would give their names, but they were adamant that their victory
was virtually complete. They had fought side by side with Kurdish
guerillas known as peshmerga in pitched battles in the mountains along
the border with Iran to drive out the Islamic radicals,
SHOT OF BOMBING IS LOCAL STRINGER MATERIAL PURCHASED BY CBS
and to find what the Pentagon believes was a chemical weapons site.
THIS IS CBS MATERIAL
Sound bite: I can say that the exploitation of that site......for
further study and testing (:25 - izzey says it's extremely editable)
SHOTS OF FIGHTERS AND OF BOMBING IS LOCAL STRINGER MATERIAL PURCHASED BY
The fight against Ansar was hailed by the Special Forces as a classic
example of what they do, cooperate with local forces on the ground.
They praised the peshmerga as fierce and fast. The US claims Ansar
ranks included beween 75 and 150 fighters who had been with al Qaeda
forces in Afghanistan.
Some of them may have escaped to Iran, the Special Forces Officer said,
but added that more of them were killed than got away.Allen Pizzey, CBS
News, Northern Iraq.
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Sadam Hussein was supposed to address the people of Iraq at this hour.
That is apparently was not the case. A spokesman for Saddam appeared on Iraqi television. He was reading a statement supposedly written by Saddam. Hussein did not appear
Customers who recently purchased kerosene from a Botetourt County service station may have gotten gasoline instead.
Officials with Petroleum Transport company say one of their drivers put gasoline into the kerosene tank at the Pilot Truck Stop in Troutville.
Anyone who purchased kerosene there within the last 24 hours is urged to bring the contents back to the service station.
Using gasoline in a kerosene heater could cause it to explode.
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Up next on the newscast, protestors stake out a position outside the U-S Supreme Court as justices hear an important case on affirmative action.
Also one person is dead and dozens are injured after a train hits an oil tanker.
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A deadly collision in India between a train and an oil tanker left one person dead and 29 others injured.
The fiery crash happened at an un- manned crossing in Western India.
The mail train plowed into the tanker head- on.
Flames quicky engulfed the engine and three adjoining train carriages.
The driver of the oil tanker was crushed to death in the accident.
A 12- hour standoff on a runway in Cuba has ended.
But the hijacked plane has now landed in Key West-- still carrying the hijacker, but no other passengers.
A hijacker claiming to have grenades held about two dozen passengers and crew members on board a Cuban Airlines plane.
The man commandeered the flight late yesterday.
The flight had just left the Isle of Youth on the southern coast of Cuba.
The hijacker wanted to go to Florida, but authorities say the plane was forced to land in Havana because it didn't have enough fuel.
Officials say all passengers made it safely off the plane before it took off again.
Supporters of affirmative action are protesting outside the Supreme Court this morning.
The court is hearing arguments in cases stemming from the University of Michigan's admission policies, which take race into account in deciding who is admitted.
The court's ruling is expected by July, and could rewrite the rules for affirmative action.
White students who are challenging the Michigan policies say they were treated unfairly because of their skin color.
New state regulations now require local rescue squads to perform criminal background checks on prospective volunteers.
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In many localities, squads already do.. but the practice is not uniform, and the information is not necessarily kept private.
So Bedford County is drawing up an ordinance that would require checks on both current and prospective volunteers for the local rescue squads and fire departments.
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((JACK JONES/EMERGENCY SERVICES COORDINATOR: IN A SMALLER COMMUNITY WE'RE PRETTY FORTUNATE BECAUSE PEOPLE ALL KNOW EACH OTHER SO THEY KNOW WHO S PERHAPS BELONGING THERE AND WHO IS NOT. IN THE OTHER AREAS OF THE STATE WE'RE LOOKING AT WHERE IT'S A TRANSIENT POPULATION, SO PEOPLE JUST DO NOT KNOW THE INDIVIDUALS THAT ARE COMING IN.))
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Jones says he doesn't anticipate the background checks will deter anyone from wanting to volunteer.
American Electric Power crews are making progress, but it could be midnight Wednesday before all customers get their power back.
Around 96- hundred people are still without service due to the wet, heavy snow delivered by Sunday's storm.
A-E-P says more than 300 workers are fixing snapped lines throughout the region.
They're dealing with widely scattered outages as well as downed trees and limbs on power lines.
The company is asking customers still without power to call in, if they haven't reported the outage for a while.
At the height of the outages, almost 60-thousand residents in Southwest and Central Virginia were without service.
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Coming up next, one of the country's most popular shows may have to change its name to America's Most Wanted Idol. Another contestant is thrown off the talent show.
Also we'll tell you why someone was clowning around high above the Statue of Liberty.
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Another contestant has been booted off the "American Idol" television show.
Corey Clark was thrown off after the Smoking Gun website revealed he was arrest last year for allegedly assaulting his teenaged sister and then fighting with the cops as they were trying to arrest him.
Fox has issued a statement saying had it known about Clark's arrest, it
``might have affected his participation in the show.''
Fox says Clark's name was spelled wrong in a police report. And, that's how the network missed it
during a background check.
The network has also thrown off three other contestants this season for things that were uncovered after they appeared on the show.
You could call it an early April Fool's joke on Lady Liberty--
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although, a trapeze artist might have been more at home with THIS stunt.
A circus clown was dangling from a helicopter yesterday near the Statue of Liberty.
That, despite all the air restrictions in New York City, especially around one of the city's best known landmarks.
As it turns out, Bello the clown got permission from the F-A-A.
His air show was just a reminder that the Ringling Brother Barnum and Bailey Circus was in town.
On Wall Street at Noon, the DOW was UP 72 points. The NASDAQ was UP nine.
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Coming up in sports, (----------------)
we will show you why Derek Jeter was put on the D-L following the Yankees opening game...
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Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver said he wanted to have a new men's basketball coach hired before the final four.
It appears he may NOT get his wish.
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Rhode Island head coach Jim Baron was the clear front runner for the Tech job.
Baron, his wife and two sons were to spend today in Blacksburg touring the campus.
That apparently will not happen. Sources tell News 7 Baron has canceled his trip to Virginia Tech.
Rhode Island officials reportedly met with Baron yesterday and made a pitch to keep him in Kingston.
They are trying not only to increase his salary, but offered him other incentives to stay.
Reports say he has agreed to terms on a new ten year contract.
He already is the highest paid employee at the University, making 300 thousand dollars a year.
If Baron does not work out, the safety net candidate is current East Tennessee State head coach Ed DeChellis.
Sources have told News 7 that Weaver and DeChellis met this past weekend in Marion to discuss the opening.
Frank Beamer has suspended one of his players indefinitely for violating an unspecified team rule.
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Jimmy E. Williams, the often injured defensive tackle who has been plagued by injuries the entire time he's been at Tech is now off the team.
The rising senior from Memphis played in five games last season.
He has one year of eligibility left.
The Hidden Valley Titans have a girls' head basketball coach.
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Steve Buchanan takes over the program which will be in its second year of existence next season.
Buchanan was an assistant for the Hidden Valley boys' varsity team this past season, and he also was an assistant on Cave Spring's state title team the year before.
He currently teaches physical education at Oak Grove elementary and will eventually teach Phys. Ed at the high school.
Buchanan also was a head boy's basketball coach at Lansing high in New York State.
Yesterday was opening day in the big leagues.
But as soon as the season began, it ended for the Yankees' Derek Jeter, at least for a while.
Jeter was knocked out of New York's opener last night with a dislocated left shoulder after a violent collision at third base with Toronto catcher Ken Huckaby.
Jeter was down for more than 10 minutes before he was helped onto a cart by trainers Gene Monahan and Steve Donohue.
He was strapped in place sitting upright, and was taken off the field.
The shoulder was popped back in place, and Jeter was taken to a hospital for X-rays.
No immediate word on how long the five- time all-star will be out.
FINAL LOOK AT THE WEATHER
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