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Wednesday, December 9, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Across The Nation

Faa Orders Inspections Of Wiring On MD-11 Doors

WASHINGTON - Concern about frayed wiring on the front passenger doors on MD-11 aircraft prompted the Federal Aviation Administration today to order inspections of the wires.

The agency said it had no evidence that the wires were related to the Sept. 2 crash of Swissair Flight 111, an MD-11. However, signs of wear were detected during recent heavy maintenance performed on another MD-11, it said.

The directive requires an inspection within 10 days to detect problems such as nicks, fraying or chafing above the left and right front passenger doors. Problems must be repaired before further flight, and all inspection results must be reported to the FAA.

Investigators learned that when the doors are opened, sliding panels above them move inward and can chafe the electrical wiring in those areas. The condition, if not fixed, could lead to an electrical fire.

The Swissair MD-11 - made by McDonnell-Douglas before the company was bought by Boeing - plunged into the ocean off Nova Scotia 16 minutes after the pilots reported smoke in the cockpit. All 229 people aboard were killed. Investigators still have not determined the cause of the crash, but they are focusing on signs of heat and fire damage in the cockpit.

Mars-probe launch delayed because of software problem

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA delayed its launch of a Mars-orbiting probe by at least one day because of a software problem.

The Mars Climate Orbiter was supposed to blast off tomorrow aboard an unmanned Delta rocket. NASA is now aiming for Friday or Saturday, depending on how long it takes to fix the software. The repair should be easy, but engineers want to test it rigorously before clearing the spacecraft for flight.

The Mars Climate Orbiter, due to enter Mars' orbit next September, is the first of two spacecraft that NASA plans to send to the planet in the next month. The Mars Polar Lander is due for liftoff Jan. 3 and should land on Mars in December 1999.

Texas board denies clemency for Canadian on death row

AUSTIN, Texas - Texas parole officials today refused to grant clemency for a Canadian whose scheduled execution this week has drawn international protests.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 17-0, with one abstention, to deny Joseph Stanley Faulder's petition for a 90-day reprieve and for commutation of his death sentence to a lesser penalty.

Faulder is set to die tomorrow.

The board also rejected similar petitions for convicted killer Danny Lee Barber, who was scheduled to be given a lethal injection tonight.

Faulder, 61, faces execution for the 1975 murder of a woman in Gladewater. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and others have asked Gov. George W. Bush to block the execution, saying Texas did not notify Faulder that he could have contacted Canadian consular officials after his arrest. Texas officials said they didn't know he was a Canadian because he was carrying a U.S. driver's license when arrested.

Judge overturns N.J. law banning late-term abortion

TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey law that supporters said was created to ban a specific late-term abortion procedure is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced, Federal Judge Anne Thompson ruled yesterday. She said she overturned the law because its wording was too ambiguous and it could be interpreted to ban all abortions.

The law would have banned what opponents call "partial-birth abortions," in which a fetus is partially delivered, then aborted. Women who receive the abortions could not have been punished, but their doctors could risk losing their license and face a $25,000 fine.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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