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Hussein collapses

Times Staff Writers

With his mass murder trial set to resume today, Saddam Hussein collapsed in his jail cell and was treated by U.S. medical personnel.

He’s more than two weeks into a protest hunger strike that left him gaunt.

His legal defense team, whose closing arguments were to begin today, immediately vowed to boycott the trial -- in what some observers saw as a last-ditch effort to undermine the proceeding’s legitimacy. His lawyers intend a lengthy appeal process.

American medical personnel said Hussein’s condition is not life-threatening and added that he was being fed, voluntarily, through a feeding tube. Page A6

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A suburb finally earns some respect

For a quarter-century now, critics have mocked Highlands Ranch, Colo., as ugly, embarrassing, colorless, sterile and “the nexus of all that is soulless and evil in the world.”

It is, quite simply, the largest, fastest-growing master-planned community in the nation. Sure, it was built south of Denver to welcome cars and was a porchless collection of similar homes marching along the front of the Rocky Mountains with multiplexes but no museums.

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But now as its 25th anniversary arrives, some praise appears as well for its greenbelts and neighborhood parks, the community gardens and thousands of acres of open space still home to significant wildlife.

Soon, it’ll even have light-rail. Highlands Ranch contains, one expert says, “a lot of smart-growth principles.” Page A13

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When a dropout drops back in

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As a freshman some years ago, Debra Duardo made it through maybe a week of classes at Hollywood High School before she called it quits and joined the widening ranks of dropouts.

In those days, no one explained to her why she should stay in school and earn that diploma.

Eventually, Duardo changed course on her own, returning to school and earning the coveted degree.

Today, after a range of other experiences, the 43-year-old Duardo fills a new position in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She’s district director of dropout prevention and recovery.

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“The only way to have a chance at being successful is to finish high school,” she says. “I really believe that. I am proof of that.” Page B1

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Death from the air over Lebanon

They were doing what Israeli leaflets have urged Lebanese civilians to do: leave the southern part of their nation near Israel.

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Then, without warning, the Shaita and Srour families were attacked from the air and ended up in a hospital.

They were but a few of the rapidly mounting toll of casualties as Israeli forces continued their push to rid the border areas of militant Hezbollah forces. Page A8

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Where troop calls come quickly

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The startling calls can break a sound sleep in the midnight dark. They may be hand-delivered on paper at the front door. Or emerge with a buzz on the cellphone.

Thousands of Israeli military reservists have been called up in recent days. Within hours, some are at the front lines of the ongoing confrontation between the Israeli military and Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon.

Many countries maintain reserve forces. But few call them up with such speed or frequency as Israel, where the front lines are not that far from the home front. Page A10

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Gaza cease-fire plan discussed

Meanwhile, on the other side of Israel, Gaza militants and Israelis engaged in sporadic rocket exchanges.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Hamiya, and other groups amid reports that numerous factions are near agreement on a cease-fire proposal. Page A8

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Schools opt for new vaccine

The Los Angeles Unified School District, and possibly dozens of others, plan to offer female students a controversial vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. The shots of Gardasil would be given only with parental approval. Page B3

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In silhouette, still a familiar sight

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Well, he did it again. With a closing par putt followed by some tears of joy, Tiger Woods wins the 135th British Open for his 11th major title. He’s now tied for second behind only Jack Nicklaus’ 18 majors. It’s the first back-to-back British Open win since 1983 and Tiger’s first win since the May 3 death of his father and golf sage, Earl. Page D1

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HEALTH

Do we need all the headgear?

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Baseball caps aside, Americans haven’t been enamored of hats since the early ‘60s. But helmets are all the rage. Since 2000, one manufacturers’ advisory panel has approved headgear standards for 13 sports, including pole vaulting and surfing.

Since the adoption in 1994 of bicycle helmet laws in California, severe head injuries have dropped 18% among young people.

But some people say the groundswell for protective headgear is misguided for some activities. And some claim that it is motivated less by science than by emotion and financial reward. Page F1

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Passing the screen test

Here we go again. After years of research, media coverage and public health campaigns, we’re all fully aware of the wisdom of applying sunscreen to protect against sun damage to skin. But as the scientific body of knowledge grows, the causal link between sun exposure and life-threatening cancer is not as clear as once supposed.

There is no question that sunscreen protects against lesser forms of cancer. But recent studies show that your chances of developing melanoma are based on other factors as well, and that exposure to the sun is well down the list. Page F3

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Reading a migraine’s aura

As if migraine headaches weren’t their own special torture, new research indicates that, in females, if they are accompanied by a visual “aura,” the risk of developing heart disease doubles.

An aura is a visual disturbance -- such as flashing lights, zigzagging lines or temporary blindness -- that lasts 20 minutes to an hour and precedes the onset of the headache.

Fortunately, the number of migraine sufferers who also experience auras is relatively small. Researchers are looking at a corollary association in a study of males. Page F8

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BUSINESS

New chief pushes Universal anew

By some measures, Universal Pictures has been quite a success with eight consecutive years of profits and a high ranking among the seven major studios.

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So when Universal’s new Chairman Marc Shmuger stood on a soundstage in March and proclaimed the imminent arrival of a “new Universal,” many were perplexed.

But Shmuger believes that Universal has not kept pace with rivals in some key areas, including developing new franchises. And now he says work is underway to fix that. Page C1

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Refugee boosts Vietnam trade

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Nghia Van Phi was once a refugee from the Communist regime in Hanoi. For decades, he carried animosities against the North Vietnamese authorities he once fled.

But now Phi is president of a Santa Ana discount home improvement outlet, US HiFi Inc., a scaled-down version of Home Depot catering to the Vietnamese American community.

And he’s become a staunch advocate for his former adversary, pushing for U.S. approval of permanent normal trade relations with Vietnam. Page C1

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CALENDAR

Brawling over bawling

They’ve been called evil and abusive and much ado about nothing, but an Internet donnybrook has ensued since the 27 photos made their debut at an L.A. gallery. The source of the blog brouhaha? “End Times,” a series in which toddlers are photographed in a state of apparent betrayal, says writer Steven Barrie-Anthony. To those who care at all, the debate rages over how the children, some bare shouldered, others crying, were provoked into anguish. The answer lies in a lollipop. Page E1

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SPORTS

Pennsylvania to Paris: a long ride

It’s one thing to win the grueling Tour de France, as American Floyd Landis did in Paris on Sunday. It’s another to do it with stabbing pain in your right hip from a fall three years ago, as Landis has also done.

And it’s something else entirely to do it as the son of a Pennsylvania Mennonite family that frowns on such activities.

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Landis’ mother is happy now to talk about her son’s atypical path to global cycling stardom. But it was a lot harder 10 years ago when he sought to break away. Page D1

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ON LATIMES.COM

Behind the scenes at critics confab

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The season ahead: Find out the latest on the upcoming television season with complete round-the-clock coverage from the Calendar section’s team of reporters at the Television Critics Assn. meeting in Pasadena, where the networks make their pitches for their new lineups. Read the Tour Talk notebook for brief takes on what has the confab gabbing. Scott Collins’ Channel Island blog provides analysis and insight. Plus photo galleries and the complete articles from the newspaper.

latimes.com/tca

Puzzle party: Play the world’s favorite new head-scratcher, Sudoku. In addition to today’s game, you can play the most recent 30 days of the L.A. Times Sudoku for free using our Flash program that makes it easy and fun to undo your answers.

latimes.com/sudoku

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THE WEEK AHEAD

MONDAY

Rice travels to the Mideast

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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice begins talks in Jerusalem aimed at calming the violence in the Mideast. Tuesday she goes to Rome to meet with foreign ministers. The trip carries high stakes. The fighting in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah has claimed hundreds of lives, and all parties agree that U.S. involvement will be needed to bring about a cease-fire. But so far, the administration has resisted such calls.

WEDNESDAY

Dialing gets a bit longer in 310

People in the 310 area code begin dialing 11 digits to reach neighbors in the same area code. Because the 310 region was running out of numbers, the state Public Utilities Commission set up an “overlay” there -- in another month, new customers will get the 424 area code. Although the cost of making the calls won’t rise, the aggravation level might, especially for those who need to reprogram their automatic dialing systems.

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WEDNESDAY

Iraqi leader goes before Congress

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, who since taking office in April has been at the center of efforts to end escalating sectarian bloodshed in his country, is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress. Maliki recently broke with the Bush administration by denouncing Israeli attacks on Lebanon. But his speech is likely to focus on efforts to bring peace to Iraq, and he can expect a warm reception from lawmakers.

SUNDAY

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Hall of Fame inducts Sutter

Bruce Sutter, who helped define the role of closing relief pitchers in baseball and turned the split-fingered fastball into an art form, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. In addition, 17 players and executives from the old Negro baseball league era and before will be inducted posthumously. The Negro leagues existed from 1920 until shortly after the major league color barrier was broken in 1947.


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