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NATION IN BRIEF: Passengers finally get to leave cruise ship

Passengers finally get to leave cruise ship

SAN DIEGO — A disabled cruise liner inched into San Diego Bay on Thursday after three nightmarish days adrift on the Pacific, sparking cheers from passengers who disembarked and described limited food, backed-up toilets and dark cabins.

The evacuation of 4,500 passengers and crew was slowed by disabled elevators, out of order like much of the ship after an engine room fire on Monday cut short the seven-day cruise and left the ship adrift in the Pacific off Mexico.

Pulled by six tugboats and escorted by Coast Guard cutters, the nearly 1,000-foot Carnival Splendor reached the dock at about 11:30 a.m., unable to steer or propel itself.

The first group of passengers walked down a ramp about an hour later, dragging suitcases behind them and entering a tent on the dock. By midday, about 2,500 had disembarked, which a Carnival official said was better than expected.

Bush promotes book, honors veterans in Ohio

DAYTON, Ohio — Former president George W. Bush said Thursday he’s enjoying being away from politics and won’t get involved in current debates about his successor or Washington.

‘‘I will not be criticizing President (Barack) Obama,’’ Bush told a Veterans Day tribute audience. ‘‘As a matter of fact, we wish him well. We’re all Americans, and we want to succeed.’’

He said he didn’t miss Washington, ‘‘all the politics, all the name calling ... the spitballs.’’

With interviews and speeches, Bush has been vigorously promoting his newly released memoir ‘‘Decision Points.”

He offered thanks to those who have served in the military, ‘‘on behalf of a grateful nation,’’ and smiled as he insisted: ‘‘I’ve really come to praise the veterans, not to sell my book. But if I sell a couple of copies, that’s OK, too.’’

Investigators find heroin mill near Times Square

NEW YORK — A newly renovated, nearly $4,000-a-month apartment two blocks from Times Square was being used as a major heroin-packaging mill, processing millions of dollars’ worth of the drug for sale, authorities said Thursday.

Investigators who raided the West 43rd Street apartment Wednesday found 28 pounds of heroin worth about $6.5 million in 250,000 small envelopes and workers busily packing the drug for sale, said the office of city Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies.

Indians show off snowy offseason field attraction

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians are getting ready to open a skating track and 10-lane snow tubing hill at Progressive Field during the offseason.

Waist-high piles of manmade snow dot the grass and refrigeration pipes snake across the outfield.

The ‘‘Snow Days’’ attraction, showed off for reporters Thursday amid sunny, 55-degree weather, opens Nov. 26 with a quarter-mile skating track ringing the field and tubing chutes in the outfield.

The attraction will stay open until Jan. 2.

Man accused of scaring death gets life sentence

GASTONIA, N.C. — A bank robbery suspect who authorities accused of scaring an elderly woman to death after hiding in her home has been sentenced to life in prison.

Larry Whitfield of Charlotte was sentenced Wednesday in federal court, authorities told North Carolina media outlets. Whitfield, 22, had been convicted of attempted bank robbery, weapons offenses and seeking to avoid arrest for attempted bank robbery.

Tower tumbles wrong way in Ohio demolition

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — A nearly 300-foot smokestack being demolished at an old Ohio power plant toppled in the wrong direction and sent spectators scrambling Wednesday before knocking down two 12,000-volt power lines and crashing onto a building housing backup generators, officials said.

No injuries were reported after the 275-foot tower at the unused 83-year-old Mad River Power Plant teetered and then fell in a southeast direction — instead of east, as originally planned — seconds after explosives were detonated.

The falling tower brought down the power lines and sent spectators scrambling to avoid the sparking lines.