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NATION: Pastor plans to burn Qurans on 9/11 anniversary

Pastor plans to burn Qurans on 9/11 anniversary

A Christian minister vowed Tuesday to go ahead with plans to burn copies of the Quran to protest the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks despite warnings from the White House and the top U.S. general in Afghanistan that doing so would endanger American troops overseas.

Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center said he understands the government’s concerns, but plans to go forward with the burning this Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the attacks.

He left the door open to change his mind, saying he is still praying about his decision, which was condemned Tuesday by an interfaith coalition that met in Washington to respond to a spike in anti-Muslim bigotry.

Gen. David Petraeus warned in an e-mail to The Associated Press that ‘‘images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence.’’

Lennon killer Chapman denied parole again

BUFFALO, N.Y. — John Lennon’s killer was again denied parole in New York, nearly 30 years after gunning down the ex-Beatle outside the musician’s New York City apartment building.

A parole board decided not to release Mark David Chapman after interviewing him Tuesday by teleconference at Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York.

It was Chapman’s sixth appearance before the board since becoming eligible for parole in 2000. He will be eligible again in 2012.

Chapman, 55, had been scheduled to appear last month, but the hearing was postponed by parole officials, who said at the time they were awaiting additional information. They did not elaborate.

Police: California drunk driver hits nine, injures girl

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Police in California said a drunken driver hit nine people with his SUV and critically injured a 2-year-old girl who was dragged more than 50 feet along a Santa Ana street.

Forty-three-year-old Miguel Sandoval was arrested Monday

Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said a Chevy Suburban was seen cutting across lanes, jumping a curb and driving on a sidewalk Monday night.

Bertagna said the vehicle struck a mother and daughter, who were trapped underneath and dragged 50 feet, before hitting seven other people.

Bertagna said the 2-year-old remains in critical but stable condition. Her mother was treated for a broken leg.

Bobcat climbing power pole starts five-acre blaze

PIRU, Calif. — A bobcat climbing a power pole got electrocuted and sparked a five-acre brush fire in California’s Ventura County.

County fire Capt. Dan Preston said the bobcat was apparently chasing an owl or another bird when it touched the power lines, caught fire and fell to the ground in a rural area near Piru.

The fire was reported at 3:36 a.m. Monday atop Torrey Peak. More than 40 firefighters extinguished the blaze about five hours later.

No homes were threatened and no one was hurt. The bobcat’s charred body was found beneath the power lines.

Flight attendant in passenger tiff to be evaluated

NEW YORK — The flight attendant accused of onboard antics that captured the nation’s attention when he told off a passenger and slid down the plane’s emergency chute with a beer will undergo a mental health evaluation with the aim of avoiding jail time in a possible plea deal.

Steven Slater, dressed in a trim blue suit, appeared in a Queens courtroom for a brief hearing on charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing after last month’s meltdown aboard a JetBlue Airways Corp. flight from Pittsburgh that had just landed at Kennedy International Airport.

Firefighters in Colorado step up attack on fire

BOULDER, Colo. — Firefighters ramped up their fight Tuesday against a wildfire that forced about 3,000 people to flee their homes as the wind-whipped blaze filled the surrounding canyon with heavy smoke and spit flames.

The 3,500-acre fire in the foothills outside Boulder has destroyed dozens of homes, according to a fire marshal, including some that belonged to firefighters. No injuries were reported.