Iraqi translator

praises special visa

WASHINGTON - A former Iraqi translator for the U.S. military says his life was saved when he was granted a special visa to live in the United States, a status made available to only 50 Afghan and Iraqi nationals annually who served in the same capacity.

The 27-year-old Sunni Arab, set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, says he was threatened by enraged fellow students at his college, survived a car bombing, and learned that his name was listed on the doors of mosques calling for his death.

The former translator, who will not use his real name, and a second witness who held a similar job are to testify behind screens to protect their identities.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D., Mass.) has argued for an increase in the number of translator visas. He said about 1.8 million Iraqis have fled their country since the U.S.-led invasion. The hearing will focus on those who were affiliated with the U.S. government. - AP

Ninth body found

in W. Va. blaze

HUNTINGTON, W. Va. - Investigators yesterday found the body of a ninth victim in the charred debris left from a fire that destroyed a five-story apartment building, authorities said.

With the discovery of the man's remains, all of the building's residents were accounted for in the city's worst fire in nearly 50 years, authorities said.

Officials said it could take days to identify the cause of the fire, which was reported about 11 p.m. Saturday. Officials said it began in a second-floor unit, shooting flames and smoke up utility-access channels to the upper floors. Twenty-four people were rescued, Fire Chief Greg Fuller said.

Two people remained in serious condition yesterday and a third was released, hospital spokeswoman Kathy Cosco said. The dead include a 7-year-old boy and his mother, three siblings ages 14, 17 and 19, and a 68-year-old woman. - AP

Colo. senator says

he won't run again

DENVER - Sen. Wayne Allard (R., Colo.) said yesterday that he would not run for reelection in 2008 but would honor a pledge he made in 1996 to serve only two terms.

The decision sets up a wide-open race. The seat was once thought safe for the GOP, but the state has shown a recent penchant for replacing Republicans with Democrats.

Democrats see the race as a chance to pick up another vote in Congress after wresting two House seats and a Senate seat from Republicans the last two years. - AP

Elsewhere:

A fire at Chevron Corp.'s Richmond, Calif., refinery spewed soot and unburned petroleum over homes and businesses and injured one employee before it was brought under control.

Four runaway railcars struck two parked locomotives yesterday in east-central Kentucky, causing a fire and spilling flammable butyl acetate, prompting a limited evacuation and orders that others stay indoors. No injuries were reported.