From the "Its About Time" Files,...
First - a local story of heroism rewarded:
He died "in the line of duty," a judge declared.
By Jeff Price
Inquirer Staff Writer
"He was a firefighter!"
Christopher Kangas' mother can say that now and have it mean something - legally.
Until this week, the U.S. Justice Department had denied the 14-year-old junior firefighter that proud title, literally devaluing the life of the Brookhaven boy who was struck and killed four years ago by a car while riding his bicycle to answer a fire alarm.
Without the title, he was not eligible for federal death benefits, and, most important to his mother and his fellow firefighters, not eligible to have his name inscribed on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial.
But Monday, after years of hearings and appeals, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Marian Blank Horn said, in effect, he deserved to be treated better.
"Christopher Kangas died 'in the line of duty' and was a 'firefighter' authorized to be at a fire scene and perform duties as part of a team engaged in the 'suppression of fires' at the time of his death," she wrote in Washington.
Kangas' mother, Julie Amber-Messick, did not try to hide her joy.
"I'm in shock," she said yesterday, reading again the judge's decision. "I keep looking at that paragraph, that he was a firefighter, that he was a member of a team - we were right!
"Me and Chris, versus the United States," she laughed, trying to put it all in perspective. "That's funny."
The Justice Department had maintained that because Kangas, an eighth grader at Northley Middle School, was a junior firefighter, he was only a trainee and did not qualify as a public safety officer.
Justice has 60 days to file a challenge, but Amber-Messick said Brookhaven fire officials and her attorney, Frank W. Daly, of Media, were optimistic no appeal would be pursued.
Linda Eschbach, a paralegal with Daly's firm, concurred, saying Judge Horn's finding was strong.
Rep. Curt Weldon (R., Pa.), who has championed Kangas' cause from the beginning, immediately took steps to buttress the outcome. Yesterday, Weldon said he was introducing a congressional resolution to "urge the Justice Department not to appeal."
Weldon has also introduced a bill "to expand the definition of a firefighter to include apprentices and trainees, regardless of age or duty limitations."
Next,...it appears Bud Selig does have some balls (and not the white ones with stitches):
NEW YORK — Baseball launched its probe Thursday into steroids use by Barry Bonds and others, and right away the head of the investigation came under attack.
Commissioner Bud Selig said former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell — and a director of the Boston Red Sox — will lead the inquiry. Mitchell said he will not resign his position.
The probe will be limited to events since September 2002, when the sport banned performance-enhancing drugs. No timetable for the investigation was announced.
Finally,..some good news out of Iraq (even the MSM couldn't screw this up too much!):
BAGHDAD, Iraq — After nearly three months in captivity in Iraq, American reporter Jill Carroll was set free Thursday.
Carroll, who was a freelancer for the Christian Science Monitor at the time of her kidnapping, apparently was left in the street near the Iraqi Islamic Party offices in Al Ameriya just west of Baghdad. She walked inside, and people there called American officials.
"I was treated well, but I don't know why I was kidnapped," Carroll said in a brief interview on Iraqi television, during which she wore a light green Islamic headscarf and a gray Arab robe. "I'm just happy to be free. I want to be with my family."
She added that although she had a nice room and nice clothes, she still did not feel like she was free. She was allowed to watch TV once and read a newspaper once.
Asked about the circumstances of her release, she said, "They just came to me and said we're going. They didn't tell me what was going on."