Engineer guilty in data-theft case

SANTA ANA, Calif. - Jurors convicted a Chinese-born engineer yesterday of conspiring to export U.S. defense technology to China, including data on an electronic propulsion system that could make submarines virtually undetectable.

Chi Mak, 66, a naturalized U.S. citizen, also was found guilty of being an unregistered foreign agent. He faces up to 35 years in prison when sentenced Sept. 10.

Mak acknowledged at the trial that he had copied classified documents from his employer, defense contractor Power Paragon, and kept copies in his office. He said he didn't realize then that making the copies was illegal. Defense attorney Ron Kaye said his team still believes Mak is innocent and "didn't necessarily get a fair trial."

Authorities believe Mak gave the documents to his brother, who prosecutors say passed them along to Chinese authorities for years. - AP

Foster parents fighting reunion

MEMPHIS - An American couple who lost a seven-year custody fight for a Chinese girl who has lived with them since infancy is trying to delay a court-ordered reunion with her biological parents by arguing that she is on the brink of an emotional breakdown.

Biological parents Shaoqiang and Qin Luo He contend that foster parents Jerry and Louise Baker are desperate to derail the Hes' long-awaited reunion with Anna Mae, 8.

The state Supreme Court ruled in January that Anna Mae must be returned to the Hes, who put her in what was supposed to be temporary foster care in 1999 because of financial hardships. The court yesterday rejected the Bakers' petition seeking to stop the reunion on grounds that the girl is being traumatized by having to leave the only family she has known. - AP

Wildfire battle goes on in Fla., Ga.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Calmer wind and a sprinkling of rain helped firefighters make gains yesterday on massive wildfires that have forced hundreds to evacuate homes in northeast Florida and southeast Georgia.

The two drought-parched states have battled blazes for weeks, with nearly 300 square miles charred. The problem was so serious that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist looked for salvation from what would typically be a nemesis - a brewing Atlantic storm. Andrea weakened into a subtropical depression, with less than an inch of rain expected to reach the fire area, but the state has a good chance of getting dousing rain this weekend from the storms that flooded parts of the Midwest this week. - AP

Elsewhere:

President Bush is expected to nominate Marine Gen. Peter Pace to serve a second two-year term as the Joint Chiefs chairman.

Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are at increased risk of suicide because not all Veterans Affairs health clinics have 24-hour mental care available, an internal review said.

Inmates joined the National Guard in sandbagging efforts as floodwater crept toward homes and businesses across northwest and central Missouri.