White House calls Carter 'irrelevant'

CRAWFORD, Texas - The White House dismissed former President Jimmy Carter yesterday as "increasingly irrelevant" after his harsh criticism of President Bush.

Carter was quoted Saturday in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette as saying, "I think, as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history."

"I think it's sad that President Carter's reckless personal criticism is out there," White House spokesman Tony Fratto responded yesterday from Crawford, where Bush spent the weekend.

"I think it's unfortunate," Fratto said. "And I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments." - AP

Veterans more often jailed for sex crimes

WASHINGTON - Military veterans are more than twice as likely to be in prison for sex crimes than are people without military experience, the government reports. Federal researchers cannot say why.

A study released yesterday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics compared the populations of inmates who served in the military and those who did not. Veterans are less likely to be incarcerated, researchers found, but nearly one in four veterans in state prison was a sex offender, compared with one in 10 nonveteran inmates.

The study found that veterans in prison were older, more educated, more likely to have been married, and more likely than nonveterans to be incarcerated for violent crimes or offenses against women or children. - AP

U.S. plans to close flood-prone channel

NEW ORLEANS - The Army Corps of Engineers said Saturday that it wanted to build a $50 million earthen dam to plug a ship channel blamed for much of the flooding from Hurricane Katrina.

The announcement at a meeting in Chalmette, a refinery town just outside New Orleans, won the battered agency some of its first praise since the hurricane. Area leaders and residents have clamored for years for the closing of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, known as Mr. Go.

Greg Miller, a corps project manager, said closing the man-made channel is "a key piece to the whole plan to restore and protect southeast Louisiana." - AP

Elsewhere:

Two fishermen from Texas whose boat capsized in the Gulf of Mexico survived nearly two days and nights drifting at sea before one of them climbed the leg of an offshore oil platform.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline hit a record high of $3.18, rising more than 11 cents over the last two weeks, according to the nationwide Lundberg Survey released yesterday. The latest figure topped the record of $3.07 set two weeks ago.

Members of a union group representing about one-third of Walt Disney World's employees have narrowly rejected a tentative labor contract. The Service Trades Council represents about 21,000 of 60,000 employees of the amusement park near Orlando, Fla., from food service to merchandise personnel, lifeguards, vacation planners, stage technicians and janitors.