Families may flee, Texas aides warn

AUSTIN, Texas - Families of children seized from their polygamist sect's ranch could flee Texas if they regain custody, child-welfare authorities said yesterday as they urged the state Supreme Court to block a ruling that the hundreds of removals were improper.

Updating an earlier appeal, Texas Child Protective Services lawyers argued that if the custody orders were rescinded, parents could take the children out of the state and "no Texas court would have any authority to enter any orders to protect these children."

The Third District Court of Appeals ruled last week that the state failed to show that the children were in any immediate danger.

Child-welfare authorities say the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints forces underage girls into marriage and sex. Sect members say they are being persecuted for their religious beliefs.

- AP

Train hits truck in Miss.; 7 hurt

JACKSON, Miss. - An Amtrak passenger train collided yesterday with a garbage truck on a rural stretch of track in central Mississippi, injuring at least seven people, authorities said.

Three of those taken to hospitals were Amtrak employees who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said. He did not know the status of the others hurt, or whether they were train passengers, truck passengers or some of each.

The estimated 100 passengers aboard the southbound City of New Orleans train, which originated in Chicago on Monday night, were moved to a school and could be taken to their destinations by bus, Magliari said.

- AP

Va. Tech professor leads peace center

ROANOKE, Va. - A Virginia Tech professor who lost his wife in a mass shooting last year will head a new peace center in the classroom wing where she died, the university announced yesterday.

Jerzy Nowak will step down as head of the Blacksburg school's horticulture department July 1 to become director of the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention.

Nowak became an advocate for the center after student gunman Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people, plus himself, on April 16, 2007. Nowak's wife, French instructor Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, was among 25 students and five faculty killed in Norris Hall, where the center will be based.

"I'm actually looking forward to this next step in my career," Nowak said. "It gives me a lot of focus."

- AP

Elsewhere:

Health and environmental groups

filed suit yesterday, arguing that the Bush administration failed to protect public health and the environment when it issued new ozone requirements in March. It contends the Environmental Protection Agency ignored the recommendation of a key advisory panel of scientists for more stringent smog standards.

Sunday's deadly tornado

that leveled half of Parkersburg, Iowa, and nearby towns was Iowa's strongest twister in 32 years, the National Weather Service said.