Six Flags goes into bankruptcy

WASHINGTON - Theme-park operator Six Flags Inc., chaired by Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder, declared bankruptcy yesterday after failing to reach a deal with lenders on $2.4 billion in debt.

The bankruptcy likely wipes out the shares held by Snyder and others in the chain, whose 20 parks span North America. In a statement on the company's Web site, chief executive Mark Shapiro said that the parks would remain open and that employees would be paid.

"This action to clean up the balance sheet paves the way for a full revival of the company," Shapiro said. "We inherited an unsustainable $2.4 billion debt load from the previous management team."

The company said it filed Chapter 11 with a prearranged reorganization plan to reduce its balance sheet by about $1.8 billion and eliminate more than $300 million in preferred stock obligations due this summer. Six Flags shares traded Friday for 26 cents. - Washington Post

No tainted-water link, report says

RALEIGH, N.C. - Contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune cannot definitively be linked to health problems among people who lived at the Marine base over three decades, according to a government report released yesterday.

Former residents of the base in eastern North Carolina don't have diseases different from the general population, and the industrial solvents that tainted well water there between the 1950s and 1985 were at concentrations that do not cause obvious harm to health, according to the report ordered by Congress and released by the National Research Council.

But the 341-page report, which reviews past studies of the base's water and health issues, said there were severe challenges in trying to connect the contaminants to any birth defects, cancer, and many other ailments suffered by people who lived and worked on base. - AP

Padilla can sue Yoo, judge rules

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A convicted terrorist can sue a former Bush administration lawyer for drafting the legal theories that led to his alleged torture, a federal judge ruled, saying he was trying to balance a clash between war and the defense of personal freedoms.

The order by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco is the first time a government lawyer has been held potentially liable for the abuse of detainees. White refused to dismiss Jose Padilla's lawsuit against former senior Justice Department official John Yoo on Friday.

Yoo wrote memos on interrogation, detention, and presidential powers for the department's Office of Legal Counsel from 2001 to 2003. Padilla, 38, is serving a 17-year sentence on terror charges. - AP

Elsewhere:

An explosion that killed three workers last week at a North Carolina Slim Jim plant was caused by a natural gas leak that ignited in a room housing vacuum pumps for sealing the snacks, authorities said yesterday. Officials said 38 employees were injured; four suffered critical burns.