WTC tower hits the halfway mark

NEW YORK - Steel construction has reached the halfway point for 1 World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower. After years of stalled development, steel at the building reached the 52d story Thursday, more than 600 feet above ground.

The tower is slated to stand at 104 stories, with an antenna reaching hundreds of feet higher, bringing it to a symbolic 1,776 feet - the tallest in the country.

The building was renamed to better attract corporate tenants, but the Freedom Tower name has stuck for many and still remains on the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.'s website detailing the rebuilding.

The skyscraper is one of several envisioned at the site, along with a Sept. 11 memorial, transit hub, and performing arts center. - AP

Jail and dismissal for Army 'birther'

BALTIMORE - An Army doctor convicted of disobeying orders to deploy to Afghanistan because he questioned whether Barack Obama was eligible to be president was sentenced Thursday to six months in a military prison. He also will be dismissed from the military, and will forfeit a nearly $90,000 annual salary and a pension.

In closing arguments at the court-martial at Fort Meade, government prosecutors said Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin had created "a spectacle that has embarrassed the Army" with his website and YouTube video. In both, Lakin said he wouldn't deploy until his questions about whether the president was a natural-born citizen were answered.

Capt. Philip J. O'Beirne asked the panel to sentence Lakin to between 24 and 36 months in a military jail and dismiss him from the Army after almost 18 years of service. Lakin's civilian lawyer, Neal Puckett, argued against jail time and described his client as obsessed and remorseful. - Baltimore Sun

2.2 million electric heaters recalled

WASHINGTON - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. recalled about 2.2 million electric heaters Thursday after receiving reports of burn injuries and property damage from fire.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of Flow Pro, Airtech, Aloha Breeze, and Comfort Essentials heaters sold at Walmart stores from December 2001 to October 2009.

The heaters can malfunction and cause overheating, smoking, burning, melting, and fire. The company has received 21 reports of incidents, it said.

The 1,500-watt heaters sold for about $18 and have model number 1013 on a label on the back panel. For more information, contact the company at 1-800-925-6278 or online at www.walmart.com. - AP

Elsewhere:

Authorities plan to start randomly inspecting bags entering the Washington subway in a program based on similar efforts in Boston and New York.

Scientists have discovered the oldest reported raptor-like dinosaur in eastern Utah. The Bureau of Land Management said the Geminiraptor suarezarum (swah-REHZ'-ur-uhm) was believed to be 125 million years old. Most of the known raptors found in North America date to between 72 million and 75 million years ago.