Local Leads: 8/2/2009 - NBC4 Washington

Local Leads: 8/2/2009

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    The remains of the first American lost in the Persian Gulf War have been found in Iraq, the military said Sunday, after struggling for nearly two decades with the question of whether he was dead or alive.  The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology has positively identified the remains of Captain Michael "Scott" Speicher, whose disappearance has bedeviled investigators since his jet was shot down over the Iraq desert on the first night of the 1991 war.  The top Navy officer said the discovery illustrates the military's commitment to bring its troops home.

    Ben Jamil stood under a tree Saturday afternoon taking long, intermittent puffs on his cigarette while waiting for a bus at 16th and P streets NW.  Smoking is a longtime habit, and he shrugged at the idea of the D.C. Council raising taxes on cigarettes yet again to close a shortfall in the budget. But instead of fretting about the tax increase, Jamil said, he would do what tax opponents had said smokers would do.  "Living in this area, you can go to Virginia to get them for a third of the price," he said.  Jamil's response was one of many to the council's decision on Friday to raise taxes on sales, gasoline and cigarettes, which, along with spending cuts, is designed to make up a $666 million budget shortfall over the next three years.  The council voted to raise the sales tax from 5.75 percent to 6 percent and the gas tax from 20 cents a gallon to 23.5 cents a gallon. The cigarette tax was increased by 50 cents, to $2.50 a pack, the third jump in a year.  The decision was made quickly, with no public input, so the residents who spoke Saturday were some of the first to have their say. Their responses ranged from worried to irked to indifferent.


    The average diner might have to look really hard to notice efforts to make more than 100 restaurants and dining services in the Washington area more environmentally friendly.  The biggest changes, according to the head of the Green Restaurant Association, happen behind the scenes.  "If we've done our job well, you will notice nothing," Michael Oshman said.  Restaurants and dining services at the American Museum of Natural History, the Kennedy Center and the U.S. House of Representatives are among the 111 that are working with Oshman's organization to make changes mostly in "the back of the house." They include using more efficient cookware and lighting — both to save energy — as well as recycling more.  Restaurant Associates is the food service contractor for all 111 participants, which are working with GRA to earn Certified Green Restaurant seals by 2011.  A spokeswoman for Restaurant Associates said the program was just in its initial stages.  Behind-the-scenes greening can begin with getting food items to restaurants, Oshman said. On average, each piece of food you eat in a restaurant has had to travel 1,500 miles to get there.  The GRA works with a restaurant's landlord to develop a plan for greening a particular restaurant.

    One high-speed collision in a warm-up at a historic indoor pool built under the orders of Mussolini could have undercut another collision of ego and talent: the showdown between Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic in the 100-meter butterfly.  Who knew that blurry vision, an aching left shoulder and busted swim goggles after colliding hard with an Australian female sprinter would set the stage for what could have been Phelps' finest swim performance?  The much-hyped showdown between the Rodgers Forge native and Cavic delivered on Saturday night at the world championships, just as it did almost a year ago at the Olympics in Beijing when Phelps won the 100 fly by one-hundredth of a second.  Phelps defeated Cavic in an electric final, winning in a world-record 49.82 seconds. Cavic, the blunt-speaking Serb who was born and raised in Orange County, Calif., also went under the world mark, in 49.95. That was one of four world records on Day 7, bringing the total to 39 at this meet.  The amazing performances by Phelps, the winner of 14 Olympic gold medals, are many. But his longtime coach Bob Bowman flipped through the massive mental Rolodex and stopped right at 49.82.