LBJ’s daughters christen ship

Luci Baines Johnson, left, and her sister, Lynda Johnson Robb, smash champagne bottles to christen the Lyndon B. Johnson, the third Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer, built at Bath Iron Works, Saturday, April 27, 2019, in Bath, Maine. Johnson and Robb and the daughters of the former president. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

BATH, Maine — Former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s daughters christened a stealthy warship bearing his name Saturday, smacking Champagne bottles against a metal star symbolizing Texas as a crowd roared in approval. Champagne sprayed into the air when Lynda Bird Johnson Robb and Luci Baines Johnson simultaneously smashed their bottles as they stood on the ship’s bow. Afterward, red, white and blue streamers shot skyward. “Daddy would be proud to have a stealthy ship that’s looking forward, not backward at past things that have happened, but forward for the great things” to come, Robb said. The 610-foot warship is the last in a class of three ships that are the largest and most technologically sophisticated destroyers built for the U.S. Navy. The destroyers feature wave-piercing hulls, an angular shape that reduces their radar signature, and electric propulsion. Automation has halved the crew size compared with other destroyers. Unlike its sister ships, the USS Zumwalt and USS Monsoor, the LBJ will have a deckhouse that’s made of steel, not composite materials, to save money. The program, once envisioned at 32 ships, was so costly that the Navy truncated the program to just the three ships because of the cost.

15 more killed in Sri Lanka

AMPARA, Sri Lanka — Militants linked to Easter suicide bombings opened fire and set off explosives during a raid by Sri Lankan security forces on a house in the country’s east, leaving behind a grisly discovery Saturday: 15 bodies, including six children. The gunbattle that began Friday night and the carnage that followed come amid widespread fear of more attacks as officials hunt for militants with explosives believed to still be at large after the coordinated bombings of churches and luxury hotels that killed more than 250 people last weekend. Raids and police curfews have shut down areas of eastern Sri Lanka, and Catholic leaders have canceled Sunday Masses indefinitely. Officials also urged Muslims to stay home for prayers in an extraordinary call by the clergy to curtail worship. The government on Saturday also formally banned two extremist groups purportedly linked to the attacks, allowing officials to confiscate their property, presidential spokesman Dharmasri Ekanayake said. The U.S., citing terror groups plotting more possible attacks, urged Americans to reconsider travel to Sri Lanka and ordered the school-age children of government workers to leave the country.

Power plant towers demolished

SOMERSET, Mass. — It took just a matter of seconds for two 500-foot cooling towers from Massachusetts’ last coal-fired power plant to be reduced to rubble Saturday. The controlled demolition went off as scheduled at 8 a.m. at the former Brayton Point Station in Somerset. Video showed the giant towers along Mount Hope Bay crumple to the ground and a large cloud of dust rise into the air. The plant had burned coal since 1963, though the cooling towers were not added until decades later. The plant closed in 2017 as environmental groups pushed for cleaner sources of energy generation. The new owners of the property, Commercial Development Co., plan to turn the site into a multi-use facility mainly dedicated to supporting off-shore wind farms. The company said the hulking concrete structures were believed to be the tallest power plant cooling towers ever brought down in a controlled demolition anywhere in the world.

Weaver joins ‘Alien’ showing

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. — Sigourney Weaver helped make a New Jersey high school’s encore stage production of “Alien” a special event. “Alien: The Play” had drawn widespread praise after videos and images of the performances at North Bergen High School were posted online. Among those applauding the show was Weaver, who played the character Ellen Ripley in the 1979 movie that spawned a franchise, and the film’s director, Ridley Scott, who applauded the students’ creativity and the show’s elaborate sets and special effects. Weaver had taped a YouTube video this year in which she called the production “incredible.” But she was at the school Friday to watch the encore performance herself, telling the crowd before the curtain rose that “this is the night I’ve been waiting for.”

Finders keepers? Police say no

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Police here are appealing to people to surrender their instant riches after a box with $30,000 fell off the back of a truck. Drivers stopped Thursday to pick up cash for themselves. Only $2,500 was immediately recovered and returned to the owner, who had forgotten that a cash box was on the truck’s bumper. Traffic was backed up on U.S. 31 after money hit the ground. But by Saturday, more money was trickling in. The Department of Public Safety says two teenagers turned in $630, and a woman gave up nearly $3,900. The department says on Facebook : “We commend you for your honesty!!”

Sajak chairs Michigan college

HILLSDALE, Mich. — Pat Sajak will take a “C” for Chairman. Hillsdale College says the “Wheel of Fortune” host will lead the governing board at the small liberal arts school. Sajak has served on the board for more than a dozen years. Sajak tells campus newspaper The Collegian that he’s been preparing for months to succeed William Brodbeck by spending more time on campus with students and staff. College President Larry Arnn says Sajak has “calm and steady judgment” and a “wicked wit.” The post won’t interfere with Sajak’s television work. The college is about 100 miles southwest of Detroit.

‘Endgame’ sets multiple records

NEW YORK — “Avengers: Endgame” is crushing the competition by setting multiple records at the box office a day after its release. The Walt Disney Co. says domestically the film opened Friday with a record $156.7 million (including Thursday previews), besting “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ($119 million in 2015, though it played on fewer screens) and “Avengers: Infinity War” ($106 million in 2018). Outside the U.S., “Avengers: Endgame” broke another record by grossing an estimated $487 million at the end of Friday, surpassing “The Fate of the Furious” aka “Fast & Furious 8” ($443 million in 2017). The Marvel Comics superhero film also broke the record for the highest opening weekend globally of all time with $644 million at the end of Friday. The previous record holder was “Infinity War” with $641 million.

Trash in belly of baby dolphin

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — A rare deep-water dolphin stranded on a Florida beach and later euthanized had a stomach full of trash. Biologists said they found two plastic bags and a shredded balloon during a necropsy of the young rough-toothed dolphin after it washed ashore in Fort Myers Beach earlier this week. Animal experts said the rough-toothed dolphin was emaciated and in poor health. Florida Today reports such a young dolphin should have still been with its mother but somehow wound up far from her deep-water home. Biologists and bystanders worked to help the struggling animal, but wildlife official decided to euthanize the dolphin on-site.

Arrested days before election

RED BOILING SPRINGS, Tenn — Mayor Joel Coe has been arrested after police say he tried to get a pill press that had been used to make illegal drugs. Coe is charged with criminal conspiracy and tampering with evidence. He’s up for re-election Saturday against two opponents. The affidavit says Coe was messaging someone about getting a pill press that was used to manufacture pills containing fentanyl and heroin, then sent messages about hiding the press from police, using trash bags. It says Coe deleted the messages when confronted and officers were waiting when Coe arrived with trash bags at the pill press location.


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