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Airline blames customs for long tarmac delay

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The pilot on a Virgin Atlantic flight that spent several hours on the tarmac after being diverted to Connecticut had asked for permission to let the passengers get off the plane, but a customs official threatened to have them arrested if they did, the airline said Thursday.

The trans-Atlantic flight's captain was told by a customs official at Bradley International Airport that passengers could not get off the plane until more immigration officials arrived, said Greg Dawson, an airline spokesman in London. It took more than two hours for the officials to arrive, he said.

Storms diverted the London-to-Newark, N.J., flight. Passengers sat on the tarmac in Connecticut for four hours in rising heat and darkness. Travelers said they were offered water but no food; some fainted. A federal rule limiting tarmac time to three hours does not apply to international flights.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection did not receive a call from the pilot, and no one from the agency refused a request to allow passengers off the plane, said an agency spokesman.


School district faulted for condom availability

PROVINCETOWN, Mass. (AP) -- A recently enacted school district policy that makes condoms available to all students here, even those in elementary school, is drawing criticism from some, including the governor, who said that it goes too far.

Provincetown School Board Chairman Peter Grosso said that because there is no set age when sexual activity starts, the committee decided not to set an age for condom availability.

Under the policy, any student requesting a condom from a school nurse must first receive counseling, which includes information on abstinence. The policy does not require the school to contact parents.

Kris Mineau, president of the conservative Massachusetts Family Institute, called the idea absurd, and Gov. Deval L. Patrick phoned the superintendent of the Provincetown district to urge her to revise the new policy. The policy became fodder for Boston talk radio and was the subject of a front-page story in Thursday's editions of the Boston Globe. Patrick said Superintendent Beth Singer, who authored the policy, is "going to try to walk this back a bit."

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