World and Nation

Shorts (left)

For Colorado Boy, 6, Harrowing Balloon Ride Never Began

For hours on Thursday, people around the country were gripped by television images of a homemade, silvery balloon careening through the skies near here, whooshing over fields and trees and yards with a 6-year-old boy believed to be inside.

A search party was readied — on foot, on horseback, in helicopters with infrared sensors — to scan the aircraft’s path of more than 60 miles, some fearful that the boy might have fallen from his perch.

In the early afternoon, the balloon landed near Denver International Airport, but the boy was not in it. At last, near dusk, the boy was found, hiding in a box in his family’s garage attic, fearful his father would be angry at him for touching the flying machine his father had built in their backyard.

“Quite frankly, I couldn’t stand,” the boy’s father, Richard Heene — whose family (including three young boys) has appeared on a reality television show on ABC, “Wife Swap,” and been interviewed by local media in Denver for their love of chasing stormy weather — said of the moment his youngest son, Falcon, reappeared inside the family’s home in Fort Collins. “I just hit the floor with my knees,” Heene said, as Falcon, chomping pizza and occasionally grinning, stood among reporters in the family’s front yard. “He scared the heck out of us.”

By nightfall, questions were emerging about the public costs of the saga, which briefly interrupted departures from the Denver airport, and about how Falcon had managed to stay hidden in the attic of the garage even as authorities twice searched the family home.

Report Says Bans on Smoking Reduce Heart Disease

Bans on smoking in places like restaurants, offices and public buildings reduce cases of heart attacks and heart disease, according to a report released Thursday by a federally commissioned panel of scientists.

The report, issued by the Institute of Medicine, concluded that exposure to secondhand smoke significantly increased the risk of a heart attack among both smokers and nonsmokers. The panel also said it found that a reduction in heart problems began fairly quickly after a smoking ban was instituted and that exposure to low or fleeting levels of secondhand smoke could cause cardiovascular problems.

“Even a small amount of exposure to secondhand smoke can increase blood clotting, constrict blood vessels and can cause a heart attack,” said Dr. Neal L. Benowitz, a professor of medicine, psychiatry and biopharmaceutical sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, and a member of the panel.

At Goldman Sachs, Huge Profits and Huge Bonuses

While many ordinary Americans are waiting for an economic recovery, Goldman Sachs and its employees are enjoying one of the richest periods in the bank’s history. Goldman executives are perplexed by the resentment directed at their bank and contend the criticism is unjustified. But they find themselves in the uncomfortable position of defending Goldman’s blowout profits and the outsize paydays that are the hallmark of its success.

For Goldman employees, it is almost as if the financial crisis never happened. Only months after paying back billions of taxpayer dollars, Goldman Sachs is on pace to pay annual bonuses that will rival the record payouts that it made in 2007, at the height of the bubble. Top producers are expecting multimillion-dollar paydays.