Monday February 4, 2013

Former Marine charged in killing author/ex-Navy SEAL Kyle, his friend

STEPHENVILLE, Texas (AP) -- A 25-year-old Iraq war veteran charged with murdering former Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and his friend turned his gun onto the pair while they were at a Texas shooting range, authorities said Sunday.

Eddie Ray Routh of Lancaster was arraigned early Sunday on two counts of capital murder in the deaths of Kyle, 38, and Chad Littlefield, 35, at the shooting range about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Capt. Jason Upshaw with the Erath County Sheriff’s Office said Routh used a semi-automatic handgun, which authorities later found at his home. Upshaw said ballistics tests weren’t complete Sunday, but authorities believe the gun was used in the shootings. Upshaw declined to give any more details about the gun.

Routh has not made any comments indicating what his motive may have been, Upshaw said. Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Routh was unemployed and "may have been suffering from some type of mental illness from being in the military himself," but he didn’t know if Routh was on any medication.

"I don’t know that we’ll ever know. He’s the only one that knows that," Upshaw said.

After visiting Harvard, dozens in Pa.


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high school group injured when bus hits overpass

BOSTON (AP) -- The scene could hardly have been more frightening for a Pennsylvania high school student just returning from a tour of Harvard University when the bus she was on slammed into an overpass, injuring dozens of passengers.

She did what most kids would do. She called her mother.

"She was screaming and crying and saying that the roof was caving in and that she couldn’t see anything, and she hit her head and she hurt her arm," said Teresa Merrigan, describing the call from her daughter Alana.

Alana and the 41 others on the Calvary Coach bus had just begun the hours-long journey back to the Philadelphia area late Saturday. The driver, Samuel J. Jackson, was trying to navigate Boston’s confusing maze of roads and rotaries, famously challenging to out-of-towners. He looked down at his GPS and looked back up and saw the bridge but was too close to avoid hitting it, Ray Talmedge, owner of the Philadelphia-based bus company, told WCAU-TV.

Thirty-five people were injured in the crash, Massachusetts state police said. One person was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries and three with serious injuries, the Boston Emergency Medical Services said.

As Ala. standoff marks its 6th day, picture of suspect as an isolated man develops

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) -- As an Alabama standoff and hostage drama marked a sixth day Sunday, more details emerged about the suspect at the center, with neighbors and officials painting a picture of an isolated man estranged from his family.

Authorities say Jim Lee Dykes, 65 -- a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War known as Jimmy to neighbors -- gunned down a school bus driver and abducted a 5-year-old boy from the bus, taking him to an underground bunker on his rural property. The driver, 66-year-old Charles Albert Poland Jr., was to be buried Sunday.

Dykes, described as a loner who railed against the government, lives up a dirt road outside this tiny hamlet north of Dothan in the southeast corner of the state. His home is just off the main road north to the state capital of Montgomery, about 80 miles away.

The FBI said in a statement Sunday that authorities continue to have an open line of communication with Dykes and that they planned to deliver to the bunker additional comfort items such as food, toys and medicine. Officials also said Dykes was making the child as comfortable as possible.

Israeli defense minister suggests his air force hit Syria, aiming at weapons for Lebanon

MUNICH (AP) -- Israel’s defense minister strongly signaled Sunday that his country was behind an airstrike in Syria last week, telling a high profile security conference that Israeli threats to take pre-emptive action against its enemies are not empty. "We mean it," Ehud Barak declared.

Israel has not officially confirmed its planes attacked a site near Damascus, targeting ground-to-air missiles apparently heading for Lebanon, but its intentions have been beyond dispute. During the 22 months of civil war in Syria, Israeli leaders have repeatedly expressed concern that high-end weapons could fall into the hands of enemy Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militants.

For years, Israel has been charging that Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iran have been arming Hezbollah, which fought a monthlong war against Israel in 2006.

U.S. officials say the target was a convoy of sophisticated Russian SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles. Deployed in Lebanon, they could have limited Israel’s ability to gather intelligence on its enemies from the air.

Over the weekend, Syrian TV broadcast video of the Wednesday attack site for the first time, showing destroyed vehicles and a damaged building identified as a scientific research center. The U.S. officials said the airstrike hit both the building and the convoy.

From communism to cartels: drug war a new front line for
U.S. in Latin America

The crew members aboard the USS Underwood could see through their night goggles what was happening on the fleeing go-fast boat: Someone was dumping bales.

When the Navy guided-missile frigate later dropped anchor in Panamanian waters on that sunny August morning, Ensign Clarissa Carpio, a 23-year-old from San Francisco, climbed into the inflatable dinghy with four unarmed sailors and two Coast Guard officers like herself, carrying light submachine guns. It was her first deployment, but Carpio was ready for combat.

Fighting drug traffickers was precisely what she’d trained for.

In the most expensive initiative in Latin America since the Cold War, the U.S. has militarized the battle against the traffickers, spending more than $20 billion in the past decade. U.S. Army troops, Air Force pilots and Navy ships outfitted with Coast Guard counternarcotics teams are routinely deployed to chase, track and capture drug smugglers.

The sophistication and violence of the traffickers is so great that the U.S. military is training not only law enforcement agents in Latin American nations, but their militaries as well, building a network of expensive hardware, radar, airplanes, ships, runways and refueling stations to stem the tide of illegal drugs from South America to the U.S.

French launch airstrikes in north
Mali on Islamic rebel training camps

GOSSI, Mali (AP) -- French troops launched airstrikes on Islamic militant training camps and arms depots around Kidal and Tessalit in Mali’s far north, defense officials said Sunday, as the first supply convoy of food, fuel and parts to eastern Mali headed across the country.

French planes pounded extremist training camps as well as arms and fuel depots from Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday, according to French army Col. Thierry Burkhard.

"It was an important aerial operation to the north of the town Kidal and in the Tessalit region where we targeted logistical depots and Islamist training camps ... some 20 sites," said Burkhard. He said there were 30 planes used in the operation including Mirage and Rafale jets.

The French intervened in Mali on Jan. 11 to stem the advance of the al-Qaida-linked fighters. Though they succeeded in ousting the rebels from the three main northern cities they occupied, including the fabled city of Timbuktu, Sunday’s aerial operation highlights that the French still see militants in the extreme northern area near the border with Algeria a threat.

"Here, there’s still various Islamist groups like the MUJAO, and Ansar Dine," he said. The Islamic extremist group the Movement for Unity and Oneness of the Jihad, is known as MUJAO.

Rule exemption means batteries that led to Dreamliner grounding can fly as cargo

WASHINGTON (AP) -- At the same time the government certified Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners as safe, federal rules barred the type of batteries used to power the airliner’s electrical systems from being carried as cargo on passenger planes because of the fire risk.

Now the situation is reversed.

Dreamliners worldwide were grounded nearly three weeks ago after lithium ion batteries that are part of the planes led to a fire in one plane and smoke in a second. But new rules exempt aircraft batteries from the ban on large lithium ion batteries as cargo on flights by passenger planes.

In effect, that means the Dreamliner’s batteries are now allowed to fly only if they’re not attached to a Dreamliner.

The regulations were published on Jan. 7, the same day as a battery fire in a Japan Airlines 787 parked at Boston’s Logan International Airport that took firefighters nearly 40 minutes to put out. The timing of the two events appears coincidental.