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Mid-Air Murder: Co-Pilot Purposely Downs Plane; Families Ask Why

Mar 26, 2015
Texas Public Radio

PARIS — Passengers with moments to live screamed in terror and the pilot frantically pounded on the locked cockpit door as a 27-year-old German co-pilot deliberately and wordlessly smashed an Airbus carrying 150 people into an Alpine mountainside.

The account Thursday of the final moments of Germanwings Flight 9525 prompted some airlines to immediately impose stricter cockpit rules — and raised haunting questions about the motive of the co-pilot, whose breathing never wavered as he destroyed the plane and the lives of those aboard. “We have no idea of the reason,” Marseille Prosecutor Brice Robin said, revealing the chilling conclusions investigators reached after reconstructing the final minutes of the flight from the plane’s black box voice recorder. Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz’s intention was “to destroy this plane.”

3 Critical, Many Injured In New York City Fire, Building Collapse

Mar 26, 2015
Texas Public Radio

NEW YORK  — An apartment building collapsed in a fiery burst of rubble, and flames spread to two nearby buildings, injuring at least a dozen people and scattering debris across surrounding streets in the heart of Manhattan’s trendy East Village. The mayor said preliminary evidence suggested a gas-related explosion was to blame.

Orange flames billowed from the blaze on a block near New York University and the Washington Square Park area on Thursday as 120 firefighters converged to fight it. Smoke could be seen and smelled for miles.

Courtesy: The Twitter Feed of @KLTV7

SALADO, Texas — A tractor-trailer slammed into construction beams along a major interstate in Central Texas on Thursday, killing one person and halting traffic in both directions, authorities said.

The truck hit a beam being used to build a bridge across Interstate 35 in Salado, about 40 miles north of Austin. Debris then toppled onto other vehicles, said Department of Transportation spokeswoman Becky Ozuna.

One person was killed and at least three people were taken to hospitals, though the extent of their injuries wasn’t immediately clear, according to the state Department of Public Safety and the local sheriff’s office.

PEARLAND, Texas — The Harris County medical examiner’s office has ruled the deaths of twin toddlers, after they were found unresponsive in a bathtub at their Pearland home, as homicides.

The Brazoria County district attorney’s office says no charges have been filed as of Wednesday night in the deaths of Sabrina and Savannah Russo, both 15 months old.

Investigators have concluded that the crash of a German airliner earlier this week that killed all 150 aboard was a deliberate act by the co-pilot, and that there is "nothing to suggest a terrorist attack."

Even so, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin, speaking at a news conference in Paris today, refused to characterize the actions as suicide.

Handout: Getty Images

PARIS  — The co-pilot of a Germanwings flight that slammed into an Alpine mountainside “intentionally” sent the plane into its doomed descent, a French prosecutor said Thursday.

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said the commander left the cockpit, presumably to go to the lavatory, and then was unable to regain access.

In the meantime, he said, co-pilot Andreas Lubitz manually and “intentionally” set the plane on the descent that drove it into the mountainside in the southern French Alps. It was the co-pilot’s “intention to destroy this plane,” Robin said.

Texas Lawmakers Hear Bill Banning Gay Marriage Licenses

Mar 25, 2015
Travis County Clerk / Traviscountyclerk.org

AUSTIN — Dick Francis appealed to Texas lawmakers ten years ago to vote against a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Legislators — and voters statewide — approved the amendment in 2005. Late Wednesday, Francis once again pleaded with lawmakers on behalf of his gay son.

He asked members of the House State Affairs committee to vote against the “Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act” by Magnolia Republican Rep. Cecil Bell Jr., a bill that would bar state and local employees from licensing or recognizing same-sex marriages — even if the U.S. Supreme Court authorizes them.

FORT BRAGG, N.C.  -- Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who abandoned his post in Afghanistan and was held captive by the Taliban, was charged Wednesday by the U.S. military with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy and could get life in prison if convicted.

Misbehavior before the enemy, which carries a maximum sentence of up to life in prison. Desertion carries a maximum of five years. Bergdahl could also face a dishonorable discharge, reduction in rank and forfeiture of all his pay if convicted.

Black Box Found In French Alps Crash; 150 People Dead

Mar 24, 2015
Source: flightradar24.com

SEYNE-LES-ALPES, France  — A black box recovered from the scene and pulverized pieces of debris strewn across Alpine mountainsides held clues to what caused a German jetliner to take an unexplained eight-minute dive Tuesday midway through a flight from Spain to Germany, apparently killing all 150 people on board.

The victims included two babies, two opera singers and 16 German high school students and their teachers returning from an exchange trip to Spain. It was the deadliest crash in France in decades.

The Airbus A320 operated by Germanwings, a budget subsidiary of Lufthansa, was less than an hour from landing in Dusseldorf on a flight from Barcelona when it unexpectedly went into a rapid descent. The pilots sent out no distress call and had lost radio contact with their control center, France’s aviation authority said, deepening the mystery.

CANBERRA — Counterterrorism squads have prevented 200 suspected jihadists from departing Australian airports for the Middle East including at least three teenage boys this month, officials said on Wednesday.

Officials had previously announced that two Sydney-born brothers, aged 16 and 17, had been intercepted at Sydney International Airport on March 8 attempting to board a flight for Turkey without their parents’ knowledge. The siblings were returned to their families and were to be charged.

Within a week, a 17-year-old boy was intercepted at the same airport on suspicion that he was headed for a Middle Eastern battle, Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton said Wednesday. The boy had also been returned to his family, but remained under investigation, Dutton said.

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