Recently in National News Category

Third body found in Yosemite is identified

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by Sarah See

The third body found in Yosemite National Park has been identified as a woman, the last of three hikers swept over a waterfall in July, according to CNN and the Associated Press Tuesday.

The body of missing 21-year-old Ramina Badal was recovered in the Merced River and identified through dental records and other means, park officials said.

The bodies of the other two hikers were previously identified, according to CNN.

Badal hiked the popular Mist Trail to the top of the 317-foot Vernal Fall with friends from church, and they stopped to pose for photos, according to the Associated Press.

Witnesses said the two men and one woman climbed over the guardrail at the top of the trail and were quickly swept over into the river of the waterfall, according to CNN.

Badal, of Manteca, Calif., was with Hormiz David, 22, of Modesto, Calif., and Ninos Yacoub, 27, of Turlock, Calif., when they disappeared, according to CNN.

David's body was discovered about 240 feet from the base of the waterfall in August, according to both news reports.

Yacoub's body was located about half a mile below the base of the waterfall on November 29, park officials said.

Badal's body was found Saturday, days after searchers spotted Yacoub's body, park officials said.

Park rangers had stepped up search efforts in recent weeks as the water flow slowed and snow stayed at bay, according to the Associated Press.

Drugs seized in smuggling ring, 70 arrested in Arizona

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by Sarah See

At least 70 suspected drug smugglers with alleged ties to a Mexican cartel's distribution network were arrested by authorities in Arizona, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Monday.

U.S. and Mexican suspects in the massive take-down of the drug trafficking network allegedly smuggled more than 330 tons of illegal narcotics a year, according to CNN.

The organization, responsible for smuggling more than $33 million worth of drugs a month, is believed to be tied to the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico's most powerful ring, according to the Associated Press.

The ring used a variety of sophisticated techniques to move drugs by air and ground transportation from the Arizona-Mexico border to a network of "stash" houses in the Phoenix area, which sold the drugs to distributors nationwide, law enforcement officials said.

The ring also used backpackers and vehicles to move drugs, operating from cells based in the Chandler, Stanfield and Maricopa communities, officials said.

Smuggling routes along an 80-mile section of the border were virtually monopolized by the ring, authorities said.

More than 20 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies were involved in a 17-month investigation called Operation Pipeline Express, according to CNN.

Thousands of pounds of marijuana, cocaine and heroin and more than 100 weapons were seized in a series of raids by officials, according to CNN.

The ring has generated an estimated $2 billion from more than 3.3 million pounds of marijuana, 20,000 pounds of cocaine and 10,000 pounds of heroin over the past five years, according to ICE.

Authorities are continuing to search for more suspects, according to CNN.

All who are arrested will be prosecuted by Arizona state officials, authorities said.

by Sarah See

New Americans waved small flags Friday after taking the oath of the U.S. citizenship at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, according to the Associated Press.

There were 125 immigrants from 46 countries who pledged to renounce foreign power and posed for photos with their citizenship certificates on the statue's 125th anniversary, according to the Associated Press.

The anniversary celebrations were marked by a series of official speeches and webcams that streamed video footage from the torch, according to CNN.

With a 3-2-1 countdown, the webcams streamed panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, the Hudson River and Liberty Island, according to the Associated Press.

The Statue of Liberty, given as a gift from France to the U.S., symbolizes the friendship between the two countries and their shared love of liberty, according to the Associated Press.

President Glover Cleveland dedicated the statue on Oct. 28, 1886, and it also came to symbolize hope and promise for many in America's post-Civil War period, according to the news reports.

The idea for the monument, which is more than 305 feet tall, is thought to have been conceived at a 19th-century dinner party of French aristocrats who wanted to pay tribute to American liberty, historians said.

More than 12 million immigrants were processed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954, according to the U.S. National Park Service.

Although Liberty Island will remain open, the statue's interior is being closed for renovations for about a year starting Saturday, according to the National Park Service.

Boston fire injures 13, possible suicide attempt

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by Sarah See

Thirteen people were injured early Monday in a Boston apartment building fire started by a man who was likely attempting suicide, authorities said.

The Boston Fire Department responded to the large apartment complex blaze around 12:45 a.m. EST, after residents of the Roxbury neighborhood who escaped said they heard an explosion, department spokesman Steve MacDonald said to CNN.

The suspect, Mohamed Abdul Jabar, 28, was arrested after showing up at Boston Medical Center with burns, claiming he started the fire, police said.

A preliminary investigation revealed that Jabar, who is from suburban Medford and did not live at the location, may have been in a relative's apartment and set the fire as a failed suicide attempt, police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said.

Jabar is expected to face a list of charges, including arson and attempted murder, according to the Associated Press.

Jabar was transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital's burn unit and treated in intensive care for second-degree burns to his arms, hands and face, according to the Associated Press.

About 160 firefighters were called to the scene, and at least 15 people were rescued from the three-story building that covers nearly an entire city block, according to the news reports.

A 6-year-old boy was dropped by his grandparents from a third-floor window into the arms of a waiting firefighter, according to the Associated Press.

Ten civilians were treated for smoke inhalation, and two firefighters and a police officer were treated for minor injuries, MacDonald said.

Twenty-five apartments were damaged or destroyed, MacDonald said.

A temporary shelter was set up for residents displaced by the fire, according to the Associated Press.

Second person dies after NYC river chopper crash

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by Sarah See

A second woman died from injuries after a helicopter crash in New York's East River, authorities said Wednesday to CNN.

Helen Tamaki, 43, a New Zealand citizen who lived in Sydney, died Tuesday night after being in critical condition since the crash, Bellevue Hospital Center spokeswoman Francis Arscott said to the Associated Press.

The cause of death was "complications of near drowning," medical examiner's spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said.

Tamaki was the long-time partner of Sonia Marra, a British citizen also living in Sydney, who drowned and died Oct. 4 after the helicopter plunged into the water shortly after takeoff from Manhattan's East 34th Street Heliport, according to the Associated Press.

They were celebrating Marra's 40th birthday in the city with the other passengers, Marra's mother and stepfather and the pilot, a family friend who manages the Linden, N.J., airport, according to the Associated Press.

The helicopter's nose swung unexpectedly to the left after it was 30 to 50 feet above the river, pilot Paul Dudley said to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The aircraft went out of control after he tried to turn right and return to the heliport, Dudley said.

Three-fourths of one main rotor blade broke off when the helicopter hit the water, but the missing piece has not been found, according to a NTSB report.

A 15-member team is investigating the crash, according to the NTSB.

Determining the cause of the accident, which the NTSB report did not state, could take months, according to the Associated Press.

The survivors were Dudley and Marra's stepfather and mother, Paul and Harriet Nicholson, according to CNN.

Two US citizens killed by gunmen in Mexico

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by Sarah See

Two U.S. citizens and two others were killed by gunmen in Ciudad Juarez, Mexican authorities said Tuesday to CNN.

Rosa Williams, 35, and her son Pablo Noe, 19, were killed Friday evening by assailants armed with an AK-47 rifle and a 9 mm pistol when they were in a blue 2004 Dodge Durango SUV, Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for Chihuahua's prosecutor's office, said.

Officials were working to return their bodies to the U.S., a spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate in Juarez said to the Associated Press.

Alberto Nieto Nieto, 24, and Alma Yesenia Flores, 21, were identified Monday as the two other victims, a married couple from Mexico, authorities said.

The attack happened on a busy road across the U.S.-Mexico border from El Paso, Texas, according to witnesses.

A motive for the shooting has not been determined, investigators said.

More than 40 assault rifle and handgun shells were recovered at the scene, authorities said.

A warning was issued for American citizens in the city and other parts of the state of Chihuahua this year, cautioning that recent successes against drug cartel figures could put Americans in Mexico at risk, the U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez said.

by Sarah See

At least 13 people died and 72 people were ill Tuesday morning in 18 states from consumption of tainted Colorado cantaloupes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The listeria illnesses were traced to Rocky Ford cantaloupes grown at Jensen Farms' fields in Granada, Colo., according to CNN.

Listeria is more deadly than well-known pathogens like salmonella and E. coli, primarily affecting older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems, the CDC website said.

Because it can take four weeks or more for a person to fall ill after eating listeria-contaminated food and the symptoms do not always show up right away, the number of death and illnesses will probably grow, Dr. Robert Tauxe of the CDC said.

Jensen Farms, based in Holly, Colo., voluntarily recalled whole, tainted cantaloupes shipped between July 29 and Sept. 10 and looked for ways to enhance their protocol, Ryan Jensen, a partner at Jensen Farms, said.

"Jensen Farms continues to stay committed to the highest levels of food safety and maintains many third-part safety audits, as we have for many years," Jensen said.

This food outbreak was the deadliest in more than a decade, health officials said to the Associated Press.

Nevada air race show crash kills 10 and injures at least 70

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by Sarah See

Ten people were killed, and at least 70 others were injured Sept. 16 by a racing plane crash at the Reno-Stead Airport, according to CNN and Associated Press reports Monday.

Pilot Jimmy Leeward died when his modified WWII-era P-51 Mustang fighter plane, the Galloping Ghost, crashed nose-first into a section of VIP box seats, according to the Associated Press' report in the Star Tribune.

Investigators mapped the scene and collected "tremendous amounts of material" as evidence, including spectator videos and photos, Mark Rosekind, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said.

Investigators also looked at the plane's damaged elevator trim tab which broke apart and was captured in a photograph, Rosekind said.

An onboard data box and camera equipment believed to be from the plane were recovered by officials, the Associated Press reported.

The cause of the aircraft's nosedive crash was unknown, authorities told CNN.

NTSB on-scene public affairs officials returned to Washington, D.C., and the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority resumed operations where the crash occurred, according to the Associated Press.

A full investigation could take six to nine months, and the NTSB will look at safety oversight and the placement of grandstands for the air race, Rosekind said.

Marine who defied orders receives Medal of Honor

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by Sarah See

Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, 23, was awarded the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama at the White House Thursday for charging five times into heavy gunfire in an Afghanistan valley to rescue fellow American and Afghan troops, during a six-hour attack from about 50 Taliban insurgents.

The incident began early in the morning on September 8, 2009 when a patrol of Afghan forces and American trainers were on foot in the Ganjgal Valley in Kunar province to meet with village elders, Obama said.

Meyer and Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez were part of a security team for the patrol about a mile away when the ambush began and were denied permission to go in from their commanders four times because the kill zone was too dangerous.

Meyer and Rodriguez-Chavez defied orders and drove a Humvee to reach their comrades who were under gunfire from three sides, saving the lives of 13 U.S. Marines and soldiers and 23 Afghan soldiers and killing at least eight Taliban insurgents, according to the Marines' Medal of Honor account.

reported Meyer accepted the medal for four members of his team who died: 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, Pretty Officer 3rd Class James Layton, and Gunnery Sgt. Edwin Johnson.

Meyer was the first Marine and the third living recipient to receive the nation's highest military award for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan, the Star Tribune reported.

Rodriguez-Chavez was awarded the Navy Cross, the second-highest decoration for Marines, for his role in the firefight, according to CNN.

Meyer was also promoted to sergeant in the Inactive Ready Reserve of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in his home state of Kentucky, according to both news reports.

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