Recently in National News Category

Oil rig blast in Louisiana leaving behind serious spill

The United States Coast Guard said Saturday that oil is leaking from a damaged well that fed a rig that exploded last week of the coast of Louisiana, the Star Tribune said.
The bad weather in the area has prevented clean-up efforts, and fears of the damage to the area's marine ecosystem have increased.
Officials say the leak could have begun as early as Thursday, only two days after the explosion, the New York Times reported.
The Coast Guard and officials estimate that more than 1,000 barrels of oil has escaped each day. A sheen of oil has grown at alarming rates as well, and now stretches over 20 miles wide and long on Saturday.
The rig could have as much as 700,000 gallons of diesel on board.
BP, which released the rig, has taken the lead in the cleanup and said it has started an oil spill response to clean up the spill.

New York teen charged with threatening a school shooting

A 17-year-old boy from Long Island has been charged for threatening to go on a shooting spree at his old high school on the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, the New York Times reported.
Nathan Myres, of North Massapequa, was arraigned on a charge of making a terroristic threat on Saturday.
He attended Plainedge High School until he transferred to a special needs program earlier this year.
A teacher heard several students discussing a rumor that was circulating the school that a former student was planning an attack. The teacher told the principal, who in turn called the police.
Detective Lt. Kevin Smith said police have not found any weapons and it is possible Myers was just trying to scare former classmates.
Myers remained in custody Saturday, where his bail was set at $25,000, the Associated Press said.

One killed, several injured in shooting at Oklahoma mall

One teenager died and several people were injured after gunfire broke out inside an Oklahoma shopping mall Saturday, the Associated Press reported.
Five people were taken to a hospital and police sectioned off Arrowhead Mall in downtown Muskogee. The area was particularly busy with people attending the annual Azalea Festival in the city.
It is not known whether the person killed, Jarrod Reed, 17, of Muskogee, was a bystander or one of the several people involved in the shooting, police said. The conditions or identities of the other victims have not been released.
Three people were being sought for questioning as of late Saturday.
Shoppers were told to leave the mall quickly around 4:15 p.m. through an announcement, and several witnesses said they had heard several gunshots inside the mall. Witnesses said people began screaming and a group of men began shooting.
Witnesses told police they thought it was a gunfight, police said. Gunfire was reported in other areas of the city after the mall shooting, but it had not been confirmed, the New York Times said.

Four killed, two injured in Los Angeles shooting

Four people died and two were injured at a shooting at a restaurant in North Hollywood, the New York Times reported.
Investigators believe the victims in the shooting at Hot Spot Cafe were targeted, and are investigating the situation.
Los Angeles police responded to an emergency call Saturday afternoon at the mediterranean restaurant but the gunmen had fled by the time they arrived.
A Los Angeles police officer said two people were taken to the hospital, where one died later. A fifth person remains in critical condition, the Associated Press reported.
Police are searching for the gunman, who is described as a 30-year-old male.
"We don't have a crazed gunman running around North Hollywood that presents an immediate threat to public safety, to anyone in their homes or businesses in the area," Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said. "However, this is also not a random act of violence, this was an intentional act."
A motive for the attack was not known.

NY archbishop defends pope against sex abuse scandal

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan defended Pope Benedict XVI during Palm Sunday Mass against reports he helped cover up reports of child abuse, the Associated Press reported.
Archbishop Dolan's comments were received with long applause by the crowd at St. Patrick's Cathedral after he called the pope a "leader in purification, reform, and renewal."
Archbishop Dolan admitted that the reports of abuse of minors by priests in Ireland and Germany created a more somber mood for Holy Week, and urged the congregation to pray for the pope, according to NBC New York.
He expressed his disgust at many of the allegations of abuse, and said it caused ""the vast majority of faithful priests to bow their heads in shame."
Archbishop Dolan is the leader of the nation's second-largest diocese, and oversees New York's 2.5 million Catholics.

Obama outlines major changes in education plan

President Obama called for a massive overhaul of former president George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind law, unveiling his new plan on Sunday.
The changes would dismantle the current system and move away from punishing schools that do not meet the standards, and instead reward schools for progress, especially with poor students. A focus on preparing students for colleges, rather than grade proficiency is also emphasized.
The blueprint, which Obama said he would send to Congress on Monday, also allows states to use subjects other than reading and mathematics to meet their federal goals. This has been the goal for many education groups, who argue that No Child Left Behind created a lack of focus on the arts, science, and history.
The White House is also proposing a $4 billion increase in federal education spending, which would be used to increase competition among states for grant money, the Associated Press reported.
Administration officials said their plan would urge the states to achieve the college-ready goal by 2020.

U.S. Postal Service seeks 5-day delivery option

In an effort to recover losses, the U.S. Postal Service is looking to stop Saturday delivery, the Star Tribune reported.
Postage rates will also likely be increased in the new proposal, said Postmaster General John Potter. The Postal Service was already more than $295 million in debt from the October through December period, usually their busiest.
The Postal Service has tried to reduce the number of delivery days to five before, but Congress did not support the idea, USA Today reported.
The agency has seen a steep drop in the number of items delivered- 177 billion items in 2009, down from 213 billion in 2006. The recession, as well as the move to electronic bill-paying, has caused a decrease in the number of items mailed.
Potter said a formal request to the Postal Regulatory Commission will be submitted by the end of this month, which must announce an opinion on any changes in mail service.

Killer whale attacks and kills SeaWorld trainer

A SeaWorld trainer was killed after a killer whale snatched the trainer off a platform and killed her in front of an audience, the Star Tribune reported.
The whale grabbed trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, by her waist and thrashed her around underwater.
Brancheau was rubbing the 12,000 pound whale when he grabbed her. It was not clear if she died from drowning or from the thrashing. Witnesses who attended earlier shows said Tilikum was not responding to directions and appeared agitated.
An alarm sounded and audience members were immediately instructed to exit the stadium, the Pioneer Press said.
This was the third human death the animal was involved in. Brancheau was one of the most experienced trainers, and one of the few allowed to interact with the whale, Tilikum, because of his large size.

Three Tesla employees killed in plane crash

Three Tesla employees died after their small plane crashed in a Paolo Alto neighborhood Wednesday, the New York Times reported.
The twin-engine plane crashed shortly after take-off due to foggy weather, crashing into a residential neighborhood. No one on the ground was injured, but two houses and several cars did set fire. A wing from the plane also slammed into a day care center, but everyone inside was able to escape.
Nearly all of Paolo Alto, around 28,000 residents, were without power for most of the day, after the plane struck and clipped three transmission lines, the Star Tribune reported.
The plane was bound for Hawthorne Municipal Airport, near Los Angeles International Airport. One of the Tesla employees was piloting the plane, and the plane was owned by Doug Bourn, a senior Tesla electrical engineer. The identities of the employees have not been revealed.

Mother of Iowa football player recounts son's mental illness

The mother of an Iowa football player accused of fatally shooting his high school coach testified that her son suffered from manic depression and mental illness on Wednesday, the Pioneer Press reported.
Mark Becker, 24, has been charged with first-murder for the shooting of coach Ed Thomas, but has plead not guilty by reason of insanity. His attorneys plan to show that Becker is a paranoid schizophrenic who suffers from delusions, hallucinations, and schizophrenic episodes, the Star Tribune said.
On Wednesday, his mother, Joan Becker, testified that Becker had been hospitalized for mental illness three times before the shooting last June. Thomas was often a target during these episodes, and Becker accused him of sexual harassment.
Joan Becker said her son did not take his medication the night of the shooting, and only took it "sporadically" when it was prescribed. Becker was not considered a risk to himself or others at the time of the shooting.

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