- - Wednesday, April 4, 2012

LOUISIANA

NEW ORLEANS Five former New Orleans police officers were sentenced Wednesday to prison terms ranging from six to 65 years for their roles in deadly shootings of unarmed residents on a bridge after Hurricane Katrina.

Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Anthony Villavaso and Robert Faulcon were convicted of firearms charges in the shootings. Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, who was assigned to investigate the shootings, was convicted of helping orchestrate the cover-up.

Faulcon received the stiffest sentence, 65 years. Bowen and Gisevius each got 40 years, while Villavaso was sentenced to 38 years. Kaufman received the lightest sentence, six years.

A federal jury convicted the officers in August 2011 of civil rights violations in the shootings on the Danziger Bridge and the cover-up.

Police shot six people, killing two, less than a week after the storm’s landfall on Aug. 29, 2005. To make the shootings appear justified, officers conspired to plant a gun, fabricate witnesses and falsify reports.

The case became the centerpiece of the Justice Department’s push to clean up the troubled New Orleans Police Department.

U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt heard hours of testimony earlier in the day from prosecutors, defense attorneys, relatives of shooting victims and the officers.

CALIFORNIA

Planet-hunting mission extended through 2016

MOFFETT FIELD NASA has decided to keep its planet-hunting spacecraft running for several more years.

The space agency said Wednesday the Kepler spacecraft will search for alien worlds through fiscal 2016. The $600 million mission was launched in 2009 to track down other Earths in a faraway patch of the Milky Way galaxy.

The extension came after a team of experts reviewed the project’s progress. It is estimated to cost about $18 million a year to operate Kepler in the extended phase.

Kepler has found examples of planets similar in size to Earth orbiting stars outside the solar system.

Scientists are eagerly awaiting the discovery of an Earth-size world in the so-called “Goldilocks Zone” a place that’s not too hot, not too cold, where water might exist in liquid form.

NEW YORK

Delta attendant pulled from N.Y.-to-Atlanta flight

BUFFALO Delta Air Lines says it has pulled a flight attendant from a Buffalo, N.Y.-to-Atlanta flight because a security screener thought he was acting erratically and might not be fit to fly.

Delta told local media in Buffalo that the Transportation Security Administration reported the potential problem after the crew was screened before Flight 1266’s scheduled departure at 6:15 a.m. Wednesday.

The airline didn’t detail the actions that worried the screener but said there was no security threat. Passengers hadn’t yet boarded the plane. It left three hours late with a replacement for the attendant.

The episode happened slightly more than a week after a JetBlue Airways captain’s frightening behavior on a New York-to-Las Vegas flight forced an emergency landing in Texas. He has been charged with interfering with a flight crew.

NEW YORK

Lawyers again to argue in N.Y. Facebook lawsuit

BUFFALO Another round of legal arguments is scheduled in a New York man’s lawsuit claiming part ownership of Facebook.

Lawyers for Paul Ceglia and the Palo Alto, Calif.-based social-networking site are to appear Wednesday in federal court in Buffalo. Facebook wants the judge to halt pretrial exchanges of evidence until he decides whether the case should go forward.

There’s a pending request by Facebook to have Mr. Ceglia’s lawsuit dismissed.

Mr. Ceglia opposes Facebook’s discovery motion, which would keep him from obtaining any materials from Facebook relevant to his case. He already has given Facebook his evidence.

Mr. Ceglia’s lawsuit says he gave Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg startup money in 2003 in exchange for half the company if it grew. Facebook, now worth billions, says the lawsuit is based on a doctored contract.

NEW YORK

Officials: 1 dead, 4 hurt in NYC crane accident

NEW YORK A crane that came off its base and crashed to the ground at a Manhattan construction site killed one worker and injured four others.

The worker who died was identified by police as 30-year-old Michael Simmermeyer of Burlington, N.J.

Officials say he was pronounced dead after the accident at the site of the No. 7 subway line extension. One other person was hospitalized in serious condition. Three other people were treated for minor injuries.

Jack Sullivan, deputy chief for the Fire Department of New York’s Emergency Medical Service, said it was possible one of the workers had been struck by the crane’s boom. The crane operator and someone who worked with him were among those who were injured.

The cause of the collapse is under investigation.

HAWAII

Surfer bitten by shark says he will be back

WAIALUA | The surfer bitten by a 10-foot shark off Hawaii says the ordeal won’t keep him out of the water.

Joshua Holley got 42 stitches on his left foot and will need surgery to repair severed tendons. But he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that he plans to return to the waves as soon as doctors say it’s OK.

Mr. Holley was recovering at home Wednesday, a day after what he thinks was a tiger shark chomped on his foot as he surfed off Oahu’s North Shore. Mr. Holley said he punched the shark and paddled to shore with help from two other surfers.

Warning signs have been posted at several beaches.

TEXAS

Lingering flight delays in tornado aftermath

DALLAS Thousands of travelers are still facing delays and canceled flights at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport a day after massive storms packing tornadoes rolled through north Texas.

The flight-tracking service FlightAware estimated that cancellations affected 50,000 travelers on Tuesday and 30,000 on Wednesday.

American Airlines says more than 400 flights in and out of the airport have been canceled for Wednesday after about 800 flights were canceled Tuesday.

American is still inspecting nearly 100 planes for possible hail damage.

Southwest Airlines says things have returned to normal at its Dallas Love Field base, where more than 45 flights were canceled on Tuesday.

Sometimes storms near a hub airport can cause ripple effects, with delays and cancellations stretching across the country. A July 2011 hailstorm in Denver sidelined some planes for weeks.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports