- - Sunday, January 1, 2012


FBI: Suspect charged in explosives case

MIDLAND | Authorities have charged a member of the U.S. military who was arrested after trying to go through a security checkpoint at a Texas airport with explosives in military-grade wrapping, the FBI said Sunday.

Trey Scott Atwater, 30, was stopped at security at the Midland International Airport at about 9 a.m. Saturday. FBI spokesman Mike Martinez said Mr. Atwater is being held at the Midland County jail and has been charged with trying to bring explosives onto an airplane.

He will remain in custody at least until his arraignment Tuesday, given that the courts are closed Monday for the holiday, Mr. Martinez said.

Mr. Atwater and his wife and family had been visiting relatives in the area and were on their way back to his base in North Carolina, according to local media reports.

Public records searches list addresses for Mr. Atwater at Fort Bragg and indicate he continues to have relatives in Midland, though there was no answer at phone numbers given in both locations. He had a reservation on Flight 3283 operated by American Eagle, which had a scheduled departure of 9:45 a.m. Saturday.

It’s unclear whether Mr. Atwater was in military uniform at the time he was detained or how many explosives were in the bag.


2nd NASA probe en route to moon

PASADENA | A day after a NASA spacecraft safely entered orbit around the moon, its twin was poised to do the same.

The duo are on a mission to study what’s inside the moon by mapping its uneven gravity field.

On New Year’s Eve, a probe named Grail-A fired its engine and was captured into lunar orbit. NASA hoped for a similar flawless performance from Grail-B on New Year’s Day.

Once in orbit, the near-identical probes will spend two months tweaking their positions until they are circling 34 miles above the surface. They will begin collecting data in March.


Facebook post leads to finding new kidney

SEATTLE | Here’s another reason for holdouts to join the massive social media site Facebook: It’s a great place to find a kidney.

Between the kid photos and reminiscences about high school, more and more pleas for help from people with failing kidneys are starting to pop up. National organizations that facilitate matches say Facebook and other social media sites are quickly becoming a go-to place to find a generous person with a kidney to spare.

That’s how one Seattle man found the kidney that is going to save his life. On Tuesday, a woman his wife has known for years, but not someone they consider a close family friend, will be giving Damon Brown a kidney. She told him she was doing it for his kids.


Mall bomber pleads guilty to arson

DENVER | A man has acknowledged planting a homemade bomb at a Colorado shopping mall on the 12th anniversary of the Columbine school shootings.

Earl Albert Moore, 56, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of arson in federal court in Denver.

An April 20 fire at the Southwest Plaza Mall in Littleton and discovery of the bomb raised fears it was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the 1999 school shootings at nearby Columbine High School. Authorities soon concluded it wasn’t.

During Friday’s hearing, Moore said he didn’t intend to hurt anyone. The Denver Post reported that he says he drained the propane tanks connected to the device before leaving it. He says he was upset about “a domestic thing” but he couldn’t really explain why he did it.


Cruelty report checked at Butterball turkey farm

SHANNON | State deputies are investigating a farm that raises turkeys for Butterball LLC after an animal rights group said it captured undercover video showing animal cruelty.

Investigators on Thursday looked through the two barns and the roughly 2,000 turkeys inside at the farm in Shannon, near the South Carolina state line.

Deputies say it could be weeks before the investigation is finished.

They came to the farm after Chicago-based Mercy for Animals sent prosecutors three weeks of undercover footage by a member of the group who worked at the farm. The group says the videos show workers throwing, kicking, dragging and beating turkeys.

In a statement, Butterball said it has zero tolerance for abusing animals and is working with deputies.


Victims’ group must reveal records in priest case

ST. LOUIS | Advocates for clergy sex abuse victims are being ordered to disclose years of records to defense lawyers for an accused clergyman.

A county judge in Missouri says lawyers for the accused reverend have a right to the documents from the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by a man who says the reverend molested him. Defense lawyers say the accuser’s attorney violated a judge’s gag order by giving case details to SNAP.

SNAP says the disclosure order is so broad it could involve sensitive communication with victims in other cases and email correspondence with reporters.

The order says SNAP must produce the documents and the group’s director must appear for a deposition Tuesday. SNAP has appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.


Flood plan calls for up to $17B in repairs

FRESNO | California has released the first statewide flood-control plan, and it calls for $14 billion to $17 billion in repairs and other investments.

The proposal was issued Friday by the state Department of Water Resources and details the dire status of levees and other infrastructure along the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems.

Officials say more than half of the state’s 1,500 miles of levees don’t meet standards.

Experts say the aging levees, if breached, pose a great threat to life, property and the state’s drinking water supplies.

The plan doesn’t outline specific projects but recommends one new bypass and some needed repairs. The price tag includes the $5 billion in flood bonds approved by voters five years ago.


Violet, star of hawk cam, dies after surgery

NEW YORK | A red-tailed hawk that became an avian sensation when a webcam followed her nesting and rearing a chick on a high-rise ledge died after surgery to amputate her badly injured foot, a wildlife rehabilitation group said.

Violet, the female in a pair of hawks that roosted outside the New York University president’s office this year, abruptly had a heart attack Thursday after seeming to emerge in good shape from the procedure, Wildlife In Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation announced on its Facebook page. A veterinarian tried to revive her for 20 minutes.

“She was warm, peaceful and had a full belly and pain medication,” said the organization, based in North Massapequa, N.Y. “We just couldn’t get her in time.”

Violet, thought to be about 5 years old, and mate Bobby built a nest last winter outside NYU President John Sexton’s office on the 12th floor of a building overlooking Washington Square Park.

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