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POSTED April 6, 2012 8:19 p.m.

NAVY JET CRASHES INTO VA, APARTMENTS, PILOTS EJECT: VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — A fighter jet that malfunctioned just after takeoff hurtled into a Virginia Beach apartment complex on Friday in a spectacular crash that sent flames and black smoke billowing from the rubble.

The two pilots managed to eject just before impact, suffering minor injuries along with five others on the ground. Several residents described hearing a loud explosion and looking out their windows to see the red and orange blaze. In the confusion that followed, two men helped one of the bloodied pilots from the two-seat F18 Hornet move to safety.

By evening, emergency crews were searching through the charred remains of the complex, where some 40 apartment units were damaged or destroyed. No fatalities had been reported.

OBAMA: WOMEN ARE NOT AN INTEREST GROUP: WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Friday showered attention on helping women yet warned in the same motion that they should not be reduced to a uniform political bloc, declaring they are not an interest group and "shouldn't be treated that way."

"When we talk about these issues that primarly impact women, we've got to realize that they are not just women's issues," he said at a White House forum on women and the economy. "They are family issues. They are growth issues. They are issues about American competiveness. They are issues that impact all of us."

Obama's comments came as women's concerns, and the role women will play in choosing the next president, have taken on intensifying importance. Some Democrats have accused Republicans of waging a "war on women" and have turned national controversies over women's rights into a vehicle for raising campaign cash.

NEW CHARGES FILED AGAINST NM TOWN'S MAYOR-ELECT: ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Alcohol, padded expense reports, prostitutes and kickbacks. Those are some the latest charges filed in New Mexico against the mayor-elect of the troubled border town of Sunland Park.

Prosecutors Friday filed18 new felony charges against Daniel Salinas, who has been in and out of jail since being accused in late February of trying to force his opponent out of the race with a video that showed him getting a topless lap dance.

Those allegations set off what prosecutors have described as a full-time investigation by state, local and federal officials of the notoriously dysfunctional town.

On Friday, Salinas, Sunland Park Public Works Director Jesus Dario Hernandez and Jorge Angulo of Envirosystems Management Consultants were accused in what prosecutors describe as a "triangle" or "pyramid scheme."

Envirosystems had a $2.4 million contract to do an environmental impact study of a border crossing for the town, and picked up expenses for Salinas and other city officials who attended a conference in Mexico last year, prosecutors said. The company then billed the expenses, which included prostitutes, drinks and strip clubs, to the city, the criminal complaints allege.

STUDY TIES OIL, GAS PRODUCTION TO MIDWEST QUAKES: NEW YORK (AP) — Oil and gas production may explain a sharp increase in small earthquakes in the nation's midsection, a new study from the U.S. Geological Survey suggests.

The rate has jumped six-fold from the late 20th century through last year, the team reports, and the changes are "almost certainly man-made."

Outside experts were split in their opinions about the report, which is not yet published but is due to be presented at a meeting later this month.

The study said a relatively mild increase starting in 2001 comes from increased quake activity in a methane production area along the state line between Colorado and New Mexico. The increase began about the time that methane production began there, so there's a "clear possibility" of a link, says lead author William Ellsworth of the USGS.

The increase over the nation's midsection has gotten steeper since 2009, due to more quakes in a variety of oil and gas production areas, including some in Arkansas and Oklahoma, the researchers say.

It's not clear how the earthquake rates might be related to oil and gas production, the study authors said. They note that others have linked earthquakes to injecting huge amounts of leftover wastewater deep into the earth.

FAA INVESTIGATING AFTER PLANE EMERGENCY IGNORED: DENVER (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating after an air traffic controller was accused of ignoring a request for an emergency landing in Denver after a commercial airline pilot reported smoke in the cabin.

The controller thought it was a prank and dismissed the emergency call.

The United Express plane from Peoria, Ill., was evacuated Tuesday after landing at Denver International Airport. An FAA report said firefighters extinguished a fire in the instrument panel. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Controllers apparently realized the mistake when the pilot made another emergency call saying the plane had already landed and was evacuating on the runway. It was only then that fire trucks responded.

One of the 21 passengers was taken to the hospital.

 

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