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POSTED December 28, 2012 10:42 p.m.

ARIZONA SHERIFF AIMS TO PUT ARMED POSSE AT SCHOOLS: PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona sheriff has announced plans to deploy an armed volunteer posse to protect Phoenix-area students in the wake of the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio tells KTVK-TV he has the authority to mobilize private citizens to fight crime but hasn't talked to specific districts.

He says he doesn't plan to put posse members inside schools but will have them posted around the perimeters.

Arpaio is known as one of the nation's most high-profile supporters of strict U.S.-Mexico border policy.

His plan announced Thursday comes after two other Arizona officials released ideas for boosting school security.

Attorney General Tom Horne proposed firearms training for one person in each school. And Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu proposed training multiple educators per school to carry guns.

OREGON CHASE TOPS 100 MPH; 2 CHILDREN IN BACK SEAT: HERMISTON, Ore. (AP) — Police in eastern Oregon say two young children were in the back seat of a vehicle that led them on a highway chase at more than 100 mph.

The East Oregonian reported the chase on Interstate 84 ended near Hermiston. A state trooper set spike strips that hit both front tires, which came off before the car stopped.

Officers say a 3-year-old boy and an 8-month-old girl were in child seats. They were released in the care of a deputy.

The driver has been arrested on several charges. She was identified as 26-year-old Amelia Cortez of Hermiston. She was not available for comment. It was not clear whether she had a lawyer.

Umatilla County authorities say the chase began Thursday after a complaint of interference by a non-custodial parent. Officers say the vehicle was stolen.

'TRAGIC NUMBER': CHICAGO REACHES 500 HOMICIDES: CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says the city has logged its 500th homicide of the year.

McCarthy issued a statement Friday calling the milestone a "tragic number that is reflective of the gang violence and proliferation of illegal guns that have plagued some of our neighborhoods."

The police department went back and forth Friday, first verifying the 500th killing, then backing off and saying an earlier death was still being investigated.

By late Friday, police confirmed 40-year-old Nathaniel Jackson had become the 500th homicide victim when he was fatally shot in the head outside a convenience store on the city's West Side.

The last time Chicago reached the 500-homicide mark was in 2008, when the year ended with 512 killings. City records show Chicago had 435 homicides last year.

NORAD SANTA TRACKERS DRAW RECORD NUMBER OF CALLS: PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AP) — NORAD says it drew a record number of phone calls and social media followers during its NORAD Tracks Santa operation on Christmas Eve.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command said Friday volunteers answered more than 114,000 calls, up 12,000 from 2011.

NORAD's Santa Facebook page had more than 1.2 million followers, up from about 1 million last year. More than 129,000 people followed on Twitter, up from 101,000 last year.

NORAD got 11,000 emails, up from 7,700 in 2011.

More than 1,250 volunteers answered phone calls, including first lady Michelle Obama.

NORAD Tracks Santa began in 1955 when a newspaper listed the wrong number for children to call Santa. They wound up calling the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor.

The operation is based at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

CRIME DOWN 2 PERCENT IN LA DURING 2012: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Overall crime in Los Angeles has dropped for a 10th consecutive year, but there were slight increases in murders and petty thefts.

The Los Angeles Times reports that crime fell about 2 percent in 2012, a drop smaller than in previous years because of jumps in vehicle and petty thefts.

There have been 297 homicides through Thursday — three more than the same period in 2011. Gang-related crimes were down about 10 percent.

Los Angeles is one of a few major cities to see its overall crime numbers continue to drop.

Police Chief Charlie Beck believes the rise in petty thefts is due partly to the state prison realignment plan that shortened the time many low-level offenders are behind bars.

AUTHORITIES: FATHER OF SLAIN GIRL COMMITS SUICIDE: LAUDERDALE LAKES, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say the father of a 13-year-old girl who was fatally shot on a school bus in South Florida last month is dead in an apparent suicide.

The Broward Sheriff's Office said 34-year-old Armando Alexander Guzman was found dead in a car near Fort Lauderdale Thursday morning from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A witness called 911 after noticing a bullet hole in the car's window and a person inside.

Guzman's daughter, 13-year-old Lourdes Guzman-DeJesus, was shot in neck on the way to school in Homestead on Nov. 20.

Authorities say a 15-year-old student pulled a gun from his backpack and fired it. Eight other children, including Guzman's 7-year-old sister, were not harmed. The student is charged with manslaughter and carrying a concealed weapon.

US sailors sue Japanese utility over radiation

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Eight U.S. sailors are suing the Tokyo utility that operates the Fukushima nuclear power plant, charging that the company lied about the high level of radiation in the area where they were carrying out a humanitarian mission after the tsunami that triggered the reactor crisis.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego last week against Tokyo Electric Power Co., which is owned by the Japanese government. Plaintiffs include the infant daughter of two of the sailors who was born seven months after the March 2011 disaster.

The sailors served on the San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which was carrying out "Operation Tomadachi" ferrying food and water to citizens in the city of Sendai in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami.

The sailors claim the Japanese government repeatedly said there was no danger to the carrier crew "all the while lying through their teeth about the reactor meltdowns" so rescuers would "rush into an unsafe area."

The U.S. Navy, the suit said, relied on information from the Japanese government, which only belatedly admitted that radiation had leaked into the atmosphere from the damaged power plant.

 

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