Monday, April 19, 2010

Oklahoma City Marks 15 Years Since Deadly Bombing

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told survivors and victims' relatives gathered Monday for a somber ceremony to mark the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing that the city's spirit in the wake of the tragedy served as an example to the nation.

Napolitano also warned of the need for continued vigilance against terrorists when she spoke during the 90-minute memorial to the 168 lives lost in the destruction of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. More than 600 others were injured in the blast, which at the time was the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Across Oklahoma City, people observed 168 seconds of silence to honor the dead. Some dabbed away tears as the ceremony closed with family members reading a roll call of those who died.

The ceremony followed a time-honored script. Shortly before 9:02 a.m. - when the bombing occurred - bells tolled in downtown Oklahoma City. Some family members visited the site of the federal building razed in the attack and left ribbons, wreaths and other objects on chairs that stand on the site to honor the dead.

Tennessee Hospital Shooter Dies, Official Says

An official said several people were shot outside a Knoxville hospital and the suspected shooter has died of a self-inflicted gunshot.

There were conflicting reports about the number of those shot Monday. Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk said at least four had been shot. Fire department spokesman Brent Seymour says at least five people had been shot in the discharge area of the Parkwest Medical Center.

Seymour said two of those shot were in critical condition. DeBusk told WBIR-TV that the shooter died. The hospital was on lockdown.

Europe Begins To Reopen Air Travel

After five days in which nature brought the jet age to a halt, European officials agreed Monday to let air traffic resume on a limited basis, giving hope to millions of travelers around the world stranded by ash from a volcano in Iceland.

Three KLM passenger planes left Schiphol airport in Amsterdam on Monday evening during daylight under visual flight rules bound for New York, Dubai and Shanghai. An Associated Press photographer saw one jet taking off into a colorful sunset, which weather officials said was pinker than normal due to the ash.

European Union transport ministers reached a deal during a crisis videoconference to divide northern European skies into three areas: a "no-fly" zone immediately over the ash cloud; a caution zone "with some contamination" where planes can fly subject to engine checks for damage; and an open-skies zone.

Starting Tuesday morning, "we should see progressively more planes start to fly," said EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas.

The German airline Lufthansa said it would bring 50 planeloads of passengers home and Britain said it would reopen some of its airspace in the next 24 hours.

Britain's National Air Traffic Service said Scotland's airports and airspace would reopen at 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) Tuesday, and London's airports - including Heathrow, Europe's busiest - might be able to reopen later in the day. British Airways said it hoped to start flying from London at 7 p.m. local time (1800 GMT) Tuesday.

The easing of the crisis came as the aviation industry - facing losses of more than $1 billion -- criticized official handling of the disruption that grounded thousands of flights to and from Europe.

Judge Recuses Self From Toddler Murder Case

A Florida judge in the Casey Anthony murder trial took himself off the case Monday. Circuit Judge Stan Strickland granted a motion filed by Anthony's attorneys asking that he recuse himself.

Anthony's defense attorneys had argued that comments the judge made to a blogger recently showed he was prejudiced against Anthony.

In his decision, Strickland denied doing anything wrong. But he said he is removing himself from the case because Anthony's attorneys likely would allege bias each time he ruled against their motions.

The 24-year-old Anthony has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and has said a baby sitter kidnapped her daughter, Caylee. The toddler's remains were found in December 2008, six months after she was reported missing.

Toyota Recalls SUVs, Agrees To Fine

Toyota hurriedly ordered recalls of nearly 10,000 Lexus SUVs for possible rollover dangers Monday and agreed to a record $16.4 million fine for a slow response in its broader earlier recall, scrambling to fix safety worries that threaten the Japanese auto giant's reputation.

The fine, the maximum under law, could hurt Toyota Motor Corp.'s image more than its financial bottom line: The penalty is the equivalent of a little more than $2 for every vehicle the company sold around the globe in 2009. And analysts said it would have little impact on dozens of private lawsuits, which have been combined before a federal judge in Santa Ana, Calif.

For the Lexus recall, Toyota said dealers would update software in the stability control system, which is supposed to help prevent rollovers. Toyota already had halted sales of new GX 460s and begun tests on all of the company's other SUVs.

The government accused the company of hiding the earlier defects involving gas pedals, a contention Toyota rejected though it agreed to pay the fine.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Toyota "put consumers at risk" by failing to promptly notify authorities about potentially defective accelerator pedals on 2.3 million vehicles. LaHood said Toyota knew about the problem in late September but didn't issue the recall until late January, violating a federal law that requires an automaker to notify the government of a safety defect within five business days.

Man To Eat Pizza For Every Meal This Month

A Brooklyn, N.Y., man loves pizza so much that he intends to eat it for every meal, every day, for an entire month. Nick Sherman told News 12 in Brooklyn he plans to eat pizza at a difference place every day this April.

He said the hardest part so far is missing out on all the other food he can't have, such as macaroni and cheese and candy. He said he almost slipped and came close to eating a churro the other day.

"I saved it until we got to the pizzeria and put it on top of my pizza," he said.

The graphic designer said he's always loved pizza. Growing in Massachusetts, he tried to visit every pizzeria in the area.

Now in New York, he's hitting up all the hot spots in Brooklyn and beyond. He said that once pizza month is over, his first meal will likely again be pizza.

Eight Thumbs Up: Quadruplets Choose Same College

A set of quadruplets from New York have decided to attend the same college. Grace, Erin, Bobby and Danny Mele will attend Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., in the fall.

Grace Mele was the holdout. She was concerned about spending her college years known as "one of the quadruplets."

But the 17-year-old from Setauket on Long Island decided it would be "traumatic" to split up the close-knit siblings. Says Grace: "We're going to savor these next few years together."

Their dad, Robert Mele, cried with happiness at the news.

Or was it sticker shock? Actually, scholarships and sibling discounts have greatly reduced the family's upcoming bill - to about $74,000 a year.

Reuters; WBIR-TV, Knoxville; BBC; AP; News12, Long Island, NY; Wall Street Journal; New You Daily News; Newsday.

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