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February 18, 2010

Plane crashes into office block in Austin, Texas

Plane crashes into office block in Austin, Texas

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

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A photo of Joseph Andrew Stack, the plane’s assumed pilot (circa 2006)
Image: Bill Eli.

A small plane crashed into a building, which was one of the Echelon office complex, in north Austin, Texas this morning at 09:56 local time (1456 UTC).

Federal officials say the plane owner was Joseph Andrew Stack III; presumed to be the pilot who set his house on fire on the 1800 block of Dapplegrey Lane in north Austin an hour earlier. He then drove to Georgetown Municipal Airport, approximately 20 miles away, took off and then crashed his private plane into the Echelon complex.

The Federal Aviation Authority indicated the light aircraft was a Piper Cherokee PA-28, as did news reports and eye witnesses. The FAA said the plane had no flight plan and was under Visual Flight Rules.

Mr. Stack committed suicide, and a suicide note has been located. Mr. Stack’s suicide note mentions anti-government and anti-corporate ideals, as well as problems with the Internal Revenue Service and that he lost money in the Enron scandal. Although the incident was intentional, a Department of Homeland Security official said that terrorism is not suspected. The online host of the note, T35 Hosting, later removed it in its entirety after the FBI requested its censorship. However, Wikinews has preserved the full text of the letter.

Image of the Echelon Building the day after the crash
Image: jasleen_kaur.

Austin Fire Department reported around 1100 local time (1600 UTC) that two people were transported to local hospitals and one was unaccounted for. One man was admitted at a local hospital under serious condition for smoke inhalation. The other man suffered from second-degree burns on 25% of his back and has been transported by helicopter to Brooke Medical Center in San Antonio and is said to be in stable condition.

The seven-story Echelon Building One is located on 9430 Research Boulevard and contains Internal Revenue Service offices. The Echelon building complex houses a number of federal offices, including Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Research Boulevard is the service road of U.S. Route 183. The incident has caused severe backups on both Research Boulevard and Route 183.

A Piper 28, similar to the one involved in the crash

A witness told The Austin Statesman that he saw the plane flying lower than usual, then it made a sharp turn and hit the building.

An Austin County EMS official, James Shamard, said that smoke is visible from at least a mile from the crash site. Another official for the Austin Fire Department said that two persons who were working in the building are still unaccounted for.

MSNBC reports that there was some form of domestic dispute between Mr. Stack and his wife before the incident. He then reportedly used gasoline to light his house on fire. When the fire department arrived, they rescued his wife and teenage daughter.

According to Jerry Cullen, a pilot and former flight instructor who witnessed the crash, the plane was traveling at high speed at time of impact.


Sources

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Some information contained in this article was obtained from television, radio, or live webcast sources. Reporter’s notes and the broadcast source details are available at the collaboration page.
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Plane crash in California kills three

Plane crash in California kills three – Wikinews, the free news source

Plane crash in California kills three

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

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A similar Cessna 310.
Image: Ahunt.

A Cessna 310 plane hit an electrical pylon in Northern California shortly after taking off Wednesday. All three of the plane’s passengers were killed. The plane’s wing struck a house which caught fire, along with parked cars. No injuries on the ground were reported.

The crash occurred at 7:55 am local time (15:55 UTC). The Federal Aviation Administration said that the plane was originating from Palo Alto Airport and was en route to Hawthorne Municipal Airport in Hawthorne, California.

The persons killed were employees of Tesla Motors, later identified as Doug Bourn, Andrew Ingram, and Brian Finn, all involved with electronics at the company. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, released a statement saying, in part, “Tesla is a small, tightly-knit company, and this is a tragic day for us.”

The plane was registered to Air Unique Incorporated, in Santa Clara, California, which is owned by another Tesla employee Doug Bourn.


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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

New Internet site PleaseRobMe claims to reveal location of social networkers

New Internet site PleaseRobMe claims to reveal location of social networkers

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

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A new website, PleaseRobMe.com, was created earlier this week, claiming to indicate the location of empty homes based on social networkers’ posts online, especially Twitter.

The developers of the site told the BBC they had intended to display how dangerous it is to share one’s precise location over the Internet. The site takes its information from posts by users on Twitter who have revealed their address and say when they are not at home.

The information is displayed by copies of posts by Twitter users on a live feed on the website’s front page. Most the posts divulge an address, as well as a comment indicating the person is not at home. A reporter for Wikinews estimated about twenty to thirty new posts, called “opportunities” by the website, to be added to the list every minute.

Boy Van Amstel, one of the developers, commented to the BBC: “It started with me and a friend looking at our Twitter feeds and seeing more and more Foursquare posts. People were checking in at their house, or their girlfriend’s or friend’s house, and sharing the address – I don’t think they were aware of how much they were sharing.”

The website reportedly took only four hours to create and put up. “It’s basically a Twitter search – nothing new. Anyone who can do HTML and Javascript can do this. You could almost laugh at how easy it is,” Van Amstel commented.

The developer noted that he does not intend the site to become an aid to burglars. “The website is not a tool for burglary. The point we’re getting at is that not long ago it was questionable to share your full name on the internet. We’ve gone past that point by 1000 miles,” he remarked, adding it would be “very difficult” in practice to commit a burglary solely with the information provided.

A statement on the website in question reads: “The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not … home. So here we are; on one end we’re leaving lights on when we’re going on a holiday, and on the other we’re telling everybody on the internet we’re not home.”

It continued: “It gets even worse if you have ‘friends’ who want to colonize your house. That means they have to enter your address, to tell everyone where they are. The goal of this website is to raise some awareness on this issue and have people think about how they use services like Foursquare, Brightkite, Google Buzz etc. Because all this site is, is a dressed up Twitter search page. Everybody can get this information.”



Sources

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Libya and Switzerland to meet about visa bans

Libya and Switzerland to meet about visa bans

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

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Libya and Switzerland have reportedly agreed to meet in an effort to resolve a diplomatic row about travel visas.

Micheline Calmy-Rey of Switzerland and Moussa Koussa of Libya will meet in the presence of Miguel Ángel Moratinos of Spain. All three are the heads of foreign relations for their respective countries. The meeting comes at the urging of Malta and Italy.

Libya announced on Tuesday that it has suspended and/or revoked visas given to citizens of the Schengen Area of Europe. Four Italian citizens have been detained at the Tripoli International Airport pending deportation, as their visas have been revoked.

Confirming the situation, a Libyan official told Reuters: “This is right. This decision has been taken. No visas for Europeans, except Britain.”

Malta has had eight citizens turned back. One of these told The Times of Malta, “They treated us like hostages, not even allowing us out of the room to stretch our legs.”

The European Commission released a statement saying it “deplores the unilateral and disproportionate” action by Libya and that affected nations will consider an “appropriate reaction.”

“The Commission also regrets that travellers who legally obtained visas before the suspension measure were refused entry when arriving in Libya,” said EU commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström.

Libya and Switzerland have been in a diplomatic row for many months. In July 2008, the Swiss for two days detained Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi’s son, Hannibal, after hotel staff in Geneva complained of being assaulted. Hannibal was given a suspended sentence and released.

Since then, Libya has withdrawn more than US$5 billion (3.6 billlion) from Swiss banks and cut of oil exports to Switzerland. Libya then detained two Swiss businessmen and sentenced one to 16 months of prison on visa violation charges.

In November, 2009, Switzerland asked Schengen nations to restrict Libyan visas. Subsequently, Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi and other officials have been denied Schengen visas.

Italy came down on Switzerland, saying the Swiss must “resolve this bi-lateral issue … but not at the expense of everyone else.”

Sawsan Chebli, a senior German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) said that, “The EU is Libya’s greatest trade and export partner. This is a leverage the EU could use. However, Italy and other EU member states with close relations with Libya in the past have shown that they are not interested to spoil their relations with Libya whatever Gaddafi’s action may be. That is not likely to change. And the problem is that Gaddafi knows that he is able to divide the EU.”

“The Italians care very little about the EU or other states when it comes to business relations,” Chebli added.



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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Joint US-Pakistan operation captures top Taliban commander

Joint US-Pakistan operation captures top Taliban commander

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

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According to reports, a joint covert operation by United States and Pakistan forces have captured the Taliban’s top military commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Baradar was captured seven to nine days ago according to officials.

Officials describe Baradar as second in influence only to the Taliban’s founder, Mullah Mohammed Omar. They say he is the most important Taliban figure detained since the war in Afghanistan started in late 2001.

The Taliban in Afghanistan deny Baradar has been captured, calling the report a rumor and a diversion. A spokeperson for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid said, “This is just rumor spread by foreigners to divert attention from the Marja offensive.” Adding, “They are facing big problems in Marja. In reality there is nothing regarding Baradar’s arrest. He is safe and free and he is in Afghanistan.”

Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents say they are interrogating Baradar, who was in charge of the Taliban’s day-to-day military operations and its governing political council.

Speaking in Islamabad, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik would not confirm the report of Baradar’s arrest.

But he said that since the U.S.-led coalition invaded the Taliban stronghold of Marja in southern Afghanistan several days ago, Pakistan has arrested suspected militants who have fled across the border.

“There are a number of arrests of people who were running away from Afghanistan and coming to Pakistan. And we are very much alert. The day we get any information [of] who are they, we will tell the people of Pakistan,” said Malik.

He also said that it is true the United States and Pakistan share intelligence information. However, he stressed that Pakistan is a sovereign nation and does not allow foreign forces to take part in anti-militancy raids within its borders.

Officials say his capture suggests a new level of cooperation between Pakistani and American intelligence agencies. In the past, U.S. officials have accused Pakistan’s intelligence agencies of maintaining ties with the Afghan Taliban leadership and being reluctant to pursue them in sanctuaries in Pakistan. Pakistani officials have denied the claim.

The New York Times first reported Baradar’s capture late Monday. The paper says it learned of the operation last week, but delayed reporting it at the request of White House officials, who argued that making it public would compromise the effort to gather intelligence.



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Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik sentenced to four years in prison

Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik sentenced to four years in prison

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

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Fmr. NYC Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. (2008)
Image: Bernard Kerik.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik was sentenced to four years in prison and three years of supervised release on Thursday after pleading guilty to eight felony charges. Among these were tax fraud and lying to Bush administration officials during his unsuccessful nomination for US Secretary of Homeland Security in 2004.

This sentence is contrary to a plea agreement made in November between Kerik’s legal counsel and the prosecution. Per this accord, federal attorneys recommended a sentence of no longer than 33 months in prison, opposed to the 48 months that US District Judge Stephen Robinson (who was not bound to this agreement) chose to hand down instead.

“I think it’s fair to say that with great power comes great responsibility and great consequences,” Judge Robinson said upon sentencing. “I think the damage caused by Mr. Kerik is in some ways immeasurable.”

“Today’s sentencing of Bernard Kerik is one of the most powerful recent reminders that no one in this country is above the law,” added US Attorney Preet Bharara.

Kerik, who was accompanied by his wife and three children, briefly addressed the court: “I make no excuses. I take full responsibility for the grave mistakes I’ve made. Believe me when I say I have learned from this and I have become and will continue to become a better person.”

“I know I must be punished,” he went on to say. “I only ask that you allow me to return to my wife and two little girls as soon as possible.”

According to the New York City Department of Corrections, Kerik is slated to begin serving his sentence on May 17. Although the prosecution made clear their desire for Kerik to be imprisoned immediately, Judge Robinson allowed him to surrender himself later in the day so that he would have sufficient time to “get his affairs in order.” Kerik has been awaiting sentencing under house arrest at his home in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey since November when said plea agreement was reached.

Kerik, a military veteran and undercover detective, was a trusted advisor to former US Attorney and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, for whom he worked for as a bodyguard and a driver.

Kerik later served as both corrections and police commissioner. His distinguished actions following the 2001 September 11th Attacks transformed him into a respected national figure. This earned him the praise of then-president George W. Bush, who in turn nominated him for the lead Homeland Security post. It was during the vetting process that Kerik’s suspected ties to organized crime came out. This marked the beginning of his long fall from grace.

Outside the courthouse, Kerik gave a statement to the media and general public before being driven home: “I’d like to apologize to the American people for the mistakes I have made and for which I have just accepted responsibility. As history is written, I can only hope that I will be judged for the 30 years of service I have given to this country and the City of New York. It has not and will not diminish my love for this country.”

Kerik’s lawyer, when asked by The New York Times if they planned to appeal this sentence, simply replied, “No comment.”



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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

American bandleader Kevin Eubanks to leave ‘Tonight Show’

Filed under: Acting,Culture and entertainment,Film,Radio,Television,Theatre — admin @ 5:00 am

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kevin Eubanks, the veteran bandleader to American late-night television personality Jay Leno, confirmed reports on Wednesday that he will, at least temporarily, leave the The Tonight Show.

Jay Leno hosting The Tonight Show with guests John & Elizabeth Edwards. (2007)
Image: John Edwards 2008.

According to an NBC spokesperson, “Kevin [Eubanks] has expressed interest in pursuing personal touring and recording opportunities.”

Eubanks has been the bandleader for the show since 1995. He furthermore followed Leno in his move to the primetime slot last year, when Leno hosted a short-lived talk show. This was until the new host Conan O’Brien left Tonight after only seven months following a contractual dispute.

The Tonight Show is slated to resume this March with Leno reinstated as host. For now, Eubanks is expected stay with Leno for the show’s return and for an indefinite period of time following. It is yet to be made clear if Eubanks is willing to permanently abdicate his position and whether his entire The Tonight Show Band will go with him once he leaves.



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  • Lynette Rice “Kevin Eubanks out of ‘Tonight Show'” – CNN, February 17, 2010
  • Brent Jones “Kevin Eubanks wants a break from ‘Tonight Show'” – USA Today, February 17, 2010
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