Thursday, May 23, 2013
I-5 BRIDGE COLLAPSE
UPDATE: I-5 bridge collapses in NW Wash.; people in water
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — The Washington State Patrol says the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River (SKA'-jiht) at Mount Vernon has collapsed, dumping vehicles and people into the water.
Trooper Mark Francis says the four-lane bridge collapsed about 7 p.m. PDT.
Francis says he has no immediate estimate of how many people are in the water or whether there are any injuries or deaths.
He doesn't know what caused the collapse.
A Skagit Valley Herald reporter at the scene says a sheriff's office rescue boat has arrived and rescue crews are looking for people in the water.
The reporter saw one person sitting atop one vehicle in the water and could see a second vehicle as well.
The newspaper reports that crowds of people are lining the river to watch the scene unfold.
Obama sees narrower terror threat, defends drones
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is outlining a narrowing terror threat that still imperils the nation but is now defined by smaller networks and homegrown extremists rather than the grandiose plots of al-Qaida.
Speaking at the National Defense University on Thursday, Obama argued that changing threats require changes to the nation's counterterrorism policies. He implored Congress to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba and pledged to allow greater oversight of the drone program. But he plans to keep the most lethal efforts with the unmanned aircraft under the control of the CIA.
Although the president is casting the drone program as crucial in the counterterror effort, he acknowledges targeted strikes are no "cure-all" and says he's deeply troubled by the civilians unintentionally killed.
Obama announced new "presidential policy guidelines" on the standards his administration uses when deciding to launch drone strikes. According to an unclassified summary of the guidelines, the U.S. will not strike if a target can be captured, and a strike can be launched only against a target posing an "imminent" threat.
2 more arrests in London attack investigation
LONDON (AP) — British police say two more people have been arrested by officers investigating the hacking death of a soldier in London.
Scotland Yard said counterterrorism officers arrested a man and a woman — both 29 — on Thursday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder in the suspected terrorist attack.
Two suspects shot and arrested by police at the scene in south London on Wednesday — a 22-year-old man and a 28-year-old man — remain hospitalized in stable condition with injuries that are not life-threatening.
Meanwhile, Britain's military says the murdered soldier was a popular drummer and machine gunner, a father of a 2-year-old boy, and a passionate fan of soccer's Manchester United.
The Ministry of Defense says 25-year-old Lee Rigby was a member of 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
It says he joined the army in 2006, and was posted in Cyprus, Afghanistan and Germany before becoming a recruiter, assisting with duties in the Tower of London.
Boy Scouts approve plan to accept openly gay boys
GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) — The Boy Scouts of America is throwing open its ranks to gay Scouts but not gay Scout leaders.
Some warn the compromise could fracture the organization and lead to mass defections of members and donors.
Of the roughly 1,400 voting members of the BSA's National Council who cast ballots, 61 percent supported the proposal drafted by the governing Executive Committee. The vote Thursday followed what the BSA describes as "the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history" to gauge opinions.
Calling it "a challenging chapter in our history," BSA chief executive Wayne Brock says, "While people have differing opinions on this policy, kids are better off when they're in Scouting."
Although the policy change takes effect Jan. 1, the bitter debate over the Scouts' membership policy is likely to continue.
Liberal Scout leaders -- while supporting the proposal to accept gay youth -- have made clear they want the ban on gay adults lifted as well.
In contrast, conservatives with the Scouts -- including some churches that sponsor Scout units -- wanted to continue excluding gay youths, in some cases threatening to defect if the ban were lifted.
The meeting of the BSA's National Council is taking place in Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry expressed his dismay with the decision.
Jurors deadlock on Jodi Arias penalty; retrial set
PHOENIX (AP) — The jury in Jodi Arias' murder trial has been dismissed after failing to decide if she should receive the death penalty.
A new panel likely will be seated to try again to reach a decision on a sentence -- unless the prosecutor takes death off the table agrees to a life sentence. The judge scheduled a retrial for July 18.
One female jury mouthed "sorry" to the family of the victim, Travis Alexander, as they cried.
Arias looked visibly upset with the jury's decision. Before it was announced on Thursday, she sobbed in the courtroom. In announcing the mistrial, Judge Sherry Stephens gave a heavy sigh.
The same panel on May 8 found Arias guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home.
2 dead in drugstore shootings in Tennessee
BEAN STATION, Tenn. (AP) — An East Tennessee pharmacy owner and a customer have been killed during a robbery that left a pharmacy tech and another employee wounded.
District Attorney Jimmy Dunn said a former police officer in Bean Station was taken into custody shortly after the shooting and robbery Thursday at the Down Home Pharmacy.
Dunn said the former officer, 37-year-old Jason B. Holt, took "a large quantity of pills" during the late-morning robbery.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the pharmacy owner and the customer died at the scene.
Dunn said the two employees were flown by helicopter to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, where they were in stable condition.
Holt was apprehended by local police and sheriff's officers. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents were summoned to the scene to assist.
The town's population is less than 3,000.
Parking deck collapses at Md. mall; 1 killed
BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — Officials say one construction worker has died and another has suffered serious injuries in the partial collapse of a parking garage at a shopping mall outside Washington, D.C.
Rescuers in Montgomery County, Md., worked to stabilize the structure to free the surviving worker for more than four hours on Thursday. Officials say it appears a 50,000-pound section of the parking deck collapsed outside a Macy's store.
A Fire Department spokeswoman says the worker was freed about 6 p.m. EDT.
Assistant Fire Chief Scott Graham says rescuers confirmed there are no other people inside the structure.
The parking deck was under construction during the collapse and was not open to the public.
OKC police correct damage estimate to 12K homes
MOORE, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma City police have corrected a damage estimate from the tornado that swept through an Oklahoma City suburb.
At a news conference on Thursday, police spokesman Dexter Nelson misspoke when he said there were 1,200 homes damaged or destroyed by Monday's storm.
The department later released a statement confirming the error, saying their current estimate was 12,000.
Since Wednesday, officials have offered different estimates for the damage in Moore and nearby Oklahoma City.
Michelann Ooten is deputy director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. She says her office is still working to compile a damage estimate.
Authorities have estimated the damage to cost around $2 billion.
Obama to tour Jersey Shore with Gov. Christie
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama plans to give the Jersey Shore a boost with a post-Memorial Day visit to showcase recovery efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
The White House says the president will tour the coastline with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday and speak about the need to expand economic opportunities for middle-class families hit by the storm. He plans to meet with business and home owners who have benefitted from the recovery.
Obama and Christie were a picture of bipartisanship after Sandy hit in October.
The federal government has spent $1.3 billion to assist families directly victimized by the storm. The government has set aside more than $1 billion to help rebuilding efforts in states and $5.4 billion to help longer-term recovery efforts in the affected states.
UPDATE: NJ franchisee: We'll fix any fake-liquor problems
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey company that operates 13 TGI Fridays restaurants accused of secretly replacing premium liquor with low-quality booze says it's shocked at the allegations.
The Briad Restaurant Group said in a statement Thursday it "takes great pride in the quality of food and drink" it serves customers.
State officials say an investigation called Operation Swill uncovered 29 bars and restaurants that charged customers premium prices for cheap booze. They say at one bar a mixture that included rubbing alcohol and caramel coloring was sold as scotch.
Briad president Rick Barbrick says he wants to assure customers of his TGI Fridays franchises they're treated "honestly and fairly."
He says the company has begun its own investigation to learn if any of the allegations are true and will take immediate steps to correct any issues.