Oscar Winning Producer James Horner Dies In Plane Crash

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Academy Award-winning composer James Horner, known for his impressive body of work spanning multiple movie genres, is feared dead after a small plane belonging to him crashed in central California on Monday, killing the pilot.

It is not known whether the 61-year-old Horner, best known for scoring the movie “Titanic,” was the person flying the plane.

But the Hollywood Reporter reported his death, attributing the confirmation to Sylvia Patrycja, his assistant.

“A great tragedy has struck my family today, and I will not be around for a while. I would like some privacy and time to heal,” Patrycja posted on her Facebook page.

“We have lost an amazing person with a huge heart, and unbelievable talent. He died doing what he loved. Thank you for all your support and love and see you down the road. Love Sylvia.”

Horner’s lawyer couldn’t confirm his death, but said he hadn’t heard from the composer since the crash.

“He is an experienced pilot. He owns several planes. We have not heard from him,” Jay Cooper told CNN.

Boston Bomber Receives The Death Penalty

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The 12 jurors in the Boston Marathon bombing case sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death by lethal injection.They deliberated for more than 16 hours and over three days to reach the verdict.

Tsarnaev is the first terrorist to be sentenced to death in the post-9/11 era, according to the New York Times.

The case will “automatically be appealed to a higher federal court. Which will begin a series of appeals that could take years to resolve,” according to Eric Levenson of boston.com.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated, “the ultimate penalty is a fitting punishment.”

There have only been three federal executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1988.

Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts he was charged with from the April 15, 2013, Boston Marathon bombing. Seventeen of those counts made him eligible for the death penalty.

Reuters/Dan Lampariello
Reuters/Dan Lampariello

Tsarnaev, who is now 21, pleaded not guilty two years ago when he was charged with planting a homemade “improvised explosive device” — a pressure cooker filled with gunpowder, ball bearings, and nails — near the race’s finish line.

Hoping to take the death penalty off the table, Judy Clarke, Tsarnaev’s defense attorney, sought to cast Tsarnaev as a naive teenager who was radicalized by his older brother, Tamerlan.

“We don’t deny that Jahar fully participated in the events,” Judy Clarke told the jury in her closing arguments. “But if not for Tamerlan, it would not have happened.”

Prosecutors argued that Dzhokhar was his brother’s full and equal partner, as evidenced by the jihadist note Dzhokhar scrawled on the side of a boat in the hours he spent hiding from police.

The note read, in part, “We Muslims are one body. You hurt one, you hurt us all.”

Prosecutors also argued that Tsarnaev showed little remorse for his actions — an argument made stronger by a photo of Tsarnaev giving the middle finger to a surveillance camera in his prison cell.

“This is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — unconcerned, unrepentant, and unchanged,” the defense attorney told the jury late last month.

Amtrak Train Derails Moments Before Derailing

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An Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, killing at least seven people, was traveling an estimated 106 mph before it crashed, officials said today.

The speed limit in the section of track where the accident took place is 50 mph, according to the Federal Railroad Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. The exact cause of the crash remains under investigation.

According to NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt, at 9:21 p.m., the entire train derailed while going through a turn. Just moments before the derailment, the train was placed into engineer-induced braking. At the time the engineer applied the brakes, the train was traveling at an estimated 106 mph.

Three seconds later, the train speed was recorded at an estimated 102 mph, Sumwalt said. The speed limit before the curve is 80 mph, Sumwalt added.

It is unknown at what time the train reached 106 mph, Sumwalt said, but he added that the NTSB will be working on a timeline.

NTSB investigators are still probing the site of the crash. Officials said the train’s black box — known as an event recorder — had been recovered and undergoing analysis. The NTSB is also analyzing the train’s video cameras.

The train engineer — identified by his attorney as Brandon Bostian, 32, of Queens, New York — has given initial statements to police and is also being interview by federal accident investigators and other rail personnel, authorities said.

Sumwalt said investigators plan to document the site over the next few days and hope to interview crew members and passengers. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said the investigation is ongoing and will take some time. He did not offer a timeline.

New footage obtained by ABC News from a nearby business’ rooftop surveillance camera shows three bright bursts of light just seconds after the train is seen going past the camera’s view.

Amtrak said there were approximately 238 passengers and five crew members on board. The mayor said this afternoon that the number of passengers has not been confirmed as officials are still comparing train manifestos and hospital records.

Five people died at the accident scene and a sixth person later died at Temple University Hospital, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Herbert Cushing said. The mayor confirmed a seventh death this afternoon.

The mayor said over 200 people were treated at area hospitals. Ten people remain in critical condition.

Cushing said 23 patients remain at Temple University Hospital, including 8 people in critical condition. He said patients were “stunned” after the crash. Injuries ranged from suffered collapsed lungs, bruised lugs and rib fractures, Cushing said.

“Rib fractures tell me they rattled around in the train cars a lot,” Cushing said.

Earlier in the day, Nutter said seeing the crash scene in the daytime was “almost indescribable.”

“It is painful,” he added. “It is incredible that so many people walked away from that scene last night.”

Sen. Pat Toomey, D-Pennsylvania, also described the wreckage site as “horrific” and “heartbreaking.”

The search remains very active, Nutter said, as crews spent part of the day looking for unaccounted passengers among the crushed, overturned rail cars.

“What we have to stay focused on. … Is making sure that we are searching every car, every inch, every thousands of square feet to find or locate individuals who may have been on that train,” said Nutter.

Nutter said earlier today that officials “did not have an accurate count” on how many people were unaccounted for.

The front end of the Northeast Regional train, which was traveling from Washington, D.C., to New York City, reportedly shook as it went into a turn and the train’s seven cars went off the rails. The FRA reports that the engine of the train and two cars were upright, three were lying on their sides, one was nearly on its roof and one was leaning dramatically.

First responders used hydraulic tools to help trapped passengers out of the mangled cars.

Former Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Murphy was on the train and he tweeted that he was all right and was trying to help others. He told ABC’s Philadelphia station, WPVI-TV, that he heard a “bang,” and the train “wobbled” from one side to the other.

“Obviously, there was a lot of mayhem,” he told WPVI. “People were pretty banged up. There was a lot of blood, a lot of bleeding. I pulled myself up. The guy who I kind of landed on was OK. The guy next to him was completely passed out, knocked unconscious.”

Murphy said the unconscious man came to, got off the train and began to help other people. Murphy said to his knowledge, most people had gotten off the train as of 11:15 p.m.

Paul Cheung, an Associated Press employee who was also on the train, said it appeared the train went off the tracks. He said he was fortunate to be at the back of the train and the front “looks pretty bad.”

“The front of the train is really mangled,” he said. “It’s a complete wreck. The whole thing is like a pile of metal.”

Delaware Sen. Tom Carper — who is a former Amtrak board member — got off the train in Wilmington, just before the crash.

He said in a video today, “I go back and forth on the train almost every day. Catch and early morning train and usually get out of D.C. on a train in the evening and be able to sleep in my own bed every night in Delaware. That’s what I did last night. I was doing my emails and had the television on and the news story broke that the train had just derailed north of Philadelphia. Just 30 minutes after I got off. And the visuals were very graphic and horrible.”

Carper added, “I had been on the train about an hour earlier from when I started seeing it be reported on the news and my initial reaction was concern for a lot of people I knew on the train… I prayed for a lot of people last night, and I still am.”

 

 

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Aaron Hernandez Guilty

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A jury has found Aaron Hernandez guilty of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.

On Wednesday, Judge E. Susan Garsh sentenced Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end, to life without the possibility of parole for killing Lloyd on June 17, 2013. The sentence was mandatory.

The jury found that the ex-NFL player merited the conviction by “reason of extreme atrocity or cruelty.”

The jury also convicted Hernandez on weapons and ammunition possession charges.

Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, wept openly in court after hearing the verdict.

In a statement read after the judge handed down the conviction, Ursula Ward, Lloyd’s mother, called her son the “backbone” of her family.

“My heart stopped beating [when he died],” Ward said. “I wanted to go into the hole [with Odin].”

Deliberations stretched out seven days before jurors in Bristol County Superior Court announced their decision on Wednesday morning. Testimony in the trial lasted about two months and was at times interrupted by severe weather.

Hernandez’s defense admitted that he witnessed the shooting of Lloyd but argued that he has no reason to throw his career away by killing someone. The prosecution was never able to establish Hernandez’s motive, according to WCVB.

“Did he make all the right decisions? No,” his lawyer, James Sultan said during closing arguments. “He was a 23-year-old kid who witnessed something, a shocking killing, committed by someone he knew. He didn’t know what to do, so he just put one foot in front of the other.”

Hernandez’s alleged accomplices, Ernest Wallace Jr. and Carlos Ortiz, will be tried separately.

Hernandez also faces murder charges in the 2012 shooting of two Cape Verdean immigrants in Boston.

Co-Pilot Intentionally Crashed Germanwings Flight 9525

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The co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 purposely crashed the plane into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board, officials said

“We at Lufthansa are speechless that this aircraft has been deliberately crashed by the co-pilot,” said Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings.

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said the co-pilot, 28-year-old German national Andreas Lubitz, apparently “wanted to destroy the aircraft.”

It’s unknown whether Lubitz planned his actions, Robin said. But he “took advantage” of a moment in which the pilot left the cockpit and “activated the descent,” which can only be done deliberately.

New details released Thursday appeared to support the startling revelation that someone set the plane on a crash course.

Transponder data shows that the autopilot was reprogrammed during the flight by someone inside the cockpit to change the plane’s altitude from 38,000 feet to 100 feet, according to Flightradar24, a website that tracks aviation data.

The plane’s cockpit audio recorder captured horrific sounds. The captain, somehow locked out of the cockpit, can be heard banging on the door, Robin said.

And screaming can be heard on the audio recording for the final few minutes of the flight.

Death was instantaneous for those on board when the plane plunged into the mountains, Robin said.

German authorities also say “that we have to assume” that Flight 9525 “was deliberately activated for a crash,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “This is hard to comprehend for most people. Nobody can imagine this.”

The French government has asked the FBI to help investigate the crash, a law enforcement official said.

A search is underway for the plane’s second “black box,” the flight data recorder, which could shed more light on the plane’s final minutes.

Plane Crashes In French Alps, Survivors Unlikely

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A German commercial jet for Germanwings Airlines, a subsidiary of Lufthansa carrying 150 people aboard into a sudden, steep and horrifying eight-minute descent Tuesday before slamming into the rugged terrain of the French Alps, authorities said.

French President Francois Hollande said there aren’t likely to be any survivors.

“It’s a tragedy on our soil,” he said. “I want to express all my solidarity to the families of the victims of this air accident. This is a bereavement, a tragedy.”

One of the black boxes have been found by the hundreds of search and rescue personnel that were dispatched to the area. The first responders were let down from helicopter cables into the crash zone.

“We saw an aircraft that had literally been ripped apart, the bodies are in a state of destruction, there is not one intact piece of wing or fuselage,” Bruce Robin, prosecutor for the city of Marseille, told Reuters news service after flying over the area.

Germanwings Flight 9525 departed Barcelona, Spain, for a two-hour flight to Duesseldorf​ at 10:01 a.m. local time — more than 20 minutes late. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the Airbus A320 at 10:53 a.m., airline CEO Thomas Winkelmann said.

A distress signal was issued after air traffic control lost contact with the plane and recognized the steep descent.

Winkelmann said 144 passengers — including two babies — and six crewmembers were aboard. Sixteen students and two teachers returning from an exchange program in Spain also were on board, Germany’s DPA news agency reported.

Winkelmann said the sudden descent lasted about eight minutes and that air-traffic controllers lost contact with the jet at about 6,000 feet. He added that the pilot had more than 10 years’ experience, and that the plane was inspected last summer.

“All employees of Germanwings and Lufthansa are deeply saddened,” Winkelmann said. “Their thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the passengers and crew.”

Our prayers go out to all the families as well that are involved in this tragic event.

NYPD Cop Indicted In Shooting Death Of Akai Gurley

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Peter Liang, the rookie cop who shot and killed unarmed Brooklyn man Akai Gurley in an unlit housing project staircase was indicted for manslaughter today. The grand jury decided that Liang will face criminal charges that could put him in prison for up to 15 years. Liang shot and killed Gurley on November 20th of last year.

Sources said Liang, 27, was indicted for a top count second-degree manslaughter, which means he acted recklessly. He was also charged with reckless endangerment, second-degree assault and official misconduct.

“I’m glad the grand jury looked at the evidence and returned an indictment,” Kimberly Ballinger, the victim’s domestic partner and mother of his 2-year-old daughter, told The New York Daily News.

“I am happy, I have faith in the Brooklyn District Attorney and I thank him.”

Liang discharged one bullet when patrolling the stairways of the Pink Houses in East New York, striking the 28-year-old Gurley in the chest as the man stood in the landing a floor below next to his girlfriend.

The probationary officer, who has been a member of the NYPD for only 18 months, was allegedly holding a flashlight in one hand and clutched a 9-mm Glock in his left hand, which he also used to open a door when the gun fired.

It was said that Liang and his partner did not answer the radio in the six-plus minutes right after the shooting and instead texted their union delegates.

Liang is expected to turn himself in Wednesday morning ahead of his arraignment in Brooklyn Supreme Court. He will appear in front of Justice Danny Chun.

NY Mayor de Blasio said: “No matter the specific charges, this case is an unspeakable tragedy for the Gurley family. We urge everyone to respect the judicial process as it unfolds.”

The closely watched case came after grand juries in Missouri and Staten Island declined in recent months to file charges against police officers accused of killing unarmed black men. The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner sparked a national protest movement and calls for reform and may have had some weight in the delicate handling of this case by the Grand Jury.

We will continue to keep you updated on this story as it develops.

Bobbi Kristina Brown Found Not Breathing In Bathtub

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Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, was found unresponsive in her bathtub today at her home in Roswell, Georgia, police say.

Brown’s husband, Nick Gordon and a friend located her in a tub in the home in the Ellard subdivision and immediately started CPR to revive her, police said.

Police officers arrived at the home at 10:25 a.m. they found her still unresponsive and took over life-saving measures until rescue personnel arrived.

She was taken to North Fulton Hospital, police said. At the time of her arrival to the hospital, a hospital spokesperson said that no details could be confirmed at the time of her being admitted.

Officers were still on scene at the home where Brown was found, investigating the incident, police said.

This incident is almost 3 years to the day from when Bobbi Kristina’s mom was found dead in the same fashion in her Beverly Hills hotel.

UPDATE

CNN’s Sunny Hostin reports that a friend close to the family has now confirmed that Bobbi Kristina, is breathing but it is not clear if it is on her own or on a machine… she is currently being treated at the North Fulton Hospital.

UPDATE

After being found unresponsive in her bathtub early Saturday morning Bobbi Kristina Brown was rushed to North Fulton Hospital for treatment. Brown has now been put into a medically induced coma according to a friend close to the family.

More as this story develops…

Paris Mayor Threatens To Sue Fox News

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Amidst all of the attention that Paris has been receiving lately, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said that she may sue Fox News because the network “insulted” the city with its coverage of “no-go zones” that are supposedly only for Muslim residents.

“When we’re insulted, and when we’ve had an image, then I think we’ll have to sue, I think we’ll have to go to court, in order to have these words removed,” Hidalgo was quoted by CNN as saying to the network’s Christiane Amanpour. “The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced.”

Such zones don’t exist and Fox News has repeatedly apologized for the errors.

The executive vice president for news at Fox News, Michael Clemente said in a statement: “We empathize with the citizens of France as they go through a healing process and return to everyday life. However, we find the Mayor’s comments regarding a lawsuit misplaced.”

“We have made some regrettable errors regarding the Muslim population in Europe, particularly in regard to England and France,” a Fox News anchor said Monday on air. “We deeply regret the errors and apologize to any and all who may have taken offense, including the people of France.”

In a series of reports that have been widely criticized and mocked, Fox News reported that some neighborhoods in Paris are so heavily Muslim that some young men openly wore Osama bin Laden T-shirts. Displaying a map that supposedly outlines these “no-go zones,” Fox News also reported that terrorists groups recruit members in the areas.

“Paris would have a “difficult” case against Fox News in the U.S. since the city would be treated as a public figure”, says Karl Kronenberger, partner attorney at Kronenberger Rosenfeld LLP.

Paris “would need to prove that the information published by Fox News was false and that the information was published with actual malice,” he said.

It sounds to us like Paris may need to really consider this lawsuit before they just jump in to something. I’m sure that it won’t be an easy fight.

President Obama Looking To Impose Free Community College Program

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“Put simply, what I’d like to do is to see the first two years of community college free for everybody who is willing to work for it,” the president said in his Facebook announcement.

Today President Obama proposed making community college free for all Americans. He presented the plan as a way to introduce more people to the middle class, which would in turn strengthen the U.S. economy. Congress has already presented the President with the question of how this program would be funded.

The $60 billion plan was announced during a speech in Tennessee, in where he described a quality education as a “right” for those that were willing to work for it. He also asked that Congress work with him to bring the cost of Community College down to zero.

Obama said, “I want to make it free.” He urged making community college just as universal as high school. “A college degree is the surest ticket to the middle class,” Obama said.

The proposed plan would cover enough tuition, to assist students who keep their grades up an associate’s degree or halfway to a bachelor’s.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the plan is expected to cost the federal government $60 billion over 10 years. The White House said the federal government would pick up 75 percent of the cost and the final quarter would come from states that opt into the program — though it’s unclear where the money might come from.

Last year, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law a scholarship program called Tennessee Promise that provides free community and technical college tuition for two years to the state’s high school graduates. About 58,000 of the state’s roughly 62,000 seniors have applied to participate this fall.

Under the president’s new plan, students would be required to maintain a 2.5 GPA while in college, and must make steady progress toward completing their program in order to have their tuition eliminated, according to the press release.