A previously unknown Chinese group called the Chinese Martyrs’ Brigade has come forth to claim responsibility for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, but officials believe the statement is likely a hoax.
The group sent an email to Chinese journalists Sunday reading, “You kill one of our clan, we will kill 100 of you as pay back.”
Malaysia’s acting transport minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, told reporters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport that “there is no sound or credible grounds to justify their claims.”
The claim could be meant to stir ethnic tensions between Uighurs and Han Chinese. 29 people were killed in China's Yunnan province Sunday in a knife attack, with Chinese officials calling the brutal incident a “premeditated violent terrorist attack" organized by the Muslim separatist Uighurs.
The group offered no other information about the plane’s disappearance.
Officials are currently searching the northern parts of the Malacca Strait for signs of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished from the skies one hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
While Malaysian civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman originally said that passengers who boarded with the stolen passports looked “Asian,” two of the passengers have been identified as Iranian citizens who changed their valid documents for falsified Italian and Austrian ones.
Theories for the plane’s disappearance include the aircraft disintegrating in midair. Officials are also looking closely at the stolen passports and passenger behavior for the possibility of a terrorist activity. The plane sent no distress signal and disappeared from tracking records after veering off course on its way to Beijing, possibly to turn back to Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia Airlines Update: Two Passengers With Stolen Passports Identified, Plane Began Unexpected Course Before Disappearing
Two of the passengers with stolen passports who boarded the vanished Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 have been identified as Iranian citizens who swapped their real passports for falsified European documents.
The two men have been identified as Pouri Nourmohammadi, 19, and Delavar Seyedmohammaderza, 29. They obtained stolen Italian and Austrian passports before boarding the flight, Interpol reported. They are not suspected of being tied to terrorist groups, officials say.
The investigation has also revealed that the plane changed course about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, starting on an unexpected flight path at 35,000 feet.
"It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait," a military official briefed on the investigation told Reuters.
That’s also when the plane disappeared from tracking records.
Despite the new breakthroughs, the Beijing-bound flight carrying 239 passengers and crewmembers that disappeared without a trace is still baffling investigators. Officials are continuing to look for evidence from all angles.
"Maybe somebody on the flight has bought a huge sum of insurance, who wants family to gain from it or somebody who has owed somebody so much money, you know, we are looking at all possibilities," Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said at a news conference.
"We are looking very closely at the video footage taken at the KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport), we are studying the behavioral pattern of all the passengers."
Realtors behaving badly: two New Jersey real estate agents are the plaintiffs in a civil suit alleging that the pair used a family’s home as a lovers’ meeting place, intentionally pricing the house above market value to guarantee themselves an ongoing love nest.
Home security cameras revealed that Coldwell Banker realtors Robert Lindsay and Jeannemarie Phelan had sex in the home of Richard and Sandra Weiner at least 10 times—including in the homeowners’ bed.
“At 12:51 p.m., the security cameras show that Phelan entered the Weiners’ home, and Phelan and Lindsay kissed and hugged in the kitchen. The security cameras further show that at 1:02 p.m., Lindsay and Phelan entered the master bedroom, undressed and proceeded to have sex on the Weiners’ bed,” the lawsuit reads.
Additionally, the suit alleges that Lindsay priced the home at $650,000, a sum he knew it woldn’t fetch.
“Lindsay intentionally listed the house at above market value so there would be little traffic in the home,” the lawsuit said.
In January of 2012, Sandra Weiner wised up to the realtors’ “sexual escapades.”
“Sandra Weiner happened to be checking the video camera feed at the time and saw strange people in the house with what she thought were flashlights. The house was dark at the time. Weiners called the local police who then went to the house,” the suit states. “The police opened the door to the house and found Lindsay pulling up his pants.
The amorous realtors struck back with a $1 million countersuit, claiming the Weiners had blackmailed them with the footage of their tryst.
But Richard Weiner maintains, “We didn’t ask them for a cent. We asked them for a meeting.”
The angry homeowners, who said they felt “uncomfortable and disgusted” back in their own house, are suing for compensatory damages for invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, trespass of land and other civil counts, according to the Daily Mail.
The owner of a Colorado barber shop has instituted a new rule refusing service to customers who smell like pot, citing complaints from customers.
“I feel that it’s my right to make the statement,” said shop owner Hugo Corral of Hugo’s Barber Shop in Greeley. "It’s the same thing as no shoes, no service."
Corral says he personally supports the marijuana industry, but he understands that some of his customers find the lingering smell unpleasant, especially children.
“A mother calls and says, 'Hey, we can’t go in there anymore because we don’t want it to smell like marijuana when my child’s sitting there waiting,'” said Corral.
One customer, Diana Flores, called the rule “a good move.”
But Corral has faced some neighborhood opposition for the sign he posted, which reads: “Please do not come in if you smell like marijuana, there are families with kids who don't want to smell it. This is a business not your house, thank you."
Angry pot advocates have threatened him with lawsuits, bashed him on social media and vandalized his storefront.
“People ripping the sign off, I’ve had to clean spit off my front door,” he described.
A local attorney told CBS Denver that Corral has the right to turn down customers reeking of reefer, as pot smoking is not a constitutionally protected right like race, religion, or gender.
Michele Bachmann has accused gay people of trying to “bully the American people" in response to the veto of an Arizona “right to discriminate” bill.
“There’s nothing about gays in there, but the gay community decided to make this their measure,” Bachmann said. “And the thing that I think is getting a little tiresome is the gay community have so bullied the American people and they have so intimidated politicians that politicians fear them and they think they get to dictate the agenda everywhere. Well, not with the Constitution you don’t.”
But the sponsor of the Arizona bill, Sen. Steve Yarbrough, and the Center for Arizona Policy said explicitly that the bill is indeed a “gay issue” even if the bill doesn’t state sexual orientation outright. Yarbrough proposed to bill to offer Arizona business owners legal recourse if they choose not to provide services to gay people, a response to the New Mexico wedding photographer lawsuit.
The Minnesota congresswoman maintained that gay people and “activist judges” were on a campaign to take away her personal freedom.
“If you want take away my religious liberties, you can advocate for that but you do it through the constitutional process and you don’t intimidate and no politician should give away my religious liberties or yours,” Bachmann told Larson.
Bachmann told Jan Brewer in an earlier interview that there is a “terrible intolerance afoot in the United States” against people with “sincerely held religious beliefs." The issue promises to become a GOP rallying cry in 2014.
A California man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for pointing a store-bought green laser at two helicopters, part of a federal effort to stop a laser-pointing epidemic.
Sergio Patrick Rodriguez, 26, and his girlfriend Jennifer Lorraine Coleman, 23, pointed a high-powered laser pointer at the cockpits of a Fresno police helicopter and hospital transport helicopter near the Fresno Yosemite International Airport in summer of 2012. Pilots testified that the laser interfered with their vision.
Two years later, Rodriguez will pay for his prank with 14 years of jail time, U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill decided. The longest sentence anyone in the region ever received for a similar crime was three years and one month, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California.
Rodriguez’ harsh sentence comes as part of a nation-wide crackdown on aircraft “lasing.” The FBI in February announced a new “regional reward program” to incentivize people to report aircraft lasing with the offer of $10,000 in exchange for information.
“Lasing aircraft is not a joke or a casual prank,” said Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Monica Miller, who handled the Rodriguez case. “It is reckless behavior that can have fatal consequences for air crew, passengers and the public on the ground. Rodriguez’s sentence clearly demonstrates the seriousness of his actions.”
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were about 11 “lasing” incidents each day in 2013. Low-flying police and medical helicopters are the most common victims.
Rodriguez’ lawyer, Dale A. Blickenstaff, who fought for a five-year sentence, said that 14 years seemed too harsh but was “arguably just punishment under these facts."
Rodriguez’ girlfriend will be tried in May on one count of laser pointing with a possible sentence of five years in prison.
Officials suspect that a missing Malaysia Airlines plane that took off from Kuala Lumpur Saturday and never landed may have disintegrated mid-flight. International crime-fighting agency Interpol also revealed that at least two of the 239 people on board had stolen passports, raising suspicions of foul play.
"The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet," a source in Malaysia told Reuters.
The Boeing 777-200ER took off, climbed to 35,000 feet, then disappeared from tracking records. No bad weather was reported.
While Vietnamese officials reported seeing what may have been wreckage from the plane, Malaysian civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said that as of now, there is “no sign of the aircraft.”
An ongoing Interpol investigation has revealed more “suspect passports,” though a spokesperson did not see how many.
Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi criticized border officials who allowed Asian passengers with Austrian and Italian passports onto the plane without scrutiny.
"I am still perturbed," Hamidi was quoted as saying. "Can't these immigration officials think? Italian and Austrian (passport holders) but with Asian faces," Hamidi was quoted as saying.
Four passengers are being investigated, with additional help being sought from the FBI. Officials are not assuming, however, that the stolen passports are connected to the plane’s disappearance in a hijacking.
"We are looking at all possibilities," said Malaysian Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein. "We cannot jump the gun. Our focus now is to find the plane."
A 47-year-old British woman, unhappy with the men in her life, decided her dog was her ultimate “life partner" and that she would let the canine and the world know it.
“Sheba had been in my life for years, making me laugh and comforting me when I was feeling low,” Amanda Rodgers told Metro of her terrier. “I couldn’t think of anything more I’d need from a life partner.”
The Londoner said that she even proposed to her pooch.
“I got down on one knee and proposed. I could tell by her tail wagging that she said 'yes.’”
Rodgers, who was married briefly 20 years ago, did not conduct the August 2012 marriage ceremony by halves. Two hundred people toasted Rodgers and Sheba’s nuptials in Split, Croatia.
“I’d dreamed of a perfect wedding dress since I was small, I made it myself for the ceremony. The day was wonderful, more fun than the marriage. I gave her a kiss to seal the deal and then everyone threw confetti. It was a wonderful moment,” said Rodgers.
“I know the wedding to Sheba wasn’t real in the legal sense,” she added. “But it was a nice way to mark what Sheba means to me. Sheba’s never unkind to me and she’s always happy.”
A San Antonio man has been charged with sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl. His defense? She started it.
25-year-old Fausto Abel Frias was arrested Friday night and taken to Bexar County Jail on one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child. The victim’s mother reported to police in December that he had touched and rubbed her daughter inappropriately, according to the girl’s statement. A warrant was then issued for Frias’ arrest.
While Frias initially denied any part in the incident, he eventually admitted to it, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. But it was the child, he said, who was to blame.
“He said the victim climbed on top of him and initiated the contact,” the report reads.
Frias’ bail has been set at $75,000. Court records did not list an attorney.
Sources: Associated Press
A Fort Hood sergeant and sexual assault and harassment prevention program head was hit with a slew of charges on Friday for setting up a female prostitution ring that exploited struggling female soldiers.
Sgt. 1st Class Gregory McQueen was charged with 21 counts, including pandering, conspiracy, maltreatment of a subordinate, abusive sexual contact, and “adultery and conduct of a nature to bring discredit to the armed forces,” the Associated Press reports from a Fort Hood statement.
The Army told media last May that a sergeant first class was being investigated on sexual assault allegations, as well as facilitating one instance of prostitution. While the officials did not release his name, officials speaking anonymously revealed the sergeant’s identity and his post as a coordinator of the sexual assault prevention program at Ford Hood. A Defense Department official said that one of the three women involved may have participated willingly.
An Article 32 hearing, the equivalent of a civilian grand jury trial, will be held on March 20 and 21 at Fort Hood. In the meantime, McQueen is walking free but has been suspended from his duties, according to Fort Hood spokesman Christopher Haug.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee, sponsored the bill that failed to pass last week in the Senate that would have shifted the responsibility of prosecuting soldiers charged with serious crimes outside the chain of command.
Gillibrand wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Feb. 10 asking for case information from Fort Hood and three other major U.S. military bases to increase transparency in the military’s decisions involving sexual assault cases.
Sources: Associated Press