Spy plane expectedto be back in air soon
MARIETTA, Ga. -- A year after a collision with a fighter jet forced it to make an emergency landing in China, a U.S spy plane that was picked over and cut apart is being put back together and could be back in the air next month.
The Navy EP-3 electronic surveillance plane is undergoing repairs at Lockheed-Martin in Marietta.
That work should be completed in May, when the plane is to be flown to a Raytheon Co. plant at Waco, Texas, for electronic updates, Navy spokesman Bob Coble said.
After that, the four-engine plane is scheduled to return to Navy service by the end of the year.
"The inventory of EP-3 aircraft is 11, so it's not like there's tons and tons of these things around," Coble said. "It's a surveillance and reconnaissance airplane, and we've got lots of missions for that kind of airplane."
The plane was flying over the South China Sea on April 1, 2001, when it collided with a Chinese fighter. The EP-3, with a crew of 24, made an emergency landing on China's Hainan island, where the crew members were detained for 11 days. The Chinese pilot was lost.
Report: Violent crimeagainst Hispanics drops
WASHINGTON -- The rate of violent crime against Hispanics fell 56 percent over a seven-year period in the 1990s and is now similar to that against whites, the government reported Sunday.
The decrease for Hispanics coincided with a steep drop in violent crime against all U.S. residents and against whites, blacks and American Indians, according to the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics.
In 1993, the violent crime rate for Hispanics was closer to that for blacks, who experienced 70 violent crimes per 1,000 people. But by 2000, it was closer to that for whites, who experienced 27 violent crimes per 1,000 people.
"It seems to have flipped" for Hispanics, said the report's author, Justice statistician Callie Rennison.
There were 28 violent crimes per 1,000 Hispanics older than 11 in 2000, compared with 63 in 1993, the report found. For other ethnic groups, the comparable 2000 figures were 34 per 1,000 for blacks, 52 per 1,000 for Indians and 8 per 1,000 for Asians.
Kidnapped Italian priestreleased in Philippines
MANILA, Philippines -- With the safe recovery today of an Italian priest abducted by Muslim rebels in the Philippines six months ago, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo vowed to step up the fight against gangs who kidnap for ransom.
Giuseppe "Beppe" Pierantoni, 45, was kidnapped Oct. 17 in southern Zamboanga del Sur province by the "Pentagon" group, believed to be composed of former Muslim separatist rebels. The group is on Washington's list of terrorist organizations.
Freed around 2 a.m. today in the coastal town of Tungawan, Pierantoni was checked by a doctor and quickly transported to Manila.
"Welcome back, Father," a beaming Arroyo greeted Pierantoni on his arrival at the presidential palace.
But she had strong words for his captors, pledging: "We will not rest until this scourge has been wiped out of our land."
Arroyo called on the army and national police force to intensify operations to wipe out the Pentagon and other kidnap-for-ransom gangs, saying, "My marching orders: Give them no quarter. Annihilate them."
Appearing thin but happy, a newly shaven Pierantoni called his release a "miracle of prayer."
Fourth day of mourning
LONDON -- Thousands of mourners lined up for a fourth day today to pay their final respects to the Queen Mother, while a few devoted fans camped on the streets to get the best spots for the funeral.
The line of mourners waiting to file into Parliament's Westminster Hall snaked through the city and along the River Thames, even though some 200,000 people had filed pass the coffin during the weekend. The Queen Mother died March 30 at age 101.
Queen Elizabeth II was expected to pay tribute to her mother in a televised address today from Windsor Castle and thank all those who had waited for up to 12 hours to pay their respects.
The Queen Mother's grandsons, princes Charles, Andrew, Edward and the late Princess Margaret's son Viscount Linley, were to mount a royal vigil at the coffin today.
"Something like this just proves that the royals keep this country together," said World War II veteran William Anderson, 83, who waited in line.