Electrical problem at regional radar facility cancels 700 flights at Chicago’s two airports

May 13
ILLINOIS
Smoke at radar facility temporarily cripples two Chicago airports

Almost 700 flights were canceled at Chicago’s two airports Tuesday after an electrical problem sent smoke into the control room at a regional radar facility, forcing officials to halt air traffic.

The Chicago Department of Aviation said a ground stop remains in effect, though a limited number of flights are departing and arriving.

The Federal Aviation Administration says personnel were evacuated from the Chicago Terminal Radar Approach Control, or TRACON, facility in suburban Elgin at around 11:30 a.m. They were allowed to return about two hours later.

Elgin Fire Capt. Anthony Bialek said a bathroom exhaust fan in a ceiling overheated and melted some wires, and smoke was pushed throughout the facility’s ventilation system. There were no injuries.

— Associated Press

PUERTO RICO
U.S. officials charge Catholic priest in Puerto Rico with sexual abuse

U.S. authorities Tuesday arrested a 58-year-old Catholic priest in Puerto Rico on child sexual abuse charges, marking the first such detention in the U.S. territory by federal officials.

Israel Berrios was taken into custody at a relative’s home in the rural town of Naranjito, said Ivan Ortiz, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Berrios was arrested after a federal grand jury delivered four charges against him for sexual trafficking of minors and transportation of a minor with the intention of involving the minor in an illicit sexual act, Ortiz said. Berrios faces a sentence of from 10 years to life in prison.

Bishop Ruben Gonzalez, who heads the Caguas Diocese where Berrios worked, said he cooperated with authorities in the case after receiving the original complaint early last year. The incident took place while the priest worked in the mountain town of Aibonito in 2007 when the victim was 14, according to the El Nuevo Dia newspaper.

— Reuters

MASSACHUSETTS
Friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect to be tried separately

Three college friends of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect will be tried separately, but those trials do not need to be moved out of Massachusetts, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Judge Douglas Woodlock ruled that Azamat Tazhayakov will stand trial on June 30, followed by Dias Kadyrbayev on Sept. 8 and Robel Phillipos on Sept. 29.

Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are Kazakhstan nationals who are charged with tampering with evidence for removing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s laptop and a backpack containing fireworks from his college dorm room shortly after last year’s fatal bombing. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov have been held without bail for more than a year. Phillipos, of Cambridge, is charged with lying to investigators. He has been held under house arrest. Each pleaded not guilty.

Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges in the April 15, 2013, bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260.

— Associated Press

Aiken wins Democratic primary: “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. congressional seat in North Carolina on Tuesday, a day after his main challenger died from a fall, official results showed. Aiken, 35, earned the party’s nod in the 2nd congressional district by just 390 votes over opponent Keith Crisco, according to a final ballot count from the May 6 primary.

Ricin suspect wants to withdraw guilty plea: A Mississippi man who pleaded guilty in January to making ricin and sending letters laced with the poison to President Obama and other officials now wants to withdraw the plea. James Everett Dutschke said at his sentencing hearing in Aberdeen, Miss., Tuesday that he was innocent and wanted a chance to prove it. U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock did not rule immediately but said she would look at arguments from the defense and prosecution.

Former Liberian official arrested on immigration charges: A former Liberian defense minister accused of lying about his past has been arrested on immigration charges, but his lawyer said he never took part in the atrocities that ravaged his country. Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, 68, has lived in the United States for about 40 years, while intermittently serving in the Liberian government under former president Charles Taylor. Taylor is now serving a 50-year sentence for war crimes.

— From news services

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