The Lookout
  • Latest developments [5:45 pm EST]

    • Nine people taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries; all but one have been released
    • Search for victims is about halfway complete
    • Pilots reportedly safe and conscious
    • Fuel dumped before crash likely avoided, "massive fireball"

    Officials have confirmed that a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet jet has crashed in Virginia after taking off from U.S. Naval Air Station Oceana, with the two pilots believed to have ejected before impact.

    U.S. Navy Captain Mark Weisgerber has confirmed that the jet suffered a "catastrophic mechanical malfunction," shortly after takeoff but has not released specifics of what may have caused the crash. Weisgerber said that both pilots are reportedly conscious and "doing well."

    There are currently no reports of fatalities on the ground. Several photos have emerged from the crash, showing the wreckage and black smoke rising from nearby buildings. Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms has said that rescue crews have completed a search of two of the five buildings impacted by the crash.

    Virginia Beach EMS division chief Bruce Nedelka said several witnesses saw the pilots dumping fuel from the jet before ejecting, which likely avoided a massive fireball and fire.

    Yahoo News has made several calls to the Virginia Fire Department but has been unable to obtain an official statement. In an interview with CBS News, Tim Riley of the Virginia Beach Fire Department said:

    "We are confirming that there is one aircraft from Oceana that has crashed into the apartment behind us. Both pilots were transported to a local hospital and both were conscious, that's all I'm going to report on that."

    "In the apartment complex we do not have any confirmation yet of injuries. We are still in the stages of extinguishing the fire and we have to do some extensive searches in those buildings."

    Riley said the department is working on an unified press release that will be issued to the public shortly.

    Additional updates posted after the jump...

    Read More »from U.S. Navy jet crashes in Virginia; 2 pilots ejected, 9 taken to hospital
  • A "Justice for Trayvon" march in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/The St. Paul Pioneer Press, John Autey)

    Americans are sharply divided by race in their opinion of the shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Florida by a Hispanic neighborhood watchman.

    A Gallup/USA Today poll finds that most black Americans (73 percent) think Trayvon Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman, would have been arrested if Martin had been white. Only 33 percent of non-Hispanic white people said the same thing.

    The racial divide on Zimmerman's guilt was also big: 51 percent of black people said Zimmerman is "definitely guilty" based on the information available, compared to only 10 percent of whites. About 20 percent of both whites and blacks said Zimmerman was "probably guilty."

    Zimmerman told police that he was following Martin because he looked "suspicious" when the unarmed 17-year-old then attacked him. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense. He hasn't been charged. Martin's family says Zimmerman followed and then attacked and shot Martin in an act of vigilante policing.

    An earlier Pew Research Center

    Read More »from Poll shows big racial divide in opinion on Trayvon Martin case
  • The Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)In what some are calling a partisan ploy, a federal judge issued a demand on Tuesday that Justice Department attorneys submit a three-page letter explaining whether they believe courts have the right to strike down laws. Judge Jerry Smith, a Reagan appointee who sits on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said some unspecified people were troubled that President Barack Obama told reporters earlier this week that it would be "unprecedented" for the "unelected" Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act. But many Supreme Court experts expressed surprise at Smith's overtly political rebuke of the president.

    "We respect the decisions made by the courts since Marbury v. Madison," Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday, referencing the 1803 Supreme Court case that established the courts' right to strike down laws. "Courts have final say." Holder told reporters that the Justice Department will submit the letter to the 5th Circuit on Thursday.

    With his comments this week, Obama became the first president to weigh in on a major Supreme Court case after oral arguments wrapped up but before a decision was actually issued, according to University of Texas Supreme Court historian Lucas Powe. He says this is an unprecedented move largely because previous presidents didn't have the opportunity to do the same thing. Franklin D. Roosevelt hung back while judges were deliberating his casesthough he criticized them after they ruledfor fear of being labeled a dictator. (Roosevelt eventually threatened to get Congress to pass a court-packing law, and two justices became friendlier to his laws.) And Chief Justice Fred Vinson (falsely) assured Harry Truman that the court would not strike down his seizure of the steel industry, convincing the president not to pursue any public arm-twisting.

    Read More »from Jerry Smith’s Obama rebuke questioned by legal experts


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