MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) — Virgin Galactic has reported an unspecified problem during a test flight of its SpaceShipTwo space tourism rocket.
The company tweeted Friday morning that SpaceShipTwo was flying under rocket power and then tweeted that it had "experienced an in-flight anomaly." The tweet said more information would be forthcoming.
Kern County Fire Department reports it is heading to a location in the Mojave Desert. California Highway Patrol Officer Darlena Dotson says the agency is responding to a report of a crash in the Cantil area.
SpaceShipTwo has been under development at Mojave Air and Spaceport in the desert northeast of Los Angeles.
SpaceShipTwo is carried aloft by a specially designed jet and then released before igniting its rocket for suborbital thrill ride into space and then a return to Earth as a glider.
MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) — A Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket exploded after taking off on a test flight in Southern California's Mojave Desert, a witness said Friday.
At least one was dead and another was injured, California Highway Patrol said. The SpaceShipTwo rocket is typically flown by a crew of two pilots and has been under development at Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert northeast of Los Angeles.
"During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo," Virgin Galactic tweeted Friday.
Ken Brown, a photographer who witnessed the crash, said the space tourism craft exploded after it was released from a plane that carries it to a high altitude.
The company founded by British billionaire Richard Branson would not say what happened other that it was working with authorities to determine the cause of the "accident."
Virgin Galactic has been the front-runner in the fledgling space-tourism industry.
SpaceShipTwo was designed to be carried aloft by a specially designed jet and then released before igniting its rocket for suborbital thrill ride into space and then a return to Earth as a glider.
Virgin Galactic, once it finished developing its rocket ship, was going to launch space tourism flights from the quarter-billion-dollar Spaceport America in southern New Mexico.
FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — An attorney for the man accused of abducting University of Virginia student Hannah Graham said Friday that he wants his client to be evaluated to determine his sanity.
Attorney James Camblos made the request for a psychiatric evaluation at an arraignment for Jesse L. Matthew Jr., 32, in Fairfax County Circuit Court, where he's charged in a 2005 sexual assault unrelated to Graham's disappearance and death.
Matthew is charged in Fairfax with abduction with intent to defile, attempted capital murder and sexual penetration in connection with a September 2005 assault on a 26-year-old woman in Fairfax City. He is charged in Charlottesville with the abduction of Graham with the intent to defile, but is not yet facing murder charges.
Authorities say they also have forensic evidence linking him to the 2009 disappearance and death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington.
At Friday's hearing, the judge took no action on Camblos' request for a psychiatric evaluation, deferring it until a later date.
Most of Friday's hearing, in which Matthew appeared via video hookup from the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, concerned who would represent Matthew. The judge appointed both the Fairfax County public defender and Camblos to represent Matthew as co-counsel, over the objections of Camblos and Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh.
Matthew requested that Camblos, who is representing Matthew in the Graham case, be appointed to handle the Fairfax case as well.
"I would prefer Mr. Camblos to be my attorney, if possible. I've built a relationship with him," Matthew said, with Camblos at his side at the Charlottesville-area jail.
Camblos objected to the idea of serving as co-counsel with the Fairfax public defenders, saying it would amount to "two chiefs, not enough Indians." Morrogh objected on the basis that it would be a waste of taxpayers' money to have both appointed.
But the judge, Dennis Smith, said the two ought to be able to work together, and bringing both onto the case should ensure that the trial is not delayed. He said the law requires the public defender be appointed except in unusual circumstances.
There was clearly some tension between Camblos and the public defender's office — after both were appointed, Camblos told the judge Chief Public Defender Todd Petit had offered to allow Camblos to serve as lead counsel in the event both were appointed. Petit told the judge he had indeed made such an offer, but Camblos had rejected it and Petit now wanted his deputy, Dawn Butorac, to serve as lead counsel. The judge said he would leave the two of them to decide who would be lead.
Butorac declined comment after Friday's hearing.
Another hearing was set for Nov. 14 to set a trial date.
After Friday's hearing, Morrogh said he will continue to consult with prosecutors in the Charlottesville area to determine which case should go to trial first, and that he is prepared to go first or last. He said that, ideally, he'd like the trial to be able to go forward within six months.
He said the victim in the 2005 assault is no longer in the country, but is cooperating with investigators and will be available to testify at trial.
Graham, an 18-year-old sophomore, went missing in Charlottesville Sept. 13. After a monthlong search, her remains were found in mid-October.
GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A judge gave Celia Savage a break in February when he sentenced her to probation after federal authorities found pipe bombs and guns in her home during a raid. He warned her not to make him look like a fool.
Less than six months later, Savage, 25, was arrested on drug charges, and on Friday she appeared before U.S. District Judge Richard Story again. He told her he was disappointed but still sees potential in her as he sentenced her to three years in prison.
"The reality is, I'm actually putting some confidence in you again because if I were giving up on you, I'd just lock you up for as long as I can," Story told her.
Federal agents raided Savage's north Georgia home in May 2012 and found two pipe bombs and a number of guns, as well as drug paraphernalia and what they believed was marijuana, methamphetamine and numerous pills, according to court documents. She told agents she had smoked pot the day before and had used meth two months before.
When federal agents asked her what there is to do in the part of north Georgia where she lives, she said, "Blow things up," according to a sworn statement by a federal agent.
At her February hearing, she apologized and told the judge she never meant to hurt anyone.
"I feel better about myself and I am a happy person, and I would like to continue that. Please don't take me away," she said, sobbing.
Her lawyer, Jeffrey Ertel, said Savage had had a difficult life and suffered from mental illness. She detonated bombs in a remote location as a form of release for her anger and frustration, and she never intended to hurt anyone, Ertel said then.
Story told her the decision to give her a second chance was difficult.
"This may be the worst decision I've ever made, and you may make me look like an absolute fool, but I'm going to give you a chance," he said, sentencing her to six years on probation.
On Aug. 9, Savage went to a tattoo parlor and became hostile when she realized the owner of the business was one of the narcotics agents involved in her federal case, according to a report by her parole officers. She left when asked but came back later intoxicated and demanded service. When she was denied, she intentionally destroyed a glass table, the officers wrote.
She also drove her car drunk that night, and police found methamphetamine and prescription pills marked for sale in her car, the officers wrote.
On Friday, Savage cried as she apologized to the judge.
"I just wasn't strong enough, and for that I'm sorry," she said, explaining that her alcoholism and lack of self-control got the best of her.
"I took so many things, including the chance you gave me, for granted," she said.
Story gave her three years in prison, followed by three years supervised release with the first year in a halfway house. He said he hopes that gives her enough time to get her problems under control.
"Yes, I'm very disappointed. I'm very sad," he said. "But I refuse to give up hope."
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The head of Africa's continental body did not get to an Ebola-hit country until last week — months after alarm bells first rang and nearly 5,000 deaths later.
Pledges to deploy 2,000 African health workers have remained largely that — promises.
No African countries are on the United Nations list of contributors to fight the epidemic.
The E-word did not even figure on the agenda of a session on peace and security at the Pan-African Parliament in South Africa last week — more than a month after the U.N. Security Council declared the Ebola outbreak a "threat to international peace and security."
Angry legislators from Sierra Leone and Liberia got up to protest. "They said as far as they are concerned, nobody wants to talk about Ebola," said Jeggan Grey-Johnson, a governance expert who watched the session.
"They said countries like Liberia feel totally abandoned by the rest of Africa and shut off from the rest of the continent," he told The Associated Press.
With few exceptions, African governments and institutions are offering only marginal support as the continent faces its most deadly threat in years, once again depending on the international community to save them.
Ebola "caught us by surprise," the chairwoman of the 53-nation African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said this week at a meeting with the U.N. secretary-general and the World Bank president in Ethiopia.
"With the wisdom of hindsight, our responses at all levels - continental, global and national - were slow, and often knee-jerk reactions that did not always help," she said.
She is a medical doctor from South Africa, where mining magnate Patrice Motsepe Tuesday announced he has donated $1 million to the fight against Ebola in Guinea, where the outbreak started.
Motsepe's gift, the largest donation by far from any African individual, came after the World Food Program lashed out at China's billionaires, saying their contributions lagged behind their companies' huge economic interests in the mineral-rich region. Motsepe's office said his company has no interests in any of the countries where Ebola is raging out of control — Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
"Ebola is first and foremost our problem," the president of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, told a business forum in Brussels this month. "Before relying on international aid, we must first encourage Africans to take action."
The African Development Bank is the second largest institutional contributor to the U.N. fund to fight Ebola, second only to the World Bank, having given $45.4 million and promised another $17.4 million.
By contrast, the African Union has made an "uncommitted pledge" of just $700,000. Africa's equivalent of the Organization of America States, it is the body many believe should have taken the lead from the start.
The WHO identified the first Ebola case in Guinea on March 21; on March 30 the virus crossed the border into Liberia; Sierra Leone reported its first two cases on May 30. On June 20, with some 330 recorded deaths, Doctors Without Borders warned that the outbreak was "totally out of control."
Yet it was only on Sept. 20 that the first team of 30 military and civilian volunteers were deployed by a newly designated African Union Support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa. Most costs for that mission are being paid by the U.S. and other governments.
Jacob Enoh Eben, spokesman for the AU chairwoman, said more than 2,000 volunteers have been pledged to date: 1,000 from Congo, 600 from the East African Community, 500 from Ethiopia and 506 from Nigeria.
But he said they still need to know "when the first of these pledges will materialize."
Those promised volunteers are only a tiny fraction of the number needed to stem the outbreak. The European Union said this week it is looking to put 40,000 local and European workers into place in the affected countries.
Uganda and Congo, which both have experienced Ebola outbreaks in the past, already have medical teams deployed in Liberia, under contract to WHO and not funded by their governments.
It is difficult to say how many Africans are deployed on the front lines of the Ebola battle.
In Uganda, Dr. Anthony Mbonye, the commissioner for community health services at Uganda's Health Ministry, said he believes up to 40 Ugandan health workers are on the ground but that most traveled privately. He said the Ministry of Health had officially approved the deployment of about 10 doctors to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
South Africa has been the most responsive African country and has budgeted $3.2 million, according to the Department of Health. That includes funding for a mobile testing lab operating in Sierra Leone since August.
The continental body's lack of a robust response "showed the fragility of our African Union, so heavily dependent on the international community to rescue us from catastrophe," said Isata Kabia, a Sierra Leonean legislator at the Pan-African Parliament.
"We cannot blame the WHO for their lack of knowledge; we can't blame the EU for lack of interest," she told The Associated. "But I think the AU should not only have led the response but also the requests to the international community."
FORT KENT, Maine (AP) — A Maine judge gave nurse Kaci Hickox the OK to go wherever she pleases, handing state officials a defeat Friday in their bid to restrict her movements as a precaution against Ebola.
In a case that has come to define the clash between personal freedom and fear of disease, Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere ruled Hickox must continue daily monitoring and cooperate with health officials if she chooses to travel. The judge said there's no need to restrict her movements because she's not showing symptoms of Ebola.
In his ruling, the judge thanked Hickox for her service in Africa and wrote that "people are acting out of fear and that this fear is not entirely rational."
Maine Gov. Paul LePage disagreed with the judge's decision, but said the state will follow the law.
"As governor, I have done everything I can to protect the health and safety of Mainers. The judge has eased restrictions with this ruling and I believe it is unfortunate. However, the State will abide by law," LePage said.
With the judge's ruling, a state police cruiser parked outside her home drove away.
The state went to court Thursday to impose restrictions on Hickox until the 21-day incubation period for Ebola ends on Nov. 10. Hickox, who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, contended confinement at her home in northern Maine violated her rights.
The judge thanked Hickox for her service in Africa and acknowledged the gravity of restricting someone's constitutional rights without solid science to back it up.
"The court is fully aware of the misconceptions, misinformation, bad science and bad information being spread from shore to shore in our country with respect to Ebola," he wrote. "The court is fully aware that people are acting out of fear and that this fear is not entirely rational."
Hickox, 33, stepped into the media glare when she returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone to become subject to a mandatory quarantine in New Jersey. After being released from a hospital there, she returned to this small town, where she was placed under what Maine authorities called a voluntary quarantine.
She said she is following the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation of daily monitoring for fever and other signs of the disease.
"I'm not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it's not science-based," she said earlier in the week.
In a court filing, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention backed away from the state's original request for an in-home quarantine and called for restrictions that fall in line with federal guidelines.
Hickox remains at risk of being infected with Ebola until the end of a 21-day incubation period, Dr. Sheila Pinette.
"It is my opinion that the respondent should be subjected to an appropriate public health order for mandatory direct active monitoring and restrictions on movement as soon as possible and until the end of the incubation period ... to protect the public health and safety," she wrote.