Nation, World Briefs: FAA seeks maximum fine in balloon boy incident

DENVER — The FAA said it is seeking the maximum $11,000 fine against the man behind the balloon boy hoax on grounds that he operated a balloon in a hazardous manner. The FAA on Thursday released a letter it sent to Richard Heene with the proposed fine. On Oct. 15, Heene reported his son was aboard a large saucer-like balloon that had floated away. The balloon later landed with no sign of the boy, who was safe at home. Heene and his wife both received jail sentences Wednesday for the hoax.

Gift aids homeless on holiday

Fifteen homeless people in Colorado Springs will be inside for Christmas, thanks to a mysterious donor who paid for their motel rooms. Employees at the Express Inn said the woman walked in Tuesday and paid for four rooms for a week. She insisted they be given to homeless men and women camping along Fountain Creek. The total came to $640. The woman gave her name as “Linda Craft,” though The Gazette newspaper could not find anyone by that name. The woman said God told her to buy the rooms.

Hawaii: Obama restrictions

The U.S. Coast Guard is setting up a security zone in the waters off President Barack Obama’s vacation home on Oahu. Those entering the zone without permission may be fined up to $25,000 and imprisoned for up to 10 years. Yellow buoys mark the restricted area. Obama and his family arrived in Hawaii Thursday. It is Obama’s first visit since the inauguration to the state where he was born and spent most of his childhood.

Pineapple plantation closes

Fieldworkers at Hawaii’s last major pineapple plantation have picked their last crop. Maui Land and Pineapple Co. shut down its century-old agricultural operation Wednesday to focus on real estate development. The company said its pineapple business has lost $115 million since 2002 and is no longer financially sustainable. Hawaii’s major pineapple producers have shifted growing operations to countries such as the Philippines, where labor is cheaper.

California: Toddler on meth

Police have arrested the father of a 15-month-old California boy who ingested methamphetamine earlier this week. Santa Cruz police said 28-year-old Jeremy Ochoa was taken into custody on suspicion of child endangerment Wednesday after detectives determined he was the source of the drug. The mother brought the boy to the hospital after noticing unusual behavior by him. Tests confirmed the boy had ingested meth.

New York: Peppermint woes

A 10-year-old girl has been suspended for bringing peppermint oil to her middle school and distributing it to other students. The Commack School District said the oil is “an unregulated over-the-counter drug.” The girl’s mother, Corrine Morton-Greiner, said Thursday that the implication that her daughter Sara was bringing an illicit substance to school was “infuriating.” The Commack superintendent said Sara’s actions violated the school’s code of conduct when she brought the oil to school on Monday. He said the label on the bottle said it should be kept out of reach of children.

Thailand: Weapon shipment

A court has ordered the crew of a cargo plane seized in Bangkok earlier this month to remain in prison 12 more days pending investigations. The five crew members — four from Kazakhstan and one from Belarus — were arrested Dec. 12 during a refueling stop in Bangkok after authorities found 35 tons of weapons. They were charged with illegal arms possession. The Bangkok Criminal Court today accepted a police request to keep the crew detained for further investigations. Authorities are trying to determine where the weapons were headed.

Peru: Bus plunges into ravine

A bus carrying mostly Quechua farmers and merchants home for Christmas plunged 250 feet into a ravine in Peru’s southern Andes Thursday, killing 42 people and injuring at least eight, authorities said. The accident took place near dawn on a stretch of mountain highway 380 miles southeast of Lima that was so remote the nearest village didn’t have a doctor. “The bus is completely destroyed at the bottom of the ravine, and the worst of it is that we are isolated here like many towns in Peru, without the communication” that could have saved lives, said the mayor of Velille, who along with dozens of villagers tried to rescue survivors. Victims were transported by truck to Espinar, where a doctor urged the governor to send gasoline for the town’s ambulance.

From Herald news services

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