Review Category : National News

Army Allows Sikh Soldier to Wear Turban and Beard as Part of Uniform

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — In an historic decision, the Army has decided to allow Capt. Simratpal Singh to wear a turban and unshorn beard and hair while in uniform as required by his Sikh faith.

In December, Singh had received a temporary accommodation to wear the turban while in uniform. Now he will be allowed to wear it during his active duty service with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Singh is a 2010 West Point graduate, a combat veteran with a tour in Afghanistan and has successfully completed Army Ranger School. But throughout his Army career he has served on active duty but without the long hair and beard required by the Sikh Articles of Faith.

In October, 2015 he requested an accommodation from Army grooming standards that do not allow beards and turbans to be worn as part of the Army uniform.

In a memo obtained by ABC News, Debra S. Wada, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs writes “I grant your request for an exception to Army personal appearance and grooming standards, subject to the limitations described below.

“While assigned or performing non-hazardous duties, you may wear a beard, turban, and uncut hair in a neat and conservative manner that presents a professional and well-groomed appearance. The bulk of your hair, beard, or turban may not be such that it impairs your ability to wear the Army Combat Helmet (ACH) or other protective equipment or impedes your ability to operate your assigned weapon, military equipment or machinery,” the memo says.

Wada writes that she will assess the decision in a year’s time or less if needed.

The decision will not affect three other Sikh-American soldiers who recently sued for the right to wear turbans as part of their military uniform.

“My military service continues to fulfill a lifelong dream,” said Singh in a statement from the Sikh Coalition. “My faith, like many of the soldiers I work with, is an integral part of who I am. I am thankful that I no longer have to make the choice between faith and service to our nation.”

Singh is currently assigned to an engineering battalion based at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

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Meet the Man Who Bought the Popemobile for $300K

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — No, this isn’t an April Fools’ Day joke.

A used Fiat 500 Lounge Hatchback, once occupied by Pope Francis himself during his visit to the United States, just sold for $300,000. The Fiat in question has a starting price of $24,695.

The new owner, Jewish businessman and philanthropist Miles Nadal, bought the Popemobile during an auction hosted by Charitybuzz, a site that works with celebrities, CEOs and other luminaries to benefit those in need.

“I’ve followed Charitybuzz for a long time and have had unbelievable experiences with them,” Nadal told ABC News.

Nadal, who built MDC Partners, one of the world’s top ad agencies, is a renowned car collector. The businessman has a world class collection of more than 130 cars and motorcycles, and says he is always looking to add to the collection.

“I look for iconic, one-of-a-kind cars and thought this would be a cool conversation piece to have,” Nadal said of the Popemobile.

Nadal says the added benefit here is that the money will be going to Catholic schools and charities, including Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, according to Charitybuzz.

“As a Jew, I thought it was a unique opportunity to support Catholic charities and children,” Nadal said of the purchase. “It was a chance to make a substantial difference.”

What’s more, Nadal will have the opportunity to meet with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who will bless the car.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Nadal said of the upcoming visit. “It will be a unique experience.”

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Knife Found at OJ Simpson’s Old Property Not Connected to Murders

POOL/AFP/Getty Images)(LOS ANGELES) — A knife found years ago at O.J. Simpson’s former property has no connection to the infamous Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman double-murder case, the Los Angeles Police Department said Friday.

But the investigation remains open, police said.

Last month, the LAPD said it was conducting tests on a knife that was purportedly found at Simpson’s old property. Police said in March that they recently recovered the knife from a retired LAPD officer.

#LAPD has determined knife has no nexus to Simpson/Goldman murder investigation. The investigation remains open

— LAPD Online News (@LAPDonlinenews) April 1, 2016

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Arab-American Family ‘Seeks Correction Action’ After Airplane Removal

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — An Arab-American family who was removed from an United Airlines flight last month is seeking “corrective action” through the advocacy group, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

The move comes after Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley posted on her Facebook account on March 20 about an altercation between her family and an United Airlines flight crew on a Washington, D.C. bound flight from Chicago O’Hare.

The Chicago chapter of CAIR said they sent a letter to United Airlines which calls for a formal apology to the family, disciplinary measures of the crew involved and sensitivity training for employees.

According to CAIR representative Renner Larson, who is working with the family, the incident happened when Shebley, who wears an Islamic head scarf, or hijab, asked for an additional strap for the booster seat for one of her children. After discussion with a flight attendant about the strap, the family was asked to remove the booster seat, which they say they did.

A short time later, Larson said the family was told they would have to leave the plane because of safety concerns, which they did. They questioned whether it was a “discriminatory decision.”

“They felt singled-out and helpless,” Larson told ABC News. “We are tired of more and more of these instances: of Muslims being taken off flights for flimsy reasons.”

United Airlines maintains that the reason the family was asked to leave was because of safety concern over the child’s seat.

“We reached out to the family following their flight on March 20 to discuss their concerns,” a United Airlines representative said in a statement to ABC News. “They were originally scheduled to fly on SkyWest 5811, operating as United Express from Chicago O’Hare to Washington, D.C., but we re-booked them on a later flight because of concerns about their child’s safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations.”

“Both United and SkyWest hold our employees to the highest standards of professionalism and have zero tolerance for discrimination,” the company added.

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Onlookers Flee as San Diego Bay Cruise Boat Slams into Seawall

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) — Dramatic new video shows the moment a 150-foot bay cruise boat crashed into a seawall near its dock in San Diego on Thursday.

There were 139 passengers and five crew members on board when the Adventure Hornblower slammed into the walkway at about 12:55 p.m. local time, according to a statement released by the Port of San Diego. Three passengers were injured and transported to the hospital. Their status is currently unknown.

In the video, the horn can be heard repeatedly alerting unsuspecting onlookers, who began scrambling out of the way as the vessel approached. One woman with a walking stick can be seen crossing the path of where the boat hit just seconds before the incident.

The Adventure Hornblower is just one of the vessels operated by Hornblower Cruises & Events. It has three decks, four bars and is certified for ocean cruising and whale and dolphin watching, according to the company’s website.

The cause of the incident is still under investigation, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Hornblower Cruises & Events did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

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NASA Engineers Suit Up for Orion Spacecraft Test

James Blair/NASA(HOUSTON) — The astronauts who will one day ride into deep space on board NASA’s Orion spacecraft will need to be comfortable enough in their suits to operate the controls inside the vessel.

While those missions are many years away, engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston are already evaluating how suited-up test subjects are able to interact with the rotational hand controller and cursor control device inside a mock-up of Orion.

After Orion has had some work done and becomes a fully functional spacecraft, NASA will put it through a series of tests at several of its facilities across the country.

When Orion has a stellar report card, the next step for the spacecraft will be a launch to circle the moon in 2018 and embark on its first crew mission around 2023, according to NASA.

If everything goes according to plan, Orion could ferry astronauts to an asteroid and eventually to Mars.

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Woman Accused of Kidnapping Baby from Mall to Appear in Court

Upper Merion Township Police Department(PHILADELPHIA) — A woman who police say kidnapped a baby from a Philadelphia-area mall is expected to appear in court Friday.

The woman, who has not yet been named by police, is accused of walking out of the King of Prussia Mall with 7-week-old Ahsir Simmons at around 5:35 p.m. on Thursday.

The alleged kidnapping prompted an Amber Alert; the baby was recovered safely about five hours later and the woman was taken into custody, police said.

There’s no relationship between the baby’s mother and the woman accused of taking the baby, according to police.

The incident began when Ahsir’s family was shopping and the accused kidnapper befriended them, police said.

They all went to the food court together. When Ahsir began to fuss, the suspect asked if she could hold him, and his mother said yes, according to police. Ahsir’s mother went to take a phone call and to deal with other children, and the suspect walked off with her baby, said police.

Ahsir was found safe in Tredyffrin Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania, police said, and the woman was taken into custody.

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Emergency Escape Slide Falls from Plane, Crashes into AZ Yard

iStock/Thinkstock(MESA, Ariz.) — A Boeing 767’s emergency escape slide detached mid-air and fell, crashing into a Mesa, Arizona yard Wednesday afternoon.

The private plane was at 2,800 feet altitude when the crew was told the right-side, over-the-wing emergency slide had deployed, Ian Gregor of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement to ABC News.

The incident occurred as Atlas Air crew members were making their final approach to Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix, Gregor said. There were 17 crew members and staff on board, but no passengers.

No injuries were reported, Nikolas Rasheta of the Mesa Police Department said in a statement to ABC News. The crew landed the plane safely.

However, the detached escape slide fell into the yard of a Mesa resident.

Andrea Self, 31, told ABC News she was in her home when she heard a loud bang and felt the house shake.

She went outside and saw a large, silver, tarp-like object with red arrows. When she smelled sulfur, she called police. The police notified the FAA.

Self said only a tree was damaged by the plane part and she’s happy the slide fell where it did and not in the nearby park where there are a lot of pedestrians.

“It fell exactly where it needed to,” she said.

The FAA is investigating why the slide deployed. Atlas Air said they plan to pay for the damage and are also investigating.

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CIA Sorry After Leaving Explosive Material on School Bus

iStock/Thinkstock(LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va.) — The CIA has said sorry after its agents left explosive material on a school bus borrowed for a terror drill.

According to the Washington Post, the Loudoun County, Virginia school bus was borrowed two weeks ago, and the agency packed putty-like explosives under the hood to test the sniffers of its bomb dogs.

However, when the test was over, the borrowed bus was back to shuttling students Monday and Tuesday. After clocking some 145 miles ferrying students from Rock Ridge High School, Buffalo Trail Elementary School and Pinebrook Elementary School, a maintenance check turned up some of the explosive material that had fallen inside the engine compartment.

In a statement, the CIA insists the plastic explosives, “did not pose a danger to passengers on the bus,” because although it was viable, it would require blasting caps and a detonator to explode.

The school district notified the cops, which in turn called the agency, which sent techs to remove the “incredibly stable” material.

Loudoun schools spokesman Wayde Byard said of the situation, “The CIA really expressed its deep concern and regret today, and it was sincere.”

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Infant Boy Found After Being Abducted From Philadelphia-Area Mall

Upper Merion Township Police Department(PHILADELPHIA) — A 7-week-old baby boy was found Thursday night, following an Amber Alert, after being abducted earlier in the day from King of Prussia Mall outside Philadelphia.

During a press conference, an Upper Merion Township Police Department official said the child, Ahsir Simmons, and his female abductor were spotted by the public following the Amber Alert.

Simmons was found in Tredyffrin Township in Chester County, located about six miles west of King of Prussia Mall.

Police said there is no relationship between the child’s mother and the abductor, who is in police custody. Charges are pending.

According to Pennsylvania State Police, the Amber Alert was issued after Simmons was abducted at approximately 5:35 p.m. on Thursday from the 400-store shopping mall, located less than 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

The Upper Merion Township Police Department said it responded to the mall’s food court, following a report of an abduction, and that the infant was last seen exiting the mall with the suspect in the area by Bonefish Grill.

At a press conference Thursday, an Upper Merion Township Police Department official said, “The child began to fuss, and our suspect in this case asked if she could hold the child to try and calm her.” The official said the child’s mother allowed the suspect to do so, but then at some point, the mother answered her phone and began tending to her other children. That’s when “our suspect walks off with the baby from the food court.”

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