National Briefs: Justices rule on air safety

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WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Monday shielded airlines from being sued when they alert the government to threatening or suspicious behavior by their pilots or passengers, even if the reports later turn out to be exaggerated or misleading.

In a 6-3 decision, the high court tossed out a $1.2 million defamation verdict awarded to a fired pilot who was pulled from a flight after his employer, Air Wisconsin, warned the Transportation Security Administration that he could be armed and may be "unstable."

The decision was among three the U.S. Supreme Court handed down on Monday. In the others, both written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court decided that the government must prove that a drug user's death is directly linked to the drug dealer before the dealer can be subjected to an "enhanced" sentence, and that workers do not have to be paid for the time they spend "donning and doffing" protective gear necessary for their work.

Bitcoin chief charged

NEW YORK -- The vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation was charged Monday by federal prosecutors with conspiring to launder more than $1 million in the virtual currency, the latest charges tied to the illicit online bazaar Silk Road.

Charlie Shrem, 24, was arrested Sunday as he arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City after giving a speech in Amsterdam. In addition to his role with the foundation, an industry representative to regulators formed to oversee the currency's software protocol, he was also chief executive officer of BitInstant, a Bitcoin exchange company.

Florida congressman resigns

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., will resign from Congress effective Monday evening, according to a letter he sent to House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

Mr. Radel, 37, a freshman legislator, pleaded guilty in November to a misdemeanor charge of buying 3.5 grams of cocaine in Washington and was sentenced to a year of probation. Although he had quietly returned to Congress in January after nearly a month at a private rehabilitation center in Naples, Fla., Mr. Radel announced his resignation plans Monday morning.

Cop indicted in shooting

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A grand jury Monday indicted a white police officer who fired 10 shots into a young black man who had driven off the road in a suburban Charlotte neighborhood and was apparently looking for help.

It was the second time a grand jury had heard the case. The first panel, which convened a week ago, did not indict the officer, Randall Kerrick, on voluntary manslaughter charges, but suggested that prosecutors come back with a lesser charge.

Instead, prosecutors presented the same charge to another group of jurors Monday. This group indicted Officer Kerrick on voluntary manslaughter charges in the death of Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former football player at Florida A&M who had been dropping off a friend early one morning in September when his car went off the road.

Also in the nation ...

Royal Caribbean International is bringing its Explorer of the Seas cruise ship back to Bayonne, N.J., two days early after more than 600 passengers and crew members fell sick with a stomach flu during a 10-day Caribbean cruise. ... A 16-year-old Denver-area high school student was listed in critical condition after setting himself on fire in school Monday morning.

-- Compiled from news services


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