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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — Federal regulators on Friday evening closed five banks in California, South Carolina, Minnesota, and Maryland, bringing the total number of bank failures in the United States so far this year to 22.

The largest bank to be closed on Friday was the Plantation Federal Bank which had its headquarters in the town of Pawleys Island in South Carolina. The bank, which had a total of six branches, was closed by the state’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) after its regular closing time.

After the closing, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) said it immediately entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with the First Federal Bank in Charleston to assume all of the deposits of Plantation Federal Bank. As of December 2011, Plantation Federal Bank had approximately $486.4 million in total assets and $440.5 million in total deposits.

Most customers should see no or little service disruptions despite the closure of the institution as the Plantation Federal Bank’s six branches will reopen on Monday as branches of First Federal Bank, and all depositors of Plantation Federal Bank will automatically become depositors of First Federal Bank.

All of the services of the failed bank, including checks, ATM and debit cards, will remain active. “Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed,” the FDIC said in a statement. “Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.”

Federal regulators also closed the Inter Savings Bank based in Maple Grove, Minnesota; the Bank of the Eastern Shore in Cambridge, Maryland; the HarVest Bank of Maryland in Gaithersburg, Maryland; and the Palm Desert National Bank in Palm Desert, California. All the banks were assumed by another bank, except the Bank of the Eastern Shore.

“To protect the depositors, the FDIC created the Deposit Insurance National Bank of Eastern Shore (DINB), which will remain open until May 25, 2012 to allow depositors access to their insured deposits and time to open accounts at other insured institutions,” the FDIC said in a statement. “All insured depositors of Bank of the Eastern Shore are encouraged to transfer their insured funds to other banks during this transitional period.”

The FDIC estimated that the combined cost of all five bank failures to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be around $272.6 million, but said it was the least costly resolution for the DIF compared to other alternatives. Friday’s closures bring the total number of U.S. bank failures so far this year to 22. There were 91 bank failures in 2011 and 157 bank failures in 2010.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty on Sunday became the first major candidate to withdraw from the presidential race after a disappointing result at the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa.

Pawlenty made the announcement on ABC News during a live interview, saying not only support but also money was an issue to keep the campaign continuing. “It was disappointing but let me first say, this has been an incredible process. It’s been a great honor for Mary and me and our team to convey the message of trying to get this country back on track, and I think it is off track,” Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty, a Republican who served two terms in a so-called blue (Democratic) state, said his campaign aimed at getting government spending under control and doing health care reform ‘the right way’. “But obviously that message didn’t get the kind of traction or lift that we needed and hoped for coming into and out of the Ames Straw Poll. We needed to get some lift to continue on and have a pathway forward,” Pawlenty said.

The former governor explained that did not happen as he hoped for. “That didn’t happen, so I’m announcing this morning on your show that I’m going to be ending my campaign for president,” Pawlenty said on ABC News, adding that he was very grateful for the support he received.

Pawlenty finished third with 2,293 votes during the poll in Iowa on Saturday, following Ron Paul’s 4,671 votes and Michelle Bachmann’s 4,823. He had initially pledged to continue his campaign on Saturday evening, writing on his Twitter account: “Our campaign needed to show progress and we did. I’m eager for the campaign ahead.”

“I congratulate Congresswoman Bachmann on her victory and for that matter Congressman Ron Paul’s close second,” Pawlenty added, saying he would likely endorse a candidate at some point during the presidential race. He said he did not yet know what he would do next.

The U.S. presidential election is scheduled to be held on November 6, 2012. Incumbent President Barack Obama is running for re-election.

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LAKE TOWNSHIP, MINNESOTA (BNO NEWS) — Authorities in the U.S. state of Minnesota are investigating the apparent suicide pact of two 14-year-old girls, whose bodies were found on Saturday.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office said the suicides happened at around 6.30 a.m. local time at a house in Island Lake Township, located near Marshall in Lyon County. Both were 8th graders at Marshall Middle School.

Hundreds of people attended a group counseling session at the school on Sunday, and officials said on Monday that no foul play is suspected. It was not immediately known how the girls killed themselves, or why they decided to take their own lives.

Suicide pacts are a rare event, especially among young children. In October 2009, a 14-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl both committed suicide by holding hands while jumping from the Erskine Bridge in west central Scotland. One of the girls was said to be grieving over the death of her boyfriend, who died of a drug overdose.

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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS (BNO NEWS) — The New England Patriots have traded Pro-Bowl wide receiver Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2011 third-round draft pick, NFL Network insider Michael Lombardi reported.

Moss, 33, of Rand, West Virginia began his NFL career with the Vikings in 1998 after being drafted as the 21st pick in the first round. After seven successful seasons, he was traded to the Oakland Raiders in 2005 and in 2007 to the Patriots for a fourth-round pick. It seems that Moss will be ending his career where it began.

Moss – who holds the record for most touchdown reception in a year (23 in 2007) and most as a rookie (17 in 1998) – will be teaming up with future Hall-of-Famer quarterback Brett Favre.

Currently in his last year of a three-year $27 million contract, Moss is scheduled to make around $6.8 million this season, but contract extension talks with the Vikings have not begun.

Following the Patriot’s season opener versus the Cincinnati Bengals, in which the Pats won 38-24, Moss made strong statements regarding his future and his contract.

“This is the last year of my contract. Nothing has been discussed. There’s not been anything said. Not a letter. Nothing,” Moss said last month. “I’m not saying that I want to stay here, but I love playing here. If the future of my job lets me go to another team, then that’s what it’s going to be. But for right now, I’m still in a contract for the New England Patriots, and I have a job to do.”

“I don’t want to talk about contracts. I just want to let you all know that I’m here to play my last season out. If an opportunity later on in the season presents itself for me to be a New England Patriot, I will accept that. But if it doesn’t, I must move on,” he added.

Moss will be arriving to Minnesota at an ideal time after losing Sidney Rice to a hip injury during a preseason game.

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FORT WORTH, TEXAS (BNO NEWS) – American Eagle Airlines on Friday announced that the airline began nonstop service between Miami and Gainesville in Florida. American Eagle also launched four daily nonstop flights from New York to Minneapolis.

“American Airlines is committed to providing more options and exceptional service to our customers in New York, and American Eagle plays a key role in that effort,” said Art Torno, American’s Vice President – New York.

“We are excited to launch this service to Gainesville. Our customers have been asking for this new service. Connecting these two communities is proof of our ongoing commitment to increase service from our Miami hub,” said Peter Dolara, American’s Senior Vice President based in Miami.

In South Florida, the service will be provided from Miami International Airport and Gainesville Regional Airport. The other nonstop service announced will connect the New York LaGuardia Airport and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Eagle will provide the nonstop flights with 64-seat Super ATR aircrafts which now include nine First Class seats that offers a premium product and the same level of outstanding service customers experience on American Airlines (AA). American Eagle is the regional affiliate of AA.

“Connecting these two communities is proof of our ongoing commitment to increase service from our Miami hub. It will also offer our customers from the Gainesville area the ability to connect to destinations throughout the U.S., the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe,” Dolara added regarding the new South Florida service.

“These four daily flights to Minneapolis not only link two powerful business centers, but also offer customers convenient connections through New York to destinations throughout American’s global network,” Torno said on the NY-Minneapolis service.

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WASHINGTON D.C. (BNO NEWS) – Fourteen individuals were charged in four separate indictments in Minnesota, Alabama and California for providing material support to the Somalia-based terrorist group al-Shabaab, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.

In Alabama, a superseding indictment charged Omar Shafik Hammami, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Alabama, with providing material support to al-Shabaab. In California, Jehad Serwan Mostafa, also a U.S. citizen and former California resident, was charged with the same offense.

In Minnesota, two indictments were unsealed, one charging Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan for providing funds to the Somali terrorist organization and were arrested this day. The other indictment charged 10 individuals with terrorism offenses for leaving the U.S. to join al-Shabaab.

“The indictments unsealed today shed further light on a deadly pipeline that has routed funding and fighters to the al-Shabaab terror organization from cities across the United States,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said. “These arrests and charges should serve as an unmistakable warning to others considering joining terrorist groups like al-Shabaab.”

Hammami, 26, allegedly provided material support to al-Shabaab and faces a potential sentence of 15 years in prison for each of the three counts of the indictment. He is not in custody and authorities believe he is currently in Somalia.

Mostafa, 28, also provided material support as well as offering himself as personnel to al-Shabaab. He faces 15 years of imprisonment for each count and is also believed to be in Somalia at the moment.

Ali, 33, and Hassan, 63, are both naturalized U.S. citizens and resident of Rochester, Minnesota. They were charged with one count of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization each. Ali is also charged with 12 substantive counts of providing material support. Hassan is also charged with three counts of making false statements.

Ali and Hassan allegedly raised funds for al-Shabaab requested by telephone by unknown people in Somalia. They solicited funds door-to-door in various U.S. and Canadian communities. Ali even lied to donors by saying that the funds were intended for the needy and poor. Twelve transactions were made by Ali and Hassan to the Somali terror group.

They were arrested by the FBI. If convicted, they face a potential 15 years in prison on the conspiracy count. Ali also faces a potential 15 years in prison on each material support count, and Hassan also faces a potential eight years in prison on each false statement count.

The third superseding indictment unsealed in Minnesota charged Abdikadir Ali Abdi, 19; Abdisalan Hussein Ali, 21; Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax, 33; Farah Mohamed Beledi, 26; and Abdiweli Yassin Isse, 26. They are accused of providing material support and conspiring to kill, maim and injure persons abroad.

Five additional people that were previously charged were named in the third indictment too. The y are Ahmed Ali Omar, 27; Khalid Mohamud Abshir, 27; Zakaria Maruf, 31; Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, 22; and Mustafa Ali Salat, 20.

These individuals are charged with conspiracy to provide material support terrorists and foreign terrorist organizations; conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim and injure persons abroad; possessing and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence; and solicitation to commit a crime of violence. Nine of these Minnesota defendants have been arrested in the United States or overseas.

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ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA (BNO NEWS) – A Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer was charged on Tuesday in an indictment with a felony civil rights crime for assaulting a juvenile during an arrest, prosecutors said.

Jason Andersen, 33, was charged with one count of willfully depriving a teenager, while he was under arrest, of his constitutional right to be free from the unreasonable use of force by a law enforcement agent.

According to the charges, Andersen allegedly kicked the adolescent during his arrest. The excessive use of force resulted in bodily injury to the victim.

If convicted, Andersen faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the civil rights violation.

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LUDINGTON, MICHIGAN (BNO NEWS) — Minutes before a small medical plane crashed into Lake Michigan on Friday morning, killing four out of five people on board, a passenger wrote a note for their family and friends, according to local media reports.

According to The Morning Sun newspaper in Michigan, Dr. James Hall wrote the note and stuffed it into his medical bag. “Dear All. We love you. We lost power over the middle [of] Lake Michigan and [are] turning back. We are praying to God that all [will] be taken care of. We love you. Jim.” Hall’s wife, Ann Hall, released the contents of the note to the newspaper.

The Cessna 206 aircraft crashed about eight miles (12.8 kilometers) northwest of Ludington, a city in Mason County, shortly after 10 a.m. local time on Friday. It earlier departed Alma en-route to the city of Rochester in Minnesota.

An official at Coast Guard Station Ludington said a fishing vessel witnessed the plane crash into Lake Michigan about five miles (eight kilometers) offshore. He said radar contact with the aircraft was lost around the same time.

A good samaritan pulled one of the victims out of the water and handed him over to a sheriff’s department boat. The other four people on board remain missing, and are feared to have been killed.

Federal records showed the 1971-build aircraft was registered to Alma-based Freed Construction Co. Its owner, Carol Freed, told BNO News that the aircraft was transporting a patient to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She said the Coast Guard was providing her with updates.

“The pilot was talking to FAA air traffic control at Minneapolis center,” said Elizabeth Isham Cory, a spokeswoman for the FAA. “The pilot reported a loss of power to air traffic control approximately 10 minutes before the aircraft went down.”

Minneapolis center is a large multi-state air traffic control facility that handles high altitude traffic for a multi-state area, including parts of Lake Michigan and the state of Michigan.

Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the cause of the crash.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) – President Barack Obama on Friday declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Minnesota, ordering Federal aid to increase State and local recovery efforts.

Severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding struck Faribault, Freeborn, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Polk, Steele, and Wadena Counties from June 17 to 26, and with Obama’s signing, federal funding will now be available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the harsh weather conditions.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the State and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

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PINE CENTER, MINNESOTA (BNO NEWS) – A Crow Wing County, Minnesota eight-year-old-boy on Monday shot his three-year-old brother in the neck, police said on Tuesday.

The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a shooting that occurred at a residence near Pine Center, a community in Crow Wing County. Wendy Krueger, 37, reported that her three year old son had been shot in the neck with a .22 caliber rifle.

Upon arrival at the scene, Deputies learned that Nicholas Nash, age eight, and Nathan Nash, age three, were in their parent’s bedroom. The loaded .22 caliber rifle was leaning against the wall in the bedroom. It was picked up by Nicholas to look at, and then discharged it, striking Nathan in the neck.

Nathan was airlifted by North Ambulance to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale and is currently in stable condition.

The Sheriff’s Office is continuing to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident.

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