Mother of Newtown Victim Steps in for Obama

Washington (ap) — The mother of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Connecticut school shooting used the opportunity to fill in for President Obama during the weekly radio and Internet address to make a personal plea from the White House for action to combat gun violence.

“Thousands of other families across the United States are also drowning in our grief,” said Francine Wheeler, choking back tears in the address broadcast yesterday. “Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.”

Ben Wheeler was among the 20 first-graders and six adults killed in the Dec. 14 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Francine Wheeler was the first person to deliver the address other than Obama or Vice President Joe Biden since the two took office in 2009.

Her husband, David Wheeler, sat silently next to her as she made the recording in the White House Library. Both wore the small green pins that have become a symbol of the shooting.

At least 45 Injured
In Jetliner crash

Bali, Indonesia (ap) — All 108 passengers and crew survived after a new Lion Air jet crashed into the ocean and snapped into two while attempting to land yesterday on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, injuring up to 45 people.

The injured were taken to several different hospitals for treatment, but there appeared to be no serious injuries, said airport spokesman Alfasyah, who like many Indonesians uses only one name. There were three foreigners on board — two Singaporeans and a French national — all of whom suffered slight injuries.

TV footage showed police and rescuers using rubber boats to evacuate the 101 passengers and seven crew members. The Boeing 737 could be seen sitting in the shallow water with a large crack in its fuselage.

Officials initially said the plane overshot the runway before hitting the water, but a spokesman for Lion Air, a low-cost carrier, said at a news conference that the plane crashed about 164 feet ahead of the runway. The weather was cloudy with rain at the time of the incident.

“It apparently failed to reach the runway and fell into the sea,” said the spokesman, Edward Sirait.

Five Killed in Two-Car Crash
On Fla. Interstate Exit Ramp

Riviera Beach, Fla. (ap) — Five people, including three teenagers, were killed yesterday in Florida after their car was hit by another vehicle that jolted through an interstate exit ramp, authorities said.

The driver of a 2008 Mercedes is believed to have been speeding as he exited Interstate 95 and ran a red light in Riviera Beach, about five miles north of West Palm Beach, shortly after midnight, Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Tim Frith said.

Twenty-one-year-old Jabari Kemp’s vehicle slammed into a 1994 Lexus carrying five people, the youngest 14 and the oldest 22. The impact ejected four people from the car. Only one passenger was wearing a seatbelt, Frith said.

Four of the people in the Lexus were pronounced dead at the scene. A fifth died after being taken to a nearby hospital.

Thatcher ‘Death Party’ in London Attracts Hundreds

London (ap) — Hundreds of opponents of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher partied in London’s Trafalgar Square to celebrate her death, sipping Champagne and chanting Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead.

Thatcher’s most strident critics had long vowed to hold a gathering in central London on the Saturday following her passing, and the festivities were an indication of the depth of the hatred which some Britons still feel for their former leader.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Richard Watson, a 45-year-old from eastern England wearing a party hat, said. “It’s an opportunity of a lifetime.”

As a huge effigy of Thatcher, with a hook-nosed and toting a handbag, made its way down the stairs in front of the National Gallery, the crowd erupted into cries of “Maggie! Maggie! Maggie! Dead! Dead! Dead!” and sang lyrics from the Wizard of Oz ditty Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead.

Hundreds of people clutched their umbrellas in the rain between Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery on the square, drinking cider or Champagne. The mood appeared festive and the celebration was peaceful, although there was a minor scuffle with police at one point. Police said they made five arrests, most for drunkenness.

Circus Elephant Shot in Drive-By

Tupelo, Miss. (ap) — A circus veterinarian says the Asian elephant wounded in a drive-by shooting in Mississippi should be fully recovered within a few weeks.

Meanwhile, a reward for information leading to an arrest has climbed to $21,000.

Dr. Dennis Schmitt, a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus veterinarian, said Carol, a 39-year-old Asian elephant, will be taken home to Springfield, Mo., to recuperate. The bullet hit Carol in the neck just above the shoulder, but it missed any major blood vessels or nerves. The elephant has been alert and active since the injury.

Police Chief Tony Carleton says a vehicle drove past Tupelo BancorpSouth Arena about 2 a.m. and fired into the area. Police are investigating.