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News Briefs

Pilot Arrested on Gun Charges


A Northwest Airlines pilot preparing to fly to Detroit was arrested at New York’s LaGuardia Airport early Tuesday when security screeners found a loaded semiautomatic handgun in his carry-on bag.

Port Authority police arrested Robert B. Donaldson, 43, a pilot based in the Detroit area, after the gun was found as he tried to pass through security. He was headed to the gate to be the first officer on Flight 1911, scheduled to leave at 6 a.m.

“We are working with federal and local authorities,” said Northwest spokeswoman Mary Beth Schubert, who declined to comment further. The gun, a Taurus 9-mm semiautomatic, was fully loaded, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

Donaldson faces three counts of criminal possession of a weapon, including one felony count, the DA’s office said. He was being held awaiting arraignment Tuesday night.

Donaldson has a license to carry the handgun in Michigan, but not in New York, prosecutors said. Transportation Security Administration officials said they were waiting for more information from investigators to see if the gun was transported to New York on a previous flight.

Sharpton to Seek Democratic Presidential Nomination


The Rev. Al Sharpton, a black political activist from New York City, jumped into the 2004 Democratic presidential contest Tuesday, hoping to appeal to large numbers of minority voters and gain national influence within the party.

Sharpton, seeking to claim a mantle of black leadership last worn by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson during his two presidential runs in the 1980s, is likely to be taken seriously by his Democratic rivals, even if his chances of winning the nomination are remote.

In a telephone interview, Sharpton predicted he will energize voters dispirited by Democratic losses in the 2000 presidential and 2002 midterm elections. His unabashed aim is to yank the party sharply to the left as it prepares to challenge President Bush.

“I am the only clear antiwar, anti-death penalty, anti-tax cut candidate who is in the race,” Sharpton said after filing papers to establish an exploratory committee for a presidential run.

He noted that he was the lone potential candidate to speak in Washington Saturday at a major rally against a possible war in Iraq.

Sharpton, 48, joins a field of presidential hopefuls that includes three Democratic senators -- John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut and John Edwards of North Carolina -- as well as former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, the former House minority leader. In that group, only Dean has spoken against the resolution Congress approved last fall to authorize Bush to use military force against Iraq; the others all voted for it.