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In brief: F-15s guide plane away from retreat

WASHINGTON – NORAD says two F-15 fighters had to intercept a small aircraft that had no radio communication and was flying near the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md.

A statement said the fighter jets met the Beechcraft Bonanza on Saturday afternoon about 11 miles from Camp David and escorted it out of the area. It landed in the nearby city of Hagerstown without incident.

President Barack Obama traveled with first lady Michelle and their daughters to the retreat on Friday.

NORAD is responsible for defending North America’s air space.

Protests promised when officer freed

LOS ANGELES – Family members and supporters of the unarmed man killed in 2009 by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer called the officer’s scheduled release “a travesty” and said Saturday that they plan to hold a series of protests in Oakland and Los Angeles over the next few days.

Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry ruled Friday that Johannes Mehserle, who was sentenced last November to serve two years, should be released Monday because of credits for time served and good behavior.

A Los Angeles jury convicted Mehserle last July of involuntary manslaughter in the death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant III on the platform of the Fruitvale BART station on New Year’s Day 2009. The racially charged case sparked riots and protests in Oakland.

Mehserle, 29, testified that he meant to use his Taser but mistakenly grabbed his pistol.

“It’s a travesty,” Grant’s uncle Cephus Johnson said Saturday. “This fight is not over, and I am not going away.”

Chavez undergoes surgery in Cuba

HAVANA – A Venezuelan vice president says President Hugo Chavez is recovering well a day after undergoing surgery in Cuba for a pelvic abscess.

Chavez is “very up to date on all issues relating to our country,” Venezuelan Vice President Rafael Ramirez says, adding that he had seen Chavez personally on Friday following the procedure, and again on Saturday.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said Friday that Chavez underwent the surgery immediately upon learning it was necessary, but that it had gone well and he would be back in his country soon.

Giffords’ release likely not far off

HOUSTON – An aide to U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said Saturday that she could be released from a rehabilitation hospital in Houston as early as this month, offering the latest indication that the Arizona congresswoman is making progress in recovering from a gunshot wound to the head.

Chief of Staff Pia Carusone said doctors and family are considering “many factors” while making the critical decision to release Giffords from TIRR Memorial Hermann, the hospital where she has been undergoing daily rehabilitation since late January.

“We’re looking at before the end of the month. We’re looking at early July,” Carusone said. “We don’t have a date.”

Since coming to Houston, Giffords has regained some ability to walk and talk.