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Panetta regrets cost of his trips home

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Monday he regrets the cost to taxpayers for his weekend trips to his California home, but he says it's important "just to get your mind straight and your perspective straight." Panetta said he woulD try to find some savings, with each round trip costing approximately $32,000.

The Associated Press earlier this month detailed the costs of the 27 round-trip flights home Panetta has taken since he became Pentagon chief last July.

Panetta is required to travel on military aircraft so he can remain in constant, secure contact with the White House and other top leaders.

He has reimbursed the Treasury about $17,000 for the travel. Based on fuel and other operating expenses, the 27 trips have cost the government as much as $860,000.


Boy arraigned in crash killing illegal aliens

PALMVIEW, Texas (AP) -- A 15-year-old South Texas boy charged with nine counts of murder after he crashed a minivan packed with illegal immigrants cried and expressed remorse before a judge Monday, police said.

The boy appeared at a probable-cause hearing at a juvenile detention facility. He was also charged with 17 counts of smuggling of a person causing serious bodily injury or death, and one count of evading.

Border Patrol agents pulled over the van last Tuesday night about 10 miles west of McAllen. As it stopped, one person jumped from the vehicle and ran. When agents pursued him, the van sped off. It crashed just a few blocks away, scattering a parking lot with bodies. The driver escaped but was arrested two days later at his home.

Palmview Detective Saul Uvalle, who attended the probable-cause hearing, said the teen told the judge that if he didn't drive the van they were going to kill his family. Uvalle said the teen didn't say who "they" were. "He was very remorseful of what happened," Uvalle said.