WASHINGTON

TSA chief stands by his plan to allow knives on airplanes

The head of the Transportation Security Administration told lawmakers Thursday he stands by his plan to allow passengers to carry small knives onto planes despite a growing backlash against the proposal.

It’s unlikely in these days of hardened cockpit doors and other preventive measures that the small folding knives could be used by terrorists to take over a plane, TSA Administrator John Pistole told a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee.

The policy, which goes into effect April 25, has sparked strong opposition from flight attendants, federal air marshals, some pilot unions, and even aviation insurers. 

White House admits freeing 2,000 illegal immigrants

The Obama administration acknowledged Thursday that it had, in fact, released more than 2,000 illegal immigrants from immigration jails due to budget concerns during three weeks in February. Four of the most serious offenders have been put back in detention.

The administration had insisted that only a “few hundred” immigrants were released for budgetary reasons, challenging as inaccurate a March 1 report by The Associated Press that the agency had released more than 2,000 immigrants in February and planned to release more than 3,000 others this month. Intense criticism led to a temporary shutdown of the plan.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten

Cruise ship passengers heading home by plane

Passengers from the cruise ship Carnival Dream headed to the airport Thursday instead of sailing home after an on-board generator problem halted their trip in the latest maintenance headache for the world’s largest cruise line.

The Dream was in St. Maarten on the final stop of a Caribbean cruise when the crew announced it would not be sailing home to Port Canaveral, Fla., because of a mechanical issue with a diesel generator, passengers said.

Carnival said all systems were functioning normally Thursday but the company decided to get the passengers home by air.

— From news service reports