September 30, 2005 | 12:27 p.m. ET

Tonight on Dateline:  Escape from Flight 204
It began as an ordinary flight on an ordinary day, then became an ordeal like no other: A crowded 737 jet that plunged to the ground in a fierce and sudden storm. There were flames, explosions and chaos. There were also survivors, more than 50 people, who made it out alive.

Tonight, the story of Flight 204: A fiery life and death drama for those on board — a firefighter, a father, a new bride, a young flight attendent. And at the center of it all, a tiny baby, whom they all tried to protect.

These passengers started as strangers, then bonded as family when they met disaster.

Join us tonight at 8 p.m./ 7 Central for Dateline NBC.

September 29, 2005 | 5:25 p.m. ET

Virginia Sherwood  /  NBC
If you've watched the "Today" show or MSNBC TV this week, you know all about Humanity Plaza, a joint effort by NBC Universal, Habitat for Humanity and Warner Music Group to build modular home frames for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.  You can read all about the project here and even watch a live Webcam pointed at the plaza.

We can hear the activity and hammers pounding from Dateline's office windows the 4th and 5th floors. Watch Dateline Sunday to get an update on the week it has been at the Humanity Plaza, and where the project is headed next.

September 29, 2005 | 11:03 a.m. ET

Defining a family: Your e-mails on twin boys of different races
A lot of viewers e-mailed us here at Dateline, touched by the story of Tuen and Koen Stuart—   twin boys, one black one white . A lot of you have reflected on love and family being colorblind -- even though the world can be otherwise. Below are a few of your e-mails:

My son is of mixed race and I am white.  My son is now 20.  He was 1 of 3 black children in his school.  The other two were my other two children too.  He is in college to become a Black History Teacher.  I too often received weird looks and people didn’t believe that my children were my children.  If you get tired of the raised eyebrows, come to America.  It isn’t very uncommon to be of mixed race or to raise children from different races. We are accepted. --Michele Martinez

Dateline NBC
Twins Koen and Tuen Stuart

I was mesmerized watching this segment on Friday night.  We live in a suburb, north of Boston and I am the mother of two boys, ages 5 and 7 that are bi-racial (multiracial is more appropriate).  My husband is African American and I am Caucasian and our two boys are the perfect mix of the two of us.  Noah, 7, has beautiful brown loose curly hair and brown eyes and his younger brother Jacob, 5, has blonde loose curls and green eyes.  Noah has darker skin than Jacob who is fairer.  

My husband and I related to the segment on many fronts.  We have been married for 10 years and all too often, we along with our two boys have become the focus of some unwanted attention not to mention disapproving looks.  I have been asked all the questions ranging from:  Are you really their mother, Are you the nanny?  How thoughtful for you to adopt those two boys!  Are they really yours?  The list goes on.

At this point in their lives, our boys are not concerned with their differences or the fact that mommy is a different color than daddy.  Watching this segment reminded us that we as parents have to continue to instill confidence in our children to embrace their uniqueness in a world that can sometimes be cruel and uncaring.  

Thank you to Ann Curry for telling this compelling story with compassion, sensitivity and candor.  Again many thanks. --Pamela Ashe

Just watched your piece on these two boys... how lucky they are! I hope that through their lives, regardless of careless, ignorant or mean comments by others, they realize how lucky they are to have such wonderful parents and, more importantly, how lucky they are to have each other.

My husband and I have 2 biological children and are adopting another. We are a multi-racial family: me Chinese, my husband white, our biological boys mixed, and our adopted daughter Chinese.  We believe that above all else, love is what makes a family. Our children are with us by some grand reason...  I'm sure Tuen & Koen have difficulties I can never fully relate to or understand, but I believe this is how it was meant to be. This was no mistake, this was magic. --Nina Fenn

Thank you for your recent story about the Dutch twin boys. I was moved by your sensitive coverage and delighted to learn that the twins’ convention in Ohio welcomed them back. God Bless these children and their wonderful parents. With so much sad news lately, it was heart warming to see such a touching, loving story about this incredible family. Thanks again. --Bob Meehan

I am a social work student and we talk about families all the time! A family is defined as a mother, father, brothers, sisters, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins and so on… but also anyone who lives with you. It does not always have to be blood related. It can also be step-families. A family is defined in many different ways! I want them to know that I believe they are twins and I also believe this happened for a reason. I do believe it was for a good reason!! Maybe it happened because both boys would have great parents or maybe it happened to prove to people in the world that a family is a great and wonderful thing and that the world should not base things on color. I pray that the world will accept them for who they are! I am very proud of them! -–Melissa M.

I have watched this story before now that they are older they do look like twins. I hope that these boys love each other so much that they can get over this. --Pam Stringer

Imagine that! What a special though unique situation! God’s way of showing us that anything  IS  possible! Maybe it wasn’t a mistake... maybe these boys were meant to be together? Cute story! Thanks for showing us.  --Deborah Kelly

More information on Twins Day in Twinsburg, Ohio, can be found here:

September 28, 2005 | 12:35 p.m. ET

In a "Dateline NBC" exclusive, Stone Phillips talks to Lynndie England, the U.S. soldier who was recently found guilty of inmate abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. For the first time on television, England, one of the most visible figures in the Abu Ghraib scandal, tells her side of the story. The interview airs Sunday, Oct. 2, 7 p.m. ET.

Below is a blog entry from one of our Dateline producers who was in the courtroom when Pfc. England received her sentence.

At the courtroom for Pfc. Lynndie England’s sentencing  (Rayner Ramirez, Dateline producer)

FORT HOOD, TEXAS— Private First Class Lynndie England, known as the girl holding a leash tied to an Iraqi detainee in the Abu Ghraib scandal , walked out of the Fort Hood Texas sullenly and in shackles. England was sentenced to 3 years confinement and a dishonorable discharge. 

Facing the bench, England, 22, broke down in tears when the jury, comprised of five male officers, handed the sentence in court.  They took a little more than an hour to deliberate the sentence.  England's 11-month-old son Carter Allan, held by a family friend and unaware of the events, looked on as England hugged her mother Terrie who was also in tears.

Hours earlier during her unsworn sentencing statement, as her attorney provided jurors photographs of her and her son taken in front of an American flag, England said that she was a good mother and feared that her son would be taken away from her. 

"He would view me as a stranger and not as a mother," she said. 

England said she remained an American patriot and said she was sorry. 

Often pausing between words and looking down on her lap, England appeared uncomfortable at the witness stand. "I apologize to the detainees.  I apologize to the coalition forces, the soldiers and their families because she heard that attacks were made because of the photographs. 

England was found guilty of the charges of conspiracy, dereliction of duty, maltreatment of detainees and committing an indecent act for torture in Abu Ghraib. 

England maintained that Corporal Charles Graner  had told her to pose with a smile next to a naked Iraqi prisoner. The prisoner was forced to masturbate while wearing a hood over his head.

In January, Graner was found guilty for his role as the ringleader in Abu Ghraib and sentenced to 10 years of confinement.  He is serving time in Fort Leavonworth, Kan. 

Dressed in his crisp army greens, a fresh haircut and wearing glasses, Graner also appeared in court Tuesday.  Graner suggested that he was not alone in committing torture and that officers were compliant in prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. 

"I nearly beat an M.I. [military intelligence] detainee to death with military intelligence there," Graner said without pause.  

Graner, 37 a prison guard from Pennsylvania met PFC England in Iraq.  England soon fell for his charms.  

"At the time he was interested in everything I was but now I know he's an actor," England said of Graner, during her unsworn statement. Graner, who became her lover in Iraq, fathered  Carter Allan. 

"He made me feel good about myself and trusted him to help me out." 

"She's young. She's very suggestible," said Graner about England. 

A psychologist hired by the defense testified that England followed Graner's orders and that "he had her on a short leash." 

Prosecutors argued that England was responsible for her own actions that had tarnished the Army's reputation. 

“Her service was dishonor," said Captain Chris Graveline.  Though the maximum sentence could be up to  11 years of confinement, prosecutors asked the jurors for a 5 to 6 years of confinement, urging them to send a message to the world that the Army will not tolerate what happened in Abu Ghraib.   

In their closing arguments, defense attorneys contended that Graner manipulated England to participate in the sexually humiliating torture and then posing for snapshots.  They urged jurors to consider the effect their decision could have on her child.  "He has no father and soon he will have no mother," said Capt. John Crisp. "Let her go home and face the stigma in West Virginia where you'll never hear from her again."

With eyes and lips sealed, England whose grin was made infamous in the Abu Ghraib photos — appeared to smile only once.  In a moment of tenderness just before the sentence was handed, England gave Carter a kiss and tickle on the cheek.  She walked to the defense table, waved back with a smile, and then turned around to face her sentence. 

She spent a few minutes with her son and mother in the courtroom after the sentencing, and then walked out of the Fort Hood courthouse just after the sun had set over Killeen, Texas.

Tony Gutierrez  /  AP
U.S. Army Pfc. Lynndie R. England, center front, is led out of the courthouse handcuffed by a security detail, left and right front, followed by her defense attorney Capt. Jonathan Crisp, center back, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2005, in Fort Hood, Texas.



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