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Thursday
Apr242014

American Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing After Report of Smoke 

iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- An American Airlines flight made an emergency landing in Tampa on Thursday after reports of a smoke smell in the cockpit.

Flight 3454 from Tallahassee was on its way to Miami and had already been delayed for more than two hours, passengers said. Three crew members and 46 passengers were on board. All de-planed safely, according to Tampa International Airport spokeswoman Janet Zink.

Fire trucks and emergency medical services were already on scene upon landing.

Passenger Ann Herberger told ABC News that while she did not smell smoke, her colleague on the plane did.

"The flight attendant was a little freaked out so that kind of freaked everybody else for about seven minutes on the flight," Herberger said.

She added that she was a little shaken up by the incident.

"I looked like I've had 15 hot flashes so I'm going to take a bath, and brush my teeth and go to bed and get on a 7 a.m. flight to Miami tomorrow."

The airlines is accommodating passengers with hotel rooms and meal vouchers, as well as re-booking their travels.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr242014

At Least 9 Injured in California School Bus Crash

Design Pics/Thinkstock(ANAHEIM, Calif.) -- At least nine people were injured after a school bus crashed into trees in California on Thursday afternoon. Two students and the driver are in critical condition.

The bus traveled on a hill, hitting two trees while trying to make a turn, and the resulting impact split the vehicle in half. Firefighters needed to cut the driver from the bus, and students pulled out were seen being put on backboards by paramedics.

"It came flying down the hill and went curb airborne and took out trees along the way," witness Andrea Shurtz told affiliate KABC. "The kids are screaming for us. [We're] trying to get them to jump out but the slope is so horrible and people just came running from everywhere."

The bus is from the Orange Unified School District, officials told KABC. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr242014

Federal Investigators Issue Report on Radiation Leak at US Waste Dump

iStock/Thinkstock(CARLSBAD, N.M.) -- An investigation board looking into a February accident at a U.S. nuclear waste dump found the incident was caused in part by "failure to fully understand, characterize, and control the radiological hazard," as well as maintenance and poor management.

The radiation leak resulted in the contamination of 21 workers who tested positive for low-level radiation exposure at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant outside Carlsbad, N.M. The 300-page report from Energy Department investigators released Thursday slammed federal staff and outside contractors responsible for operating and overseeing the facility.

WIPP is the only nuclear waste dump in the United States. Prior to the incident, there were hopes to expand the facility's mission to take high-level waste from the nation's nuclear weapons program. Operations at the plant have since been shut down.

“The cumulative effect of inadequacies in ventilation system design and operability compounded by degradation of key safety management programs and safety culture resulted in the release of radioactive material," the report reads.

The source of the leak remains undetermined as crews work to examine the area.

In a daily briefing Thursday, management of the facility responded to the findings, saying they have started implementing "corrective actions" to address issues in the report.

The Department of Energy has begun evaluating additional permanent staffing needs in reponse to oversight problems, and more emergency training and drills have been conducted. New leadership has also been put into place.

"These actions are just the first step," a statement from WIPP reads. "The federal and contractor management teams are closely reviewing the report and will address all of the findings.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr242014

San Diego Naval Base on Lockdown After Pellet Gun Shooting

File photo. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Trevor Welsh/(SAN DIEGO) -- A San Diego naval base underwent a lockdown Thursday after reports of an armed gunman.

Naval Base Point Loma issued a "shelter in place" order, but the reports turned out to be a sailor playing with an Airsoft gun. The man  was firing shots out of a window at a mirror located in a parking building adjacent to the barracks. Both the sailor and his brother were arrested.
 
Capt. Scott Adams said it marked the first incident with an Airsoft gun since he started on base nearly three years ago.

"We are dealing with young sailors and we inform them what is and is not appropriate, but sometimes these things happen," Adams said.

Sailors sign a document saying they won't bring weapons on base, but Adams says it may be unclear whether an Airsoft is considered such.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr242014

Texas County to Feed Feral Hogs to the Homeless

File photo. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Authorities in Texas have signed off on plans to control the growing feral hog population that include trapping and cooking the critters to feed to the hungry at local food banks.

The pigs will be trapped at George Bush Park and Congressman Bill Archer Park in Harris County, Texas, where they are threatening native wildlife and vegetation, according to Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack, who came up with the plan and called it a "gift from God," according to ABC News affiliate KTRK-TV in Houston.

"There may be as many as 8,000 to 10,000 feral hogs in each of the reservoirs," said Mike McMahon with the Harris County Commissioner's Office, which on Thursday approved the purchase of four four-acre metal pens to trap the hogs.

After being captured, the pigs will be taken to a processing plant, J&J Packing Co, where they'll be inspected by a Department of Agriculture officer before being slaughtered. The meat will be sent to the Houston Food Bank.

"This is a huge win for everybody in all the communities that we serve," said Dr. Pamela Berger with the Houston Food Bank, who said she is excited to receive the hog meat.

Tom Harvey from Texas Parks and Wildlife said the state has a long-standing issue with wild hogs, which were introduced to the state some 300 years ago by Spanish explorers as domestic farm animals. Through the years, some pigs escaped and continued to “breed prolifically,” creating the feral population problem today, he said.

“Basically we’re losing the war against feral hogs, while our native wildlife continues to lose their habitat,” Harvey told ABC News. “They do a number of things that are problems: they root in sensitive areas, they trample wetlands, they defecate in water sources and they displace native wildlife.”

Harvey says that historically, hogs were a nuisance mainly in rural areas, but have recently begun encroaching on suburban and city areas. The department gets "very few reports" of attacks on humans, he said.

Numerous efforts to trap feral hogs over the years have failed to curb the growing populations, which people can legally hunt year-round, provided they have a license and are not trespassing, Harvey said. Parks and Wildlife even introduced its own campaign in 2012 promoting the consumption of wild pigs, including providing a recipe for feral hog tacos on their website.

The USDA warned that "unlike domesticated pigs, wild hogs are more prone to trichinella and toxoplasma parasite infections, but with proper food handling and preparation procedures can be safely consumed."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr242014

Wife of US Doctor Slain in Afghan Hospital Forgives Gunman

Bernardo Barrios/Lawndale Christian Health Center(CHICAGO) -- The wife of an American doctor who was one of three U.S. doctors gunned down Thursday in an Afghan hospital emerged on Thursday to say that she forgave the man who shot her husband.

The doctor was identified as Jerry Umanos, a pediatrician who had given up his Chicago practice to spend the last nine years caring for children in Afghanistan.

Umanos' wife, Jan Schuitema Umanos, read a statement Thursday with their son Ben by her side. The couple's two other children were not in Chicago, she said.

"I’d like to start by saying our family has suffered a great loss," Mrs. Umanos said, adding, "We are also aching for the loss of the other families… as well as the loss that the Afghan people have experienced. My heart aches for the Afghan people."

"I know Jerry would also like everybody to know about his love for the Afghan people," she said. "And we don’t hold any ill will towards the Afghan people in general or even the gunman who did this."

Mrs. Umanos, who said she also spent several years working in Afghanistan, made it clear that her husband was a religious man.

"Jerry always wanted us to serve underserved populations and Afghanistan was just one of them. He always had a desire to be the hands and feet of Christ," she said.

Jerry Umanos practiced medicine at Lawndale Christian Health Center in Chicago for 16 years, becoming a beloved staff member at the hospital. There, he treated many staff members' children as their pediatrician, the hospital's chief clinical officer said on Thursday.

"Today we have lost a very, very dear friend and devoted colleague," Dr. Bruce Rowell, chief clinical officer of Lawndale, said at a press conference Thursday morning. "Dr. Umanos has been a pediatrician for over 25 years and he was the pediatrician for many of our own children."

Mrs. Umanos' mother, Angie, initially confirmed Jerry Umanos' death to ABC News through tears Thursday morning.

Jerry Umanos left Lawndale in 2005 when he decided to become a staff doctor for a charity hospital opening in Kabul, Afghanistan. That hospital, CURE International, specialized in caring for women and children and was the site of Thursday's deadly attack.

According to police, an Afghan security guard who worked at the hospital opened fire on a group that included Umanos. Umanos was killed along with an American father and son whose names have not been released. The pair was visiting Umanos. A female nurse who was with the group was also injured.

Rowell said that Umanos was teaching medical residents and seeing patients at CURE, part of a network of charity-run hospitals based in Pennsylvania.

"Early this morning we learned the news of his death in Afghanistan. For nearly a decade, he has volunteered to train residents and see patients in Afghanistan. This is a great loss for his family, for those of us he worked with, and for the people of Afghanistan," Rowell said.

Staff members at the hospital cried and hugged one another after the press conference.

Umanos completed medical school at Wayne State University and residency at the Children's Hospital of Michigan, according to ABC News station WLS in Chicago.

The shooting at Cure International Hospital in western Kabul was the third attack on foreign civilians in Afghanistan's capital this year. CURE hospital is one of the most prominent in Kabul, partly because of its specialized offerings for women and children, including obstetrics and gynecology and surgery.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr242014

Breast-Feeding Mom Says TSA to Pay $75K to Settle Lawsuit

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- The California woman who sued the U.S. Transportation Security Administration after agents told her she had to put her stored breast milk through an X-ray machine says the agency plans to settle her lawsuit for $75,000.

Airport surveillance video of Stacey Armato’s January 2010 encounter with the TSA screeners at Arizona’s Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport had parenting communities in an uproar.

It shows Armato, who had recently given birth to a baby boy, showing her breast milk to a screener, and then being directed to stand in a transparent enclosure after she said she asked for an alternate way to screen three bottles of breast milk.

She says she was held in that enclosure for some time.

“The manager told me your milk either needs to go in the trash or go in the X-ray, and as a breast-feeding mom that just, neither was an option for me,” the 34-year-old Hermosa Beach, Calif., resident said in an interview with ABC News' Good Morning America.

Armato says she had even printed out the agency’s own rules to back up her request.

“They threw her in a glass enclosure before they allowed her to have her breast milk alternately screened,” said Robert Mosier, Armato’s lawyer.

Armato says she felt “totally humiliated.”

“It’s a glass container with hundreds of passengers passing by on either side. You’re being totally ignored. You’re asking to speak with someone -- the manager and the supervisor and no one is giving you any answers yet they stand right there and watch like you are an animal in a cage,” she said.

Asked why she didn’t want her breast milk being put through an X-ray machine, Armato replied: “We work really hard to eat well, exercise and drink lots of water and make sure that we have really nutritious food, milk for our children.”

Several medical experts consulted by ABC News said they thought it highly unlikely that the TSA screening machines would have damaged the breast milk at all.

When contacted by ABC News, the TSA referred to a statement on its website that breast milk should be treated “in the same manner as liquid medication” at security checkpoints.

“Parents flying with, and without, their child(ren) are permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than 3 ounces as long as it is presented for inspection at the security checkpoint,” the statement reads.

Armato says she believes her situation could help make things easier for mothers who travel.

“We’ve been promised that they would retrain everybody and heed great importance to this issue,” she said, “and I think that breast-feeding moms can feel good about that.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr242014

#MyNYPD Twitter Campaign Spawns Hashtags Across the Country

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- What the New York Police Department initially intended to be a social media public relations campaign has turned into a Twitter commentary on police brutality that has spread across to other law enforcement units across the nation.

The #myNYPD hashtag became one of the top trending hashtags on Twitter Tuesday after seeking people’s photos of police officers working in their communities. Instead, citizens began attaching the hashtag to pictures and video depicting police violence.

Initially, there were some positive responses to the campaign, but things turned ugly. With little context to many of the pictures, it’s difficult to determine the location and circumstances in which these incidences took place. But that didn’t stop the flurry of outraged tweets that two days later are still appearing on the Internet.

The backlash spread to the Los Angeles police department where #myLAPD began to trend, while others took to Twitter to compare the two police departments. From there, the tweets expanded to include the Seattle, San Francisco and Denver police departments, among others.

In an email NYPD Deputy Chief Kim Royster sent to ABC News affiliate WABC in New York, the department recognized that Twitter “provides an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialogue good for our city.”

 


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr242014

Ex-KKK Leader Was Given a New Identity Years Before Kansas Shooting

United States Marshals Service(OVERLAND PARK, Kan.) -- Frazier Glenn Cross, the man accused of murder in the shootings of three people outside Jewish facilities in Kansas last week was, for all practical purposes, born at the age of 49.    

The federal government gave him that name when he was released from prison in 1990, along with a new social security number and a new place to live, not far from the Missouri River in western Iowa.

The idea was to erase any record of the man he had been before: Frazier Glenn Miller. White Nationalist leader. Spewer of hate. Federal informant.

“I joined the family in Sioux City, Iowa,” Miller wrote later in his self-published autobiography. “I enrolled in truck driving school…and I’ve been trucking ever since. And I love it. After prison, the freedom of the open road is gloriously exhilarating.”

Less than three years earlier Miller had been a fugitive from justice, the subject of a nationwide manhunt after he had declared war on blacks and Jews, exhorting his thousands of followers to violently overthrow the very government that would soon become his protector.

“Let the blood of our enemies flood the streets, rivers and fields of the nation,” Miller wrote. “[R]ise up and throw off the chains which bind us to the satanic, Jewish controlled and ruled federal government. Let the battle axes swing smoothly and the bullets wiss [sic] true.”

DECLARATION OF WAR

In the early morning hours of April 30, 1987, more than three dozen federal and state law enforcement agents surrounded a mobile home in Ozark, Mo.  A van recently purchased by Miller in Louisiana had been spotted outside by an agent the day before.

A volley of tear gas was fired and then, just after 7 a.m, four men emerged and gave themselves up.

Among them was Miller, the founder of Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the paramilitary White Patriot Party in North Carolina. The United States Marshals Service had issued a nationwide bulletin seeking Miller’s arrest after he disappeared while appealing his conviction for criminal contempt.

Agents recovered hand grenades, automatic rifles, pistols and flak jackets inside the trailer, according to FBI statements at the time. Explosives experts from nearby Fort Leonard Wood were called in to detonate a box containing about twenty pipe bombs.

The authorities also found a Xerox machine and about a thousand copies of Miller’s Declaration of War.  During his 10 days on the run, Miller had mailed his typewritten call to arms to thousands of white nationalists, as well as members of Congress and dozens of media outlets.

“I realize fully that I will be caught quickly,” Miller had written in his letter. “[B]ut I will die with contempt on my lips and with sword in my hand. My fate will either be assassination or the death penalty.”

But faced with an array of charges that could have put him behind bars for 20 years or more, Miller’s bombast was quickly reduced to a squeal. Within days of his arrest, he was signalling his willingness to make a deal.

“He stated that it was ‘all a bluff that got out of hand,’” according to an FBI agent’s notes, obtained by ABC News, of an interview with Miller a few weeks after his arrest. “[H]aving spent eight days in jail and having the opportunity to dry out from excessive alcohol consumption, he has learned to develop tolerance. He stated emphatically that he would never hurt anybody,” the agent wrote in recounting Miller’s statements.

Among those present for the initial interviews with Miller was then-federal prosecutor J. Douglas McCullough, now a judge on the North Carolina state court of appeals.

“He tried to be a little bit self-serving,” McCullough said of Miller in an interview this week in Raleigh. “Every defendant in those situations usually is at first. But he did open up about a lot of things about the White Patriot Party. He detailed a number of people that were involved in illegal activities that were his associates. And that’s what we were looking for. ”

In a series of ensuing interviews with federal and North Carolina investigators, Miller never denied his racist and anti-Semitic views, but claimed he had always denounced violence and illegal activity.

“Miller wanted nothing more to do with the movement,” according to an FBI account of an interview in June of 1987. He was “willing to turn his back on it in order to return to his family.  His problem in the past had been intolerance linked with excessive drinking.”

A month later, in an interview with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, during which he accused two of his former comrades of murder, he described his time on the run from the law as little more than a lark.

“I was on vacation, flirting with girls and drinking beer and going red-necking,” Miller told the agents. “I love to go out and drink a beer with rednecks…do the Texas Two-Step.  I’m a pretty good dancer by the way,” he said.

SHOCKING ALLEGATIONS

In the course of their investigation, authorities also learned the stunning details of Miller’s arrest a year earlier. Raleigh police officers had caught Miller in  the back seat of a vehicle, in mid-act with a black male prostitute masquerading as a woman.

“It was pretty shocking,” says McCullough, “because of his personal stances that he had taken and what he was now accused on engaging in.”

McCullough says he has read the police report of the incident but declined to comment on the specifics. “I would rather not go into the details,” he said. “They’re rather salacious. I think the facts speak for themselves and people can draw their own conclusions about how incongruous that is.”

Miller was not charged in connection with the prostitution arrest and no public record of the incident could be located. But in a recorded phone call with the Southern Poverty Law Center last fall, Miller claimed that he had lured the prostitute to the meeting with the intention of beating him.

Eventually, McCullough, the federal prosecutor, would approve a plea deal with Miller recommending a five-year prison sentence in exchange for his cooperation and testimony against his former compatriots. He would serve less than three years of that sentence at a prison in western New York.

“I am not certain that we got 100 percent of what we wanted,” McCullough says. “He did testify in a couple of cases here in the eastern part of the state, or agreed to testify where the people plead guilty knowing he was going to testify.”

In 1998, Miller was a key witness in a high-profile federal trial that charged more than a dozen white nationalists in an alleged conspiracy to levy war against the United States government. The Department of Justice had called it Operation Clean Sweep. Miller testified that he had received two payments totaling $200,000 from a leader of  the alleged conspiracy, but in the end all of those accused were acquitted and, incredibly, one of the jurors later married one of the defendants.

“His testimony was extremely weak,” says Leonard Zeskind, who tracked Miller’s activities in the 1980′s as research director for the Center for the Democratic Renewal, a civil rights group fighting Klan activities.

“I believe that Miller was essentially playing a game with the feds. And I don’t think he had any intention of becoming a good witness. The guy was a stone-to-the-bone Nazi,” Zeskind says. “He never gave that up. I am on the record as saying the man should have died in prison.”

But McCullough says that nothing would have changed what happened last week in Kansas. Even if he had refused to deal with Miller back in 1987, he would have spent no more than fifteen years in prison.

“We made the deal that we could make at the time and whether it’s right or wrong, it’s really kind of immaterial at this point,” McCullough says. “Human beings are unpredictable. I don’t think there is anybody who could know what he was capable of doing,” he said of the shootings in Kansas. “I certainly never saw that in his personality.  He was a blowhard who liked to be in front of a crowd. He liked to whip the crowd up and get the emotions running high.”  

Very little is known of the years Miller spent in Iowa and Nebraska living as Frazier Glenn Cross. But it’s clear that he eventually discarded his assumed identity provided by the federal government and resumed his life as the belligerent, unapologetic white supremacist, Frazier Glenn Miller.

And no one, it seems, could predict the tragic consequences that would follow.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr232014

Former NFL Cheerleaders Accuse Buffalo Bills of Demeaning Treatment, Unfair Pay

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Five former Buffalo Bills cheerleaders, known as the Buffalo Jills, are accusing their team of demeaning treatment and unfair pay.

“Our dream as being a Buffalo Jills cheerleader was taken advantage of,” former cheerleader identified only as Maria P. told ABC affiliate WKBW.

The suit, filed by five former Buffalo Jills, says the team controlled everything from how much bread to eat at formal dinners to how to properly eat soup. The cheerleaders say the team even regulated what color nail polish they could wear.

At an annual golf tournament, the cheerleaders say they were required to wear bikinis and were subjected to degrading sexual comments and touched inappropriately.

And every week, they say they had the “jiggle test” and those who failed, in some cases, “were penalized, suspended or dismissed.”

“Everything from standing in front of us with a clipboard and have us do a jiggle test to see what parts of our body were jiggling,” former Buffalo Jill Alyssa told ABC affiliate WKBW.

According to the suit, one Bills cheerleader says she was paid just $105 for the entire season.

“We are aware of this lawsuit, and it is our organizational policy not to comment on pending litigation,” Scott Berchtold, the Bills’ senior vice president of communications, told The Buffalo News.

The NFL isn’t commenting.

Buffalo follows suits by cheerleaders from the Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders, some of whom claim they were paid less than $5 an hour.

The Jills suit says while they earned less than minimum wage, the highest-paid player on the team raked in an average of $16 million a season.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio