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Tuesday
Feb152011

CBS News' Lara Logan Out of Hospital after Assault in Egypt

Photo Courtesy - The Gracies dot org(NEW YORK) -- CBS News correspondent Lara Logan was assaulted and sexually abused by an Egyptian crowd last week during the celebration of President Hosni Mubarak's decision to step aside.

Logan, a veteran foreign correspondent, was covering the jubilation in Tahrir Square for 60 Minutes on Feb. 11 when "she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration," CBS News said in a statement published on their website Tuesday.

"In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers," read the statement.

Thousands of Egyptians swarmed Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protests that night, and the crowds were generally peaceful.

Soon after the assault Logan reconnected with her crew, "returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning," CBS said.

On Tuesday, four days after the assault, she was still "in the hospital recovering." She later left the hospital.

Logan had been detained by Egyptian police just days earlier on Feb. 4 and forced to leave the country. After landing in the U.S. Logan promptly got on a plane and returned to Cairo on Feb. 11, the day she was assaulted.

Logan, 39 and a native of South Africa, has covered war zones for 18 years and joined CBS as chief foreign correspondent in 2006.

She has reported on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has received an Emmy Award, an Overseas Press Club Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award for her reporting.

She is the mother of two young children.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Tuesday
Feb152011

Jury Weighs Death Penalty for Border Vigilante Shawna Forde

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- One day after finding border vigilante Shawna Forde guilty of murder in the deaths of a nine-year-old Arizona girl and her father, jurors in the case are now prepared to decide whether she should be put to death.

The Pima County Superior Court jury deliberated for 45 minutes Tuesday on whether to consider the death penalty as an option in the case, a move they unanimously approved. Lawyers from both sides will now present arguments on whether Forde should be executed or spend the rest of her life in prison.

Forde, 43, founded the Minutemen American Defense, a civilian militia group that seeks to combat illegal immigration along the border. She was convicted of orchestrating a violent May 2009 armed robbery of Raul "Junior" Flores, 29, who she thought was a drug dealer, to fund her group.

Prosecutors said Forde and two other men, who face separate criminal trials later this spring, burst into Flores' Arivaca, Ariz., home, shooting and killing Flores and his daughter Bresenia. Flores' wife, Gina Gonzalez, was shot three times but survived by playing dead.

The trial has been closely watched in Arizona and nationwide, both for the brutality of the crime and as an example of anti-immigrant extremism gone awry.

Gonzalez took the stand Tuesday to describe the emotional anguish she's felt since the loss of her daughter and husband, expressing exasperation at why Forde and her alleged accomplices targeted them.

"I don't understand how someone can have that much hate in their heart," Gonzalez said, according to the Arizona Star.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Anthrax Attacks After 9/11: Was FBI's Suspect Really to Blame?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It's a case that's been marked by controversy and mystery for nearly a decade: who was responsible for the deadly anthrax-laced letters sent after 9/11? On Tuesday, the National Academy of Science raised more questions.

A review panel said the FBI overstated the scientific evidence that linked the anthrax flask controlled by Dr. Bruce E. Ivins to the anthrax used in the 2001 attack letters. Dr. Ivins, a researcher at Ft. Detrick, MD., was identified by the FBI as the primary suspect in the case. He maintained his innocence until his suicide in 2008.

The cornerstone of the FBI case against Dr. Ivins was that the anthrax in the flask to which he had access -- labeled RMR-1029 -- had a unique make-up that identified it as the parent material for the anthrax in the attack letters. It took years of research for the FBI to conclude that the anthrax in the letters came from Dr. Ivins' flask, and they cited it as "powerful evidence" against him.

On Tuesday, Dr. David A. Relman, the vice chair of the NAS panel, said, "One cannot arrive at a definitive conclusion about the origins of the anthrax."

The review by the NAS concludes that while the anthrax in the letters was "consistent with" the RMR-1029 flask, that flask was not the "immediate source" of the spores used in the letters. The NAS found that one or more growth steps would have been required to produce the spores used in the letters. The NAS found that "the data did not rule out other possible sources" of the anthrax.

In addition, the NAS found the anthrax used in letters sent to New York locations -- including ABC News, NBC News and the New York Post -- had different physical properties from the anthrax in letters that killed several postal workers and closed down some Senate offices in Washington, D.C.

The FBI says it did not rely on science alone to close in on Dr. Ivins. Investigators said they also used circumstantial evidence, including late-night lab visits by Ivins and e-mail messages describing his psychological turmoil, to identify him as a suspect.

In response to the NAS review, the FBI issued a statement saying, "The committee concluded that it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the B. anthracis in the mailings based on the available scientific evidence alone. The FBI has long maintained that while science played a significant role, it was the totality of the investigative process that determined the outcome of the anthrax case."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

17 US Vets File Lawsuit Accusing Military of Mishandling Sex Assault

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Fifteen female and two male U.S. veterans accused the military of ignoring reports of sexual abuse and rape by fellow service members in a federal class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The lawsuit, which names Defense Secretary Robert Gates and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as defendants, details 17 sexual assault cases which the plaintiffs believe military commanders mishandled.  Often times, the victims were forced to work alongside their assailants following their attacks.

The plaintiffs are calling for the military to change the way sexual assault cases are handled.

Since 2006, the Military Rape Crisis Center has helped over 5,000 service members and their families who suffered from sexual assault or rape.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Senate Votes to Make Misuse of TSA Body Scans a Federal Crime

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of last year’s uproar over leaked airport body scan images, the Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to make it a federal crime to misuse the images.

The amendment to the $35 billion FAA reauthorization bill would ban the distribution of body scan images taken in airports or other federal buildings. Under the proposal, anyone who records or distributes the images would face up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

“This law sends a loud and clear message to the flying public, not only will we do everything we can to protect your safety, we will also do everything we can to protect your privacy,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a paper statement. “As we put in place new technologies to detect and capture those who wish to do us harm, we need to do everything we can to protect the privacy rights of the air travelers.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday night that he hopes to bring the complete FAA bill to a full Senate vote later this week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Who's Got the Million-Dollar Lotto Ticket? Big Winner Could Lose Out

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- Did you play the numbers 4-13-20-29-48 on a hot August day in North Carolina last year? If so, congratulations! You have won the $1 million prize.

The lottery is trying to find the winner of the Mega Millions jackpot. But, if the winner does not claim the prize by Wednesday, the ticket is worthless. Or, worth negative $2, the price paid for the winning ticket.

If the winner does not come forward the $1 million prize will be the state's first seven-figure winning to go unclaimed. And, instead of making some lucky person a millionaire the money will be divided equally between the lottery's education fund and, to an unusual benefactor, Medicaid. The North Carolina Lottery will direct funds to a Medicaid shortfall instead of the typical allotment for prizes for players in 2011.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Woman Jumps Off 40-Foot Bridge: 'I Thought I Was Dead'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ATLANTA) -- Bianca Vera was driving through the winter weather across an icy bridge in Atlanta, when a driver sideswiped her, knocking her car into the guard rail. When the 22-year-old opened her door and saw a truck barreling toward her, she jumped 40 feet into the icy water of Lake Lanier.

As she fell, she heard the truck smash into her car, followed by a series of crashes as more cars piled up. "I thought I was dead at that point," Vera said.

Vera hit the water, and in immense pain, swam 100 yards to the shore in the dark. She didn't realize it at the time, but she had broken her back in the fall. "Everything went numb, the water was so cold," Vera said.

Vera screamed, but no one answered. The icy swim took nearly an hour. Once on shore, rescuers heard Vera's cries.

"I think she's very lucky,” said deputy police chief Jerome Yarbrough.

"I can't take anything for granted, nothing at all. And I was obviously put here for a reason. God spared my life. I have a purpose and I just have to find it," Vera said.

Once in the water, Vera remembered to take off all of her winter clothes and her boots so she could swim faster. She credits her quick thinking to watching television. Apparently, Vera and her boyfriend are big fans of the show Man vs. Wild.

Vera spent four days in the hospital. In addition to breaking her back and severe bruising, she also suffered from hypothermia in the cold water.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Ex-Continental Pilot: Low Pay Led to Dangerous Fatigue

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A former veteran commercial airline pilot lived for more than a year at the beginning of his career in and out of a bare-bones "crash pad" and was so tired while flying that he drifted off to sleep in the cockpit, the pilot told ABC News.

Josh Reikes, who began flying in 1999, said money was so tight in his first years that whenever he commuted to a new city before a flight, he could not afford a hotel room and opted to stay in a crash pad.

"You're bunked up with six, seven, eight people stumbling in at all hours of the night waking you up," recalled Reikes. "It's not good sleep at all. But what's the alternative?"

An ABC News investigation found these dormitory-style rooms, designed to pack in as many airline crew members as possible, are spread out in cities across the country. After the few hours of sleep some pilots are able to snag in the crowded crash pads or on the couches and chairs of crew rooms, they report to duty and are entrusted with dozens, or sometimes hundreds, of passengers' lives. In the past 20 years, more than two dozen accidents and more than 250 fatalities have been linked to pilot fatigue, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration told ABC News airline companies deny pilots are sleeping overnight in crash pads.

Reikes told ABC News he lived for more than a year in and out crash pads because it was the only way he could get by on his $17,000 per year starting salary at ExpressJet, which offers flights under the name Continental Express as a Continental Airlines regional carrier.

"There were about 15 of us bunking in a small hotel room," Reikes told ABC News of the crash pad he called home. The kind of sleep he was afforded there caused him on more than one occasion to either deliberately take a nap in the cockpit or drift off to sleep inadvertently, Reikes said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Department of Justice Seeks Twitter Records in Wikileaks Probe

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In an interesting juxtaposition to Secretary Hillary Clinton's Internet freedom speech, Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, the Justice Department will be seeking to enforce a court order to direct Twitter Inc. to provide the U.S. government records from three individuals,  including Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Icelandic parliament who communicated with others about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange last year when WikiLeaks released their trove of U.S. cables.

In December, the U.S. District Court issued the order to seek the information under a 2703 order which allows the government to seek a service provider's customer communications records in the past 180 days. It is essentially an administrative subpoena.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Freedom Foundation are seeking to dismiss and challenge the order.  According to a Jan. 26 court filing, the groups are seeking to dismiss on the grounds that it "intrudes upon important First Amendment rights," 4th Amendment protections, and "will not directly further the government's purported interests."

Jonsdottir and two other individuals have been targeted by these orders to turn over details about their Twitter accounts because the suit suggests they discussed Wikileaks and Assange.  The motion to dismiss notes, "The First Amendment guarantees their right to speak up for and freely associate with even unpopular people."

The motion also notes that the U.S. government request creates, "a disturbing precedent regarding a foreign government's ability to collect private data from another country's officials."

The U.S. government is seeking information about their accounts, direct messages, home address, connection records and IP addresses.

The ACLU and EFF are also seeking to unseal all court orders relating to the case and the government's request for the records.  Everything filed by the Justice Department was filed under seal in the case and remains secret.  The court motion and request to dismiss the court order were only recently unsealed in this matter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

President Obama to Award Medal of Freedom to 15 Recipients

Photo Courtesy - Chip Somodevilla/ Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will award the Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor -- to 15 recipients Tuesday, which include a former president, a famous poet and a Hall of Fame baseball player.

The medal is awarded annually "to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

The 15 honorees were announced last year in November and "come from a broad range of backgrounds and they’ve excelled in a broad range of fields, but all of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place," President Obama said.

The 2010 Medal of Freedom recipients are:

-- Former President George H. W. Bush
-- Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Angela Merkel
-- Rep. John Lewis of Georgia
-- Co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, John H. Adams
-- Author, poet, actress and civil rights activist, Dr. Maya Angelou
-- Investor, industrialist and philanthropist, Warren Buffett
-- Artist, Jasper Johns
-- Jewish Holocaust survivor, Gerda Weissmann Klein
-- Optometrist, Dr. Tom Little (Posthumous)
-- Cellist, Yo-Yo Ma
-- Civil rights activist, Sylvia Mendez
-- National baseball Hall of Fame first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, Stan “The Man” Musial
-- Former Boston Celtics Captain and five-time NBA Most Valuable Player, Bill Russell
-- Founder of the non-profit organization VSA, Jean Kennedy Smith
-- Current President Emeritus of the AFL-CIO, John J. Sweeney

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ABC News Radio