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Thursday
Feb242011

Tennessee Legislators Push Anti-Shariah Bill

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- A new bill in the Tennessee legislature could make following Shariah, an Islamic code of conduct, a felony with 15 years in jail.

State Senator Bill Ketron and State Representative Judd Matheny unveiled the bill in the state Senate and House, respectively, last week. Ketron and Matheny argue that Shariah is unconstitutional.

Shariah is an intricate Islamic code of conduct that rose out of Middle Eastern theocracies. It touches on all aspects of life, including justice and personal habits. Critics of the bill cite Sharia's innocuous laws, which include giving money to the poor and not eating shellfish. However, the code has been linked to so-called honor killings in this country and in Europe, in which women have been murdered by male relatives for committing adultery, dating outside their faith, or seeking divorces from their spouses.

Tennessee is just the latest state to introduce anti-Shariah proposals. Oklahoma has notably been subject to an extended legal battle over proposed anti-Shariah laws.
 
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Thursday
Feb242011

Space Shuttle Discovery to Begin Final Mission

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Space shuttle Discovery is set to lift off Thursday on its final mission.

The shuttle will travel to the International Space Station one last time to conclude its 26-year career. Discovery taxied the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit and returned pioneering astronaut John Glenn to space, among its other accomplishments.

The milestone mission is also making news for its passenger, a humanoid named Robonaut 2. This will be the first time NASA has used an anthropomorphic robot for space work. Robonaut 2 will unpack cargo and perform basic tests.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Fla. Teen's Father Issues Tearful Apology After Son Allegedly Kills Officer

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- A Florida teenager appeared in court Wednesday morning after giving a tearful and emotional confession to police that he killed a St. Petersburg police officer Monday night.

Nicholas Lemmon Lindsey, 16, a 10th-grader at Gibbs High School, turned himself into authorities Tuesday night after a nearly day-long manhunt for a suspect in the shooting death of Officer David Crawford.

In a Pinellas County courtroom, the teen showed little emotion until his father, also named Nicholas, broke into tears as he apologized for the killing.

"On behalf of me, my son and my entire family, we send our deepest condolences and sympathy to the family and his colleagues that he worked with," the elder Nicholas Lindsey said. "This is my only son and I'm sorry that it happened."

After making the comments, the father covered his eyes with his hand and continued to cry. As the younger Nicholas Lindsey left the courtroom, he held a tissue in his hand to wipe away tears. Lindsey is being held without bail. It is unclear whether he will be charged as an adult.

"At this point, this will be a decision made by the state attorney after a review and evaluation of the facts and circumstances," Circuit Judge James Raymond said.

The teenager lived with his mother and brothers in an apartment and went by the nickname Lil' Nick, family members told ABC Affiliate WFTS.

Crawford, 46, was responding to a call of a prowler near Tropicana Field Monday night when he was shot, police said. Lindsey was allegedly attempting to steal a Dodge Neon.

After shooting Crawford, the teen fled from the scene and threw his gun in a creek, police said.

Police said another officer found Crawford on the ground. The 25-year veteran was pronounced dead at Bayfront Medical Center.

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Wednesday
Feb232011

Hate Groups on the Rise in US

File Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- The Southern Poverty Law Center issued a report Wednesday highlighting the rise of hate groups in the United States over recent years.

The SPLC documented 1,002 hate groups operating in 2010 -- a 7.5-percent increase from the 932 groups active just one year earlier and a 66-percent rise since 2000.

The report's data marks the first time the number of hate groups has topped 1,000 since the SPLC began counting them in the 1980s.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Obama Awards Six Purple Hearts

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BETHESDA, Md.) -- President Obama on Wednesday visited the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where he awarded six Purple Hearts and met with wounded warriors and their families.

“During his visit to the National Naval Medical Center today, the President met with 22 service members -- 21 of whom served in Afghanistan, 1 of whom served in Iraq,” White House Spokesperson Nick Shapiro said in a statement. “While at the hospital, the President awarded 6 Purple Hearts.”

The president spent an hour and a half at the Medical Center before returning to the White House.  Mr. Obama visited the Medical Center almost exactly a year ago, for a physical, after which he visited with 12 service members who had been injured in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

DEA Raids Pill Mills in Florida and Arrests Doctors

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MIAMI) -- On Wednesday, agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and local police swept across South Florida, arresting individuals suspected of illegally prescribing painkillers and other prescription drugs to patients who often have nothing wrong with them.

The arrests were part of a yearlong probe that centered on Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties and involved undercover agents purchasing prescription drugs. Authorities say there are hundreds of pain clinics throughout the region that are involved in the illegal activity. The clinics are also known as "pill mills" because people come there to get prescriptions, often with no questions being asked.

"Thousands of people from all over the Eastern Seaboard are coming to South Florida to illegally buy prescription drugs," said DEA agent, Anthony Angeli. "People will come in vans, eight or ten people at a time. They get the scripts, and they go back."

Angeli said when they return home, the pills usually end up on the black market.

South Florida is ground zero in the nation's war against prescription drug abuse. State officials recently said that 85 percent of all oxycodone pills sold in the U.S. come from Florida and the top 50 medical prescribers of such drugs are located in the state.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 20,000 people a year are dying from prescription drug overdose, including seven a day in Florida. Over the last decade the number of such deaths has more than tripled.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Ohio Murder Suspect Samuel Littleton Apprehended in W.Va.

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PRINCETON, W. Va.) -- Samuel Littleton II, the suspect in the murder of an Ohio woman, was apprehended Wednesday in West Virginia. The car he had abandoned belonged to an elderly Ohio couple who have been reported missing, police said.

Littleton was apprehended late Wednesday morning in the woods behind a Walmart in Princeton, West Virginia, State Police Capt. J.L. Cahill said during a news conference.

The car that Littleton, 37, was last believed to be driving had been found and seized at a Walmart in Princeton late Tuesday. The discovery was made one day after he made a call from a pay phone in a West Virginia town to his father.

Littleton is wanted in the stabbing death of Tiffany Brown, 26, of Bellefontaine, Ohio.

"All we know is that the suspect is in custody," a spokeswoman for Princeton police told ABC News. "There are no further details being released at this time."

The car, a gray and green 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis, belongs to Richard Russell, 84, and his wife Gladis, 85, who were reported missing from Logan County, Ohio, on Wednesday. There is still no sign of the couple, who police have described as old and infirm.

"The investigation is considered 'national' in every sense," Bellefontaine, Ohio, police chief Brad K. Kunze, wrote in a statement.

"Clearly the Russells are innocent victims who were merely targeted by Littleton to help further his escape from justice," the release continued. "Dick and Gladis Russell are very fragile and do not deserve this unfortunate situation that they they have been placed [in]."

Littleton called a member of his family, possibly his father, from a telephone just down the street from the state police barracks in Princeton, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported.

Tiffany Brown was discovered stabbed to death in the basement of the Ohio house Littleton shared with her mother. Littleton is wanted on four felony counts: murder, felonious assault, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

Littleton knew the Russells because they sold him the house in which Brown's body was found, police said. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Bodies of Americans Killed By Somali Pirates Headed Home

USS Enterprise. Photo Courtesy - U.S. Navy(WASHINGTON) -- The bodies of the four Americans killed after Somali pirates hijacked their yacht headed home on the USS Enterprise from the dangerous waters off the Somali coast Tuesday night, military officials said.  Also on board the massive aircraft carrier were the 15 captured Somali pirates.

American officials have begun the process of determining how they will prosecute the 15 pirates who hijacked the yacht, called the Quest.

"There is an ongoing investigation into the hijacking," Navy Ensign Brynn Olson, spokeswoman for U.S. Central Command, told the Washington Examiner.

The deaths at the hands of pirates increases concern about the growing strength of piracy around the horn of Africa.

Piracy is a "top priority for NATO and there has been an increased presence," Olson said.

Jean and Scott Adam, a retired couple from California, along with their friends, Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle, from Washington state, were sailing the world on a Christian mission to distribute bibles when they were ambushed Feb. 18 by pirates some 300 miles off the Somali coast.

For three harrowing days, the hijacked yacht was sailing toward the Somali coast with four American hostages and 17 pirates packed on board.  President Obama had authorized Navy warships to follow the yacht and use deadly force if needed, hoping to keep the Americans safe.

Officials were negotiating with two pirates on board the destroyer USS Sterett.  In the midst of those negotiations, without warning, pirates on board the hijacked yacht fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the Sterett.  Then gunfire was heard onboard the yacht.

The Navy launched 15 Seals in two high-speed assault craft.  Some pirates appeared to surrender.

Despite the efforts of the Navy Seals, it was too late for the hostages. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Florida Police Arrest Teen Accused of Killing St. Petersburg Cop

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- Police in Florida arrested a teenager Tuesday believed to be responsible for killing a 25-year veteran officer of the St. Petersburg Police Department.

According to authorities, officer David Crawford was responding to a suspicious person call at 10:30 p.m. Monday when he was shot several times from close range.  He was then transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police searched extensively for the gunman, who fled the scene on foot, using dogs and closing off streets before arresting the 16-year-old boy, who is not being named because of his age.

Crawford's death marks the third time a St. Petersburg officer was killed in the line of duty in less than a month.  Sgt. Thomas Baitinger and K-9 Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz were both killed by a wanted fugitive on Jan. 24.

The St. Petersburg Police Department is still mourning the loss of Sergeant Thomas Baitinger and K-9 Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz, both of whom were killed by a wanted fugitive 28 days ago.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Rising Number of Dead Dolphins Washing Up Along the Gulf

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HORN ISLAND, Miss.) -- Marine biologists are working to figure out what caused the deaths of nearly two dozen baby dolphins who have washed up on beaches in Mississippi and Alabama since the year began.

On Tuesday, researchers from the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies added to that total when they discovered the dead bodies of four more dolphins on Horn Island, Mississippi, according to ABC News affiliate WLOX-TV in southern Mississippi.

The institute said it is doing necropsies on the mammals, as well as taking tissue samples and running toxicology tests, to determine their cause of death.

There may be a connection between these deaths and last year's BP oil spill, which happened right around the time when dolphins are normally breeding, but it's too early to tell.

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