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Thursday
Aug112011

Police Say Memphis Teen Plotted for Months to Kill School Principal

Comstock/Thinkstock(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -- A Memphis teenager who police say told investigators he had been planning the murder of his school principal for months was held without bond Thursday and ordered to undergo a mental evaluation.

Eduardo Marmolejo, 17, was arrested Wednesday after a teacher discovered Principal Suzette York's bloody body about 11:20 a.m. at Memphis Junior Academy. He was charged with first-degree murder.

Marmolejo told police that he had been planning for months to kill the 49-year-old York, Memphis police said.

"He advised investigators that he did not like her and that she had made him angry. Marmolejo further advised that he knew that he was going to be alone with York which would give him the opportunity to kill her," Memphis police said in a statement.

York is a native of Canada and had taught at the school before becoming principal. The school is affiliated with the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

She had recently expanded the school to include 11th grade. Marmolejo was the school's sole 11th grader, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. The teen told authorities that he'd begun plotting the murder of York when he found out in May that he'd be returning to the school for the 11th grade, according to ABC affiliate WPTY.

In a press release, the spokesman for the Kentucky-Tennessee Seventh-Day Adventist Conference said that classes at the school are cancelled until further notice.

A memorial for the teacher was held Wednesday afternoon at a nearby Methodist Church that shares a parking lot and some facilities with the school.

"She was a delightful, absolutely delightful person...very dedicated to the school and to the students. Everyone is absolutely shocked. We're stunned," said Brad Gabriel of Mullins United Methodist Church.

York is survived by her husband, Leslie. Attempts to reach him were not successful.

Marmolejo's next court appearance will be Aug. 24.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug112011

Feds Find Young Children Working on Strawberry Farms

Noel Hendrickson/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly two years after ABC News cameras uncovered young children toiling away in Michigan's blueberry fields, federal investigators have found yet another disturbing example of illegal use of child labor in the berry industry.

Three southwest Washington strawberry growers were fined $73,000 last week after the U.S. Department of Labor found children between the ages of six and 11 working in their strawberries fields in June.

While an exemption in the federal child labor law allows 12- and 13-year-olds to work for unlimited hours on large agricultural operations, children under the age of 12 are strictly prohibited from working under similar conditions.

Andrea Schmitt, an attorney with Columbia Legal Services in Olympia, said that the low wages made by workers in the Northwest berry industry are a key factor driving young kids into the fields. She said that berry pickers, who are usually paid a piece rate instead of an hourly wage, often struggle to make the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

"Minimum wage laws are not being followed with the adults who are working in this industry. Across the board, we see people making $5 or fewer an hour," said Andrea Schmitt, who provides legal services to low-income families working in berry picking. "People can't make minimum wage by the piece and so if they have another set of little hands adding to the pile of berries, they might be able to make enough to live on."

Two of the southwest Washington state growers cited with fines – George Hoffman Farms and Berry Good Farms – were found to be in violation of minimum wages laws. The two growers, along with Columbia Fruit LLC, have taken steps to remove the underage workers from their fields and will be required to attend training conducted by the federal government over the next three years, according to a Department of Labor statement.

Representatives for Columbia Fruit LLC and Berry Good Farms did not respond to requests for comment. George Hoffman declined to comment, referring ABC News to his attorney who was unavailable.

To force the companies into compliance, the Department of Labor invoked an infrequently-used enforcement tool called the "hot goods" provision which prevents farmers from shipping produce harvested in violation with child labor laws.

"Agricultural employers must understand that the Labor Department will vigorously enforce the federal labor laws, especially when it comes to protecting vulnerable workers such as children," said Jeffrey Genkos, director of the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour division office in Portland, Oregon, in a statement. "Agricultural employment is particularly dangerous for children, and the rules for their employment must be followed."

Schmitt said that harvesting low-growing strawberry plants can be arduous work for children.

"The kind of work that kids are doing on commercial farms, I think, is fundamentally different than the kind of berry-picking people did as kids 50 years ago," said Schmitt. "We're talking about kids who are picking 100 to 200 pounds of berries a day. In strawberries, that's a lot of stooping and standing. They complain to us about backaches -- their backs hurt when they sleep at night -- and we see these horribly bruised knees."

The violations in Washington were found two years after a 2009 ABC News investigation discovered children, some as young as five and seven, illegally working in the Michigan blueberry fields of a major supplier to Walmart and other chain grocery stores. Walmart suspended ties with the supplier pending an investigation and later reinstated the company after it took steps to assure Walmart that underage children would no longer be working in its fields.

Following the ABC News investigation, the Department of Labor announced a broad enforcement campaign against farmers employing children illegally, including increased fines for violators. The Department also moved to hire and train 250 new field inspectors, and said it would shift its strategy to promote compliance with more investigations conducted on weekends and evenings when children were most likely to be working in the fields.

The $8,117-per-child penalties assessed in the recent Washington cases appear to be a significant increase from the $1,100-per-child average fine charged to blueberry growers in Michigan, Arkansas and New Jersey found to be illegal employing underage children in the summer of 2009.

Still, some labor advocates say that the publicly touted changes made by the Department of Labor have yet to yield any significant increase in enforcement activity.

In a letter to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis sent last Friday, Human Rights Watch expressed concern over a "disturbing overall decline in enforcement of child labor law" at the Department's Wage and Hour Division. The non-profit group, which documented the use of child labor in farm work in a report released last year, cited 2010 Labor enforcement data showing that the Department's agricultural inspections dropped by 9 percent from 1,379 in 2009 to 1,259 in 2010. The data also show that child labor violations in agriculture decreased from 36 cases involving 109 children to 31 cases involving 49 children during the same one-year period. Human Right Watch also found that the "hot goods" provision employed in the Washington was only used in one case per year.

The Department said that the number of enforcement hours in agriculture have actually increased during the last year by eight percent.

"The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) remains committed to protecting the health and well-being of children in agricultural workplaces. However, the WHD is not just focused on conducting more investigations, but in balancing a number of strategies to promote compliance with the agricultural labor standards for which it has enforcement responsibility," said a department spokesperson. "These strategies include added enforcement tools and resources, new regulations and increased public awareness such as news releases about violations uncovered in farming operations. It has and will continue to increase investigations and outreach to farmers, farm labor contractors, workers, parents, teacher, and others who provide services to farm workers and other federal agencies."

Back in Washington state, Schmitt says that she has seen little evidence of a broad enforcement campaign by the Department of Labor in her area.

"It's always been my hope the Department of Labor would pay attention to this region," said Schmitt. "I'm hopeful that this is not a one-time thing."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug112011

Video of White Teens Killing Black Man Sparks Reports of More Assaults

Jupiterimages/Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The white Mississippi teens caught on surveillance video beating a black man, then killing him by running him over with a pickup truck may be responsible for other attacks on homeless black men in the area, the head of the state's NAACP told ABC News.

James Anderson, an auto worker, was killed June 26 in Jackson, Miss. His murder received renewed attention when the grisly surveillance video surfaced this week.

The video allegedly shows Deryl Dedmon, 18, and several of his friends beating Anderson, and then driving over his body. Dedmon, who is accused of driving the pickup truck that lurched over Anderson's body in the video, is in jail on $800,000 bond awaiting a grand jury investigation into Anderson's homicide.

Dedmon's friend, John Rice, who was at the scene during the beating, had originally been charged with murder. But during a preliminary hearing detectives testified Rice, who is also 18, left the parking lot before Anderson got run over.

Rice's charge was lowered to simple assault and will be sent to the grand jury along with Dedmon's. In the meantime, Rice was released on $5,000 bail.

The teens charged have not yet entered a plea. Neither Dedmon nor Rice's lawyer returned a call from ABC News.

Prosecutors are trying to determine if the other teens involved in the incident should also be charged.

The attack on Anderson may have been the latest assault on blacks in the area, Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP, told ABC News. He said evidence indicates the white teenagers deliberately "set out to go and mess with African Americans."

Johnson said that sources who wished to remain anonymous said the teens "had, as a practice, targeted African Americans in the city of Jackson who were homeless." He's now working to verify the legitimacy of those claims.

Jackson police spokeswoman Colendula Green said detectives had received a call from "one person" saying that "white people" were beating up on homeless African Americans. They looked into it, she said, and couldn't substantiate the claims.

For now, she said, "it's hearsay," and the alleged incident reported to police happened "three or four years ago."

Some of the racial tension in the area stems from the racial disparity between Brandon, Miss., which is 90 percent white, and the town of Jackson in Hinds County, which is 70 percent African-American, according to Johnson.

Brandon, located in Rankin County, is often referred to as "the white flight county from Jackson," said Johnson.

There has been a "huge increase over last 20 years of working class or poor whites in Rankin County," he added. "With that created a lot of tensions because when you have individuals who are not neighbors, don't know each other, and carry the baggage of racism, you develop a culture of racial hatred."

Johnson says they've gotten a "slew of calls" asking if they will organize a demonstration. But they are being cautious.

"We decided to allow the investigation to mature and at that time respond based on the information that is released," Johnson said.

"It's really easy for people to come and sensationalize it, or for individuals to demagogue the issue. We're trying to make sure at the end of the day that justice is brought," Johnson said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug112011

Boyfriend of Missing Woman in Aruba: 'I'm Terrified'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The boyfriend of the Maryland woman missing in Aruba for more than seven days says he doesn't "believe for a second" that his girlfriend vanished while snorkeling, and raised new allegations against the man being held as a suspect in her disappearance.

"I'm terrified," Richard Forester said Thursday on ABC's Good Morning America.  "I've been hearing stories about Gary Giordano, that he's quite tech-savvy and is able to manipulate people's computers and track them and follow them."

Gary Giordano, 50, is being held as a suspect in the disappearance of Forester's girlfriend, Robyn Gardner, 35, of Frederick, Maryland, who vanished in the same Aruba town where another American woman, Natalee Holloway, disappeared six years ago.

Giordano and Gardner traveled together to Aruba on July 31, according to Aruba police.

Gardner's best friend, Christina Jones, told GMA that the two met on the online dating site Match.com and have known each other for one year.

"It was a bit of a rollercoaster relationship/friendship," Jones said.

Giordano has claimed that he and Gardner went snorkeling together around 6 p.m. on Aug. 2, but Giordano returned back to shore amid rough currents and realized Gardner had not returned to shore with him.  He alerted Aruba police who searched the area with ships, helicopters and divers, but did not find any sign of Gardner.

"I don't believe she was snorkeling," Forester, also of Maryland, said Thursday on GMA.  "I don't believe that for a second.  She would be too concerned with getting her hair messed up, getting her makeup messed up.  She's a margarita kind of girl, sit by the pool or on the beach and relax.  I don't buy it."

Forester said that during Gardner's trip to Aruba, they kept in touch through Blackberry text messages and emails from her iPad until the day of her disappearance, including one message, in particular, that raised his alarm.

"On Tuesday morning, the second of August, at about two in the morning, she posted on my Facebook wall, 'this sucks,'" he said.  "I tried to figure out what was going on, but she didn't really respond."

"The last time I heard from her was later on in the afternoon," he added.  "She sent me a message saying, you know, 'I love you, we'll talk and sort things out when I get back.'"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug112011

Hypersonic Flight: New York to Los Angeles in 12 Minutes?

Falcon HTV-2 (darpa.mil)(WASHINGTON) -- The military launched a rocket Thursday carrying a test aircraft that could someday reduce the flying time between Los Angeles and New York to minutes -- 12 minutes, to be exact. But controllers said they lost contact with the hypersonic plane less than an hour after it left the ground.

Twelve minutes to cross the country is the estimated flight time for the U.S. military's Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2), which launched on its second-ever flight test Thursday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, Calif. The steerable, rocket-launched craft was designed to fly at Mach 20, or 13,000 mph, before diving into the Pacific Ocean.

The launch was successful, and DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, first reported that the HTV-2 was on course and sending data. But 20 minutes later it sent a message saying it had lost contact with the vehicle.

Another 45 minutes passed. "Downrange assets did not reacquire tracking or telemetry," said DARPA on its Twitter feed. "HTV2 has an autonomous flight termination capability," it said -- probably shorthand for saying it can self-destruct if there is a danger it has flown out of control.

An earlier version of the hypersonic craft, which is unmanned, made a flight back in April 2010, but it also lost contact, nine minutes into flight. Thursday's flight was meant to build on the knowledge from that experiment and add to the technical understanding of hypersonic flight, DARPA said.

The Defense Department is trying to develop technology to respond to threats around the globe at speeds of Mach 20 or greater. A warhead flying through the atmosphere might be harder to intercept than one carried into space by a missile.

Building a hypersonic aircraft is considerably different from a spacecraft, even though a ship in orbit travels faster -- 17,500 mph on average at altitudes of a hundred miles or more. Hypersonic planes need to cut through the atmosphere, and the dynamics of how to do that have proved surprisingly difficult.

The military has a long history of setting aviation milestones. Oct. 14, 1947 marked the first time an airplane flew faster than the speed of sound when the Bell X-1 reached 700 miles per hour, Mach 1.06, and in 1959 test flights began for the X-15, which set new speed records when it attained Mach 4, 5 and 6.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug112011

US Fighter Jet Reported Missing over California Coast

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shawn J. Stewart/ReleasedUPDATE: The U.S. Coast Guard tells ABC News that the two people aboard the missing Marine Corps fighter jet have been recovered after search and rescue teams heard the duo calling for help from the water.

The two have been lifted to safety and are being transported to the Balboa Naval Medical Center in San Diego for treatment.  The extent of their injuries is not yet known.

A field of debris was spotted in the water, but there is no indication yet of what caused the accident.

(SAN DIEGO) -- A U.S. military fighter jet is missing over the Pacific Ocean near San Diego, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Navy reported the missing F/A-18 Hornet Wednesday night at 10:30.  They told the San Diego Coast Guard that the aircraft was last spotted 58 miles southwest of Point Loma in San Diego.

The Coast Guard has diverted two cutters, and has deployed a C-130 Hercules aircraft and a helicopter to search the scene and assist in rescue efforts if needed.

The USCG told ABC News that the fighter jet belongs to the Marine Corps and that it flew out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug112011

Countdown to 9/11: Ten Years Ago Today (August 11, 2001)

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Ten years ago this month, as the 9/11 hijackers were in the final stages of their attack preparations, the White House had vague warnings of an impending attack -- compounded by the fact the CIA was failing to share information with the FBI about the terrorists' travels -- and the country was focused on summer vacation, shark attacks, and a missing Congressional intern.

The following day-by-day countdown to tragedy, which will be updated daily through Sept. 11, provides a maddening chronology of the steps and missteps that would change America forever.

31 Days Before 9/11
August 11, 2001

  • "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child is the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • American Pie II is the top movie in box office receipts.
  • The major stories of the summer involve shark attacks and a missing intern in Washington, D.C., named Chandra Levy.
  • President Bush is on vacation in Crawford, Texas, where five days earlier he had been warned by the CIA of a possible attack in a paper titled: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." The document said al Qaeda members were believed to be in the U.S., and that a caller to the U.S. embassy in the United Arab Emirates said "a group of bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives." According to The One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind, the president told the CIA briefing officer, "All right. You've covered your ass now."
  • All 19 hijackers are, in fact, already in the U.S. on visas obtained under their actual names.
  • On August 11, Hamza al-Ghamdi, who will be one of the hijackers in the second plane to hit the World Trade Center, buys a blue blazer at a Florida men's store.
  • Osama bin Laden has approved the targets and is only awaiting final word on which day the attack will occur.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug112011

Riot Fear: Could U.K.-Style Destruction Happen in the US?

CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- With riots breaking out across the U.K., some are wondering if the unrest could spread to America.  Already in the past few months, youth mobs have wreaked havoc in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Cleveland.

The rioting in Britain, now entering a sixth day, has prompted authorities to add 16,000 police in the streets of London.  Mob rule has taken place across the capital and quickly spread to smaller British cities, including Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool.  On Wednesday, three men were killed when they were hit by a car while reportedly defending their neighborhood from looters.

Now that youth mobs in Philadelphia have led to new government action, questions remain: why is this happening, and what is the likelihood of such activity amongst American youth?

The city of Philadelphia has now begun a coordinated response to flash mobs and teen violence that has recently plagued the city and terrorized residential areas.

On June 23, a few dozen young people looted several hundred dollars worth of merchandise in the Philadelphia suburb of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.  On Monday, Philly Mayor Michael A. Nutter reduced the citywide curfew to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays for all minors under the age of 18 in targeted enforcement districts.

"This nonsense must stop," Nutter said on Sunday at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in West Philadelphia.  "If you wanna act like a butthead, your butt's gonna get locked up.  If you wanna act like an idiot, move; we don't want you here anymore."

And Philadelphia is not alone: this weekend, Milwaukee shuddered as a mob stormed the fairgrounds at the Wisconsin state fair; some eyewitness accounts say race was a strong element, and whites were being targeted. And on July 4 in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, a group of 1,000 youths organized through social networking sites to fight and disrupt an event.

Adding to the contagion for the young people participating in such wanton destruction are the bleak economic outlook, seemingly unending high unemployment and a deep distrust of government.

ABC News consultant Brad Garret, who was an FBI agent in Washington, D.C. for 30 years, says that he's not sure if he's seen a combination of conditions like today's facing the youth of America.

"When you get people on the edge anyway, and you pull one brick out of their wall, it can collapse," he said.

There are signs of hope for the U.S. though. The chaos seen in Britain is less likely to occur here, because American cities are generally less segregated than Britain's.  In addition, police forces in America have gotten much better at fighting and preventing crime and antisocial behavior.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug112011

Marines to Enlist Fewer Recruits, Limit Number of Reenlistments

Creatas/Thinkstock(HAVELOCK, N.C.) -- With economic hard times meaning big Pentagon budget cuts, the Marines are planning a gradual reduction of some troops from the current 202,000 to approximately 186, 000, after the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Gen. James Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, outlined some of what the plan will entail Wednesday to soldiers at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina.

As force levels are pared down overseas, Amos said that the Marines will enlist fewer recruits.

In an announcement that undoubtedly upset current Marines, Amos also acknowledged that not everyone who wants to reenlist will be accepted.

Because of this policy change, the Marine commandant said that the service can only bring back the very best of current Marines.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug112011

Police: 'Dougherty Gang' Sister Tried to Shoot Cop Before She Was Shot

Colorado State Patrol(PUEBLO, Colo.) -- The manhunt for the "Dougherty Gang" ended Wednesday when the oldest of the siblings, sister Lee Grace Dougherty, was chased through a field until she turned on a pursuing officer with an automatic pistol and allegedly tried to shoot him.

Police say before she could fire, the officer shot her in the leg, ending the brief notoriety of Dougherty and her two brothers.

Lee Dougherty, a 29-year-old stripper, and her two heavily armed brothers, Ryan, 21, and half-brother Dylan Dougherty Stanley, 26, became the focus of a manhunt that stretched from Florida to Colorado over the past week.

During that time, they allegedly fired at a Florida cop and robbed a Georgia bank.  They also cleaned out their home arsenal of automatic weapons and sent a text message to their mother with the ominous message, "There's a time for all of us to die."

The trio vanished from sight until they were spotted Tuesday buying camping equipment in Colorado.  With police on alert, their vehicle was located Wednesday morning in a campground, but the car was gone by the time police arrived.  Cops stumbled across the vehicle at a gas station, prompting a 20-mile car chase along I-25 with speeds that topped 100 mph and one of the Doughertys leaning out of the car to shoot at the police.

The siblings lost control of the car near a construction site.  The car rolled and the Doughertys tried to scatter, police said.

Lee Dougherty "left the car and took off running" through a field, Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor said at a news conference Wednesday.  When confronted by an officer who was chasing her, she "turned to chamber a round," Taylor said, but was shot in the leg by the cop before she could fire.

One of the brothers was captured immediately, but the other ran across the highway and towards an area of restaurants and shops where he was found by police.

Police found some powerful weapons in the car including two machine pistols, two AK-47 assault rifles and a handgun.

Police say Lee Dougherty's injury was not serious.  No officers were injured.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio