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Saturday
Mar122011

American in Cuba Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison

AFP/Getty Images(HAVANA) -- A Cuban court on Saturday found American Alan Gross -- who was held in the country for more than a year -- guilty of illegally bringing communications equipment into the country. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

“Today’s sentencing adds another injustice to Alan Gross’s ordeal,” said U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor in a statement. “He has already spent too many days in detention and should not spend one more. We urge the immediate release of Mr. Gross so that he can return home to his wife and family.”

A Maryland native, Gross was detained in December 2009 as he tried to depart Havana's airport.  He had been working as a U.S. government subcontractor distributing communications devices to Jewish communities in Havana, according to U.S. officials. He was accused of "acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the state."

Gross was working for the Bethesda-based Development Associates International on a USAID program that promotes democracy.  He has been held in Havana's maximum-security Villa Marista prison, most of that time without charge.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar122011

Just Warm Enough for Golf, Obama Back on the Course

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE) -- President Obama just couldn’t wait for spring weather to arrive. For the second week in a row, the most powerful man in the world stepped away from the White House to hit the golf course.

Even as his administration and the U.S. military help Japan recover from a devastating earthquake, and as the world worries about Fukushima's nuclear reactor, the president could not resist taking advantage of the 48-degree weather in the Washington, D.C., area.

Golf is not an unusual outing for the president; last year he spent many fall weekends on the course, often playing 18 holes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar122011

Players Association Decertifies, NFL Declares Lockout

Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Federal courts will have to decide what happens next in the labor impasse situation involving the NFL and its players. On Friday evening, the NFL Players Association opted not to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement, choosing instead to go the decertification route.

Decertification means the Players Association has dissolved itself as a union, making it possible for 10 players to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. The lawsuit by the players claims the league is denying them the ability to market their services. The NFL has responded by declaring a lockout.

Friday’s actions came following 17 days of negotiations between the two sides to try to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, as football fans wait to see if football will be played next season. Following the decertifying action, both sides continue to point fingers, blaming each other for why a deal hasn’t been reached. The main issue splitting the two sides deals with revenue and how it is to be divided.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar122011

Waterfront Restaurant Breaks from Dock, Floats Down Ohio River

WCPO-TV(CINCINNATI) -- Authorities in Cincinnati responded to an unusual emergency Friday night when they were called to rescue patrons in a restaurant that broke away from its dock on the Ohio River.

Authorities say the incident happened around 10:15 p.m., when the upscale Jeff Ruby’s Waterfront restaurant broke away and ended up wedged below the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge about 100 feet from the shore.

At least 150 people were in the restaurant when it broke loose, but no injuries were reported.

Emergency crews used tugboats, ladders, ropes and other equipment to rescue those trapped in the eatery, creating a ramp to allow patrons out of the restaurant. Patrons at the time included former Cincinnati Bengals football player and television personality Cris Collinsworth and Waterfront owner, Jeff Ruby.

Flooding may have been a factor in the incident. The Ohio River was just over 55 feet when the restaurant broke free, officials said, according to ABC News Cincinnati affiliate WCPO-TV. That level is reportedly considered a moderate flood level.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar122011

Search Suspended for Man Swept Into the Sea By Tsunami

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(KLAMATH, Calif.) -- The Coast Guard has suspended its search for a man reported washed out to sea after he and two friends went to the California coast to photograph the tsunami wave spawned by the Japanese earthquake, officials said.

The missing man, who went missing near the Klamath River near the Oregon border, was the only reported U.S. casualty of the wave that raced across the Pacific at 500 mph threatening to strike with waves as high as 9 feet high.

The Coast Guard began searching for the man after his two friends escaped the wave and called 911 shortly after 10 a.m. PT. Despite a 250-square-mile search with multiple helicopters and a lifeboat that lasted more than seven hours, the man was not found, officials said.

Four other men in Oregon were swept off a beach in Brookings, Ore. Two made it back to shore on their own and two others were rescued by emergency crews, the Coast Guard said.

Earlier, people in Hawaii and the West Coast held their breath as the wave sped towards them, and breathed a sigh of relief as the wave caused relatively little damage.

The surge smashed boats and wreck docks in the California cities of Santa Cruz and Crescent City. The tsunami was strongest in Crescent City, which was smacked with an 8-foot tall wave that destroyed the city's piers and sank boats.

On Hawaii's Big Island, waves surged over roads and into lobbies of beachfront hotels.

Nevertheless, President Obama said in a news conference that Washington was "taking this very seriously," and urged people, "if you are told to evacuate, do as you are told."

The president said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was "fully activated."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Saturday
Mar122011

Tour Bus Overturns in New York, More Than A Dozen Dead

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- At least 14 people have died after a tour bus overturned on a highway in the Bronx, New York, early Saturday morning, authorities said.

The accident happened at about 5:30 a.m. after a tractor trailer clipped the Worldwide Tours bus from behind on the New England Thruway at the Hutchinson River Parkway, according to the driver, who survived. The truck failed to stop after it hit the bus, police said.

The bus was heading southbound when it flipped on its side. It then skidded into the support post for a large highway sign. The post sliced through the length of the bus at the passenger seat level, officials said.

"Our - and the entire city's - prayers, thoughts and sympathies are with the victims, and their families and loved ones," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement.

The mayor said that the New York State Police is leading the investigation into the accident, and that city agencies have set up a Family Assistance Center to provide family members with information regarding their loved ones.

A total of 32 people were on board.

Two nearby hospitals were used to treat the patients.

The bus was en route from Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut to lower Manhattan where it was ultimately bound for Chinatown.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar112011

What Areas in the US Are At Risk for Earthquakes?

Jason Reed/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale struck Japan Friday, causing massive destruction and a death toll that reached over 300. The quake, the strongest ever to strike the country, caused a tsunami in the area and created massive amounts of damage. In the United States, the earthquake triggered tsunami warnings and advisories throughout the morning on the West Coast. The earthquake was reminiscent of the 2010 earthquake that ravaged Haiti, killing thousands of people and leaving millions displaced.

"Earthquakes are a national hazard," David Applegate, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, told ABC News.

People usually associate earthquakes with the West Coast, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, but 39 of the 50 states -- including New York and Tennessee -- have moderate to high seismic hazard risk, Applegate said.

The New Madrid fault in the central United States is particularly dangerous. The fault is among the most active in the country, running from St. Louis to Memphis. The New Madrid fault line is best known for some of the most violent earthquakes to ever hit the U.S: a series of four in 1811 and 1812. The quakes were estimated at magnitude 7.5 to 8.0, so strong the Mississippi River reportedly flowed backward. Damage occurred as far away as Washington, D.C., and Charleston, S.C.

Several small quakes were centered last month near the New Madrid fault in southeast Missouri, including some that were felt in parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. No damage was reported.

Another well-known fault line is located in New York City. It crosses Manhattan from the Hudson River to the East River, running approximately along 125th Street.

The Ramapo Fault, another New York Metro-area fault line, runs 70 miles through New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The fault has been quiet for about 200 years, which is part of the problem, seismologists say.

"We know in the future at some point an earthquake is going to occur but we don't really understand the rules of the game yet in this area, so we can't come with numbers and specifically tell you what the hazard is going to be," Leonardo Seeber, a research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York, said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar112011

Tsunami Soaks West Coast but Causes Little Damage

Lucy Pemoni/Getty Images(SANTA CRUZ, Calif.) -- People along the coasts of Hawaii and the West Coast held their breath Friday as a tsunami raced across the Pacific at 500 mph threatening to strike with waves as high as 9 feet.

In Northern California, powerful currents sent hundreds from their homes, destroyed a dock at the Santa Cruz Harbor and damaged several boats. Tsunami waves knocked three men into the waters along the mouth of the Klamath River and swept one of them out to sea, the Coast Guard said, prompting a search by air and sea.

President Obama said in a news conference that Washington was "taking this very seriously," and urged people, "if you are told to evacuate, do as you are told."

The president said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was "fully activated."

The 8.9 magnitude earthquake that rattled Japan on Friday triggered a tsunami that sped across the Pacific Ocean at a velocity that matched that of a commercial jetliner.

Tsunami warning sirens went off from Hawaii to Alaska and Oregon. Evacuations jammed roads and prompted fistfights at gas stations, and the federal government prepared to deploy emergency relief teams.

The tsunami has claimed hundreds of lives in Japan, and with the devastation of the 2004 tsunami still fresh when 230,000 people died, officials were not taking chances. It had been reported that a wall of water 30 feet high slammed Japan after the deadly quake.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar112011

Giffords Making 'Continuous Neurologic Improvement,' Doctors Say

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- When Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head two months ago, many wondered if she would survive. On Friday, Giffords' doctors said her condition is continually improving.

"She's clearly saying words she wants. She's starting to string words together," said Dr. Dong Kim. "She can repeat anything we say to her."

"Her memory is good," Kim said. "Her personality -– she is doing spectacularly well."

Medical experts at the TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston said Giffords has made tremendous progress.

"She has had continuous neurologic improvement and has allowed us to challenge her more in the therapy program," Dr. Gerard Francisco said Friday in the first public update on Giffords' condition in six weeks.

Doctors said that both they and the congresswoman's husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, have explained to Giffords the circumstances of her hospitalization.

Arrangements are being made for Giffords to attend next month's launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, set to be piloted by her astronaut husband.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar112011

Last WWI Vet to Lie In Honor at Arlington National Cemetery

Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rep.  Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., announced Friday that the last WWI veteran - Frank Buckles - will lie in honor at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, March 15.

“I am pleased to welcome West Virginians to Washington, D.C. to pay their final tributes to Frank Buckles, the last surviving U.S. World War I Veteran, who passed away last month. Although I am disappointed that Frank will not lie in honor in the Capitol, it is fitting that he will lie in honor at Arlington National Cemetery, surrounded by fallen soldiers and American war heroes,” Capito said Friday.

Capito introduced legislation along with West Virginia Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefelller - to allow Buckles to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, but Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid denied the effort and instead suggested a memorial service at Arlington.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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