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Saturday
Dec042010

Doubts Raised About Suspect in Murder of Hollywood Publicist

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Neighbors of Harold Martin Smith, the "person of interest" in the Ronni Chasen murder who committed suicide when confronted by the police on Wednesday, find it hard to believe the man they describe as "paranoid," who rode around on a bicycle, could be a professional killer. Smith, who neighbors say bragged about killing Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen, shot himself fatally, spraying blood all over the lobby of the Harvey Apartments in Hollywood. The grisly crime scene is now the epicenter of what is becoming one of the great Hollywood murder mysteries.

Smith was identified by police as a "person of interest" in the Chasen murder, but authorities refused to comment further on how they suspected him to be involved. Police are conducting ballistics tests to see if the gun used in the suicide of a man known to his neighbors as "Harold" is the same gun used to kill Chasen. He reportedly told neighbors that he was expecting a big payoff for killing Chasen.

Chasen, 64, who represented A-list movie stars and promoted some of Hollywood's top films, was driving home on Oct. 9 after attending the premiere party for the movie Burlesque when she was gunned down.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec042010

Chicago Area Gets Its First Snow Storm of the Season

Photo Courtesy - WLS-TV Chicago(CHICAGO) -- Chicago prepared for its first heavy snowfall of the winter season by deploying nearly 200 snow plow trucks. Workers headed out early Saturday morning to patrol main streets and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago Department of Streets & Sanitation spokesman Matt Smith said.

Light snow is expected throughout the day on Saturday. Some areas may see up to a foot by Saturday night.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec032010

Calif. Man Charged with Supporting Al-Shabaab Terror Group

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) -- Another man in the San Diego area has been charged with providing support to terrorist group Al-Shabaab. This is the fifth case out of the area relating to Al-Shabaab.

The defendant in this case, 35-year-old Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, knows three men who were charged last month with trying to provide funds and support to Al-Shabaab.  

Mohamud appeared Friday in court where U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler arraigned him and ordered that he be held without bail pending a detention hearing Dec. 7.

Several weeks ago a woman was also arrested in the San Diego area for trying to provide funds to the terror group.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec032010

Rearview Cameras on Most Cars Could Become Standard Equipment

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The government proposed new rules Friday aimed at the rising concern about drivers unintentionally backing over children.

The Department of Transportation is offering new requirements to improve rear visibility in cars by the 2014 model year. Most carmakers would meet the requirements by installing rear-mounted video cameras and in-vehicle displays.

At least two children are killed every week when a car backs over them, and most of the time it's a family member behind the wheel.

In 2002, Dr. Greg Gulbransen, a Long Island pediatrician, accidentally ran over and killed his 2-year-old son Cameron.

"I rode right over him. I never saw him ... never had a chance of seeing him," he said.

The proposal announced Friday would improve rear visibility in cars and could help prevent tragedies, like the Gulbransens' story, from occurring.

The recommendation is mandated by the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007. Signed into law by President George W. Bush, it directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a standard for improving the ability of drivers to detect pedestrians in the area immediately behind their vehicles, and minimize the likelihood of a vehicle striking a pedestrian while reversing.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec032010

FBI Warns That Sex Offenders Might Use Barbies to Lure Kids

Photo Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- The FBI is warning against the potential misuse of a Barbie doll with video recording capabilities, cautioning that the popular toy could make it easier for sex offenders to surreptitiously film child pornography.

In a memo from the FBI that was mistakenly released to the press and obtained by ABC News, the FBI warned that the Barbie known as "Video Girl" could be a "pornography production method."  The doll is equipped with the ability to capture thirty minutes of footage through a concealed camera in the necklace worn by Barbie.

FBI Special Agent Steve Dupre from the Sacramento Field Office, where the memo -- dubbed a "Cyber Crime Alert" -- originated, declined to comment.

Mattel, the manufacturer of the doll, said in a written statement that the FBI has not said that there have been any incidents of this doll "being used as anything other than intended."

But law enforcement sources close to the investigation into the doll tell ABC News that Barbie dolls have been known to be used by sexual predators looking for ways to attract their young victims.  The combination of the concealed camera and the popular toy concerned officials, according to the source, who said law enforcement agencies nationwide were immediately made aware of the product.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec032010

Obama Rallies Troops in Afghanistan: We're 'Tired of Playing Defense'

Getty Images(BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan) -- One year and two days after President Obama appeared before an audience at West Point and told the nation he was sending 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, he has come to meet with troops in the war-torn country for his second visit as commander-in-chief.

In a pep talk to troops at the Bagram Air Base, Obama praised their work and expressed cautious optimism about the future.

"You are protecting your country. You are achieving your objective. You will succeed in your mission," a casually dressed Obama said to 3,850 troops in the audience. "We said we were going to break the Taliban's momentum, and that's what you're doing. You're going on the offense, tired of playing defense."

The president was originally scheduled to have a "working dinner" with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at his presidential palace in Kabul in this unannounced visit and to meet with civilian personnel at the U.S. Embassy in the capital city.

There are more than 1,000 U.S. government civilian employees here, from the State Department, USAID and nine other agencies, a tripling since the president announced his new policy one year ago.

But strong winds and low cloud cover made helicopter travel hazardous, so in the last few hours of the president's trip to Bagram on Air Force One, the Kabul part of the visit was scrapped.

The president Friday met with eight wounded patients at Bagram -- five troops and three civilians -- and presented four Purple Heart awards. He also met with troops from the 101st Airborne Division.

The president also met with the unit that lost six soldiers earlier this week when an Afghan border police officer went on a shooting spree in Nangarhar province. The unit these soldiers were with had only 18 men, so one third of them were wiped out "in five seconds," a senior officer told Raddatz.

The trip was shrouded in secrecy for security reasons, with the reporters who accompanied the president not permitted to announce his presence here until after the president landed.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec032010

More Delays: NASA Says No Discovery Launch Before Feb. 3

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto | NASA(WASHINGTON) -- After a series of delays, managers at NASA have set a new target launch date for the Discovery space shuttle of no earlier than Feb. 3 at 1:34 a.m. ET.  Managers say that more tests are needed before Discovery's launch to the International Space Station.

The Program Requirements Control Board met Thursday to review the integrity of repairs made to cracks found on the shuttle's external tank.  Managers then determined that more instrument tests were necessary concerning the external fuel tank.
 
Shuttle engineers plan to continue searching for the root cause of the cracks that were found. 

Officials say that only after careful review and analysis of data from the tests will they set an official launch date.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec032010

Runaway Lexus Driver In LA Sues Toyota

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto/Toyota(NEW YORK) -- Two months after prosecutors dropped vehicular manslaughter charges against her, a Los Angeles woman has filed suit against Toyota, claiming that sudden unintended acceleration in her Lexus SUV led to a fatal accident in 2008. Unmi Suk Chung, 62, alleges the crash was caused by a defect in the car's electronic throttle.

Chung was behind the wheel of her Lexus RX 330 when it sped out of control and slammed into a Mercedes at an off ramp. Chung's 69-year-old sister-in-law, who was in the back seat of the Lexus, was killed in the crash. A passenger who survived the crash said that Chung screamed, "No brakes! No brakes!" as the car hurtled west at 80 mph on the Santa Monica Freeway.

Despite Chung's claims that the Lexus suddenly accelerated on its own and that her brakes failed to stop the vehicle, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office charged her with gross vehicular manslaughter and felony reckless driving. If convicted, Chung could have faced a maximum possible sentence of six years and eight months in jail.

In October, prosecutors dismissed the charges. John Lynch of the L.A. County D.A.'s office said the case did not "appear to warrant continuing the prosecution," citing the fact that Chung was not intoxicated, had no record, and the victim's family did not want the case to proceed.

Chung's attorney Hutton said at the time that his client "continues to believe the vehicle was the cause" of the accident. The family of Chung's deceased sister-in-law, Esook Synn, has already filed its own suit against Toyota, alleging that the accident was caused by an electronic malfunction in the Lexus.

In a statement, Toyota spokesperson Mike Michels said, "Toyota sympathizes with all of those affected by the accident involving Ms. Unmi Suk Chung." However, Michels said, "Any allegations that a defect in Toyota's Electronic Throttle Control System caused unintended acceleration in the RX330 are completely unfounded and have no merit. We firmly believe that Toyota's Electronic Throttle Control System is safe, well designed, thoroughly tested, and robust."

The Chung case closely parallels that of Minnesota Toyota driver Koua Fong Lee. Lee was convicted of vehicular homicide and sentenced to eight years in prison after his 1996 Toyota Camry sped out of control and slammed into another car in 2006, killing the driver and two passengers. After serving two years of his sentence, Lee's case was reopened following widespread publicity over other cases of Toyotas allegedly experiencing sudden unintended acceleration.

Lee had steadfastly maintained that the Camry's brakes failed during the incident and that he had shouted "brakes not working!" to his family as the vehicle raced out of control. After a four-day hearing this summer, a judge ruled that Lee was entitled to a new trial and shortly thereafter, prosecutors announced they would not try Lee again. Lee, now a free man, has decided to join a civil lawsuit filed by the victims' family members and a survivor of the crash against Toyota over the alleged sudden acceleration issue.

The Lexus RX 330 driven by Chung in Los Angeles was recalled in 2006 to fix a floor mat that Toyota said might cause the gas pedal to stick.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a passenger in the Lexus told the California Highway Patrol that Chung also shouted, "No brakes! No brakes!" right before the crash. The Lexus was traveling an estimated 80 mph on Interstate 10 when it crashed at the Overland Avenue exit ramp. The Times also said that a woman who claimed to have witnessed the crash wrote on the Los Angeles Fire Department's web site that she saw a "look of terror" on Chung's face during the incident.

However, prosecutors say the evidence "appeared to suggest" that Chung was mistakenly pressing on the gas pedal instead of the brake, which was a factor in the decision to drop charges. According to Lynch, "there's an issue in many people minds as to whether or not it goes beyond simple negligence and amounts to criminal negligence."

Lynch acknowledged that the defense maintained that "because it was a Toyota product maybe there was sudden acceleration syndrome, an electronic defect in the car itself."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec032010

Submarine Dive Finds Oil, Dead Sea Life at Bottom of Gulf of Mexico

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- A mile below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico, there is little sign of life.

"It looks like everything's dead," University of Georgia professor Samantha Joye said.

In an exclusive trip aboard the U.S. Navy's deep-ocean research submersible Alvin, ABC News was given the chance to observe the impact of this summer's massive oil spill that most will never see. The ocean floor appears to be littered with twigs, but Joye points out that they are actually dead worms and that Alvin is sitting on top of what is considered an 80-square mile kill zone.

Aboard the Alvin Thursday, Joey said she saw "about three to four inches of material." That as BP, the company responsible for the spill, is challenging government estimates that 200 million gallons of crude spill from its runaway well. London-based BP now insists it's half that. But 5,000 feet down, the oil appears to be everywhere. The government estimates that less than 25 percent of the oil remains, but these scientists say it's not gone, just settled at the bottom of the ocean.

The water in most places appears to be clear, a stark contrast to the oil that covered miles of ocean after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, which killed 11 workers. But Joye said what was once on the surface has now sunk.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec032010

Kyron Horman Case Six Months Later: 'Never Give Up Hope'

Photo Courtesy - BringKyronHome [dot] org(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Exactly six months after 7-year-old Kyron Horman was reported missing from his Oregon school, the boy's parents said they would never give up hope of finding their son.

"We recognize that it has now been six months since Kyron went missing, and we are still deeply saddened that he is not home with us," the boy's father, Kaine Horman, and birth mother, Desiree Young, said in a statement released Thursday before the half-year anniversary. "We would like to stress to everyone that Kyron has not yet been found and we need everyone's help...Kyron still needs all of us."

Kyron's parents urged anyone traveling during the holidays to help out by passing out fliers, available at www.bringkyronhome.org, and to keep their eyes open for the boy who was last seen by his stepmother, Terri Horman, when he left for school June 4.

Kyron was last seen walking toward his Skyline Elementary School classroom after he had proudly displayed his science fair project on tree frogs. He was wearing a "CSI" T-shirt and black cargo pants.

Though a massive, months-long search has turned up few clues, Kyron's parents are undeterred.

"We love you Kyron and we will never give up hope," the family's statement said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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