U.S. Plans Law Enforcement 'Surge' on Trains

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. authorities plan a law enforcement surge this week along Amtrak routes, an exercise called operation RailSafe.  The heads of the country's biggest mass transit systems were briefed on the possible terror threat, all part of what is being called an abundance of caution.

Amtrak is holding a high-security exercise on Friday in which uniformed officers will be a visible presence on national transit routes. RailSafe will include all the local police agencies along the Amtrak routes involved in the exercise. Amtrak's counterparts in Europe and Britain will also be holding an exercise called "Rail Action Day" on Friday, according to a senior Amtrak official in the security sector.

A senior Department of Homeland Security official said the exercise is "long-planned" and "is not connected in any way" to the terror threat in Europe.

The stepped-up security comes as the U.S. used drones Monday to attack a suspected center of the plot in Pakistan.

The target was one of the terror training camps in the Waziristan region, where U.S. officials say a contingent of German citizens of Afghan and Turkish descent have been preparing for jihad against Europe.

U.S. officials say some have already been dispatched, likely those with their faces obscured in a recently released propaganda tape.

However, Pakistani officials told ABC News that at least eight Germans, including the group's leader, known as Commander Fayaz, were killed today by CIA missiles launched from an unmanned aircraft. The suspected militants belonged to a group called Jehad al Islami.

The strike comes a day after the State Department issued a highly unusual travel advisory for Americans going to Europe because of the potential threat of Mumbai-style commando attacks on civilians, possibly by terrorists of German origin based in Waziristan. Authorities learned of the possible plot this summer from a German national who had been training for jihad and is being held by the U.S. in Afghanistan. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


District Attorney Accused In 'Sexting' Scandal Resigns

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(GREEN BAY, Wis.) -- Ken Kratz, the Calumet County, Wisconsin district attorney accused of sending sexual text messages has resigned, according to WBAY-TV.  Kratz handed his resignation letter to Governor Jim Doyle.

Kratz' resignation comes two weeks after the governor received two formal complaints from Calumet County residents asking him to remove Kratz from office.

In the short letter, Kratz expressed sadness and regret over his resignation, but said he hopes to repair his reputation and resume his legal career.

The scandal unraveled nearly three weeks ago, when Kratz admitted to sending sexually suggestive text messages to domestic abuse victim Stephanie Van Groll while prosecuting her ex-boyfriend's case.

Since then, at least four more women have come forward, alleging Kratz also sent them inappropriate messages over the years.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court Weighs Military Funeral Protests: Are They Free Speech?

Photo Courtesy -- Darren McCollester | Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Do members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church have a constitutionally protected right to protest at the funerals of members of the military?

That's the question the Supreme Court took up Monday as it began its term.

In the case, Snyder v. Phelps, the father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder sued members of the Westboro Church's Phelps family after they protested at his son's funeral.

As they have at many other military funerals, the church members carried signs near the funeral with messages including "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God hates fags." Snyder was not gay. The Topeka, Kan., church members say they are protesting the federal government's tolerance of homosexuality and that soldiers' deaths are a divine message about America's sins.

Albert Snyder sued for emotional distress and an invasion of his family's privacy, winning $5 million before the ruling was overturned by a federal appeals court. The court said that Westboro's protest was "rhetorical hyperbole" protected by the First Amendment.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Shooting In Florida Leaves 5 Wounded, 2 Dead

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) -- A random shooting spree Monday has left 5 wounded and 2 dead, Gainesville, Florida police told ABC News. 

The gunman reportedly drove around the area in his truck shooting individuals. 

Police said that the first 911 call reporting the incident came in at 4:06 p.m. Eastern time. By 4:16 p.m. Eastern time, the last 911 came in from an individual reporting that a person was found deceased in a vehicle.  Police believe the man found deceased in the vehicle appears to be the gunman.  

Lt. Steve Maynard said, "We have not developed a motive, nor have we been able to develop a connection between the shooter or shooters and any of the possible victims in this case."

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Jimmy Carter Back at Work After Hospital Stay

Photo Courtesy - Louise Gubb/The Carter Center(WASHINGTON) -- Former President Jimmy Carter appeared healthy and vibrant as he started construction on a new Habitat for Humanity home in northeast Washington, D.C. on Monday. The former president worked outside for an hour to kick off World Habitat Day and joked about his hospital visit last week.

“I spent two days last week on a vacation in a Cleveland hospital and got well very quickly because I wanted to be ready for the Habitat Project,” Mr. Carter said.

Hammering in nails and setting the frame for a new home, the 86-year-old Carter was accompanied by former first lady Rosalynn Carter, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford and nearly 200 volunteers.

The event was part of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s Work Project.
The former president was hospitalized last week with stomach pains, and released after recovering from a gastric viral infection.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Suspect Dead After Fatal NJ Shooting Spree

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LITTLE EGG, N.J.) -- An individual suspected of fatally shooting two people in New Jersey on Monday was found dead after a spree that left two others injured.

Neighbors described hearing several shots fired in Little Egg Township in Ocean County.

"I thought it was just banging in the dumpsters, but then I hear sirens go off," said Chet Thornberry, a resident of the condominium complex where the shootings took place.

Thornberry said he stepped outside his home and was told by police "to go inside and lock my door."

Area schools were placed on lockdown.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Kagan Takes the Bench as Supreme Court Term Begins

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A new Supreme Court term got underway Monday with Justice Elena Kagan, in her first appearance on the bench, asking several questions about a technical case involving bankruptcy law.

For the first time in history, three women -- Justices Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- sat on the bench, each one participating lively.

Kagan took Sotomayor's old seat on the far right of the bench from a spectator's perspective. The addition of a new justice changes the court's seating arrangement, as justices with the most seniority flank the chief justice, who sits at the center.

When the first case ended, Kagan left the courtroom, as she had recused herself from the second case. Kagan has so far recused herself from about half the cases -- 52 so far -- because she dealt with them in some capacity while serving as solicitor general.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


US Could Save Millions of Barrels of Oil By Cutting Food Waste

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- If Americans cut back on wasting food, the country could save the energy equivalent of about 350 million barrels of oil annually.  According to Science Daily, in a study reported in the American Chemical Society's journal Environmental Science & Technology, scientists discovered the amount of oil needed to produce, ready and distribute a year's worth of food in the U.S. is around 1.4 billion barrels.  Of this total energy consumption, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans waste close to 27 percent of their food.

The scientists see this waste as an unrecognized opportunity to save energy and fight against global warming.  Based on their analysis of wasted food and the energy used to prepare the food for consumption, the country wasted about 350 million barrels of oil in 2007.  That amounts to about two percent of the total energy consumed in the U.S. per year.

"Consequently, the energy embedded in wasted food represents a substantial target for decreasing energy consumption in the U.S.," the article notes. "The wasted energy calculated here is a conservative estimate both because the food waste data are incomplete and outdated and the energy consumption data for food service and sales are incomplete."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


JonBenet Ramsey Death Gets Fresh Look, New Round of Interviews

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(BOULDER, Colo.) -- Investigators hoping to solve the 1996 killing of six-year-old pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey have launched a fresh round of interviews with witnesses that could provide the clue they've been missing all these years.

Among the potential witnesses police have contacted is the little girl's brother, Burke Ramsey. Now 23, he was nine when his sister's body was found in the family's Colorado basement, beaten and strangled.

Ramsey family attorney Lin Wood recently told the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper that a police detective "met with Burke and gave him a card and said, 'If you want to talk to us, here's how you would contact me.'"

Larry Schiller, author of a book on the case, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, said the new investigation comes likely as part of a police mandate to re-open cold cases every few years.

"I think there's always a chance with technology and confession," Schiller said of finding the killer.

Schiller theorized that police are interested in speaking to Burke Ramsey not as a suspect but as someone who may have a childhood memory from that day that could be triggered by a new investigation.

At one point or another, every member of the Ramsey family, including Burke Ramsey and his parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, has lived under a cloud of suspicion. The family was officially cleared as suspects in 2008, two years after Patsy died of ovarian cancer.

JonBenet was reported missing the day after Christmas in 2006. Her mother placed a frantic 911 call to report a kidnapping and a ransom note was found in the house. Her body was found in the basement later that day.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Man Killed by Mexican Pirates on Texas Lake

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ZAPATA, Texas) -- Search teams are combing a Texas lake for the body of a man who was allegedly shot and killed by Mexican pirates when he and his wife were ambushed after crossing into Mexican waters on their personal watercraft.

David Michael Hartley, 30, and his wife Tiffany Hartley, 29, were attacked on Falcon Lake, near the southern tip of Texas, police said.

Tiffany Hartley told police her husband was shot in the back of the head as the couple fled to U.S. waters. Hartley fell off his watercraft after he was shot, according to his wife, who told rescuers and police she attempted to circle back to save him, but the gunmen were still firing shots so she had to abandon the rescue attempt.

Texas Department of Public Safety officials said Friday they believed that David Hartley was dead, but his body has yet to be found.

Falcon Lake, part of the Rio Grande situated directly on the Texas-Mexico border, has recently become a haven for the pirates, and there have been at least five reported run-ins with pirates on the lake so far this year, though this is the first instance of a death.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the shooting points to the need for further border security.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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