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Monday
May302011

Obama: 'There's No Doubt That Joplin Will Rebuild'

The White House/Pete Souza(JOPLIN, Mo.) -- Assuming his role as the nation's pastor on Sunday, one week to the day after a tornado tore a gash through the heart of this deeply religious town, President Obama delivered a sermon reflecting on the heroics of those who were killed saving others in the storm.

"It's in these moments, through our actions, that we often see the glimpse of what makes life worth living in the first place," Obama said.  "In the face of winds that showed no mercy, no regard for human life ... it was ordinary people, swiftly tested, who said, 'I'm willing to die right now so that someone else might live.'"

In his remarks before some 2,000 Joplin residents on the campus of Missouri Southern State University, the president mentioned two "everyday heroes" -- Dean Wells, a manager at a Home Depot, and Christopher Lucas, a manager at a Pizza Hut.

Both men died saving others: Wells, shepherding people to safety until he was crushed by a collapsing wall, and Lucas, who left the safety of a freezer shielding more than a dozen people to search for a rope to keep the door shut.

"You see, there are heroes all around us, all the time," the president said.  "They pass us in the aisle wearing an orange apron.  They come to our table at a restaurant and ask us what we'd like to order."

"It's this knowledge -- the knowledge that we are inclined to love one another, that we're inclined to do good, to be good -- that causes us to take heart," Obama said.

Then the president quoted Corinthians:

"You have lived the words of scripture: 'We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed.  We are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cut down, but not destroyed.'"

Stirring the crowd to an ovation, the president pledged that the nation's support would continue to this community, even after the media turns away.

"There's no doubt in my mind that Joplin will rebuild," he said.  "Your country will be there with you every single step of the way.  We're not going anywhere."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

One Month Later, Alabama Tornado Recovery Slow

ABC News(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) -- More than a month after devastating tornadoes hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama, killing more than 300 people, little rebuilding has been done and several survivors are still living in shelters.

In fact, five people are still reported missing weeks after a tornado cut a six-mile-wide hole in the heart of Tuscaloosa.

While most residents said that the federal government appeared quickly and came to the rescue, they said the government is starting to move more slowly these days.

"America should definitely not forget about us," Tuscaloosa resident Naomi Wilson told ABC News.  "These people in this area are going to be needing help for so long."

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox, who has not taken a day off since the tragic storm, told ABC News that rebuilding can't begin while debris is still being moved off roads.

"You just can't change this overnight," he said.  "Even though the damage that was sustained to Tuscaloosa took six minutes, it's probably going to take us six years to fully recover."

Nearly 7,000 homes were destroyed when the tornado hit on April 27, but many people are still homeless.  Close to 100 residents are still staying in the last open shelter, which will be closed next week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Department of Justice, Texas Battle Over 'No Pat-Down' Law

Creatas/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- In a showdown with national implications for travelers, the Department of Justice has threatened to cancel flights to and from Texas if the state's legislators enact a law forbidding security pat-downs that include private parts.

John Murphy, U.S. Attorney for the western district of Texas, wrote a letter to leaders of the Texas state legislature indicating that if the bill is enacted, the TSA would "likely be required to cancel any flight…for which it could not ensure the safety of passengers and crew."

House bill 1937, passed unanimously by the Texas House this month, forbids Transportation Security Administration officials from intentionally touching the private parts of another person.  The bill had passed through a Senate committee unanimously before Murphy sent the letter this week.

"As you no doubt are aware, the bill makes it a crime for a federal Transportation Security Official (TSO) to perform the security screening that he or she is authorized and required by federal law to perform," Murphy wrote.

In response to Murphy's threat, Texas state representative David Simpson wrote a response correcting alleged "inaccuracies" in the attorney general's letter and saying that the federal government is "attempting to deprive the citizens of Texas of their constitutional rights."

"The attorney general's letter claims we are stopping all searches.  The bill just says you can't touch privates without probable cause," Simpson told ABC News.  "This bill was supported unanimously by Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives."

Simpson said the bill states that a TSA official commits an offense if "without probable cause performs a search for the purpose of granting access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation and intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly touches the anus, sexual organ, buttocks or breasts of the other person."

Simpson said if only 3 percent of air travelers in the U.S. undergo pat-downs, as cited previously by the TSA, then flights to Texas could be shut down "because TSA would not be able to ensure the safety of passengers and crew if agents could not touch the genitals of 3 percent."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May302011

Bradley Manning's Father Says His Greatest Fear Is Son Is Guilty

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When people ask Brian Manning if he is related to Pvt. Bradley Manning, he sometimes denies it.  The thought that his son could be guilty of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks -- including Afghan and Iraq war logs, a quarter of a million State Department cables and two videos -- scares the elder Manning.

He hasn't had a chance to ask his son, who was arrested in May 2010, if he's guilty -- but if he is, Brian Manning was matter-of-fact in what he'd say to his son.

"You f---ing stupid idiot.  Why would you do something like that?"

He added, "I would be openly embarrassed at holding up thinking he's innocent and I'd be embarrassed he'd done such a thing."

But for now, Brian Manning, who was a naval intelligence officer during the Vietnam War, is sticking by his son and denying reports the two had a fractured relationship.

Many Americans know little about the soldier accused of leaking the mountain of military secrets to WikiLeaks beyond his name and now-recognizable picture.

"He was always very energetic.  He was just a pretty normal kid," his father said of the 23-year-old who now sits in a cell at Fort Leavenworth, awaiting a military trial on charges that could keep him locked up for the rest of his life.

A recent PBS Frontline documentary obtained Bradley Manning's Facebook page, where he wrote openly about being gay, opposing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and the feelings of loneliness and isolation he experienced in the army.

In fact, they were feelings so acute that Manning's superiors almost didn't send him to Iraq because he was considered emotionally unstable.  Somehow, the young private ended up working in a top-secret facility -- a place where he would have access to classified documents.

Bradley Manning was arrested in May 2010 after allegedly bragging to a hacker about leaking a trove of documents to WikiLeaks.

Even though he's sticking up for Bradley now, Brian Manning knows there are even more twists and turns ahead as his son awaits trial and the potential of spending the rest of his young life in prison.  And for whoever leaked the documents -- even if it was his Bradley -- Brian Manning said he hopes justice prevails.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May292011

Four-Year-Old Dead After Being Mauled by Dog

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Cane Corso mastiff that fatally mauled a Brooklyn, N.Y., boy was a vicious dog, trained to kill, according to some neighbors, but the dog's owner described it as "like a big Scooby-Doo."

Police investigating the mauling, which happened Friday evening just after the boy, his mother, and three of his siblings had returned to the apartment, said they do not know what set off the dog, which reportedly belonged to his mother's boyfriend, Damian Jones.

Until the investigation is complete, the three surviving children were removed from the apartment by the city Administration for Children Services.

The Cane Corso mastiff bit Jayelin Graham all over his head, neck and body before family and neighbors could get him off the child.

It was already too late. He was taken to Brookdale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"Within a split second it happened," Calandra Jubeark, the boy's aunt, told ABC station WABC-TV in New York. "[Saquina Jubeark, the boy's mother] said, 'The dog wouldn't let go.' It's painful."

"What a horrible way to die. I've got a lot of frustrations, a lot of emotions, a lot of anger," the boy's grandfather told WABC-TV.

When police arrived, they tranquilized the dog and took him to the city's department of Animal Care & Control, where he was to be observed for 10 days so officials can decide what to do with him.

For some of the boy's neighbors, that would seem to be a foregone conclusion.

"Those dogs were vicious," Kenny Risher, the superintendent of the building, told the New York Daily News. "They stink and they are nasty. The same dog ate their (pet) rabbit."

No charges had been filed in the case as of late Saturday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May292011

House of Homicide Up for Sale in Maryland

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- It has three bedrooms, 2.5 baths and is in a nice neighborhood in Silver Spring, Md. The asking price: $515,000. There's just one catch -- three people were murdered there.

The price was reduced on the single-family home by $20,000 earlier this month, according to Zillow.com.

Brian Betts, 42, the principal at Shaw Middle School in Washington, D.C., was murdered in this home on April 15, 2010.

Alante Saunders, a teenager who encountered Betts in an online gay chat room and arranged to meet him at his home, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the case, while three other teenagers pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

The site had also been the scene of a double murder in 2002 when a parolee, Anthony Kelly, broke in and pistol-whipped and shot a nine-year-old girl, Erika Smith, then shot her father, Greg Russell, at least six times. Kelly is in prison on a life sentence.

Rene Sandler, an attorney for Betts' family, said the principal had no idea of the house's bloody history when he bought it in 2003. "Three days after Brian settled on the property, he learned from a neighbor what happened and tried to rescind the deal," she said.

That wasn't possible — in Maryland, realtors have no legal obligation to reveal if a crime has occurred in a house for sale. So Betts lived with the property's history.

After his death, Betts' family wanted to bulldoze the house and establish a memorial there, Sandler said. "If they had their way, no one would live in it," she said.

But the house now belongs to Fannie Mae and it is up for sale. "I don't believe honestly there's been much action," Sandler said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May292011

Officials Continue to Identify Those Killed by Joplin Tornado

Julie Denesha/Getty Images(JOPLIN, Mo.) -- As recovery efforts continue in Joplin, Missouri following the deadly tornado which recently passed through the area, officials say they are continuing to work on identifying victims who died from injuries suffered during the storms.

The Missouri Department of Public Safety issued a statement on Sunday saying that officials had identified 87 individuals who were killed by the tornado which struck on May 22, and that their next-of-kin have been notified.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol has been designated the duty of notifying the next-of-kin of victims.

At least 139 people have died from injuries caused by the tornado.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May292011

Two Killed in Washington State Tour Bus Crash

Thinkstock Images/Getty Images(CLE ELUM, Wash.) -- Two people were killed and several others injured in a tour bus accident in Washington state on Saturday.

The deadly crash reportedly happened shortly after 6 p.m. on Interstate 90 near to the town of Cle Elum. Officials say a bus carrying a group of soccer fans was travelling on the eastbound side of the interstate when bus driver lost control of the bus, causing it to roll over and crash into a disabled truck that was parked on the shoulder of the road.

A man and a woman who were travelling on the bus died from injuries sustained in the crash, authorities say. Twenty-one other people were injured, including the driver of the truck and two people who were in a car that tried to avoid the out-of-control bus before also crashing and ending up on the interstate median.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May292011

Blown Tire Leads to Fire on Delta Jet

Delta Air Lines (File Photo)(ATLANTA) -- The pilot of a Delta jet that blew a tire and then caught fire as it landed in Atlanta Saturday is being credited with getting the plane through it with no serious injuries to any of the passengers on board.

Delta Flight 2284, an MD88, blew at least one tire on landing after arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport from Pittsburgh, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The tire damage caused the landing gear to catch fire, and the plane billowed smoke as it came to a halt on the runway.

After the fire department extinguished the blaze, passengers were bused to terminal, the FAA said.

Only three people suffered minor injuries, which the FAA said may have occurred when they left the plane.

"When we landed we could tell something was little off," passenger Peter Gitnik of Beaver, Pa., said "Pilot did a great job. It looked like the tire was on fire. It seemed really under control though. I think there were some minor scrapes but I'm not sure."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May292011

Blue Angels Commander Steps Down After Leading Risky Maneuver

Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) -- The leader of the Navy's celebrated Blue Angels flight team is stepping down after admitting to leading jets in an "unacceptably" low-altitude stunt.

Navy Cmdr. Dave Koss volunteered to be relieved of his duties after admitting days following a performance at Lynchburg Regional Air Show on May 22, that the movement he carried out "had an unacceptably low minimum altitude" and was not in accordance with airborne standards, according to a statement from the Naval Air Forces.

"This maneuver, combined with other instances of not meeting the airborne standard that makes the Blue Angels the exceptional organization that it is, led to my decision to step down," Koss said in the statement.

Even though the maneuver went off without injuries and all members of the Blue Angels Team landed safely, after a safety review several of the team's shows were cancelled, including a midweek show at the U.S. Naval Academy and performances scheduled over the Memorial Day Weekend.

This Blue Angels also canceled scheduled performances at the Rockford Airfest June 4 and 5, and at the Evansville Freedom Festival Air Show June 11 and 12.

In the meantime, according to the statement, the Blue Angels were to stay in Pensacola, Fla., for more training and air show demonstration practice.

Safety issues are not new for the esteemed flying team. Thousands watched on April 2007 when a Blue Angels' jet crashed during a South Carolina performance. The Beaufort, S.C., crash killed one pilot and injured other members of the team.

In 2004, Lt. Ted Steelman suffered minor injuries after being ejected when his aircraft struck water one mile off Perdido Key in Florida. The accident was the result of engine and structural damage.

Koss will be replaced by Capt. Greg McWherter, who was the previous Blue Angels' commanding officer, for the duration of the season.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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