First Lady Helps Kids Track Santa

Photo Courtesy - WireImage/Getty Images(KAILUA, Hawaii) -- First lady Michelle Obama spent more than 40 minutes on the phone with children Friday, aiding NORAD in answering Christmas Eve queries from kids as to where Santa is, and how soon he will be at their home.

"You know that Santa only comes after boys and girls have gone to sleep, no matter where he is in the world," Mrs. Obama said to each of the children callers, "so Santa won't be at your house until you’re fast asleep, okay?"

While Mrs. Obama was on the phone, according to her readout of the NORAD radar, Santa spanned several parts of Africa and into Europe.

"The radar shows that it looks like the vehicle is being pulled by all nine reindeer and it’s pretty full of toys," Mrs. Obama assured the children.

The first lady asked the children callers if they had been good this year, to which all of them answered affirmatively.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


What's on the President's Christmas Day Menu?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(KAILUA, Hawaii) -- When dinner time rolls around on Christmas Day, the first family will be in for a mouthwatering treat.

The Obama family will have Christmas dinner at their beachfront rental home in Kailua, Hawaii. The menu features steak, roasted potatoes, and green beans, all topped off with pie for dessert.

The Obamas are expected to be joined by family for dinner, including the president’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng and her family.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Woman Found Dead at Home of Anheuser-Busch Heir

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) -- A 27-year-old woman was found dead on Sunday in the St. Louis-area mansion of August Busch IV, the heir of the Anheuser-Busch dynasty.

Authorities say Adrienne Martin’s death was reported to police just after 1 p.m., but investigators say there appears to be no signs of trauma or other indications of a cause of death. Martin’s body was found at the million-dollar mansion belonging to Busch, but it’s unclear whether or not Busch was at his home at the time of Martin's death.

It has been widely reported that Martin and Busch had been dating for nearly a year. Busch, 46, is the great-great-grandson of Anheuser-Busch founder Adolphus Busch, and had been in charge of the famed brewery until 2008, when the long-time family company was sold to InBev. Martin appears to have been an aspiring model, with profiles on various modeling websites.

Busch has a past littered with a number of run-ins with the law. In 1983, he was involved in a car accident in which his friend and passenger, Michele Frederick, 22, died. Busch left the scene of the accident, and cops later found him with a severe head wound at his home. Busch was never charged due to lack of evidence. Then in 1985, he was arrested after leading police on a high-speed car chase in St. Louis, according to The Wall Street Journal. He was tried on assault charges for attempting to run over two police officers. He was acquitted by a jury.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Insulated Beverage Containers to Undergo Extra Security at Airports 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Travelers toting thermoses and insulated beverage containers through the nation's airports Friday might face heightened security measures, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

"The possible tactics terrorists might use include the concealment of explosives inside insulated beverage containers, so in the coming days, passengers flying within and to the U.S. may notice additional security measures related to insulated beverage containers," the TSA said in a statement released early Friday.

According to the TSA, while no specific threats have been reported, agents at airports have been trained to "detect a variety of threats, including the concealment of explosives in common items.

"Passengers traveling with insulated beverage containers can expect to see additional screening of these items using procedures currently in place, including X-ray screening, physical inspection and the use of explosives trace detection technology," read the statement.

The latest warning from the TSA follows a stronger one from the White House, which called for extra vigilant this holiday season, warning of a possible -- though unspecified -- terror threat from al Qaeda. The caution echoed a weeks' worth of warnings from law enforcement authorities.

"We remain vigilant to attempts by al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations to carry out cowardly attacks against innocent men, women and children, and we are working very closely with other governments to share all threat information immediately and to coordinate closely our counterterrorism and security activities," John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief, said in a statement earlier this week.

Attorney General Eric Holder, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security also alerted the public to a possible attack, citing a year's worth of thwarted attempts, beginning with 2009's Christmas Day "underwear" plot. It was a year ago that a suspected al Qaeda operative tried to detonate explosives packed in his briefs, onboard a flight bound from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


The Great Christmas Debate: A Real Tree or a Fake One?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Millions of Americans swear by artificial Christmas trees, arguing that they are easier to deal with and better for the environment. Traditionalists say that's ridiculous. And a Canadian environmental firm says it's not even true.

The firm calculated the greenhouse gas emissions from both types and discovered that you would have to reuse an artificial tree for more than 20 years for it to be greener than cutting down a real one every year.

While Americans chop down 30 million trees each year, the real trees can be recycled. Last year, New York City composted and mulched 150,000 Christmas trees. Americans buy about 13 million fake trees every year, which often end up in landfills.

Advocates of fake trees say the smell of a real tree can be replaced with pine spray. They cite convenience as an advantage – not having to haul a tree into your house every year, water your tree or vacuum up pine needles.

"Compared to the environmental impact of normal daily activity, neither type of tree – real or artificial – has a significant environmental impact," said Thomas Harman, CEO of Balsam Hill Christmas Tree Company, the leading specialty brand of artificial Christmas trees. "The main reason for the growth in artificial tree sales in the last 10 years is that with true needle technology, they look and feel like real trees. You get the convenience and safety of an environmental tree." 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


NYPD Looking for Suspect in Elaborate New York City Art Heist 

Photo Courtesy - EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A thief in New York City has pulled off an elaborate art heist, allegedly cutting through an apartment wall and stealing several pieces of rare art, jewelry and even the surveillance camera that likely recorded the theft.

The New York Police Department is asking for the public's help in locating the thief, who they say committed the crimes sometime over Thanksgiving weekend, between Nov. 24 and Nov. 28.

The owner of the artwork has been identified by the New York Post as 49-year-old Robert Romanoff, the president of the the Nebraska Meat Corp., a successful meat distributor based in New Jersey.

Calls made to Romanoff by ABC News were not immediately returned, but according to public records, Romanoff owns the building on Ganesvoort Street in Manhattan's trendy Meatpacking District, where the burglary is said to have occurred.

"An unknown suspect broke through a hallway wall into the apartment and removed artwork, watches and other jewelry," said a NYPD spokesman. "A video recorder attached to surveillance cameras inside the apartment also was taken."

Among the artwork were limited edition pieces by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichenstein and Carl Fudge. Warhol's "The Truck" and "Superman" were both stolen, as was a set of eight signed prints by Warhol, known as "Camouflage."

Lichenstein's "Thinking Nude" and "Moonscape," as well as Fudge's "Live Cat" oil painting were also taken.

According to the Post, the jewelry stolen included Rolex and Cartier watches. The total value is reported to be around $750,000. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Man Caught with Gun at Miami Airport

File photo. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MIAMI) -- Police arrested 48-year-old Juan Michael Baldoquin Friday at Miami International Airport after TSA screeners found a gun in his fanny pack.

The West Palm Beach man was apprehended while attempting to go through security at Concourse G.

The 25-caliber semi-automatic pistol was spotted by screeners. One bullet was found loaded in the gun.

According to police, Baldoquin says he forgot the gun was in his fanny pack. After a background check, police determined the gun had been stolen in 1996.

Baldoquin, attempting to take a flight to Cuba, will be charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a stolen firearm.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Dream of a White Christmas Will Be a Reality for Millions

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/KSTP-TV Minneapolis(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- With an enormous winter storm bearing down on the plains, it looks like's long-range holiday forecast prediction will come true, and millions of Americans won't be just dreaming of a white Christmas, they'll be living it.

"I feel from the plains eastward, more people than normal will have a white Christmas," said senior meteorologist Joe Bastardi, Accuweather's chief long-range forecaster.

At the beginning of December, Bastardi said he was predicting snowstorms that would dump snow on the eastern half of the United States later in the month. He predicted temperatures would remain cold enough to keep the while stuff around until Christmas.

Sounds eerily familiar to when an enormous blizzard, dubbed "Snomageddon," dumped several feet of snow on the Northeast last year.

Typically a quarter to a third of the United States is blanketed with white over the Christmas holiday, but Bastardi predicted about half of the country will see snow. For the most part, he will be right.

Weathermen -- and bookies -- are even betting that England, which has had unusually early cold and snowy weather already this year, will have a winter wonderland on Christmas Day.

"As it stands, this year we've got the shortest prices we've ever had, the most number of bets we've ever had," said Rupert Adams of William Hill, a British sports betting website. "It's literally a wild kingdom at the moment. Over 10,000 bets on whether it will be a white Christmas in the U.K."

Long range forecasting is a huge business and everyone from big company executives to farmers and even brides trying to plan their weddings months out are among those buying three million copies a year of "The Old Farmer's Almanac." It's been predicting the weather for 219 years.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


N.Y. Gov. Commutes Sentence of Man Convicted of Teenager's Death

Photo Courtesy - state[dot]ny[dot]us/governor(NEW YORK) -- Outgoing New York Gov. David Paterson commuted the sentence of a black man three years to the day after a Long Island jury convicted him of manslaughter for fatally shooting a white teen who he claimed threatened his son,

John White, 57, was released from a Saratoga County, N.Y., state prison Thursday after serving more than five months of his original two- to four-year sentence.

White had returned to his Miller Place home Thursday, where he used an unregistered gun to shoot 17-year-old Daniel Cicciaro point-blank, in the face, on the night of Aug. 9, 2006.

White, claiming he was protecting his son and his home from a mob of angry white teens, shot Cicciaro after he lunged for White's loaded handgun, which went off accidentally. Teenagers who accompanied Cicciaro said White aimed and fired.

Speaking outside his home in the affluent Miller Place community, White said he felt blessed. "Definitely glad to be home with my family for Christmas," he told media and supporters. "I hope everyone has a blessed and happy holiday."

The dead young man's father, Daniel Cicciaro, told New York's Daily News, "I'm not happy about it. I just can't talk about it right now." His ex-wife, Joanne Cicciaro, told the News, "Of course, he's angry. The guy already had a light sentence and he can't even serve that out? It's just ridiculous."

This case has been overshadowed by racial overtones from the beginning, and Paterson acknowledged that his decision to commute White's sentence could be met with disapproval.

"Our society strives to be just, but the pursuit of justice is a difficult and arduous endeavor," the governor said is a statement. "While the incident and Mr. White's trial engendered much controversy and comment, and varying assessments of justice were perceived, its most common feature was heartbreak. My decision today may be an affront to some and a joy to others, but my objective is only to seek to ameliorate the profound suffering that occurred as a result of this tragic event."

"The action I am taking today is one of understanding, forgiveness and hope, which I believe are essential components of justice."

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota had tough words for Paterson.

"I strongly believe the governor should have had the decency and the compassion to at least contact the victim's family to allow them to be heard before commuting the defendant's sentence," Spota said in a statement.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Female Body Found Near Lake Mead, Hoover Dam

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Authorities at Lake Mead say that tourists discovered the body of a woman Thursday morning just northeast of the Hoover Dam on the Arizona side of the lake, ABC affiliate KTNV reports.

The tourists that discovered the body say the woman appears to have been burned.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Mohave County Sheriff's Office and park rangers are investigating, according to KTNV.  Officials have also said the body will be brought to Las Vegas for an autopsy.

No identity has been determined, but investigators speculate the body might be that of missing Las Vegas dancer, Debbie Flores Narvaez.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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