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Thursday
Oct072010

Washington State Cops Believe Body Found Is Missing Student Dwight Clark

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(BELLINGHAM, Washington) -- A body believed to be that of college freshman Dwight Clark has been found in a pond near the Western Washington University campus where the straight-A student had been attending classes for only a few weeks.

Identification belonging to Clark was found in a pocket and the body appeared to have been in the water for "several days," according to Bellingham Public Information Officer Mark Young.

The cause of his death is not yet known.

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike said in a statement, "It is with deep sadness that we learn of today's discovery of a body on the Bellingham waterfront, likely that of Dwight Clark, a student whose disappearance in our community captured our hearts and left us all hoping fervently he would be found, alive and safe."

The pond where the body was found has numerous docks and many boats that could make it difficult to find a body.

Clark was a star student who sent thousands of text messages to his family and friends each month. His disappearance had puzzled authorities who had spent more than a week scouring the Western Washington University campus searching for him.

The 18-year-old had last been seen in the early morning hours of Sept. 26 when he left an off-campus party at Western Washington University to go back to his dorm, less than a mile away, according to Bellingham authorities.

Clark's case was classified as a "highly suspicious missing person (case)," according to Young, who admitted he was "baffled" by the disappearance.

Young said that while authorities are not certain foul play is involved in Clark's death, they have not ruled it out.

"Despite extensive searching, canine scent dogs, and numerous -- hundreds -- of volunteers, no evidence of any kind has been obtained to substantiate or indicate what happened to Clark," said Young.

Clark was seen leaving the apartment of a friend's house at approximately 2 a.m. on Sept. 26. There are conflicting reports about whether Clark had been drinking at the party, said Young.

"But after 2 a.m. after that party, nothing," said Young. "He hasn't been seen or heard from."

The college freshman, who had started classes just a week before he disappeared, was not known to take drugs and if he had been drinking the night he went missing, friends said he was "not inebriated to the point of not knowing where he was or what he was doing."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct072010

Rutgers University Subpoenaed After Tyler Clementi Death

Photo Courtesy - Tyler Clementi/Facebook(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Rutgers University has been asked by investigators to turn over emails exchanged between the institution and Tyler Clementi, the freshman student who leaped to his death after being secretly taped by his roommate.

The New Jersey university was subpoenaed by the Middlesex County prosecutor's office for the emails, which may shed light on whether Clementi had requested a room change prior to the videotaping incident that was a precursor to his suicide, officials told ABC News.

A user on a gay website believed to be Clementi mentioned on an online message board that he had requested a new roommate after being spied on with a video camera by his college roommate.

Two students have been charged with invasion of privacy for allegedly streaming Clementi's sexual encounter with another man and the prosecutor's office is contemplating adding bias charges.

Rutgers spokesman E.J. Miranda said in a statement that the Rutgers police department and the university are working with the prosecutor's office.

"In some instances a subpoena is required before the university can release confidential student records that are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act," Miranda said.

The school held a town hall meeting Wednesday night to discuss the circumstances of Clementi's death, and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., told the audience he would introduce federal legislation that would require colleges and universities to adopt a code of conduct that prohibits bullying.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct072010

Investigation Into Whether 10-Year-Old Girl Killed Herself

Photo Courtesy - Boston Police Department(BOSTON) -- The 10-year-old Massachusetts girl found hanged in her closet Tuesday died from an "apparent suicide," authorities said Thursday.

The girl, who has not been named, was found by her mother in their Allston apartment Tuesday evening hanging by a scarf, according to police.

"It appears she was hanging, it appears it was suicide," Boston police spokeswoman Jill Flynn said.  She said the official cause of death won't be known until an autopsy is conducted.

A message left for the Boston Medical Examiner's Office was not immediately returned. Flynn declined to comment on what may have motivated the girl.

"It's a 10-year-old, so it's very sensitive," she said. "Investigators are just waiting on an autopsy."

John Tarver, a neighbor of the victim, said police were still monitoring the first-floor apartment where the girl is believed to have killed herself.  Tarver said the victim "was a nice kid" who had frequently played with his daughter.

"When she comes over or when my daughter wants to go down there to play, I've never had any indication about anything [bad going on]," Tarver said.  "I don't know if [the victim] had seen it somewhere and was just trying something and it was an accident."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct072010

FAA Proposing New Safety Rules for Helicopters

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to propose new rules Thursday that will boost helicopter safety, especially the safety of medical helicopters that transport the injured to hospitals.

EMS helicopters play a vital role in saving lives by flying seriously wounded crash victims to nearby trauma centers.  But this year alone, there have been six accidents which have resulted in the death of 16 people onboard the choppers.  The National Transportation Safety Board has long called for tougher safety regulations, and the FAA plans to enforce just that.

An industry source says it's likely the agency will require new equipment to warn pilots if they are too close to the ground, as well as better pilot training.

Industry insiders say this will be a good first step, but much more will be needed to ensure that trying to save a life doesn't cost one.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct072010

Mexico Launches Helicopter Search of Falcon Lake for David Hartley's Body

Photo Courtesy -- ABC News(MEXICO) -- Mexican authorities have launched a search using boats and helicopters for the body of an American who was allegedly killed by Mexican pirates on a lake bordering the two countries.

The Mexican promise of help in the search for the body of David Hartley came after Mexican law enforcement officials cast doubt on the story by Hartley's wife that he was shot in the head by gunmen on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake, which straddles the border between the two countries.

It also came after Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked Mexican President Filipe Calderon to call him with assurances that Mexican authorities are searching for Hartley's body.

Perry said that he hopes to hear from Calderon "within the next 48 hours, that the body has been retrieved. If not, we're not looking hard enough."

The Mexican Foreign Relations Ministry Wednesday said the country "is committed to the investigation of those acts." It added that Mexican authorities have "stepped up their actions with the support of specialized personnel, boats and helicopters."

Hartley's widow, Tiffany, defended herself early Wednesday on Good Morning America against suggestions by Mexican law enforcement officials that they doubted her claim that her husband was shot dead while they rode on Jet Skis on the Mexican side of the lake. Mexican police said there is no evidence of a crime as described by Tiffany Hartley. "It's hard just to hear it," she told Good Morning America.  "But I can see it from their point of view. I can understand why they might think that, but it's not true. ... I would never even think about hurting my husband.  I loved him."

U.S. officials said they're prohibited from entering Mexican waters to search for Hartley's body. David Hartley's mother, Pam Hartley, has issued a public plea to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking for aid in bringing her son's body home.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct062010

FBI Director Seeks Updated Surveillance Laws for Internet Communications

Photo Courtesy -- FBI.gov(WASHINGTON) -- FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said Wednesday that wiretap laws have not kept pace with rapidly evolving technology as terrorist and criminal groups have come to rely on the Internet as a tool for recruitment and their criminal networks.

“In some instances, communications providers are not able to provide the electronic communications we seek in response to a court order.  Many providers are not currently required to build or maintain intercept capabilities in their operating systems,” Mueller said. “As a result, they are often not equipped to provide timely assistance.  Critical laws covering this area have not been updated since 1994, when we moved from a copper-wire phone system to digital networks and cell phones.” 

The director made his remarks in reference to the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which required communications companies to build their products and networks so the FBI could conduct court-approved wiretaps. Parts of the law have been reviewed with legal determinations to cover some Internet traffic, but the comments by Mueller Wednesday are part of an effort to give the FBI updated capabilities to wiretap new and emerging communications.

It is unclear how the Justice Department and FBI will seek the legal framework on the updated surveillance authority, but some officials say they believe Congressional legislation will eventually be required. The issue is critical to not only to the FBI but also for state and local law enforcement agencies to wiretap technology such as Skype and other Internet communications.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Oct062010

Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Green Beret

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images | Alex Wong(WASHINGTON) -- The story of Green Beret Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller, President Obama said Wednesday, is one of a soldier standing so close to the enemy that he could see their faces and one who fired his weapon until it fell silent in saving the rest of his patrol.

In awarding the nation’s highest military declaration, the Medal of Honor, posthumously to Sergeant Miller of Wheaton, Illinois Wednesday, President Obama said that “devotion to duty, an abiding sense of honor, a profound love of country” were the virtues that found their “ultimate expression” when Miller, just 24 years old, gave his life in battle on January 25th, 2008.

While in the northwest of Afghanistan, Miller and his team had the mission to clear a valley of insurgency that had been attacking Afghan forces and terrorizing villagers.

“Like so many times before, Rob was up front, leading a patrol of two dozen Afghans and Americans on a narrow trail along the valley floor,” the president recalled of Miller’s fateful day. Obama added, “Within seconds, Rob and his patrol were pinned down with almost no cover, bullets and rocket-propelled grenades raining down from every direction.”

Noting that the odds were overwhelming, with his patrol only two dozen men against a pack of 150 insurgents, President Obama said that Miller held his ground and radioed back enemy positions with the enemy just feet away.

“Rob made a decision,” Obama said, adding, “He called for his team to fall back. And then he did something extraordinary. Rob moved in the other direction, toward the enemy, drawing their guns away from his team and bringing the fire of all those insurgents down upon himself.”

Five men of his patrol were wounded, but the team had survived.

“And one of his teammates surely spoke for all of them when he said of Rob, ‘I would not be alive today if not for his ultimate sacrifice’. "

The president said that no words can ease the ache in the hearts of Miller’s family and friends.

Noting the special relationship that Miller, who was a Green Beret, with Afghani soldiers, the president said that his legacy also endured in them.

“Rob endures in the Afghans that he trained and he befriended. In valleys and villages half a world away, they remember him: the American who spoke their language, who respected their culture and who helped them defend their country. They welcomed him into their homes and invited him to their weddings.”

Miller’s parents have an Afghan rug hung in their house today, presented to them by the Afghanis after their son’s death, which President Obama said Wednesday is “a symbol of the partnership between the people of America and Afghanistan.”

Miller’s family – mother and father and all seven brothers and sisters – were at the East Room ceremony Wednesday, as well as leaders from across the administration and Miller’ fellow soldiers.

The president said that Miller would be especially proud of his younger brother, who “inspired by his big brother” is now training to be a Green Beret himself.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Oct062010

Toxic Danger: Hazardous Materials Dumped in the United States

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The toxic red sludge that engulfed the streets of a Hungarian town this week appears almost alien, but toxic waste is a very real threat for millions of people in the United States.

Coal ash, a byproduct of coal power plants, is stored in largely unregulated dumps across the country, and retaining walls holding in the toxic material occasionally give way.

A large coal ash spill near Kingston, Tenn. destroyed homes and scarred the environment in a 300-acre area in December 2008.

The coal ash contains heavy metals such as lead and mercury that potentially can cause birth defects, cancer and other health problems.

Just last week, there was a much smaller coal ash spill in Wilmington, N.C. The breached pit didn't present a threat to the public, but it served as a fresh reminder of the standing pools of ash that remain nationwide.

While the federal government does not consider coal ash a hazardous material, plenty of other toxic dumps are being tracked by authorities.

The federal government's Superfund program was enacted in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter, charged with identifying uncontrolled hazardous waste sites around the country.

Three decades later, there are 1,282 active sites on the "National Priorities List," the government's short list of Superfund sites so hazardous that they merit long-term clean up.

NPL sites dot every state in the nation, located in both major population centers and rural areas, with hundreds of millions of Americans living nearby.

Sites can be found everywhere from densely populated Brooklyn, N.Y., where the Gowanus Canal contains dangerous pollutants, to Conroe, Texas, where chemicals from a wood-treating facility leeched into the groundwater.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Oct062010

Feds Issue New Subpoenas in John Edwards' Sex Scandal Investigation

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- An investigation into whether John Edwards illegally funneled funds from his presidential campaign to cover up an affair with a staffer who bore his love child intensified this week, as federal investigators subpoenaed a host of new witnesses to appear before a grand jury, sources close to the investigation say.

The grand jury in Raleigh, North Carolina has been investigating Edwards, accused of providing a love nest for mistress Rielle Hunter for over a year.

At the conclusion of an initial investigation into whether Edwards used contributions to hide away Hunter and staffer Andrew Young, Justice Department officials in Washington instructed local investigators to keep digging, interviewing more people to find out exactly who donated money, sources told ABC News affiliate WTVD-TV.

The new subpoenas were directed at witnesses with knowledge of the money, sources said.

The panel meets on the first Wednesday and Thursday of each month, but its schedule is sealed. Neither investigators nor Edwards' attorney knew if the jury would hear testimony in the case this week.

If the panel chooses to indict Edwards, the former North Carolina senator and Democratic presidential candidate would be charged with a crime and could be brought to trial.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Oct062010

The White House Responds to Critical Reports from Oil Commission

Photo Courtesy -- The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Two senior White House officials spoke with ABC News in response to the Oil Spill Commission's tough criticisms of the administration’s management at the time of the spills.  Noting that the draft reports issued were written by staff and have not been signed off on by the Oil Spill Commission members or chairmen, the White House officials addressed three of the more provocative charges in the reports.

1)     Of the charge that White House climate change czar Carole Browner misrepresented the oil budget on August 4 – telling, for instance, the Good Morning America audience that “the vast majority of the oil is gone” -- they plead guilty, but they say it was an honest confusion and misunderstanding. “Nobody set out to ‘pull the wool over the country’s eyes,’” an official said. “There was a point of confusion.”

Carole was mistaken?

“Carole was mistaken,” the official said, noting that Jane Lubchenco of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration clarified what the oil budget actually meant when she issued a far more detailed statement saying, “The vast majority of the oil from the BP oil spill has either evaporated or been burned, skimmed, recovered from the wellhead or dispersed  much of which is in the process of being degraded. A significant amount of this is the direct result of the robust federal response efforts.”

2)     Of the charge that the administration was overly optimistic, which “may have affected the scale and speed with which national resources were brought to bear,” an official points out that the same paragraph also notes that it is “not clear that this misplaced optimism affected any individual response effort.”

“We used the best information and the best modeling we had at that time,” the official said. “The numbers” – estimates of how much oil was spilling into the ocean – “changed as the technology got better.”

3)     Of the charge that the White House, specifically the Office of Management and Budget, stifled a request from NOAA at the end of April/beginning of May to alert the public as to the worst-case scenario, officials say that’s because the NOAA modeling was not taking into affect the oil that was being skimmed, burned and collected by Top Hat. OMB was the location for the interagency clearance process, and officials there wanted to make sure the information coming from the administration was as precise as possible, officials say. They point to appearances by Admiral Thad Allen and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on May 2 on CNN in which the two men said a worst-case scenario could be 100,000 barrels or more of oil flowing out per day as evidence that they were not attempting to hide anything.

Bottom line, the officials say: “At no point in time did any of these issues impact how we responded to the spill. It did not affect our operations.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio








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