Ex-Continental Pilot: Low Pay Led to Dangerous Fatigue

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A former veteran commercial airline pilot lived for more than a year at the beginning of his career in and out of a bare-bones "crash pad" and was so tired while flying that he drifted off to sleep in the cockpit, the pilot told ABC News.

Josh Reikes, who began flying in 1999, said money was so tight in his first years that whenever he commuted to a new city before a flight, he could not afford a hotel room and opted to stay in a crash pad.

"You're bunked up with six, seven, eight people stumbling in at all hours of the night waking you up," recalled Reikes. "It's not good sleep at all. But what's the alternative?"

An ABC News investigation found these dormitory-style rooms, designed to pack in as many airline crew members as possible, are spread out in cities across the country. After the few hours of sleep some pilots are able to snag in the crowded crash pads or on the couches and chairs of crew rooms, they report to duty and are entrusted with dozens, or sometimes hundreds, of passengers' lives. In the past 20 years, more than two dozen accidents and more than 250 fatalities have been linked to pilot fatigue, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration told ABC News airline companies deny pilots are sleeping overnight in crash pads.

Reikes told ABC News he lived for more than a year in and out crash pads because it was the only way he could get by on his $17,000 per year starting salary at ExpressJet, which offers flights under the name Continental Express as a Continental Airlines regional carrier.

"There were about 15 of us bunking in a small hotel room," Reikes told ABC News of the crash pad he called home. The kind of sleep he was afforded there caused him on more than one occasion to either deliberately take a nap in the cockpit or drift off to sleep inadvertently, Reikes said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Department of Justice Seeks Twitter Records in Wikileaks Probe

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In an interesting juxtaposition to Secretary Hillary Clinton's Internet freedom speech, Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, the Justice Department will be seeking to enforce a court order to direct Twitter Inc. to provide the U.S. government records from three individuals,  including Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Icelandic parliament who communicated with others about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange last year when WikiLeaks released their trove of U.S. cables.

In December, the U.S. District Court issued the order to seek the information under a 2703 order which allows the government to seek a service provider's customer communications records in the past 180 days. It is essentially an administrative subpoena.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Freedom Foundation are seeking to dismiss and challenge the order.  According to a Jan. 26 court filing, the groups are seeking to dismiss on the grounds that it "intrudes upon important First Amendment rights," 4th Amendment protections, and "will not directly further the government's purported interests."

Jonsdottir and two other individuals have been targeted by these orders to turn over details about their Twitter accounts because the suit suggests they discussed Wikileaks and Assange.  The motion to dismiss notes, "The First Amendment guarantees their right to speak up for and freely associate with even unpopular people."

The motion also notes that the U.S. government request creates, "a disturbing precedent regarding a foreign government's ability to collect private data from another country's officials."

The U.S. government is seeking information about their accounts, direct messages, home address, connection records and IP addresses.

The ACLU and EFF are also seeking to unseal all court orders relating to the case and the government's request for the records.  Everything filed by the Justice Department was filed under seal in the case and remains secret.  The court motion and request to dismiss the court order were only recently unsealed in this matter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama to Award Medal of Freedom to 15 Recipients

Photo Courtesy - Chip Somodevilla/ Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will award the Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor -- to 15 recipients Tuesday, which include a former president, a famous poet and a Hall of Fame baseball player.

The medal is awarded annually "to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

The 15 honorees were announced last year in November and "come from a broad range of backgrounds and they’ve excelled in a broad range of fields, but all of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place," President Obama said.

The 2010 Medal of Freedom recipients are:

-- Former President George H. W. Bush
-- Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Angela Merkel
-- Rep. John Lewis of Georgia
-- Co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, John H. Adams
-- Author, poet, actress and civil rights activist, Dr. Maya Angelou
-- Investor, industrialist and philanthropist, Warren Buffett
-- Artist, Jasper Johns
-- Jewish Holocaust survivor, Gerda Weissmann Klein
-- Optometrist, Dr. Tom Little (Posthumous)
-- Cellist, Yo-Yo Ma
-- Civil rights activist, Sylvia Mendez
-- National baseball Hall of Fame first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, Stan “The Man” Musial
-- Former Boston Celtics Captain and five-time NBA Most Valuable Player, Bill Russell
-- Founder of the non-profit organization VSA, Jean Kennedy Smith
-- Current President Emeritus of the AFL-CIO, John J. Sweeney

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Proposed Arizona Bill Would Identify Immigrants at Hospitals

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Arizona lawmakers held a public hearing Monday about a proposed bill that would force hospitals in the state to ask patients about their citizenship status.

Under the measure's provisions, hospital staff must inquire if a person is in the country legally before admitting them for non-emergency care.  If it turns out that the individual is an illegal immigrant, the hospital would be required to notify federal immigration officers about their status.

In emergency situations, hospitals would be allowed to treat illegal immigrants first and ask questions later.  Still, they ultimately have to inform immigration officials should the patient be in the country illegally.

Any hospital refusing to comply with the law, should it be passed, could be sued by the state.

Opponents of Senate Bill 1045 say the measure will scare people into not seeking medical attention if they know they can be deported.

George Pauk, a retired doctor with an organization called Physician for a National Health program, added, "This is making us into a police state that will try to catch people when they are sick."

Arizona is currently awaiting the results of a lawsuit filed by the federal government against the state's proposed legislation that requires police to inquire about citizenship status during the course of a normal arrest.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Aspiring Pop Star Wanted for Questioning in Fatal Butt Injection Case

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- The woman wanted for questioning in the case of an illegal butt implant procedure that left a 20-year-old British woman dead is a transsexual performer who goes by the stage name "Black Madam," according to Philadelphia police.

The "Black Madam" has been on the lam since last Tuesday, when Claudia Aderotimi died after receiving illegal buttocks injections at a Hampton Inn in Southwest Philadelphia.

British papers, including the Daily Mail, reported that Aderotimi wanted a career in show business and sought the implants to boost her chances of being a "video girl."

A search of the home belonging to Padge Victoria Windslowe, the so-called "Black Madam," turned up silicone, ABC news affiliate WPVI-TV in Philadelphia reported.

Windslowe, an aspiring musician who sings what she calls "black Goth," enlisted the help of Philadelphia photographers to try to launch her career.  Her Facebook page shows that she has more than 1,000 fans.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gates: 'No Idea' on Size of US Troop Drawdown in Afghanistan

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Gates called it a “fairly dramatic reduction in the overseas contingency operations budget," as war funding drops to $117.8 billion in 2012 from $160 billion this year.  But it’s all because of the U.S. drawdown in Iraq that will be completed by January 1, 2012 which makes next year’s war funding all about Afghanistan.  

The drawdown of the 98,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan is slated to begin in July of this year, but Gates admitted Monday “we have no idea what the size of the drawdowns will be" because the pace of troop reductions will all depend on security conditions on the ground.
As such, Gates said it make more sense to continue to conservatively budget the war next year at the 98,000 U.S. troop level and see what happens as the drawdown progresses.
According to Gates, “It makes more budget sense to do this conservatively and budget on a straight line basis from FY 2011 and depending on the size of the drawdown, that maybe money we just won’t spend. “
However, Gates made it clear that while it made good budget sense to plan for maintaining a 98,000 troop level, that’s “not to say we will have 98,000 at the end of FY 2012, in fact that’s a lead pipe cinch we won’t.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


'Minutemen' Vigilante Shawna Forde Guilty in Deadly Ariz. Home Invasion

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Shawna Forde, a border vigilante, was convicted Monday of two counts of murder for orchestrating a home invasion that left a nine-year-old Arizona girl and her father dead.

Prosecutors said Forde planned the home invasion to rob Raul "Junior" Flores, who she thought was a drug dealer, to fund her border watch group. There were rumors that Flores, 29, had a stash of $4,000 in cash in the house.

Flores and his daughter Bresenia were both killed in the May 2009 attack at their Arivaca, Ariz., home. His wife, Gina Gonzalez, was shot three times but survived by playing dead.

In addition to the first-degree murder charges, Forde, 43, founder of Minutemen American Defense, was found guilty of one count of attempted first-degree murder; one count of burglary in the first-degree; one count of aggravated assault, serious physical injury; one count of aggravated assault, deadly weapon/dangerous instrument; one count of armed robbery and one count of aggravated armed robbery.

The Pima County Superior Court jury came back with a verdict after it deliberated for seven hours over two days.

The sentencing phase of the trial begins Tuesday. Forde could face the death penalty.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gay Love, Equality Examined in Nationwide Valentine's Day Campaign

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Advocates for same-sex marriage marked Valentine's Day with a nationwide campaign to tout the merits of gay love and urge greater legal protections for it.

From California to Texas to Illinois, activists are organizing trips to courthouses and county clerks' offices to request marriage licenses, despite laws in those states and 42 others that forbid gay couples to wed.

"We're going to ask for our marriage license and get denied," Rex Fender, 22, said outside a San Diego courthouse. She wants to marry her partner of two years, Rudi Redman, 23.

"Our love is just as legitimate as everyone else's, and we want that to be recognized," she said. "On this day of love, we want people to see we're proud about our love."

Organizers from GetEQUAL and Marriage Equality USA, two gay rights groups coordinating the campaign, said 37 events were scheduled to take place in 13 states, with most taking place in California and Texas.

Meanwhile, New York City-based advocacy group Freedom to Marry launched what it called the largest-ever national TV ad campaign aimed at educating the public on gay love and why marriage rights matter to same-sex couples.

"No one should be treated differently for any reason. We're all human," Keith, an African-American man who said he has been married to his wife Antoinette for 31 years, says in the video ad.

The ad was slated to run for the first time on CNN on Monday. The group said it would raise and spend $10 million in the next three years to support same-sex marriage.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Shooting Locks Down Tennessee College Campus

Photo Courtesy - WireImage/Getty Images(MURFREESBORO, Tenn.) -- Police have arrested the man they believe is responsible for a shooting Monday on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.

At least one shot was fired at the school’s Business and Aerospace Building around 11:30 a.m. One person was shot in the finger, police told ABC News Nashville affiliate WKRN-TV, but the injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

The identity of the gunman was not immediately made available by police, but initial reports described him as a black male wearing a tan hat and purple shirt. It is unclear whether the man is a student at the university. The original description of the shooter noted that he was wearing a backpack.

The school was placed on lockdown Monday while authorities combed the campus for the man responsible.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cops Say Ga. Dad Killed Two Kids, Stabbed Self in Surprise Twist

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- A gruesome attack that ended in the stabbing deaths of two small children and the critical wounding of a third took a bizarre turn Sunday when the principle witness in the case -- the boys' father -- became the prime suspect, police said.

Gwinett County Police say Elvis Noe-Garcia, the boys' father who called 911 last week to report his children's murder and said he too had been stabbed in the chest, actually committed the crime himself, perhaps in an effort to frame another man.

Now, 48 hours after Noe-Garcia's testimony landed Antonio Cardenas-Rico, 27, in jail, the two men have switched places. Noe-Garcia now sits in a solitary cell in Georgia's Gwinnett County Jail, and Cardenas-Rico is outside -- exonerated.

"I didn't do anything," Cardenas-Rico told ABC News affiliate WSB-TV, moments before his release from jail.

"Why is this happening to me? What I did to deserve this?" Cardenas-Rico asked.

And then, as if to answer his own question, said, "He set me up, so I wouldn't be with her," a possible reference to the boys' mother.

On Friday Noe-Garcia ran from his Lawrenceville, Ga., home, bleeding from wounds in his chest. While on the phone with 911, he ran to the garage of a neighbor and told the man there, "[Cardenas-Rico] killed my children."

At the time of Cardenas-Rico's arrest, police believed he was responsible for killing one-year-old Edward Garcia and his three-year-old brother, Bradley; wounding Bradley's twin, Joshua; and their father.

Police at the time were unsure how Cardenas-Rico knew the family, but believed he may have been the boys' mother's ex-boyfriend.

Now cops believe Noe-Garcia and the boys' mother were separated and the woman was dating Cardenas-Rico.

"Charges against our initial suspect were dropped," said Gwinnett County Police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith, "and made instead against the father, the man who first called 911 and claimed someone had tried to murder him and his kids."

Cops said they did not yet know why Noe-Garcia allegedly attacked his kids.

Copyright 2011 News Radio

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