Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Upgraded from Critical to Serious Condition

Photo Courtesy - Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is no longer listed in critical condition after suffering a gunshot wound to the head while attending a public event in Tucson last week.

The Arizona Congresswoman was upgraded to serious condition Sunday after being taken off a ventilator, the University Medical Center in Tucson reported.  The hospital said Giffords is doing well and is breathing on her own.

On Saturday, Giffords underwent a tracheostomy, which removed the breathing tube in her throat and replaced it with a tube in her windpipe.  The procedure allowed her to be taken off a ventilator for the first time since she was shot.

Doctors also inserted a feeding tube on Saturday for nutritional support.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Strict Parenting Style Leads to Death Threats for Amy Chua

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Amy Chua calls herself a "Tiger Mother" because of her strict parenting methods that didn't allow for play dates, sleepovers or choice in extra-curricular activities for her two daughters.

But her essay in the Wall Street Journal has made her one of the most talked-about -- and criticized mothers -- in the blogosphere.

On January 8, the newspaper published excerpts of her book in an article titled Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior. The Internet erupted in a firestorm of outrage over the piece, in which she described how she belittled one daughter -- calling her "garbage," and threatened to withhold food and bathroom breaks from the other if the seven-year-old didn't play the piano perfectly.

The outrage is so intense that Chua has even gotten death threats, according to reports.

Speaking with ABC News on Sunday, Chua reiterated that her book was not a how-to guide to parenting, but a memoir on her experience as a parent.

"My book is a memoir, not a parenting book! I think there are many ways to raise great kids," Chua said.

The controversy over Chua's book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, heated up further on Saturday when Ayelet Waldman, a Jewish author and mother, responded with her essay, entitled In Defense of the Guilty, Ambivalent, Preoccupied Western Mom.

Waldman's essay humorously outlines differences between what she sees as the lackadaisical approach taken by western mothers and the strict regimen Chinese mothers use on their children that Chua discusses.

The first Wall Street Journal piece, which took excerpts from Chua's parenting memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, ignited a heated debate across the Internet, with critics claiming that the book advocates abusive parenting, while others asserted that it would lead to xenophobia and feed China haters.

Aided by the controversy, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reached the number six slot in the Amazon sales rankings on Tuesday, the day it was released.

In her response to Chua's piece, Waldman, author of The Mommy-Track Mysteries series of novels and the wife of best-selling novelist Michael Chabon, jokingly tells of allowing her children to quit the piano and the violin to spare her from attending boring recitals while letting them sleep over at their friend's houses to save money on babysitters. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Elephant That Crushed Woman Handler Gets Reprieve

File photo. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) -- An African elephant that crushed handler Stephanie James at the Knoxville Zoo will not be punished. Officials at the Knoxville zoo now believe that James' death was an accident.

"The elephants acted as they should in that situation. In other words when they received a command, they responded. She responded in this case," Jim Vina, executive director of the Knoxville Zoo, said.

The 8,000-pound African elephant backed James into a stall on Friday, pushing her into metal bars.

"When something is...up to four tons...and that animal...pushes you against a wall or whatever inside tight quarters, you don't have a chance. It's just that powerful an animal," renowned zookeeper Jack Hanna said.

The 26-year-old elephant, named Edie, was not acting aggressively and followed the desperate commands of another handler to move back, zoo officials said.

When Edie followed the commands to move away from James, it was too late. The 33-year-old James lay crumpled against a stall. Medics rushed her to the hospital where she later died.

For now, zoo officials are keeping the zoo's three elephants away from direct human contact. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Personifies Hope, Equality

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto/MLK, Jr. Nat'l Memorial Project, Gediyon Kifle(WASHINGTON) -- As America celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.'s 82nd birthday Monday, the finishing touches are being put on a memorial to commemorate the man of dreams in Washington, D.C. near where he delivered his most famous speech.

The tribute to Dr. King changes the face of the National Mall. The MLK Memorial is in a direct line between the Lincoln Memorial, where he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, and the Jefferson Memorial.

After 25 years of fundraising, planning and organizing, the site is finally nearing completion. Two giant towers of granite representing the "Mountain of Despair" and the "Stone of Hope" stand along the banks of D.C.'s Tidal Basin. Etched in the "Inscription Wall" along the perimeter of the monument are over a dozen quotes from some of King's most memorable speeches.

The public unveiling is scheduled for Aug. 28, 2011, the 48th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

With a $120 million price tag, fundraising has been the largest barrier to completion of the memorial, said Dina Curtis, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project. The project still needs to raise $12 million to meet their goal, she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Accused Tucson Shooter Will Be Tried in San Diego

Photo Courtesy - Pima County Sheriff's Department(SAN DIEGO) -- Pre-trial publicity resulting from the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson has resulted in shifting the trial of accused gunman Jared Lee Loughner from that city to San Diego, according to federal law enforcement authorities.

While Loughner faces five federal charges in the shooting deaths of U.S. District Judge John Roll and the wounding of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the decision has been made to move the trial out of Tucson.

The final word on the matter must come from presiding Judge Roslyn O. Silver, but one law enforcement official said “it’s going to happen.  It’s just a matter of time.”

This is a victory for Loughner’s attorneys, who’ve argued that a fair trial in emotionally-charged Tucson is impossible.

San Diego was picked since its judicial district is one of the closest in proximity to Arizona.

Changes of venues are rare but have happened in other high-profile cases, such as the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing trial, which was shifted to Denver.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nine-Year-Old Arizona Shooting Victim's Organs Donated

Photo Courtesy - The Green Family/ ABC News/Handout(BOSTON) -- The organs of nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, the youngest victim of last week's shootings in Tucson, Arizona, have been donated to a Boston-area child, her father revealed to The Boston Globe.

The Globe reported Sunday that John Green told the newspaper that he received a phone call about the transplant, but does not know any further details about who received his little girl's organs, or at which hospital.

A spokesman for the New England Organ Bank told The Globe he is unable to comment on donations.

Green told The Globe that the news that his daughter's organs were able to save the life of another child "really lifted" his spirits, and he and her mother, Roxanna Green, are proud of Christina, "who has done another amazing thing."

CNN reports that when asked if he would like to meet the young girl who received his daughter's organs, John Green said yes, he would.

"I'd give her a big hug. It's a blessing," Green said.

Christina-Taylor Green, who was born on Sept. 11, 2001, was one of six people killed when Jared Loughner, 22, allegedly opened fire at a "Congress on Your Corner" event at a Tucson Safeway grocery store.  She was waiting to meet Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona when she was shot.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Police Nab Suspected NJ Cop Killer

Photo Courtesy - WABC-TV New York(LAKEWOOD, N.J.) – The search for the man suspected of pumping three bullets into a Lakewood, New Jersey, police officer last week in what one official called an “execution-style killing,” ended Sunday when police arrested 19-year-old Jahmell Crockham without incident.

Patrolman Christopher Matlosz, 27, rolled up alongside the suspect Friday and the two exchanged words that investigators do not believe were hostile or confrontational. Moments later, investigators allege Crockam pulled out a handgun and shot the officer three times. They say the suspect fled, launching a massive police manhunt.

Crockam was already wanted on a previous charge of weapons possession.

Matlosz was just reassigned from the midnight shift to the evening shift three weeks ago. He was engaged to be married.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Arizona Shooting Victim Arrested After Tea Party Member Threatened

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Police arrested one of the victims of the Arizona shooting after he reportedly threatened a tea party leader at an ABC News town hall event in Tucson on Saturday.

James Eric Fuller, 63, was arrested and ultimately taken for a psychiatric evaluation after the incident in which he threatened Tucson tea party co-founder Trent Humphries at a special edition of ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour.

Fuller, who apparently objected to something Humphries said during the taped forum, used a cell phone to take a picture of him and allegedly shouted "You're dead," according to the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

KGUN-TV in Tucson reported that Fuller was in the front row at the event, and that he apparently became upset when Humphries suggested that conversations about gun control should be delayed until all the dead were buried.

Fifteen seconds after the conclusion of the town hall event, law enforcement officials approached Fuller and led him to a side entrance.  A moment later, Fuller was heard yelling, "What's the matter -- with you -- whores!"

According to Pima County sheriff's spokesman Jason Ogan, Fuller was arrested on misdemeanor disorderly conduct and threat charges.  Authorities decided that Fuller was in need of a mental evaluation as they escorted him off of the premises, and he was taken to a local hospital.  The hospital will determine when he will be released, Ogan said.

Fuller, a naval air veteran, was one of 19 people shot at a Tucson, Arizona Safeway grocery store at the "Congress on Your Corner" event with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Shooting Debate Moves to Tucson Gun Show

Image Courtesy - ABC News illustration(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Flags were flown at half-staff at the Crossroads of the West gun show on Saturday just 13 miles outside Tucson, Ariz., exactly one week after Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was injured in a shooting that left six dead.

"Clearly it's a difficult time, our hearts reach out to those impacted by this tragedy," said Bob Templeton, the event's organizer. "We're all part of this community. Gabrielle Giffords was a friend of gun rights. A gun owner herself and an advocate for Second Amendment rights," said Templeton.

Some in the community found the timing of the show insensitive.

"I think that's rubbing salt in a raw wound," said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Stop Gun Violence. "While we know that [shooter Jared Lee Loughner] apparently did not get his gun from a gun show, a lot of the dangerous people that get guns in this country get them from gun shows."

But that argument doesn't go over so well in gun country.

"I don't agree that restrictions on firearms ownership or guns or ammunition or indeed even high-capacity clips are the answer or the solution -- or even part of the solution," said Templeton.

Gun sales have increased across the country since the shooting. On Monday, dealers in Arizona reported a 60 percent jump in one-day handgun sales. Across the state, the hottest seller has been the Glock 19, the same gun used in the massacre. In Ohio, sales were up 65 percent. Illinois sales rose 38 percent and in New York, 33 percent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


MTV Reality Contestant Charged With Murder

Photo Courtesy - Miami-Dade Corrections(MIAMI) -- Baron "Dirty" Colon, a 24-year-old barber and finalist in the 2009 MTV program From G's to Gents, was arrested Jan. 7 and charged with first degree murder for his involvement in a fatal armed robbery of a Florida artist in 2006.

According to police, Colon joined three others to rob, and ultimately kill, Marcelo Vero in a botched stickup. Miami-Dade Police said the "investigation is still ongoing" but confirmed facts of the crime detailed in Colon's arrest warrant and obtained by the Miami Herald.

According to the Herald, Colon met a friend, Stephany Concepcion, 26, and two other men identified only as "Big Killer" and "Crazy Dread" before planning to rob Vero, an artist known to keep large amounts of cash in his home.

Concepcion, Vero's former employee, arrived at his house late on the night of Jan. 6, 2006. From the victim's bathroom, she called Colon and told him the time was right for the robbery, according to the warrant. Concepcion said she heard shots fired from the other room. When she ran outside, the other men had driven off and she was alone at the scene when police arrived. She was arrested and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison and said she would testify against the other men.

Though Colon has been a suspect in the murder since 2006, police said they could not charge him based on Concepcion's testimony alone. According to the Herald, he was arrested only after investigators received more information from a confidential informant.

The unnamed informant recorded Colon describing how he shot Vero as the man begged for his life, according to the warrant.

Colon is in jail without bond awaiting arraignment on Jan 28.

Colon appeared on the second season of the MTV show, produced by actor Jamie Foxx, in which young men with checkered pasts -- so-called "g's" or "gangstas" -- compete to turn their lives around and become "gentlemen."

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