Suspicious Device at Calif. Mall Was School Project, Not Explosive

File Photo. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) – A suspicious device found at a mall in Sacramento has turned out to be a school project, according to the Sacramento Bee.

A bomb squad was called to Arden Fair Mall Monday after a store employee saw the device inside of a truck parked outside.

The owner of the device, which was described as having wires and hoses attached to boxes and bottles, turned out to be a mall store employee who said the object was a school project, not an explosive.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Powder in Package at VA Courthouse Not Dangerous

File photo. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MANASSAS, Va.) -- Tests have concluded that powder that spilled from a suspicious package at Prince William County Courthouse in Manassas Tuesday morning was not harmful.

Manassas City Fire Chief Francis Teevan also told a local ABC affiliate that none of the 11 workers who were near the powder, or the three who came in contact with it, have shown any symptoms that would point to the substance being toxic.
People inside the building were quarantined after the package -- described as an envelope containing a white powdery substance -- was found in the building Tuesday morning.

Authorities plan to re-open areas of the building that had been closed off.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio.


Suspicious Package Investigated at Boston Airport

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(BOSTON) -- Investigators said the contents of suspicious luggage found at Boston's Logan International Airport were harmless, after the bomb squad x-rayed two duffle bags and evacuated a cargo terminal.

Police set up a secure perimeter around the Delta Cargo terminal Tuesday after a sniffer dog hit on two duffle bags with a Nigerian return address. Authorities x-rayed the bags, before giving the all clear, deeming the contents of the package a "low level threat," according to airport spokesman Phil Orlandella. The airport's passenger terminals were not evacuated.

The incident comes on the heels of an international warning that al Qaeda plans to use cargo planes to transport bombs, hidden in objects like printer toner cartridges, to carry out small and inexpensive terror attacks. More than 2 million people are expected to fly on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Did Mutilated Teen Cadet Fall From an Airplane?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Authorities are investigating whether the North Carolina teen who was found battered to death on the side of a Massachusetts road more than 800 miles from home fell to his death from an airplane.

Remains found in Milton, Mass., last Monday have been identified as Delvonte Tisdale, 16, and one line of investigation is whether the ROTC cadet had been a stowaway in an aircraft. "The investigation remains active and ongoing on multiple fronts," David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney William Keating, said in a statement.

But an airport spokesman confirmed that he had been asked for information regarding the flights that flew over the area where Tisdale's body was found.

"I got a call about the possibility of a stowaway in one of the nose-wells of an aircraft," Logan International Airport spokesman Phil Orlandella said. "While I can't confirm that [he fell], we were asked to look into the flight tracks of who flew in over that community on the day [Tisdale] was found."

Craig Tisdale told the Charlotte Observer that his brother may have been running away from his father, with whom he did not have a good relationship. He said that Tisdale had planned to get a ride to Baltimore where his mother lives from friends heading to Boston, according to the paper.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Natalee Holloway Mystery: Jawbone Discovered Not of Missing Teen

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/Handout(ORANJESTAD, Aruba) -- A jawbone found on a beach in Aruba does not belong to missing American teenager Natalee Holloway, authorities said on Tuesday.

The determination was made using Holloway's dental records, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the Aruba Public Prosecutor's Office.

In the five years since Holloway disappeared while on a school trip, there has been no physical evidence to confirm that she had been murdered.

The Aruban prosecutors office said a Dutch forensics team was able to extract only a small amount of DNA evidence from the one tooth -- a molar -- that was still attached to the mandible. It was, they said, "of low quality."

Holloway, an 18-year-old high school senior from Alabama, vanished in the island country in May 2005. The suspect in her disappearance has long been Dutch playboy Joran van der Sloot, who has never been formally charged.

Van der Sloot, who was 17 years old at the time of Holloway's disappearance, is now being held in a Peruvian prison after confessing to the murder of Stephany Flores, 21, earlier this year.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Airport Pat-Downs: TSA Says it Can Fine You for Backing Out

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The day before Thanksgiving will be the pre-holiday ritual of long lines, frustration and National Opt-Out Day -- a movement calling on airline passengers to forego the controversial new body scanning machines and manual security pat-downs. The movement is intended to snarl lines at airports as a protest against the new, more invasive screening proceedures.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it can fine individuals up to $11,000 for walking away from the airport security process.  But will it?  People in government say the fine is mostly a deterrent so that terrorists cannot back out of a security check once it starts.

The TSA said it has yet to fine a traveler for not completing the screening process, though it has levied civil penalties against passengers who have brought dangerous items to the security checkpoint.

"While TSA has the legal authority to levy a civil penalty of up to $11,000 for individuals who choose not to complete the screening process, each case is determined on the individual circumstances of the situation," said Greg Soule, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration.  Congress transferred the enforcement of civil aviation security to the TSA from the Federal Aviation Administration in November 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The TSA's current civil penalty monetary guidelines, which became effective on Aug. 20 last year, say the security administration can impose "civil monetary penalties up to $10,000 per violation for surface transportation modes [for breaches of highway, pipeline, freight rail and mass transit security policies] and up to $11,000 per violation for all other persons."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Shuttle Discovery Patched Up, May Fly Next Week

Photo Courtesy - NASA/Tony Gray(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Shuttle Discovery could be ready to launch as early as next week, barring another major setback.

Had things not gone awry, Discovery would have already returned from its last mission to the International Space Station but the early November launch was postponed due to a persistent hydrogen gas leak and cracks in the ribs of the shuttle's external tank.

On Monday, NASA officials said that all the necessary repairs were made and that Discovery might be good to go on or near Dec. 3.

Later this week, program managers will discuss the rationale for launching the shuttle with the repairs and if it passes muster, a final review will be conducted next Monday to give it approval for liftoff.

This would presumably be Discovery's 39th and final flight.  Endeavour is scheduled for the last mission next February before the orbiter fleet is formally retired.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


White House: Terrorists Discussed Prosthetics to Conceal Explosives

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- U.S. intelligence has picked up terrorists discussing the use of prosthetic or medical devices to conceal explosives, sources tell ABC News.

The revelation about the intelligence, which is not new but relevant to debate over new security measures at airports, comes as the White House Monday acknowledged that the implementation of the security procedures has not gone perfectly.

Americans by a two-to-one margin support the use of naked image full-body X-ray scanners in airport security lines, but fewer than half back aggressive new pat-down procedures, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll. Opposition to both rises among those who fly with any frequency.

The Transportation Security Administration has come under fire for new body scanners and what some say are highly invasive pat-downs.

Thomas Sawyer, a bladder cancer survivor, said he was humiliated after a pat-down broke his urostomy bag, leaving the 61-year-old covered in his own urine. Sawyer said he warned the TSA officials twice that the pat-down could break the seal.

Cathy Bossi, a longtime flight attendant and breast cancer survivor, said the TSA made her take off her prosthetic breast.

"She put her full hand on my breast and said, 'What is this?' I said 'It's a prosthesis because I've had a breast cancer,'" Bossi said. "And she said, 'You'll need to show me that.'"

In recent days, several passengers have come forward to tell such shocking stories about their experiences with TSA officers.

The head of the Transportation Security Administration, John Pistole, on Monday said that at least one airport passenger screening went too far when an officer reached inside a traveler's underwear, and said the agency is open to rethinking current protocols.

That search was against protocols and "never" should have happened, TSA administrator Pistole told ABC News Monday.

Pistole, responding to complaints from passengers, has said the TSA would not change its pat-down procedures but said Monday the agency was "open" to changing security procedures.

Only a small number of travelers have been subject to pat-downs, officials say. The White House says roughly 340,000 people -- or one percent of all travelers -- have been subjected to more intense searches since the new TSA procedures began Nov. 1.

Pistole said the key to travel security is finding the proper balance between protecting against very real threats -- such as the failed cargo bomb plot and the current search for two suicide bombers believed to be at large in Germany -- and protecting individual privacy, something that some passengers claim invasive pat-down procedures have taken away.

TSA screeners are also fed up with the blame being leveled at them and agree that a better system is needed, according to travel blogger Steven Frischling, who spoke to 20 officers about the new procedures and pat downs.

The screeners told Frischling about their discomfort at touching people's private parts, and getting verbally abused by some passengers.

The TSA has attempted to downplay the actual number of people who get pat downs, although Pistole Monday admitted that he'd dropped the ball when it came to informing the public on what it should expect.

There's also concern about possible health risks stemming from the new scanners, a fear that the White House Monday said is unfounded.

"The truth is, you have greater [radiation] exposure sitting in an airplane than you do going through one of those machines," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday.

The new scanners and pat downs were introduced Nov. 1, but their impact will be felt the most this week, the busiest travel period of the year.

Across the nation, there are 385 of the new, full-body scanners at airports, but there are a total of 2,100 security lanes.

That means about 80 percent of security lanes won't have the machines in place.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


John F. Kennedy Assassination Still Intrigues, 47 Years Later

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images (NEW YORK) -- Forty-seven years have passed since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but the man who served less than a full term in office still casts a long shadow over the American politics and culture even as his relatives have slowly retreated from it.

A new movie, as well as a documentary featuring Secret Service agents on duty in Dallas when JFK was shot, ensure that the Kennedy assassination will not fade from our minds any time soon.

In January, when JFK's nephew Patrick leaves Congress, it will be the first time since 1944 that no member of the Kennedy clan is on Capitol Hill.

The retiring Rep. Kennedy was not even born when his uncle was killed, but the events of that day in Dallas still capture the interest of Americans.

The documentary about the Secret Service is set to air Monday night on Discovery.

Two agents appear in it. They have kept silent about the events of Nov. 22, 1963, up to now. But a new book by agent Gerald Blaine, The Kennedy Detail, has brought a new perspective to the story.

A new feature film is in the works to examine the Kennedy assassination. This one, adding to the canon of films that explore conspiracy theories, most notably by Oliver Stone and Clint Eastwood, will feature Leonardo DiCaprio and is based on a book by Lamar Waldron that used information from the National Archives to suggest that a mob boss ordered Kennedy's assassination.

That book was also the basis for a Discovery Channel documentary that aired one year ago, the 46th anniversary of the assassination. Last year's documentary was called Did the Mob Kill JFK?

The agents in this year's movie reject such theories as a "cottage industry" of conspiracy.

But the doubts persist. Why are Americans still so interested in a killing that occurred nearly half a century ago and has been studied more than any other?

"There are so many angles on President Kennedy's death, including the public killing of the murderer," said David Rehr, a former President of the National Association of Broadcasters who now teaches at George Washington University.

"A picture-perfect Presidency with so much hope is ended by a bullet -- the story line gets more complicated as time passes and others suggest various motives," said Rehr.

The Secret Service has grown exponentially since then, from 400 agents to ten times that with a budget of about $1.4 billion annually.

And while Kennedy, on that fateful day, was able to insist that he ride in an open convertible to wave and be seen by the people, presidential security is now as tight as the Secret Service can make it.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Report: Americans Value Safety over Privacy at Airports

Photo Courtesy - ABC News | Washington Post(WASHINGTON) -- Results from a recent poll by ABC News and The Washington Post say that Americans are in favor of the use of naked-image full-body X-ray scanners at airport security checkpoints by a two-to-one margin.

Despite the support for full-body scans, 50 percent of Americans polled said they are not in favor of aggressive pat-down procedures. Additionally, those who fly most frequently show the most opposition to the enhanced security checks.

Ultimately, those surveyed seemed to value safety over privacy.

ABC 2010 News Radio 

ABC News Radio