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Monday
May232011

Harold Camping, Doomsday Preacher, Ready to Explain Failed Rapture Prediction

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(ALAMEDA, Calif.) -- Harold Camping, the radio evangelist who predicted the Apocalypse would begin Saturday, May 21, 2011, said Monday he is ready to make a statement about his failed prediction.

Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer, is the head of a media empire that includes radio stations, TV channels and a website.

On Sunday, after the Rapture failed to occur Saturday as he had predicted, Camping was "mystified" and "a little bewildered," an associate of the California preacher told ABC News.

Tom Evans, a board member of Family Radio International, said Camping's wife told him her husband was at their home and had no intention to speak or issue any statement Monday.

Camping's wife described him as being "somewhat bewildered" and "mystified" that events did not unfold on May 21 as Camping had predicted, Evans said.

Evans said his personal position is that the public is owed an apology and he wanted the board -- and Camping -- to meet to figure out what to say and do next.

Camping had pinpointed May 21, at 5:59 p.m. as the exact time the Rapture would occur, when those chosen by God would ascend to heaven while cataclysmic earthquakes would begin to rock Earth. He spread the word on billboards, posters, fliers and digital bus displays across the country.

"I am utterly absolutely, absolutely convinced it's going to happen," Camping said earlier in the week.

Robert Fitzpatrick of New York had put his money where his faith is: The 60-year-old retiree spent $140,000 -- almost everything he had -- on hundreds of billboards proclaiming the Armagedon that Camping predicted.

When it didn't come, he was standing in New York's Times Square, surrounded by jeering tourists in a drizzling rain.

"I can't tell you what I feel right now," he said. "Obviously, I haven't understood it correctly because we're still here."

While Camping has his followers, his preaching also drew criticism from many Christians who pointed out that the Bible says no person can know when the end will come.

This is not the first time Camping was mistaken about the end of the world. He once predicted the End of Days to be Sept. 6, 1994, but later said that date was a result of a mathematical error.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

Endeavour Crew Chats with Tucson School Kids from Space

NASA(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Elementary school classmates of the youngest victim of the deadly January Tucson, Ariz., shootings that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. severely wounded, chatted Sunday with space shuttle Endeavour astronauts Mark Kelly and Mike Fincke while they were in orbit.

The Sunday night talk at Mesa Verde Elementary School was a priority for Kelly, the father of two teenage girls, and the husband of Rep. Giffords. Kelly has been haunted by Christina's death, and he told ABC News' Diane Sawyer earlier this year it agonized him when he thought about it.

One thing Kelly could give was his time, and that's why students crowded into school on a Sunday night to talk to the astronauts. He told them that when he was Christina's age, "I was watching Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, and I told myself that if I worked really hard, maybe one day I would have the opportunity to fly in space, and I did work hard and it did work out. It was those early Apollo astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan that inspired me."

Endeavour Cmdr. Mark Kelly Answers Questions From Orbit

Q: How long does it take to get to space?

Kelly: We go from zero to 17,500 mph in 8 minutes and 20 seconds. When those main engines start, it's like being on a runaway train that is going 1000 mph.

Q: How fast do you go?

Kelly: Right now, we are going 17,500 mph. We see a sunrise and sunset every 45 minutes. If you go outside in spacewalk, it is in the vacuum of space. Even though you are going fast it is not like sticking your arm out the window of a car. You don't feel the air rushing by.

At the end of the session, Kelly showed the students a scrapbook he brought into space for them that he would give to Mesa Verde Elementary School after Endeavour lands in June.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

Mumbai Terror Trial Gets Underway in Chicago

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- The Chicago terrorism trial set to begin on Monday, of Pakistani-Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana, is going to reveal information that could cause serious diplomatic heartburn between the United States, Pakistan, and India.

The trial could also renew calls in Congress to cut foreign aid to Pakistan; there may be testimony that highlights that Pakistan's intelligence service had a role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left 164 dead, including six Americans.

Rana has been charged with three counts of providing material support to the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba terrorist group, assisting Chicago resident David Headley, the operational planner of the Mumbai attacks.  Headley, who pleaded guilty last year to terrorism charges, conducted surveillance for the attackers, used a GPS to program in key location markers for the Mumbai terrorists as they moved to their targets and ravaged the city for three days in November 2008.  They struck luxury hotels, the train station, restaurants and a Jewish center.

Rana, who owned and oversaw the First World Immigration Services in Chicago and other cities, allegedly allowed Headley to use his business as a cover.  The indictment filed against Rana and other conspirators in the case alleged that in June 2006 Headley "advised…[Rana] of his assignment to perform surveillance for potential targets in India and obtained Rana's approval for opening a First World office in Mumbai, India as a cover for these activities."

Last month a superseding indictment revealed the names of additional plotters in the case: Sajid Mir (Headley's handler), Abu Qahafa, Mazhar Iqbal, and a man known only as "Major Iqbal" who is believed to be in either the ISI or Pakistani military.

Court watchers, journalists and the victims of the Mumbai attacks hope to learn more about the mysterious Major Iqbal and who he may be.  Several of the U.S. family members who lost their loved ones in the attacks have sued the Pakistani government and the ISI.

According to court records in the civil lawsuit, the attorneys representing the families attempted to serve subpoenas to Major Iqbal and members of the ISI to find out information about the attacks.  Several of the subpoenas were returned unopened but the subpoena for Major Iqbal, which was delivered to a location in Pakistan, was returned to the New York attorneys and had been opened.

A jury of eight women and four men will be hearing extensive testimony in a trial that is expected to last four to five weeks.  The judge has ordered that the jury remain anonymous given the security concerns and nature of a high profile terrorism trial. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

Elizabeth Smart Wants to Make Sentencing Message of Hope

George Frey/Getty Images(SALT LAKE CITY) -- When Elizabeth Smart speaks at the sentencing this week of the man who kidnapped her from her bedroom nine years ago, her words might be directed to the judge, but she hopes her message will reach others who have gone through ordeals like hers.

At Brian David Mitchell's sentencing, scheduled for Wednesday, Smart will get the final word, telling her tormenter, and the judge, about the horrors she endured and why no one should ever have to face Mitchell again.

Smart said she also knows she can serve as an example and an inspiration to others.

"I will be able to reach out and help other children, other survivors speak out about what's happened to them and give them real hope and courage to take a stand," she said.

Smart was the picture of poise throughout the trial, holding her head high while telling a jury of the horrors Mitchell put her through.  But she said she hasn't decided what she will tell the court.

"I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to say yet," she said.  "So we'll just see when the time comes."

In June 2002, Mitchell broke into the Smart house in an affluent neighborhood of Salt Lake City and kidnapped the then 14-year-old from the bedroom she shared with her sister.  For the next nine months, Mitchell, a self-proclaimed prophet, and his accomplice, Wanda Barzee, held her captive.  He claimed she had become his wife and repeatedly sexually assaulted her.

In March 2003, two women in Sandy, Utah -- just miles from Smart's home -- called police when they saw a man who they thought looked like Mitchell, whose face they knew from the extensive coverage of the girl's story.  The man was walking with a woman and a girl, all carrying rolled sleeping bags.

When police tracked the trio down, they thought the girl looked like Smart and took them into custody.

It took years for the case to finally go to trial because of questions over Mitchell's mental health.  When it finally began last year, the trial spanned five weeks, during which Smart took the stand to describe in frank language what happened during her nine-month captivity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

Doomsday Prophet 'Bewildered' by Failure of Rapture

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Harold Camping is "mystified" and "a little bewildered" that the Rapture did not go as he predicted, an associate of the California preacher told ABC News.

Tom Evans, a board member of Camping's Family Radio International, said that Camping's wife told him her husband is at their home in Oakland and has no intention to speak or issue any statement on Sunday or Monday.

Camping's wife described him as being "somewhat bewildered" and "mystified" that events did not unfold on May 21 as Camping had predicted, Evans said.

Evans said his personal position is that the public is owed an apology and he wants the board -- and Camping -- to meet on Tuesday to figure out what to say and do next.

Camping, 89, had pinpointed May 21, at 5:59 p.m. as the exact time the Rapture would occur, when those chosen by God would ascend to heaven while cataclysmic earthquakes would begin to rock earth.  He spread the word on billboards, posters, fliers and digital bus displays across the country.

Robert Fitzpatrick of New York had put his money where his faith is: The 60-year-old retiree spent $140,000 -- almost everything he had -- on hundreds of billboards proclaiming the Armagedon that Camping predicted.

When it didn't come, he was standing in New York's Times Square, surrounded by jeering tourists in a drizzling rain.

"I can't tell you what I feel right now," he said.  "Obviously, I haven't understood it correctly because we're still here."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

'Cheating' Website Makes Schwarzenegger a $10 Million Offer

Chelsea Lauren/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie career is now on hold in the wake of his escalating paternity scandal, but at least he's gotten one new, lucrative job offer.

ABC News Radio has confirmed the parent company of the website AshleyMadison.com -- which helps facilitate marital affairs between its more than 9.3 million anonymous members -- has offered the disgraced former California governor star a five-year, $10 million contract to be its spokesman.

Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman has sent a copy of the contract to Schwarzenegger's agent, Richard Lovett.  The offer is for Schwarzenegger to be the official German language spokesman in his native Austria, as well as Germany and Switzerland.

Biderman explained to ABC News Radio, "Powerful men, particularly those in politics and the public eye, tend to take multiple risks on their way to the top, and so taking a risk within their personal life, since they feel they are made of Teflon, is a natural extension.  Simply put, the more successful you are, the more prone to cheating you are."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

Dozens Feared Dead as Tornadoes Tear Across Midwest

ABC News' Sam Champion in Joplin, Missouri. ABC News(JOPLIN, Mo.) -- Fierce storms ripped through several Midwestern states, and officials have confirmed that at least 89 people are dead while an unknown number are injured and trapped after a nearly one mile wide, three-mile long tornado slammed Joplin, Missouri.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Sunday evening and activated the Missouri National Guard in response to the destruction the storm left in its wake.

In Joplin, St. John's Regional Medical Center was fully evacuated after it took a direct hit from the tornado, and seven people have been reported dead at a local nursing home, according to police reports.  In the city of about 50,000 people, which sits 160 miles south of Kansas City, the tornado was reported to be one mile wide, while winds of nearly 200 miles per hour ravaged residents.

State and local law enforcement agencies, including fire mutual aid, are coordinating search and rescue operations.  The Missouri State Highway Patrol sent troopers from other regions to help local officers in southern Missouri deal with the destruction, according to a statement from Nixon's office.

Authorities estimate that 25 to 30 percent of Joplin has been damaged by the tornado, with very populated areas having been hit by the storm.

Cries could be heard early Monday morning from people trapped below the wreckage, while crews have been pulling out bodies and lining them up in the streets for loved ones to identify, according to ABC News affiliate KODE-TV in Joplin.

There is now fear of gas explosions in the storm's aftermath, and authorities are telling people not to light any cigarettes because so many gas pipes are broken, KODE-TV reports.

In total, 70 tornadoes were produced by the storm system since Friday, including at least 47 tornadoes on Sunday.  Tornadoes were reported in seven states from the Canadian border to Oklahoma.  Warnings and watches were posted from Texas to Michigan.

President Obama released a statement on the emergency late Sunday night, in which Obama said "Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives in the tornadoes and severe weather that struck Joplin, Missouri as well as communities across the Midwest today. We commend the heroic efforts by those who have responded and who are working to help their friends and neighbors at this very difficult time."

The president also addressed the government's response, saying, "At my direction, FEMA is working with the affected areas' state and local officials to support response and recovery efforts, and the federal government stands ready to help our fellow Americans as needed," he added.

Earlier Sunday, tornadoes had torn across other parts of the region, killing at least one person in Minneapolis.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May222011

Suspect in Custody in Giants Fan Beating

Medioimages/Photodisc/ThinkStock(LOS ANGELES) -- Police have arrested a suspect in connection with the assault of a San Francisco Giants fan following a baseball game in March.

Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department reportedly took the suspect into custody early Sunday morning. Officials say a group of officers, including members of the SWAT team, converged on a Los Angeles apartment, detaining several occupants. The suspect arrested for the brutal assault on Bryan Stow is said to be a reputed member of a gang from the Hollenbeck neighborhood.

Stow, 42, was beaten by two attackers in the parking lot of the Los Angeles Dodgers stadium on March 31, following a game between the Giants and the Dodgers.

Stow is listed as in critical condition at the San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May222011

President Obama Sets Off on European Trip

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will set off on a four-country, week-long trip to Europe on Sunday evening.

The president is set to visit Ireland, England, France and Poland during his trip.

Obama is scheduled to land in Dublin, Ireland on Monday morning, and while there he and the first lady is expected to meet with Irish President Mary McAleese and her husband. The highlight of President Obama’s stop in Ireland might be when he pays a visit to the small town of Moneygall, where his ancestors are said to have come from.

On Tuesday it will be wheels up for Air Force One, as the president heads to London, where he will arrive at Buckingham Palace and meet with Queen Elizabeth II. While in the United Kingdom, Obama is also carded to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron and deliver a speech to the U.K. parliament.

The third leg of the trip will see President Obama touching down in Deauville, France on Thursday for the G-8 meetings, where leaders are expected to discuss a range of political and security issues. While in France Obama is also scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, White House officials say.

The trip wraps up with a visit to Poland, where President Obama and Poland President Bronisław Komorowski will host a meeting for the heads of state of Central and Eastern Europe on Friday night. Obama will also meet with Komorowski and Poland’s prime minister, before departing for the U.S. on Saturday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May222011

Tornadoes Dismantle Midwest, One Person Killed

Comstock/Thinkstock (File)(READING, Kan.) -- Midwest residents are cleaning up this morning after several tornadoes Saturday left one man dead and one Kansas town nearly destroyed.

At least 20 tornadoes were reported across three states: 14 in Kansas, 5 in Oklahoma, and 1 in Missouri.

In the small town of Reading, Kansas twisters ripped through the area and left more than 20 homes destroyed and 200 more damaged.

"Lots of damage all over town, the farther south in town the more damage there is. Lots of trees down, large trees, there's buildings that have been totally devastated," said Coffee County Emergency Coordinator Russel Stukey.

One fatality and several injuries were reported in connection with the twisters, according to authorities.

"Everything is destroyed. We're going to have to stay strong for the community," one resident told Kansas City ABC News affiliate KMBC.

Power was knocked out Saturday and roads in and out of area were closed, KMBC reported.

According to Sharon Watson with the Kansas State Division of Emergency Management there was also baseball-size hail reported throughout the northeast part of the state.

"We've been fortunate so far to not have as much damage as we have seen in the past, such as the year 2007 when the town of Greensburg was basically destroyed, a town of 1,500," Watson said.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency for at least 16 counties.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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