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Monday
May022011

Jubilant Crowd at Ground Zero Hails Death of Osama Bin Laden

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Thousands of people arrived at New York's Ground Zero early Monday morning, celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden with songs, cheers and champagne toasts at the very site where many of the revelers lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2011.

Waving American flags, chanting "USA" and singing patriotic songs, people in the crowd described the scene as "jubilant" and "celebratory," marking a stark contrast from the solemn mood that generally marks the site where nearly 3,000 people died in a terrorist attack and whose names are read there every year on the anniversary.

"Tonight is a great night," said Rocco Chierichella, the retired firefighter who famously handed President George W. Bush a bullhorn when he visited the smoldering wreckage of the twin towers 10 years ago.

"I can hear them all," Chierichella said of the revelers.  "Let's hear it for the U.S. Army.  Tonight is for them."

People in the crowd described it as ethnically diverse and youthful.  One woman held up an iPad serving as makeshift poster, which read "Obama: 1, Osama: 0."

Muslim women in head scarves and Muslim men in turbans and long beards carried American flags, mixinf with retired firefighters, service members in uniform and college students.

"I feel justice has been served," said a retired firefighter who became ill after responding to the attacks on the World Trade Center.  "I feel a weight off my shoulders."

Also in the crowd was Lt. Dan Choi, wearing his full dress uniform, who re-enlisted in the military after being discharged for being gay.

People in the crowd climbed trees, swung from lamposts and poured champagne from atop street signs.

Smaller but no less exuberant celebrations also erupted in New York's Time Square.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May022011

Celebration Erupts in Washington over Osama Bin Laden's Death

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As President Obama began his statement Sunday night from the White House announcing the death of Osama bin Laden, a large crowd of people, about 200 and growing, had gathered outside the White House gates on Pennsylvania Avenue, waving flags and dancing.

They sang the "Star-Spangled Banner" in unison and chanted "USA!  USA!  USA!"

They also sang, "Na na na na -- na na na na ...Hey hey goodbye" in reference to Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. Special Forces in Pakistan Sunday.

The crowd has continued to swell overnight.  People have been running to join the group with American flags and there has been lots of dancing and cheering -- complete jubilation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May022011

Osama Bin Laden Dead, Intel Officials Focus on Revenge Attacks

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. intelligence and law enforcement authorities have stepped up patrols near mosques and recalled an elite U.S. Marine unit that handles chemical and biological weapons attacks in preparation for the possibility of terrorist reprisals, following President Obama's announcement that Osama bin Laden has been killed.

The death of the world's most wanted terrorist has security experts at all levels of government concerned that bin Laden's loyal and fanatical followers could launch a series of deadly attacks. Minutes after news of bin Laden's death becoming public, New York City officials placed police on high alert.

"While there is no information indicating a specific threat to New York City, members of the service are reminded to remain alert in the aftermath of the announcement that Osama Bin Laden has been killed," New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly told the 35,000 officers under his command.

Police in New York and Los Angeles said they would step up patrols near mosques and are warning of lone-wolf-style attacks by single individuals. In Philadelphia, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey instructed officers to pay special attention to all mosques and synagogues, checking them hourly.

The State Department told embassy officials and U.S. citizens around the world to be vigilant, particularly in those countries with a large U.S. military presence.

Former national security advisor and ABC News contributor Richard Clarke said bin Laden's death closes one chapter in the U.S. war on terror, but could very likely open a new one.

"It shouldn't divert us from the other al Qaeda cells out there," Clarke said. "It's not over and...no one thinks it's over but it is satisfying and we should feel some closure on this chapter."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May022011

Relief and Recovery Efforts Press On in Tornado-Hit South

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) -- The series of tornadoes that stuck southeastern states last Wednesday is now considered the second deadliest in U.S. history after the March 1925 twisters that killed 747 people in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.

At least 340 people died from last week's severe weather events in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee.  Alabama lost more than 250 residents.   Hundreds are still missing.

Experts say that some of the tornadoes packed winds of over 200 miles an hour and stretched a mile wide.

President Obama, who visited Alabama Friday, appeared shaken by the devastation, telling reporters it was the worst he had ever seen.  He has signed disaster declarations for Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi and parts of Georgia.

Several members of Obama's cabinet also visited Alabama and Mississippi Sunday to meet with affected families and state officials and assess the damage left by the storms.

In addition to the death toll, thousands of people throughout the South have been injured, some of them sustaining brain injuries, paralysis or amputations while trying to hide from the storms.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Small Business Administration are in the midst of registering victims for financial assistance, even if they have homeowner's insurance.  The Red Cross is also steering victims to aid they're eligible to receive.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May022011

Coincidence? Bin Laden News Comes Amid Significant Anniversaries

CNN via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Timing is everything.  But what about coincidences of timing?

May 1, 2011 will be noted in the history books as the date President Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed.

It is eight years to the day from another significant date in the United States’ so-called war on terror.  It was on this date in 2003 that former President George W. Bush delivered a speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, with a large banner announcing “Mission Accomplished” hung over the aircraft carrier.

Bush was announcing what he then called the end of combat operations in Iraq.  But the speech was soon followed by an increase in violence from the Iraqi insurgency, and many thousands more casualties followed the speech, which was quickly considered a major political misstep.

The coincidences of timing do not end there.  History notes that Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, but the news was not announced until May 1 and newspaper headlines did not report his death until May 2 -- 66 years ago to this day.

And finally, Monday is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  In Israel it is also a federal holiday to commemorate the memories of the six million Jews and six million others killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.  That date was selected to honor the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, where Jews unsuccessfully fought against their Nazi oppressors in Poland.

As Israel follows the Hebrew, or lunar, calendar, the holiday falls on a different date every year.  This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day is Monday, May 2.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May022011

President Obama Announces Osama Bin Laden's Death

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Barack Obama delivered the following remarks to the nation on the death of Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011.

Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory -- hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child's embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.

On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.

We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda -- an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.

Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we've made great strides in that effort. We've disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.

Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda's leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al Qaeda.

Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There's no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will -- remain vigilant at home and abroad.

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Over the years, I've repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we've done. But it's important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.

Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who's been gravely wounded.

So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda's terror: Justice has been done.

Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who've worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.

And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today's achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.

The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it's the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May012011

Church Services Held, Burials Begin in Aftermath of Southern Storms

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) -- An open-air church service took place in the town of Phil Campbell in Alabama on Sunday, as residents there and in other areas hit by deadly tornadoes the previous week, continue to pick up the pieces in the wake of the storms' destruction.

In Phil Campbell, where 26 residents were killed, Pastor Chris Burns told those who had gathered for the service in the spot where their church once stood, that the small town would recover from the tragedy.

“Last Sunday was Easter, and we celebrated on the first day of the week a resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and today, we celebrate a resurrection of Phil Campbell, Alabama,” said Burns.

Elsewhere in Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, where 36 people died, there were armies of church members reportedly moving about communities collecting relief supplies and then distributing those supplies to people in need. Officials in Alabama say approximately 1,700 people were injured by the storms in the state, and at least 248 people were killed.

In Smithville, Mississippi on Sunday, residents began the process of burying those who were killed by the violent weather. A pastor in the tiny town told ABC News that he has already buried one of his neighbors, a woman who was pulled from the rubble of her home alive, but later died. Smithville has a population of about 800, with the storm claiming the lives of about a dozen of the town’s residents. At least 34 people were reportedly killed by the storms in Mississippi.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May012011

NASA Postpones Endeavour Shuttle Launch Again

BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- NASA on Sunday postponed the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour for the second time, putting it off until at least the end of the week to replace a switch box in Endeavour's engine compartment.

The six astronauts, including Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, the commander of the mission, traveled back to Houston from Florida.

"Things happen fast. We are now all aboard [a plane] for return to Houston. Be back in a few days. More to follow," Endeavour pilot Gregory Johnson said today on his Twitter account. Johnson and Kelly were to be joined on the Endeavour with spacewalkers Mike Fincke, Drew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff, and Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori.

On Friday the space agency pushed back Endeavour's launch because the heater on one of the shuttle's three Auxiliary Power Units -- devices that power the shuttle's speed brakes, elevons and landing gear -- malfunctioned as the astronauts were getting ready to board for liftoff.

The second delay is a disappointment for thousands of spectators who flooded the Florida Space Coast, hoping to catch a glimpse of Endeavour's last launch. Kelly's wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, flew from rehab in Houston to see her husband go on what will probably be his last chance to travel in space.

"Bummed about the scrub!! But important to make sure everything on shuttle is working properly," Giffords' staff said via Twitter on Friday.

Giffords was shot in the head during a shooting rampage in Tucson in January that left six people dead and 13, including Giffords, injured.

The 14-day mission into space, when it happens, will be the last for the space shuttle Endeavour, and could yield new clues to the origin of the universe. The shuttle will carry a $2 billion alpha magnetic spectrometer, an instrument that will be installed on the space station. It could prove or disprove the Big Bang Theory of how the universe was formed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May012011

Texas Man Disappears in Mexican Border Town

Agri Press/Lifesize(TAMAULIPAS, Mexico) -- It has been two weeks since Robert Tamez, known to family and friends in South Texas as "Big Bob," disappeared after being attacked on his family's ranch in Tamaulipas, Mexico.

Tamez left Falfurrias, Texas in January and crossed the border into Miguel Aleman to be by his disabled father's bedside on the ranch near Ciudad Mier, a Mexican border town riddled with violence.

Now, his family said they are afraid he has been kidnapped and they hope it's not too late.

Agents from the San Antonio office of the FBI have contacted Mexican local and federal law enforcement authorities, which is standard procedure when an American goes missing in Mexico.

Two weeks ago, when the ranch was stormed by a group of men, Tamez's father was beaten but survived, his family said. The injured man was eventually able to make it safely across the border to Roma, Texas. He is now in Texas with his family, waiting for news from his son, his family said.

"I just don't know if my son is alive or if he's dead. My heart keeps telling me he's alive," Grace Tamez, Robert Tamez's mother, told ABC News affiliate KRGV-TV in Rio Grande. "I want to think of Bobby the way he was, laughing, joking, giving me his bear hugs, and I can't."

With widespread drug-related violence in Mexico only growing, this disappearance is just one of many recent incidents to occur in the U.S.-Mexico border regions.

Last fall, when Americans Tiffany and David Hartley went jet skiing on Falcon Lake at the Texas-Mexico border, they were attacked by Mexican pirates and David Hartley was shot and killed. Only days later, the lead investigator on the case, Rolando Flores, was decapitated.

In January 2011, a U.S. missionary working in Mexico sped against traffic to the Mexican border as his wife sat in the front passenger's seat, bleeding from a head wound after being shot by gunmen in a pickup truck. Nancy David, 59, died in a South Texas hospital 90 minutes after they got there.

More than 29,000 people have died in drug violence since December 2006.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May012011

NFL Lockout Back On, Following Appeals Court Ruling

Scott Boehm/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) -- A ruling by a federal appeals court on Friday, has resulted in the National Football League lockout being back on.

On Monday judge Susan Richard Nelson had ruled in favor of NFL players, ending a lockout which went into place on in March. However, on Friday, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary stay of Nelson’s decision, resulting in the lockout being reinstated. The latest ruling came on the same day that players were allowed to participate in full workouts at team facilities for the first time since Nelson's ruling.

NFL clubs were reportedly notified of the lockout being back in effect sometime Friday night.

Friday’s decision is the latest chapter in the labor impasse between the NFL and its players as the two sides are yet to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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