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Thursday
May262011

Census Data Reveals Aging Population

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Women continue to have longer life expectancies than men, but according to new 2010 Census data released Thursday, men are inching towards women as they narrow the gender gap in old age. Technological, healthcare, and policy advancements are providing many Americans with tools to lead longer lives.

In the category of Americans ages 65 and older, the number of men has grown by 21 percent since 2000 while the number of women has increased at a slower pace of 11.2 percent.  In the subgroup of Americans ages 65 to 74, the male-to-female ratio has narrowed.  Women only exceed men by 1.5 million, a drop from 1.8 million in 2000.

Women continue to outnumber men in the United States by 5.18 million, a slight jump from the 5.3 million difference in 2000.  Despite being outnumbered, the number of men in the country increased at a faster rate, growing by 9.9 percent, while the number of women only increased by 9.5 percent.  For every 100 women in the U.S. in 2010, there were 96.7 men.  In 2000, the male-female ratio was 96.3.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May262011

Casey Anthony Tears Up as Ex-Beau Describes Caylee

Orange County Government, Florida(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Casey Anthony's eyes filled with tears Thursday as her former boyfriend Tony Lazzaro described the young mom's interactions with 2-year-old daughter Caylee whom Anthony is accused of murdering.

"She was a great little girl," Lazzaro said.

Lazzaro, on the stand for a second day in Casey Anthony's murder trial, said that Caylee could count in Spanish to 40 and loved Dora the Explorer. As Lazzaro described watching Casey Anthony and Caylee laugh and hug, Casey Anthony nodded and smiled.

Casey Anthony, 25, faces a series of charges related to the disappearance and death of her daughter, Caylee, ranging from first degree murder to providing false information to law enforcement. She could face the death penalty if convicted of the most serious charge.

Lazzaro not only described Anthony's relationship with her child, but the close romantic relationship he and Anthony developed during June 2008 when Caylee was missing but authorities had not been alerted to her disappearance.

Lazzaro said the two would talk on the phone until they fell asleep and confirmed that Anthony confided a secret about her family with him before she was arrested in July 2008, but said she never mentioned that her daughter had gone missing.

Caylee was last seen alive June 16, 2008, the prosecution claims. Cindy Anthony, Casey Anthony's mother, reported Caylee was missing in a 911 call on July 15, 2008.

On Wednesday, the prosecution questioned Lazzaro, his former roommates, and women who worked at a nightclub frequented by Anthony during the 31 days Caylee was missing, in an apparent attempt to depict Anthony as a party girl.

Lazzaro's testimony today was followed by more testimony from George Anthony, Casey Anthony's father. Casey Anthony's defense team claims that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008, and not only was George Anthony present, but also helped dispose of the body. Defense lawyer Jose Baez argued in opening statements that Anthony hid Caylee's death in a bizarre emotional quirk that was the result of alleged sexual abuse by her father.

George Anthony has refuted the defense team's claims.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May262011

Wisconsin Judge Strikes Down Collective Bargaining Law

Scott Olson/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- A judge in Wisconsin struck down a law Thursday pushed by Gov. Scott Walker that would take away nearly all collective bargaining rights from teachers and other public workers.

Judge Maryann Sumi said lawmakers did not allow enough time between posting the date that the measure would be voted on, and when legislators actually took up the bill.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May262011

Court Rules In Favor of Arizona Immigration Law

Thinkstock/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a victory for the State of Arizona, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a strict immigration law that sanctions employers for knowingly or intentionally employing unauthorized aliens.

The Obama administration argued that the law conflicted with existing federal law.

But Chief Justice John Roberts writes: "Because we conclude that the State's licensing provisions fall squarely within the federal statute's savings clause and that the Arizona does not otherwise conflict with federal law, we hold the Arizona law is not preempted."

The Chamber of Commerce and immigration groups had joined together to fight the law.

The case was being carefully watched as a possible precursor for a future challenge to another controversial Arizona law which requires police to ask for papers from anyone they detain in an effort to see if they are in the country illegally.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May262011

Tornado Season Close to Being Deadliest on Record

Comstock/Thinkstock(JOPLIN, Mo.) -- Mother Nature’s wrath continued unabated in the nation’s midsection Wednesday as the region was again hammered by a series of tornadoes that rolled across five states, including already hard-hit Missouri.

Even before these latest severe weather events, residents in Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas were picking up the pieces from twisters that devastated areas Tuesday evening and early Wednesday, killing at least 14 people. 

Oklahoma City was particularly hard hit with eight deaths, including a 15-month-old toddler, and more than 70 people injured.

Wednesday’s unpredictable weather caused hundreds of flight delays and cancellations at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport when a twister touched down about 60 miles south of the city in Kankakee County.

Forecasters believe this could be the deadliest tornado season on record, with the death toll already close to 500.  In 1953, there were 519 deaths reported in the Midwest and South.

So far, officials in Joplin, Missouri have counted 125 fatalities, with that number expected to rise as the recovery efforts continue.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May262011

Mark Kelly to Hold Video Chat with Wife Gabrielle Giffords

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Astronaut Mark Kelly plans to hold a video chat from space on Friday with his wife, Arizona Congressman Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering from a gunshot wound she received to the head in January.

Speaking to reporters Thursday morning from Endeavour, which docked with the International Space Station last week, the space shuttle's commander said he's "looking forward to talking to her."

"I've been speaking with her every night before I go to bed," Kelly said.  "It's her morning.  But it will be nice to do it via video, be able to see how she's doing and her to join us aboard the space station for a little bit."

Kelly said he plans to hold the video chat in the cupola of the ISS to give Giffords "a chance to look outside, look at the space shuttle docked to the space station."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May262011

Ex-IMF Head Strauss-Kahn Moves to New Housing in NYC

Harold Cunningham/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former head of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn has found a new home in lower Manhattan, where he will remain under house arrest and tight security while he waits to be tried for the alleged rape of a hotel maid earlier this month, according to officials.

Strauss-Kahn, who resigned from his position as head of the IMF last week after a grand jury in New York indicted him on seven charges, was moved late Wednesday.  The new apartment is about one mile away from the luxury high-rise near Wall Street where he was staying following his release on $1 million bail.

The new apartment in New York's exclusive Tribeca neighborhood is also conveniently located near the courthouse where Strauss-Kahn will be tried for the alleged sexual assault of a hotel maid at the Sofitel Hotel in midtown Manhattan on May 14.

Attorney William Taylor told reporters Wednesday that Strauss-Kahn, who is often referred to simply as "DSK," was "doing fine" while awaiting trial under house arrest.

Strauss-Kahn's new accommodations, which were confirmed by the court on Wednesday, were approved by a judge, according to spokesman David Bookstaver.

This is the second time Strauss-Kahn has had to move since his release from New York's Rikers Island prison facility.  An Upper East Side apartment building where he had intended to remain on house arrest refused to accept him because of unwanted media attention.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May252011

Amber Alert Issued for Pinales Sisters in Texas

Roger Weber/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- It's every parent's worst nightmare -- to come home and find your children missing. Right now a young working mother in central Texas is living that nightmare. To make matters worse, authorities believe her one- and two-year-old daughters were taken by their 14-year-old sister.

According to the Hays County Texas Sheriff's Office, last Friday morning, 36-year-old Lorrie Cantu left for her early-morning shift at a local transportation company. Cantu's 14-year-old daughter, Kendra Nicole Lee, was left at home to babysit her two sisters, Jasmine Pinales and Mariana Pinales.

Cantu kept in contact with her teenage daughter throughout the day with phone calls and text messages. She picked up an extra shift at work and when she arrived home that night at 11:30 p.m., the family's white Chevy pickup truck was gone, and so were the girls, police said

Cantu and her husband, who lives in Austin (the parents are separated), began contacting family and friends in the Austin area, desperately trying to find the girls, because Kendra had a history of running away.

On Saturday, a family member spotted the missing pickup truck off of Burton Road in Austin and called Cantu, who went to the scene. The relative told Cantu that two unidentified black males were seen running away from the vehicle, but there was no sign of the missing girls, police said.

When she arrived, Cantu found the doors on the pickup were open and the front seat was moved forward, which led her to believe that Kendra might have been driving the truck.

Detectives in Hays County conducted a second interview with the mother and found out that Kendra has a serious mental illness and is not currently taking her medication. They issued an Amber Alert and listed the girls as missing and endangered. Detectives tried tracking Kendra's mobile phone via GPS and came up with nothing. A warrant has been issued for Kendra's arrest for kidnapping her two younger sisters.

Kendra Nicole Lee, also known as Alejandra Rodriguez, is a 14-year-old black female. She is 5'5" tall and weighs 125 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a white tank top and blue skirt.

Mariana Lynn Pinales is a one-year-old Hispanic female. She is 2'5" tall, weighs 30 pounds and has brown eyes and black hair. She was last seen wearing a pink faded "onesie" diaper and pink diamond earrings.

Their sister Jasmine Marie Pinales is a two-year-old Hispanic female. She is 2'5", weighs 40 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. She was last seen wearing a long-sleeved gray shirt with a heart on the front of the shirt and pull-ups.

The Hays County Sheriff's Department is urging anyone who seen Kendra, Mariana or Jasmine to immediately call 911.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May252011

Elizabeth Smart Kidnapper Sentenced to Life in Prison

George Frey/Getty Images(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Nearly nine years after being kidnapped and held in a state of sexual slavery she describes as "my nine months of hell", Elizabeth Smart addressed her former captor face-to-face in a packed Salt Lake City courtroom, just moments before he was sentenced to life in prison.

Brian David Mitchell, the homeless street preacher convicted of kidnapping Smart, sang a hymn and gently rocked in his chair as Elizabeth's father Ed and then Elizabeth herself took turns addressing him.

"I hope at some time in your life you find what you have done is wrong," said Ed Smart. "Whether during your time on earth or in eternity, you're going to have to face the guilt."

Next, Elizabeth slowly walked to a podium to pick up a microphone before calmly turning to face Mitchell, who continued singing. It was the first time the 23-year-old has directly addressed Mitchell, who did not appear to look at her as she spoke.

"I don't have very much to say to you," Elizabeth Smart began. "I know exactly what you did. I know that you know what you did was wrong. You did it with a full knowledge. I also want you to know that I have a wonderful life now."

"You took away nine months of my life that can never be returned," she continued. "But in this life or next, you will have to be held responsible for those actions, and I hope you are ready for when that time comes."

Addressing reporters outside the courthouse after the hearing, Elizabeth appeared relieved.

"Today is the ending of a long chapter and the very beginning of a new chapter," she said, her father standing by her sid.

Last December, Mitchell was found guilty of kidnapping Smart.  At Wednesday's sentencing, she had the final word, telling her tormentor and the judge about the horrors she endured.

Smart was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home in June 2002 after Mitchell broke in and took 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.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May252011

Three Arizona Cops Arrested for Human, Drug Smuggling

John Moore/Getty Images(MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz.) -- Three cops under the command of "America's toughest sheriff," including a deputy in the human smuggling unit, have been arrested in Arizona and charged with trafficking in humans and drugs.

Deputy Alfredo Navarrette and two female prison guards were arrested following a year-long sting that netted nine other people in a suspected criminal ring.

"Unfortunately we had a deputy and two officers that became involved in an international drug and illegal immigration operation," Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the controversial head of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, told ABCNews.com.

Arpaio bills himself as "America's toughest sheriff" for his no-nonsense handling of inmates and for his zero tolerance of illegal immigrants.

Navarrette, 37, who was allegedly caught with two illegal immigrants and $200,000 worth of heroin in his home at the time of his arrest, is accused of feeding a drug ring confidential police information and also of operating a separate human smuggling ring.

One of the prison guards, Marcella Hernandez, is eight months pregnant with the child of Francisco Arce-Torre, the heroin ring's alleged "kingpin" and a member of the Mexican Sinaloa cartel, said Arpaio.

Both Hernandez, 28, and Navarrette had received training and been certified by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

At the time of Hernandez's arrest, Arpaio said, she reporting for duty and was carrying $16,000 in her purse.

All three suspects -- Navarrette, Hernandez and corrections officer Sylvia Najera -- were booked on felony trafficking charges.

Hernandez was charged with transporting drugs and money laundering and was ordered held on $2 million bond.

Najera was charged with money laundering and controlling a criminal enterprise, but bail was not immediately set.

None of the arrested officers have entered pleas or obtained legal counsel.

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