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Thursday
Mar242011

Fuel Fire Disrupts Flights at Miami International Airport

WPLG-TV(MIAMI) -- Firefighters extinguished a blaze early Thursday morning that broke out in an area where fuel is kept at the Miami International Airport. The fire was reported around 11 p.m. Wednesday and was brought under control  around 1 a.m. Thursday. Officials did not know how many fuel tanks were involved in the fire and there were no reports of injuries.

Early Thursday, inspectors and technicians were trying to determine what caused the fire and where it began. The fire wasn't near any runways or terminals at the airport and only one flight was delayed, for about 45 minutes.

There may be flight delays at the airport Thursday as workers try to restore normal fueling operations, but fueling capacity is expected to be at 40 percent for morning flights. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

Dallas Accident Sends Truck Dangling Over Freeway Ramp

WFAA-TV(DALLAS) -- It's known among firefighters as a "technical rescue" and it's like something out of an action-adventure movie.

The cab of an 18-wheeler was dangling over the side of the guardrail of a high-rise freeway ramp and the water tank it was hauling rested on top of a crushed car.  Firefighters extended a ladder out over the truck and hoisted the driver through the passenger window to safety.  Remarkably, the two people in the car were able to talk with paramedics, were rescued and taken to a local hospital.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

Federal Authorities Investigate Whether Air Traffic Controller Was Asleep on Duty

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An alarming report that an air traffic controller may have been asleep at one of the nation's major airports has now drawn the attention of federal authorities.

Pilots in two commercial planes have reported that as they approached the nation's capital Tuesday night, they were unable to contact air traffic control at Reagan National Airport before landing.

The American Airlines and United Airlines planes both had been in contact with regional air traffic controllers before being handed off to Reagan National. The pilots landed their planes safely but without help from the airport tower.

"Tower is apparently unmanned. Called on the phone. Nobody answering, so aircraft went in just as an uncontrolled airport," one pilot said, according to recorded radio communication.

In another transmission, a pilot said that "it's happened before."

The FAA, the agency responsible for air traffic control, said Wednesday it is investigating the report and promised that it is "looking into staffing issues and whether existing procedures were followed appropriate."

The NTSB added that it is looking into the incident, which occurred between midnight and 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

One pilot contacted by ABC News Wednesday said that while the incident was unusual, it would not have presented a danger to passengers, because pilots are trained to land without air traffic control.

While Reagan National is staffed with multiple air traffic controllers during the day, the overnight shift is managed by just one controller, because there are no departures overnight and few arrivals. The airport serves some 18 million passengers a year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Mar242011

Cold Temps, Snow: Just How Harsh Was this Winter?

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Between the extreme cold temperatures and a set of punishing snowstorms that repeatedly brought havoc to a good chunk of the eastern United States, it was a tough winter for some.

Take Nowata, Oklahoma, for example, where temperatures in February dropped to a record 31 degrees below zero.  When December lows dipped to just 31 degrees above zero, Sarasota, Florida broke a cold-temperature record that had stood for 82 years.  And in February, an Arctic blast drove Laramie, Wyoming temperatures down to a bone-chilling minus 61 degrees.

In terms of long-term temperature trends, however, just how much did winter's wrath hit this time?  Apparently, not so much.

"The last two winters being a bit colder than normal has generated a lot of headlines.  But in the longer historical perspective, they're really not very exceptional," said James Hurrell, a senior climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Hurrell has just completed a new temperature analysis that shows the winter of 2010-2011 was, on average, warmer than you might think -- it ranked as only the 39th-coldest winter in the U.S. since 1895.

"It was colder than normal," in some places, Hurrell said.  "But those cold regions were balanced by some very warm regions in other parts of the country."

Areas of the southwestern U.S., for example, along with parts of Alaska recorded warmer-than-average winter temperatures, according to the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

A vast majority of climate scientists say that -- despite natural short-term weather events that can bring wild swings of cold and warm -- long-term climate trends continue to show a gradual warming currently taking place globally, consistent with human-caused climate change.

"We are in a warming climate," said Richard Somerville, a climate scientist and distinguished professor emeritus at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who also has served as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  "The long-term trend is about a third of a degree Fahrenheit increase per decade."

Perceptions that the past winter was colder than normal were driven partly by the fact that record amounts of troublemaking snowfall were recorded across parts of the Midwest and Northeast.  New York City, for example, was hit by eight snowstorms that dumped at least 36 record-breaking inches of snow.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

Court Refuses to Allow Gays, Lesbians to Marry in San Francisco

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Same-sex marriage advocates in San Francisco were dealt a sharp blow Wednesday when a federal appeals court refused to allow gay and lesbian nuptials while it makes a decision on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, which bans homosexual weddings.

Gay groups were hoping that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which traditionally leans left, would lift the stay on same-sex marriages before making a final ruling.

The battle over allowing gays and lesbians to marry in California has been going on for years.  In May 2008, the state Supreme Court determined that the law barring such nuptials was unconstitutional, thus prompting thousands of homosexuals to marry.

However, California voters in November 2008 approved Proposition 8, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, putting a halt to the gay and lesbian weddings.  Since then, both sides have pitched intense legal battles, and a lower court last August ruled Prop. 8 runs contrary to the Constitution.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is now trying to determine if the will of California voters trumps the right of citizens to marry people of the same gender as they.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar232011

Detroit's Mayor Bing to Challenge Census Figures

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he plans on appealing U.S Census figures that report the city's population has plunged 25 percent between 2000 and 2010.

Detroit's population dropped from 951,270 to 713,777 over the past decade, according to Census numbers released Tuesday.

Bing claims the city has at least 750,000 people, which he says is an important threshold for qualifying for some state and federal financial programs.

The mayor intends to challenge the Census figures and says he doesn't believe the numbers "will stand up." Bing, however, has not said why he believes the Census Bureau may have missed more than 35,000 residents.

"I don't think that it's something that you challenge. What I think is that the city did not put enough effort into getting the count out," said Kurt Metzger, director of Data Driven Detroit. "It's too late to complain. If you do not do the job when you have the opportunity, don't complain about the results. It's an undercount, but that's not the Census Bureau's fault."

The city's precipitous plunge helped Michigan become the only state to suffer an overall population decline during the 10-year period.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says the Census numbers are definitely a wake-up call.

"The Census figures clearly show how crucial it is to reinvent Michigan," Snyder said. "It is time for all of us to realign our expectations so that they reflect today's realities. We cannot cling to the old ways of doing business."

The realities Michigan faces are an auto industry that has dramatically downsized and a major city with approximately 10,000 abandoned buildings and homes.

Last year, Bing started a program to demolish 10,000 abandoned or vacant buildings by 2014 as part of his efforts to reduce the size of the city. Plans call for the vacant land to be used for urban farming or to be turned back into countryside.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Wednesday
Mar232011

Active Bomb Sat in Detroit's McNamara Federal Building 

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- In what appears to be a major security breach, a live bomb was allowed to remain in the federal building in Detroit for three weeks before the bomb squad was called in to remove it.

The Detroit Police Department bomb squad was finally called in March 18 to remove the device in the McNamara Federal Building, which houses the FBI, IRS and offices for Sen. Carl Levin. The pipe bomb device had apparently been discovered three weeks earlier by a building guard.

"A contract guard apparently saw this package outside on Feb. 26th," according to David Wright, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 918, which represents the Federal Protective Service Employees.

"Against all security protocols -- an unattended package should be treated with extreme caution -- he picked up that package and took it inside basically on the premise of 'lost and found' property. And apparently stored it. That was on Feb. 26. On March 18th, last Friday, someone got the idea to x-ray the package. At that point wires were seen... and it turned out to be a bomb."

Following the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and concerns about terrorists, federal buildings across the U.S. got increased security including metal detectors.

But a 2009 U.S. Government Accountability Office sting saw congressional investigators smuggle bomb components past screeners at a federal building.

ABC News obtained video of the sting -- and it took just 27 seconds to get a device past security. The GAO investigator later assembled a bomb in the restroom, and then walked around the facility undetected. In all, the GAO was able to penetrate each of 10 of the undisclosed federal buildings it tested across the United States.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar232011

'Missing' Teen Charged With Murder of Guardians

Comstock/Thinkstock(EDMONTON, Ky.) -- Police who had issued an Amber Alert for two missing Kentucky children found the pair and charged one of them Wednesday with the murder of his legal guardians.

Christopher Endicott, 15, was charged with murder after the guardians, Gary and Barbara Holloway, were found dead in their south-central Kentucky home, state police said.

The children were the subject of an Amber Alert Tuesday as authorities searched for Endicott and Kyra Shockley, 12, who had been reported missing by her parents earlier in the day. Police released Shockley to a parent.

A visiting family member found the Holloways dead in their Edmonton, Ky., home early Tuesday afternoon. No one else was in the house and the couple's car was missing, police said.

Hours later, a firefighter found Endicott and Shockley in the missing Chevy on a highway more than 20 miles away from the Holloways' home. Endicott drove the car off the road and through a fence, leading authorities on a brief car chase. He and Shockley then fled from the car and were caught by police after a short foot chase, according to a statement from Kentucky police.

In addition to the murder charge, the 15-year-old has been charged with fleeing and evading police, wanton endangerment and reckless driving without a driver's license.

B.J. Burton, the lead detective on the case, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the killings may have been part of a plan for Endicott to run off with his girlfriend.

The cause of deaths wasn't specified by police. Autopsies are underway.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar232011

Report: Anthrax Killer Should Not Have Had Army Security Clearance

FBI/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An independent review of the psychiatric records of the alleged anthrax killer Dr. Bruce Ivins has revealed that the Army scientist should never have been given a security clearance or access to the deadly pathogen based on his psychological profile and diagnosable mental illness. The report also found that Ivins allegedly carried out the attacks for revenge following questions about his work with the anthrax vaccine.  The findings were made by the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel, which was ordered by a federal judge to review Ivins’ sealed psychological records to determine if future acts of bioterrorism could be prevented.

“Dr. Ivins had a significant and lengthy history of psychological disturbance and diagnosable mental illness at the time he began working for USAMRIID in 1980 that would have disqualified him from a Secret level security clearance had this been known.” said panel chairman Dr. Gregory Saathoff at a Tuesday press conference in  Washington to announce the findings in the report. Dr. Saathoff is the executive director of the University of Virginia Critical Incident Analysis Group and associate professor of research psychiatry at the UVA medical school.

“Information regarding his disqualifying behaviors was readily available in the medical record and accessible to personnel had it been pursued,” the report concluded in its key findings.

The report also found in key findings that Dr. Ivins omitted key information during his security clearance process and that Army investigators did not follow up on conflicting information or review additional medical records that were available despite Ivins signing multiple waivers for his health records privacy.  
Information released in the report notes that Ivins was first treated by a psychiatrist in 1978 when he was a graduate student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.   The report concluded, “Dr. Ivins was psychologically disposed to undertake the mailings; his behavioral history demonstrated his potential for carrying them out; and he had the motivation and the means.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar232011

Missing Connecticut Girl Isabella Oleschuk Found Alive

Orange Police/WTNH New Haven, Conn.(ORANGE, Conn.) -- Isabella Oleschuk, the 13-year-old girl missing since Sunday, was found alive Wednesday morning with a friend. Church bells in the Connecticut town rang out to celebrate the news.

"I'm thrilled to announce to you that she has been found and that she is safe," Orange Police Chief Robert Gagne said at a press conference. "I have just gotten word of this so I don't have any detail. She did leave home. She was with a friend and she is OK."

Police and a medical crew were in route to check on the health of the girl and church bells in the town peeled to in the wake of the joyful news.

"Our prayers have been answered," Annette Rubelman, a friend of the family, said through tears of joy. "We haven't been able to do anything."

Connecticut police and the FBI knocked down doors, combed the woods with dogs and searched by air for the missing seventh grader.

"I'm so relieved. I know she will be showered with love when she walks in the door. If she had any doubt people cared about her, she won't after this," said Beth Rafferty, the leader of Isabella's youth group.

No one knows how or why Isabella went missing, but in the midst of their desperate search, police explored the possibility that the girl ran away to escape bullies.

Local reporter Kathleen Schurman went to police after parents and kids contacted her saying that Bella as she was known was relentlessly made fun of for her quirks by classmates at Amity Regional Middle School.

"She had told several kids at school that she was going to run away because the bullying was so terrible and she was sure her parents were going to make her go back to school and she didn't want to," said Schurman, editor of online news site Bethwood Patch.

Kids told Schurman that schoolmates called her "duck girl" because she like to make quacking noises and animal sounds.

Police issued a silver alert Sunday, which indicates that her disappearance is "mysterious" but not necessarily an abduction. Fliers being handed out throughout the town characterize the seventh-grader as an "endangered runaway."

The Orange, Conn., girl is partially deaf and normally uses a hearing aid. Her hearing aid was left behind, prompting concerns among rescuers that she might not be able to hear people calling her name.

When ABC News reached Isabella's grandfather by phone Tuesday, he said that the family was "anxiously awaiting her safe return."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio