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Sunday
Mar202011

'Supermoon' Lights Up Sky, Biggest In Nearly Two Decades

NASA/Bill Ingalls(NEW YORK) -- Did last night's rare "supermoon" live up to its hype? If the commentary online is any indication, those who had clear skies were not disappointed with the brilliant full moon that lit up the sky.

On Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, skywatchers around the world posted pictures and reactions to the biggest full moon in nearly decades.

During the so-called "supermoon," the moon wasn't just at its closest approach to Earth in its elliptical orbit, it was closer than it has been in 18 years.

After the sun set for East Coasters, #supermoon started trending on Twitter, as people started tweeting about the event. Many even uploaded snapshots of their supermoon views to the photo-sharing website Flickr.

"It's a bird- it's a plane- no, it's Supermoon!," said one Facebook user.

"the supermoon was super beautiful last night," posted another.

Full moons come in different sizes because of the elliptical shape of the moon's orbit -- one side of the ellipse is about 31,000 miles closer to Earth than the other. When the moon is closest to Earth (at its perigee), it is 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than when it's farthest from the planet (at its apogee).

For weeks, Saturday's so-called "supermoon" sparked interest online, with astrologers and amateur astronomers speculating that the extra-large full moon could lead to unusual weather. After Japan's earthquake, some even wondered if the supermoon contributed to the event.

Scientists emphasize that there is no connection between the moon's position and extreme weather or natural disasters here on Earth.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar202011

Students Honor Florida Kids Killed by Mother

WFTS-TV Tampa Bay, Fla.(TAMPA, Fla.) -- At a football field in Tampa, Fla. Saturday night, more than 600 high school students gathered to honor two classmates allegedly murdered by their mother in January.

The school’s student-run Relay for Life was dedicated this year to the memory of former classmate Calyx Schenecker, 16, and her younger brother Beau, 13. In January, the siblings were allegedly fatally shot by their mother, Julie Powers Schenecker. The Florida mom has pleaded not guilty to two first-degree murder charges and is being held without bond in Hillsborough County.

At the time of the shooting, Calyx was a sophomore and working hard alongside her classmates and teachers to raise money for the American Cancer Society, an organization friends said she passionately supported.

At 10 p.m. Saturday night, the lights at the stadium went dim and all participants and visitors took part in a Remembrance Ceremony for Calyx. Photos of Calyx and Beau lined the football field. Army Col. Parker Schenecker, the children's father, joined members of King High School PRIDE musical group on stage where the choir put to music a poem that one of Calyx's friends had written in the lost teen's memory.

In the rare appearance, Schenecker addressed the students and community and presented the American Cancer Society with a check for $5,000. The donation was the first contribution to be made on behalf of the Calyx and Beau Schenecker Memorial Fund.

"Calyx and Beau are beaming with devotion and respect for you," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar192011

Woman Turns Herself in Over Fatal Day Care Fire

KTRK-TV Houston(HOUSTON) -- The Houston woman charged in a day care fire that killed four toddlers turned herself in Saturday to U.S. officials in Nigeria, according to her brother.

Ron Tata told ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston that his sister, 22-year-old Jessica Tata, surrendered in Nigeria, where she fled following the Feb. 24 fire.

Jessica Tata, who ran Jackie's Child Care out of her home in Houston, was charged in February with one count of reckless bodily injury to a child, and bond was set at $500,000. But prosecutors realized that Tata had already fled the country.

She now faces four manslaughter charges as well as 10 other charges, including reckless injury of a child and child abandonment.

Toddlers Elizabeth Kajoh, Kendyll Stradford, Elias Castillo and Shomari Dickerson died in the fire at the west Houston home day care.

Prosecutors allege that Tata left the children alone in the house while she went shopping, and while she was gone, the fire broke out on a stove-top burner that had been left on. She told investigators she was in the bathroom when the fire started.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar192011

Federal Railroad Officials Abandon Stranded Train

Spencer Platt/Getty Images (file)(WILMINGTON, Del.) -- Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman had an appointment to keep, and he wasn’t going to let the massive power outage that occurred Saturday on his rail line’s Northeast Corridor stop him; neither were Federal Railroad Administration chief Joseph Szabo or Amtrak board member Jeff Moreland.

The three were expected at the gala unveiling of the newly re-named “Joe Biden” train station in Wilmington, Delaware, Saturday afternoon but they found themselves among the thousands of other Amtrak passengers who were temporarily stranded on trains along the popular Washington, D.C., to New York route.

Boardman, Szabo and Moreland -- who heard just hours before that Vice President Biden was slated to make an unscheduled appearance at Saturday’s event -- abandoned a stranded Acela Express train at Baltimore’s Penn Station where an awaiting car ferried them to Wilmington.

The three railroad leaders – who were seated comfortably in the train’s First Class car and had just finished a light breakfast when the train suddenly stopped and lost power just after 9:30 a.m. – were escorted from the coach by security guards and a small entourage of assistants.

What the rail company’s CEO and his counterparts left behind was a train that remained stranded in Baltimore for more than two-and-a-half hours as Amtrak engineers scrambled to repair a broken transformer outside of Philadelphia. The train, like many others, lost electricity, including the power to flush toilets. Passengers were allowed to stretch their legs on the station’s platform.

Others followed the railroad officials’ lead -- frantically arranging to rent cars or find transportation to an airport. The train that the three were riding, which left Washington at 9 a.m. began moving again at 12:28 p.m. -- roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes behind schedule.

Boardman said the incident highlighted the need to overhaul the entire power system along the Northeast Corridor -- the busiest in the country and said Amtrak recently filed an application with the Federal Railroad Administration to make such improvements.

The Wilmington station, which now bears Biden’s name, recently underwent a two-year $37 million renovation, paid for with a combination of funds from Amtrak, the government's stimulus program and the state of Delaware. Saturday’s event featured tours of the station, “food and refreshments” and even a performance by the Wilmington Children’s’ Chorus.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar192011

Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher Dies at 85

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Former Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher died Friday night in Los Angeles at the age of 85.

Christopher served under President Bill Clinton for four years. He is also remembered for negotiating during the Iran hostage crisis under President Jimmy Carter, for which he won the Medal of Freedom in 1981.

The Scranton, North Dakota, native served in the Navy during World War II before graduating from the University of Southern California and later the Stanford Law School.

Christopher had been suffering from kidney and bladder cancer. He is survived by his wife and four children.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar192011

Student Leaving UCLA, Apologizes to Asians for Racist Video Rant

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Alexandra Wallace, the UCLA student whose viral video rant about Asians sparked outrage and a nationwide debate about free speech, will face no disciplinary action by the university and reportedly plans to withdraw from school.

UCLA's Daily Bruin newspaper posted a letter online Friday in which the student newspaper said Wallace apologized for offending "the UCLA community and the entire Asian culture."

"I made a mistake. My mistake, however, has lead [sic] to the harassment of my family, the publishing of my personal information, death threats and being ostracized from an entire community," read the letter the Daily Bruin said was released through a spokesman for the Wallace family.

The school's administration considers the matter closed, UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton told ABC News.

A junior political science major, Wallace received death threats after her videotaped tirade, which was titled "Asians in the Library," was posted last Friday, the same day the earthquake and tsunami hit.

In the video, which went viral over the weekend, Wallace vented about "the hordes of Asian people" at UCLA and mocked them for talking on the phone in the library. "Ohhhh! Ching chong ling long ting tong!" she said, imitating an Asian student talking on the phone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar192011

Hazing Scandal Rocks Middlebury College Swim Team

Gary Faber/Photodisc(MIDDLEBURY, Vt.) -- Middlebury College has abruptly suspended for the rest of the season all of its female swimming and dive team members except for the freshmen in a tough response to the latest report of hazing on the Vermont college's campus.

Members of the men's swim team received a letter of reprimand and their parents were notified.

The strict response follows a Feb. 2 incident at the college located in rustic Middlebury, Vt.

Little is known about what happened in early February at a swim team party. The event was designed to welcome first-year swimmers onto the team, but the school newspaper the Middlebury Campus reported that the party "crossed the line from innocent initiation to hazing."

This isn't the first time the Middlebury swim teams have faced tough punishment for hazing. In 2006, the men's season was canceled due to a hazing incident that involved alcohol. In 2003, the women's team missed two meets for hazing related offenses.

Middlebury College is located in Vermont, which has a very tough anti-hazing law, but the incident was not reported to police.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar192011

Detroit Bomb Squad Detonates Suspicious Package at Federal Building

Federal Bureau of Investigation(DETROIT) -- Detroit police detonated a suspicious package found in a downtown building Friday.

Officials were dispatched around 9:45 a.m. to the McNamara Federal Building, where several government agencies, including the FBI and the IRS, have offices. The Detroit police bomb squad transferred the suspicious box to Belle Isle, where it was set off.

There were no injuries reported. It is unclear if the police have any suspects.

This is the second time in a week that the Detroit bomb squad was alerted to a suspicious package. The squad investigated an envelope carrying a harmless white substance that had been sent to another federal building in downtown Detroit on Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar192011

Super Full Moon to Grace Skies Saturday

Gaye Gerard/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- When you step outside Saturday night, don't forget to take a good look up at the sky. Assuming clouds don't get in the way, you'll get to gaze at the biggest full moon in nearly two decades.

During what some sky watchers are calling the "supermoon," the moon won't just be at its closest approach to Earth in its elliptical orbit, it will be closer than it has been in 18 years.

"It's going to be big and really bright," said NASA astronomer Dave Williams. "It should be noticeably brighter than a normal full moon."

Full moons come in different sizes because of the elliptical shape of the moon's orbit -- one side of the ellipse is about 31,000 miles closer to Earth than the other. When the moon is closest to Earth (at its perigee), it is 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than when it's farthest from the planet (at its apogee).

For weeks, the rare full moon has sparked interest online, with astrologers and amateur astronomers speculating that the "supermoon" could lead to unusual weather. After Japan's earthquake, some even wondered if the supermoon contributed to the event.

In a post earlier this month, AccuWeather blogger Mark Paquette said the phrase "supermoon" originated on the website of astrologer Richard Nolle and spread to astronomers online. According to Nolle's definition, a new or full moon at 90 percent or more of its perigee (or closest approach to Earth) qualifies as a "supermoon." Saturday's full moon won't just be a supermoon but an extreme supermoon, he said, because the moon will be almost precisely at its closest distance to Earth.

According to "new age" forecasts, he said, the supermoon brings strong earthquakes, storms or unusual climate patterns. Scientists emphasize that there is no connection between the moon's position and extreme weather or natural disasters (like Japan's earthquake) here on Earth.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar192011

400 Faucets Stolen from Iowa State Fair

Thinkstock/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- The Iowa State Fair is facing a leaky situation – 400 faucets have been stolen from the campgrounds.

Fairground officers called the Des Moines Police this week, after they learned faucets were being taken over the course of two weeks. The brass faucets are designed for easy hook up to campers and RVs.

"We don't know if they're wrenching them off or exactly how they're getting them off," said Sgt. Chris Scott, of the Des Moines Police Department.

The faucets are also heavy, which may explain their gradual disappearance.

"[Someone] couldn't come over there and carry four hundred of them away," said Scott.

Replacing the stolen faucets would cost at least $12,000; each faucet costs $30 to install, according to police.

Representatives from the Iowa State Fair Grounds said the fair will continue as planned, and that the prices will remain unchanged. The fair opens August 11, and runs for ten days.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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