Elizabeth Smart Kidnapper Found Guilty

Photo Courtesy - George Frey/Getty Images(SALT LAKE CITY) -- The jury in the Elizabeth Smart case found Brian David Mitchell guilty Friday of kidnapping and rape.

The jury determined Mitchell was mentally stable and only deliberated a few hours before it announced the verdict.

Mitchell abducted Smart from her bedroom when she was 14 and raped her on a near-daily basis until she was found nine months later.

The lawyer for the former street preacher did not dispute Mitchell’s guilt, but said he was delusional. Prosecutors said Mitchell faked his behavior to appear crazy.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Geithner to Undergo Surgery to Remove Kidney Stone

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was admitted to a Washington, D.C., hospital Friday morning for a procedure intended to treat a kidney stone.

The surgery -- referred to in a statement by Treasury spokesman Steve Adamske as “minor” -- is expected to take place Friday at George Washington University Hospital. Geithner will remain hospitalized overnight before being discharged on Saturday.

Doctors expect the secretary will be well enough to return to work on Monday.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


NYC Fashion Designer Found Dead at SoHo House Hotel

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images for IMG(NEW YORK) -- Authorities questioned the boyfriend of a 33-year-old fashion designer after she was found dead inside a New York members-only hotel and private club Thursday. Sylvie Cachay's partially clothed body was discovered inside an overflowing hotel bathtub at the exclusive SoHo House -- a boutique hotel often visited by celebrities and the wealthy.

"Soho House is full of celebrities, has very prominent New York City membership and it's very exclusive," said New York Magazine senior editor Chris Rovzar. "So of course when a fashion designer is found dead in a hotel room here it's going to raise eyebrows."

Police were called to the scene at about 3 a.m. after a hotel guest noticed water leaking into a room below Cachay's. The woman’s boyfriend, Nicholas Brooks, 24, told authorities the two checked in together and then he left to have some drinks with people he met at the hotel. When he returned, Brooks found police already in his room.

The New York Daily News reported investigators were first looking into whether Cachay died of a drug overdose but are now investigating if she was strangled.

Cachay designed for Tommy Hilfiger and Victoria's Secret before breaking out to start her own fashion line. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


New Orleans Cops Found Guilty of Shooting, Burning Man Post-Katrina

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- Three New Orleans police officers were found guilty Thursday of fatally shooting a man and burning his remains in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

A federal jury in New Orleans convicted officers David Warren, Greg McRae and Lt. Travis McCabe for the death of civilian Henry Glover on Sept. 2, 2005.

During the month-long trial, jurors heard evidence that Warren shot Glover in the back as he was running away from him.  After the shooting, Glover's brother and a friend flagged down a passing motorist who drove the wounded victim to a nearby police station for help.  The officers surrounded the men, handcuffing them while allowing Glover to die in the back seat of the car.  McRae then took off in the vehicle -- with Glover's body inside -- and set the car on fire with a traffic flare, burning evidence of the body.

Warren was found guilty of a civil rights violation and use of a firearm during a crime of manslaughter, and faces a possible life sentence.  McRae was charged with two counts of civil rights violations, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of using fire in the commission of a felony, and could face 50 years in prison.  McCabe was also convicted with obstruction of justice, as well as lying to the FBI and committing perjury, and faces a maximum sentence of 30 years.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Gen. David Petraeus: Most Fascinating of 2010

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Department of Defense(NEW YORK) -- Gen. David Petraeus is Barbara Walters' pick for the "Most Fascinating Person of 2010." Walters called the top commander in Afghanistan "an American hero."

"In life, it seems, there are people who break things and people who fix them. This man is a fixer," she said on the ABC special 10 Most Fascinating People of 2010. "A lot depends on General Petraeus and his combination of humanity and strength."

In June, Petraeus was appointed by President Barack Obama to replace former Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Petraeus had previously served as the commander of the Multi-National Force-Iraq in 2006, where he was seen as the one who turned the tide of violence in that nation and could do the same in Afghanistan.

Petraeus is a different kind of general, fighting a different kind of war. The counterinsurgency strategy largely authored and being implemented now by Petraeus is based on the idea that wars cannot be won with bullets alone, but instead through the hearts and the minds of the local population. Human terrain is the decisive terrain.

To Petraeus, this means gaining the trust of the local population, opening schools, teaching farmers new techniques, helping businesses grow, bolstering the government to provide basic services to citizens, and, ultimately, keeping the peace to keep the terrain from becoming a launching pad for terrorists.

Petraeus topped a wide-ranging list, which highlighted some of the most prominent names in entertainment and politics, including the cast of MTV's hit reality show The Jersey Shore, teen dream Justin Bieber, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the newest American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez, comeback queen Betty White, and future British princess Kate Middleton.

In 18 seasons, Walters has picked an eclectic group for the title of "Most Fascinating Person." Last year, first lady Michelle Obama was named the "Most Fascinating." In 2008, it was then-president-elect Barack Obama. Past honorees include J.K. Rowling, Nancy Pelosi, Camilla Parker Bowles, Paris Hilton, Laura Bush, Lance Armstrong, Gen. Tommy Franks, Colin Powell, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Nelson Mandela and more.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Soldier-Denouncing Westboro Baptist Church to Protest Elizabeth Edwards Funeral

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- The Kansas-based church that has made headlines for its controversial picketing of military funerals says it plans to picket Elizabeth Edwards' funeral on Saturday in Raleigh, N.C.

The Westboro Baptist Church released a statement on its website accusing Edwards of "spewing blasphemy."

The statement claims, among other things, that Edwards refused to pray to God to cure her of cancer.

"This witch spent her life in defiance and disobedience to God, and blasphemed Him with her dying breath," the statement reads. "She received multiple warnings and opportunties to repent...Her pride and arrogance is breath-taking!"

Edwards, 61, died Tuesday after a six-year battle with breast cancer.

She was receiving treatment in a hospital after she was admitted over Thanksgiving, but her family announced Monday that she would cease treatment after doctors said it would be "unproductive." Doctors said she was never in pain and never lost consciousness before her death.

With her death, John Edwards becomes the primary caretaker for the younger children. Family friends told ABC News he plans to move back into the 28,000-square-foot mansion the couple had built and once shared.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Feds: Virginia Tech Violated Federal Law for Failing to Issue Timely Warning

A Virginia Tech student breaks down in tears while remembering the 2007 on-campus tragedy. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Education on Thursday issued a report that found the administration of Virginia Tech University in violation of federal law for its handling of the mass shootings on its campus in 2007. The department ruled that Tech had failed in its legal obligation to issue a "timely warning" to the campus community after two students were shot in a dormitory in the early morning hours of April 16, 2007.

More than two hours later, Seung-Hui Cho, a 23-year-old student with a history of mental health problems, chained the doors of a classroom building and went on a shooting rampage, killing 30 other students and faculty before taking his own life.

In making its final determination, the Education Department wrote that "Virginia Tech failed to issue adequate warnings in a timely manner in response to the murders on campus." When Tech did eventually issue a warning two hours after the dorm shooting, the report says the alert "was not prepared or disseminated in a manner to give clear and timely notice of the ongoing threat to students and employees."

Virginia Tech is charged with violating the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, which requires colleges and universities to publicly disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. The complaint against the university was lodged three years ago by the advocacy group Security on Campus, which was formed by the parents of Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old Lehigh University freshman who was raped and murdered in 1986 and for whom the law is named. Under the law, the Department of Education has the authority to investigate violations and enforce penalties, which can include fines and, in extreme cases, suspension of federal financial aid.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 


Holiday Travel: Government Says Babies Should Be Buckled Up on Airplanes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With the holiday travel season quickly approaching, the federal government, flight attendants and airlines are urging parents to buckle up their babies on airplanes instead of holding them in their laps, even if it means shelling out money for an extra ticket.

A special forum on child safety in Washington on Thursday brought together representatives from the NTSB, the FAA and the Association of Flight Attendants. Everyone agreed that a young child is safer when buckled into a safety restraint on an airplane, but after decades of debate, tickets still will not be required for children under age two. The FAA has concluded in the past that such a requirement would discourage air travel and put more cars on the road, where the likelihood of harm is statistically far greater.

"Adults experience the same crash forces as children and no love in the world can hold onto that baby in severe turbulence or if you're in a crash," said Debbie Hersman, the chairwoman of the NTSB.

In a document on its website, the FAA has spelled out its safety recommendations to the public.

"FAA strongly urges parents and guardians to secure children in an appropriate restraint based on weight and size," the agency writes. "Keeping a child in a CRS [Child Restraint System] or device during the flight is the smart and right thing to do."

Parents still will be allowed to hold children under two years of age in their laps, though critics say the practice not only puts the child at risk but other passengers as well. In a plane crash, a 20-pound baby can fly with the force of a 100-pound missile.

"We are trained that in an emergency, loose items can be dangerous if flying through the cabin," said Pat Friend, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, in prepared remarks. "A lap child has the potential to be one of those loose items."

The AFA-CWA is lobbying the government to require restraint devices for children.

The FAA has issued the following recommendations for children:

--Children under 20 lbs. use a rear-facing child restraint system

--Children from 20 to 40 pounds should use a forward-facing restraint system.

--Children weighing more than 40 pounds should use an airplane seatbelt.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


More White House Tapes, Documents and Oral Histories Made Public

President Richard M. Nixon visits US troops in Vietnam in 1970. Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The long, slow release of audio tapes from the Nixon administration continued Thursday with hundreds of new hours and thousands of pages of new documents.

“The North Vietnamese put us in an impossible situation,” Nixon said in a taped Oval Office conversation, referring to the publicly unpopular Christmas bombings -- the sweeping air strikes that took place over North Vietnam in mid-December of 1972.

“I think it was important to just whack ‘em, and say nothing, and that silence spoke louder than words,” he added.

The conversation took place on February 13, 1973, just months before the Senate Watergate committee would even learn of the existence of the White House recordings. The December air strikes had already become a cause célèbre for North Vietnam and American peace activists, sending Nixon hunting for support elsewhere.

The Nixon Library, run by the National Archives, posted 265 hours of White House tape recordings online Thursday and opened 2,500 pages of documents in its latest release of material from his administration.

Relative to WikiLeaks’ instant unveiling of secret U.S. state department cables, the release of Nixon’s tapes and documents are moving at a snail’s pace. It is now more than 40 years after the fact, and less than half of the reported 3,700 hours of White House conversations have been made public.

But the Nixon’s administration is still a treasure trove, and not just for the Watergate scandal. Unlike the documents meted out by WikiLeaks -- which basically show that private conversations of government officials are pretty much the same as public ones -- Nixon’s secret recordings document a government that was at times racist, insecure, and confident of its impunity.

The tapes and a smattering of the documents are available online at the Nixon Library website.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


The 'Obama Crew' Lights the National Christmas Tree

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The National Christmas Tree was lit Thursday night for the 88th time by the 44th president and his family, “the Obama crew,” as President Obama lovingly referred to his family when they joined him on stage on the Ellipse. The Obamas -- first lady Michelle Obama, Malia, Sasha and “Grandmother-in-Chief” Marian Robinson -- each put a finger on the button, and counting down from five, they pushed the large button to light the tree.

“It works,” Obama exclaimed as the 40-foot Colorado blue spruce was lit up, decked out in lights.

The president called this a “proud holiday tradition,” one that took place with presidents snow or shine, and even in period of hardships for the country.

“Often the ceremony itself has reflected the pain and sacrifice of the times. There were years during the second World War when no lights were hung in order to save electricity. In the days following Pearl Harbor Winston Churchill joined President Roosevelt to wish our nation a happy Christmas even in such perilous days.”

The president said that without fail each year the nation comes together to celebrate the story that he and Michelle hold dear as Christians, but is a message that is universal.

“It’s a message that says no matter who we are or where we are from, no matter the pain we endure or the wrongs we face, we are called to love one another as brother and as sisters.”

The president said that at a time when people try their hardest to live in the spirit of charity and goodwill, “we remember of brothers and sisters who have lost a job or who are struggling to make ends meet, we pray for the men and women in uniform serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and in faraway places who can’t be home this holiday season.”

Mrs. Obama read -- rather clumsily at first -- T'was the Night Before Christmas with children on stage. She skipped a few pages and then announced, “the first lady is taking off her gloves,” pulling her right glove off with her mouth in order to turn the pages easier.

The Obama family sat down in the front of the audience – a change of years past when the First Family has always been seated on stage -- listening to performers such as Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, BB King, Maroon Five and Jackie Evancho, made famous from America’s Got Talent.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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