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Friday
Feb112011

Shipwrecked Whaler from 1823 Discovered in Hawaiian Waters

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HONOLULU) -- Nearly 600 miles northwest of Honolulu, in the remote Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, lies a shipwreck with a literary link to history.

George Pollard was captain of the Essex, a Nantucket whaling vessel that sank in 1821 after being rammed by a sperm whale in the South Pacific. He and his men drifted at sea for three months, having to resort to cannibalism before eventually being rescued.

The Essex's epic tale inspired Herman Melville's classic novel Moby-Dick, but it is Pollard's second ill-fated vessel, the Two Brothers, that is gaining notoriety today.

Exactly 188 years to the day after the Two Brothers sank during a storm in 1823, marine archaeologists working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that they have found the ship's wreckage.

"To find the physical remains of something that seems to have been lost to time is pretty amazing," said Nathaniel Philbrick, an author and historian who researched both the Essex and the Two Brothers extensively. "It just makes you realize these stories are more than stories. They're about real lives."

Pollard and his men survived the Two Brothers wreck and were rescued in the morning by the whaling ship Martha, which had been sailing with them. But Pollard had never imagined lightning would strike twice and according to the writings of Thomas Nickerson, a crew member who worked both doomed voyages.

Although most of the wood from the Nantucket, Mass. vessel has disintegrated in Hawaii's warm waters, researchers have discovered multiple harpoons, a hook used to strip whale blubber and cauldrons that were used to turn blubber into oil.

The Two Brothers is the first wrecked whaler from Nantucket, the birthplace of whaling in America, to be found. The vessel was part of a fleet of several hundred whaling ships that played a part in America's economic and political expansion into the Pacific. The vessels were also responsible for the near extinction of many whale species and the early exploration of the polar regions and Indian Ocean.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb112011

John Edwards Deposed in Civil Suit

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- John Edwards is talking again about his affair with Rielle Hunter -- but this time under oath.

Edwards was deposed earlier this week in Chapel Hill, N.C., in connection with a civil lawsuit Hunter brought against former Edwards aide Andrew Young over a sex tape allegedly depicting Hunter and Edwards, ABC News has learned.

An attorney for Young confirmed that the deposition took place but, beyond that, no one will say a word about the substance of Edwards' testimony.

Attorneys for the ex-senator successfully argued for a broad protective order prohibiting anyone -- under threat of contempt charges -- from disclosing any details of the videotaped deposition.

There were, however, no limits on what questions could be asked.

Separately, a federal criminal investigation of Edwards' 2008 presidential campaign finances is near its conclusion, and sources with knowledge of the probe tell ABC News that a decision on whether to seek indictments could come at any time.

Edwards has not commented publicly on the investigation since May 2009. In his statement then, he expressed confidence "that no funds from my campaign were used improperly."

Federal investigators have dedicated significant resources to gathering evidence and interviewing key witnesses in North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.

The focus of the case has been on the money allegedly spent -- upwards of $1 million -- to seclude Hunter and Young, who had falsely claimed paternity of Hunter's child, while Edwards continued his pursuit of the nomination.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Friday
Feb112011

Obama Hails Mubarak's Resignation: 'Egypt will Never be the Same'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama hailed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's abrupt decision to step down Friday, ending his 30-year-reign, as Egyptian armed forces took control of the country's leadership.

"The people of Egypt have spoken. Their voices have been heard and Egypt will never be the same," the president said. "By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people's hunger for change, but this is not the end of Egypt's transition. This is the beginning."

Hailing the protesters, especially the young generation that "turned the wheel of history," Obama called for a peaceful and constructive move to democracy in the country that has been rocked by protests for 18 days.

As Mubarak's long-awaited announced was made by his vice president Omar Suleiman, crowds gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square erupted into loud cheers, chanting "Egypt is free, Egypt is free," as the historic announcement was made.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb112011

Chandra Levy Killer Sentenced to 60 Years in Prison

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The man convicted of murdering congressional intern Chandra Levy was sentenced in a Washington, D.C., court Friday to 60 years behind bars.

Ingmar Guandique, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, was arrested in 2009 and charged with Levy's murder, as well as kidnapping and attempted sexual assault, among other counts.

A 24-year-old intern for then-California Congressman Gary Condit, Levy disappeared on May 1, 2001, while jogging in Rock Creek Park. Her body wasn't discovered until more than a year later.

It was revealed that Levy was romantically linked to the married Condit. The allegations pushed Condit's political career to the brink and in July 2001, he admitted to having a sexual relationship with Levy.  In an interview with ABC News, he denied knowing anything about Levy's disappearance and stated that he did not kill her.  No hard evidence ever connected Condit to Levy's disappearance.

Guandique was already serving a 10-year sentence for separate assaults that took place in Rock Creek Park when he was arrested.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb112011

Rumsfeld: 'Time Has Come' to Allow Gays to Serve Openly

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who served at the Pentagon under two Republican presidents, says the “time has come” time for gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military.

Two months after President Obama signed a law that will lead to the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell, Rumsfeld told ABC News Radio the nation is ready for open service.

“First of all, we know that gays and lesbians have been serving in the military for decades with honorable service,” Rumsfeld said.  “We know that [repeal of a ban on gays serving openly] is an idea whose time has come.”

Rumsfeld says he has “enormous respect” for the ground commanders and service chiefs who have expressed concerns about the impact of gays serving openly on unit cohesion, and he urged the top brass to implement the new law “with care.”

But Rumsfeld says that congress, which passed the repeal bill in the waning days of the last session, has expressed the will of the American people.

“We’ve seen it evolve in our country,” Rumsfeld said of the nation’s perception of gays and lesbians, reiterating that many have served in uniform with distinction.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb112011

FBI Directors Warns of Al Qaeda Operatives in US

Photo Courtesy - Chip Somodevilla/ Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- FBI Director Robert Mueller issued a new warning Thursday about the threat of terror in the country, saying that dozens of sleeper agents -- al Qaeda operatives from Iraq -- may be living in the U.S.

Speaking before a House intelligence committee, Mueller said, "we are closely monitoring threats from al Qaeda in Iraq.  Individuals who may have been resettled here in the United States that have had some association with al Qaeda in Iraq."

On Wednesday, Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, also raised concerns about the same emerging threat.

"We are concerned that al Qaeda in Iraq remains committed to conducting external operations, to include the U.S. Homeland," said Leiter.

A senior law enforcement official told ABC News that intelligence developed in Iraq and a study of travel patterns from that country points to "dozens" of persons of interest in the United States.  An intelligence source said investigations and surveillance of some individuals are now underway. 

Mueller's concerns came a day after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned that this may be the most dangerous time since 9/11.

"In some ways, the threat today may be at its most heightened state since the attacks nearly 10 years ago," Napolitano said Wednesday.

Authorities point to threats from homegrown radicals fueled by the Internet and threats from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb112011

California Retailers Can't Ask Credit Card Customers for ZIP Codes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) -- The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that retailers in the state can no longer ask customers for their ZIP codes during credit card transactions, citing the request violates a law enacted in 1971.

The high court ruled that ZIP codes constitute "personal identification information," which, according to the state's Song-Beverly Credit Card Act, cannot be asked of from customers who are making purchases with credit cards.

The judgement states the act is "intended to provide robust consumer protections by prohibiting retailers from soliciting and recording information about the cardholder that is unnecessary to the credit card transaction." 

It goes on to say that, "Thus, in light of the statutory language, as well as the legislative history and evident purpose of the statute, we hold that personal identification information...includes a cardholder’s ZIP code."

Retailers usually ask customers for their ZIP codes for marketing purposed and to determine where their shoppers are located.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb112011

Arizona Governor Vows to Sue Federal Government Over Immigration Law

Photo Courtesy - Ethan Miller/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is playing the "sue me, sue you" blues as she awaits a decision regarding her state's immigration law that would allow police to question people about their immigration status during the course of a regular arrest.

With the law failing to be enacted because of a Justice Department lawsuit, the Republican governor said Thursday she would file a counterclaim that charges the federal government with not controlling the border as it should to prevent illegal immigrants from entering Arizona.

Brewer declared, "It’s the federal government’s responsibility to protect the public safety, health and welfare of the people of our country."

The Justice Department contends that Arizona is not allowed to question the legal status of people who live there, arguing it is the job of the federal government to handle immigration matters.

Arizona reportedly has 460,000 undocumented aliens among its population of 6.6 million.  Brewer says the problem costs her state $1 billion annually in medical coverage and education costs for illegal immigrants.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb102011

Gunman Shot to Death after N.C. Bank Standoff

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CARY, N.C.) -- A North Carolina bank robbery and hostage suspect was shot to death as he tried to leave a standoff with police by holding a gun to a woman's head.

Police were called to the Wachovia bank in Cary, N.C. around 3 p.m. ET after being alerted to a robbery.

Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore said none of the seven hostages were hurt during the ordeal. 

Town, county and state law enforcement agencies were called to the scene and surrounded the building, town spokeswoman Carrier Roman said.

Wells Fargo released a statement offering their assistance to police before the fatal shootings.

"The safety and security of our customers and team members is a top priority for Wachovia Wells Fargo," the statement said. "We are working very closely with law enforcement officials and providing any assistance and information that may help bring about a safe resolution to this situation."

Several nearby schools were placed on lockdown during the incident and after-school activities were cancelled, Roman said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Feb102011

Group Wants KKK Founder Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest on License Plate

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JACKSON, Miss.) -- The Mississippi division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans had its first specialty license plate approved in 2002. The plate has remained the same for eight years, but this year the group proposed five new designs to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

One of those designs features Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, a heralded cavalry leader who also is known for commanding a massacre of black Union Army soldiers at the Battle of Fort Pillow and for being a founding member of the Ku Klux Klan. It is the latter distinction that has some in the state calling for the plate to be denied issuance.

"I think it's offensive," said Derrick Johnson, state president of the Mississippi NAACP. "We view the Ku Klux Klan as a domestic terrorist organization and they should be treated as such," he said.

The NAACP is planning to send a letter to Gov. Haley Barbour asking that he publicly denounce the license plate and use his office to prevent it from being issued. Johnson said the plate is offensive to nearly 40 percent of the population, which is the percentage of African-Americans in the state. But supporters of the plate believe Forrest should not be dismissed because of that one time in history.

"It's been said he disavowed the Klan later in life and that puts him in the same category as former Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black and former West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd," said Greg Stewart, a Sons of Confederate Veterans member.

Both Black and Byrd had early ties to the KKK but managed to not have their careers overshadowed by them.

"If you don't like him, you certainly don't have to buy it," Stewart said. According to Stewart, money from the purchase of the specialty tags will be used to restore crumbling Confederate flags that are housed in the Department of Archives and History. He hopes the attention being brought to the proposed Forrest design will raise awareness about the group's mission and the history of the Confederacy. But Johnson and the NAACP believe a state license plate is no place to honor a man with Forrest's background.

"Our position is that any heritage of hate should not be tolerated in the state of Mississippi nor in any other state in this country," Johnson said.

The design featuring Forrest is being proposed for release in 2014. A vote by the Mississippi legislature would take place in 2013.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio