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Friday
Nov052010

Suspended: MSNBC Pulls Plug on Keith Olbermann

Photo Courtesy - MSNBC Photo(NEW YORK) -- MSNBC has suspended political commentator Keith Olbermann as a result of donations he made to three Democratic congressional candidates during the midterm elections.

“I became aware of Keith's political contributions late last night,” said MSNBC president Phil Griffin in a statement issued Friday. “Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay.”

The cable network, which falls under the NBC News umbrella, prohibits employees from taking part in behavior that may “jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

The policy specifically prohibits contributions to political campaigns.

Olbermann is the host of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont Friday expressed his opposition to the network's decision to suspend Olbermann.

“It is outrageous that General Electric/MSNBC would suspend Keith Olbermann for exercising his constitutional rights to contribute to a candidate of his choice. This is a real threat to political discourse in America and will have a chilling impact on every commentator for MSNBC," he said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov052010

Cheese Warning for Gouda Sold at Costco in Five States

Image Courtesy - Bravo Farms(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- The Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration are warning people not to eat a certain kind of cheese sold at Costco stores in five states.  It may be linked to a small E. coli outbreak that has sickened about two dozen people in five western states.  Costco is working with the federal government to track the possible outbreak.

People in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada have been affected and authorities suspect the Bravo Farms Dutch Style Gouda cheese sold and offered as samples at Costco stores in those states.  It's listed as Costco item 40654 and if you have any of it, you are advised to take it back to the place you bought it or dispose of it in a sealed container.

Most people infected with this strain of E. coli develop diarrhea and abdominal cramps, but some illnesses may last longer and can be more severe. While most people recover within a week, some may develop a severe infection.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov052010

NASA Scrubs Discovery Launch Again over Leak

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.) -- UPDATE: NASA has yet again scrubbed the launch of space shuttle Discovery -- this time over a hydrogen leak mission managers now call "significant," as well as unfavorable launch weather.  The shuttle won't leave the pad until at least November 30th.  The current launch window closes Monday and NASA doesn't want to rush the solution to the leak.

The shuttle was scheduled to launch at 3:04 p.m. ET Friday.  The leak, along with a chance of gusty winds at the time of the launch, forced the space agency to scrap its mission.

Discovery's launch has already been pushed back several times since Monday.

This will be Discovery's last mission.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov052010

Former Police Officer to Be Sentenced for Killing Unarmed Black Man

Photo Courtesy - Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- A white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man on a train platform in Oakland, California is expected to be sentenced Friday morning in Los Angeles.

Former transit police officer Johannes Mehserle was found guilty of shooting 22-year-old Oscar Grant on Jan. 1, 2009.  Mehserle claims he mistakenly fired his gun instead of his taser.  The entire shooting was caught on tape.

In July, Mehserle was charged with involuntary manslaughter, causing violence to break out in Oakland.  Authorities say they are now ready should a replay of July's vandalism take place after his sentencing.

Oakland police chief Anthony Batts says, "We're not getting any sense or energy or intelligence that we're going to have any of the mass crowds we had in July.  However, we're prepared for a worst case scenario."

Mehserle could be sentenced to up to 14 years in state prison.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov042010

UPS, Pilots Establish Safety and Security Task Forces Amid Recent Threats to Air Cargo Industry

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- In an effort to address the "unique threats" faced by the air cargo/express package industry "in the era of global terrorism," UPS and the Independent Pilots Association (IPA) Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding that will, in turn, establish joint UPS/IPA Safety and Security Task Forces. 

The Emergency Vision Assurance System, checklists procedures for smoke and fire, and transportation of lithium batteries and other fire/smoke hazards will be among the major concerns addressed by the Safety Task Force.  The Security Task Force will also be responsible for air cargo security measures, perimeter security and  threat procedures, as well as background checks for those with access to UPS aircraft.

IPA President Captain Robert Thrush acknowledged the daily risks facing the air cargo industry and added that "[IPA and UPS] also recognize the key role our pilots can play in the mitigation and management of these threats both from the flight deck and by working together to improve cargo security and screening."

The installment of these task forces comes just after UPS and FedEx shipments were the targets of recent terrorist bomb plots, as well as a fatal UPS plane crash in Dubai, which was caused by lithium batteries.

On Wednesday, The Air Line Pilots Association called for a more tailored approach to air cargo screening rather than a "one-size-fits-all" effort.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Nov042010

Justice Stevens Defends Mosque Near NYC's Ground Zero

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Retired Justice John Paul Stevens said in a speech on Thursday that he believes the Muslims seeking to build a religious center near the site of the World Trade Center should "enjoy the freedom to build their places of worship wherever permitted by local zoning laws."

"Today I plan to say a few words about memorials, mosques, and monuments," he said at the beginning of the speech, according to a transcript. Stevens recounted how he spent two years during WWII working as an intelligence officer in Pearl Harbor. Years later he returned to Hawaii and was taken to see the USS Arizona memorial, where he was surprised to see Japanese tourists also visiting the site.

Stevens explained that at first he didn't think the Japanese should be there. He thought, "Those people don't really belong here. We won the war, they lost it. We shouldn't allow them to celebrate their attack on Pearl Harbor even if it was one of their greatest victories." He later realized that he was "drawing inferences about every member" of the group of tourists that didn't necessarily apply to "any single one of them."

Stevens compares his experience with the current controversy surrounding the building of a religious center near the site of the fallen World Trade Center towers.

"The Japanese tourists were not responsible for what some of their countrymen did decades ago; the Muslims planning to build the mosque are not responsible for what an entirely different group of Muslims did on 9/11. Indeed, terrorists like those who killed over 3,000 Americans -- including Catholics, Jews, Protestants, atheists and some of the 600,000 Muslims who live in New York -- have also killed many more Muslims who disagree with their radical views in other parts of the world. Many of the Muslims who pray in New York mosques may well have come to America to escape the intolerance of radicals like those who dominate the Taliban."

Stevens says there is no place for discrimination in America.  "Descendants of pilgrims who came to America in the 17th century to escape religious persecutions -- as well as those who thereafter joined the American political experiment that those people of faith helped launch -- should understand why American Muslims should enjoy the freedom to build their places of worship wherever permitted by local zoning laws."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov042010

Pentagon Dismisses Reports of 34 Warships for Obama Trip Security

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Navy(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon did not mince words in dismissing as “absolutely absurd” and “comical” media reports from Indian news outlets that the U.S. Navy was sending 34 warships off the coast of Mumbai as part of the security preparations for President Obama’s upcoming trip to India. 

The reports appeared in Indian media outlets, such as the Press Trust of India and the television network NDTV. The Press Trust of India is that country’s largest news agency.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters he was making an exception to the practice of not discussing Presidential security details in order to dismiss the reports.

“I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy -- some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier -- in support of the president's trip to Asia,” said Morrell at Thursday's Pentagon briefing. “That's just comical. Nothing close to that is being done."

He acknowledged that a presidential trip requiring security needs “should not come as a surprise to anyone” and that the Defense Department “does play a role in support of presidential missions.” He said it was customary to not discuss such security requests, but “I made an exception in batting down this absurd notion of there being 34 ships, or more than 10 percent of the Navy, deployed in support of this trip. That is most certainly not the case.”

The Indian media reports also say security for the presidential trip will cost $200 million a day.  Morrell “there's been a lot of creative writing that's been done on this trip over the last few days. I've seen other reports with some astronomical figures in terms of what it costs to take these trips. I don't know the cost. We don't speak to the cost.” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was blunt in his characterization of the cost reports, saying “this trip doesn't cost $200 million a day.”  Gibbs would only say the costs were comparable to the costs incurred by Presidents George W. Bush and Clinton to the region.

A Navy spokesman confirmed that given the size of the Navy fleet, 34 warships tasked to security for the president would constitute 11.8 percent of the fleet.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov042010

Attorney in Petit Case Asks Death Penalty Jury to Relive 'Night of Hell'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- A Connecticut jury Thursday was asked one more time to go through the "night of hell" that ended with the murders of a mother and her two daughters as the hands of a man the state is trying to execute.

In his closing argument, Connecticut State's Attorney Gary Nicholson, requested the jurors consider what Jennifer Hawke-Petit was thinking the night convicted murderer Steven Hayes "choked the life out of her."

"Were they in psychological pain?" Nicholson asked as photographs of a smiling Hawke-Petit and her two murdered daughters, Hayley, 17 and Michaela, 11, were shown. "Were they tortured? Of course they were."

State's Attorney Michael Dearington showed the jury one final photograph of the Petit family. Several friends and Petit family members bowed their heads and started quietly sobbing, holding tissues to their faces.

Dearington ended by saying, "There were two beautiful girls, one loving mother and one family destroyed."

The state is pushing for Hayes -- convicted of 16 felony counts relating to the 2007 home invasion at the Petit house -- to be handed the death penalty for his role in the murders and the rapes of Hawke-Petit and Michaela.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov042010

Victim of Alleged Mexican Pirate Attack: Wake Up U.S. 

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Days before the memorial service for the man allegedly killed by Mexican pirates, his wife gave a dire warning to the United States.

"If America and our government doesn't wake up to see what's going on down there, we're going to be living the same fear that Mexico is living right now," Tiffany Hartley told ABC's Good Morning America, apparently referring to the widespread drug-related violence in Mexico.

"That's why their citizens are coming over, because they're fearful for their lives. The cartels are already here in the U.S., and if we don't do something then we'll be living the same fear," she said.

Hartley claims that her husband, David, was killed more than a month ago as the couple was jet skiing on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake, a reservoir that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border. Hartley says they rode several miles into Mexican waters largely controlled by drug cartels to take pictures of a historic church.

That's when she says pirates appeared on another boat and shot her husband in the head. She raced back across the U.S. border and called 911.

"He was thrown off the jet ski and I couldn't pick him up to get him on mine," she told emergency dispatchers.

For weeks after that call, Tiffany Hartley pleaded with Mexican authorities to search for David's body. They finally agreed, but apparently only spent a few days on the water.

Mexican officials have indicated they are suspicious of her story and have subjected her to hours of questioning by Mexican police at FBI offices in the U.S.

She has refused requests to travel to Mexico for further questioning and told Good Morning America last month she feared she might be arrested if she went to Mexico.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov042010

Despite FAA Rules, New York Airports Continue Congesting Air Traffic

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Regardless of what airport you're in in the U.S., if your flight is delayed, chances are high that it is due to air traffic congestion in the New York area.  A Department of Transportation report says the Federal Aviation Administration has to do a better job preventing those delays.

John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport continue to be main air traffic bottle necks for the entire country.  New rules imposed by the FAA two years ago to limit the number of flights at all three New York area airports have done little to reduce delays, according to the report.  The ripple effect has an impact on airports elsewhere.

The report says the FAA needs to re-examine its rules to make them more realistic to air traffic conditions.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio