One Year Later: Mark Kelly on Gabrielle Giffords' Recovery

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- One year after the tragedy in Tucson, Ariz., that almost claimed Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' life, the congresswoman is stringing together full sentences and even asking questions, her husband Mark Kelly told ABC News in an exclusive interview.

"She is continuing to improve each and every day," Kelly told ABC News' Dan Harris.  "Just the other day she started asking me a few questions in a row.  Back in March or April she hadn't asked a single question about anything."

In the most recent display of her progress, Giffords led a crowd gathered at the University of Arizona Mall in the Pledge of Allegiance Sunday night during a candlelight vigil held for the Tucson victims on the one year anniversary of the shooting.  Six people were killed on Jan. 8, 2011 and 13 others, including Giffords, were injured.

On the day of the shooting, Kelly spent 20 heart wrenching minutes after seeing an erroneous report that said his wife had died.

Jared Loughner shot her in the back of her head.  The bullet traveled the length of her brain on the left side and exited her skull.  Kelly boarded a friend's plane and rushed from Texas to the scene of the tragedy in Tucson.

This year has had its series of challenges, Kelly said, but Giffords continues to power through and reach new goals, just as she has all of her life -- both inside and outside of Congress.

"She gets disappointed.  You know it's a natural thing when you're struggling with this kind of injury and this kind of disability that's she's working really hard to recover from," Kelly said.  "But fortunately she's just a very positive person and somebody who works really hard and she can see the improvement so it usually doesn't last very long."

Speaking at the vigil Sunday night, Kelly, referencing his wife, said the survivors of the shooting have shown that healing is possible.

"We've even seen it here tonight, as my incredible wife Gabby led us in the Pledge of Allegiance," Kelly said to cheers from the crowd.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court to Take Up Cher’s Use of the 'F Word'

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When the entertainer Cher launched an expletive on live broadcast television in 2002, she probably had little idea she was triggering a major test of the government’s ability to regulate content over the public airwaves.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case stemming from celebrities’ use of isolated expletives as well as images of partial nudity during primetime broadcast programming. The case involves Cher’s use of the F word on a Fox broadcast of the Billboard Music Awards and a similar outburst the following year on the same awards show by actress Nicole Richie.

The Court will also review an episode of ABC’s NYPD Blue that featured a seven-second shot of an adult woman’s nude buttocks. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), charged with regulating public airwaves, found that the incidents violated its prohibitions against the broadcast of indecent material before 10 p.m.

At issue before the Court is whether the FCC’s current indecency-enforcement policy violates the Constitution.  A lower court struck it down, ruling it was “impermissibly vague.”  Fox Television, ABC, Inc. and other broadcasters argue that the current policy is arbitrary and puts a chill on broadcast speech.

“The FCC's current enforcement policy, which subjects even isolated expletives or brief, scripted images to multi-million-dollar fines, cannot survive First Amendment scrutiny,” argues Carter G. Philipps in court papers on behalf of Fox Television Stations INC.

The broadcasters are urging the Court to overturn a 34-year-old precedent in a case called FCC v. Pacifica Foundation.  At issue in that case was a broadcast of comedian George Carlin’s “filthy words” monologue, aired on a radio broadcast in the middle of the afternoon.  After complaints from the public, the FCC ruled that the broadcast was indecent and could be subject to sanctions.

The Supreme Court rejected a First Amendment challenge to the FCC’s determination, finding, “of all forms of communication, broadcasting has the most limited First Amendment protection.”  The Court ruled narrowly, finding in part that the broadcast medium is unique because, “material presented over the airwaves confronts the citizen, not only in public but in the privacy of the home.”  The Court also found that,“broadcasting is uniquely accessible to children.”

But the broadcasters currently argue that much has changed since Pacifica was decided and that they should no longer be regulated more restrictively than other media such as cable and the Internet.

“Pacifica justified reduced First Amendment scrutiny of broadcast indecency regulation on the theory that broadcasting was uniquely pervasive and uniquely accessible to children,” writes Seth P. Waxman, an attorney representing ABC, Inc. “Neither predicate is true today.”

Waxman points out that today the vast majority of households receive television through cable or satellite and are exposed to the Internet.

“Over the past three decades,” Phillips writes, “the media marketplace has changed dramatically, thoroughly undermining Pacifica’s rational for its unequal treatment of broadcast speech under the First Amendment.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Police Name Person of Interest in Colorado Bomb That Injured Two

Comstock/Thinkstock(LAFAYETTE, Colo.) -- The ex-husband of a Colorado woman severely injured on Saturday when a package exploded inside a car she was riding in has officially been named a person of interest in the crime, Lafayette Police Commander Gene McCausey told ABC News.

Police and agents from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) executed a search warrant Saturday night at the Denver home of Michael Anthony Brittain, carting away several bags of evidence.  Brittain has not been arrested.

The search took place just hours after Brittain’s ex-wife Allyson Stone and her current husband Christopher were injured after the explosive detonated in the couple’s Volvo station wagon.

Police say the couple had just left their Lafayette, Colo., home on Saturday when they spotted a package in the driveway next to their car.  It was a brown paper bag with their names written on it, according to police.  Allyson picked it up and was in the passenger seat opening the bag when it blew up.

Investigators say Allyson sustained serious burn injuries.  A member of Allyson’s family told ABC News that doctors don’t know the full extent of her injuries, but she is expected to survive.  She is conscious and in a lot of pain.  Her husband Christopher, who sustained minor injuries, is at her side in the hospital.

Colorado court records obtained by ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV reveal ongoing tension between Allyson and her former husband.  In 2003, Brittain was arrested on domestic violence, harassment and child abuse charges. Three days later, Allyson filed for divorce.  

Three of the charges against Brittian were later dismissed and he was found not guilty on the remaining assault charge, documents show.

In February 2011, the judge in the divorce case ruled that Allyson owed her ex-husband $121,520.

“He’s so nice,” one of Brittian’s neighbors told ABC News on Sunday.  “You would never assume him out of all people.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘If Fred Got Two Beatings Per Day…’ Homework Asks

Hemera/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Third graders in in Gwinnett County, Ga., were given math homework Wednesday that asked questions about slavery and beatings.

Christopher Braxton told ABC News affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta that he couldn’t believe the assignment his 8-year-old son brought home from of Beaver Ridge Elementary school in Norcross.

“It kind of blew me away,” Braxton said. “Do you see what I see? Do you really see what I see? He’s not answering this question.”

The question read, “Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?”

Another math problem read, “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?”

Another question asked how many baskets of cotton Frederick filled.

“I was furious at that point,” Braxton said.

“This outrages me because it just lets me know that there’s still racists,” said Stephanie Jones, whose child is a student at the school.

“Something like that shouldn’t be imbedded into a kid of the third, fourth, fifth, any grade,” parent Terrance Barnett told WSB-TV. “I’m having to explain to my 8-year-old why slavery or slaves or beatings are in a math problem. That hurts.”

“In this one, the teachers were trying to do a cross-curricular activity,” Gwinnett County school district spokeswoman Sloan Roach said.

Roach said the teachers were attempting to incorporate social studies into math problems.

“We understand that there are concerns about these questions, and we agree that these questions were not appropriate,” she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two Alaskan Cities Struggle with Ice and Snow

Comstock/Thinkstock(ANCHORAGE, Ala.) -- While the weather has been pretty mild in the lower 48 states, it's been brutal in parts of Alaska. One city is iced in, while another is snowed in.

The city of Nome on the western Alaska coastline is running out of fuel and they're iced in. Help is coming in the form of a Russian tanker, which is getting there with the help of a Coast Guard ice breaking ship.

The tanker expected to arrive on Monday or Tuesday.

To the south the small community of Cordova is buried in more than 18 feet of snow after being pummeled for weeks. The Alaska National Guard is en route with supplies and equipment.

Another storm expected Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Missing Pa. Man’s Family Turn to Psychics for Help

Comstock/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) -- The relatives of a missing 25-year-old Pennsylvania man said they aren’t entirely certain they believe in psychics -- only that they’re willing to use an assortment of means to locate him.

James Slack, of Bridgeville, Pa. was last seen at a String Cheese Incident Concert in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Dec. 6.

“You just explore every option, and anything that can help out is worth it. It’s worth a shot,” Maureen Shields, Slack’s sister, told ABC News’ affiliate WTAE Friday while touring the area where her brother was last seen with the psychics.

A friend told police that Slack was inebriated when, during a 3 a.m. phone conversation on Dec. 7, he explained that he was “still partying” and “I don’t know where I’m at.”

Psychic sisters Suzanne Vincent and Jean Mckenzie Vincent said the visions they’ve been having and the responses Slack’s relatives provided to their queries led them to believe that he is dead.

“I kept seeing a vision of railroad tracks,” said one of the Vincents, who, according to their Web site, have been doing psychic profiles and investigations for 25 years.

The Vincents said they had an impression that he was hurt some place and he died from the elements.

In addition to contacting the psychic sisters, Slack’s family has been posting pictures of him on social media and on fliers.

“We are doing everything from canvassing, talking to every single person we meet. Actually, we’ve had fliers handed out to people at concerts from the band,” Slack’s uncle Michael Lowe told WTAE.
A $5,000 reward is being offered for information on Slack’s whereabouts.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gabrielle Giffords: Tucson Marks First Anniversary of Shooting

Tom Willett/Getty Images(TUCSON) -- Bells will ring 19 times Sunday morning, once for each victim of the Tucson shooting that happened one year ago, ushering in an emotional day of remembrance that will culminate this evening in a candlelight vigil attended by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

"Congresswoman Giffords wanted to be back in Tucson for this very emotional weekend," said Pia Carusone, Giffords' chief of staff, in a statement.

What was supposed to be an ordinary January morning in Tucson turned into a nightmare that has haunted those who experienced the terror when Jared Lee Loughner, 22, unleashed a barrage of bullets on the crowd, after sending the first one straight through the back of Giffords' head.

After hitting the Congresswoman, Loughner continued to fire from his Glock semi-automatic pistol without discrimination, hitting 18 more people.

Among those hit, six people died, including Gabe Zimmerman, 30, Giffords' outreach director who organized the Congress On Your Corner event where he was shot to death; John Roll, 63, a federal judge; Phyllis Schneck, 79; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwan Stoddard, 76; and Christina Taylor-Green, 9.

As the first anniversary approached, seven survivors of the massacre stepped forward and shared their recollection of Jan. 8, 2011, with the Fix Gun Checks campaign, a byproduct of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign, which seeks to keep criminals from illegally obtaining guns.

"Things went gray for me. I could just see shadows," Randy Gardner said in the video, which was posted online. Gardner was shot in his right foot while waiting to speak with Giffords.

"People were just spreading out in front of me like a wave, trying to go for cover, falling in the ground," he recalled.

Nancy Bowman, a nurse who was only a few steps inside the Safeway when Loughner opened fire at 10:11 a.m., said the scene was a "war zone" and that there was nothing in her 30 year career that could have prepared her for the carnage she witnessed.

"It makes you appreciate every single day," she said in the video. "It makes you wonder why you were five seconds into the Safeway and not standing right there where the gunman was.

What it sure to be a sad and trying day for the victims and the community will close with a ray of hope.

Giffords, who has made miraculous progress in her recovery, will attend a public candlelight vigil Sunday night in Tucson with her husband, Mark Kelly.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Update: US Teen Deported to Colombia Returns to Texas

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- The American-born teen who was mistakenly deported to Colombia, arrived in Texas on Friday evening.

Jakadrien Turner, 15, was reunited with her mother, ABC News' Dallas affiliate WFAA reported.

"After they said she was on the plane, I didn't hear anything else they were saying. I'm going to hug her tight and let her know we love her, and everything's going to be alright," Grandmother Lorene Turner told WFAA, which broke the news of Jakadrien's fluke deportation.

Dana Ames, of Urban Search and Rescue, which also helped locate Jakadrien said finding the teen is a "tremendous blessing for the family."

"I'm sure the child is going to have a lot to go through over the coming days and months, and the family, too. We just want to welcome her home," Ames said.

As soon as Jakadrien disembarked at DFW airport, police placed Jakadrien, who doesn't speak fluent Spanish, in a car and whisked her off the tarmac to a secluded area where state and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials questioned her for three hours.

Her relatives said Jakadrien ran away in Nov. 2010.

When she was arrested on April 2, 2011, for misdemeanor theft, she told Houston police her name was Tika Lanay Cortez, a Colombian woman born in 1990.

Unable to determine her true identity or immigration status, officials at Houston's Harris County Jail handed the teen over the federal immigration officials.

They said they found nothing to indicate that Jakadrien wasn't a Colombian woman, and that the teen claimed to be Cortez throughout the criminal proceedings in Houston and federal deportation process.

An immigration judge remanded Jakadrien to Colombia, where officials provided her with the necessary travel document and declared her a citizen.

According to the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the girl was enrolled in the country's "Welcome Home" program after she arrived there.

She was given shelter, psychological assistance and a job at a call center, a statement from the agency said. Her lawyer said she she'd been placed under detention.

On Friday, Jakadrien's family said they planned to spend the coming days together quietly, sorting through and trying to answer some questions.

The girl's mother, Johnisa Turner, had arrived at DFW Airport carrying what she said was her daughter's favorite Snuggie, a lavender blanket imprinted with peace symbols and the word, "Love."

"They want to get their daughter home. They want their daughter to be able to get some rest. They want to reunite the family. That's the purpose of this day. They're very happy they were able to get her home," Attorney Ray Jackson said on behalf of the family.

Jackson, vowed to sue over "civil rights violations" linked to the deportation and the planned lawsuit aimed to "make the people who are responsible pay for the civil rights violations that Miss Turner has had to go through."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


More Casey Anthony Videos and Pictures Surface

ABC News(ORLANDO, Florida) -- Casey Anthony, the Florida mother who was acquitted last summer of killing her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, has showed up in what appears to be yet another video online.

This time, Anthony is sporting a different look from the videos that emerged earlier this week.

On the latest tape, which was posted on Twitter, she brags about her piercings, but says nothing about Caylee or her family. "I pierced my nose last night...Very excited," she said in the video.

Earlier this week, Anthony’s video diary was discovered on YouTube, thrusting Anthony back in the spotlight after six months of hiding out.

Photos have since appeared online showing Anthony in several locations including a bar or restaurant. Anthony was famously photographed in bars during the months that her daughter was dead and she hadn't told anyone.

When confronted about Caylee's disappearance, Anthony initially claimed that a phantom babysitter had stolen Caylee. At her trial, her lawyer said that Caylee drowned in the family pool.

Anthony sports a restyled short bob, transitioning from a brunette to a blonde in the photos and the video diary.

In her video diary, she spoke about her new pet dog, buying a computer and the optimism she feels about her future.

"The good thing is things are starting to look up and things are starting to change in a good way. Let's just hope they stay, that things stay good and that they only get better," she says before adding with a whisper, "They'll only get better."

Anthony's defense attorney Cheney Mason says that Anthony was not responsible for posting the video to YouTube, saying the material was mean to be private and part of counseling.

"Casey has been keeping notes and memoirs, particularly for her personal use for future counseling. This will help her remember her thought processes," Mason said in a statement. "She did not upload or publish this to YouTube. She does not know who did it. When they did it. Why they did it. It was not authorized; therefore it had to be obtained criminally by an illegal act."

Anthony's parents, George and Cindy Anthony, were also taken by surprise with the video's appearance.

"Cindy and George were made aware of the video diary of their daughter this morning, January 5, 2012," their attorney Mark Lippman said in a statement.

"They are concerned that the release of this video or any future videos could endanger their daughter," he wrote. "Cindy and George hope that Casey remains safe wherever she may be."

Cindy and George Anthony have a famously tense relationship with their daughter, a family drama that played out in public during Casey Anthony's murder trial.

The parents were divided regarding their daughter and what happened to their granddaughter Caylee.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mount Rainier Reopens Nearly a Week After Fatal Shooting

Purestock/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- On Saturday, Mount Rainier National Park reopened six days after the fatal shooting of a 34-year-old ranger.

Margaret Anderson was killed on New Year's Day by Iraqi war-veteran 24-year-old Benjamin Barnes, when she pursued him after he drove through a park checkpoint. Barnes fled and was later found dead in a creek from an apparent drowning.

Recordings of the 911 calls from the incident showing the difficulty police and rangers had with communication were released on Friday.  Authorities took more than an hour to arrive at the scene because of icy road conditions and spotty cell phone service.

The 368 square-mile park reopened with certain sections off-limits to visitors because of wintry weather.

Park officials are designating an area where mourners can bring flowers to salute Anderson.

A memorial service for Anderson is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, park officials said. Anderson is survived by her husband and two children.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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