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Wednesday
Jun132012

F-22 Fighter Pilots Told to Ditch Pressure Vests; Mystery Problem Unsolved

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kasey Close(WASHINGTON) -- Pilots for the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor fighter jets have been ordered to take off a portion of their flying suits, specifically the G-suit vest, during routine training missions as the service continues to investigate a rare but mysterious breathing problem some pilots have experienced in the $420 million-a-pop jets.

As a recent ABC News investigation found, in at least 25 cases since 2008 F-22 pilots have reported experiencing symptoms of oxygen deprivation in mid-flight. In one case, a pilot became so disoriented that his plane actually skimmed the tops of trees before he managed to save himself. Another pilot, Capt. Jeff Haney, was killed in a crash after an unexplained malfunction cut off his oxygen supply during a training mission in November 2010.

Despite grounding the whole $79 billion fleet of jets for five months last year, the Air Force has been unable to discover the source of the problem.

Air Force spokesperson Tadd Scholtis told ABC News Wednesday that the G-suit vest, designed to help pilots’ bodies cope with extreme G-forces during maneuvers, “appears to be contributing to breathing difficulties” for pilots, but is not believed to be the root cause of the prior incidents. It is being removed, he said, because of some “vulnerability and reliability issues.”

Last month Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered new flight restrictions for the F-22 while the breathing problem remains under investigation, but the Air Force has claimed those orders have not curbed the planes’ operations. Panetta also ordered the Air Force to expedite the installation of an automatic emergency backup system, a safety measure that Haney’s family told ABC News would have saved his life.

The F-22 Raptor, which is made by defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin, officially went combat operational in December 2005 but has yet to see an actual combat mission. From Iraq and Afghanistan to last year’s U.S.-led no-fly zone over Libya, the Air Force said it simply has not needed the advanced capabilities of the most expensive jet fighter in history.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

Plague of Locusts Hits California Town

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HERALD, Calif.) -- Brian and Deborah Campbell’s backyard has been hit by a plague straight out of the Bible. Locusts, thousands of them, are eating through their commercial garden, destroying crops and leaving the once-thriving area nearly completely barren.

“We don’t know what to do,” Deborah Campbell told local television station KCRA. “We don’t know how to stop it. We’re just breeding them now.”

The locusts have also infested the garden of Brad Lucchese. They have decimated his produce, eating everything but the tomatoes. Lucchese told KCRA that his chickens are having a field day feasting upon the locusts. However, there aren’t nearly enough chickens to stop the thousands of bugs.

As of Wednesday, the problem is confined to a relatively small area in the town of Herald, Calif., known as “the grove,” but locals fear that it will grow and spread, infesting more gardens and threatening vineyards in the area.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

New Firefighting Planes on the Way, But No Help Now

iStockphoto/Thinkstoc(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Forest Service Wednesday said four private companies have won contracts to provide seven “next-generation” firefighting airplane tankers, although they won’t help with wildfires now raging across Western states. The current fleet contracted to fight fires is an average of 50 years old.

The new planes will be jet-powered, fly at 300 knots (about 345 mph) and carry 2,400 gallons of retardant. But the seven new tankers won’t be much help against the 15 large wildfires burning in Western states. Only three of the seven planes will fly this year, and not until late summer, according to a Forest Service news release. The remaining four will not be available until 2013.

A series of high-profile crashes in 2002 and 2004 led to stricter safety standards that eliminated dozens of aging air tankers from the fleet. The number of available planes dropped from 44 in 2006 to only 11 at the beginning of this season. Critics have complained that the Forest Service has moved too slowly to modernize the fleet.

The agency’s own fact sheet calls for as many as 28 large air tankers.

In recent days the Forest Service has called on tankers borrowed from the Canadian government as well as state firefighting agencies in Alaska and California.

One of the companies awarded new contracts Wednesday is Neptune Aviation Services of Missoula, Mont. One of its planes crashed June 3 while dropping retardant on a fire in Utah, killing both pilots.

A preliminary report released Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board did not cite a cause. Neptune removed another of its older tankers from service in February after finding a crack in a wing.

In addition to Neptune, contracts were awarded to Minden Air Corp. of Minden, Nev.; Aero Air LLC of Hillsboro, Ore.; and Aero Flite Inc. of Kingman, Ariz.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

Ex-Army Surgeon Wanted in Hospital Shooting

Erie County Medical Center(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- A woman who was shot dead at a Buffalo, N.Y. hospital was a nursing student who sources familiar with the investigation say was the ex-girlfriend of Dr. Timothy Jorden, the special forces captain and surgeon who is believed to have killed her with a single gunshot.

Authorities described the woman, who has not been identified, as a nursing student who lived in West Seneca, New York. They described Jorden, 49, has having exhibited odd behavior during the relationship with her.

Francisca Wellsbury, who was married to Timothy Jorden, but long divorced, told ABC News exclusively that she was shocked by the news that her ex-husband had become the suspect in a murder.

"We've lived separate lives for a long time," said Wellsbury, who lives on the West Coast. "I'm just as shocked as anyone. It's traumatic.”

Wellsbury declined to go into further detail about Jorden's military service or behavior, except to say, "This is not the person I knew. I wish he would seek help."

The victim was gunned down in a covered passageway connecting the hospital's Kidney Center and the Miller Building, ABC News' affiliate WKBW reported.

A SWAT team locked down the hospital to ensure a gunman was not on the loose. It was lifted shortly after noon, with the exception of the area where Jorden could be hiding.

"The ECMC Health Campus has reopened, except for the DK Miller Office Building which is closed at this time," the hospital said in a statement. "All employees scheduled to work today should report at their regularly scheduled time. ECMC is no longer on emergency room diversion and has resumed all regular operations. Anyone that needs patient or employee information should call 898-5500."

A SWAT team was parked outside Jorden's home this afternoon, looking for any sign of the doctor.

Jorden had recently been experiencing "emotional problems," sources told the Buffalo Daily News.

A career soldier, Jorden graduated from the University of Buffalo School of Medicine in 1996.

"I've wanted to be a doctor since early in my military career as a medic," Jorden told the newspaper in a 1996 profile.

Police did not comment regarding the victim or a possible motive for the shooting.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

US Warns of 'Retaliation' Against American Tourists in Mexico

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- American travelers to Mexico should beware of possible violent retaliation for this week's arrest of alleged Zetas drug cartel associates and family members inside the U.S., the U.S. State Department has warned.

Though the warning does not specify which "Transnational Criminal Organization" might engage in "anti-American" violence, on Tuesday federal authorities arrested seven alleged associates of the powerful Zetas drug cartel in New Mexico and Oklahoma for allegedly laundering millions in drug profits through breeding and racing quarterhorses in the U.S. Those arrested included Jose Trevino Morales, the brother of Zetas leaders Miguel Angel and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, who were also indicted but remain at large in Mexico.

According to the indictment, the Zetas cartel steered drug money to Jose Trevino Morales and his wife to purchase, train and race quarterhorses. Horses owned by the Zetas' alleged front companies competed at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico and won lucrative races, including the $1 million All American Futurity in 2010. Some of the horses had the word "cartel" in their names, such as Morning Cartel and Coronita Cartel.

The travel warning issued Tuesday, the day of the arrests and the unsealing of the indictment, urges U.S. citizens in Mexico to be on guard. "Given the history and resources of this violent TCO, the U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to maintain a low profile and a heightened sense of awareness."

Miguel Angel Trevino Morales and his brother Oscar Omar, who go by the names 40 and 42, which refer to their alleged rank within the Zetas at the time of the cartel's creation several years ago, are now allegedly top leaders of an organization that controls drug trafficking in the east and south of Mexico.

The Zetas began in 1999 when former members of the Mexican military signed on to work as security for the Gulf drug cartel. The Zetas went into business for themselves and are now at war with the Gulf Cartel. They are based in Nuevo Laredo, which is in Tamaulipas state just across the border from Laredo, Texas.

The U.S. State Department issued a Travel Warning about Tamaulipas in February, and on Tuesday noted that it "continues to advise U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to the state of Tamaulipas."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

Teen Flirting App Linked to Rapes

Goodshoot RF/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Skout, a popular mobile flirting application, has suspended its service for teenagers after it was linked to three sexual assaults in recent weeks, causing developers to re-evaluate its security measures.

The separate sexual assaults involved two girls, ages 12 and 15, and a 13-year-old boy. All were allegedly victimized by adults posing as teens.

"For now, we believe that there's only one thing we can do: until we can design better protections, we are temporarily shutting down the under-18 community," founder and CEO Christian Wiklund said in a statement posted on the company's blog.

The mobile networking app, which was originally intended for adults, launched an offshoot for teens last year after developers realized teens were using the adult version.

Despite the additional security measures the teen version touted, the application has shown it needs more safety controlls, Wiklund said, adding that he takes the assaults very seriously.

His team is "working around the clock to build better safeguards," including an age verification system, he said.

"We will not compromise the safety of our community, and right now, our concerns are too significant to simply stand by and do nothing," Wiklund said in his blog post.

The social networking app, which works on iPhones and Android devices, claims it is one of the largest mobile networks for meeting new people.

In April of 2012, Skout secured $22 million in funding from the powerhouse tech venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, whose clients include Foursquare and Air BnB.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

George Zimmerman Fears for Wife's Safety

Seminole County Sheriff's Office(MIAMI) -- George Zimmerman is worried about his wife's safety now that she has been arrested and her mug shot publicized, his lawyer told ABC News.

Zimmerman and his wife were in hiding since the neighborhood watch captain shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla.

Shellie Zimmerman, 25, was arrested this week on perjury charges for allegedly lying to the judge at an April 20 bond hearing about being destitute while her husband's online defense fund had $135,000 in it.

After her arrest, police released her mug shot, marking the first time anyone has seen Mrs. Zimmerman who has been in hiding because of death threats against her and her family. Even when she testified at the bond hearing it was done by speaker phone because she wanted to protect her identity.

"Certainly now that she's been charged with a crime he's worried about her, and also worried now that she's out in the public eye," Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara told ABC News after visiting his client in jail late Tuesday night. The lawyer said there are "legitimate safety concerns."

If convicted of the charge, Mrs. Zimmerman could be sentenced to five years in prison.

The move by prosecutors upset O'Mara because he says he was not given the professional courtesy of a warning beforehand.

Legal analysts speculate that Mrs. Zimmerman's arrest could be used as a tactic by the prosecutors to pressure her husband.

"They can always say, look, we won't prosecute your wife if you decide to plea to some sort of charge," legal analyst Mark Lippman told ABC’s Good Morning America on Wednesday. He added, "It seems pretty clear to me that this is not something they would do in a normal case."

Seminole County sheriffs picked up Mrs. Zimmerman at the home where she was in hiding on Monday, the latest fallout from a series of taped conversations that landed her husband back behind bars a week and a half ago.

On April 9, George Zimmerman had launched the website therealgeorgezimmerman.com and within weeks received more than $200,000 in donations to help with his legal expenses. But during the April 20 bond hearing, Zimmerman's wife testified that the couple was financially indigent.

During cross examination, Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda asked her, "In terms of the ability of your husband to make a bond amount, you all had no money, is that correct?" Shellie Zimmerman responded yes.

At a June 1 hearing that was called to discuss what evidence in the case against her husband should be made public, prosecutors presented evidence that included at least four jailhouse phone conversations in which George and Shellie Zimmerman were apparently discussing tiny amounts of money, but were allegedly referring to some of the $200,000 supporters had poured into his PayPal account.

At the time of the recordings, Zimmerman had just been recently arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old.

During one call on April 16, Zimmerman and his wife were taped discussing their bank accounts.

George Zimmerman: "In my account do I have at least $100?"

Shellie Zimmerman: "No."

George Zimmerman: "How close am I?"

Shellie Zimmerman: "$8. $8.60."

George Zimmerman: "Really? So total everything how much are we looking at?"

Shellie Zimmerman: "Like $155"

The prosecutor noted that Shellie Zimmerman actually meant $155,000.

He said the couple knew that their conversation was being recorded, but that they were speaking in code and knowingly withheld from the court the amount of money brought in from therealgeorgezimmerman.com, a now defunct website.

Information provided by Zimmerman's attorney a week after he was released on bail showed that the couple had $135,000 in their bank account a day before the April 20 hearing.

The conversations landed her husband back in jail. He faces a second bond hearing on June 29 where his release is very much in doubt.

George Zimmerman contends that he shot and killed Trayvon Martin after the teen attacked him. It's unclear who initiated the confrontation between the two that night.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

Casey Anthony: 'I Didn't Kill My Daughter' 

Red Huber-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Casey Anthony, once described as the "most hated woman in America," spends her time watching old movies and reading the The Hunger Games, a trilogy about a game of killing children.

Anthony, 26, who was acquitted last summer of killing her daughter, Caylee, spoke to CNN's Piers Morgan on a phone call for about 10 minutes on Tuesday along with her lawyer, Cheney Mason.

Anthony told Morgan that she has "gone through hell," that she is not a "party girl," and that she was "ashamed in many ways of the person I was," according to Morgan.

She scoffed at reports that her weight has ballooned and that she wanted to move to Costa Rica.

"It's doubtful she weighs 120 pounds," her lawyer said.

But she also insisted to the talk show host, "Obviously, I didn't kill my daughter.  If anything in this world I was more proud of was my daughter.  She was my greatest accomplishment.  I didn't kill my girl."

When Morgan asked if Anthony would ever want to be a mother again, Mason said, "She probably would.  It would take a long time [though] for her to be accepted."

When asked if she was marketing her story, Morgan said Anthony told him, "I'm not making gazillions dollars [selling her story].  I don't give an [expletive] about money. ... I may have in the past. ... I was a stupid kid.  I am 26 now.  I have gone through hell."

Mason added, however, "We are sitting back watching. ...When the time comes she will have her story to tell."

Anthony has been in hiding since she was acquitted of murdering her 2-year-old daughter.

"She's in a different prison," Mason said.  "She's in a home where she can't go outside. She can't be seen so she spends the day in the house, cooks, cleans, reads books, exercises, watches programs on TV, movies mostly."

When asked what she enjoys, Mason said, "She doesn't watch the news. She doesn't watch these so-called reality shows that are about as real as wrestling.  She's reading a trilogy of books called Hunger Games. ...She's very interested in photography, works out a lot, likes I Love Lucy, The Three Stooges, travel."

When Morgan mentioned that The Hunger Games was about killing children, Mason replied that he was aware it had Harry Potter type of popularity.

Anthony is on probation in Florida for a check fraud conviction, but the court ordered her location to be kept secret because of death threats she has received.

Since slipping into hiding, Anthony has surfaced only occasionally in photos or in an online video diary she kept that was leaked.  In the video diary, she talked about her new blond bob hair style, getting her nose pierced, and her new pet dog. Photos posted online also showed Anthony in a bar.

In none of the appearances did she make a reference to her daughter or to her estranged parents.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

"Goodfellas" Mobster Turned FBI Informant Henry Hill Dead at 69

Rebecca Sapp/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- Henry Hill, the famed mobster turned FBI informant whose life story was documented in the book Wiseguy -- upon which Martin Scorsese’s 1990 gangster epic Goodfellas was based -- has died at the age of 69.

Hill died at a Los Angeles hospital of an undisclosed illness on Tuesday, Nate Caserta, the son of Hill’s fiancé Lisa Schinelli Caserta, confirmed.

“[His] heart just stopped.  He had been sick for a long time,” Nate Caserta told ABC News.

“I will never be the same.  I lost someone I cared about a lot.  Someone who loved my family and helped me a lot with life,” Nate Caserta wrote in a post on Facebook.  “You truly lived a life no one could live.  You touched so many peoples lifes.  Your spirit lives forever with me.”

Nate Caserta told ABC News that his family was talking about Hill’s smoking problem while his health deteriorated.

Hill was famously associated with New York’s Lucchese crime family throughout the 1960s and into the 1980s.  He began his life of crime at the age of 11 while growing up on the working class East New York section of Brooklyn by running errands for Paul Vario, a captain in the Lucchese family.

“It’s an intoxicating lifestyle that sucks you in.  Then you get too scared, and too in love with the money, to leave,” Hill told ABC's Good Morning America in 2004.  “All people do is fear you -- and that’s intoxicating.  It’s a strange lifestyle.”

Hill completed his first major robbery when he and Thomas DeSimone -- who was portrayed in an Oscar-winning performance by Joe Pesci in Goodfellas -- famously robbed Air France of a shipment of $420,000 in April of 1967.
 
In the 1970s, Hill spent six years in prison after he was found guilty of extortion.  While in prison, with the help of his wife Karen, Hill still managed to operate outside the law by smuggling drugs and food.  He was eventually released early in 1978 for being a model prisoner.

Hill became an FBI informant following a 1980 arrest on a narcotics-trafficking charge, and the testimony he delivered led to 50 arrests.

Hill, his wife Karen and their two children entered the witness protection program and changed their names.  They were relocated to several locations in Omaha, Neb., Independence, Ky., and Redmond, Wash.

Hill and his wife were expelled from the program in the early 1990s following several arrests on narcotics-related charges. The couple soon divorced.  Later, he relocated to Malibu and began dating Lisa Caserta, began to sell his own artwork on eBay, and made frequent guest appearances on The Howard Stern Show.

In 2010, Hill was inducted in the Museum of the American Gangster in New York City.

Ray Liota portrayed Hill in Goodfellas, which was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.  Crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi published the book Wiseguy in 1986.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

ND Voters Opt to Abandon ‘Fighting Sioux’ University Nickname

Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images(BISMARCK, N.D.) -- North Dakota voters approved a ballot measure Tuesday allowing the University of North Dakota to discontinue use of its controversial nickname -- the Fighting Sioux.

The school's nickname has been under fire from the NCAA for many years, and the debate has been on-going in the state.  Opponents say the nickname is offensive, and that it hurts the school’s athletic program.

On the support side, there’s the argument that the nickname is part of the school’s history and that it is not meant to offend.  That argument is boosted by the fact that there are actually some Native American supporters.

In November 2011, members of the Spirit Lake Tribe actually sued the NCAA to keep the name, arguing that losing the Sioux name could mean losing ties between the university and the tribes.  The suit was tossed out by a judge in May.

A group of supporters for the nickname has said that they plan to try and put a similar measure on the ballot in November.  It’s not yet known what the new nickname and logo might be, but there’s time to debate.  “Fighting Sioux” won’t be abandoned until January 2015 at the earliest.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio