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HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE

Monday
Sep192011

Plane's Video Memory Cards Could Hold Clues to Reno Crash

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- The World War II-era stunt plane that crashed into a grandstand near Reno, Nevada, killing nine, was equipped with a video camera that could help investigators learn what led to the crash.

National Transportation Safety Board officials said Sunday that the airplane had a recording system, and a box containing memory cards was found at the scene of the crash.

Investigators say they'll analyze the cards to see if there is any footage that could explain what happened.

The crash happened Friday during an air race in Reno, injuring a total of 69 people seated in the VIP seats on the tarmac.  Witnesses said that as the P-51 Mustang Galloping Ghost piloted by Jimmy Leeward rounded the final clubhouse turn, something dropped off the tail of the plane, and that that may have been what caused the problem.

NTSB investigators recovered a component in the area where witnesses say they saw something drop.  Officials said it's unclear whether this is connected to the plane that crashed or another one.

The tragedy in Reno was another near miss for Commander Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head earlier this year in Tucson.  Kelly was scheduled to fly a P-51 similar to the one that crashed at the Reno air show, though he was not going to be racing.  He apparently did not witness the crash.

As investigators work to piece together what caused the crash, officials are also looking into another fatal air show crash this weekend.

A day after the air race crash in Reno, an antique plane crashed at an air show in Martinsburg, West Virginia, Saturday.  Pilot John Mangan was flying a 1958 T-28 Warbird when it suddenly crashed after completing an acrobatic move with another T-28.  Mangan was killed.  No other injuries were reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep192011

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Only the Latest Military Barrier to Fall

Bill Clark/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- If the Military Leadership Diversity Commission has its way, a full repeal Tuesday of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly, won't be the last brick to fall from the U.S. military's sporadically crumbling barriers that have excluded African-Americans, women, Muslim clerics and even overweight recruits.

The panel recommended earlier this year, for instance, that the Department of Defense eliminate its "combat exclusion policies," meaning women would be assigned to units involved in "direct ground combat."

The record is long on diversity milestones that have changed the face of the nation's armed services.

Here are a few:

Women on Combat Ships
Woman can't serve in direct land combat but Congress enacted a law in 1993 that did allow them on combat ships, as well as bomber and fighter aircraft. And the military lifted its ban last year on their serving aboard submarines.

Muslim Chaplains
The Army signed up its first Muslim chaplain in 1993, followed later in the decade by a Navy chaplain who became the first Muslim to serve the Marine Corps.

Racial Desegregation
Whether it was because of President Harry S. Truman's 1948 executive order integrating black servicemen or the later need for soldiers in Korea, the military moved deliberately to desegregate its ranks. The last all-black unit was disbanded in the mid-1950s.

Ex-Convicts
The military has even opened the door to more ex-convicts in recent years, although by necessity. "The significant increase in the recruitment of persons with criminal records is a result of the strain put on the military by the Iraq war," Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told the Washington Post in 2008.

Overweight Recruits
Similarly, recruitment targets have prompted the military to be more lenient when it comes to enlisting overweight recruits, as Americans grow plumper and plumper. But a portly soldier is less likely to be a successful one, so he or she must adhere to a weight-control regimen to stay in good graces.

All-Male Academies
Women were long thought to be incapable of withstanding the rigors of military-oriented colleges, so they were denied access until the Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that the all-male Virginia Military Institute admit them under the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.

Women's Army Auxiliary Corps
Republican Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers, the first woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts, proposed a bill in 1941 that would result in creation of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, or WAAC -- although an amendment to give woman full military status failed, so they were not part of the regular army.

They are today, but, as the Military Leadership Diversity Commission noted in its March 15, 2011, report to President Obama and Congress, the Defense Department and armed services "should report to Congress the process and timeline for removing barriers that inhibit women from achieving senior leadership positions."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep182011

Remains Found During Search for Missing Nursing Student

Giorgio Fochesato/Vetta/Getty Images(ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif.) -- A volunteer in the search for missing California nursing student Michelle Le discovered a body in a remote, brushy area of Alameda County, but investigators said it could take weeks to determine whether they are the young woman.

The remains were so decomposed that investigators could not immediately say whether they were those of a male or female. The San Francisco Chronicle reports the remains were found in the same area where police believe the woman charged with Le's murder dumped her body.

Alameda County investigators have sealed off access to the scene, but say it could take weeks to identify the remains if they have to use DNA testing. Officials said they haven't found any articles of clothing or other evidence that ties the body discovered to Le.

"Today, one of the search party members did discover remains. Right now, that's all we know," said Lt. Roger Keener with the Hayward Police Department, according to ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco. "There is nothing that indicates gender with the remains. The body is decomposed."

Le, 26, went missing May 27, when she took a break from her nursing classes at a Hayward hospital. She told colleagues she was going to her car, but she never returned from the break and her locked Honda SUV was found later half a mile away.

A former high school friend of Le's, Giselle Esteban, 27, was arrested 11 days ago ago in connection with Le's disappearance. Investigators say surveillance video, cell phone records and DNA samples led to Esteban's arrest.

In June, Esteban told KGO that she "hates" Le because Le was friends with the father of Esteban's 5-year-old daughter. Esteban has denied having anything to do with Le's disappearance.

Even without Le's body, investigators said they have enough to charge Esteban with murdering the nursing student. Surveillance video shows her at the crime scene before and after Le went missing, traces of Le's blood were found inside Esteban's car and Le's DNA was found on one of Esteban's shoes, Hayward police said.

Cell phone records also show both women's phones "traveled on a similar path" from the hospital around Alameda County immediately after Le disappeared.

Esteban is due back in court Monday, after a judge postponed a plea hearing last week so she could get an attorney.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Sunday
Sep182011

Man Shoots Two in Church After Nearby Killing, Cops Say

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ORLANDO) -- Parishioners in a Florida church tackled a man who had walked in and shot the pastor and associate pastor after apparently killing another person in a home a short distance away, Polk County police said.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told ABC affiliate WFTS-TV in Orlando that Jeremiah Fogale, 57, was taken in to custody after the horrified parishioners wrestled him to the ground.

Greater Faith Christian Church Pastor William Boss and Associate Pastor Carl Stewart were being treated for their wounds at Lakeland Regional Medical Center for their injuries.

Police declined to identified the person killed in the shooting, saying next of kin confirmation had not yet been made.  They said only that the person was shot at a home near the church.

According to the initial witness reports, Fogel ran through the front door of the church shortly before 10 a.m. today and shot the both the pastor and associate pastor, police said.  Parishioners in the church tackled Fogel and held him until law enforcement responded and took him into custody.  No other members of the church were injured.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep182011

Kara Kennedy Remembered: Ted Kennedy’s Daughter Dies at 51

Brian Snyder-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- She bore that famous last name –  still, Kara Kennedy lived her life outside the spotlight as much as any Kennedy could.

Friday night, that life ended at just 51 when Kara Kennedy suffered a heart attack after working out at a gym in Northwest Washington, D.C.

She was a mother of two teenagers, Grace and Max.

She was known for her fighting spirit – she beat inoperable lung cancer in 2002.

Five years later, her mother told the Boston Globe Kara Kennedy was cancer free and running five miles a day.

“Last summer she was in the best health that I can remember,” mother Joan Kennedy said.

Even so, the cancer treatment “took quite a toll on her and weakened her physically,” Patrick Kennedy said, “Her heart gave out.”

In August 2009, with her father Senator Ted Kennedy on his deathbed, Kara Kennedy accepted the Presidential Medal of Honor on his behalf.

Kara Kennedy was not the only member of her immediate family to battle cancer.

Her father Ted died of a malignant brain tumor and her brother Ted Jr. beat bone cancer though he lost a leg to the disease when he was just 12.

She is just the latest Kennedy to die young in an extended family that has suffered immeasurable loss.

“It is an unlucky family in a lot of ways and of course we pay a lot more attention to them because it is such a prominent family,” said Kennedy biographer Susan Milligan.

Funeral arrangements for Kara Kennedy right now are still being organized.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep182011

Wisconsin Gov. Walker on FBI Probe: ‘We Don’t Know’

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he has no details of what the FBI was looking for this week when agents raided the home of Cynthia Archer, a former top aide in his office and a current legislative liaison with the state Department of Children and Family Services.

Witnesses saw FBI agents taking pictures of the property and saw them walk out with one box according to ABC station WLS-TV in Chicago.

Amid calls from his opponents to explain what the investigation is about, Walker told ABC affiliate WKOW-TV in Madison, Wis., that he had not spoken out previously because he simply does not know that much.

“Well, it’s hard to tell. We don’t know what exactly is involved there until we know any more,” Walker said. “We don’t know any details. We don’t know what it may or not be a part of.”

According to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the raid is just the latest in a secret ongoing investigation that focuses on whether county staffers in Walker’s office did political work on taxpayers’ money. The action appears to come in the wake of the confession of one of Walker’s staffers, admitting to anonymously posting pro-Walker comments on websites while on county time.

When contacted by ABC News, the Milwaukee Bureau of the FBI declined to comment on the raid or ongoing investigation.

Archer was one of Walker’s most trusted allies before she abruptly resigned her post last month as deputy secretary of the agency that oversees state contracts.

Though officials have raided Walker’s staffers before, only one investigation has resulted in a conviction. William Gardner, president and CEO of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co., was found guilty of two felonies related to exceeding campaign donation limits and laundering campaign donations to Walker.

Walker’s campaign returned the donations Gardner gave.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep182011

Reno Air Race Crash: Investigators Comb Through Debris

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- Investigators in Nevada today are continuing to comb the accident site where a stunt plane crashed during an air race in Reno.

Nine people died including the pilot when a World War II era plane crashed into the VIP seats on the tarmac Friday. A total of 69 people were injured.

Eyewitnesses said that as the P-51 Mustang Galloping Ghost piloted by Jimmy Leeward rounded the final clubhouse turn, something dropped off the tail of the plane, and that that may have been what caused the problem.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators recovered a component in the area where witnesses say they saw something drop.

Officials said it's unclear whether this is connected to this plane or another one.

NTSB investigators say they may not have a flight data recorder. But the numerous photos and personal video accounts from spectators will assist officials in the investigation.

"That will be a huge help for us," said NTSB spokesman Mark Rosekind.

In fact, the photos appear to support eyewitness accounts that pieces of the P51's tail started falling off.

"Pictures and video appear to show a piece of the plane was coming off," Rosekind said at a news conference. "A component has been recovered. We have not identified the component or if it even came from the airplane ... We are going to focus on that."

The tragedy in Reno was another near miss for Commander Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head earlier this year in Tucson.

Kelly was scheduled to fly a p51 similar to the one that crashed, though he was not racing.

He apparently did not witness the crash.

As investigators work to piece together what caused the crash, officials are also looking into another fatal air show crash this weekend.

A day after the air race crash in Reno, an antique plane crashed at an air show in Martinsburg, West Va., Saturday.

Pilot John Mangan was flying a 1958 T-28 Warbird, when it suddenly crashed after completing an acrobatic move with another T-28. Mangan was killed. No other injuries were reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep172011

Search for Susan Powell: Police Checking Shallow Grave

Comstock/Thinkstock(WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah) -- Searchers were back at the site of a shallow grave in the mountains of Utah Saturday, trying to determine whether it contains the remains of missing Utah mother Susan Powell.

No bones, tissue or definitive evidence related to Powell have been found in the grave site, which is near Topaz Mountain, said Sgt. Mike Powell of the West Valley City Police Department.

The search resumed Saturday after being called off because of a rainstorm and heavy wind, Powell said.

"They're continuing on with the search efforts as we speak," Sgt. Powell said. "They started up again about 9 a.m. today, continuing with the ground search, involving the ATVs and also the specialized search dogs."

Susan Powell's father, Chuck Cox, was at the site Saturday observing the efforts to find out what happened to his daughter, who has been missing since December 2009.

"He was somewhat emotional," Sgt. Powell said. "Obviously very difficult for him to have any type of involvement in particular to be somewhere there may be something developing."

Cox said Wednesday that although investigators finding Susan alive would be ideal, the discovery of her body would at least bring some closure as to what happened to her.

"I'd rather they find her alive. But if they find her body, then at least we know she's not with us anymore," Cox said, adding that Wednesday's discovery of human remains "doesn't get our hopes up a lot."

"At the same time, it could be the break. We live that every day. Every phone call we get could be the one that tells us we've found Susan," he said.

Cadaver dogs that had been combing the fields around Topaz Mountain, near Delta, Utah, found the grave site Wednesday, police said.

Susan Powell, the West Valley City, Utah, mother of two, disappeared in December 2009, while her husband, Josh Powell, allegedly took their children camping at midnight in a snow and rain storm.

The campsite he told police he went to is 30 miles away from the desert where the remains were found.

Josh Powell has long been a person of interest in the investigation, and police recently raided the home he and his father share in Washington.

Prior to that, police had searched abandoned mines in Ely, Nevada, in connection to the case.

Josh Powell's father Steven Powell has publicly theorized that his daughter-in-law disappeared with a man from St. George, Utah, who disappeared from a Christmas party abruptly the same night she vanished.

Cox alleges that Steven Powell made sexual advances towards his daughter, prompting her and the family to move to Utah to escape him.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep172011

Kara Kennedy, Ted Kennedy’s Daughter, Dies at 51

Brian Snyder-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Kara Kennedy, daughter of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, suffered a heart attack and died late Friday evening, sources confirm to ABC News. She was 51.

In 2002, Kara Kennedy, daughter of Ted and Joan Kennedy, was diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

With her father’s help, she found a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who removed a portion of her lung as part of the treatment.  Five years later, her mother told the Boston Globe that Kennedy was cancer free and was running five miles a day.

“My daughter was my best friend,” Joan Kennedy said Saturday. “She stayed with me all summer long in Hyannisport. We had a wonderful summer together.

“She was beloved by everybody who knew her. She was beloved by all of her cousins,” she said. “So many people have been calling me today and it makes me feel good to know how much everybody loved her.”

In August 2009, Kennedy gave a touching reading of Psalm 72 at her father’s funeral at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston.

Ted Kennedy often prayed at Our Lady in 2003 while his daughter was being treated for lung cancer at the nearby hospital.

Kara Anne Kennedy was born February 27, 1960. She has two siblings, Teddy Jr. and Patrick, the former congressman.

She was a graduate of Tufts University and was a producer for VSA arts, a nonprofit organization founded by her aunt Jean Kennedy Smith.

She was also on the board for the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome along with her cousin William Kennedy Smith.

She was a former producer for the television program Evening Magazine at WBZ-TV in Boston.

She was married to professional sailor Michael Allen in1990 and they had two children, Grace and Max.

On Aug. 12, 2009, she accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama on behalf of her father who was terminally ill at the time.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep172011

SeaWorld’s Iconic Killer Whale Show May End

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- It could be the next installment of Free Willy, provided the court rules against SeaWorld executives and decides to cancel its popular Shamu shows after a whale killed an animal trainer 19 months ago.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Shamu shows are the most marketable thrill to vacationers around the world, and restrictions could heavily cripple the franchise—on top of the $75,000 fine the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration wants to issue SeaWorld.

The proposed cancellation of the show comes after the Feb. 24, 2010 death of veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was killed when a 6-ton killer whale named Tilikum pulled her underwater.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio