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Entries in ABC News (21)

Thursday
Sep132012

BPI Announces Defamation Lawsuit Over 'Pink Slime'

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The company that makes what it calls lean finely textured beef, the food product that critics call "pink slime," has announced a defamation suit against ABC News after reports on the product by ABC and others led to reduced demand.

Media organizations have frequently reported on the product that often was added to ground beef sold in supermarkets and served in restaurants and schools.

"The lawsuit is without merit," said Jeffrey Schneider, Senior Vice President of ABC News, which ran several such reports.  "We will contest it vigorously."

Beef Products Inc., BPI Technology Inc. and Freezing Machines Inc., collectively known as BPI, first publicly indicated on Wednesday its intention to share details of "a major lawsuit regarding defamation of its beef product, lean finely textured beef" on Thursday.

The product, abbreviated as LFTB, is made of beef trimmings that are heated and spritzed with ammonia gas to kill bacteria.  Blending in the product can reduce the price of ground beef.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that the product is safe to eat and reduces the overall fat content of beef products.

In late March, governors from three meat-producing states walked through a BPI plant with reporters and defended LFTB.

"It's beef, but it's leaner beef which is better for you," Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said.  "We take this off the market then we end up with a fatter product that's going to cost more and is going to increase the obesity problem in this country."

Then USDA scientist Gerald Zirnstein first coined the term "pink slime" to describe what the industry calls LFTB in an email he sent to USDA colleagues in 2002.  He and former USDA colleague Carl Custer continue to be outspoken critics of LFTB.

After a flurry of news reports earlier this year, several national grocery chains publicly vowed to discontinue selling beef containing the product, joining some other supermarket chains that claimed they never did.

Restaurants, including McDonald's, Burger King and Taco Bell, had earlier stopped buying it.

In early April, the USDA approved requests by BPI and others that they be allowed to label products containing LFTB.  Given the choice by the USDA, many school districts refused to accept beef with the "pink slime."  Only three states participating in the National School Lunch Program -- Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, all states with BPI facilities -- agreed to order ground beef that might contain the product, according to a June 6 ABC News report.

With demand apparently falling, BPI announced in late March it would temporarily suspend operations at plants in Texas, Kansas and Iowa, but continue to operate one in South Dakota. The company blamed social media and news organizations, specifically ABC News, for what it called a gross misrepresentation of its product and process.

On April 2, AFA Foods, a Pennsylvania-based competitor to BPI, filed for bankruptcy protection, citing reduced demand stemming from the media's coverage of "pink slime."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul232012

Alleged Colorado Gunman's Family Stands by Son

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The family of suspected gunman James Holmes said they will support the Ph.D student accused of entering a movie theatre last Friday and not leaving until he had killed 12 people and wounded another 58.

Asked if they stand by Holmes, lawyer and family spokeswoman Lisa Damiani said at a press conference Monday, "Yes they do. He's their son."

Damiani said the family was holding up, "as well as anyone could under the circumstances."

"I think everyone can imagine how they're feeling," Damiani said, "anyone who's ever been a parent."

Damiani would not comment on the family's whereabouts or their relationship with Holmes.

The spokeswoman said the family had spoken to investigators from California, but had not been contacted by police in Colorado.

"No one from the Aurora Police Department has contacted us, or asked for assistance," she said. Through Damiani, the suspect's mother Arlene Holmes wanted to clarify a statement she made to ABC News in the immediate aftermath of the shooting Friday morning.

ABC News phoned Arlene Holmes at 5am PST, at her home in San Diego, Calif., according to notes and email records by ABC News producer Matthew Mosk, who placed the call.

Through her lawyer, Holmes Monday sought to clarify the remarks she made in that phone interview.

"I did not know anything about a shooting in Aurora at that time," Arlene Holmes's said in statement read by her lawyer Friday. "He [Mosk] asked if I was Arlene Holmes and if my son was James Holmes, who lives in Aurora, Colorado. I answered yes, you have the right person. I was referring to myself. I asked him to tell me why he was calling and he told me about a shooting in Aurora. He asked for a comment. I told him I could not comment because I did not know if the person he was talking about was my son and I would need to find out."

Mosk said Monday that he awoke Arlene Holmes and informed her that a man, he believed was her son had been arrested in Aurora and asked to confirm their relationship.

"You have to tell me what happened … You have to tell me what happened," the woman on the phone said, according to Mosk. He said he told Holmes that ABC News had learned the 24-year-old had been identified by police as the lone suspect in the mass killing in Aurora, Colo. and that the details of the events were still taking shape.

"You have the right person," was her response, he said. "I need to call the police. I need to fly to Colorado."

Just prior to the press conference, Damiani contacted ABC News to determine whether there existed a recording of the pre-dawn conversation between Mosk and her client, according to Mosk.

One hour after learning there was no audio recording, Damiani held the conference and read Arlene Holmes' statement.

James Holmes, 24, appeared at an Arapahoe County courthouse Monday morning, his first public appearance since last week's massacre. He was not arraigned and did not enter a plea.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun202012

Rielle Hunter: No Regrets About Following Her Heart

ABC/ PHIL ELLSWORTH(NEW YORK) -- Some see her as the woman who brought down former presidential candidate John Edwards, but Rielle Hunter, who in 2008 gave birth to Edwards’ daughter Quinn, told ABC News 20/20 anchor Chris Cuomo that she is something very different.

“First and foremost, I’m a mom,” she said in an exclusive interview Cuomo, which will air this Friday.  “And I’m also a woman who fell in love with a married man. I’m not the first woman who has done that and I’m not going to be the last.”

Hunter has penned a revealing memoir with many new revelations about her relationship with Edwards. What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter and Me, to be published June 26, details how she got caught up in one of the biggest political scandals in recent history, the status of her relationship with Edwards and his involvement in the life of their now 4-year-old daughter.

People magazine obtained exclusive excerpts from the book, including Hunter’s description of how Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth Edwards, reacted after learning of the affair:

“Elizabeth requested all the tapes (I’d made of the campaign). She locked herself in a room to watch,” Hunter wrote. “On one tape she saw Johnny walking into a room and his reaction to seeing me. She apparently told him that he never once looked at her the way he looked at me. So she took that bit and put it on her computer as a screen saver in order to watch it over and over again.”

Last month Edwards was acquitted on charges of accepting illegal campaign contributions from a supporter. The Justice Department will not retry the case.

As for her and John Edwards?

“I’m still in love with John,” Hunter wrote. “That didn’t’ go away, shockingly enough. Marriage? I have no idea. I’m not a big fan of the institution, but never say never.”

In the end, Hunter says she has regrets, but not about following her heart because she has her daughter Quinn, whom she calls the love of her life.

Watch Chris Cuomo’s exclusive interview on ABC’s 20/20 Friday at 10 p.m. ET

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May012012

ABC News Exclusive: Facebook to Help Find Organ Donors

Rick Rowell/ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- Conversations over the dinner table with his med-student girlfriend helped Mark Zuckerberg formulate his latest big idea — harnessing the power of Facebook to help eliminate the critical shortage of organs for patients desperately in need of life-saving transplants.

And it was his friendship with Apple founder Steve Jobs, whose life was extended by years following a liver transplant, in part, that spurred the 27-year-old Facebook founder and CEO to help put that idea into practice.

“Facebook is really about communicating and telling stories… We think that people can really help spread awareness of organ donation and that they want to participate in this to their friends. And that can be a big part of helping solve the crisis that’s out there,” Zuckerberg told ABC’s Robin Roberts in an exclusive interview at Facebook’s headquarters.

Starting Tuesday, users in the United States and U.K. will be able to add that they’re organ donors to their Timelines, and if they’re not organ donors, they can find links to official organ donation registries and instantly enroll.

“We want to make it simple,” said Zuckerberg. “You just put in the state or country that you’re from, so that we can help link you to the official registries.”

In the “health and wellness” section of users’ timelines, users can list their status as organ donors and explain the decision to their friends, in an effort to raise awareness about the need for donors.

More than 112,000 Americans are awaiting organs, and 18 people die every day from the lack of available organs, according to Donate Life America, a non-profit alliance partnering with Facebook.

Zuckerberg, 27, has made a fortune on the idea that people want to share everything – from photos, to the intimate details of their romantic lives. Yet, Zuckerberg himself is famously private, keeping details of his personal life – not to mention a much-anticipated Facebook IPO — under tight wraps.

In conversation with Roberts, Zuckerberg kept the door on the IPO tightly shut – citing the government-mandated quiet period before the IPO — and saying only “we try to keep very focused on the long term… We’ll be judged by how good the things are that we build and whether people like them.”

But he revealed some small details of his personal life, lighting up when talking about the dinnertime chats he had with girlfriend Priscilla Chan that helped lead to the donation initiative.

“She’s in medical school now,” Zuckerberg said of Chan. “She’s going to be a pediatrician, so our dinner conversations are often about Facebook and the kids that she’s meeting.”

Chan told him stories about patients she meets “getting sicker as they don’t have the organ that they need.” But there were other stories too, of children who ultimately received transplants. Stories, Zuckerberg called, “unbelievable.”

From Chan he learned of one boy in need of a heart transplant. His skin had turned blue from lack of oxygen, but within weeks of receiving a transplant he was out again playing sports.

“How can that not make you happy?” he asked.

Chan inspired Zuckerberg to try to learn Mandarin Chinese in one year. That venture, he admitted, was unsuccessful, but he picked up enough to natter with Chan’s elderly grandmother.

Zuckerberg said he was further prompted to make Facebook an important tool to encourage donors to register following the death of Steve Jobs, whom he called a “friend.” Though Zuckerberg never talked with Jobs specifically about a Facebook donation tool, he said many of the people involved in the project were inspired after Jobs’ death.

“That definitely, I think, was something that we all had in mind as we were building this out… His story is just one of many, of people who both were able to have an organ transplant that made his life longer and he was extremely thankful for that,” Zuckerberg said.

Facebook was initially developed by Zuckerberg while still an undergraduate at Harvard. The site was initially conceived as place for college students to socialize. Recently, however, Zuckerberg said he’s been surprised by the power of the network and the way users use its tools creatively in times of crisis, like finding loved-ones following tornadoes in the Midwest or the tsunami in Japan.

“People are using the same social tools that they’re using just to keep in touch with people on a day-to-day basis to solve these important issues,” he said.

The technology behind the donation application, Zuckerberg said, is a “pretty simple thing.” But the ability to link people across hundreds of miles and save their lives? That, he called, “amazing.”

Both the company and organ donation advocates are hopeful the new tool could change the landscape of the organ donation process.

“I think it’s possible that we will see an impact over the next couple of years, where we would imagine eliminating the transplant waiting list,” said Dr. Andrew Cameron, Transplant Surgeon at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar282012

Trayvon Martin Case: Talking Race and Justice

Ida Mae Astute/ABC(NEW YORK) -- "Not again," rapper Q-Tip recalled thinking when he learned of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Fla.

"I think it's time that we as a nation, if we can gain anything from this, it should be a moment of introspection," he said. "And we should really have the kind of conversation that could really fix it."

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His comments came during a live town hall-style radio show, "Race and Justice: A National Conversation," hosted by Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts Wednesday night from ABC News headquarters in New York City, and amid continued allegations of racism, scrutiny into how local police handled the investigation into Martin's death, and a nationwide outcry for justice.

Roberts' guests included actor Hill Harper; gospel duo Mary Mary; ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith; the Rev. A.R. Bernard, founder of the Brooklyn, N.Y., Christian Cultural Center; and an audience of high school students, parents and law enforcement officials.

Martin, 17, was shot dead Feb. 26 by George Zimmerman, who found the teen suspicious, then pursued him against the suggestion of a 911 dispatcher.

Leaks from the police report detail Zimmerman telling police he was heading back to his truck when Martin knocked him down with a punch to his nose, jumped on him, repeatedly banged his head on the ground, then tried to grab Zimmerman's gun. In a struggle for Zimmerman's gun, the watchman shot the teen, Zimmerman told police.

It remains unclear exactly what prompted the altercation that ultimately led to Martin's death, and Zimmerman, who claimed that he acted in self defense that night, has not been charged with a crime.

Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and carrying only a pack of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea at the time.

Police brought Zimmerman into the station for questioning for a few hours on the night of the shooting, Zimmerman's attorney said, despite his request for medical attention first. Ultimately, they had to accept Zimmerman's claim of self defense.

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"It makes me so concerned for my nephews and for my brother, for my husband, for my son, who's only two. It just makes me fearful," Tina Campbell of the music group Mary Mary told Roberts at Wednesday's town hall. "And I pray that this conversation makes us open our eyes that we change things and there is justice for Trayvon."

"I think we need to reevaluate some of the laws," said Erica Campbell, the other half of Mary Mary.

"It is not your responsibility to take the law into your own hand," Tina Campbell added. "And once you approach someone, please tell me how that's self-defense?"

"How is this self-defense when you're approaching me? You get out of your car, you're armed, and it's self-defense?" Tina Campbell asked of Zimmerman's defense.

"And you're alive and walking away while he's in a body bag?" she asked. "Come on."

In video surveillance obtained by ABC News from the night Martin was killed, a handcuffed Zimmerman appears uninjured as he exits a police cruiser and walks into the Sanford Police Department.

Joe Oliver, who describes himself as a close friend of Zimmerman's family, has said that Zimmerman is in hiding and fears for his life. The Black Panthers have put up a $10,000 bounty for Zimmerman's "capture."

"What mortifies me is that someone like this who is running around stalking people, looking for a fight, that someone like that could even have a gun in the first place," student Otter Lee said at the town hall, to strong applause.

Taiesha Davis, a social worker, says she has been talking openly with her son for years about how to stay safe. It began with Sean Bell, she said. Now this has revived the conversation.

"I always tell my son, 'Just watch your surroundings, pay attention, don't look suspicious, take your hood off your head, make sure people can see your face, walk a straight line,'" she said. "Because you never know when something can occur."

"I have been stopped before," said Davis' 15-year-old son, Tyquan Davis, who stands at 6-foot-2. "And it just made me feel like a criminal. Like, there was no reason for them to stop me. But I look suspicious apparently."

Martin's death has sparked powerful reactions from political figures to entertainers and professional athletes. Across the nation, teams of organizers pushing for Zimmerman's arrest have staged rallies, protests and walkouts. More than two million supporters have signed an online petition calling for Zimmerman's prosecution.

Last week, Miami Heat star LeBron James tweeted a photo of himself and his teammates wearing hooded sweatshirts, their heads bowed in Martin's honor.

"I've applauded their actions," sports commentator Stephen A. Smith said when asked about James' tweet, "simply because it's rare that I get an opportunity to see athletes stand up for something in this day and time. They just don't do it."

"A lot of times, you know, when you look at it in terms of their advertising, their marketing dollars, their marketability, their brand, they think it's something that could ultimately compromise them," Smith said. "And because of that, they're a bit apprehensive about stepping forward. So, I've applauded them on this."

Asked by Roberts if he thinks the team will continue to bring light to the situation involving Martin, Smith said that remains to be seen.

"I think it is an opportunity," he said. "There's no doubt about that. But again, at some point in time they're going to be confronted about the big elephant in the room that some of them are not going to want to address."

"Let's be honest about something here," Smith added. "While we all can look at this case and question a lot of things that have gone on and look at this individual, Mr. Zimmerman, and say at the very least, he should've been arrested because a 17-year-old unarmed boy is dead. At the same time, once you get beyond that and we start getting into the problems that permeate throughout community, you have to deal with what's going on in our community -- the fact that we're doing a lot of damage to each other.

"When you are a black athlete, and you are out there, and you receive the level of support that these athletes received from those within our own community," he said, "and then you got to turn around and shine a light on the inequities that take place in our community, that are instigated by us, then all of a sudden, it becomes a bit more problematic, and something that they don't want to touch. But you can't really resolve the problem without attacking that part of the problem. And they've got to have the guts to do that, and I'm not sure they do."

Actor and activist Hill Harper said, "We've all been talking about justice, but there's a word that goes with justice that's inextricably linked to it, and that's truth."

"You can't have justice unless you have truth," Harper told Roberts. "And the problem with this case is that it's actually emblematic of the general racial discussion that we really don't talk about the truth of what's happening."

Referring to the controversial "Stand Your Ground" law at the center of the case, Harper said, "When I was in law school, we had this idea of fruits of a poisonous tree. This law is basically -- poisonous trees can still bear fruit. You think about the N.R.A. lobby and you think about where these types of laws grow up from. They're very politicized laws. They're not necessarily laws that are for the community and for folks to live better. They're actually politic-driven. So, it's the fruit of the poisonous tree. ... That's the truth that we have to talk about."

"[W]e're talking about what young black men have to do," he added. "We know if you grew up in a black family, there's that internal dialog which happens within our community, within the family. You know, when I get stopped by the police, I keep my hands on the wheel. I'm not going to move."

"But the bigger conversation," Harper said, "the best way to protect young black, brown, men of color, women of color, is to actually stop profiling, stop the prejudice and stop the judgment first. And that requires a truthful dialog, like what we're having now."

Harper urged the nation's educators "to be truthful about the issue," and suggested it will be then when "we actually move the discussion forward."

Madeleine Tibaldi, a high school student, agreed that more needs to be done in schools.

"I honestly think that there is not enough dialog going on about these issues," she told Roberts. "People shy away from them when you bring up things like this. People don't want to talk about it. They're worried they're going to sound racist. They're worried they're going to offend people.

"But I honestly think that the way that -- the only way that we're going to really figure out what the root of this problem is kind of by talking about it, and by really figuring out what we can do as young people to prevent this in the future," she said. "And I honestly think that this needs to start in high schools. ... We should just be really speaking about this more, and figuring out what we can do."

Pastor A.R. Bernard said that "no matter how educated and upwardly mobile a young black male becomes, he still lives haunted by the reality that he's suspect because of the color of his skin."

"What do we do, Reverend?" Roberts asked.

"It begins here with conversation," Bernard said. "It begins holding not just the black community, but the white community responsible for being naive in thinking that they can be at ease, because everything is resolved because there's a black president. And everything's changed."

Harper praised the pastor's suggestions.

"I think he's absolutely right about the conversation," Harper said. "But we can also look to examples of individuals and groups that have sought to deal with prejudice in different ways -- for instance, the gay community around HIV and AIDS issue.

"They sought to end the stigma around that and they were very effective," Harper said, "'cause they're in your face about it."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan262012

Obama to ABC News: Somalia Rescue Made Me Think of Own Daughters

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In an exclusive interview with ABC News, President Obama on Thursday expressed sympathy with the father of the American hostage rescued by Navy SEALs Tuesday, saying the ordeal made him think of his own daughters.

“I cannot imagine what he went through – given Malia and Sasha – and for him to be able to stay strong and then for our incredible men and women in uniform to do what they do, it makes you proud about this country,” Obama told ABC’s Diane Sawyer.

The president said he had not spoken to Jessica Buchanan, who was held hostage for three months, but said it was important for him that she connected with her father.

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Obama on Thursday revealed new details of the Navy SEAL operation, which was going on as he was making his State of the Union speech.

“On this one, they were moving so fast that I actually had to give the order and the directions and then they were out,” he said. “It was not a situation where I could actually talk to the folks who were directing the operation, and it was still ongoing while were in the middle of the State of the Union speech.”

Watch World News tonight at 6:30 p.m. EST for Diane Sawyer’s interview with President Obama.

Before he made his speech, the president was seen telling Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta “good job” in reference to the Navy Seal operation.

“He does a good job generally, but we were very specifically referring to the operation in Somalia because at that time we knew that she had already been recovered along with the Danish hostage and they weren’t yet back to Djibouti — the American base — but we knew at that point that they were safe and that everybody had successfully achieved the mission,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan262012

Giffords’ Resignation ‘Right Decision,’ Mark Kelly tells ABC News

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(NEW YORK) -- A day after wife Gabrielle Giffords resigned from Congress, Mark Kelly told ABC News’ Bob Woodruff that “it was certainly the right decision,” despite the difficulty of stepping down from her position.

“Over the past month or six weeks, she came to realize that she was not going to be in a position to run for re-election,” Kelly said. “The goal had been for her to get back to work and run for re-election but she was aware that wasn’t going to happen. She knew that she had to continue with her rehab.”

Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, appeared on the House floor Wednesday to deliver her resignation letter, a little more than a year after being shot in the head.

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“This past year my colleagues and staff have worked to make sure my constituents were represented in Congress,” the Tucson native, 41, wrote in her letter of resignation. “But if I can’t return, my district deserves to elect a U.S. representative who can give 100 percent to the job now.”

Kelly, a former astronaut, said Giffords planned to remain politically active and that she hoped a moderate like herself would fill her vacant seat.

For now, Giffords is spending five to six days a week in physical, occupational and speech therapy. Kelly said she still struggled with communication but was finding progress with intensive speech therapy.

While Kelly said he was certain his wife will return to public service, he said he will not be running in 2012.

“No way,” he said. “I will not be on the ballot. … I’m never one to close any door -- there’s no point in doing that -- but no one needs to worry about me gathering those signatures.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov212011

Missing Toddler’s Mom Seemingly Speaks to ABC News via Email

Comstock/Thinkstock(BELLEVUE, Wash.) -- The mother of missing toddler Sky Metalwala has not spoken publicly since her 2-year-old went missing on Nov. 6, but in an email exchange with ABC News, someone claiming to be Julia spoke out for the first time, lashing out at her estranged husband.

ABC News emailed an address confirmed by relatives to be that of Sky’s mother, Julia Biryukova. In the first exchange, she or someone else who was using the account responded to a request for comment by writing, “My former husband is a sadistic Muslim Pakistani. No one has any idea. This is all too difficult. Kindly, Julia.”

ABC News asked to hear more, and received the following response:

“My attorney has forbid me from speaking about the ongoing investigation. My former husband’s allegations are without merit. Solomon is deceptive.”

Her husband, Solomon Metalwala, is Pakistani, but not a Muslim. Police have said he cooperated with the investigation, whereas Biryukova refused to take a lie detector test.

Biryukova, who is going through a contentious custody battle with Metalwala, originally told police she ran out of gas and left Sky alone in her car while she walked to a gas station. Upon returning, she said, he was gone.

Police have questioned her account of how Sky disappeared. Investigators found enough gas in her car for her to have continued driving. And they didn’t find any mechanical problems that would have caused the car to stop functioning.

During the email exchange with ABC News, "Julia" responded “No” when asked, “Julia, please, do you have any idea where Sky is?”

“Prayers” and “faith” will help bring Sky home, Julia said. “I’m praying to Jesus on my knees night and day for my Sky.”

Upon seeing the emails, Bellevue police Maj. Mike Johnson said, "Well obviously I can’t comment specifically on what value this might be.”

He added, "I’ll get it in the hands of investigators right away.”

Anyone, including the relatives Biryukova is staying with, could have accessed her email account, but Biryukova’s estranged husband Solomon Metalwala said the messages sound like her.

“Obviously she’s just trying to maybe get me kind of riled up,” he said. “The focus is to find Sky.”

During the email conversation, ABC News received responses to every question except one: what happened that morning if the car didn’t actually run out of gas?

It’s a question that continues to baffle investigators two weeks after Sky was reported missing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

Countdown to 9/11: Ten Years Ago Today (August 15, 2001)

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ten years ago this month, America was more concerned about summer vacation than terror attacks. The big movie at the mall was American Pie II, which had just taken over the box office lead from Rush Hour II, and Beyonce was thinking about ditching her band for a solo career.

The big stories in the news were about shark attacks, wildfires and a missing Congressional intern named Chandra Levy. A teenage baseball player became a hero, and then a villain, after he pitched a perfect game at the Little League World Series. There were also inklings that something might be amiss at an energy company called Enron. By the summer of 2001, Americans had become all too familiar with "hanging chads," but few had ever heard of al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden.

While the nation drifted through the dog days, however, a group of terrorists was in the final stages of planning a series of attacks that would kill 3,000 people on September 11. Much of the federal government seemed to have been in a summer daze as well, missing the warning signs of what would become the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil. While some in the intelligence community raised red flags, the White House had only vague information about an impending attack, hamstrung by the fact that the CIA was failing to share information with the FBI about the terrorists' travels.

ABC News is detailing what America was doing and what the hijackers were doing, day-by-day, in August and September 2001. Here's what was happening ten years ago, August 15, 2001 -- 27 days before 9/11:

  • FBI agents initiate an "intelligence investigation" into Zacarias Moussaoui after flight school instructors report concerns that he might be a terrorist.
  • 'We Are Going To Be Struck Soon:'  CIA counter-terrorism chief Cofer Black tells a Defense Department convention, "We are going to be struck soon, many Americans are going to die, and it could be in the U.S."
  • Future hijack pilot Marwan al-Shehhi purchases a one-week gym membership in Lantana, Florida. He and most of the other hijackers-in-training carry out physical fitness routines.
  • In the News:  The Pentagon announces that U.S. warplanes have bombed a radar site in Iraq in an attempt to disable the nation's increasingly effective air defenses, the second such attack in a week.


Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug102011

Warren Jeffs' Niece to ABC News: Uncle 'Needed To Be In Prison'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The niece of polygamist religious leader Warren Jeffs said Wednesday that she is pleased that her testimony about how her uncle molested her helped send him to prison for life.

"I feel a lot stronger now that I've put the man that needed to be put in prison in prison," Jerusha Jeffs told ABC News.

Jerusha's testimony against her uncle revealed for the first time that she too was sexually assaulted by Jeffs, the leader of a radical polygamist sect of Mormonism known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS).

Jerusha, who grew up in the FLDS church, revealed in court for the first time that Jeffs raped her when she was a 7-year-old, second-grade student in the Utah elementary school where he served as principal.

"Warren told me to come sit on his lap and I didn't know why," she tearfully recalled to ABC News. "He said, 'You're a special girl' and that he would help me to go heaven. And he had a certain way of making me feel like I was special and he told me I'll go to heaven if I, for sure, just don't tell anybody."

A Texas jury found Jeffs guilty Aug. 4 of forcing two teenage girls into "spiritual marriage," and fathering a child with one of them when she was 15.

He was sentenced on Tuesday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 45 years. Jeffs, 55, must serve at least 35 years of a life sentence on one of the child-sex charges, and at least 10 years on the other.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio