Entries in Americans (24)


President Obama Awards Citizens Medal to 13 Americans

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Thursday awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor, to 13 Americans for their service to the country and their fellow citizens.

“They come from different backgrounds and they’ve devoted their lives to different causes, but they are united by the choice that they’ve made.   They could have made excuses for doing nothing.   Instead, they chose to help,” the president said at a White House ceremony.

The recipients, who were selected from roughly 6,000 nominations, include a mother and father who started a foundation to heal the emotional wounds of victims of terrorism following the loss of their son on 9/11, a woman who provides food and clothing to her neighbors suffering from the financial crisis, and a Vietnam veteran who founded a home for homeless and disabled veterans.

[Click here to learn more about the 13 recipients of the Presidential Citizens Medal]

“For our government to truly honor them, we have to do more than hand out medals.  We have to follow their example,” Obama said.  “And that won’t always be easy.”

“As individuals, as communities, and as a country, we all face the temptation to find excuses not to help.  In these decisive moments, then, we need to choose between doing something and doing nothing.  And I hope we will remember the stories of these extraordinary men and women as we make that choice.  I hope they inspire us to put ourselves in another person’s shoes.  And I hope that years from now, when they retell the story of our time, they will say that we, too, lent a hand to our neighbor in need,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Census Data Reveals Aging Population

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Women continue to have longer life expectancies than men, but according to new 2010 Census data released Thursday, men are inching towards women as they narrow the gender gap in old age. Technological, healthcare, and policy advancements are providing many Americans with tools to lead longer lives.

In the category of Americans ages 65 and older, the number of men has grown by 21 percent since 2000 while the number of women has increased at a slower pace of 11.2 percent.  In the subgroup of Americans ages 65 to 74, the male-to-female ratio has narrowed.  Women only exceed men by 1.5 million, a drop from 1.8 million in 2000.

Women continue to outnumber men in the United States by 5.18 million, a slight jump from the 5.3 million difference in 2000.  Despite being outnumbered, the number of men in the country increased at a faster rate, growing by 9.9 percent, while the number of women only increased by 9.5 percent.  For every 100 women in the U.S. in 2010, there were 96.7 men.  In 2000, the male-female ratio was 96.3.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Celebration Erupts in Washington over Osama Bin Laden's Death

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As President Obama began his statement Sunday night from the White House announcing the death of Osama bin Laden, a large crowd of people, about 200 and growing, had gathered outside the White House gates on Pennsylvania Avenue, waving flags and dancing.

They sang the "Star-Spangled Banner" in unison and chanted "USA!  USA!  USA!"

They also sang, "Na na na na -- na na na na ...Hey hey goodbye" in reference to Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. Special Forces in Pakistan Sunday.

The crowd has continued to swell overnight.  People have been running to join the group with American flags and there has been lots of dancing and cheering -- complete jubilation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Charges Somali Hostage Negotiator with Piracy

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday that a man identified by Somali pirates as the person responsible for negotiating the ransom of four U.S. citizens held hostage on the high seas and then killed last February, has been indicted on piracy and kidnapping charges.

The justice department says Mohammad Shibin was apprehended in Somalia and transferred to the United States to stand trial.

Federal officials say Shibin was not among the 14 Somalia pirates who boarded the yacht with the four Americans, but instead worked behind the scenes to see how much cash could be extorted for their release.

Neil McBride, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, announced that the arrest marks "the first time the U.S. government has captured and charged an alleged pirate in the leadership role -- a hostage negotiator who operated in Somalia.”

While the U.S military was attempting to negotiate the release of the four hostages -- Scott Underwood Adam, Jean Savage Adam, Phyllis Patricia Macay and Robert Campbell Riggle -- the pirates on board the yacht shot and killed them.  The U.S. took the Somali pirates into custody following the shooting.

Shibin was indicted on March 8 in Virginia and appeared in federal court Wednesday.  The piracy and kidnapping charges each carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Poll Finds More Conservatives Back Government Shutdown

Comstock/Thinkstock Images(NEW YORK) -- With a government shutdown looming this Friday if Congress doesn't agree on a 2010 budget, the latest ABC/Washington Post poll finds 31 percent of Americans said it would be a good thing if it happened.

That view ranges from 19 percent among liberal Democrats to 43 percent of conservative Republicans and 55 percent of strong supporters of the Tea Party political movement. Barring a change in attitude, there would be, for them, no “blame” to lay, but rather credit due.

The finding is hardly new.  fter the partial shutdown in 1996, 26 percent polled said it had been a good thing. Moreover, only 12 percent of Americans said they personally were inconvenienced by the partial shutdown 15 years ago, including just four percent who experienced “major” inconvenience.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Americans Should Learn to Be Prepared for Earthquakes

Jason Reed/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- ABC News' Yunji de Nies stood inside what looked like a typical living room in a typical house Wednesday, but the interview she was conducting was anything but typical.

She went inside an earthquake simulator Wednesday to see what it's like to experience a quake inside of a home. While the ground was shaking under her feet, books and furniture fell all around her.

Dran Reese, the CEO of, quickly pushed her underneath a table.

"Wow, that was so strong, and I didn't know what to do," said de Nies. "What is the right thing?"

"Well, exactly what I tried to do, which is to push you underneath there," said Reese.

The simulated quake was only a 6.8, 158 times less powerful than what hit Japan. Still, there were important lessons to be learned.

"I could feel those things falling off the shelf and hitting me," said Reese. "So the first thing you want to do is get someplace safe."

She added that the objects in your home can be deadly.

"Stay where you are and ride it out," said Reese. "You find the safest place in a room and just take cover, drop cover and take hold."

Being prepared also pays off. In California, earthquakes are an ever-present threat. The state holds earthquake drills where schoolchildren have to dive under their desks while first responders search for would-be victims.

In Japan, they did the same thing: They dove for cover as the 9.0 quake rattled around them.

Surviving is the No. 1 priority for victims who face the devastation of an earthquake, but living through the aftermath is as big of a concern. Imagine having no access to water, electricity or communication.

The essentials are water, preferably in pouches that will keep it fresh for up to five years, non-perishable foods, a first-aid kit, flashlights, batteries, a hand-cranked radio and a stash of cash.

Above all, everyone should prepare for an earthquake and practice those drills now. You never know when disaster may hit.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Americans Less Generous in Japan Disaster Relief?

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A week after Japan was crippled by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, there's little sign Americans are giving as feverishly, or as generously, to international relief efforts as they have before.

To compare, two days after an earthquake ravaged Haiti last year, American citizens text-messaged more than $5 million in donations to the Red Cross disaster relief effort.  Five days after the quake, the agency had raised more than $92 million for the cause.  And ten days after the disaster in Haiti, Americans gave more than $57 million during a two-hour telethon hosted by George Clooney and MTV.

But no telethon for Japan seems to be on the horizon.

"There has not been a telethon, which is driving me crazy," said Wayne Elsey, CEO of Soles4Souls, a charity he created following the 2004 South Asian tsunami.  Soles4Souls works with celebrities to collect and distribute shoes to people displaced by natural disasters.

"I'm not sure if it's fatigue, or if people don't see the magnitude of the problem, or they have other projects they're working on," Elsey said, "but there needs to be a bigger emphasis on this."

The American Red Cross said it raised $47 million for the Japan earthquake and Pacific tsunami response through Wednesday afternoon, including more than $2.6 million in donations via text messages.  The amount is roughly half what it raised in the same period following the Haiti quake.

And while several other prominent U.S.-based aid groups, including Catholic Relief Services, International Rescue Committee, and World Vision also reported raising hundreds of thousands of dollars each in the past few days, some have decided not to raise money at all.

CARE USA, Oxfam American and Doctors Without Borders all opted not to directly fundraise for the Japanese relief effort, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

"With Haiti there was a lot of guilt about how poor the people were and how much suffering they endured.  But with Japan, it's a rich country, their GDP is similar to ours, and in many ways the needs of their people can be met by the Japanese government and the systems they have in place," said Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, a charity watchdog group.

"The point of charity is to address need.  Japan is not making desperate pleas for aid, and charities aren't going to do rebuilding.  That's going to be government and private insurance.  So people need to balance this with the problems in the rest of the world, even in our own country which has been hit by the recession," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Chartering Flights to Get Americans Out of Japan

VOISHMEL/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The U.S. is sending chartered planes to Japan to take Americans out of the country or relocate them to "safe havens" elsewhere in Asia to escape radiation exposure.

The first flight left Tokyo Thursday, and one or two more are scheduled for Friday.

The U.S. has also sent 14 buses to the tsunami-ravaged city of Sendai to evacuate 600 Americans who have been trapped by destroyed- or debris-clogged roads. They will be put up in Tokyo hotels for the night and be given the option of boarding one of the chartered flights out of the country.

The American chartered flights are part of an exodus of foreigners from Tokyo and other parts of Japan as the nuclear reactor crisis worsens and fears of a meltdown increase.

In addition, Homeland Security is screening some planes, cargo and passengers returning from Japan for possible radiation contamination.

"We have seen no radiation by the way on incoming cargo or passengers that comes close to reaching a harmful level," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday.

Narita International Airport, which serves Tokyo, has been jammed with foreigners for the last two days as they stream out of the country or to cities further south and further away from the crippled reactors in Fukushima.

Temple University in Philadelphia announced it was taking its 200 American students from the school's Tokyo campus out of the country on a chartered flight to Hong Kong.

The State Department issued a travel warning authorizing the voluntary departure for family members and dependents of U.S. government employees in northeast Japan  -- Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokohama. Family members of American military personnel are authorized to board the charter flights.

Despite rising concerns, the first flight out of Narita had about 100 people aboard and was not full.

The State Department said Americans who are not government employees can also get on the flights which will take them to safe havens that at the moment are Seoul, South Korea and Taipei, Taiwan.

Travelers must make their own way home after being taken to the safe haven. They can board the charter flight in Japan without paying, but will be expected to reimburse the government for the cost of the trip at a later date.

Americans are limited to one suitcase and a small carry-on bag, and no pets are allowed, the State Department said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Search Ensues for Missing Americans in Aftermath of Japan Quake

JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images (WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department says it doesn't know exactly how many Americans are missing in Japan, but as many as 1,300 Americans may have been in northern Japan when Friday's quake and tsunami hit.

American teachers, missionaries, students, and businessmen were living in the hardest-hit areas.

Many families here are still receiving word that their loved ones are okay. But for others, waiting for news is agonizing.

"We last had contact with Bethany on Wednesday the ninth -- she was commenting on her Facebook that they had just had a 7.2 earthquake and she was noticing that there were a lot of earthquakes," Julie Davies, who is looking for her daughter in Japan, told ABC News.

Only a month ago, Bethany, 26, moved from Washington State to teach kindergarten in Ishinomaki Station, a village now partially submerged 10 miles north of Sendai.

The Davies are among a number of American families searching for their loved ones by phone and the Internet, using services like Google's people finder, Facebook, and Twitter.

But there is hope.

It took Ken Seagreaves, a teacher from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, three days to finally get word to his parents after losing communication in Sendai.

"A nice guy just lent me his Blackberry for a few seconds and I just typed out a message," said Seagreaves.  "'Hey mom -- in Japan at refugee center safe and sound.'"

"I just screamed," said Judy Seagreaves, Ken's mother. "I don't even know who was in the house with me at the time, I just screamed 'come and look at this.'  I immediately got on the phone and e-mail and Facebook to let everybody know that we at least had an e-mail."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Issues Travel Alert for Japan After Quake

U.S. Department of State(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of State issued a travel alert Friday telling Americans to "avoid tourism and non-essential travel to Japan" after an 8.9-magnitude struck the country.

The agency said that airports in Tokyo have been closed as a result of the quake and that more may be closed or have restricted access.  Means of public transportation have also been closed in Tokyo, as many roads have been wrecked.

The travel alert will stand until April 1.

The department advises U.S. citizens that are currently in Japan to notify their loved ones and confirm their well-being as soon as possible.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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