Entries in July 4th (7)


Extreme Heat: Parts of US Brace for July 4th Scorcher

Burke/Triolo Productions/Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- This Fourth of July could very well be the hottest Independence Day ever for many parts of the country.

And if you thought it felt warmer out there Tuesday, there's good reason. Humidity levels were high across the country; combine that with high temperatures and you get the heat index -- what it actually feels like outside -- hitting 100 degrees and above across much of the nation.

In parts of West Virginia, folks found themselves desperate for ice and water. In parts of Illinois, there were long lines to buy generators. And in Wisconsin this weekend, the oven-like heat caused the pavement to expand and the road to buckle -- creating a ramp that actually launched an SUV into midair.

Across much of the country again Tuesday, temperatures pushed well into and past the 90s. It was 101 degrees in Raleigh, N.C. In St. Louis, temperatures reached 100 degrees. The cities of Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit, Memphis, Tenn., and Kansas City, Mo., are on track to have their hottest Fourth of Julys ever.

And the extreme heat is making the extreme drought even worse. Last year at this time one-third of the nation was experiencing drought. This year, three-quarters of the country is parched, conditions that are playing a major role in the epic wildfires out west.

Back east, more than one million homes in seven states were still without power Tuesday night – the region, still reeling from last weekend's violent storms. Many of those without power could remain in the dark for the rest of this week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fourth of July Fireworks Spark Wildfire Fears

John White Photos/Flickr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In Colorado Springs, Colo., entire neighborhoods have been reduced to apocalyptic landscapes in the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history.  About 350 homes have been destroyed, but many more have been saved, thanks to crews battling the flames.

“They were eating smoke and fire, enduring so much brutal heat, but they saved this neighborhood,” said Steve Schoepper, a Colorado Springs firefighter.

Firefighters were on the ground again Tuesday and were getting help from the air. The massive C-130s have rejoined the fire fight after one that was battling a blaze in South Dakota crashed on Sunday, killing four.

Now the fear of new fires has led to communities in at least 20 states banning fireworks displays this July 4 because of tinder-dry conditions.

Indiana is one of the states where police will be watching the skies.

“It’s pretty much going to be a cat and mouse game, especially once the word get out that it could be a $2,500 fine or a B misdemeanor,” said Zachary Dalton of the Beech Grove Police Department.

One study found fireworks caused more than 15,500 blazes and $36 million in property damage in 2010. Firefighters say leaving the fireworks to the professionals is the best way to insure the only “bombs bursting” really are in air.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


July 4th: Despite No Specific Threats, Officials Stepping Up Security

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you're headed to a major Fourth of July celebration on Wednesday, you can expect to see more police and security officials milling around.

While officials say no specific threats or terror plots have been discovered, they are stepping up security over concerns about so-called "lone wolves" and ongoing concern about al Qaeda -- specifically al Qaeda in Yemen.  There's concern that the group has been focused on recruiting people of different ethnic backgrounds.  

ABC News confirmed a report out of Europe last week that a man of Norwegian descent was recruited, and is thought to be operating out of Yemen.  ABC News also learned last week that the U.S. government had charged a man of Vietnamese descent with planning and plotting with al Qaeda in Yemen.

As a result, Americans can expect to see a lot of law enforcement officials in major cities on Independence Day.  There will be undercover cops, radiation detectors will be out, and authorities will also have eyes in the sky.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Shark Sighting Off San Diego Coast Closes Beach

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- It was a scene out of the movie Jaws Monday  as beach-goers spotted a 14-foot great white shark about 50 yards off the San Diego coast, prompting the  popular swimming beach  to close.

San Diego Lifeguard Lt. Greg Buchanan told ABC News the shark was seen Monday around 3 p.m. by eight onlookers, who noticed a dorsal fin poking above the water’s surface.

“We immediately closed the beach and searched throughout the night through sunset for the shark, but saw nothing else,” Buchanan said.

No further sightings of the great white shark had been reported as of Tuesday morning, he said.

Buchanan said sharks were common in the area, and that swimmers should always be cautious while in the water.

The La Jolla Shores in San Diego has since reopened to swimmers and surfers in time for the Fourth of July holiday.

Large crowds are expected to visit the beach for the holiday Wednesday, but Buchanan said that it would be “business as usual.”

“We always increase our lifeguards by 25 percent for the holiday itself,” he said. “Due to the activity and the crowds, basically we will try to be there and ready to deploy with any speed if there’s another sighting.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fourth of July Honors for Widow, Infant Son in Holiday Parade

Comstock(LEWISBURG, Tenn.) -- While most Fourth of July parades opt for a celebrity grand marshal, in Lewisburg, Tenn., parade chairman Jamie Bone wanted his grand marshal to be someone different, "someone who has truly made a difference in the world."

So he called 22-year-old Crissie Carpenter, who became a widow and a single mother in February when her husband, a Marine, was shot in Afghanistan.

"At first I was unsure if I wanted to do it," Carpenter said. After thinking it over for a couple of days, she decided, "It's an honor for me to do it for Andy."

On Valentine's Day, Crissie received word that her husband, a lance corporal, had been shot in the neck while serving in Helmand Province, put on a ventilator and transported to Germany.

Just five days later, Crissie Carpenter was overwhelmed with a difficult decision: "I had to say it's O.K. to turn off the ventilator," she said.

Andrew Carpenter, age 27, died Feb. 19, and three weeks later his wife gave birth to a boy, Landon -- a name they had picked together.

Bone said more local organizations and businesses have joined the Lewisburg parade this year because of Crissie Carpenter.

"We've had a tremendous response," he said. "We're expecting this to be the largest parade we've ever had."

It's a bright note for Lewisburg, a small town that's less than an hour from Nashville. Like many towns in America, it's been struggling with high rates of unemployment.

During the procession Carpenter will ride with her son in a horse-drawn wagon followed by another wagon with the parade's honorary grand marshals: the families of three Lewisburg veterans who died in recent years.

Landon, Crissie's son, will be wearing a onesie that says, 'My Daddy Died for Our Freedom' and she, along with her family, will wear T-shirts with Andrew's name on it.

Although Carpenter says she is still angry about what happened to her husband, she wants her son to grow up knowing his dad was a hero. "In the sense that everybody is there for me, it does feel good," she said. "I hope Landon will one day be able to look back at it … to see that everyone came together … I would think he would be very thankful for what they did for me."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cities on High Alert as July Fourth Nears: 'Threat Is Very Real'

COmstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Although no specific plot has been identified, revelers this Fourth of July can expect extraordinary security -- from expanded patrols and SWAT units to biological weapon response teams and undercover officers mingling with celebratory crowds.

"It's absolutely not a joke," said New York police Sgt. Thomas Horvath, who took ABC News on patrol around New York City's waterways. "The threat is very real. On the day of the [July 4] event, we're going to put out basically every asset we have."

And those assets will likely include a boat designed for the NYPD that detects radiation from a nuclear bomb or radiological "dirty" bomb.

Its sophisticated equipment monitors all radiation readings in the area. Any suspicious readings can be instantly sent to the Brookhaven laboratory in Washington D.C. for analysis by nuclear physicists. There are only two such boats in the world.

This year, police are especially concerned because evidence from Osama bin Laden's compound revealed that he wanted to kill Americans on July Fourth or by the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.

"We all know that the Fourth of July is a signature holiday," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Friday. "Some of our enemies abroad would like to exploit that."

With tourism season going full tilt and this week's attack on a hotel in Afghanistan, police are boosting patrols in hotels too.

"I have deployed officers at a number of hotel locations around the city," New York Police Department Chief Ray Kelly said. "We are on alert. No question about it."

Kelly told ABC News that he'd been preparing for an attack similar to the one in Afghanistan and in Mumbai, India, where terrorists assaulted hotels for hours with small arms and weapons.

The U.S. Park Police will be on the case over the holiday weekend, too, said Teresa Chambers, chief of the U.S. Park Police, which oversees security on the National Mall.

The Park Police and FBI will have extra units and patrols on alert. Backpacks and coolers will be checked as people go through them looking for contraband, alcohol, fireworks and weapons.

"Within the United States Park Police, every tactical aspect that we have available and every uniformed person will be working," Chambers said. "What's important is what you won't see -- plainclothes officers, enhanced technology, a coordinated regional effort. It's the best security plan I've ever seen."

The FBI will be operating its command center at the FBI Washington field office, and the FBI's National Capital Response Squad, with units trained in crisis response, will be on the watch during the holiday weekend.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FBI and DHS Urge Vigilance as July 4 Holiday Approaches

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have issued their annual summer holiday "Security Awareness" Bulletin, a six-page document that notes that just last year al Qaeda had identified the July Fourth weekend as ideal for an attack, and urges vigilance, but stresses there is no "specific or credible information" that al Qaeda or its affiliates have any plans to disrupt Independence Day.

"As of February 2010, al Qaeda was contemplating large attacks in the homeland on symbolic dates and specifically identified U.S. Independence Day as a key date," the bulletin says.

"We currently have no specific credible information that any plotting targeting the homeland was developed based on this reporting and are uncertain how widely al Qaeda's interest in timing attacks for symbolic dates has been shared or accepted within the group or among its affiliates and allies," the bulletin says.

This year's bulletin comes two months after Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. While officials have no specific attack plan information, they assume that the death of bin Laden could lead lone wolves to try to increase the symbolic effect of attacks by linking them to "important U.S. holiday, including during the summer holiday season."

The report also notes that large gatherings, such as the hundreds of thousands who congregate to enjoy New York City's annual fireworks display, make "especially attractive targets during the holiday season."

"Such targets offer the opportunity to inflict mass casualties, with the added objectives of causing economic and psychological damage on the United States," the bulletin says.

But the report notes that while symbolic dates such as the Fourth of July figure in al Qaeda's aspirations, the main driver behind past attacks has overwhelmingly been operational readiness.

The report also notes that there is plenty of evidence of the terrorist aspiration to succeed in a high-profile attack inside the United States, regardless of whether it occurs on a holiday.

"Previous examples of this desire include the May 2010 attempted detonation of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in Times Square, the guilty plea in February 2010 to an al Qaeda plot to attack the New York City subway using improvised explosive devices, and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's inclusion of photos of and references to major U.S. cities in their Inspire magazine," the report says.

The intent of the bulletin -- which covers the season from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day -- is to encourage awareness from public and private sector partners in the security and counterterrorism sectors.

"We continue to operate under the premise that terrorists and lone offenders not yet identified by the Intelligence Community and law enforcement may be operating in the United States and could advance and execute attacks with little or no warning," the bulletin says. "We urge federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners to maintain increased vigilance for indications of preoperational and suspicious activity and to be aware that holidays or major events could influence the timing of any attacks."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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