Entries in United States (48)


US Families Waste 20 Pounds of Food Each Month, Study Claims

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- On average, families in the United States throw away 20 pounds of food each month, an amount worth approximately $2,000 annually for a family of four.

John Floros, the dean of the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University, found in a new study that in the United States, nearly four out of every 10 pounds of food produced annually is tossed in the trash. That figure includes food thrown away by members of households, restaurants, supermarkets, and other food-service providers.

Floros, who presented his study at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans, included uneaten and spoiled food, as well as food thrown away after being prepared.

According to scientists, food decomposition releases methane gas into the air. Methane gas is a significantly more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and fosters global warming.

Floros' study comes to the conclusion that a reduction in food waste could solve global challenges by "providing more food to a growing population, reducing greenhouse gases, and reducing the amount of freshwater needed to grow crops."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Drug Smugglers Shoot Drugs Across US/Mexico Border with Cannon

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(YUMA, Ariz.) -- Drug smugglers continue to show creativity in inventing new ways of getting drugs across the U.S. border from Mexico.

Border Patrol agents say they believe a pneumatic cannon was used to launch dozens of containers of marijuana over the border and 500 feet into Arizona on Friday.  Eighty-five pounds of marijuana -- tucked into soup cans and then inserted into larger sealed containers -- were found in a field near the Colorado River in San Luis, Ariz.

After searching the surrounding area, agents spotted the carbon dioxide tank used to power the cannon that propelled the containers into U.S. territory.  The smugglers launched the drug-filled projectiles from a position in a brushy area immediately south of the border fence.  According to authorities, an accomplice was probably supposed to collect the containers but did not show up in time.

The contraband was discovered by a concerned citizen in a plowed field just northwest of San Luis before the U.S counterpart could collect it.  After the Border Patrol was notified and searched the field, Mexican authorities also inspected their side of the border, but no arrests have been made.

"Because of our progress in targeting and obstructing movement, they can no longer just walk across the border," Linwood Estes, a Border Patrol Agent in Yuma, Ariz., told ABC News.  "The more and more successful we are, the more and more unique they become in trying to get the drugs across."

Around two pounds of marijuana were packed into each soup can.  The contraband had an estimated value of $42,500 and is scheduled for destruction.

While this specific technique is new to the Yuma area, Mexican pot smugglers have a track record of innovative tactics to sneak their drugs across the border.

In October, two creative bandits attempted to drive a car over the border fence by using a makeshift ramp just 20 miles west of Yuma.  When the SUV became stuck on the fence, the men fled the scene before Border Patrol officers arrived.

In 2011, National Guard surveillance video caught drug smugglers using a medieval-style catapult to launch bales of marijuana across the border near Naco, Ariz.  Mexican officials recovered the catapult after it was abandoned, and said the device was capable of launching packages weighing two kilograms.

Underground tunnels and ultra light aircraft have also been used in the past year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


A US Blackout as Large as India’s? ‘Very Unlikely’

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As India recovers from a blackout that left the world’s second-largest country -- and more than 600 million residents -- in the dark, a ripple of uncertainty moved through the Federal Regulatory Commission’s command center today in the U.S. The Indian crisis had some people asking about the vulnerability of America’s grid.

“What people really want to know today is, can something like India happen here? So if there is an outage or some problem in the Northeast, can it actually spread all the way to California,” John Wellinghoff, the commission’s chairman, told ABC News. “It’s very, very unlikely that ultimately would happen.”

Wellinghoff said that first, the grid was divided in the middle of the nation. Engineers said that it also was monitored more closely than ever. The grid is checked for line surges 30 times a second.

Since the Northeast blackout in 2003 -- the largest in the U.S., which affected 55 million --16,000 miles of new transmission lines have been added to the grid.

And even though some lines in the Northeast are more than 70 years old, Wellinghoff said that the chances of a blackout like India’s were very low.

“Yes, we have old infrastructure in many places but we are upgrading that infrastructure,” he said. “I think we’ll be moving toward a much more modern grid and we’re doing that as rapidly as possible.”

Richard Clarke, a former national security adviser and ABC News consultant, however, said that today’s biggest domestic terrorism fear was a cyberattack on the grid.

“The U.S. power grid is extremely vulnerable to cyberattack,” Clarke said. “The government is aware of that. Recently the government held a White House level cyber-exercise in which the scenario was a cyberterrorist attack that took down the power grid.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Severe Weather Pounds Across the US; Thousands Without Power

Jason A. Camhi/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Thousands remain without power Friday morning after powerful thunderstorms thrashed through long stretches of the U.S.  Hail, heavy rain and winds up to 70 mph pounded cities from Dallas to Boston, claiming at least two lives and injuring four others.

Lots of wind damage has also been reported from the severe thunderstorms that raked the east coast Thursday night.  

Corey Meade at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center says there is more bad weather to come over Kentucky and West Virginia as well as portions of Oklahoma and Arkansas.

"There are still storms ongoing from central Kentucky, northeastward into West Virginia and there's another area of thunderstorms ongoing over portions Oklahoma and western Arkansas," he said, adding, "There might be isolated severe weather, gusty winds.  Otherwise, it looks like the primary hazard with the storms ongoing will just be pockets of heavy rainfall."

A tornado that reportedly touched down in Elmira, N.Y., Thursday afternoon took off roofs, downed trees and cut power lines.

"We have over 16,000 customers in the area that do not have power," Karen Miner, spokesperson for Chemung County, said earlier Thursday.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Thursday for Chemung County to allow the state to help those communities that were hit hardest by the severe weather.

As of 8 p.m. EST, utility companies reported that more than 20,000 customers were without power in the surrounding Elmira area.  More than 90,000 customers in New York state, alone, were without power.

Tornado watches were issued Thursday evening in five states in the Northeast, including New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.  Flash flood warnings were also issued in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, the weather service says.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What's the Worst-Dressed City in America?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Alaska is known for its panoramic views, diverse wildlife and stunning mountaintops peaked with snow.  What it takes to stay warm and safe among those wild animals and frigid temperatures, however, has earned the residents of the state's most populous city a dubious distinction.

Anchorage, Alaska, has been rated America's least stylish city.  The flannel shirts, heavy parkas and furry ear covers common in the far north city were too much for the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine who participated in the magazine's annual online poll ranking U.S. cities.

Poll participants were asked to rate 35 cities on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest.  The total scores were then averaged and rounded to the nearest hundredth.  In the " Stylish" category, Anchorage scored dead last among non-residents with a score of 3.06.

"It's not uncommon to see oversized parkas with fur-lined hoods and bunny boots, and people aren't alarmed when a person wearing a ski mask enters a room," Dr. Miriam Jones, a paleoclimatologist who spent two years studying in Alaska, told the magazine.

Ranking not far behind Anchorage in the magazine's fashion "no" list is another city with a cold climate, Salt Lake City, Utah, followed by a more moderate climate locale, Baltimore, Md., whose residents may not have anyone or anything to blame but themselves for their ranking.

Rounding out the top six on the least-stylish list are Orlando, Fla., where residents can blame the tourists that invade their city dressed for Mickey Mouse and not the runway, and the Texan cities of San Antonio and Dallas, proving that everything is bigger in Texas, even bad fashion.

Taking a bad rap for the way they are portrayed on TV are the citizens of Atlanta who were deemed the nation's seventh-least-stylish citizens thanks to a certain quintet of as-seen-on-TV stars.

"If the flashy reality-TV stars of The Real Housewives of Atlanta are at all indicative of how the rest of Atlanta dresses, it's no wonder our readers ranked it as America's No. 7 least-stylish city," Travel + Leisure writes on its website. "Hotlanta has one of the highest per-capita incomes of any southern city, but as the TV show illustrates and the saying goes: money can't buy taste."

On the other end, the best-dressed cities list stretches from coast to coast and north to south, and includes even a city surrounded by water.

New York City ranked number one with a near-perfect score of 4.56, followed by San Juan, Puerto Rico, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Representing the South in a surprisingly high finish is the city of Savannah with a score of 4.32 from the magazine's readers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Report: Fewer Mexicans Coming to US, More Returning Home

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A report by the Pew Hispanic Center reveals that the influx of Mexicans into the U.S. that began during the 1970s has slowed down to a trickle over the past five years for various reasons, including the American economic downturn and tougher enforcement of the border.

There are currently 11.2 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S., the majority of them Mexican.  In 2007, it was estimated that seven million Mexicans were undocumented aliens.  Last year, that number fell to 6.1 million.

Mexicans living in the U.S. legally has only climbed slightly from 5.6 million in 2007 to 5.8 million last year.

According to the report, "The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill."


It's estimated that 1.4 million Mexicans went back to their home country from 2005 through 2010 -- twice as many as a decade earlier -- while around the same number came to the U.S during that time span -- half as many as the previous decade.

Other reasons for the drop in Mexicans coming to the U.S. are declining birthrates and the Obama administration's stepped up deportation policies, which have come under attack by immigration advocates but might convince Republicans to work on a broad immigration overhaul plan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Poll: Concern About Broader War Dampens Support for Iran Attack

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Broad concern about wider war in the Middle East is dampening public support for U.S. or Israeli military strikes against Iran’s nuclear development sites, with Americans by wide margins preferring diplomatic efforts or economic deterrence instead.

Eighty-four percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll suspect that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, basically unchanged since late 2009. As then, the preferred approaches are direct diplomatic talks between the U.S. and Iran, backed by 81 percent, and an increase in international economic sanctions, supported by three-quarters.

Many fewer, 41 percent, support a U.S. bombing effort, with 53 percent opposed, again similar to 2009. Support for Israeli strikes is virtually identical, with 42 percent in favor and 51 percent opposed. Israel has threatened such strikes; President Obama, while not ruling out military action, has urged allowing more time for sanctions to work, a position criticized by some of his Republican opponents.

RISK OF WAR -- Reluctance to support airstrikes stems mostly from a broad concern that they could trigger a larger war in the Middle East. Nearly nine out of 10 in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, see a risk of broader war if Israel were to bomb Iran; three-quarters call it a “major” risk.

Among those who perceive a major risk of war, just 32 percent support Israeli strikes against Iranian nuclear sites, and 35 percent back U.S. bombing efforts. Those who perceive little or no risk of sparking a regional war are far more supportive of airstrikes -- 76 percent support action by Israel, 64 percent by the United States.

WAIT AND SEE? -- More than twice as many Americans say it’s a better idea to wait and see if economic sanctions against Iran work -- even if this allows more time for its nuclear program to progress (64 percent) -- than to attack Iran soon, before its nuclear program progresses further than it already has, even if that means not waiting to see if sanctions work (26 percent).

The “wait-and-see” approach is particularly popular among those who perceive a major risk of wider war. Nearly seven in 10 in this group think the U.S. should pursue sanctions first. Among those who see no risk of war, many fewer, 47 percent, agree.

GROUPS -- Preferred approaches to Iran vary as expected by political preference. Fifty-five percent of Republicans support U.S. bombing strikes, compared with 36 percent of Democrats and independents combined. Similarly, support ranges from 55 percent among conservatives to 38 percent of moderates and a quarter of liberals.

Support for U.S. airstrikes also is 10 points lower among women than men (36 percent vs. 46 percent); women customarily express lower support for military action. It’s also 13 points lower among college graduates than among non-graduates, 32 percent vs. 45 percent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


More Hate Groups Are Popping Up in US, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- Hate is up in America.

A new study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which follows the activities of hate groups, finds that over 1,018 of these organizations were in operation last year, representing people who have biases towards minorities, gays, religions and other characteristics they have contempt for.  That’s a dramatic increase from 2000 when 620 of these group were counted by the center.

Furthermore, there’s been an explosion of militias and so-called patriot groups, from 824 in 2010 to 1,274 in 2011.

Study author Mark Potok told The New York Times, “They represent both a kind of right-wing populist rage and a left-wing populist rage that has gotten all mixed up in anger toward the government.”

Much of the anger on the right is directed at President Obama, his perceived favoritism for minorities and the notion that he wants to take guns away from Americans.

Meanwhile, Occupy Wall Street, which popped up in cities all over the U.S. last year, was not listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center because it’s not considered extremist.  On the other hand, the Georgia Militia was upgraded from a "patriot" group to a hate group for an alleged plot to blow up government buildings.

According to the study, hate groups have turned out be most active in California, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and New York.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


America’s Top-10 Trashiest Spring Break Destinations

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If trashy is what your heart desires in a vacation, has got you covered.

The site, a lifestyle and entertainment destination for college guys, has just released its America’s “Top 10 Trashiest Spring Break Destinations” list.

Neal Lynch, the site’s editor-in-chief, told ABC News, “Typically, people associate 'trashy' with things of poor quality; however, we associated the word with enjoying guilty pleasures. Like reality television -- but in real life, where you can have the most amount of fun with the least amount of money.”

Lynch cautions that a fatter wallet may be necessary to enjoy the full experience at the number-one destination on his list.

Here it is, starting with number 10.

10.  San Diego.  ”We know that most of the people who live in the San Diego area head to other destinations for Spring Break,” Coed writes, “but that just means the people left partying here are extra trashy.”

9. Lake Havasu,  Ariz. According to the list, Kokomo Havasu and Martini Bay are two of the rowdier destinations.

8. Fort Myers, Fla. Lana Kai is where it’s at if you’re interested in checking out the daily “booty contest” during high season.

7. Panama City Beach, Fla.  Coed says the cast of Jersey Shore was among last year’s celebrity visitors. Enough said.

6. Miami Beach. The Jersey Shore cast factors in again as part of the trash factor. They taped a season here.

5. Myrtle Beach, S.C. Coed makes a distinction between North and South Myrtle Beach and advises that if it is trashiness you’re after, South Myrtle Beach is where you want to be.

4. Daytona, Fla. This city’s high number of underage-drinking arrests helped win it a spot on Coed’s list.

3. South Padre Island, Texas. Coed poses the question, “How can it get any trashier than South Padre, a beach that essentially exists for the sole purpose of having wild parties?”

2. Key West, Fla. Garden of Eden, a clothing-optional bar, is a Key West hot spot the magazine suggests visiting.

1. Las Vegas.  Last year MTV took over the Palms Casino Resort during spring break, according to Coed. And, after all, “anything involving MTV Spring Break is bound to bring out the trash in anyone.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan's Tsunami Debris to Hit US Sooner Than Expected

Sankei via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The devastating tsunami that hit Japan in March created lasting images of houses, boats, cars and entire neighborhoods pulled out to sea. It also caused a massive sea of debris -- up to 20 million tons of it, all of it potentially toxic -- in an area estimated to be twice the size of Texas.

Now, seven months later, that floating debris is on a direct collision course with the Pacific Coast of the United States -- and it might be coming sooner than expected.

“Across the wide Pacific, the drift rate is about five to 10 miles per day,” oceanographer Curt Ebbesmeyer told ABC News.

Early computer models predicted that the debris would not hit the United States for two to three years.  But a Russian training ship, the STS Pallada, following a map of the computer models, hit an extended field of debris in mid-Pacific, close to Midway Island, a U.S. territory about 1,700 miles from Hawaii.

The ship’s encounter with the 1,000-mile-long mass of tsunami debris came in September -- 300 miles ahead of schedule, and nearly 2,000 miles from the site of the tsunami in Japan.

The ship’s crew found a battered, 20-foot fishing boat marked “Fukushima,” the same spot in Japan that was ground zero for the tsunami.

The Pallada’s crew sailed through the debris, surrounded by everything from appliances and televisions to furniture, all of it now headed straight for Hawaii.

The first of it is expected to hit Midway Atoll this winter, then Hawaii in early 2013, and the U.S. West Coast -- mainly Washington and Oregon -- in early 2014.

Experts now estimate that lighter objects will wash ashore Midway’s beaches this winter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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