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Thursday
Mar172011

Government Warns of Severe Flooding Throughout US

Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Get your galoshes ready. Government forecasters said Thursday that almost half the country has an above average risk of flooding in the next few weeks. Warmer temperatures are melting the snow and storms forecast for coming weeks could make it worse with more rain and snow.

The highest spring flood risk?  The Red River between North Dakota and Minnesota, but rivers in Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, parts of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are also facing a high risk of flooding.

Officials say many cities have a greater than 95 percent chance of flooding, including Fargo, North Dakota; St. Paul Minnesota; and Davenport, Mississippi.

According to the National Weather Service, floods are the deadliest weather events, claiming an average of 100 lives a year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar172011

USGS Director : "Shame On Us If We Don't Learn From Their Misfortunes" in Japan

NASA via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The director of the U.S. Geological Survey, Dr. Marcia McNutt, told a House Subcommittee Thursday morning there are a lot of lessons to be learned by scientists and by people in the United States from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

“Shame on us if we don’t learn from their misfortunes” she told the subcommittee. Testifying before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Interior Environment, and Related Agencies, McNutt stressed the importance of Japan’s earthquake early warning system saving “thousands of lives”.

McNutt also pointed to Japan’s earthquake engineering. The engineering of the buildings in Japan helped many of the buildings come thru the magnitude 9.0 earthquake.  McNutt told the subcommittee how the tsunami was the real killer in Japan, killing thousands of lives.  “We are much more fortunate than Japan,” she said, that the U.S. does not have many areas that can be affected by local tsunami hazards.

She also told the subcommittee that the United States continues to be on track to develop an earthquake early warning system for California.  But, USGS officials later explained to ABC News that the reality is the U.S. is way behind Japan in developing an earthquake warning system for California.  The U.S. still has approximately two more years before completing a prototype and the completion may be delayed further with expected cuts in the president’s upcoming 2012 budget.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar172011

EPA Proposes Standards to Cut Power Plant Pollutants

Tom Brakefield/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new standards to reduce mercury and other harmful emissions at power plants across the nation.

The agency announced the proposed guidelines Wednesday in response to a looming court deadline.

Toxic air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants have been shown to cause neurological damage, including a lower IQ, in children exposed in the womb and during early development.

Mercury, arsenic, chromium and nickel also damage the environment and pollute lakes, streams, and fish.  The pollutants lead to premature death, heart disease and asthma.

Certain seafood can be high in mercury.  In such levels, it can be toxic, particularly to pregnant women.  Experts say it can damage an unborn baby or young child's central nervous system and has been linked to heart problems in adults.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar172011

Japan's Nuclear Crisis: US Safe From Radiation, Say Engineers

DigitalGlobe via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As radiation levels continue to rise in Japan while engineers keep struggling with the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, many people in the U.S. are wondering if the danger could spread to American shores.

To those who might worry, nuclear engineers and meteorologists said the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii, is safe.

"These releases from the plant, because they're not elevated, because they're not getting up high in the atmosphere, they won't travel very far," said Kathryn Higley, director of the department of nuclear engineering at Oregon State University.  "There are so many factors in our favor.  Rain will knock it down.  There are 5,000 miles of ocean between us and Japan.  It will be diluted, it will mix with sea spray, long before it gets remotely close to us."

The high-aititude winds over Japan are primarily out of the west, which is good news for Japan in a worst-case scenario if there were a large release of radiation into the air.

And in a worst-case scenario, where radioactive particles would be carried long-distance by upper-level winds, Edward Morse, a nuclear engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, told ABC News in an email that "we will get some fallout on the West Coast two to three days after its release in Japan."  He added that "the levels will not be threatening to life and health but they will be observable."

"If any radiation were to make it here, it would be merely background levels,"said Jere Jenkins, the director of Radiation Laboratories at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.  "Nothing for people on the West Coast or people in the United States to be concerned about."

Higley said she has been spending a lot of time over the last few days urging calm.

"We have monitoring capability here in the U.S. that is extraordinarily sensitive.  We can detect radiation that is like a hundred-thousandth of what you get from a regular X-ray, and we don't expect to see even that."

"For the stuff to travel, it has to be picked up by the wind," she said, "higher-level winds that have global distribution.  And that's just not happening.  This is a little like a campfire -- the smoke is all near the ground."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar172011

Police Search for Missing Florida Police Cadet Kelly Rothwell

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- Police are searching for a Florida police cadet who disappeared after telling a friend she and her boyfriend were having "domestic issues."

Kelly Rothwell, 35, was last seen Saturday when she left a restaurant after meeting her friend, Donna Scharett.  That same weekend, her live-in boyfriend, David Perry, abruptly left for New York.  Perry, 46, is a retired corrections officer.

"He's elected not to discuss anything to do with this case or provide us any background," Pinellas County Detective Michael Bailey told ABC News Affiliate WFTS in Tampa, Florida.

Scharett met Rothwell at a Chili's restaurant Saturday afternoon.  Rothwell, 35, was gushing about training at the Pinellas Police Academy in St. Petersburg, Florida.  She'd recently decided to switch careers from working in human resources with Hilton Hotels to becoming a police officer.

The two women also discussed Rothwell's boyfriend, Perry.

"They had their problems," Scharett, 46, said.  "He was a very controlling person, very domineering and Kelly [Rothwell], up until joining the academy, she was very shy and introverted, very timid."

Neighbors of Rothwell also describe her boyfriend, Perry, as domineering.

"When he was around, she would hardly say anything to anybody," Ken Williamson, a neighbor, said.  "Dave had a personality where he'd be really nice and then turn on you in an instant and come at you like a tiger."

Rothwell and Perry lived above Williamson in a condo near Clearwater, Florida.  The day Rothwell was last seen, Williamson said he and his wife heard loud noises coming from above them in the late hours of Saturday night.

Scharett, the friend that met Rothwell for lunch, called police on Sunday.  Rothwell had made plans to meet friends at a bar the night before and never showed up, an out of character move.

Police found Rothwell's car outside a hotel two miles south of her Indian Rocks Beach home.  Her purse and wallet were not in the car, police said.

The woman's family found out Monday that she was missing from a message the police left on her father's answering machine.

"Initially I was panicked," said Lauren Rothwell, who then called her sister's boyfriend, Perry.

"He of course [said], I don't know what happened to her.  He said she had left to go over to a friends and never made it to a friend's house," Rothwell said.  "I had a feeling that he was behind what was going on.  I hung up."

Police have not identified Perry as a suspect in her disappearance, but they want to talk to him.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar172011

Baseball Manager Loses Eye from Batted Ball

Jeffrey Hamilton/Thinkstock(ORLANDO) -- A minor league manager for baseball's Atlanta Braves lost an eye after being smashed in the face with a batted ball during a spring training game in Florida last week.

In the freak accident, a foul ball line drive hit by Braves catcher Brian McCann struck Luis Salazar as he was standing on the front steps of the dugout.  The force of the impact sent Salazar falling face first onto the ground, knocking him unconscious for 20 minutes.  Once medical teams revived him, he was airlifted to Orlando for further treatment.

Doctors said this week that they were unable to save Salazar's left eye after three surgeries.

Salazar will return to his home in Boca Raton when he is well enough.  The Braves have already said that once he recuperates, perhaps in four-to-six weeks, his job managing the Braves farm team in Lynchburg, Virginia will be waiting for him.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar162011

At UN, US Pushing for Broader Military Authorization Versus Gadhafi 

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Though U.S. officials repeatedly have expressed ambivalence about how well a no-fly zone imposed over Libya might work, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations would vote for a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for one -- and more, officials tell ABC News.

During the eight-hours of the U.N. Security Council meeting Wednesday, the U.S. pushed for amendment after amendment that would broaden the military action authorized against Col. Moammar Gadhafi's forces well beyond just a no-fly zone, sources tell ABC News.

"The U.S. view is that we need to be prepared to contemplate steps that include, but perhaps go beyond, a no-fly zone at this point, as the situation on the ground has evolved and as a no-fly zone has inherent limitations in terms of protection of civilians at immediate risk," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice told reporters Wednesday evening, saying consultations will continue Thursday, when she also hopes for a vote.

Since the U.S. is concerned that a no-fly zone would have limited impact because most of the attacks by Gadhafi's regime against the Libyan people are not by air, the U.S. also is pushing for the resolution to authorize international forces to stop attacks by Gadhafi's forces on its people conducted on land and by sea as well.

This could include, for example, allowing aircraft from the international coalition to bomb Libyan tanks. And the U.S. reportedly is insisting that Arab countries participate in any military action.

Other steps the U.S. wants to include in a resolution would include more sanctions against the Gadhafi regime, further mechanisms to enforce the arms embargo, and a push to allow the U.N. and member states into the country to provide humanitarian aid.

The Arab League endorsed the proposal for a no-fly zone over the weekend.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Wednesday
Mar162011

Admissions Glitch Leaves University of Delaware Applicants Disappointed

University of Delaware(NEWARK, Del.) -- A joyous Friday turned into a blue Monday for dozens of applicants to the University of Delaware who, because of a computer glitch, were inaccurately told they had been accepted to the school.

The mistake affected 61 applicants for undergraduate spots at Delaware, who logged on Friday afternoon to the university's portal, My Blue Hen Home. "I'm grateful that it's not more, but for those 61 kids, it's pretty horrible," said Louis Hirsh, director of admissions for the university, located in Newark, Del. "Parents have been angry, students have been upset and hurt. I'd be angry too."

Hirsh said that the glitch -- which he blamed on "human error" -- occurred Friday afternoon when all acceptance and rejection letters were sent out by regular mail and the online portal went live. "The first page you saw was absolutely correct," he said -- a Web page saying that notifications would arrive by U.S. mail.

But a link for "my invitations" brought students and parents to a page where they could sign up for accepted students' visits -- and there they saw the happy words, "Congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Delaware."

Trouble was, only those 13,000 applicants who really had been accepted -- out of 24,000 who applied -- should have seen that page. Hirsh said "a chunk of computer code" caused the problem, even though his office had tested the portal again and again before it went live.

The college first realized something was wrong when students who had been rejected started signing up for visits. Over the weekend, they contacted the 12 students who had signed up, then on Monday realized that 61 applicants had been misled. Thirty-eight of them were actually rejected, while the rest were put on the school's waiting list.

Unfortunately, Delaware can't honor the false acceptances, said Hirsh, who said he feels terrible. "You get into this line of work because you like students," he said, adding that most families have been understanding.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Wednesday
Mar162011

Raymond Clark III, on Trial in Yale Murder Case, Will Accept Plea Bargain

Christopher Capozziello/Getty Imag(NEW HAVEN) -- Attorneys for Raymond Clark III, an animal research assistant charged with the murder of Yale University graduate student Annie Le, have indicated their client will accept a plea deal on Thursday and plead guilty in the case.

Connecticut attorney Joseph Lopez, one of two public defenders representing Clark, said he isn't able to reveal "the nature of the plea bargain," but he said "there will be a change of plea entered tomorrow" as part of the agreement.

Clark, 26, is charged with strangling the 24-year-old Le just days before her wedding in September 2009.

Clark entered an initial plea of not guilty in January. He has been held on $3 million bail in New Haven, Conn., ever since.

Kevin Eckery, a spokesman for Annie Le's family said, "The family is grateful for the support they've received from the community and from law enforcement..."

"They are aware of the possible guilty plea, but want to withhold comment until it is officially announced by the court. They are also conscious of the sad fact that no plea and no sentence will bring Annie back," Eckery said.

Le's body was discovered four days after she went missing -- on the day of her intended wedding. It was stuffed in a wall at a Yale research laboratory where she conducted research on mice. Clark regularly tended to the animals in the same lab.

A spokesman for Yale University, Michael Morand, said the school had no comment about the potential guilty plea, but they are following developments.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar162011

Planting Season: Michelle Obama Gets the White House Garden Ready for Spring

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- With spring approaching, first lady Michelle Obama replanted the White House garden for the third time Wednesday afternoon.  Along with elementary students from local D.C. schools, Mrs. Obama planted cauliflower, spinach, peas and broccoli among other vegetables at the South Lawn garden.

“This is the planting season for the White House Garden," Mrs. Obama exclaimed. “There’s no way we would get this done without your help.”

One of the students was particularly excited to plants some beets.

“Uh-oh,” Mrs. Obama said. “The President doesn’t like beets.  But it’s okay.  We’re an equal opportunity garden."

The 1,500 square-foot garden has produced more than 2,000 pounds of fruit and vegetables, the White House touts, over the first two years of its existence. Many of those vegetables harvested from the garden contribute to meals that guests eat at the White House, as well as on the plates of the Obama family’s nightly dinners. The rest of the garden harvest goes to charity, the first lady’s office says.

Mrs. Obama says she hopes that once the garden is harvested the kids will try new vegetables, like leeks and Swiss chard growing in the garden. The White House kitchen garden is a part of Mrs. Obama’s "Let’s Move!" campaign to combat childhood obesity.

“It’s not just about planting good vegetables; it’s about passing the information on,” Mrs. Obama said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio