SEARCH

Monday
Apr042011

Scheduling Conflict Pushes Shuttle Launch to Royal Wedding Date

BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, have never met Prince William and his bride, Kate Middleton, but they may well meet in the headlines on April 29. A delay by NASA means the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, commanded by Capt. Kelly, is now scheduled for the same day as the royal wedding.

NASA realized over the weekend that it faced a traffic jam, even in the void of space 200 miles above the Earth's surface. The shuttle launch -- already pushed back from February -- had been set for April 19, but NASA managers decided after a Sunday meeting not to try.

On April 27, the Russians are scheduled to launch a Progress supply ship to the space station, and on Sunday they told their American counterparts they could not delay it. Some of its cargo is perishable.

If Endeavour had tried to launch on the 19th, and delayed just a few days, it might still have been docked to the station when the Russian Progress ship arrived. NASA has rules about having a remote-controlled cargo ship dock with the station while a space shuttle is also there, so rather than press their luck, they decided to wait 10 days.

For anyone following both events, there will be breathing room between them. The wedding ceremony begins at 11 a.m. London time (6 a.m. in Florida), and the launch is scheduled for 3:47 p.m. EDT (8:47 p.m. London time).

Of course, the shuttle launch is getting extra attention because Kelly almost had to give up his chance to fly because of the injuries to his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who suffered a brain injury in the January shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Kelly decided, after several weeks of uncertainty, that she was recovering well enough that he could command the mission.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr042011

Spy Files: Nazi Plot in US Blown by Drunken Blabbing, Idiocy

Photos[dot]com/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Newly released spy documents reveal that in the midst of World War Two, a small group of Nazi spies embarked on an ambitious plan to unleash a campaign of terror and sabotage on the United States from within its borders but failed miserably due to drunkenness, incompetence and a turncoat team leader.

The declassified MI5 files, released Monday by the British National Archives, detail the comical failing of the well-known June 1942 German plot to land eight Nazi operatives on U.S. shores -- four along the Florida coast and four others on New York's Long Island -- where they were to begin sabotaging U.S. factories, canals and railways and execute "small acts of terrorism" aimed at Jewish-owned shops. The spies had been trained in explosives at a special "Sabotage School."

The teams, the report notes, were "better equipped with sabotage apparatus and better trained than any other expeditions of which the Security Service has heard."

However, the plan, called Pastorius after an early German settler in colonial America, began to fall apart before the operatives even made the trip across the Atlantic. The documents show that while in Paris -- which at the time was occupied by the German military -- one of the spies got drunk at a hotel bar and "told everyone that he was a secret agent."

German intelligence believed the loose-lipped admission may "have contributed to the failure of the undertaking," the report said.

Once they made the crossing, the operatives' luck did not get much better. One team, which had been dropped off on Long Island still wearing their Germany military uniforms after the submarine that delivered them accidentally ran aground, was almost immediately caught by an unidentified U.S. military official. The Germans had just managed to change into their civilian clothes when the officer approached and offered him $300 to simply leave.

The stranded submarine itself was only saved from attack by the U.S. by what the report called the "laziness or stupidity" of American forces.

The Florida team made it to shore where they emerged from the sea wearing only bathing trunks and "army forage caps."

Both teams were eventually arrested after the team leader, George John Dasch, called up the FBI from a New York hotel "saying that he was a saboteur and wished to tell his story to [FBI chief J. Edgar] Hoover." His request was refused, but Dasch did come to an FBI building where he told the whole story -- a confession that took five 10-hour days.

One of the men in the Florida team "assisted authorities in causing his own arrest by going into an FBI office when 'Wanted' notices were already out for him, pretending that he had just arrived from Mexico and wanted to clear up his military service papers," the report said.

The MI5 author of the report said it was possible Dasch had planned his surrender as soon as he was given the assignment in Germany and used the operation as his personal escape route from Germany. Each saboteur was caught and sentenced to death, except for Dasch and another operative who had turned on the team were excused and later deported back to Germany.

The report notes that a third sabotage team was believed to have arrived in the U.S. around the same time as the first two and was "still at large." British intelligence expected still more teams to follow.

But according to the FBI historians, "So shaken was the German intelligence service that no similar sabotage attempt was every again made."

Other MI5 files released Monday document what is referred to as Germany's plans to create post-war "world disorder" through acts of terrorism in order to create chaos in which the "Fourth Reich would re-emerge."

The plan, as told by a captured French Nazi spy who attended an SS conference in the last weeks of the war, was to use sabotage, assassinations and chemical warfare to continue the Nazi's fight long after the war had officially ended.

Other files show German intelligence training concerning a coordinated plan to poison food, chocolate, alcoholic drinks and even cigarettes in post-war Europe. Poison was to be injected into sausages and cakes and bread were to be laced with arsenic. The Nazis had also apparently developed brown pellets that, when placed in ashtrays, exploded with the heat from a cigarette or cigar, "killing anyone nearby," according to the National Archives.

"Nowadays it's easy to regard such schemes as impossibly far fetched," said former MI5 historian Christopher Andrew in a National Archives Podcast, "but at the time it was reasonable to believe that after the Allied victory there would remain a dangerous post-war Nazi underground which would continue a secret war."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr042011

Supreme Court Upholds Tax Credits for Donations to Religious Non-Profits

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A sharply divided Supreme Court on Monday found that Arizona taxpayers do not have the legal right to challenge a state law that allows residents to receive tax credits for contributions to non-profit organizations . The law allows those non-profit organizations to use the funds to give scholarships to children who want to attend private schools.

The taxpayers had challenged the law arguing that in practice the non-profit groups only provided aid to students attending religious schools in violation of the Constitution. The Establishment Clause of the Constitution prohibits government actions from favoring one religion over another.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by the four conservative justices, said that taxpayers only have the so-called "legal standing" to bring such a suit if it involves a government expenditure, not a tax credit.

The Arizona legislature passed the law in 1997 to encourage greater educational choice for disadvantaged elementary school children. Any taxpayer can participate, but parents are forbidden from earmarking a donation for their child.

Because the court found that the taxpayers could not bring the suit, it did not reach a decision on whether the law itself is constitutional.

Monday’s decision will narrow the ability for taxpayers in general to challenge alleged Establishment Clause violations. A number of other states have programs like Arizona.

"This is a big deal because it permits the government to aid religious causes through the tax credit device without fear of any litigation that might disturb the government policy," says Ira. C. Lupu, an expert on church and state issues at George Washington Law School.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr042011

Live Eagle Cam Draws Internet's Attention

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision(DECORAH, Iowa) -- For millions of people, a live video stream showing the inside of an eagle's nest has become an online obsession, with two cameras documenting every moment of the birds' activity, 24 hours a day.

Over 11 million people have clicked on the live feed of an eagle family in Decorah, Iowa, waiting for three little eaglets to hatch in front of the cameras as the mother and father watch carefully over their new brood.

The live stream is operated by the Raptor Resource Project, an Iowa-based non-profit dedicated to preserving birds of prey. The Decorah eagles built their nest in 2007, and the organization rigged up cameras last fall.

So far, two of three eggs have hatched, with the third eaglet expected to peck its way from its shell within days. The two fluffy gray chicks can be seen and heard chirping on the feed, craning their necks for food as their parents try to keep them warm. The eggs were laid at the end of February.

The enormous nest, over five feet wide, is perched high atop a cottonwood tree near the Decorah Fish Hatchery. Two cameras are attached to the tree's limbs a few feet above the nest, equipped with infrared nightvision and the ability to pan and zoom to capture every detail, including the bloody food that the parents bring back to the nest.

According to the Raptor Resource Project, the eagle pair have been together for several years and have now successfully hatched eaglets for the last four years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr042011

Confessed 9/11 Mastermind to Be Tried At Gitmo

FBI/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a sharp reversal of the Obama administration's policy on trying Sept. 11 suspects in U.S. courts, mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators will be tried in a military commission at Guantanamo Bay.

Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday placed the blame squarely on Congress for creating conditions where the Department of Justice cannot try them in a federal court, saying their decision would gravely impact U.S. national security and counterterrorism efforts.

They "tied our hands in a way that could have serious ramifications," he said Monday. "In reality, I know this case in a way that members of Congress do not. Do I know better than them? Yes."

Mohammed was to have been tried in New York City, but city officials strongly objected to the move and Congress refused to appropriate funds to house Guantanamo inmates on mainland United States and to provide funds for a trial of extraordinary expense.

Holder said he stands by his decision to try the terror suspects in U.S. federal courts, but was forced to resume the military commission because realistically, "those restrictions are unlikely to be overturned in the near future." He added that the Obama administration still intends to eventually close the detainee center altogether, as the president had announced after becoming president.

Obama, both as candidate and as president, strongly objected to the military tribunals set up by the Bush administration. In 2006, he said their structure was "poorly thought out" and immediately upon taking office, he signed an executive order to close the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay. He later said that the tribunals "failed to establish a legitimate legal framework and undermined our capability to ensure swift and certain justice."

Mohammed confessed to his role in the attacks in 2008. He will be tried alongside Walid Muhammed Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Al Hawsawi, the four Sept. 11 co-conspirators Mohammed was undergoing proceedings with the first time around.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr042011

Drowned Trainer's Family OK With Whale Returning to Water Show

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The family of the SeaWorld trainer who was killed by a killer whale last year said on Monday that they're okay with the whale returning to the water to perform in shows.

On Feb. 24, 2010, Dawn Brancheau was killed when a 12,000-pound orca named Tilikum grabbed her ponytail and drowned her.  On Saturday, the whale returned to the Orlando theme park's big stage to thunderous applause.

"If that's what's best for Tili, that's what Dawn would want," Dawn Brancheau's sister Diane Gross told ABC News.  She said that decision should be left to SeaWorld.  "They have the expertise."

Brancheau's death was caught on tape and watched by horrified spectators.  The 40-year-old trainer was at ease with the killer whale and had just petted him on the nose just before it pulled her into the pool and began swinging her around in its mouth.

Thomas LoVerde, Brancheau's brother, said he does not know if his sister would have wanted the animal euthanized.  "Obviously it's hard to speak on Dawn's behalf in this situation," he said.

Following Brancheau's death, the park banned trainers from being in the water with all killer whales.

Tilikum is connected to the deaths of three others.  In 1991, trainer Keltie Lee Byrne fell into a tank holding Tilikum and two other whales at Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, Canada.  A homicide inquest found that the whales had prevented Byrne from climbing out of the tank and ruled her death an accident.

After Tilikum was transferred to SeaWorld in Orlando, Tilikum was again connected to the death of a person in 1999.  The body of Daniel Dukes, 27, was found naked and draped across the giant whale's body in July 1999.  Dukes reportedly got past security at SeaWorld and remained in the park after it had closed.  Wearing only his underwear, Dukes jumped, fell or was pulled into the frigid water of Tilikum's huge tank.

Tilikum had been brought to SeaWorld mostly to mate and trainers like Brancheau were not allowed in the water with him, but did interact with him on the pool ledge.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr042011

Three More Southwest Planes Found with Cracks

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(YUMA, Ariz.) -- Three additional Southwest Airlines planes, not including the one that made an emergency landing last week, were found to have cracks on them, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Southwest said earlier Sunday that two other planes were found to have subsurface cracks, similar to those that grounded a Boeing 737 Friday after the roof of the aircraft tore open in mid-flight.  The airline later confirmed that another plane was found with cracks.

Hundreds of flights have been canceled as Southwest continues inspecting the rest of its Boeing 737-300 fleet.  So far, 19 planes have been cleared to return to service after passing inspection.  The airline expects to complete its inspections by late Tuesday.

Since Friday's incident, the NTSB has been investigating the tear to determine what caused the ceiling to rip open.

Board member Robert Sumwalt said, "It was not known in the industry that this was an area on airplanes of this number of cycles that those lap joints should be inspected."

Sumwalt added that the section of the plane that developed a hole in mid-flight will be shipped to the NTSB material lab in Washington, D.C. for further inspection Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr042011

Union Workers to March on Anniversary of MLK's Death

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- Union workers across the country will take to the streets Monday, marching for their rights and to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination.

King, a prominent civil rights activist, was killed on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was showing support for striking sanitation workers who were demanding higher wages and better treatment.

We Are One, a non-profit organization, has been behind the marches, calling the nationwide event "A Day of Solidarity."

"Join us to make April 4, 2011, and the days surrounding it, a day to stand in solidarity with working people in Wisconsin and dozens of other states where corporate-bought politicians are trying to take away the rights Dr. King gave his life for," the organization says on its website.

Several rallies are planned in Wisconsin alone, where Gov. Scott Walker has championed a law to strip state and local workers of their collective bargaining rights.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr042011

Two Kids Injured When Jumping Castle Goes Airborne in Arizona

ABC News/KGUN-TV(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- A dust devil lifted an inflated jumping castle containing two children approximately 15 feet into the air Saturday and blew it across three lanes of traffic before it landed in the median of a busy highway in Tucson, Arizona.

Emergency teams from the Tucson fire department were called to rescue the boy and girl, who were in the jumping castle at the time.  Both children, who were said to be between the ages of 7 and 10, were taken to a hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

The incident occurred at a children's festival at the Arabian Oasis cultural center at approximately 2 p.m. Saturday, when a strong whirlwind formed behind the castle.

Bill Pace, director of Arabian Oasis, told ABC News' Tucson affiliate KGUN-TV that he ran over and tried to stop the castle from soaring away, but was knocked to the ground by the strong winds.  Pace said he suffered scrapes and bruises from being knocked over by the jumping castle.

Rental company workers had tethered the inflatable attraction to the ground with several large stakes.  Pace said that he thought it was secure.

This is the second time this year that a jumping castle has gone airborne with children inside in Pima County, Arizona.  Two young girls were in a bounce house that blew over a fence and onto a roof on Feb. 19.  In that incident, one of the girls was seriously injured and the other suffered minor injuries.  Both have since recovered and are doing well, KGUN reports.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Apr032011

Florida Pastor Terry Jones Has Received 300 Death Threats

Mario Tama/Getty Images(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) -- Florida Pastor Terry Jones -- who last month supervised as another pastor soaked the Islamic holy book in kerosene and set it ablaze -- and members of his small Gainesville, Fla., church have received at least 300 "credible" death threats since demonstrations in Afghanistan against Jones' actions turned violent, causing some Afghan protesters to lash out at United Nations workers and others thought to be associated with the West.

ABC News has learned that the FBI is alerting Jones and Wayne Sapp, the man who actually lit the Koran on fire, of specific threats -- ones that reference a time and place where an attack may occur.

They have "crossed the point of no return," Sapp told ABC News. "We can't go back now," he said.

In an interview this weekend with ABC News, Jones said that he did not feel personally responsible for the violent protest at a United Nations compound in Afghanistan on Friday left 11 dead. Instead, he said, the violence proved his point.

"We wanted to raise awareness of this dangerous religion and dangerous element," Jones said. "I think [the attack] proves that there is a radical element of Islam."

The deaths followed a protest march in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday against the actions of the American pastors.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio