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Tuesday
Nov232010

Airport Pat-Downs: TSA Says it Can Fine You for Backing Out

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The day before Thanksgiving will be the pre-holiday ritual of long lines, frustration and National Opt-Out Day -- a movement calling on airline passengers to forego the controversial new body scanning machines and manual security pat-downs. The movement is intended to snarl lines at airports as a protest against the new, more invasive screening proceedures.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it can fine individuals up to $11,000 for walking away from the airport security process.  But will it?  People in government say the fine is mostly a deterrent so that terrorists cannot back out of a security check once it starts.

The TSA said it has yet to fine a traveler for not completing the screening process, though it has levied civil penalties against passengers who have brought dangerous items to the security checkpoint.

"While TSA has the legal authority to levy a civil penalty of up to $11,000 for individuals who choose not to complete the screening process, each case is determined on the individual circumstances of the situation," said Greg Soule, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration.  Congress transferred the enforcement of civil aviation security to the TSA from the Federal Aviation Administration in November 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The TSA's current civil penalty monetary guidelines, which became effective on Aug. 20 last year, say the security administration can impose "civil monetary penalties up to $10,000 per violation for surface transportation modes [for breaches of highway, pipeline, freight rail and mass transit security policies] and up to $11,000 per violation for all other persons."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

Shuttle Discovery Patched Up, May Fly Next Week

Photo Courtesy - NASA/Tony Gray(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Shuttle Discovery could be ready to launch as early as next week, barring another major setback.

Had things not gone awry, Discovery would have already returned from its last mission to the International Space Station but the early November launch was postponed due to a persistent hydrogen gas leak and cracks in the ribs of the shuttle's external tank.

On Monday, NASA officials said that all the necessary repairs were made and that Discovery might be good to go on or near Dec. 3.

Later this week, program managers will discuss the rationale for launching the shuttle with the repairs and if it passes muster, a final review will be conducted next Monday to give it approval for liftoff.

This would presumably be Discovery's 39th and final flight.  Endeavour is scheduled for the last mission next February before the orbiter fleet is formally retired.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov222010

White House: Terrorists Discussed Prosthetics to Conceal Explosives

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- U.S. intelligence has picked up terrorists discussing the use of prosthetic or medical devices to conceal explosives, sources tell ABC News.

The revelation about the intelligence, which is not new but relevant to debate over new security measures at airports, comes as the White House Monday acknowledged that the implementation of the security procedures has not gone perfectly.

Americans by a two-to-one margin support the use of naked image full-body X-ray scanners in airport security lines, but fewer than half back aggressive new pat-down procedures, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll. Opposition to both rises among those who fly with any frequency.

The Transportation Security Administration has come under fire for new body scanners and what some say are highly invasive pat-downs.

Thomas Sawyer, a bladder cancer survivor, said he was humiliated after a pat-down broke his urostomy bag, leaving the 61-year-old covered in his own urine. Sawyer said he warned the TSA officials twice that the pat-down could break the seal.

Cathy Bossi, a longtime flight attendant and breast cancer survivor, said the TSA made her take off her prosthetic breast.

"She put her full hand on my breast and said, 'What is this?' I said 'It's a prosthesis because I've had a breast cancer,'" Bossi said. "And she said, 'You'll need to show me that.'"

In recent days, several passengers have come forward to tell such shocking stories about their experiences with TSA officers.

The head of the Transportation Security Administration, John Pistole, on Monday said that at least one airport passenger screening went too far when an officer reached inside a traveler's underwear, and said the agency is open to rethinking current protocols.

That search was against protocols and "never" should have happened, TSA administrator Pistole told ABC News Monday.

Pistole, responding to complaints from passengers, has said the TSA would not change its pat-down procedures but said Monday the agency was "open" to changing security procedures.

Only a small number of travelers have been subject to pat-downs, officials say. The White House says roughly 340,000 people -- or one percent of all travelers -- have been subjected to more intense searches since the new TSA procedures began Nov. 1.

Pistole said the key to travel security is finding the proper balance between protecting against very real threats -- such as the failed cargo bomb plot and the current search for two suicide bombers believed to be at large in Germany -- and protecting individual privacy, something that some passengers claim invasive pat-down procedures have taken away.

TSA screeners are also fed up with the blame being leveled at them and agree that a better system is needed, according to travel blogger Steven Frischling, who spoke to 20 officers about the new procedures and pat downs.

The screeners told Frischling about their discomfort at touching people's private parts, and getting verbally abused by some passengers.

The TSA has attempted to downplay the actual number of people who get pat downs, although Pistole Monday admitted that he'd dropped the ball when it came to informing the public on what it should expect.

There's also concern about possible health risks stemming from the new scanners, a fear that the White House Monday said is unfounded.

"The truth is, you have greater [radiation] exposure sitting in an airplane than you do going through one of those machines," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday.

The new scanners and pat downs were introduced Nov. 1, but their impact will be felt the most this week, the busiest travel period of the year.

Across the nation, there are 385 of the new, full-body scanners at airports, but there are a total of 2,100 security lanes.

That means about 80 percent of security lanes won't have the machines in place.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov222010

John F. Kennedy Assassination Still Intrigues, 47 Years Later

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images (NEW YORK) -- Forty-seven years have passed since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but the man who served less than a full term in office still casts a long shadow over the American politics and culture even as his relatives have slowly retreated from it.

A new movie, as well as a documentary featuring Secret Service agents on duty in Dallas when JFK was shot, ensure that the Kennedy assassination will not fade from our minds any time soon.

In January, when JFK's nephew Patrick leaves Congress, it will be the first time since 1944 that no member of the Kennedy clan is on Capitol Hill.

The retiring Rep. Kennedy was not even born when his uncle was killed, but the events of that day in Dallas still capture the interest of Americans.

The documentary about the Secret Service is set to air Monday night on Discovery.

Two agents appear in it. They have kept silent about the events of Nov. 22, 1963, up to now. But a new book by agent Gerald Blaine, The Kennedy Detail, has brought a new perspective to the story.

A new feature film is in the works to examine the Kennedy assassination. This one, adding to the canon of films that explore conspiracy theories, most notably by Oliver Stone and Clint Eastwood, will feature Leonardo DiCaprio and is based on a book by Lamar Waldron that used information from the National Archives to suggest that a mob boss ordered Kennedy's assassination.

That book was also the basis for a Discovery Channel documentary that aired one year ago, the 46th anniversary of the assassination. Last year's documentary was called Did the Mob Kill JFK?

The agents in this year's movie reject such theories as a "cottage industry" of conspiracy.

But the doubts persist. Why are Americans still so interested in a killing that occurred nearly half a century ago and has been studied more than any other?

"There are so many angles on President Kennedy's death, including the public killing of the murderer," said David Rehr, a former President of the National Association of Broadcasters who now teaches at George Washington University.

"A picture-perfect Presidency with so much hope is ended by a bullet -- the story line gets more complicated as time passes and others suggest various motives," said Rehr.

The Secret Service has grown exponentially since then, from 400 agents to ten times that with a budget of about $1.4 billion annually.

And while Kennedy, on that fateful day, was able to insist that he ride in an open convertible to wave and be seen by the people, presidential security is now as tight as the Secret Service can make it.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov222010

Report: Americans Value Safety over Privacy at Airports

Photo Courtesy - ABC News | Washington Post(WASHINGTON) -- Results from a recent poll by ABC News and The Washington Post say that Americans are in favor of the use of naked-image full-body X-ray scanners at airport security checkpoints by a two-to-one margin.

Despite the support for full-body scans, 50 percent of Americans polled said they are not in favor of aggressive pat-down procedures. Additionally, those who fly most frequently show the most opposition to the enhanced security checks.

Ultimately, those surveyed seemed to value safety over privacy.

ABC 2010 News Radio 

Monday
Nov222010

Missing North Carolina Teen's Remains Found Near Boston

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(MILTON, Mass.) -- Remains found in Milton, Mass., last Monday were identified as 16-year-old Delvonte Tisdale, according to the Norfolk District Attorney William Keating's public information officer David Traub.

How Tisdale got all the way from his home near Charlotte, N.C., to a quiet suburb of Boston is still unclear, as is who might be responsible for the teen's death.

"We have a dead 16-year-old," said Traub. "There are a number of questions that are still under investigation."

Tisdale's body was found on the side of a road and had "obvious, massive trauma to the body," according to Traub. The cause of death has not yet been determined.

Traub declined to comment on reports that Tisdale was found with his arms and legs broken and with visible damage to his head.

Craig Tisdale, the victim's brother, told the Charlotte Observer that his brother may have been running away from his father, with whom he did not have a good relationship.

Tisdale's father, Anthony Tisdale, was unable to be reached for comment.

He said that Tisdale had planned to get a ride to Baltimore, where his mother lives, from friends heading to Boston, according to the paper. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov222010

Teacher in Student Sex Scandal Is Pregnant

Photo Courtesy - WFAA-TV Dallas/Ft. Worth(DALLAS) -- A 26-year-old former high school science teacher who was arrested for having sex with one of her students is pregnant, amid speculation that her alleged victim may be the father.

Jennifer Riojas is out on bond after being arrested Wednesday for sexual assault against a child under 17. The arrest came nearly a month after she resigned from her job as a science teacher at Carter-Riverside High School in Fort Worth, Texas.

Court documents detail a tawdry affair between student and teacher, with the two even taking to the teenager's hospital bed for sex at one point.

ABC's Dallas affiliate WFAA reported that the paternity for Riojas' baby has not been established, but that the teenager came forward because he was concerned that he might be the father.

Riojas is next due in court Dec. 7.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov222010

Jury Finds Man Guilty of Murdering Chandra Levy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON D.C.) -- A jury has reached a guilty verdict in the trial of a man charged with killing congressional intern Chandra Levy, who disappeared in 2001.

The case became a sensation when Levy was linked to then-Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.).

Salvadoran immigrant Ingmar Guandique was charged with killing Levy in D.C.'s Rock Creek Park where she jogged.

Defense lawyers said during trial he was a scapegoat for a botched investigation.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov222010

TSA Pat Down Went Too Far, Agency Chief Says

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said Monday that at least one airport passenger screening went too far when an officer reached inside a traveler's underwear, and the agency is open to rethinking its current protocols.

An ABC News employee said she was subject to a "demeaning" search at Newark Liberty International Airport Sunday morning. "The woman who checked me reached her hands inside my underwear and felt her way around," she said.  "It was basically worse than going to the gynecologist.  It was embarrassing.  It was demeaning.  It was inappropriate."

That search was against protocols and "never" should have happened, TSA Administrator John Pistole told ABC News Monday.  "There should never be a situation where that happens," Pistole said.  "The security officers are there to protect the traveling public.  There are specific standard operating protocols which they are to follow."

Pistole, reponding to complaints from passengers, has maintained that the TSA will not change its pat down procedures.  But on Monday he said the agency is "open" to changing security procedures.

"The bottom line is, we are always adapting and adjusting prior protocols in view of the intelligence and in view of the latest information we have on how the terrorists are trying to kill our people on planes," Pistole said.  "If that means we need to adjust the procedures, then of course we're open to that."

In recent days, several passengers have come forward to tell shocking stories about their experiences with TSA officers.

Thomas Sawyer, a bladder cancer survivor, said he was humiliated after a pat down broke his urostomy bag, leaving the 61-year-old covered in his own urine.  Sawyer said he warned the TSA officials twice the pat down could break the seal.  And in another incident, Cathy Bossi, a long-time flight attendant and breast cancer survivor said the TSA made her take off her prosthetic breast.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov222010

St. Louis Is Nation's Most Dangerous City, Study Finds

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- St. Louis, Missouri is now the nation's most dangerous city, beating out Camden, New Jersey for the spot, according to a new study released by CQ Press Sunday.

The study found that St. Louis had over 2,000 crimes per 100,000 residents, compared to the national average of about 430 crimes per the same number of residents.  These new figures helped St. Louis overtake Camden, which held the top spot last year.

Rounding out the top five are two Michigan cities -- Detroit and Flint -- and Oakland, California.  Colonie, New York remained the safest city for the second year in a row.

CQ Press based their findings on population numbers and crime data obtained from the FBI.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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