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Friday
Mar252011

Miss San Antonio Domonique Ramirez Wins Crown Back

ABC News(SAN ANTONIO) -- Ousted Miss San Antonio Domonique Ramirez won her crown back after a courtroom battle with pageant directors who allegedly claimed she'd gained too much weight.

"I feel great. I've only had like two hours of sleep this morning and I woke up happy. My family is behind me, my lawyers are behind me…I have a large support group and I thank God for that every day," Ramirez said in an exclusive interview with Good Morning America.

Ramirez, 17, took the Miss Bexar County Organization to court in February, claiming in a lawsuit that she had been unfairly stripped of her title in January.

Ramirez claimed that a pageant director told her that she needed to drop weight at a bikini photo shoot. The five-foot-eight teen weighs 129 pounds.

"She told me I need to drop 13 pounds and I needed to lay off the tacos," Ramirez said.

The pageant board claims that the dethroning of Ramirez stemmed less from her weight and more from her performance as Miss San Antonio. The board said the teen didn't represent the city well. They claim Ramirez turned up late to events and didn't send thank-you notes.

After more than 11 hours of deliberation, the jury disagreed with pageant officials on Thursday, ruling that Ramirez deserved her crown.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar252011

One Injured in Indiana Middle School Shooting

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(MARTINSVILLE, Ind.) -- One person was seriously injured after a shooting at an Indiana middle school Friday, according to ABC affiliate WRTV.  

The incident occurred around 7 a.m. at Martinsville West Middleschool on Garfield Avenue. Two people have been detained, but police are still searching for at least one suspect.

The victim, who was shot twice in the stomach, was airlifted to a nearby hospital, WRTV reports.

Classes have been canceled and nearby schools have been placed on lockdown.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar252011

Air Traffic Controller Asleep on Duty at Reagan National, NTSB Says

US Geological Survey/ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- An air traffic controller at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport fell asleep on duty early Wednesday morning, leaving the control tower silent and forcing pilots of two commercial planes to land on their own, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.

The controller, who had 20 years of experience, including 17 at Reagan National, was suspended earlier Thursday by the Federal Aviation Administration while its investigation proceeds.

The NTSB report, which does not name the controller, said he had been working his fourth consecutive overnight shift, which runs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and that "human fatigue issues are one of the areas being investigated."

"I am determined to get to the bottom of this situation for the safety of the traveling public," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement announcing the controller's suspension.

Pilots of an American Airlines and United Airlines plane each said they had been in contact with regional air traffic controllers before being handed off to the Reagan National tower for approach and landing.

But as the planes radioed their requests to land in the nation's capital early Wednesday morning, all they heard was silence.

"American 1900, just so you're aware the tower is apparently not manned," a regional controller told the pilots of one plane, according to radio recordings obtained by ABC News.  "So you can expect to go in as an uncontrolled airport."

The pilot executed an airport flyover -- routine aviation procedure -- before landing on his own without help from the ground.

Fifteen minutes later, United flight 628 from Chicago also was unable to contact the Reagan tower.

"The aircraft went in just as an uncontrolled airport," one regional controller said on the recording.  "It's happened before though."

The United pilot also treated the airport as unmanned and landed safely.

Federal transportation officials are now conducting a comprehensive review air traffic controller staffing at airports across the country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar252011

Census Data Shows America's Population Center Has Moved South

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- During the past 10 years, America's population center moved about 40 miles west from Edgar Springs, Missouri in 2000, to Plato, Missouri, according to the latest data released Thursday by the Census Bureau.

Specifically, the bureau identified the mean center of population as 2.7 miles northeast of Plato, a village with a population of 109.  The mean center represents the middle of the nation's population distribution.

In 2000, the population center of the country rested in Phelps County, Missouri.  In 1790, the year Washington, D.C. was named the nation's capital, the mean center of population sat in Kent County, Maryland.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar252011

Michigan Man Arrested in Detroit Federal Building Bomb Case

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- The FBI has arrested a Michigan man with an alleged history of threats against its agents in connection to the explosive device that sat for three weeks inside a Detroit federal building.

Matching the bomb components left outside the McNamara Federal building in Detroit to purchases at Home Depot, the FBI zeroed in on Gary John Mikulich, 42, from Iron Mountain, Michigan.

Mikulich was arrested Thursday and charged with explosives violations for allegedly constructing and leaving the device by the federal building on Feb. 26.

The device was moved inside the building by an unsuspecting security guard and sat unattended for three weeks before guards wised up last week.

The incident has prompted numerous questions about security at federal buildings.

The device initially was discovered in a tool bag left outside the federal building on Feb. 26, 2011, but was not scanned or x-rayed by security personnel until last week.  The device appears to have contained viable explosives.

Witnesses heard a loud bang and saw smoke with an explosion that sent the metal box containing the bomb 10 feet into the air last Friday when the Detroit police and FBI detonated it.

The FBI used some advanced records checks to identify individuals who had purchased items that were used to construct the device that was placed in a Husky tool bag.  According to the FBI affidavit in the case, the Husky brand tool bags are sold exclusively at Home Depot stores.

According to the affidavit, "Representatives from Home Depot confirmed that since October 2010, only nine (9) individuals in the United States have purchased, together at the same time, the following two items: (1) a Husky brand tool bag of the same size as that found at the McNamara Building on February 26, 2011, and (2) a spring wound 60-minute timer by General Electric."

The FBI further determined that of those nine individuals, only one of the purchases was made with cash.  The FBI determined this purchase was made in Iron Mountain, Michigan on Feb. 14, 2011.  The FBI reviewed surveillance video from the store and determined that it was indeed Mikulich.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

Mark Kelly: Gabrielle Giffords Wants to Attend Endeavor Launch

NASA(HOUSTON) --  At a news conference Thursday for the last planned launch of the shuttle Endeavor, Commander Mark Kelly made a brief comment about his wife’s recovery, and then he and the crew of STS-134 answered questions ranging from what songs will play as wake-up calls to practical jokes planned by twin brothers. 

Commander Kelly said that his wife Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery from January's Arizona shooting is progressing apace. “She is starting to walk and talk and is starting to experience the tragedy we went through last January.” He went on to say, “She gets briefings every day from her staff. She wants to attend the launch and there is a pretty good chance she will be there. I am waiting for final approval from her doctors.”

When the moderator of the news conference reminded  the reporters present to focus only on the STS-134 mission, the questions became somewhat more light-hearted.

When asked what songs would be played as wake-up calls, Mission Specialist Drew Feustel said that they wanted the songs to be a surprise, but that two of the songs would be original compositions by winners of a contest held by NASA earlier this year.

Commander Kelly joked with one reporter who asked if he and his brother had ever planned any pranks as identical twins.  “We’ve talked about it since we were kids,” Kelly responded.  He said they recently discussed the idea of switching places while they were together on the upcoming mission (Commander David Kelly is presently aboard the space station).  The commander said that he and his brother could switch shirts and he’d shave his moustache while his brother put on a fake one.  When the reporter asked if he was serious, Kelly laughed and said “Oh yes.”  For the record, the brothers decided not to carry out the prank as Mission Control “probably wouldn’t be too happy with us.”

STS-134 is the 134th shuttle mission, the 35th shuttle flight to the space station, and the 25th and final flight of Endeavour.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

ABC News Exclusive: Interview with Pilots Who Rescued Crew of Downed F15

ABC News(SIGONELLA AIR BASE, Italy) -- ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz was the first reporter to speak with the Marine Osprey pilots who rescued one of the F15 pilots this week, after he and his co-pilot were forced to eject when their aircraft failed east of Benghazi, Libya.

USMC Capt. Erik "Brillo" Kolle said it was "my best day in the Marine Corps...it was awesome."  Kolle and USMC Capt. Joe "Angry" Abdrejack told Raddatz that they had an approximate idea of where the pilots had ejected and that thanks to a bright moon and night vision goggles, they were able to see the pilot quite clearly as he fired off a flare from behind a bush. 

Kolle went on to say the F15 pilot sounded "frazzled" and even before they landed, the pilot had holstered his sidearm and bolted towards the Osprey, with his hands above his head so no one would mistake him for a hostile.  After the pilot jumped aboard the aircraft, the crew told the pilots, "We got him."

Back in the medical unit at Ramstein Airbase in Germany, the Osprey pilots went to visit one of the pilots.  "He was grateful," Kolle said.  "He said, 'Thanks guys.'  We bonded..it was awesome."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

FAA Suspends AWOL Controller at Reagan National Airport

John Foxx/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Aviation Administration suspended an air traffic control supervisor Thursday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport who went AWOL early Wednesday morning, leaving the control tower silent and forcing pilots of two commercial planes to land on their own.

"I am determined to get to the bottom of this situation for the safety of the traveling public," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement announcing the suspension while the investigation proceeds. The name of the controller was not provided. "As a former airline pilot, I am personally outraged that this controller did not meet his responsibility to help land these two airplanes," he said. "Fortunately, at no point was either plane out of radar contact and our back-up system kicked in to ensure the safe landing of both airplanes."

Federal transportation officials have launched an investigation of the incident and a comprehensive review air traffic controller staffing at airports across the country.

Pilots of an American Airlines and United Airlines plane each said they had been in contact with regional air traffic controllers before being handed off to the Reagan National tower for approach and landing.

But as the planes radioed their requests to land in the nation's capital early Wednesday morning, all they heard was silence.

"American 1900, just so you're aware the tower is apparently not manned," a regional controller told the pilots of one plane, according to radio recordings obtained by ABC News. "So you can expect to go in as an uncontrolled airport."

The pilot executed an airport flyover -- routine aviation procedure -- before landing on his own without help from the ground.

Fifteen minutes later, United flight 628 from Chicago was also unable to contact the Reagan tower.

"The aircraft went in just as an uncontrolled airport," one regional controller says on the recording. "It's happened before though."

The United pilot again treated the airport as unmanned and landed safely.

The National Transportation Safety Board is also looking into the incident, which occurred between midnight and 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

While Reagan National is staffed with multiple air traffic controllers during the day, the overnight shift is managed by just one controller, because there are no departures overnight and few arrivals.

"The reality is that we should probably never have just one controller at a major airport anytime, anywhere," said aviation expert John Nance. "But the fact that it's Washington, DC, obviously accelerates the questions like this."

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took the unusual step late Wednesday of immediately ordering a second air traffic controller at Reagan National Airport on the midnight shift. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

Search Mounts for American Teacher Missing in Japan

Family of Monty Dickson(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) -- Monty Dickson's family has been on "Japan time" since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami ravaged the city where Dickson teaches and lives.

"We sleep sporadically when we can and not much," Gloria Shriver, the mother-in-law of Dickson's sister, said.  "We're all having a very hard time."

Dickson, who is from Alaska, hasn't been heard from since the tsunami struck Japan.  He is a teacher with JET, the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program where university graduates sign contracts with local governments in Japan to teach English at Japanese schools.

"We're still looking for him and still looking for information on him," said Matthew Gillam from the New York branch of the Japan Local Government Center.

Dickson's family are among a dwindling number of Americans clinging to hope as the hunt for survivors is now nearly two weeks old and search efforts are petering out.  The State Department now says it is focusing on less than 10 cases of Americans unaccounted for in the hardest hit areas of Japan.  Those cases came to their attention from loved ones like Dickson's family.

In the days following the quake, those numbers were much higher, but as electricity was turned on and cities began to rebuild, loved ones established contact with their missing relatives.

Dickson teaches in the small fishing village called Rikuzentakata.  It's located in the Iwate Prefecture, one of the hardest hit regions.

Gloria Shriver's Anchorage, Alaska, home has become command central in the search for Dickson.  She is the mother-in-law of Dickson's sister, Shelley Frederickson.  The two, along with Dickson's brother, Ian, spend hours online searching for tips about the young man and calling officials to check in on the progress.  Relatives in Hawaii and even England are helping in the search.

Frederickson became Dickson's legal guardian when both of his parents died as a child.

The family last spoke to Dickson March 8, but his Japanese girlfriend spoke to Dickson in the hour after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the island on March 11, but before the massive tsunami hit.  Dickson told her that he and his students had evacuated to the town's civic center.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

Parents Protest Florida School's Accomodations for Girl with Allergies

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(EDGEWATER, Fla.) -- A Florida elementary school is at the center of a controversy as parents of first-graders there are protesting the accommodations that have been made for a student with a potentially life-threatening nut allergy.

The student, a six-year-old girl, is severely allergic to peanuts.  She can't come in contact with the nut, nor ingest it.  In response to her condition, the Edgewater school has taken precautions to protect her by having her classmates wash their hands, rinse their mouths and clean their desks with disinfectant.

Parents of the girl's classmates argue that the precautions being made are taking time away from their children's studies and are calling for the girl to be home-schooled.  But the school district says federal law requires the student to be accommodated.

"Students who have disabilities, and this is considered a disability it's a health impairment that is life threatening, must have accommodations in place to make sure they can have a free and appropriate public education," says Volusia County schools spokeswoman Nancy Wait.

Wait says the students will no longer be required to rinse out their mouths but says all other procedures are part of the federal Disabilities Act.

"Our district and school administrators are meeting with the parents who are upset to address their concerns, to clear up any misinformation and to clarify exactly what the procedures are that their children will be doing in the classroom," she says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio