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Tuesday
Jul192011

Texas Rangers to Raise Guard Rails in Wake of Fan's Death

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Texas) -- The Texas Rangers say the ballclub will raise the level of all critical safety rails to “the highest standard in the United States at this time” after a fan fell 20 feet to his death earlier this month in an attempt to catch a baseball.

"The safety of our fans is our top priority," said Rangers president Nolan Ryan. "The initiatives we are announcing today for Rangers Ballpark in Arlington will help to ensure that we meet that priority."

In addition to the guard rail alterations, the team says it will post new signs and issue safety reminders via the public address system.

Shannon Stone, a 39-year-old firefighter, was trying to catch a baseball tossed into the stands by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton when, in front of his 6-year-old son’s eyes, he tumbled over a railing and later died.

The incident, which was captured on video and quickly went viral, marked the second time this season that someone suffered a deadly fall at a major league baseball game.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

'Anonymous' Hackers Arrested by FBI

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Several members of the hacker group Anonymous have been arrested by the FBI, and search warrants have been executed in New York and California, according to several Justice Department and FBI officials.

It is unknown if the arrests have also targeted members of Lulzsec group which claims to be affiliated with Anonymous and has been behind several high profile cyber-security incidents including attacks against the CIA’s public website and a massive breach of Sony’s gaming network.

Recently members of the group have been sought by the FBI and Scotland Yard in the UK as they investigated "Operation Payback," an effort apparently organized by Anonymous. “Operation Payback” consisted of a series of distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) that were launched against MasterCard, Visa and PayPal when the companies broke their ties with WikiLeaks after it released classified U.S. State Department cables last year. Severing ties with the group impacted WikiLeaks’ ability to raise money, apparently incensing the Anonymous hackers.

The cyber attacks against the companies resulted in their websites becoming unavailable at times.

In recent weeks the FBI has conducted search warrants in Iowa and Ohio but Tuesday’s effort appears to be the most organized crackdown on the group.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

Colorado Air Traffic Controller Accused of Drinking at Work

Comstock/Thinkstock(LONGMONT, Colo.) -- An air traffic controller in Colorado is under federal investigation after allegedly being caught drunk while at work.

ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver reports that Federal Aviation Administration officials conducted a random alcohol test on the  veteran controller on July 5, six-and-a-half hours into his eight hour shift. His blood alcohol content, sources told KMGH, registered at twice the legal limit.

The controller, who has not been named, has since been removed from his position at the Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center in Longmont while officials investigate the matter, KMGH reports. He has reportedly entered an alcohol rehabilitation program, according to ABC's Good Morning America.

It is not yet known if the air traffic controller was consuming alcohol while at work or if he went to work already drunk.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

Pope Accepts Resignation of Philadelphia Archbishop

Jeff Fusco/Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Philadelphia archbishop Justin Rigali, whose archdiocese has been under the cloud of a sex abuse controversy for years.

Rigali was accused by a grand jury of covering up sex abuse complaints against dozens of Philadelphia priests. He spoke of the controversy last March, saying “I personally renew my deepest sorrow to the victims of sexual abuse in the community of the church.”

The Vatican says his resignation is due to age, but Rocco Palmo, author of a Catholic blog, says the appointment of conservative Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput as Rigali's replacement sends a message: “It would be an indicator from Rome that they want a thorough housecleaning.”

Rigali submitted his resignation last year when he turned 75, as required by church law.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

Space Shuttle Atlantis Undocks from Space Station

NASA TV(HOUSTON) -- Space shuttle Atlantis and its four-man crew successfully undocked from the International Space Station early Tuesday morning and is now preparing to make its way back to Earth.

The shuttle detached from the orbiting outpost at 2:28 a.m. EDT, marking the last undocking in NASA's culminating space shuttle program. Atlantis' 13-day mission to the space station is the final one for the space agency.

Less than two hours later, Pilot Doug Hurley performed a final separation burn, firing Atlantis' jets to leave the vicinity of the ISS.

Hurley and the three other astronauts on board -- Commander Chris Ferguson, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim -- are scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Thursday at 5:56 a.m. EDT.

Copyright 2011 ABC New Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

Heat Wave Continues to Scorch the Nation

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Excessive summer heat and humidity are taking their toll on millions of Americans.

Some 20 states issued heat advisories or warnings Monday, with health officials in Texas advising people to drink at least two bottles of water per hour to avoid heat stroke.

Dr. Michael Halbert, an emergency room physician in Madison, Wisconsin, says the heat has triggered an increase in ER cases and he expects even more as the hot weather continues this week.

And if you were thinking of jumping into a lake to cool off, think again.  The heat is causing many lakes to evaporate even faster, and as a result, blue-green algae and bacteria are exploding in the stagnant waters.

In Oklahoma, health officials have closed access to several contaminated lakes.  Tony Clyde of the Army corps of Engineers says spring floods carried a lot of ground fertilizer into the lakes and that has turned many lakes and reservoirs into “pea soup.”

Temperatures across Minnesota rose to 97 degrees Monday with a heat index that reached 112 degrees.  At a Minnesota Twins doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians in Minneapolis, a woman had to be treated for what appeared to be heat exhaustion.  Ironically, one of the games was a make-up for a game that had been canceled on April 22 on account of snow.

Elsewhere, the heat index was 126 in Newton, Iowa and 120 in Mitchell, South Dakota Monday.

Folks in Phoenix, Arizona are used to the heat, but they're getting tired of a recent rash of dust storms.

Another giant wall of dust, this one some 3,000 feet high, rolled through the Phoenix area Monday, causing poor visibility and some delays for flights at the city’s Sky Harbor International Airport, where visibility was less than a quarter mile.  The dust storm generated winds with gusts up to 40 miles per hour.

Earlier this month, a monster dust storm a mile high pounded Arizona, halting airline traffic and knocking out power to many residents.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

New York Same-Sex Couples Ready to Tie the Knot

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The state of New York will become the largest in the nation to permit same-sex marriage this weekend, and already more than 1,700 same-sex couples say they want to tie the knot in New York City on Sunday, the first day that they're eligible.

The number of couples who want to marry that day is far more than the City Clerk's Office can handle, so it’s starting a lottery to accommodate 764 couples -- gay or straight -- the most marriages ever to be performed by the city in a single day.

“Sunday is going to be a great, great day where we reaffirm yet again why moving human rights forward is always a good thing for all people,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

Teen Allegedly Kills Parents with Hammer, Then Parties

Comstock/Thinkstock(PORT SAINT LUCIE, Fla.) -- A Florida teenager accused of killing his parents with a hammer and partying afterward with more than 40 friends has been charged with first-degree murder. He is being held without bail.

Police say 17-year-old Tyler Hadley used a 22-inch framing hammer to kill his parents, Mary Jo Hadley and Blake Maurice Hadley, then covered up their bodies and drank beer with his friends.

Tyler had invited his friends to come over Saturday, police said, posting a message on Facebook around 1:30 in the afternoon.

Later that night, around 10 p.m., between 40 to 60 friends arrived at the house. Neighbors complained about noise from the party, so police sent a patrol car to the neighborhood around 2:30 a.m. but didn't notice anything unusual.

Then, hours later, they received an anonymous tip that Tyler had killed his parents.

When police showed up at the Hadley home around 4:20 a.m. they found "beer cups lying around the house," and Tyler appeared "nervous and panicky," according to Port Saint Lucie Police Capt. Don Kryak.

At that point, Kryak said, the party had already broken up. Police found Mary Jo Hadley, 47, and Blake Hadley, 54, in the master bedroom covered in household items, including "books, files and towels."

Police said it looked like a deliberate attempt to hide the bodies.

Port Saint Lucie police spokesman Tom Nichols said police found the hammer between the two bodies, and that it had been used on the couple's heads and torsos.

Although the police were still awaiting autopsy results, they "can say for certain" both parents were killed before the party began.

Police say they believe Tyler acted alone, and that he'd likely be tried as an adult. A motive for Tyler's alleged actions remains unclear.

There was "nothing to lead us to believe it was a rage issue of any sort," Kryak said.

Neighbor Charlene Moses said she's lived on the same block as the Hadleys for 15 years and remembers Tyler and his older brother stopping by during Halloween. She said they were always polite.

Blake Hadley, 54, worked for the Florida Power & Light Company for almost 30 years as an engineer, his father, Maurice Hadley, told ABC News. He described his son as a man who was "proud of his two sons," affectionately describing him as a "gentle giant" because he was six feet four inches and "always jolly."

His wife, Mary Jo Hadley, 47, worked as a first-grade teacher at Village Green Environmental Studies School.

A spokesperson from the St. Lucie County School district was not available for immediate comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

Second Spreckels Mansion Death as Boy, 6, Dies from Injuries

Stockbyte/Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(CORONADO, Calif.) -- Millionaire Jonah Shacknai, already grieving for his girlfriend who was found hanged in his California mansion last week, has said that his young son has died from injuries suffered in the mansion.

Max Shacknai, 6, was injured at the historic Spreckels mansion in Coronado, Calif., last Monday. He was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries, and his death was announced Sunday.

Two days after Max was injured, Jonah Shacknai's girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, was found dead, hanging naked from a balcony at the mansion.

Police are investigating whether Zahau's death was a murder or a suicide. During a press conference last week, San Diego Sheriff spokesman Tim Curran said the crime scene appeared "suspicious."

At the time they did not believe there was a connection between Zahau's death and Max's injuries.

Jonah Shacknai sent out a statement Sunday, asking for privacy as he and his ex-wife Dina, Max's mother, grieve for their son affectionately known as Maxie.

"Despite heroic efforts on the part of paramedics and hospital staff, he was unable to recover from the injuries suffered early last week. His loving, kind and vibrant spirit will forever be in our hearts and those whom he touched every day. The loss to our families, Max's many friends of all ages and teammates, and the community is immeasurable," he wrote.

The couple is planning a private memorial service, according to the statement, and they asked that any memorial contributions be made to Whispering Hope Ranch Foundation. The statement concludes: "On behalf of Dina, myself and our families, please know of our appreciation for the tremendous outpouring of support provided during this very difficult time."

On July 11, police received a call from a woman at the mansion whom they would not identify requesting medical aid for Max.

The child "had fallen from stairs and was not breathing and did not have a pulse," Coronado Police Chief Louis Scanlon said last Thursday.

Paramedics performed CPR and the boy was hospitalized.

"At this time, we have no information that would lead us to believe this is anything other than a tragic accident with the child," Scanlon said.

In between the boy's accident and the discovery of Zahau's body, neighbors told ABC News affiliate KGTV, a loud party took place at the mansion on Tuesday night. However, police said last Thursday they were not aware of any parties.

Two days later, police received a call from Shacknai's brother, Adam Schacknai, that he found Zahau hanging from the balcony. When police arrived at the mansion they found the 32-year-old's body on the lawn in the backyard. Shacknai told them he had cut her down.

Police announced last week that an autopsy has been completed and they are still awaiting results from the forensics investigation and lab work.

Since 2007, the mansion has belonged Jonah Shacknai, the 54-year-old multimillionaire founder and CEO of Medicis Pharmaceutical Corporation in Scottsdale, Ariz., a company that makes treatments for acne and facial wrinkles.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

ATF Head: Not Sharing Weapons Tracking Info 'Eye-Popping'

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Interviewed by congressional investigators earlier this month, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Ken Melson agreed that the allegations that federal agencies weren’t sharing information regarding the Fast & Furious program were “eye-popping,” according to transcripts of the interview exclusively obtained by ABC News.

In the controversial Fast & Furious program, the FBI allowed assault weapons to be trafficked across the Mexican border in order to try to locate criminals. But many of the guns have since shown up at crime scenes in the U.S. One theory investigators are exploring is that the ATF agents were unknowlingly selling weapons to straw purchasers created by the FBI using informants and maybe even taxpayer money.

Melson was asked about this -- politely called an “interagency communication issue” -- when he testified behind closed doors to congressional investigators over Fourth of July weekend. In the below excerpt from that testimony, Melson describes a conversation with the deputy attorney general (DAG) Jim Cole on July 16, the day after the ATF hearing on the Hill. “IG” is a reference to the inspector general who is investigating the Fast & Furious case internally at the Justice Department.

Below is the relevant exchange:

Q: Do you have any concerns that because you raised the interagency communication issue with the DAG and also with the IG that you might be viewed as speaking out of turn.

MELSON: Well, I guess I have -- I have got concerns about talking with you about it, as well as pushing it as I have in the Department, because it could be a very sensitive issue.  I don't know.  Better communication with them would have helped me understand how sensitive it is, if it is, or what the ramifications of its disclosure is. I mentioned it to the DAG's office in good faith to try and avoid further damage to the Department or the government if this thing is as you have laid it out and it unravels and the American public sees ATF investigating straw purchasers and another agency working the money angle and the ordering of the weapons.  I mean, that would make us look pretty silly, I think.  So my mention of it to the DAG's office was simply to let them know, to give them a head's up so if this was occurring, they could figure out what to do with it.  And we weren't getting any responses.  I'm still concerned about it.  I'm still concerned about not just what was done, but what could be ongoing as well.

Q: When I first heard about the information sharing issues, my eyes nearly popped out of my head.

MELSON: Well, so did mine.

Q: I'm curious when you communicated that to the DAG, did his eyes pop out of his head, did he think this was a big problem.

MELSON: I can't tell you what he thought or how he thought.  But he simply said, "We will have to look into it."

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) who is investigating the operation, has accused the Obama administration of "stonewalling" his efforts. "This administration, at the highest levels approved a process that allowed thousands of high-powered weapons...to go to the worst of the worst on both sides of the borders," Issa told Fox News last month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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