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Wednesday
Oct132010

Gamer Drives Girlfriend Off Road Over PlayStation

Photo Courtesy - Allentown Morning Call(ALLENTOWN, Pa.) -- Before you separate a grown man from his gaming machine, consider this: a 42-year-old man from Pennsylvania flew into a fit of fury after his girlfriend took away his PlayStation gaming console, and he now faces several charges, including reckless endangerment, simple assault and disorderly conduct.

When his live-in girlfriend, Colleen Frable, 36, took his PlayStation  to work with her, Darren Suchon, 42, from Palmerton, Pa., hopped into her 1996 gold Porsche and gave chase to Frable in her Chevy Impala, hitting the car and ultimately forcing her off the road, police said.

Detective Matthew Enstrom with the Lehigh Township Police Department said the Friday incident occurred after the couple had had a verbal dispute over the amount of time Suchon, who is reportedly unemployed, spent playing video games. Frable said she was upset because Suchon played video games all day long, Enstrom said.

But according to the police report, Suchon was so enraged when Frable took away his gaming console that he jumped into his car, chasing and swerving toward Frable to gain her attention.

Suchon later told police he'd "tapped" her car, and that it was "not a big deal."

"When she stopped, I just wanted the game. I would never hurt her. I just wanted the game," he told police, Enstrom said.

According to the police report, Frable said she was forced to drive onto the shoulder of the road to avoid getting hit. She also said that when she stopped at a traffic light, he drove the Porsche into the back of her Chevy Impala.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct132010

Photo of Zahra Baker Shows Black Eye

Photo Courtesy - Brandy Stapleton(HICKORY, N.C.) -- A new photograph of missing 10-year-old Zahra Baker with a bruise under her eye surfaced Wednesday as the search for her body focused on a wood chipper and mulch piles for any sign of her remains. The missing North Carolina 10-year-old, who lost her left leg and hearing in a battle with childhood cancer, is seen in a dimly lit cell phone image with what Baker family friend Brandy Stapleton called a visible bruise under her right eye. Stapleton said she took the photo, obtained exclusively by ABC News, on Aug. 9 -- the last day she saw the little girl.

Several former neighbors, along with one relative, have claimed Zahra's stepmother, Elisa Baker, repeatedly physically abused the girl. Baker, who was already in custody on unrelated charges, admitted Tuesday to writing a $1 million ransom note in connection with the case.

After that admission, she was charged with felony obstruction of justice and appeared in court today. She is being held on $40,000 bond.

The stepmother appeared in court briefly today and answered simple "yes" and "no" to the judge's questions, ABC News' Charlotte affiliate WSOC reported.

A lawyer for Baker said Tuesday his client claims she had nothing to do with Zahra's disappearance.

"She is scared to death," attorney Scott Reilly told WSOC Wednesday. "It's scary coming out here and seeing all the court reporters and courtroom of people who are so much against her right now."

Stapleton said on the day she took the picture of Zahra, the child seemed down and so she thought a picture could cheer her up. Baker initially told her not to take the picture, Stapleton said, because Zahra's eye was bruised. But Stapleton insisted because she wanted to see the little girl smile.

At the time, Stapleton said she didn't think much of the bruise because Zahra's stepmother would often say her daughter was clumsy.

Bobby Green, a former neighbor, told reporters Tuesday that Zahra frequently had bruises but Elisa Baker would always explain them away. "It's always she fell down, or she rolled out of bed or she didn't have her leg on right and couldn't walk right and fell. It's always Zahra's fault, for her injuries," Green said.

The girl was reported missing Saturday, but police said they can't find anyone beyond her parents who has seen her in weeks.

The wood chipper and nearby debris became the focus of the search after cadaver dogs made positive "hits" on the equipment Monday, officials told WSOC. Earlier, dogs signaled they had discovered signs of human remains in both vehicles belonging to the Bakers.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct132010

Violent Crime at Lowest Levels Since 1973

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A new U.S. Justice Department study finds violent crime and property crime rates declined in 2009 to their lowest levels since 1973.  Violent crime fell from 19.3 percent to 17.1 percent victimizations per 1,000 persons.  The property crime rate fell to 127.4 percent per 1,000 households, from a 2009 percentage of 134.7.

The study takes into account reported and unreported crimes.  In 2009, there were an estimated 4.3 million violent crimes, including murder, sex crimes, robberies and assaults.  There were approximately 15.6 million property crimes such as burglaries and car thefts.

Criminologists tell ABC News the notion that bad economic times always lead to spikes in crime is largely an urban myth.  Police officials say the downward trend represented in the study released Wednesday reflects evolving policing tactics.  Police are getting better at targeting high crime areas based on time of day and other factors and are locking up repeat offenders more often. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct132010

Audio: Chilean Mine Rescue Special Report

Photo Courtesy - ABC NewsShortly after 11pm ET on Tuesday, October 12th, Florencio Avalos became the first Chilean miner to ascend to freedom from the underground chamber where 33 trapped miners have been entombed for 10 long weeks.  ABC News Radio was on the air with Live Anchored Coverage during the emotional rescue.  ABC News Radio’s Steven Portnoy was joined by ABC News correspondent Jeffrey Kofman, who was live at the site of the San Jose Mine in Chile, as the first rescued miner emerged.  Listen to how it sounded live…

Download / Stream Chilean Mine Rescue Special Report

Wednesday
Oct132010

Earthquake Shakes Oklahoma

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A magniture 4.5 earthquake shook parts of Oklahoma Wednesday morning.  The epicenter was six miles east of Norman and the quake was felt more than a hundred miles away, in Tulsa. 

Emergency responders asked people not to call 911 unless they are injured or have serious damage to report.  There are minimal damage reports and no reports of injuries, but people in surrounding communities reported in to ABC Oklahoma City affiliate KOCO-TV that the quake was pretty strong.  One person in Tecumseh said it felt like the entire house was on top of a washing machine on the spin cycle.

Earthquakes are considered fairly common in central Oklahoma.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct132010

New Zipline Flies High Over Sin City

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Las Vegas has long been known for its big signs and flashing lights.  Now, visitors will have a new way to view them up close: speeding down a zipline high above the street.

A company best known for ziplines that run through rain forests and protected parks is now installing Sin City's latest thrill ride, an 800-foot line that will cut down historic Freemont Street.

The Freemont Street Flightline promises to send tourists flying over the street at up to 35 miles per hour, bringing them close to the flashing lights that have defined the city.

Freemont Street is home to some of the oldest and most historic casinos in Las Vegas.  It was the location of the state's first telephone, the city's first hotel, first paved street, first traffic light and first elevator.  Iconic casinos, such as the Golden Nugget and Horseshoe, call it home.  The flashing lights have earned the block the nickname Glitter Gultch.

But in the past few decades, Freemont Street has been overshadowed by the newer, glitzier Strip.  So, in an effort to try to bring tourists back, the casinos along the street opened in 1995 the Fremont Street Experience, a five-block pedestrian mall covered with a giant canopy with 12 million LED lights that put on an hourly show each night.  It's the largest video screen in the world.

Starting Friday, tourists can see the show on the new zipline, which starts outside and then slides under the canopy.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct132010

First Civilian Trial for Gitmo Detainee Gets Underway

Photo Courtesy - John Moore/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The first civilian trial for a detainee once held in the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba got underway Tuesday in a New York City courtroom.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani is alleged to have helped build the bombs that exploded at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August of 1998.  A dozen Americans were among the 224 people killed in the blasts that were allegedly plotted by al-Qaida.

Ghailani’s trial was supposed to have started last week, but the judge wouldn't allow the prosecution’s star witness to testify.  The defense successfully argued the witness’ testimony against Ghailani was inadmissible because the information was coerced out of him during what lawyers alleged were harsh interrogation techniques employed overseas.

The government decided to move ahead with the trial without calling upon the witness.  Ghailani contends he’s innocent and that he didn’t know what he was delivering would be used to bomb the embassies.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct122010

Did Obama Streaker Earn $1 Million?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The fate of a $1 million prize promised to a man who streaked through a President Obama rally wearing nothing but a Web address inked across his chest has gone to instant replay.

Alki David, the billionaire who promised the hefty sum to anyone who would run naked within sight and earshot of the president, will decide Wednesday about whether or not streaker Juan Rodriguez gets the payout, a spokesman told ABC News Tuesday.

David's team has been reviewing Rodriguez's naked moment in the spotlight from several different camera angles "to see if he was in eyesight or earshot" of the president, spokesman Jason Magner said.

Rodriguez, 24, was also required to shout the name of David's video sharing and broadcasting website, Battlecam.com, six times as he streaked, which David's people will also be verifying.

The notion that David is even considering withholding the money on a technicality has prompted some to cry foul.

"I think he should get his money," said Michael Risch, associate professor at Villanova University School of Law.  He called David "chintzy" for suggesting that Rodriguez may not have qualified for the payout.

Rodriguez, 24, claims his cheeky sprint for cash got him within 10 feet of the president -- a distance that would have likely alarmed the Secret Service – before stopping and submitting to arrest.  He was charged with indecent exposure, open lewdness and disorderly conduct.

The streaker told reporters after getting out of jail that he volunteered for the prank to provide for his children and pay for surgery for his sister.

"I didn't do anything that hurt anybody," the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted Rodriguez as saying outside the jail.  "My family needs the money."

But almost immediately David began citing technicalities that could prevent Rodriguez from collecting the $1 million.

"It's still not confirmed," David told the New York Daily News on Monday.  "Whether he was in earshot and eyesight of the president is what's being debated right now."

David also questioned whether Pennsylvania law would permit him to give money to someone for committing an illegal act.

Magner said the decision would ultimately come down to "how close he was able to get."

"One million dollars is a lot of money and I think it's one of those things -- there were stipulations involved and he wanted to make sure they were met," the spokesman said.  Risch said whether Rodriguez gets his money or not could boil down to a "contract question."

"It's on the Internet," he said of the dare.  "But it's no different -- other than being illegal -- than any other challenge where somebody offers an award for some act that was done."

"It's not like he was being hired to murder somebody," Risch said.

The lawyer also questioned David's nitpicking over whether Obama actually saw Rodriguez running naked, noting that acknowledgement was very different from having to be within eyesight and earshot.

"That's important," he said.  "Even if Obama saw him do you think he's going to flinch?"

Though the stunt was obviously created to drum up publicity for Alki and Battle.com, David has already been made out to be a villain by some.

"Seriously, David, just give the man his prize," New York Magazine chastised.  "You already have the wealth and accent of a Bond villain.  You don't need the cruelty of one as well."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct122010

Mexican Investigator Involved In David Hartley Search Decapitated

Photo Courtesy - ABC News | Google Maps(ZAPATA COUNTY, Texas) -- The head of a murdered investigator who had been working on the case of missing Texan David Hartley was stuffed in a suitcase and delivered to the Mexican military on Tuesday.

The severed head of Rolando Flores, the head of state investigators in Ciudad Miguel Aleman in Mexico, was murdered after spending weeks searching for Hartley.  The American disappeared on Sept. 30 after he was shot on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake while Jet Skiing with his wife Tiffany.

Tiffany Hartley has said he was gunned down by pirates, and Hartley's family accused Mexican police of not looking for the body because they were afraid of Mexican drug gangs.

News of Flores' murder was first reported by Texas State Rep. Aaron Pena, who tweeted earlier Tuesday that the investigator had been decapitated.

Pena said on his Twitter account that he confirmed the decapitation through Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez, whose office is in charge of the Hartley investigation.  A call made to Gonzalez was not immediately returned.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct122010

Administration Lifts Off-Shore Drilling Moratorium

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is lifting its moratorium on deepwater drilling, the Secretary of the Interior announced Tuesday, but it cautioned that offshore rigs will not resume drilling until operators meet new federal requirements on safety, spill response and blowout containment.

The announcement comes after a six-month ban imposed following the April 20th spill that leaked millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Salazar said he reached the decision after reviewing a report from Michael R. Bromwich of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement .
 
“I have reviewed Director Bromwich’s report many times and it affirms that through our reform agenda, we have made, and continue to make, significant progress in reducing the risks associated with deepwater drilling,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said during a conference call with reporters. “Therefore, based on Director Bromwich’s report, other information we have gathered and intensive deliberations that I have had with him, I have decided that it is now appropriate to lift the suspension on deepwater drilling for those operators that are able to clear the higher bar we have set.”

Salazar said that before drilling may resume in deepwater sites, the CEOs of drilling operators must certify that the drilling rig has complied with all new and existing rules – including new safety rules, worse-case discharge planning requirements, testing protocols and third-party verifications.

The secretary added that with the Maconda Deepwater Horizon well now capped and killed, government oil spill response resources in the Gulf are now freed up and readily available in the event of any new emergency once drilling resumes.

“The truth is there will always be risks associated with deepwater drilling, but we have now reached a point where we have significantly in my view reduced those risks,” Salazar said. “We will still need oil and gas from Gulf of Mexico to power our cars, our homes and our industry, but we can and we will make the drilling of oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico safer than it ever has been.”

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