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Monday
Jun272011

Some Passengers Still Unaccounted for in Nevada Train-Truck Crash

Robert Hill(FENLEY, Nev.) -- Five people were still unaccounted Sunday night following the collision of a passenger train and truck in the Nevada desert last Friday night, which killed at least six people and sent 20 others to the hospital.

The Zephyr train was headed from Chicago to California when Amtrak officials said a truck slammed into it about 70 miles east of Reno while attempting to pass through the railroad crossing even as lights flashed and the gates were coming down.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the accident, the truck was part of a three-vehicle convoy employed by John Davis Trucking in Battle Mountain, Nevada.

It left skids marks of more than 100 yards before hitting the side of the train at a 45-degree angle.  Since visibility was excellent, the drivers of the other trucks said they couldn't understand why the lead driver, who was also killed in the collision, kept going.

There were also reports late Sunday that John Davis Trucking was cited previously for numerous violations for crashes and unsafe conditions.  Investigators also want to check cellphone records of the driver to determine if he might have been distracted while approaching the train.

As far as those who remain unaccounted for, an NTSB official admitted the number was "spongy" because it couldn't be determined how many people might have gotten off the train after it left Chicago.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun272011

Flood Waters Breach Berm at Nebraska Nuclear Power Plant

ABC News(MINOT, N.D.) -- A berm at a nuclear power plant in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska collapsed early Sunday morning, allowing Missouri River flood waters to reach containment buildings and transformers and forcing the shutdown of electrical power.

As of Sunday night, backup generators were cooling the nuclear material at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station.  The plant has not operated since April, and officials say there is no danger to the public.

Nevertheless, federal inspectors are on the scene, and the federal government is so concerned that the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is headed to the plant.

Meanwhile, there was no protecting thousands of homes in Minot, North Dakota, where massive flooding of the Souris River hit its peak Sunday, flooding more than 4,000 homes.

There is some good news: The river in Minot peaked two feet lower than expected.  However, it is nearly 13 feet above flood stage and it is expected to stay near that level for days.

"It could be two to four to six weeks, or more, before the water actually goes back into it's banks ... [and] before [residents] get to come and see their houses," Brig. Gen. Bill Seekins of the North Dakota National Guard told ABC News during a tour through the flooded areas.

Seekins described the scene as "almost apocalyptic."

Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman said the devastation may be even greater than expected.

"I think we're going to reach probably 4,500 [homes] before this is all done, where we've got a lot of water on these homes," Zimbelman said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun272011

Over Two Dozen Injured after Pennsylvania School Bus Overturns

George Doyle/Stockbyte(CHAMBERSBURG, Pa.) -- More than two dozen people, including children, were hospitalized Sunday after a school bus overturned in Pennsylvania.

According to officials, the bus was traveling along I-81 northbound near Chambersburg Sunday afternoon when a vehicle tried to pass it on its left but mistimed the move, as another vehicle was already in the lane.  The passing driver then overcorrected when he veered back onto the right lane to avoid the other car, ending up sideways in front of the bus.

The bus and vehicle collided and ended up in a ditch.  The bus struck a guard rail on its way, causing it to roll over and land on its roof, officials said.

Eighteen adults and children between the ages of 9 and 12 were taken to Chambersburg Hospital, and seven other patients were taken to Waynesboro Hospital, according to Summit Health spokeswoman Jessica Walter.  All patients in both hospitals are said to be in stable condition, and none of the injuries were reported to be life-threatening.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun272011

Bristol Palin: Virginity Was 'Stolen'

Ida Mae Astute/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Bristol Palin's contention that former boyfriend Levi Johnston "stole" her virginity is no attempt to bash him for their first sexual encounter, she said Monday on ABC’s Good Morning America.

"I'm not accusing Levi of date rape or rape at all," Palin said on GMA. "But I'm just looking back with the adult eyes I now have and just thinking, 'That was a foolish decision.'"

Palin also wants her mother to run for president in 2012, despite the harsh glare of the political spotlight in 2008, she said on GMA.

"Absolutely. I think she's awesome," Palin, 20, said. "I think she's smart. I think she would be awesome for our country."

Palin, the oldest daughter of former Alaska governor and potential presidential candidate Sarah Palin, would take a lesson from the 2008 campaign, however, in which she describes her family as being "thrown under the campaign bus" by GOP runningmate Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

"I think they could have stuck up for our family more," Palin said of the former presidential candidate's campaign team. "Because they never really did."

Palin is revealing much in a new memoir, Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far, writing candidly about everything from the McCain family to her sexual relationship with Johnston, her child's father.

In the book, released Friday, Palin writes that she "had a sneaking suspicion I might need to watch my back," after first meeting the McCain family, and describes Cindy McCain, the senator's wife, as looking "like a queen" and holding "herself like royalty."

Palin writes that she was shocked when the senator's wife offered to be a godmother to her unborn baby: "I had just met her and I wondered why she wanted any type of guardianship over my child," she wrote.

But Palin saves her most biting words in the book for Johnston, the father of that unborn child, her now 2-year-old son Tripp.

Johnston was Palin's high school boyfriend who, she writes in the book, "stole" her virginity on a camping trip while Palin was drunk on wine coolers.

Palin's experience as a young, unwed teen mother led her to become a spokeswoman for abstinence, making hundreds of thousands of dollars lecturing to young adults about abstinence, and came under fire from critics questioning whether she was the right person to spread that message to young girls.

"I hate the word 'abstinence,'" Palin told GMA in response to critics. "I'm not an abstinence teacher."

Palin might not want to be held up high, but she does hope that, through her book, young girls and women can use the lessons she learned the hard way to protect themselves in their own lives.

"I hope that other women with jerk boyfriends can read the book and be like, 'You know what? I don't have to be with this guy,'" she said.

"And I think parents can read the book and open up a dialogue to their kids."

Palin writes in her memoir she and Johnston soon became intimate again after their first encounter, and she got pregnant with their son shortly after. She writes that she was taking birth control pills at the time to treat menstrual cramps; she went through eight home pregnancy tests before she was convinced of the positive results.

"I talk about in the book how I was on birth control," she said. "Abstinence is the only way that you're going to prevent teenage pregnancy. But, if you're going to have sex, practice safe sex, very safe sex."

Palin refers to Johnston as a "gnat" throughout the book and claims he "cheated on me about as frequently as he sharpened his hockey skates." She writes that while her parents accepted her pregnancy, he wasn't so supportive, saying the child, "Better be a f**king boy."

The "tough skin" Palin told GMA that she shares with her well-known mom has helped her as she has become a celebrity in her own right, through her broken relationship with Johnston, her time as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars and, most recently, a barrage of negative media after undergoing what she labeled "corrective surgery" on her jaw.

"Whatever they say, it really doesn't bother me," Palin said of her reaction to critics. "Especially something like that."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun272011

US Birth Rates Suggest White Majority Could Become Minority

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- New census figures suggest children of minority descent could reflect the face of America's future.

For the first time ever, non-white Americans, Latino, African-American, and Asian American outnumber white children.

"The idea where we had a white, middle-class population that we talked about in the 1950s and 1960s, that's disappearing," said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institute.

The new generation is still in the cradle, but as the infants grow up America will start to look very different.

Already, the trend lines are becoming clearer: Older Americans are whiter.  Younger Americans are more non-white.

Most of the change is being driven by a surging Latino population with a much higher birth rate than any other ethnic group.  It is further bolstered by legal immigration.

In fact, according to the Census Bureau, more than half of the growth in the U.S. population between 2000 and 2010 was because of growth in the Hispanic population.  Between 2000 and 2010 the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent while the non-Hispanic population grew only 5 percent.

Latinos have already passed African Americans as America's largest minority.  Latino Americans now number close to 50 million people compared to 38 million African Americans.

Whites remain a majority.  About 223 million people in the United States reported they are white, which accounts for 72 percent of all people living in the United States.

A March 2011 study in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry journal about multiracial children pointed out that two million American children have parents of different races, making them one of the fastest growing segments in America.

The implications of this evolving America are poised to touch everything from politics, where Hispanic voters wield increasing power, to education.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun272011

Casey Anthony Trial: Where Do Loyalties Lie?

Orange County Government, Florida(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Does justice for 2-year-old Caylee Anthony mean a death sentence for her mom, Casey Anthony?

At its heart, the murder trial of Casey Anthony, accused of murdering her little girl, is a story about a family facing that horrifying dilemma.

On top of that, the defense's case alleges sexual abuse and dark family secrets.  So when the key witnesses also are the defendant's own mother, father and brother, it's sometimes difficult to tell where their loyalties lie.

"They are conflicted, surely, because they want justice for their little loved one, Caylee," said Beth Karas, a correspondent for In Session on Tru TV.  "But they also don't want Casey, for example, to receive the ultimate penalty of death."

A victim's family normally thirsts for a conviction when their loved one's alleged killer is on trial, but the Anthonys often sure do appear conflicted.

"I don't want to be here," said Casey Anthony's brother, Lee Anthony.  "I don't want my sister here.  I don't want my parents here."

The jury gained some insight into the unusual alleged family dynamics late this week -- and witnessed possibly shifting recollections -- as Lee Anthony described the pain of being left out of the loop on his sister Casey Anthony's pregnancy.

"They didn't want to include me, and didn't find it important enough to tell me," he said, prompting tears not only from himself, but also from his sister.

The brother's dramatic appearance on the witness stand clearly baffled prosecutors, who questioned the sincerity of his emotion and his memory, which seemed to differ from his 2009 deposition.

Further complicating the case, both Lee Anthony and his father, George, have faced unproven claims by Casey Anthony's defense that they sexually abused her, alleged behavior that the defense reasons could be a root cause of their client's bizarre behaviors and lies surrounding Caylee's death.

"This is a family that operates with a lot of what we call dissociation," said Dr. Terry Real, who has studied relationships as founder of the Relational Life Institute.  "That is exactly what the defense is saying that Casey is about."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jun262011

NY Legalizes Gay Marriage: Will the Rest of the Country Follow?

Spike Mafford/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New York's passage of its marriage equality act didn't just bring gay marriage to the empire state, it also brought new hope that the fight for same-sex marriage may be gaining traction at a national level.

"It's very clear that momentum is building on our behalf. Marriage equality is no longer a question of if, it's more accurately a question of when and how," said Fred Sainz with the Human Rights Campaign.

On Friday, New York became the sixth and largest state to allow gay marriage.

The bill passed with bipartisan support with several big republican donors who supported the cause.

Both corporations and labor unions threw their support behind it.

Nationally, there's more encouraging news with 53 percent of Americans now saying they support gay marriage.

Just 15 years ago, only 27 percent were in favor.

"It is increasing acceptance, it's increasing awareness. It's part of a larger civic debate and dialogue that we're having," said John Avlon with the Daily Beast.

But opponents remain steadfast in their position.

"The passage by the Legislature of a bill to alter radically and forever humanity's historic understanding of marriage leaves us deeply disappointed and troubled," New York's Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan said in a statement on Friday.

Every time gay marriage has been voted on by a state's population, it has lost.

In California and Maine, voter referendums repealed same sex marriage laws.

In 41 states, opponents were able to pass laws explicitly restricting marriage to one man and one woman.

The big issue on the horizon is California's Proposition 8, which overturned gay marriage in that state.

It's winding its way to the Supreme Court.

No one knows how the high court would rule, but one thing is clear - American's attitudes continue to change.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jun262011

North Dakota Floods: Concern Over Impact on Agriculture

Scott Olson/Getty Images(MINOT, N.D.) -- Massive flooding of the Souris River has swamped more than 4,000 homes in Minot, North Dakota, but flood levels seem to have peaked.

The Souris River is cresting at two feet lower than expected at 13 feet above flood stage.

However, Minot Mayor Curt Zimbelman said the devastation may be even greater than expected.

"I think we're going to reach probably 4,500 before this is all done where we've got a lot of water on these homes," said Zimbelman.

Sergeant Dave Dodds of the North Dakota National Guard said heavy rains on Saturday will lead to the river remaining at its historic crest for longer than expected.

"Authorities were hoping for maybe a day or two before it started to recede, but you can add maybe an additional 24 hours onto that," Dodds said.

Forecasters said scattered storms are in Sunday's forecast, but the worst part of the storm will likely to be south and east of the Souris River Basin.

Officials were building and re-enforcing levees in the towns of Sawyer and Velvenau in fear that all the water that has been coming through Minot will swamp the two towns.

Those in the agriculture industry across the state have been hit hard by the flooding, with North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple saying that flooding and above-average snowfall during winter have had an adverse impact on agricultural production.

Dalrymple has requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) begin assessing the damages inflicted on crops by flooding and the production losses suffered as a result of severe weather condition. This request serves as the first step in seeking a secretarial disaster declaration, which would make supplemental disaster assistance and other USDA programs available to help farmers and ranchers affected by the flooding, according to a release from the governor’s office.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jun262011

Five Hospitalized in San Francisco Shooting

Comstock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Individuals were sent scampering in San Francisco Saturday evening as bullets began to fly, and in the end officials say five people were left wounded.

The shooting reportedly happened around 6:15 p.m., a short distance away from where weekend Gay Pride festivities were taking place.

Authorities say two of the victims were shot in the torso and were taken to a local hospital for treatment to life threatening injuries, while the other three victims were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

Investigators say the shooting was gang-related.

At least one person has been arrested in connection with incident.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jun262011

Nevada Train-Truck Crash: Death Toll Climbs

Robert Hill(FENLEY, Nev.) -- The death toll stands at six, following Friday’s fiery truck-Amtrak train crash that occurred east of Reno, Nev.

The truck plowed into the side of the train Friday around 11:20 a.m. PT in a moment of sudden impact that set off a huge fireball.

Since then investigators have been combing through the charred and gutted wreckage looking for clues.

Investigators also plan to review the background of the tractor trailer driver.

"Investigators will look at the truck driver's driving and medical records, as well as autopsy results to determine whether any drugs were involved," National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson told ABC affiliate KOLO-TV in Reno.

"They'll also check to make sure railroad lights and crossing gates were working," he added.

According to the Nevada State Police that the driver tried to slow down at the last minute but was unable to stop. Officials said they found extensive skid marks from the truck, indicating the driver had slammed on the breaks.

The preliminary investigation and witness statements indicate the truck driver was going northbound on U.S. 95 and the gates were operational and flashing before the collision. Witnesses said it appeared that the driver tried to slow down at the last minute but couldn't.

What remains confusing is that witnesses indicate that at least the signal gates there were working, although it's unclear whether the signal lights were working as well, investigators said.

The train was travelling from Chicago to Emeryville, Calif., when the tractor-trailer crashed into the side of the train at a railroad crossing in the town of Lovelock. There were approximately 204 passengers and 14 crew members aboard Train 5 of the westbound California Zephyr.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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