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Tuesday
Sep132011

Napolitano: Revised Pat-Down Policy for Kids Is Months Away 

Kevin Moloney/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Defense Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that the TSA would begin enforcing a revised pat-down procedure for children under the age of 12.

She said that soon, DHS would begin a more “risked based” approach to passenger screening.

According to Napolitano, although there will still be some random checks, even for children under the age of 12, there will also be certain changes recognized by the general public in the months to come.

At the hearing, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., had expressed personal displeasure with some examples of TSA screening. He pointed to an instance in which an eight-year-old girl had to be patted down due instructions relating to a child suicide bomber in Kandahar.  He stressed the importance of putting “some sense” into the security procedures.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep132011

Man Pulled from Beneath Burning Car Expected to Recover

ABC News(LOGAN, Utah) -- A 21-year-old Utah man pulled from beneath a burning car  by bystanders is out of surgery and expected to fully recover, his family confirmed.

Brandon Wright was driving his motorcycle just outside the Utah State University campus in Logan, Utah, around noon on Monday when a black BMW pulled out in front of him, forcing him to lay down his bike to avoid a crash, according to Logan Police.

Wright’s bike slammed into the car and caught fire while he slid under the vehicle and became trapped.

Flames shot in the air as bystanders flooded 911 with calls.

Despite the dangers posed by the fire, a dozen construction workers working at a nearby site on the Utah State campus and other students and bystanders rushed to the burning car to help.

In dramatic video, a nearby camera captured the bystanders lifting the burning sedan off the ground and pulling Wright’s limp body to safety, all before firefighters arrived.

Meanwhile, police officers and bystanders grabbed fire extinguishers from nearby buildings to help extinguish the flames.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames, while Wright was flown by helicopter to nearby Intermountain Medical Center in critical condition.

Wright’s mother and stepfather told ABC News on Tuesday he is alert and aware of everything that happened.

Doctors placed rods in Wright’s legs during surgery Monday night.  He is expected to remain in the hospital for at least another three to four days to recover from a broken femur, broken tibia, broken pelvis and burns on both his feet.

The driver of the BMW suffered minor injuries.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep132011

Gabrielle Giffords, Husband to Appear on ABC TV Special

Tom Williams/Roll Call(NEW YORK) -- Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former space shuttle commander Mark Kelly, will appear on an ABC Television Network special in November in what will be their first interview together since Giffords was shot and seriously wounded during a meet-and-greet event in Tucson last January.

The special airing on Nov. 14 at 10 p.m. ET will occur one day before the publication of the couple's memoir, Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope.

ABC World News anchor Diana Sawyer hosts the program that will follow Giffords' and Kelly's lives together before and after the shooting that left six people dead and 13 wounded, including the Arizona Democrat who suffered a bullet wound to the brain.

Giffords' recovery has been described as miraculous given the extent of her injury, although she continues to undergo rehabilitation and is likely to for some time.

Her actual participation in the interview with Sawyer will largely depend on the progress of her recovery.

Giffords appeared in Washington last month for the first time since the shooting to vote on the debt ceiling bill that eventually passed Congress.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep132011

Florida Millionaire's Murder Trial: Jury Selection Underway

Comstock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Jury selection is underway in the murder trial of a Florida millionaire who called 911 from his mansion to announce that he had shot his wife in the face.

James Robert "Bob" Ward, 63, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges.  His trial will take place in the same court where Casey Anthony was acquitted, marking the second notorious trial in Orlando, Fla., in a matter of months.

On Sept. 21, 2009, Ward called 911 from the couple's exclusive Isleworth home, telling a dispatcher five times that he had shot his wife, Diane, in her face.  Isleworth is a community that was once home to celebrities like Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer.

"She's dead.  She's done.  I'm sorry," he said in the 911 call.

While being questioned later, Ward told police, "I'm really concerned about my wife and children.  I have two kids in college and it's a nightmare, but we probably need to go ahead and get a lawyer in here."

As the interrogation continued, Ward began to change his story, arguing that his wife actually pulled the trigger and committed suicide as he tried to take the gun away.  Diane Ward had high levels of an antidepressant in her system as well as alcohol, according to court documents.

During Ward's interrogation, detectives noted his oddly composed demeanor.

"James Ward was smiling, and seemed to be in an upbeat mood," one detective wrote in court documents.

Video captured Ward calling relatives to say that his wife was dead, and jailhouse footage caught him dancing and laughing with his daughter and sister-in-law.

ABC News' legal analyst Dan Abrams said that the videos, while disconcerting, may not play a big factor in the trial.

"They make him look odd, they make him look bad, but I don't think it's going to be that significant in terms of guilt or innocence.  These are her [Diane Ward's] family members as well," Abrams said.

Prosecutors argue that Bob Ward's DNA was found on the gun and that Diane Ward was shot from more than a foot away.  Diane Ward was also shot within days of being scheduled to give a deposition in a financial investigation against her husband.  Bob Ward faced allegations that he took money from his companies to support his lavish lifestyle.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep132011

Congress Pays Tribute to 9/11, Sings ‘God Bless America’

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With the same sense of unity that pulled Congress together after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, members of Congress from both the House and Senate gathered on steps of the Capitol Monday night to pay tribute to the victims and heroes of the 9/11 attacks.

Congress was not in session Sunday during the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  Instead, many members traveled to their home states to participate in local events marking the date, and to New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon to attend ceremonies.

“The 11th of September will always be a day of remembrance,” House Speaker John Boehner said.  “It is up to we who live on -- particularly we who serve -- to ‘never forget,’ to never yield, but to hold fast until we have preserved the blessings of freedom for those who come after us.  If we are successful, no one will have to tell them what to do.  They will know, and they too will ‘never forget.’”

Monday night was reserved for a moment of silence and the singing of “God Bless America” on the steps of the Capitol -- a sight recreated from the spontaneous rendition of the patriotic tune the night of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Here 10 years ago we reaffirmed in our own way that our commitment was for freedom and democracy -- that’s what makes America the greatest nation in the world,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said of that moment.  “Little did we know then the effect that [Maryland Senator] Barbara Mikulski suggesting to us, members of Congress here assembled, that we would sing ‘God Bless America.’  We did -- the sweetest song I ever heard.”

Reid said the only reason that Members of Congress could share that experience in 2001 was because of the courage of the heroes on board United Flight 93.

“The plane was headed here,” he said.  “We’ve learned since then the ringleader of that evil band had made a decision that it would be the Capitol, not the White House, because it was a much easier target.  That night we didn’t know that when we met here, but we know it now.”

“It was clear what needed to be done.  No one had to tell them.  They saved countless lives.  They steadied our country before a watching world,” Boehner said.

Holding small American flags, hundreds of lawmakers sang along Monday evening while the Marine Corps band played “God Bless America,” 10 years after Congress gathered on the steps of the Capitol to sing the song a cappella.

Each of Congress’s four top leaders also delivered brief remarks, touching on the themes of unity, patriotism, remembrance and progress that characterized the 10-year anniversary ceremonies last weekend.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep122011

Manny Ramirez Arrested After Fight with Wife

Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images(WESTON, Fla.) -- Former baseball slugger Manny Ramirez was arrested Monday night, accused of hitting his wife during an argument in their Weston, Fla., home.

Ramirez, a former World Series MVP and 12-time All-Star who retired this year after testing positive for drugs for a second time, smacked his wife so hard she hit her head against the headboard of their bed, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office arrest report.

He told police that she hit her head when he grabbed her by the shoulders and “shrugged her,” but officers on the scene said evidence showed he was “the primary aggressor” and that her account was more accurate, the arrest report said.

Ramirez, 39, was charged with battery.

Ramirez was one of baseball’s greatest hitters throughout his 19-year career, primarily with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox. In 2004, he helped the Red Sox win their first World Series in 84 years, and then again in 2007. Over the last three years of his career, he bounced between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox before ending his career in April with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep122011

9/11 Anniversary Photo of Grieving Dad Robert Peraza Touches Family

JUSTIN LANE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A photo of a father's private moment mourning the son he lost on 9/11 went viral Monday much to his surprise and to the surprise of his family, who said they wouldn't have otherwise known about his quiet prayer.

Robert Peraza, 68, had been selected as a reader at the tenth anniversary ceremony Sunday, but before the memorial opened to family members, Peraza took a moment to walk near the memorial's North Pool around 9:45 a.m.

It was there that he found his son's name: Robert David Peraza, who was killed when American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center. Peraza had been working on the 104th floor of the North Tower.

Peraza, thinking he was alone, bent down on one knee, placed one hand over his son's name and prayed.

"I was just honoring Rob," said Peraza, who is Catholic. "I was saying a prayer for his soul."

Justin Lane, a press pool photographer, took Peraza's picture and it soon appeared around the world, showing up Monday on the cover of the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, and the New York Post, to name a few.

Robert Peraza's son Neil Peraza, 38, a finance and accounting director at Hilton, had brought his seven-year-old daughter to New York to attend the anniversary ceremony. They were waiting in the area designated for family members along with Robert Peraza's wife, brother, and two cousins.

"The next thing you know my cellphone would not stop buzzing," Neil Peraza said. "My wife said, 'You have got to see this picture.'"

When he saw his father kneeling in front of his brother's name, the image told him more than words ever could have.

"I was like, 'Oh my god.' It was breathtaking. It kind of sums up how a lot of us were feeling," he said. "My heart breaks for my dad and my mom -- the two of them especially. As a parent now myself, I cannot imagine losing a child."

Neil Peraza and his father are both quick to say 30-year-old Rob Peraza did not "die" on 9/11. They say he was murdered.

"It was a murderous act that happened on 9/11 and we should not forget that," said Robert Peraza, who is now retired from his job as a systems manager at Proctor and Gamble.

Rob D. Peraza, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11, was passionate about rugby. In 2002 his family established a scholarship for rugby players at his alma mater, St. Bonaventure University.

It's a sentiment Robert Peraza expressed during the brief time he was allowed to say a few words about his son, after reading the names of 10 others: "Dearest Robert we love you and pray for you every day. We will never forget, we will never forget, we will never forget."

So far the family has raised about $250,000 in scholarship money for Catholic college St. Bonaventure through yearly golf tournament fundraisers and the university's website.

Since 9/11 three incoming students from St. Bonaventure who play rugby, one of Rob Peraza's passions, have benefited from the need-based scholarship.

"Right now we're at a level where we're giving out half tuition. It's a pretty big deal," Neil Peraza said.

The family also established a scholarship for students at Norwich High School in New York.

In August 2001, Peraza's son had written a four-page letter to his family, "saying how wonderful his life was," Robert Peraza told ABCNews.com.

His son was planning on getting engaged and enjoying his job as a bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, where 657 others also died on 9/11.

Rob Peraza had been scheduled to run the New York City Marathon in 2001, and was assigned number 1461. He never got to run that race, but in the 10 years since 9/11 a relative has run the race using his number. This year it will be his sister, Joan.

Had Rob seen the picture of his father taken Sunday, Neil said, "I'm sure Rob would be really sad because we're all sad. But I think Rob would be really proud that as a family we're celebrating his life every day."

The Perazas revisited the 9/11 memorial Monday when it opened to the public, and paused once more in front of the North Pool to pay their respects to all 2,753 people who died after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center.

"After 9/11 my wife and I realized that life continues and you have two children you have to live for," Robert Peraza said. "Rob was the kind of young man who would have been very upset if my wife and I wilted."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep122011

Serena Williams Fined $2,000 for U.S. Open Outburst

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Serena Williams was fined $2,000 by the U.S. Open after unleashing her wrath on an official who called her out for on court hindrance during Sunday’s women’s final.

Tournament referee Brian Earley issued his ruling Monday, a day after Williams was issued a code violation for verbal abuse by chair umpire Eva Asderaki during a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Australia’s Sam Stosur at Flushing Meadows.

Williams got off relatively easy. In a statement to ABC News, the United States Tennis Association said Grand Slam committee director Bill Babcock determined that “Williams’ conduct, while verbally abusive, does not rise to the level of a major offense.”

A major offense could have spelled trouble for Williams, who was already under probation after a similar outburst at the 2009 U.S. Open. Nonetheless, Sunday’s break in decorum may have tarnished the charmed comeback for Williams, who was kept off the court for nearly a year with injuries and medical problems.

It all started when Williams, 29, and Stosur, 27, were in the first game of the match’s second set and the Australian went after Williams’ forehand shot. But just before the ball hit Stosur’s racket, Williams belted out, “Come on!” Stosur barely tapped the ball, and the score went from 30-40 to deuce.

Asderaki, the chair umpire at Arthur Ashe Stadium, gave Williams a code violation and a point penalty -- giving the game to Stosur.

Reacting to the decision, Williams did not quite have a repeat of her 2009 on-court calamity, when she physically threatened a lineswoman who called her for a foot foul in an obscenity-ridden rant. But she was heard to say the following to the umpire:

“Don’t even look at me. I promise you, don’t look at me … Don’t look my way,” “Who would do such a thing? And I never complain. Wow. What a loser,” “You’re out of control, you’re a hater and you’re unattractive inside,” “A code violation because I expressed who I am? Really? We’re in America the last time I checked.” But the kicker -- which could potentially be seen as a threat was: “If you ever see me walking down the hall … walk the other way.

Williams was called for hindrance, which is an interpretation of her yell of “Come on!” as deliberate interference. Once the point and game were awarded to Stosur, the crowd at Arthur Ashe booed for over a full minute. But that didn’t slow the ninth-seeded Australian, who rallied against Williams, pushing the 13-time Grand Slam champ around the court with strong forehands and powerful serves.

Williams narrowly avoided another on court meltdown -- along with the $82,500 fine and two-year probation by the Grand Slam committee that she was handed after her notorious 2009 tirade.

After her loss on Sunday, Williams explained herself.

“I just yelled, ‘Come on!’ ” Williams said. “It was a great shot. It was beautiful. I hit it like right in the sweet spot. I don’t know. It was a good shot, and it was the only good shot I think I hit. I was like, ‘Woohoo!”

She also seemed to put the whole episode behind her. On her Twitter page, she wrote, “Congrats to Sam Stoser. She played amazing! As for me next time.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep122011

Dr. Phil: George and Cindy Anthony Divided over Casey’s Innocence

Cindy and George Anthony, parents of Casey Anthony, are the first to leave the courtroom, with their attorney Mark Lippman, after their daughter was found not guilty in her first-degree murder trial, at the Orange County Courthouse, in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, July 5, 2011. (Hand Out/ABC News)(NEW YORK) -- George and Cindy Anthony are divided over daughter Casey Anthony’s role in two-year-old Caylee’s death and Cindy Anthony is “very much” in denial, Phil McGraw said on The View Monday.

The first part of McGraw’s two-part interview with George and Cindy Anthony will air Tuesday on the Dr. Phil show. It is the first interview for the parents of Casey Anthony since their 25-year-old daughter was acquitted of murdering Caylee.  McGraw told the ladies of The View that Caylee’s grandparents said they still don’t know what happened to the toddler and they have not seen or talked to their daughter since she was acquitted.

He said the two are divided over whether their daughter could have murdered Caylee or dumped the little girl’s body in the woods.

“They have a very different view of that.  He [George Anthony] is very critical.  She [Cindy Anthony] seems to make an excuse at every turn,” McGraw said.

“They question themselves every minute of every day.  What did we fail to see? What could we have done differently? Their position is up until the pregnancy, she was showing reasonably normal behavior and then it began to change,” McGraw said.

In one clip from the interview played on The View, McGraw asks George Anthony about whether he had any role in Caylee’s death.  Defense Attorney Jose Baez argued throughout the trial that George Anthony helped dispose of Caylee’s body after the child accidentally drowned.

Cindy Anthony defended her husband from those claims.

“George would never have put us through those six months of not knowing where Caylee was if he knew where Caylee was because I watched his heart break every single day and I watched him as frantic as he was,” Cindy Anthony told McGraw.

In another clip from the interview, McGraw asks the Anthonys whether they believe Casey Anthony drove her white Pontiac Sunfire with a dead Caylee in the trunk.  The prosecution argued that Casey Anthony’s car trunk smelled like death and that a strand of Caylee’s hair was found in the trunk, as well as high levels of chloroform.

Cindy Anthony told McGraw, “Truthfully, to this day, I don’t know, to be honest.”

George Anthony said, “Do I want to believe that Caylee was back there?  I don’t want to believe it, but I’m going by what investigators have told me.  All I know is that Caylee is not with us anymore.”  

Cindy Anthony famously told a 911 operator that it smelled like there had been “a dead body in the damn car” while reporting her granddaughter’s disappearance in July 2008. Caylee had been missing for 31 days before authorities were alerted. McGraw said that when he pressed the Anthony couple about their behavior during those 31 days that they went without seeing Caylee, they told him that they believed Casey Anthony was keeping Caylee from them out of spite.

“She [Cindy Anthony] got to a point where she believed that Casey was keeping Caylee away from her on purpose, but she said my mind never went to the fact that she could have done something to her,” McGraw said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep122011

Iraq War Vet Dies in Unlikely Air Tank Explosion

Zigy Kaluzny /Getty Images(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- An Iraq war veteran planning a diving expedition with two friends in Florida was killed Sunday morning when the scuba tank he was carrying exploded.

Russell Vanhorn III, a 23-year-old former Marine originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was carrying the tank into the parking lot of an apartment complex in St. Petersburg, Fla., when it ruptured. Vanhorn was treated for severe traumatic injuries at St. Petersburg General Hospital and pronounced dead shortly after.

"The explosion was so big it damaged vehicles within 100 feet of the incident," said, Lt. Joel Granata of St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue. "I've never seen anything like this."

St. Pete Fire and Rescue says Vanhorn was preparing for a scuba diving trip with two friends who live in the one-story apartment complex. They were both inside the apartment when the explosion occurred and were not injured.

"When we arrived we noticed the front door of the apartment was blown out, and the man was in the doorway -- half in, half out," said Granata.

The blast caused damages to several vehicles in the apartment complex parking lot, including broken windows and chipped paint. One car even suffered a door being blown out completely.

Granata said fire and police investigators along with a local dive master reported to the scene immediately. They inspected the remaining scuba supplies, checked pressures and bled the air out of a remaining nine tanks that were inside the apartment. The Tampa Bomb Squad also reported to the scene as a precaution.

The St. Petersburg Times reports that Vanhorn learned to scuba dive at Camp Pendleton while serving in the Marine Corps. The Times quotes Vanhorn's father as saying that his son aspired to begin a career in scuba diving with another friend from Iowa.

Jill Heinerth, a technical diving expert and legal consultant, said this particular scenario is unusual but added that scuba tank explosions are not unheard of.

"Pressurized tanks can explode for a number of reasons," said Heinerth. "If a tank were to fall over for instance, and the oxygen valves move to an on position and let's suppose there's a source of ignition like a car that's running, if these mix then you've got all the right components for a massive explosion."

Heinerth stressed the importance of following the federal scuba guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Divers should have their tanks visually inspected by a certified technician once a year and every five years a hydrostatic test must be performed. If divers are using anything other than air in their tanks then they should have the tank oxygen cleaned annually by certified technicians.

Heinerth also recommended that people get their tanks filled at a reputable air fill station or dive shop to ensure they have clean air and that it's filled properly, this will lessen contamination that could potentially lead to an explosion.

Puetz said the St. Petersburg Police are investigating to determine if the tank was properly filled with oxygen, had proper attachments and determine if Vanhorn was carrying the tank when the explosion occurred or if he had set it down at the moment.

Vanhorn's friends have had to vacate their apartment, which police have boarded up.

Vanhorn is expected to be laid to rest in his hometown.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio