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Friday
Apr152011

Mom Sentenced in Autistic Son's Leukemia Death

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Kristen LaBrie, the Salem, Mass., mom found guilty of attempted murder for withholding chemotherapy medications from her autistic son, was sentenced Friday to eight-to-10 years in prison.

Prosecutors in the case argued that LaBrie committed murder by withholding potentially lifesaving medications for her nine-year-old son, Jeremy Fraser. The defense admitted that LaBrie knowingly withheld her son's medications, but said she did so only because of their painful side effects.

Prosecutors asked for a harsher jail term of 16 years. LaBrie's lawyer hoped for a one-year sentence.

In October 2006, nine-year-old Jeremy was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, but doctors gave him an 85 percent to 90 percent chance of recovery, Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall said during the arraignment in 2009. Large doses of chemotherapy were given to the boy in the hospital, and his cancer went into remission.

His mother was given prescriptions for medications he was to be given at home. During the arraignment, MacDougall said LaBrie repeatedly failed to pick up prescriptions but led doctors to believe she was getting them filled, even asking at one point for a liquid version of the medication because her son was having difficulty swallowing pills.

In February 2008, after one of Jeremy's doctors called LaBrie's pharmacy and learned she had not been filling prescriptions, LaBrie said the pharmacy must have made a mistake, MacDougall said. It was at that point that doctors learned the boy's cancer had returned as leukemia and was no longer treatable with chemotherapy, she said. The boy died in 2009.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr152011

Stink Bugs Invade Homes, Called a Menace to Agriculture 

Hermera Technologies/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's spring and that means the stink bugs are back, invading homes with their peculiar odor.

Stink bugs are invasive insects from Asia that first were spotted in Pennsylvania in the mid 1990s. Entomologists say the brown marmorated stink bug is now in 33 states. And this year they expect them to turn up in other places.

Mike Raupp, an entomologist from the University of Maryland, told ABC's Good Morning America that, while stink bugs don't hurt people, they do suck -- suck the juice out of plants, that is. Researchers say stink bugs are the most menacing agricultural pests in 40 years.

The brown marmorated stink bug is a fearsome agricultural menace and a disgusting home nuisance. The shield-shaped insects suck the juice out of fruits, vegetables and house plants and congregate on window sills in alarming numbers.

If you have stink bugs in your home, unfortunately, insect experts do not have a "magic bullet" that will solve your problem. Entomologists are working to come up with creative solutions. A couple of possibilities: They may be able to engineer a form of stink bug "birth control." There also has been talk of introducing predators, like hornets that will consume stink bugs.

However, none of those efforts is well-developed yet, so here are some intermediate steps you can take to try to control the stink bugs in your home:

* Vacuum up stink bugs. They will release their scent when you do this, so you should empty your vacuum bag often. They also can live for a few days in your vacuum canister, so you may want to tape the hose end shut so they don't crawl back out.

* Caulk cracks. Stink bugs can flatten themselves down to a very narrow profile in order to wiggle through the smallest household cracks and get inside your home. Caulking all cracks helps and is good for energy savings, as well.

* Use window screening. You can cover ridge vents and other necessary openings in your home with window screening so there is still air circulation, but so that stink bugs cannot get in. Consult a knowledgeable contractor to make sure the screening won't cause any harm.

* Treat your attic. Stink bugs like attics. Some pest control contractors are experimenting with setting off pesticide "bombs" in these uninhabited spaces, but you should know that studies have shown stink bugs have the bizarre ability to appear dead from pesticides and then come back to life a few days later.

* Use insecticidal soap. Making your vegetable garden and house plants unpalatable to stink bugs may help. Insecticidal soap sprays are available at nurseries and less toxic than full-fledged pesticides.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Friday
Apr152011

Post Office Used Vegas Replica For Lady Liberty Stamp

Medioimages/Photodisc (file)(WASHINGTON) -- The newest forever stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service was supposed to be an iconic American image of the Statue of Liberty, but instead of showing the statue that stands in New York harbor, the picture depicts her doppelganger at the New York New York casino in Las Vegas.

Despite the fact the stamp depicts a gambling destination, the post office says it still prefers the picture to the original Lady Liberty and has no plans to recall the stamp.

Postal officials were not aware of the mistake until they received a tip from a stamp aficionado who was able to point out the difference between the real Lady Liberty and her plaster counterpart. The Postal Service has declined to identify the tipster.

The postal service originally obtained the images from a photo agency that had the figure listed as Lady Liberty. The description made no reference to it being a replica.

The stamp was first introduced in December 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr152011

President Obama to Sleepy Air Controllers: 'Better Do Your Job'

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama lectured air traffic controllers in an exclusive interview with ABC News, impressing on them the enormous responsibility of safeguarding flying passengers and telling them, "You better do your job."

The president spoke after several controllers were caught asleep on the job and the man in charge of air traffic control, Hank Krakowski, resigned on Thursday.

"The individuals who are falling asleep on the job, that's unacceptable," the president told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos Thursday.  "The fact is, when you're responsible for the lives and safety of people up in the air, you better do your job.  So, there's an element of individual responsibility that has to be dealt with."

Five controllers have been suspended for apparently napping on the job while planes were trying to land at their airports.

The president said a full review of air traffic control work shifts is underway.

"What we also have to look at is air traffic control systems.  Do we have enough back up?  Do we have enough people?  Are they getting enough rest time?" Obama said.

He added, however, "But it starts with individual responsibility."

In March, two commercial airliners were forced to land unassisted at Washington, D.C.'s Reagan National Airport after a controller apparently fell asleep.

Just days later, two controllers at the Preston Smith International Airport in Lubbock, Texas, did not hand off control of a departing aircraft to another control center and it took repeated attempts for them to be reached.

On Feb. 19, an air traffic controller in Knoxville, Tennessee, slept during an overnight shift.  Sources told ABC News that the worker even took pillows and cushions from a break room to build a make-shift bed on the control room floor.

And this month, there were two more incidents.  A controller fell asleep on the job in Seattle, and days later a controller in Reno, Nevada, was snoozing when a plane carrying a critically ill passenger was seeking permission to land.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr152011

Weather Hampers Search for Missing Tennessee Woman

Goodshoot RF/Thinkstock(PARSONS, Tenn.) -- Bad weather is hampering search efforts to find Holly Bobo, the Tennessee woman dragged into the woods by a man dressed in camouflage.

Thunderstorms and tornado warnings are slowing down investigators and community members searching the dense west Tennessee woodlands Friday.

"We're waiting right now to see when this weather pattern will pass through. When it passes through, then we will be back out in the field searching again," Decatur County Sheriff Roy Wyatt said.

The 20-year-old woman's brother saw the abduction on Wednesday from inside the family's home in Parsons, Tenn. Her brother called 911 and said a man wearing camouflage dragged the woman from the carport of her family home toward the woods.

"It's very possible that he could have known her, could have known her daily routine. We're following up on everything we possibly can," Wyatt said.

Bobo is a cousin of Whitney Duncan, a country music singer and a finalist on the television talent show Nashville Star.

Almost 400 volunteers searched for the nursing student on foot, on horseback and using ATVs on Thursday. Pink ribbons and pictures of Holly Bobo are posted all over the close knit community of 2,500 people. The community is offering a $25,000 reward for any information that leads to her safe return.

Bobo is five-foot-three and weighs 110 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pink shirt and blue jeans.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr152011

World's Oldest Living Man Dies in Montana at 114

Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Thinkstock(GREAT FALLS, Mont.) -- Walter Breuning, known as the world's oldest living man, passed away in Montana Thursday.  He was 114.

According to Stacia Kirby, the spokeswoman for the retirement home where Breuning lived since 1980, the supercentenarian died of natural causes at a Great Falls hospital.

Breuning was born in Melrose, Minnesota on Sept. 21, 1896.  In 1913, he began a 50-year career working on railroads.  Two years later, he moved to Montana, where he continued his career before retiring in 1963 at the age of 67.

In 1922, he married Agnes Twokey, who passed away in 1957.  The couple never had children and Bruening never remarried.

The title of the world's oldest living man now goes to Japan's Jiroemon Kimura, according to the Gerontology Research Group's website.  Kimura is 113 years old and will turn 114 on Tuesday, April 19.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr152011

Oregon Mailman Busted for Making Not So Special Delivery

Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Thinkstock(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- A Portland, Oregon postal worker has been placed on leave after he was caught defecating in a yard on his mail route.

Resident Don Derfler explained to local ABC News affiliate KATU that he noticed the mail carrier "acting odd" in his neighbor's yard across the street, and when the postman pulled down his pants, Derfler pulled out his camera, just in time to catch the man squatting behind some bushes.

Derfler not only caught the mailman in the act on camera, he also snapped a pic of the "delivery," which the resident shared with the news station.

A Postal Service spokesperson told KATU-TV that the mailman in question was placed on unpaid leave while an investigation is completed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr152011

Resigning FAA Official Defended Lavish 2009 Conference

ABC News(ATLANTA) -- The Federal Aviation Authority official who resigned Thursday after a series of air traffic controllers were found sleeping on the job was also featured in an ABC News investigation into a controversial $5 million FAA conference in 2009.

Hank Krakowski, formerly the chief operating officer of the FAA's Air Traffic Operations, attended the Atlanta conference which critics said was little more than a chance to throw a lavish party.  Krakowski defended the conference to ABC News' Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross, saying the three weeks of meetings and social events were necessary to train managers on the new contract that went into effect months earlier.

Three groups of managers attended the conference in one-week spans.

The costs the event incurred were worth it, Krakowski said, "because we have to get the frontline managers onboard with what we're trying to do."

At the time, FAA whistleblowers questioned why, if the meetings were so important, they were held more than two months after the contract had been enacted.

"It seems a little extravagant," said one whistleblower in a message to ABC News then.  "One would think a PowerPoint or even a videoconference would suffice."

Undercover video taken at the conference showed FAA managers drinking heavily and making the rounds of Atlanta bars after a day of meetings.

One FAA manager told an ABC News undercover reporter, "Anytime you get a bunch of FAA guys together, it is nothing but a party."  Another said, "It beats being at work."

Krakowski submitted his resignation to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt Thursday as the FAA continues to investigate five incidents of possible napping air traffic controllers in recent weeks.

In his announcement of the resignation, Babbitt said, "Over the last few weeks we have seen examples of unprofessional conduct on the part of a few individuals that have rightly caused the traveling public to question our ability to ensure their safety.  This conduct must stop immediately."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

Arlington Grave Mix-Ups Draw Congressional Ire

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly a year after the country was horrified to learn of major mistakes at Arlington National Cemetery, including graves marked incorrectly and misplaced remains, members of Congress are asking whom to hold accountable.

Bill Koch wants answers, too. Koch, a retired Air Force Colonel whose wife, Jean, is buried at Arlington, learned he had been visiting the wrong grave for more than four years. He told a House committee Thursday that the former managers at the nation's premier cemetery for its war dead "should be ashamed."

"There is a lot more than one unknown soldier" at Arlington, Koch said. That's how badly he said the cemetery has been managed.

The Army admits 18 grave sites have been marked incorrectly or left unmarked. Since last June when the scandal became known, the Army says it has examined 22,000 grave sites. There are more than 300,000 graves at Arlington. To complete the accounting of all graves, which must be completed by the end of the year, will cost $4.3 million, according to the Army.

The Secretary of Army did not appear at Thursday's hearing, which frustrated the chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va. He said the Army's effort to fix the problems at Arlington has been "unsatisfactory and is in no way commensurate with the service and sacrifice of our fallen warriors."

When word of the mistakes made news last June, Bill Koch decided to call Arlington to make sure the grave he had been visiting was indeed his wife's. He was told there was nothing to worry about. But a second phone call alerted him that there was a problem. It turned out his wife was actually buried in the grave next to the one he had visited. Her remains were moved, and a new headstone was put in place.

Former Arlington National Cemetery superintendent John Meltzer and his deputy Thurman Higgenbotham were criticized roundly by Col. Koch, who said the two men "got a slap on the wrist." He added, "Once they retired it was as if this whole incident never occurred."

Members of Congress accused the two former Arlington managers of squandering millions of dollars in an effort to digitize the cemetery's paper records. The Secretary of the Army admitted, "We expect to find more paperwork errors."

The Army says it is frustrated it couldn't do more about the two men. Karl Schneidner, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, said when the two men retired, the Army's jurisdiction over them "evaporated."

The new executive director at Arlington, Kathryn Condon, told the committee that when she took over last June it as if she "moved into a house without a foundation."

"Now we are moving to do accountability," she said.

Republican Mike Coffman of Colorado wasn't buying it. He called the Arlington Cemetery leadership and its staff "rotten to its core. A culture of incompetence if not a culture of corruption." He wondered if the new leadership is up to the job.

"You don't get it," he said. "We need to honor these veterans."

The new leadership defended the staff, saying in the past there was "no guidance, no direction, no training" of the staff at the cemetery.

Rep. Wittman wondered whether the Army's Inspector General is taking Congress' concerns seriously since he did not attend the hearing.

"Our nation's heroes deserve better," Wittman said. "Today, this committee is demanding better."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

Mom Who Drowned Family in Hudson River Tried to Back Out at Last Moment

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A woman who drove her minivan into the frigid waters of the Hudson River, killing herself and her three small children, changed her mind at the last minute, throwing the car into reverse and admitting her mistake to her 10-year-old son who swam to safety.

On Thursday, the boy, Leshaun Armstrong, returned to the dock from where his mother drove into the water. He was accompanied by members of his family.

Minutes after an argument with her boyfriend and father of her three youngest children Tuesday night, Leshanda Armstrong posted an eerie message on Facebook, packed her four children into her minivan, and headed for the Hudson River in Newburgh, N.Y.

Her Facebook message, posted at 7:13 p.m. Tuesday, said, "I'm so sorry everyone forgive me please for what I'm gonna do.... This Is It!!!!" During the ride to the river, her son says she told her children, "You're all going to die with me."

Despite her decision to kill her family, evidence from the scene and interviews with Lashaun indicate that she changed her mind once the vehicle began filling with water.

When police were able to pull the car out of the water Wednesday, they noticed that the gearshift was in reverse, said Lt. Bruce Campbell, a member of the dive team and department spokesman.

Leshaun Armstrong told Maeve Ryan, a Good Samaritan who found Leshaun, who was soaking wet, that his mother was holding onto all four children, including two boys aged 5 and 2 as well as an 11-month-old daughter as the car hit the water. As water rushed in through the windows and the car sank in eight feet of water 25 yards from shore, Leshaun broke free, crawled out a window and swam to safety.

Police also said there were indications that the mother had unbuckled the children and may have been holding them together.

Armstrong's last moments were filled with terror, regret and tenderness. The boy said that just before reaching the water, Armstrong made a final cellphone call to her own mother asking forgiveness. And as he struggled to get out of the car, Leshaun said his mother kissed his head and gave him her blessing.

Minutes before Armstrong left with her kids driving to boat ramp, her aunt called Newburgh police to report the woman and her boyfriend, Jean Pierre, had been having a fight. By the time police arrived at the home, the women and her children were gone.

Leshaun Armstrong is currently staying with relatives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio