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Saturday
Jan082011

US Government Issues Subpoena for WikiLeaks' Twitter Info

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The U.S. government has issued subpoenas seeking details on WikiLeaks' Twitter activity, as well as on founder Julian Assange and other WikiLeaks figures' accounts.

The U.S. District Court in Virginia is looking for account information such as names, addresses, phone records, internet connection and payment details.

Twitter's position has always been that it complies with all "local laws" but also sees itself in a position to protect freedom of expression. While the San Francisco-based website has not commented on the subpoenas, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange reportedly condemned the U.S. government on Saturday, saying that the court order amounts to "harassment." Social networking experts wonder how much of a chill such an order might have on freedom of expression on sites like Twitter or Facebook.

The U.S. Justice Department is apparently seeking the information as it moves forward in efforts to prosecute Assange and U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who helped Assange obtain and release more than a quarter million pages of secret U.S. government documents.

Assange remains in Great Britain, where he is free on bail in another matter, fighting extradition to Sweden.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan082011

Package Ignites in DC: Homeland Security Chief Targeted

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A package addressed to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ignited Friday at a Washington, D.C. postal facility. The package looked "similar" to the book-sized envelopes that detonated in Maryland on Thursday, officials said, but it was not immediately clear whether the incidents were related and whether the same person sent all three packages.

DC Metro Police Chief Cathy Lanier said "there was popping, smoking, a brief flash of fire and then it extinguished itself."  No injuries were reported and the building was evacuated as a precautionary measure.  U.S. postal service spokeswoman Irene Lericos said that the building is an annex that handles U.S. government mail.

On Thursday, a pair of incendiary devices in small packages, including one addressed to the governor of Maryland, erupted within hours of each other inside two government office buildings in Maryland. The detonations injured two people but there were no major injuries. Those devices -- similar in construction to ones recently mailed to embassies in Rome and in Greece -- were described by one official as "terror vandalism," that are "intended to scare, and hurt you a bit, but not kill." Officials described them as powered by a small battery linked to an electric match and a switch.  A message linked to the devices suggested they were sent by someone who was angry with the government's terror warnings, sources told ABC News.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan082011

Real Life Superheroes? Mystery Men Patrol Streets of Seattle

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(SEATTLE) -- Armed with a skintight black-and-gold, belted costume, a cape and a fedora, Phoenix Jones suits up at night to fight crime on the streets of Seattle. He's the leader of a real-life superhero movement called the Rain City Superheroes, a group of 10 fighters who perform their own form of vigilante justice on the streets of Seattle.

"It's a pretty simple message. Citizens need to be more accountable. Calling 911 is a great start, but it's not the end all to end all," Jones said. "Criminals feel free to just run wild in my city, and I'm not going to stand for it."

Superman can fly, Batman has his gadgets and Spiderman has his webs and supersharp senses. But Phoenix Jones, Red Dragon and Buster Doe have just their snazzy costumes and endless enthusiasm as they patrol Seattle's Capitol Hill.

Red Dragon sports a red robe and a wooden sword. Buster Doe covers his face with a white scarf. Jones wears a bulletproof vest and carries not just a Taser but a net gun and a grappling hook. His car has a computer in it that prints any e-mails sent to his superhero e-mail address.

Police are perplexed, worried the group will turn into vigilantes and doubt that the superhero posse has ever stopped any crime.

"Our concern is if it goes badly, then we end up getting called anyway, and we may have additional victims," Detective Mark Jamieson said.

Seattle police said that it is not illegal to dress up as a superhero, but they worry about excess calls to 911 when residents confuse Jones and the other real-life superheroes with criminals.

"I have two kids," Phoenix Jones said. "I always tell them the same thing every time before I go on patrol: 'This is the only thing daddy could think of to make the world better for you guys, and I'll see you when I get home.'"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan072011

John Edwards Not Engaged to Rielle Hunter

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (NEW YORK) -- Despite rumors to the contrary, former presidential hopeful John Edwards is not engaged to Rielle Hunter, sources close to the couple tell ABC News.

"I do not believe it to be true," Hunter's attorney, Alan Duncan, told ABC News when asked about a report in The National Enquirer that Edwards had proposed over a December vacation, just weeks after the death of his estranged wife Elizabeth Edwards.

Another source close to the couple also disputed the alleged engagement, telling ABC News that the couple was not planning to wed.

According to the Enquirer, the same publication that first broke the news of Edwards' extramarital affair with Hunter in 2007, Edwards told Hunter he wanted to "become one big, happy family."

A spokeswoman for the Edwards family declined to comment on the report.

Hunter is the mother of Edwards' 2-year-old daughter, Quinn. Edwards first denied the affair with Hunter before admitting the indiscretion in August 2008. Then, in January 2010 he admitted that he was, in fact, Quinn's father.

Reports of an impending wedding come just days after news that will of Edwards' estranged wife Elizabeth Edwards excluded the former North Carolina senator.

This is not the first time a wedding between Edwards and Hunter has been rumored.

Last year, following the announcement that Edwards is Quinn's biological father, the Enquirer ran a similar story reporting the couple's engagement that was also debunked.

Also last year, Andrew Young, a former aide to Edwards, told ABC News that Hunter talked about plans for a rooftop wedding in New York.

Elizabeth Edwards, who died Dec. 7 after a six-year battle with breast cancer, appointed her eldest daughter Catharine as the executor of her will, which makes no mention of John Edwards.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan072011

Saddam Hussein's Pistol Featured by President George W. Bush Library

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DALLAS) -- The 9 mm Glock pistol former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein held in his lap when he was captured by American troops in 2003 is now on display at the site of George W. Bush's future presidential library.

The gun sits in the "Capturing Key Moments" display case at the Dallas exhibit, which closes Feb. 6.

A new video released by the museum shows President Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush describing several artifacts, including some related to his visit to Ground Zero in New York just days after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

"I walked into what felt like Hell," Bush said of the experience, when he climbed atop a fire engine that had been crushed in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. He used a bullhorn to shout a message of encouragement to the haggard first responder teams.

"I can hear you," he hollered, as the teams began to cheer. "The rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

The bullhorn is now mounted front and center in the display case beside a frame holding Saddam Hussein's black pistol, confiscated during the early-morning raid called "Operation Red Dawn," which involved more than 600 troops. Saddam was found hiding in a small underground bunker.

Those two artifacts have drawn not only visitors, but protests to the future site of the Bush Institute on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

"I hope that a bullhorn will not become the symbol for the entry of the United States into an unjustified war, and that a pistol of Saddam Hussein's is not seen as some strange symbol of victory in that horrendous misjudgment," said Tex Sample, a Methodist Church elder who opposed the selection of the site.

The Bush Institute calls all of the treasures on display "historic artifacts" which help define the Bush presidency.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan072011

Promising Princeton Student Kills Self Over Rapes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PRINCETON, N.J.) -- A promising Princeton graduate student who had been haunted by childhood rapes killed himself this week, leaving a 4,000-word suicide note disclosing the "darkness" that stalked him.

Bill Zeller, 27 and a "brilliant programmer," died Wednesday after suffering brain damage due to oxygen deprivation from a suicide attempt, according to the Daily Princetonian newspaper.

He was found by the university's public safety officers on Sunday and was brought to Princeton Medical Center, where he remained in a coma for three days before he was removed from life support.

Zeller was pursuing a doctorate in computer science.

His suicide note shocked family and friends with an exhaustive description of repeated rapes as a young child. He did not name his abuser, but referred to a male.

That letter was published on the Princetonian website.

In his suicide note, Zeller described an "inconsolable rage," and said programming had been an appealing career because "I was able to keep the darkness at bay for a few hours at a time."

"My first memories as a child are of being raped, repeatedly," he wrote. "This has affected every aspect of my life."

He said the abuse had destroyed his career, his ability to function and even his relationships with women.

"This darkness, which is the only way I can describe it, has followed me like a fog, but at times intensified and overwhelmed me," he wrote.

The suicide note appeared on his personal website; he also e-mailed it to friend before attempting to take his life, according to the newspaper.

Zeller said in his suicide note that he had never revealed the childhood abuse to anyone until now. He wrote he had been kicked out of his home and financially cut off at age 19. But he also said that he called his family and knew that his mother loved him.

One friend, Amy Barackman, told her mother she had seen his depression and estrangement from family coming and tried to reach out to him Christmas week.  Zeller, who was from Middletown, Conn., and attended Trinity College as an undergraduate, was a talented programmer. He created such applications as Graph Your Inbox, which visualizes Gmail use over time, and myTunes, which enables users to download others' iTunes music.

Zeller was active in the graduate student government program at Princeton and wrote for an influential technology blog, among other activities.

"The university has lost a very promising computer science student and an individual with many close friends within his research group and across campus," said William Russel, dean of Princeton's graduate school, in a press release on the university's website.

"We in the graduate school and others from university offices offer sincere condolences and continuing support to Bill's family and his friends on campus and across the country," it said. "We are planning a memorial service to provide students and members of the Princeton family an opportunity to honor his memory."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan072011

John Wheeler's Cell Phone Found in House Under Construction

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- Police in Newark, Del., have recovered John Wheeler's cell phone in a house under construction across the street from his home in New Castle. Del., reported ABC affiliate WPVI in Philadelphia.

The ex-presidential appointee had filed a lawsuit, challenging the zoning approval for the neighboring house because it partially blocked his view of Battery Park and the Delaware River.

Police have been looking into the possibility that Wheeler may have set off smoke bombs in the house earlier last week.

Wheeler reportedly fought with a neighbor over the construction of the home. An attorney for that neighbor issued a statement saying his client was saddened by Wheeler's death.

Authorities have also interviewed a cab driver after finding his phone number on Wheeler's cell phone.

The driver, Athel Scott, said he doesn't know how his number got on Wheeler's phone, but he said he does remember seeing him.

"I seen him one day by the Hotel duPont and one day I seen him at the train station going inside that little store, that's all I know," Scott said.

Police also announced Friday they have uncovered more surveillance video from the night Wheeler was last seen alive. The video shows Wheeler leaving the Nemours Building in Wilmington, then walking down the street, passing through the Hotel duPont valet parking area further, before crossing over to Market Street.

In one portion of the video, the 66-year-old Wheeler appears confused as he held a shoe in one hand, and limping slightly. He is last seen on camera at 8:42 p.m. on Dec. 30.

Former homicide investigator Brad Garrett told ABC News, "So the, the question for investigators is, does it all really go together or is it pieces? When I say pieces, did he have a stroke, for example? Becomes disoriented, he wanders around. He hits into the wrong crowd. They kill him. They rob him, whatever they might do."

Wheeler's death remains a distressing mystery for his family and the police.

Investigators are continuing their efforts to talk to Wheeler's friends and associates, and are asking for the public's help. Meanwhile, Wheeler's family issued a statement Friday, thanking the police for their efforts:

"The family of John P. Wheeler III is most grateful for the efforts of the law enforcement authorities in the ongoing investigation into his death. The family is sincerely thankful for all the personal expressions of sympathy and condolences received from so many whose lives were touched by Jack in such positive ways. We reiterate our previous requests for privacy as we mourn his loss and ask that our decision to refrain from further comment at this time be respected."

Wheeler, a former presidential appointee and defense consultant, was found dead as his body was being dumped out of a dumpster into a Wilmington, Del. landfill on New Year's Eve.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan072011

Packages Ignite at Government Mail Facility in Wash., D.C.

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Police responded Friday afternoon to reports of a suspicious package that ignited at a Washington, D.C., postal facility that handles U.S. government mail. The building was evacuated, but no injuries were immediately reported.

The incident comes just 24 hours after a pair of small packages burst into flames inside two government office buildings in Maryland on Thursday. At least five were treated for minor injuries.

The devices that caused Thursday's scare were described by authorities as close in size to a small padded envelope or book. One exploded at the Maryland Department of Transportation headquarters, the other at the Jeffrey Building in downtown Annapolis, which houses the Maryland secretary of state and the Maryland Office of Homeland Security. A federal probe was launched to determine who may have sent the devices.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan072011

Search Continues for Phylicia Barnes, Missing for 11 Days After Trip to Baltimore

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- The search continued Friday for Phylicia Simone Barnes, a star high school student from North Carolina who went missing in Baltimore last week. The 16-year-old honors student from Monroe, N.C., was visiting her half-sister when she disappeared three days after Christmas.

Phylicia was last heard from Dec. 28 via Facebook when she posted a note saying she was at her sister's apartment with her sister's boyfriend. The 5-foot-8 inch, African-American student has been missing ever since.

"I was going to turn this city upside down to find my child, and I was going to leave no stone unturned," Russell Barnes, Phylicia's father, told ABC News.

The FBI and Baltimore police are conducting the investigation. Baltimore Metro Crime Stoppers has offered a cash reward of up to $2,000 for her discovery.

Police told ABC News Friday they obtained additional security video from the area surrounding the apartment, but it has yet to shed new light on the case. FBI helicopters have scoured the area for three days without finding any clues.

"If there's any good news, we haven't found anything yet," Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

Police say several people who visited the apartment are considered persons of interest, and the two likely scenarios proposed by investigators are abduction or murder.

"At this point, you hope it's an abduction," Guglielmi said.

Janice Sallis, Phylicia's mother, said, "If she's alive, she's scared to death."

Aside from Baltimore and her hometown near Charlotte, N.C., Phylicia's disappearance has garnered little media attention, raising the issue of a double-standard because of her race.

"I can't see how this case is any different from Natalee Holloway," Guglielmi said. "Is it because she's African-American? Why?"

The dissappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway while on vacation in Aruba nearly six years ago sparked a media frenzy. But news coverage has been relatively sparse in Phylicia's case.

Speaking about the lack of national media coverage, the Baltimore police spokesman said, "Birds are falling out of the sky in Arkansas and two headed calves, and this girl may lose her life."

The Baltimore mayor's office says it shares the concern about the possible existence of a double-standard in the coverage of Phylicia's disappearance but is more distressed about the case because of its heartbreaking nature.

Her father said, "Phylicia had a bright spirit and just a glow about herself. Our greatest hope is that she can walk in the door and...be reunited with her family."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan072011

Dad Twice Told Uzi Too Powerful for Young Son

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WESTFIELD, Mass.) -- The teenager who worked at a gun show where eight-year-old Christopher Bizilj accidentally killed himself while shooting an Uzi testified Friday he twice suggested the boy's father pick a less powerful weapon for the boy to shoot.

But Christopher's father, Dr. Charles Bizilj, insisted his son be allowed to fire the automatic weapon, Michael Spano told the court. Spano, who was 15 at the time of the 2008 Massachusetts gun expo, was put in charge of allowing people to fire the 9 mm Micro Uzi, a submachine gun that fires 20 rounds a second.

Former Pelham, Mass., Police Chief Edward Fleury is on trial for the boy's death. He is charged with involuntary manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty.

The most dramatic moment of the trial came Thursday when the court watched video recorded by Charles Bizilj of the boy handling the gun. The father, who was on the stand at the time, closed his eyes as the video showed the boy struggling to handle the guns' recoil. The barrel reared up and shot the boy in the head. The court room gasped and the boy's mother left the courtroom in tears.

During Spano's testimony Friday, he said he warned Christopher's father about the gun prior to giving it to Christopher. Initially, Spano offered Christopher a gun that shot only one round at a time, but Dr. Bizilj asked him to give his son a fully automatic weapon that would shoot continuously, Spano said.

The teenager said he suggested for a second time that a non-automatic weapon would be better for the boy, but the father dismissed his concern.

Spano is the son of Domenico Spano, who is also charged with involuntary manslaughter for his role in providing the guns at the expo. A third man, Carl Guiffre, faces identical charges. Both men have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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