Double Standard? Lou Dobbs Fires Back at 'Smear Piece'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Lou Dobbs, the former CNN anchor who is under fire for reportedly relying on illegal immigrants to care for his horses and properties, said a "smear piece" by The Nation magazine and reporter Isabel MacDonald is holding him to a double standard.

"I never, ever used a contractor as a way in which to indirectly hire an illegal immigrant purposefully. Never, never, never," Dobbs told ABC News on Friday.

The article, entitled "Lou Dobbs, American Hypocrite," does not state that Dobbs directly hired illegal workers but that contractors he employed did, suggesting he should be made liable.

Dobbs has been critical of employers who hire illegal workers and had previously suggested they should face felony charges. He insists that he did ask the landscaping firm at his West Palm Beach, Fla., home for assurances that there would not be illegal immigrants working on his property, but there was no legal way to guarantee that for himself.

"Unless you're asking me and millions of other Americans to engage in racial profiling -- because that's the only way you can satisfy the objections that The Nation has raised -- that would be racial profiling on my part to make sure this thing doesn't happen. That's what you're suggesting," he said.

"I have never hired an illegal immigrant, never will. None of my companies have hired illegal immigrants and we work very hard to make certain we do not do so," he said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


FTC to Consider Online 'Do Not Track' Marketing List

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Federal Trade Commission is considering a proposal that would make it illegal for companies to trade private information about young people who don't consent to online tracking by marketers.

The proposal, along with the suggestion for an online "do not track" list, will be part of an upcoming report.

A Zogby International poll released Friday found that 92 percent of parents fear their children were sharing too much information online, and that 85 percent of parents were more concerned about online privacy than they were five years ago.

It also found that 91 percent of parents think search engines and social networking sites should not be able to share kids' physical locations with other companies until parents give authorization.

Zogby surveyed 2,100 parents and 401 teens between the ages of 15 and 18. The poll was conducted between Aug. 13 and 20.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Postal Workers Union Ballots Lost in the Mail 

Photo Courtesy - American Postal Workers Union(WASHINGTON) -- The election committee for the American Postal Workers Union was scheduled to begin tabulating ballots this week for the election of national officers, but the count has been delayed because voting forms have apparently been lost in the mail.

The union tells that less than 40,000 completed ballots have been received so far, a small percentage of the total membership, and many members have complained about never receiving theirs in the mail.

The APWU has decided to extend the voting until Oct. 14, and is directing members who need additional forms to contact union officials by telephone or e-mail.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


New Jersey Governor Scraps Tunnel to New York 

Photo Courtesy - State of New Jersey(TRENTON, NJ) -- A construction project that would have linked New Jersey and New York by an underground rail tunnel has been scuttled by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

It’s estimated that the Hudson Rail project, the largest transportation undertaking in the nation, would have created 6,000 jobs.

However, Christie says the state is broke and can’t afford the cost of the tunnel, which he claims might cost as much as $14 billion, far more than the $8.7 billion projected price tag.

Even with the federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey pledging $6 billion toward the project, the governor said his state couldn't come up with the balance.

The tunnel was intended to double the rail capacity into New York and ease the ever-growing congestion on the roads between the two states.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


NOAA Administrator 'Sets the Record Straight' to Oil Spill Commission

Photo Courtesy - NOAA dot gov(WASHINGTON) -- The administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote to the chairs of the Oil Spill Commission Thursday to "alert" them to a "mischaracterization" of a NOAA document in a commission staff working paper, the release of which Wednesday subjected the White House to much criticism of its response to the oil spill.

NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco said she wanted to "set the record straight" regarding the description in the paper that: "The Commission staff has also been advised that, in late April or early May 2010, NOAA wanted to make public some of its long-term, worst-case discharge models for the Deepwater Horizon spill, and requested approval to do so from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.  Staff was told that the Office of Management and Budget denied NOAA’s request."

Lubchenco said that NOAA "wanted to share the outcome of these models with the public, and so prepared a short description of the models and outcomes and submitted the document through OMB's interagency clearance process."  OMB required more work, though.  "Contrary to suggestions in the Draft Staff Working Paper, the document was cleared and released to the public."‬

In addition, asserted Lubchenco, the paper in question was studying long-term movement of the oil, not flow rate.  And though the draft paper "suggests that the early low flow rate estimates might have hampered the federal response,” she said, “[t]his was not the case.  Two goals of the worst-case scenario modeling were to inform the Unified Command's understanding about possible scenarios and aid the response effort, both of which happened.”‬

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Eyewitness in Alleged Mexican Pirate Attack Case Comes Forward

Photo Courtesy - ABC News | Google Maps(MEXICO) -- An eyewitness has come forward in the case of the American who was allegedly attacked by Mexican pirates to claim he saw the man's panicked wife as she fled to the American side of Falcon Lake.

"I saw the Jet Ski come around an island," the witness told ABC News.  "There was something wrong actually. The way I saw her come around it looked like something terribly wrong happened. I mean, she was jittery, frantic....She was crying, sobbing."

As a safety precaution, the witness spoke in shadow and with voice alteration to avoid identification because he said he feared for his life.

What the witness did not see -- what apparently no one but the alleged victims and attackers saw -- was what exactly happened on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake, which straddles the border between Texas and Mexico. Tiffany Hartley said she and her husband, David, took Jet Skis to the Mexican side of the lake to take pictures of a small church when suddenly a band of Mexican pirates opened fire on them with assault rifles. In a heart-wrenching 911 call, Hartley tells the dispatcher that her husband has been shot in the head and that she is too weak to pull his body up onto her Jet Ski. She was forced to abandon him there.

Tiffany Hartley returned for the first time Wednesday to the location where she said her husband was killed last week.

Mexican authorities launched a search by boat and air for the 30-year-old's body Wednesday after repeated pleas for increased effort from Hartley. The search was halted, reportedly after threats from Mexican drug cartels, but it was to resume Thursday, Hartley said.

Copyright ABC News Radio


Lou Dobbs Fights Report That He Hired Illegal Immigrants

Photo Courtesy - Evan Agostini/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Lou Dobbs gained notoriety for his harsh criticism of immigrants and the people who hire them.  Now in the wake of a report from The Nation that says that Dobbs has relied on undocumented workers for years, he's fighting to save his reputation.

Today on his nationally syndicated radio show, he called The Nation's investigation, titled "Lou Dobbs, American Hypocrite," "an attack piece" filled with "outrageous claims." He went head to head with reporter Isabel Macdonald about her assertion that he hired illegal immigrants to maintain his family's homes and horses.

Their conversation quickly turned into a confrontation:

Dobbs: "Did you say that I hired or my firm hired illegal immigrants?"

Macdonald: "I am saying that for years, undocumented immigrants looked after your show jumping horses, and for years, they looked after the grounds at your West Palm Beach estate in Florida. This article is fact-checked 100 percent, it is legally vetted."

Dobbs hammered Macdonald with questions but seemed loathe to offer any explanations himself. He suggested that if the workers he hired were illegal immigrants, he didn't know that.

"I had been told that they were absolutely legal," he said. "And you were told the same thing … and you didn't mention that in your piece."

The back-and-forth ended abruptly. As Dobbs tried to dismiss Macdonald from the program, she said, "Your listeners deserve better. I'm saying your listeners deserve to know the truth."

His response: "Are you saying they deserve better than going to Because that's the last thing I think they should do. ... Let's try focusing on truth and reality and straightforwardness, OK?"

For her Nation piece, Macdonald interviewed at least five undocumented immigrants who were hired by Dobbs. Some were brought on to help take care of the horse Dobbs' 22-year-old daughter Hillary used in her professional career as a show jumper.

One man named Rodrigo Ortega told Macdonald about meeting Dobbs, who introduced himself in Spanish as "Luis." Ortega said that Dobbs "knew very well that the majority of us didn't have papers," but that "was never a problem."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Chicago Actress Wins Contest, Gets to Camp at Museum of Science and Industry 

Photo Courtesy - Joe Ziolkowski, Museum of Science and Industry(CHICAGO) -- Ever wonder what happens in those big science museums in the wee hours? Do the dinosaur skeletons rise and roar? Do the statues shift to relieve their stiffness?

Those whimsical notions launched the "Night at the Museum" movies. Now a young Chicago woman gets to find out what it's really like to spend a night in a museum.

Or make that a whole month.

Kate McGroarty, a 24-year-old theater artist, won that privilege in a contest sponsored by Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. She beat 1,500 other applicants from around the world for the chance to spend 28 days, from October 20 to November 18, living in the vast museum.

"This is completely unchartered territory," McGroarty told ABC News. "People have gone to the moon but no one has lived in this museum for a whole month. And I am the first person who gets to do that, and that's very exciting to me."

She will have access to all the exhibits -- and while dinosaur bones aren't among them (Chicago has a natural history museum a couple of miles away for that), she could bed down in anything from a World War II German submarine to a coal mine to a diesel-electric passenger train.

She is looking forward to having free rein of the place: "I'm going to sleep in the submarine. I might do a personal cartwheel contest down the Main Street (exhibit). Man, if I could have a skateboard that would be unending fun."

McGroarty will be something of an exhibit herself. During her month-long stay, she'll interact with museum visitors and will blog, tweet and post videos about her experience. So if the human body models come to life or if the submarine is haunted, we'll all hear about it.

Once she completes her stay, she will also receive $10,000. She and the museum see her new role as educational: "I hope I make science look fun. And make it look desirable to learn about. I hope people come here and meet me and see how much fun I'm having living in a place like this and they can say maybe that's something I want to study more in school or maybe I'll pay more attention in my science class."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


National Counterterror Director Says Complaints Over Spying Declining Since Ft. Hood

Photo Courtesy - NCTC(WASHINGTON) -- The director of the National Counterterrorism Center expressed frustration Wednesday with critics of domestic spying and said that after recent violent incidents questions about government intrusiveness had turned into complaints that the government wasn't doing enough spying.

"In the months before Ft. Hood I was advocating for the extension of some aspects of the Patriot Act, and I think for very good reasons people have some concerns," said NCTC Director Michael Leiter. "I got a lot of, 'Why should we allow you to keep spying on Americans?"' Leiter was referring to the November 2009 attack at Fort Hood in Texas, which killed 13 people.

"Several weeks later in the wake of Ft. Hood," said Leiter, "I was back on [Capitol] Hill. I tell you a whole lot of fewer people were complaining about me spying on Americans and a whole lot more people were complaining that I wasn't spying enough. It's a tough line to walk." Leiter also said attitudes about terror watch lists had changed after alleged "underwear bomber" Umar Abdulmutallab, who was not placed on a watch list, was allowed to board Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit last Christmas. Abdulmutallab is charged with attempting to detonate a bomb on the plane.

Leiter and other top U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials discussed the balance between security and civil liberties at a conference Wednesday hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said he didn't believe there was "an inherent tension between protecting national security and preserving civil liberties....Yes, we have a right to privacy. But we also have a right to ride the subways without the threat of bombings. It is not a question of conflict; it is a question of balance."

Mueller said wiretap laws and phone and Internet providers have not kept pace with rapidly evolving technology, and that the government needs to improve the ability of law enforcement to monitor terrorist and criminal groups.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


New Rules To Prevent Air Ambulance Crashes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed broad new rules for helicopter operators Thursday, including air ambulances, which, if finalized, would require stricter flight rules and procedures, improved communications and training and additional on-board safety equipment.

 “This is a significant proposal that will improve the safety of many helicopter flights in the United States,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “The FAA’s initiatives have helped the helicopter industry make progress on many safety issues, but it’s time to take steps towards mandating these major safety improvements.”

 Under the proposed rules, operators would use the latest on-board technology and equipment to avoid terrain and obstacles. The proposal also contains provisions which, if finalized, would require operators to use enhanced procedures for flying in challenging weather, at night, and when landing in remote locations. 

“We can prevent accidents by preparing pilots and equipping helicopters for all of the unique flying conditions they encounter,” said FAA administrator Randy Babbitt. “These new rules are designed to protect passengers, patients, medical personnel, and pilots.”

Since August 2004, the FAA has promoted initiatives to reduce risk for helicopter air ambulance operations. While accidents did decline in 2005 and 2006, 2008 proved to be the deadliest year on record with six accidents that claimed 24 lives. Overall, from 1992 through 2009, 135 helicopter air ambulance accidents claimed 126 lives. From 1994 through 2008, there were also 75 commercial helicopter accidents -- excluding air ambulances -- that resulted in 88 fatalities.

The estimated cost of the proposal in present value for the air ambulance industry is $136 million with a total benefit of $160 million over 10 years. The cost for other commercial operators is $89 million with a total benefit of $115 million over 10 years.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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