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Tuesday
Feb152011

Senate Votes to Make Misuse of TSA Body Scans a Federal Crime

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of last year’s uproar over leaked airport body scan images, the Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to make it a federal crime to misuse the images.

The amendment to the $35 billion FAA reauthorization bill would ban the distribution of body scan images taken in airports or other federal buildings. Under the proposal, anyone who records or distributes the images would face up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

“This law sends a loud and clear message to the flying public, not only will we do everything we can to protect your safety, we will also do everything we can to protect your privacy,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a paper statement. “As we put in place new technologies to detect and capture those who wish to do us harm, we need to do everything we can to protect the privacy rights of the air travelers.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday night that he hopes to bring the complete FAA bill to a full Senate vote later this week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Who's Got the Million-Dollar Lotto Ticket? Big Winner Could Lose Out

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- Did you play the numbers 4-13-20-29-48 on a hot August day in North Carolina last year? If so, congratulations! You have won the $1 million prize.

The lottery is trying to find the winner of the Mega Millions jackpot. But, if the winner does not claim the prize by Wednesday, the ticket is worthless. Or, worth negative $2, the price paid for the winning ticket.

If the winner does not come forward the $1 million prize will be the state's first seven-figure winning to go unclaimed. And, instead of making some lucky person a millionaire the money will be divided equally between the lottery's education fund and, to an unusual benefactor, Medicaid. The North Carolina Lottery will direct funds to a Medicaid shortfall instead of the typical allotment for prizes for players in 2011.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Woman Jumps Off 40-Foot Bridge: 'I Thought I Was Dead'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ATLANTA) -- Bianca Vera was driving through the winter weather across an icy bridge in Atlanta, when a driver sideswiped her, knocking her car into the guard rail. When the 22-year-old opened her door and saw a truck barreling toward her, she jumped 40 feet into the icy water of Lake Lanier.

As she fell, she heard the truck smash into her car, followed by a series of crashes as more cars piled up. "I thought I was dead at that point," Vera said.

Vera hit the water, and in immense pain, swam 100 yards to the shore in the dark. She didn't realize it at the time, but she had broken her back in the fall. "Everything went numb, the water was so cold," Vera said.

Vera screamed, but no one answered. The icy swim took nearly an hour. Once on shore, rescuers heard Vera's cries.

"I think she's very lucky,” said deputy police chief Jerome Yarbrough.

"I can't take anything for granted, nothing at all. And I was obviously put here for a reason. God spared my life. I have a purpose and I just have to find it," Vera said.

Once in the water, Vera remembered to take off all of her winter clothes and her boots so she could swim faster. She credits her quick thinking to watching television. Apparently, Vera and her boyfriend are big fans of the show Man vs. Wild.

Vera spent four days in the hospital. In addition to breaking her back and severe bruising, she also suffered from hypothermia in the cold water.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Ex-Continental Pilot: Low Pay Led to Dangerous Fatigue

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A former veteran commercial airline pilot lived for more than a year at the beginning of his career in and out of a bare-bones "crash pad" and was so tired while flying that he drifted off to sleep in the cockpit, the pilot told ABC News.

Josh Reikes, who began flying in 1999, said money was so tight in his first years that whenever he commuted to a new city before a flight, he could not afford a hotel room and opted to stay in a crash pad.

"You're bunked up with six, seven, eight people stumbling in at all hours of the night waking you up," recalled Reikes. "It's not good sleep at all. But what's the alternative?"

An ABC News investigation found these dormitory-style rooms, designed to pack in as many airline crew members as possible, are spread out in cities across the country. After the few hours of sleep some pilots are able to snag in the crowded crash pads or on the couches and chairs of crew rooms, they report to duty and are entrusted with dozens, or sometimes hundreds, of passengers' lives. In the past 20 years, more than two dozen accidents and more than 250 fatalities have been linked to pilot fatigue, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration told ABC News airline companies deny pilots are sleeping overnight in crash pads.

Reikes told ABC News he lived for more than a year in and out crash pads because it was the only way he could get by on his $17,000 per year starting salary at ExpressJet, which offers flights under the name Continental Express as a Continental Airlines regional carrier.

"There were about 15 of us bunking in a small hotel room," Reikes told ABC News of the crash pad he called home. The kind of sleep he was afforded there caused him on more than one occasion to either deliberately take a nap in the cockpit or drift off to sleep inadvertently, Reikes said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Department of Justice Seeks Twitter Records in Wikileaks Probe

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In an interesting juxtaposition to Secretary Hillary Clinton's Internet freedom speech, Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, the Justice Department will be seeking to enforce a court order to direct Twitter Inc. to provide the U.S. government records from three individuals,  including Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Icelandic parliament who communicated with others about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange last year when WikiLeaks released their trove of U.S. cables.

In December, the U.S. District Court issued the order to seek the information under a 2703 order which allows the government to seek a service provider's customer communications records in the past 180 days. It is essentially an administrative subpoena.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Freedom Foundation are seeking to dismiss and challenge the order.  According to a Jan. 26 court filing, the groups are seeking to dismiss on the grounds that it "intrudes upon important First Amendment rights," 4th Amendment protections, and "will not directly further the government's purported interests."

Jonsdottir and two other individuals have been targeted by these orders to turn over details about their Twitter accounts because the suit suggests they discussed Wikileaks and Assange.  The motion to dismiss notes, "The First Amendment guarantees their right to speak up for and freely associate with even unpopular people."

The motion also notes that the U.S. government request creates, "a disturbing precedent regarding a foreign government's ability to collect private data from another country's officials."

The U.S. government is seeking information about their accounts, direct messages, home address, connection records and IP addresses.

The ACLU and EFF are also seeking to unseal all court orders relating to the case and the government's request for the records.  Everything filed by the Justice Department was filed under seal in the case and remains secret.  The court motion and request to dismiss the court order were only recently unsealed in this matter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

President Obama to Award Medal of Freedom to 15 Recipients

Photo Courtesy - Chip Somodevilla/ Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will award the Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor -- to 15 recipients Tuesday, which include a former president, a famous poet and a Hall of Fame baseball player.

The medal is awarded annually "to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

The 15 honorees were announced last year in November and "come from a broad range of backgrounds and they’ve excelled in a broad range of fields, but all of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place," President Obama said.

The 2010 Medal of Freedom recipients are:

-- Former President George H. W. Bush
-- Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Angela Merkel
-- Rep. John Lewis of Georgia
-- Co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, John H. Adams
-- Author, poet, actress and civil rights activist, Dr. Maya Angelou
-- Investor, industrialist and philanthropist, Warren Buffett
-- Artist, Jasper Johns
-- Jewish Holocaust survivor, Gerda Weissmann Klein
-- Optometrist, Dr. Tom Little (Posthumous)
-- Cellist, Yo-Yo Ma
-- Civil rights activist, Sylvia Mendez
-- National baseball Hall of Fame first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, Stan “The Man” Musial
-- Former Boston Celtics Captain and five-time NBA Most Valuable Player, Bill Russell
-- Founder of the non-profit organization VSA, Jean Kennedy Smith
-- Current President Emeritus of the AFL-CIO, John J. Sweeney

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Proposed Arizona Bill Would Identify Immigrants at Hospitals

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Arizona lawmakers held a public hearing Monday about a proposed bill that would force hospitals in the state to ask patients about their citizenship status.

Under the measure's provisions, hospital staff must inquire if a person is in the country legally before admitting them for non-emergency care.  If it turns out that the individual is an illegal immigrant, the hospital would be required to notify federal immigration officers about their status.

In emergency situations, hospitals would be allowed to treat illegal immigrants first and ask questions later.  Still, they ultimately have to inform immigration officials should the patient be in the country illegally.

Any hospital refusing to comply with the law, should it be passed, could be sued by the state.

Opponents of Senate Bill 1045 say the measure will scare people into not seeking medical attention if they know they can be deported.

George Pauk, a retired doctor with an organization called Physician for a National Health program, added, "This is making us into a police state that will try to catch people when they are sick."

Arizona is currently awaiting the results of a lawsuit filed by the federal government against the state's proposed legislation that requires police to inquire about citizenship status during the course of a normal arrest.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Aspiring Pop Star Wanted for Questioning in Fatal Butt Injection Case

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- The woman wanted for questioning in the case of an illegal butt implant procedure that left a 20-year-old British woman dead is a transsexual performer who goes by the stage name "Black Madam," according to Philadelphia police.

The "Black Madam" has been on the lam since last Tuesday, when Claudia Aderotimi died after receiving illegal buttocks injections at a Hampton Inn in Southwest Philadelphia.

British papers, including the Daily Mail, reported that Aderotimi wanted a career in show business and sought the implants to boost her chances of being a "video girl."

A search of the home belonging to Padge Victoria Windslowe, the so-called "Black Madam," turned up silicone, ABC news affiliate WPVI-TV in Philadelphia reported.

Windslowe, an aspiring musician who sings what she calls "black Goth," enlisted the help of Philadelphia photographers to try to launch her career.  Her Facebook page shows that she has more than 1,000 fans.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb142011

Gates: 'No Idea' on Size of US Troop Drawdown in Afghanistan

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Gates called it a “fairly dramatic reduction in the overseas contingency operations budget," as war funding drops to $117.8 billion in 2012 from $160 billion this year.  But it’s all because of the U.S. drawdown in Iraq that will be completed by January 1, 2012 which makes next year’s war funding all about Afghanistan.  

The drawdown of the 98,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan is slated to begin in July of this year, but Gates admitted Monday “we have no idea what the size of the drawdowns will be" because the pace of troop reductions will all depend on security conditions on the ground.
 
As such, Gates said it make more sense to continue to conservatively budget the war next year at the 98,000 U.S. troop level and see what happens as the drawdown progresses.
 
According to Gates, “It makes more budget sense to do this conservatively and budget on a straight line basis from FY 2011 and depending on the size of the drawdown, that maybe money we just won’t spend. “
 
However, Gates made it clear that while it made good budget sense to plan for maintaining a 98,000 troop level, that’s “not to say we will have 98,000 at the end of FY 2012, in fact that’s a lead pipe cinch we won’t.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Monday
Feb142011

'Minutemen' Vigilante Shawna Forde Guilty in Deadly Ariz. Home Invasion

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Shawna Forde, a border vigilante, was convicted Monday of two counts of murder for orchestrating a home invasion that left a nine-year-old Arizona girl and her father dead.

Prosecutors said Forde planned the home invasion to rob Raul "Junior" Flores, who she thought was a drug dealer, to fund her border watch group. There were rumors that Flores, 29, had a stash of $4,000 in cash in the house.

Flores and his daughter Bresenia were both killed in the May 2009 attack at their Arivaca, Ariz., home. His wife, Gina Gonzalez, was shot three times but survived by playing dead.

In addition to the first-degree murder charges, Forde, 43, founder of Minutemen American Defense, was found guilty of one count of attempted first-degree murder; one count of burglary in the first-degree; one count of aggravated assault, serious physical injury; one count of aggravated assault, deadly weapon/dangerous instrument; one count of armed robbery and one count of aggravated armed robbery.

The Pima County Superior Court jury came back with a verdict after it deliberated for seven hours over two days.

The sentencing phase of the trial begins Tuesday. Forde could face the death penalty.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio