JonBenet Ramsey Death Gets Fresh Look, New Round of Interviews

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(BOULDER, Colo.) -- Investigators hoping to solve the 1996 killing of six-year-old pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey have launched a fresh round of interviews with witnesses that could provide the clue they've been missing all these years.

Among the potential witnesses police have contacted is the little girl's brother, Burke Ramsey. Now 23, he was nine when his sister's body was found in the family's Colorado basement, beaten and strangled.

Ramsey family attorney Lin Wood recently told the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper that a police detective "met with Burke and gave him a card and said, 'If you want to talk to us, here's how you would contact me.'"

Larry Schiller, author of a book on the case, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, said the new investigation comes likely as part of a police mandate to re-open cold cases every few years.

"I think there's always a chance with technology and confession," Schiller said of finding the killer.

Schiller theorized that police are interested in speaking to Burke Ramsey not as a suspect but as someone who may have a childhood memory from that day that could be triggered by a new investigation.

At one point or another, every member of the Ramsey family, including Burke Ramsey and his parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, has lived under a cloud of suspicion. The family was officially cleared as suspects in 2008, two years after Patsy died of ovarian cancer.

JonBenet was reported missing the day after Christmas in 2006. Her mother placed a frantic 911 call to report a kidnapping and a ransom note was found in the house. Her body was found in the basement later that day.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Man Killed by Mexican Pirates on Texas Lake

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ZAPATA, Texas) -- Search teams are combing a Texas lake for the body of a man who was allegedly shot and killed by Mexican pirates when he and his wife were ambushed after crossing into Mexican waters on their personal watercraft.

David Michael Hartley, 30, and his wife Tiffany Hartley, 29, were attacked on Falcon Lake, near the southern tip of Texas, police said.

Tiffany Hartley told police her husband was shot in the back of the head as the couple fled to U.S. waters. Hartley fell off his watercraft after he was shot, according to his wife, who told rescuers and police she attempted to circle back to save him, but the gunmen were still firing shots so she had to abandon the rescue attempt.

Texas Department of Public Safety officials said Friday they believed that David Hartley was dead, but his body has yet to be found.

Falcon Lake, part of the Rio Grande situated directly on the Texas-Mexico border, has recently become a haven for the pirates, and there have been at least five reported run-ins with pirates on the lake so far this year, though this is the first instance of a death.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the shooting points to the need for further border security.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Ex-Dean Accused of Making Students Do Personal Chores

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- An ex-dean at New York's St. John's University is facing forced labor charges after being accused of exploiting students by having them run errands and do chores at her home.

Cecilia Chang, 57, the recently fired dean of the Institute of Asian Studies and the vice president for international relations at St. John's, allegedly threatened to withdraw scholarships from students if they did not perform the personal tasks.

According to allegations in a federal complaint, students were forced to make meals at Chang's home, answer her personal e-mails and even deliver cash to her at a casino. The complaint also said that students were allegedly made to wash her clothes, shovel snow at her home and drive her son to the airport at 3:00 a.m.

Ron Rubenstein, Chang's attorney, stated that she is "not a slave-driver" and that students prepared Chang's home for school-related dinners that she was hosting and that the work is similar to other college work-study programs.

Officials from the university said that students working under Chang will not lose their scholarships.

This is only the latest in a torrent of accusations against Chang, who was arrested on September 15 on state charges that she embezzled approximately $1 million from the University. The charges, which she has denied, led to her dismissal from St. John's and further investigation into her treatment of students.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


'Taliban' Dropped From 'Medal of Honor' Game

Image Courtesy - Electronic Arts Inc.(REDWOOD CITY, Calif.) -- After a huge outcry, the company Electronic Arts has decided to drop a feature from its new "Medal of Honor" video game that would have allowed players to assume the role of Taliban fighters killing U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan.

Politicians and military officials in the U.S., Britain, Canada and Australia denounced the feature, and the Pentagon banned sales of the game from nearly 300 stores on U.S. military bases around the world because of it.

The critics said allowing gamers to play as Taliban fighters was insensitive to the families of U.S. and allied forces killed in Afghanistan. "At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands. I am disgusted and angry," British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said in late August.

In a new posting on the Electronic Arts Web site, "Medal of Honor" Executive Producer Greg Goodrich said the "feedback from friends and families of fallen soldiers" who opposed the Taliban-fighter feature was an "important voice" that "has earned the right to be listened to."

Electronic Arts is scheduled to roll out the new "Medal of Honor" game on Oct. 12.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Labor, Civil Rights Groups Rally on National Mall

Photo Courtesy - ABC NewsUPDATE: Glenn Beck's "Restore Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial in August was described by many as a religious revival. Saturday’s "One Nation" gathering - also at the Lincoln Memorial - organized by hundreds of groups ranging from labor unions, civil rights organizations, gay rights and environmental organizations had the feel of a political rally.

Speakers at the gathering repeatedly referenced the Nov. 2 midterm elections and the importance of voting.

"Conservatives don't believe in your freedom," liberal commentator Ed Schultz told the crowd. "For the last two years, the president has had to put up with the word 'no.'"

At "Restore Honor," Glenn Beck and featured speaker Sarah Palin tried to avoid political references.

"I hope people look at the Mall because this is what America looks like," Rev. Al Sharpton said Saturday in a swipe at the diversity of those who attended Beck's rally.

Schultz said he was told the crowd at Saturday’s rally was larger than Beck's. The U.S. Park Police did not release an official estimate.


(WASHINGTON) -- Thousands gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Saturday, for the “One Nation Working Together” rally organized by labor and civil rights groups.

“We will get universal health care someday in this country. We will create jobs. We will get the money to the small businesses,” said radio host Ed Schultz, who addressed the crowd.

“This march is about the power to the people,” Schultz said. “It is about the people standing up to the corporations. Are you ready to fight back?”

In August, thousands rallied on the National Mall in a gathering led by conservative political commentator Glenn Beck. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Anchor Rick Sanchez Out At CNN After Calling Jon Stewart, Execs Bigots

Photo Courtesy -- CNN(NEW YORK) -- CNN anchor Rick Sanchez is no longer working at the cable network according to a statement from the company. 

The network's statement regarding the end of Sanchez' employment follows remarks Sanchez made during a radio interview Thursday referring to Daily Show host Jon Stewart and executives at CNN as bigots.  During the interview, Sanchez also mocked a suggestion that Jews are a minority. 

CNN has yet to confirm whether Sanchez quit or was fired. 

Comedy Central's Steve Albani, senior vice president of corporate communications, had "no comment" at this time.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


San Quentin: Cash-Strapped California to Spend $356M to Upgrade Death Row

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN QUENTIN, Calif.) -- San Quentin State Prison's death row will soon be getting a controversial upgrade.

California State officials justified the $356 million project to renovate the state's notorious death row by pointing out the security and safety flaws on three housing blocks constructed in the 1920s, 1930s and 1960s, which house such high-profile murderers as Drew Peterson, Richard Ramirez and Cary Stayner.

However, local and state officials questioned Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's commitment to pay a $64.7 million down payment out of the cash-strapped state's general fund, at a time when funding is being reduced or withheld from schools and state workers have been forced through a summer of furlough days.

"It is the poster child for this administration's failure to prioritize in tough times," state Assemblyman Jared Huffman, R-San Rafael, said. He added "It's the most expensive prison cell space on the planet."

Huffman is one of two state legislators to file a legal challenge to Schwarzenegger's use of veto power to excise from the budget language that would have called for studies and resolutions of the state's well-known prison overcrowding problem.

A decision is expected in November, but bids are scheduled to be opened on the project on Tuesday.

H.D. Palmer, the state's deputy finance director, said that the death row is in dire need of immediate attention and that because the state's penal code dictates executions be done at San Quentin, they cannot even consider moving death row elsewhere.

"Given the safety issues and the structural issues that are involved here, and given the fact that capital punishment is still the law of the land here … this facility needs to go forward," Palmer said.
On the East Block, there is only one line of perimeter security between the cells and the San Francisco Bay. It is a 12-foot masonry wall topped with razor wire. The state, which has questioned the current structure's ability to contain prisoners during an earthquake, plans to construct a double wall with an electrified fence in between. 

However many in the area aren't buying this project as a state necessity. The Larkspur City Council, whose town sits adjacent to San Quentin, voted -- at Huffman's request -- to send a letter to Schwarzenegger opposing the expansion.

The project is to be completed in two phases and is scheduled for completion in 2013.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Jury in Petit Murder Trial Hears Closing Arguments

Photo Courtesy -- Connecticut Judicial Branch(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- In attempting to convince a jury that accused murderer Steven Hayes is guilty of slaughtering a woman and her two daughters during a brutal Connecticut home invasion, the prosecutor recounted how the family's home had been turned into a "house of terror and horror."

Both the prosecution and the defense completed their closing arguments Friday in the state's case against Hayes, 47, one of two men accused of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11.  Only the family patriarch, Dr. William Petit survived. Brutally beaten and left bound in the basement, he managed to make his way out to a neighbor's home to ask for help.

Though the defense had attempted to separate Hayes from his co-defendant, 30-year-old Joshua Komisarjevsky, State's Attorney Michael Dearington told jurors that they could "count the opportunities that he had to walk away from this."

During the closing arguments this morning, the prosecution recounted the timeline of events that night, including acts of sexual assault committed against Hawke-Petit and her daughter Michaela.

The case is expected to be handed to the jury on Monday.

Komisarjevsky will face trial after Hayes. Both he and Hayes are facing the death penalty.

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New Feature on Healthcare.Gov Allows Comparison of Insurance Plans

Photo Courtesy - Healthcare dot gov | Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration on Friday launched a new feature on which allows people to search for insurance plans in their area.

In the new "Find Insurance Options" section on the site, people can fill out a form with basic medical and demographic information. They will be prompted about the different options they have and a selection of health insurance plans that are available, including price and restrictions.

People will be able to compare information such as monthly premium estimates, annual deductibles, out-of-pocket limits and services covered.

Today's launch is part of the administration's push to create more awareness about the new health care law and make information more readily available to consumers, a majority of whom still don't know what the changes mean for them. It also comes among growing opposition from Republican lawmakers, who argue that the law should be repealed.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Elko, Nevada: The City the Recession Forgot

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ELKO, Nev.) -- What the Himalayas were to Shangri-La -- a shield from harm -- so gold has been to Elko, Nev. This city has thrived the past two years.

"They call it the town the recession forgot," says local Mary Haigwood.

Elko, about 300 miles east of Reno, sits astride the biggest gold deposit ever found in North America: the Carlin Trend. It is five miles wide and 40 miles long. Over 50 million troy ounces of gold have been produced here, more than came from California's fabled Gold Rush.

As the metal's price has risen, mining giants, including Newmont and Barrick, have kept hiring, even as employers elsewhere in the U.S. were laying off. Unemployment, says Barrick spokesman Louis Schack, is low.

"We employ about 3,600 people in Nevada, and the majority reside in Elko. We've added several hundred new jobs in recent years," Schack said.

Since the 1970s, the industry has pumped some $6 billion into Nevada infrastructure, most of it going to mines in or around Elko. The area's population has risen from 7,000 to close to 50,000.

In Reno and Las Vegas, the housing bubble may have burst. Not here. Foreclosures, says Barrick's Schack, are few. There's even been some growth in housing. A nice home goes for $100,000.

It's not as if Elko hasn't seen tough times. When gold's price tumbled in the late 1990s, the town suffered and the mines laid people off. Stores downtown were boarded up. Today, though, gold's warm glow bathes every business. At Mona's Ranch, a legal brothel on Third Street, there's a sign that says, "Now Hiring."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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