U.S. Justice Department Plane Lands on New Jersey Interstate

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(HACKENSACK, N.J.) -- A single-engine plane was forced to make an emergency landing on a highway in New Jersey Monday afternoon, according to authorities.

The federally owned plane, which was being operated by the Bergen County prosecutor's office, was en route to land at Teterboro Airport when a fuel line malfunction forced it to land on Interstate 80 in Hackensack just before 3 p.m.  No injuries were reported to motorists nor to those aboard the aircraft -- a flight instructor and flight safety officer.

The plane is owned by the U.S. Department of Justice and was taking part in a training flight for homeland security and safety efforts.

It was removed from the highway on a flatbed truck about an hour after landing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mom Charged with Murder Was Probed for Child Abuse, But Not Charged

Photo Courtesy - Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Julie Schenecker, the Tampa mother who police say confessed to killing her two teenage kids last week, was investigated for possible child abuse last fall, but was not charged, according to a police report.

Schenecker, 50, is facing two counts of first-degree murder.  Holding a tissue and crying softly, the Army wife appeared in court Monday via closed circuit cameras from the Hillsborough County Jail.  Judge Walter Heinrich ordered her held without bond.

Schenecker was arrested Friday when police, responding to a call from her mother, found her covered in blood on the back porch of her home.  The woman allegedly confessed to the officers that she had shot her son, Beau, 13, and then daughter Calyx, 16, the day before because they "talked back, they were mouthy and she was tired of it," police said.

Friends have described the family as appearing normal and happy but a Tampa police report filed in November showed that Julie Schenecker had been investigated for alleged child abuse.  Police visited the Schenecker home on Nov. 6, 2010, to investigate an allegation of child abuse made by Calyx.  No charges were filed against Schenecker but, according to the police report, Schenecker acknowledged that she had hit her daughter.

Calyx told a counselor that her mother had hit her in the face when they were heading home from cross-country practice on Nov. 2, 2010, according to the police report.  Investigators said there were no visible injuries on Calyx when the report was filed four days later.

Calyx told investigators that her mom had "hit her with an open hand on her face for approximately 30 seconds," according to the report.  She said her face was red afterwards, the report noted.

Schenecker told investigators that she and her daughter had gotten into an argument after Calyx stopped at a grocery store and wouldn't show her mom what she had purchased.  Schenecker did not deny hitting Calyx.  She told police that she "backhanded her daughter three times" and her daughter "was not bruised or bleeding during the incident."

Calyx said that her sunglasses shielded her from injury.  She told police her mother had hit her so hard in the mouth a month earlier that she was bleeding, but never reported it to police.  Schenecker acknowledged that incident but said that she didn't remember Calyx bleeding, according to the report. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Marines Vow to 'Step Out Smartly' on Repeal of Military Gay Ban

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The top two leaders of the U.S. Marine Corps say Marines will "step out smartly" to implement a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy towards gays in the military, now that the law has been changed, despite previous publicly expressed opposition to ending the military's ban on openly gay troops.

Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos and Marine Corps Sergeant Major Carlton Kent appeared in a video message to Marines released Friday night, shortly after senior Pentagon officials outlined how the Pentagon would begin implementing a repeal of the policy this year.

Amos and Kent said they expect Marines to follow the new orders -- that will eventually allow service members to publicly identify as gay or lesbian -- "with dignity and respect."

"The Marine Corps exists to defend our nation," said Amos. "We are a nation of laws. We are committed by our oath and core values to obey these laws. Our success as Marines has always been grounded in the quality of our leadership, from general officers to small unit leaders."

"The Marine Corps is a diverse force and all have earned the privilege to wear the eagle, globe, and anchor. As Marines, we are confident that you will continue to treat each other with dignity and respect," said Kent.

During the yearlong debate to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," the Marine Corps was the military service branch most opposed to lifting the ban, as senior leaders and rank and file expressed concerns about changing the law.

Amos said in the video Friday, "I want to be clear to all Marines, we will step out smartly to faithfully implement this new law. It is important that we value the diversity of background, culture, and skills that all Marines bring to the service of our nation."

Each of the military service chiefs is expected to release a similar video addressed to service members in the coming days.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Google, Twitter Partner To Help Tweets Emerge From Egypt

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAIRO, Egypt) – The Egyptian government, the Internet, and many buildings across Cairo have all broken down in the past week as protesters ravage the nation's capital city. On Monday, Google and Twitter announced efforts to slowly try and rebuild the country's communication with the rest of the world.

The two companies announced a speak-to-tweet service that could be used not just in Egypt, where the central government had heavily restricted television and Internet service, but across the world. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have played an integral role in spreading news both within Egypt to protesters and across the world to those looking to find out what’s going on.

A story on Monday in Newsweek told of someone going by the online moniker of El Shaheed, or the martyr, who had been integral in organizing protesters in Cairo through Facebook.

The service introduced by Google and Twitter allows users to call one of three phone numbers, leave a voicemail, and their tweet will be recorded and have the hashtag #egypt attached to it. The companies say that no Internet connection is required.

The entire service was made possible by a service called SayNow, which was acquired by Google just last week.

“We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time. Our thoughts are with everyone there,” Google and Twitter said in a statement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Napolitano to Mexican Cartels: 'Don't Even Think About It'

PHoto Courtesy - Getty Images(EL PASO, Texas) -- Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was talking tough about border security issues in a speech she delivered Monday at the University of Texas at El Paso.

She sent a clear message to Mexican drug cartels: "Don't even think about bringing your violence....across this border," she said.

While Napolitano says American border communities are safe, she has a clear warning for cartels on the other side of the border.

"You will be met by an overwhelming response. And we’re going to continue to work with our partners in Mexico to dismantle and defeat you," she said.

“We are deeply concerned about the drug cartel violence taking place in Mexico. We know that these drug organizations are seeking to undermine the rule of law in Northern Mexico and that we must guard against spillover effects into the United States. Nonetheless, it is inaccurate to state, as too many have, that the border is overrun with violence and out of control. This statement -- often made only to score political points -- is just plain wrong,” Napolitano said in the speech.

In her speech Napolitano also briefly addressed her decision to scrap the "virtual fence" that was announced earlier this month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Warns of Terror Threat in United Kingdom

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert Monday warning Americans of the "continuing high level of terrorist threat" in the United Kingdom.  This alert follows another recent terror alert issued previously by British authorities and continues the alert issued regarding Europe last October that is about to expire.  However, the travel alert issued Monday does not bear the same level of concern as the Europe warning.

The notice warns Americans in Britain to "maintain a high level of vigilance" until the alert expires April 30.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Be the Change: Students Help Haiti Rebuild

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- One year after a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, college students around the world are still raising funds for relief efforts to help the estimated one million people displaced in the earthquake's aftermath.

Even in the best-case scenario, rebuilding will take years. But Haiti is not the best-case scenario -- violence, political uncertainty, and the recent cholera outbreak have slowed relief efforts -- and a helping hand is needed now as much as ever.

In 2010, following the earthquake, students at Dartmouth College volunteered to help in the crisis, leading school fundraising efforts in the United States for Haiti, collecting over $1.5 million in money and donations of medical supplies.

The relief group Partners in Health is helping distribute supplies on the ground by working with the Haitian government to build clinics, as well as supporting and training medical teams to provide care for more than 100,000 Haitians.

"The first $200,000 went solely to Partners in Health already on the ground. In addition, the funds since have been used by Dartmouth to send their own medical teams and supplies, and for educational initiatives to bring Haitian students to Dartmouth," said Molly Bode, a 2009 Dartmouth graduate who spearheaded the Dartmouth Haiti Response last year.

Because of Bode and the Dartmouth efforts, over 51 medical professionals and 40 tons of medical supplies have been sent to Haiti. Seven water purification systems were also sent to help with the cholera outbreak that has infected 171,304 and left 3,650 people dead since October. Each purification system can provide enough clean water for 750 families.

This week Partners in Health said more supplies are needed to prevent further death and illness. Most urgent are cholera vaccinations and large-scale municipal water and sewage treatment facilities.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Chilean Miners Honored With Disney World Parade

Photo Courtesy - RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The world came to know him as “Super” Mario Sepulveda, the second of 33 men hoisted from a collapsed Chilean mine in October after spending more than two months 2,300 feet below the Earth's surface.

On Monday, he and 30 of his colleagues were greeted at the Walt Disney World Resort like rock stars, with the group serving as grand marshals at a special hero’s parade.

Donning the signature Mickey Mouse ears mounted atop mining helmets, Sepulveda and the others strolled down Main Street, U.S.A, cheered along by excited onlookers.

"I was about to lose my life," Sepulveda told ABC News, "Now I am surrounded by life. What a difference," he said.

The miners were flown to Orlando last week, along with more than 100 of their family members, for an all-expenses-paid trip in their honor.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Geezer Bandit' Strikes Again, Robs 13th Bank

Photo Courtesy - KABC-TV Los Angeles(GOLETA, Calif.) -- The FBI is on the hunt for the "geezer bandit" after his 13th bank robbery in California since August 2009.

The bandit, who appears to be an elderly man, robbed a Bank of America, in Goleta, Calif., in Santa Barbara County, on Friday. Santa Barbara County is now the fourth county in which the "geezer bandit" has struck. The other robberies took place in the counties of Riverside, San Diego, and Kern.

FBI spokesperson, Darrell Foxworth, said the FBI is continuing to take into consideration that the robber could be wearing a mask.

The robber displayed the same characteristics as the other 12 robberies, with a baseball cap, sunglasses, and a gun. The geezer bandit also approached a teller just before the bank closed, like the other holdups.

The FBI and a number of banks are offering $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the "geezer bandit." Witnesses described the robber as white, male, apparently 60-70 years old, six-feet tall and approximately 190 pounds.

The FBI's four field offices covering Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, are working with local law enforcement officials on the investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Undercover Probe: Semi-Automatic Weapons, No Background Check

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A New York City-led undercover investigation at a Phoenix, Ariz., gun show found that despite the mass murder and apparent assassination attempt of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., earlier this month in which a semi-automatic handgun with an extended clip was used, buyers who likely wouldn't pass a background check can still easily purchase similar weapons.

In two instances private sellers were willing to sell a semi-automatic handgun to undercover investigators who told them they "probably couldn't pass" a background check.

The sellers were willing "to break the law and endanger their fellow citizens just to make a quick sale," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.

The investigation, conducted by the nationally recognized private investigative firm Kroll Inc. at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Phoenix, Ariz., also found a Glock pistol capable of firing 33 rounds -- similar to the one allegedly used by Jared Loughner in the Tucson shooting that claimed six lives earlier this month -- was legally purchased without any background check.

The purchase exposed a "dangerous gap in our existing federal gun laws," Bloomberg said.

In the instances in which the buyers said they likely would not pass a background check, the omission should have immediately stopped the sale, officials said, because even though unlicensed occasional sellers are not required to run background checks using the FBI database, it is a federal felony for them to sell guns to people they have reason to believe are prohibited purchasers.

High capacity magazines were purchased three times during the investigation, along with the three weapons, a city official said.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 30 percent of guns involved in federal illegal gun trafficking investigations are connected to gun shows. Because no records are kept, guns sold by private sellers at gun shows become virtually untraceable.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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