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Wednesday
Jan192011

Tucson Mayor Introduces 'Civility Accord'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- In the wake of the recent tragedy in Arizona, Tucson Mayor Robert Walkup introduced a “Civility Accord” to the nation’s mayors Wednesday, urging his colleagues in cities across the country to “lead by example.”

At the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual meeting in Washington, D.C., Walkup said he was signing the accord in honor of those who died in the deadly shooting earlier this month.

“I will sign the Civility Accord because I know every single one of the people who went to see [Rep. Gabrielle Giffords] were kind and loving people. She was that way. They were full of civility. They were full of the things that we want all of our people to be,” Walkup said.

“Most of us are elected officials only for the moment, but we are human beings forever,” he added, highlighting the importance of civility.

The accord states that those who sign it must “respect the right of all Americans to hold different opinions,” “avoid rhetoric intended to humiliate, de-legitimize, or question the patriotism of those whose opinions are different from ours” and “choose words carefully,” among other things.

“We believe that because mayors are the elected leaders closest to the people, restoration of civility must begin with us,” the document reads.

Outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley took things a step further, calling for a “common sense conversation on gun laws” in light of the deadly shooting in Tucson.

“Tragedy in America by gun violence is overtaking us, violence continually, and not just in Tucson, but every one of our cities,” Daley explained. “We see far too often violence. It just becomes a normal way of life in America. We should re-discuss the issue of people arming themselves in our cities.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Skeleton Found on Long Island Beach Identified as Megan Waterman

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(YAPHANK, N.Y.) -- The skeletons of one of four women, believed to have been murdered by a serial killer and whose remains were found on a Long Island beach, have been identified as belonging to a 22-year-old mother from Maine.

Police identified one of the skeletons found along a secluded stretch of Gilgo Beach in Suffolk County, N.Y., as belonging to Megan Waterman, a young woman who was last seen at a nearby Holiday Inn with her boyfriend in June.

Police accidently found the bodies in December while looking for a missing woman. The remains were scattered across a quarter-mile stretch of marshy grasslands near a parkway and police immediately deduced that a serial killer was responsible.

Waterman's mother, Lorraine Ela, confirmed her daughter had been identified on a Facebook page dedicated to finding the missing woman.

"To let all know...the remains found have been confirmed to be my daughter, Megan Waterman...a very sad day," Ela wrote on the page about 30 minutes before Suffolk County police were scheduled to hold a news conference.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer told ABC News in December, "Four bodies found in the same location pretty much speaks for itself. It's more than a coincidence. We could have a serial killer."

Police have yet to identify the other three skeletons, or determine if any of the remains belong to Shonnan Gilbert, 24, a prostitute whose disappearance. prompted the initial search of the beach.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Philadelphia Doctor Charged With Killing Babies

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- A Philadelphia doctor has been charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a woman and seven babies. Prosecutors call it the case of a doctor "who killed babies and endangered women." 

Doctor Kermit Gosnell has been accused of murdering seven newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.  He and his staff are also charged with killing a patient who was given a lethal dose of Demerol. Court records say the clinic he ran in west Philadelphia "reeked of animal urine and scattered throughout in jars, bags and cabinets were fetal remains.  They say Gosnell's business "was not health; it was profit."  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Gabrielle Giffords to Be Moved to Rehab Facility in Houston on Friday

Photo Courtesy - Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will be moved to a hospital in Houston on Friday, another milestone in her recovery after a gunman fired a bullet through her brain in an attack in Tucson just 11 days ago.

Giffords will be transported to The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research at Houston's Memorial Hermann hospital, a facility that specializes in brain injuries, ABC affiliate KTRK-TV confirmed on Wednesday.

Giffords' mother told friends and family Tuesday the congresswoman was showing "higher levels of comprehension and complex actions," even flipping through photos on her husband's iPhone, according to an e-mail message obtained by The New York Times.

In a poignantly personal interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer that aired Tuesday night, astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly opened up about his wife Gabrielle Giffords' recovery and the shooting that injured her and killed six people.

Kelly, who has been photographed by his wife's hospital bed holding her hand, said there is a habit of hers that has convinced him that she recognizes him.

"If I hold her hand, she'll play with my wedding ring," he said. "She'll move it up and down my finger. She'll take it off....She'll put it on her own finger. She'll move it to her thumb. And then she can put it back on my finger.

"The reason why I know that that means she recognizes me is because she's done that before. She'll do that if we're sitting in a restaurant. She'll do the same exact movements," he said.

Kelly was struck by Giffords' progress again when "she stuck her hand up on the side of my face" and began giving him a neck massage.

"She spent 10 minutes rubbing my neck and I keep telling her, 'Gabby, you're in the ICU. You know, you don't need to be doing this," he said with a chuckle.

Kelly added, "I'm pretty sure she wouldn't do that to somebody else. And she's looking me in the eye."

Nevertheless, he is still unsure about the extent of her eventual recovery.

"At times I'm 100 percent confident that she's going to make a 100 percent recovery," he told Sawyer. "And, you know, at other times I don't know."

Later Kelly said, "She's got a great sense of humor. I've thought about whether that part of her will be the same." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

FAA Announces Record Number of Laser Events in 2010 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The FAA announced Wednesday that in 2010, nationwide reports of lasers pointed at airplanes almost doubled from the previous year to more than 2,800. This is the highest number of laser events recorded since the FAA began keeping track in 2005.

Los Angeles International Airport recorded the highest number of laser events in the country for an individual airport in 2010, with 102 reports, and the greater Los Angeles area tallied nearly twice that number, with 201 reports. Chicago O’Hare International Airport was a close second, with 98 reports, and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport tied for the third highest number of laser events for the year with 80 each.

“This is a serious safety issue,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Lasers can distract and harm pilots who are working to get passengers safely to their destinations.”

Nationwide, laser event reports have steadily increased since the FAA created a formal reporting system in 2005 to collect information from pilots. Reports rose from nearly 300 in 2005 to 1,527 in 2009 and 2,836 in 2010.

“The FAA is actively warning people not to point high-powered lasers at aircraft because they can damage a pilot’s eyes or cause temporary blindness,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “We continue to ask pilots to immediately report laser events to air traffic controllers so we can contact local law enforcement officials.”

Some cities and states have laws making it illegal to shine lasers at aircraft and, in many cases, people can face federal charges.

The increase in reports is likely due to a number of factors, including the availability of inexpensive laser devices on the Internet; higher power levels that enable lasers to hit aircraft at higher altitudes; increased pilot reporting of laser strikes; and the introduction of green lasers, which are more easily seen than red lasers. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

MLK Parade Pipe Bomb: Race Connection 'Inescapable', FBI Says

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(SPOKANE, Wash.) -- Federal investigators are looking at race as a possible motive in the attempted bombing of a Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, Wash., as they hunt "armed and dangerous" suspects.

"I think the connection is virtually inescapable...that the device was planted and left there to target the marchers or bystanders," Frank Harrill, special agent in charge of the FBI's Spokane office, said late Tuesday.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 15 different "hate groups" operate in Washington state and six others just over the border in Idaho -- including the white supremacist group Aryan Nations. The FBI said the men or women responsible are being considered "armed and dangerous."

Whatever the motive, Spokane Mayor Mary Verner said the attempted bombing was "unacceptable."

"I was struck that on a day when we celebrate Dr. King, a champion of non-violence, we were faced with a significant violent threat," Verner said Tuesday. "This is unacceptable in our community, or any community."

Just half an hour before the Martin Luther King Day parade was scheduled to begin Monday, three workers spotted a suspicious package with visible wires on a bench, the FBI said.

Authorities rerouted the parade while officers from the Spokane Police Department's bomb disposal unit worked on the bomb.

"I saw the robot and when I saw the robot I told my girls to run and 'Let's get out of here,'" witness Lisa Ludeman told ABC News.

Harrill, the supervisory senior resident agent in Spokane, told ABC News the backpack was "a viable device."

"The potential for lethality was clear," Harrill said Tuesday. The local bomb squad neutralized the device, he added. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Suicides Still a Problem for US Army

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Army statistics to be released Wednesday will show the first annual decrease in suicides among active duty soldiers in six years.  But the news is tempered by a significant increase in the number of suicides among Army reservists and National Guardsmen who are not on active duty.

Without providing specific numbers, Army officials told ABC News that the number of suicides among active duty soldiers for calendar year 2010 will be less than 2009's record high of 162.  Through November 2010, 144 active duty suicides had already been recorded -- National Guardsmen and Army reservists mobilized to active duty are included in this number.

But a tough year was made even tougher by the sharp increase in 2010 in the number of suicides among National Guardsmen and Army reservists not on active duty.

The Army keeps a separate record of suicides among Army reservists and National Guardsmen who have not been mobilized and are not on active duty.  Through November 2010, there were 122 suicides among these citizen soldiers.  That's a significant increase over the 82 suicides among this group in 2009.

Taken together, the 266 total Army suicides through November 2010 is already higher than the 244 suicides for all of 2009.

The increase has been of mounting concern to senior Army officials who worry about the access to mental health professionals these reservists may not have in the civilian sector.  Reducing the number of suicides within the ranks is a top priority for the Army, but there are no easy answers as to what might lead a soldier to turn to suicide.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Caught on Tape: Surveillance Video Captures Tucson Shooting

Photo Courtesy - Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI is reviewing a chilling surveillance video that captured the shooting rampage that left six people dead and at least 13 others wounded including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at a Tucson shopping center.

The tapes are in the custody of the FBI and won't likely be released until trial, but they show in clear detail the sequence of events that unfolded the morning of Jan. 8.

The video obtained from the Safeway supermarket shows the area where Giffords was holding a "Congress on Your Corner" event.  Authorities said shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner is seen walking into the picture at 10:10 a.m.

According to officials who have seen the video, Loughner, 22, quickly moves around a table and shoots Congresswoman Giffords on the left side of her forehead, just above her eye.

At the time the shot was fired, Loughner was within three feet of Giffords.

Then Loughner reportedly turned to his left, faced the crowd, and continued the shooting, officials said.

Officials said the crystal-clear video footage shows muzzle flashes as the gun is fired.

The surveillance video also captures an act of heroism as the suspect shoots victim Ron Barber.  Federal District Judge John Roll tries to help Barber, but is later shot in the back.  Barber survived while Roll did not.

Besides Roll, five others were killed including 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, Giffords' director of community outreach Gabriel Zimmerman, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard, and Dorothy Morris.

Giffords survived the shooting and her condition has been upgraded to serious from critical.

In all, sources said Loughner allegedly fired 32 rounds before he was tackled by participants in Giffords' public event. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Hospital Visitation Rights for Gay, Lesbian Partners Take Effect

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Patients at nearly every hospital in the country will now be allowed to decide who has visitation rights and who can make medical decisions on their behalf -- regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or family makeup -- under new federal regulations that took effect Tuesday.

The rules, which apply to hospitals participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, were first proposed by President Obama in an April memorandum and later implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services after a period of public review.

They represent a landmark advance in the rights of same-sex couples and domestic partners who heretofore had no legal authority to be with a hospitalized partner because they were either not a blood relative or spouse.

Hospitals must now inform patients, or an attending friend or family member, of their rights to visitors of their choosing.  The policy also prohibits discrimination against visitors based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Rep. Giffords' Husband Thought She Died; Says She Feared Being Shot

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- For 20 crushing minutes, Mark Kelly thought his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, had died.

On board a friend's private plane rushing him and his family to his wife's side, Kelly watched television reports erroneously declare that Giffords had lost her life in the shooting in a Safeway parking lot in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday, Jan. 8.

"The kids...Claudia and Claire start crying.  My mother, you know...I think she almost screamed.  And I just, you know, walked into the bathroom, and you know, broke down," Kelly, an astronaut, told ABC News in an exclusive interview.  "To hear that she died is just, it's devastating for me."

For Kelly, it was the worst moment in a nightmarish day.  Calling from the plane, Kelly learned the truth from people who were with Giffords at the hospital -- that his wife had not died, but she was fighting for her life.

"It was a terrible mistake," Kelly said about turning on the television.  "As bad as it was that she had died, it's equally exciting that she hadn't."

Kelly also revealed that his wife had spoken about 10 times before the shooting of her fears of being shot during one of her town meetings.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio