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United Jet Makes Emergency Landing After Reported Odor

Friday, July 25th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) — A Boeing 777 operated by United Airlines made an emergency landing Friday due to a strange odor onboard, marking the second such incident this month.

United Airlines Flight 328 took off from Denver, bound for Honolulu, but was forced to land in Salt Lake City on Friday afternoon due to an “electrical odor,” according to airline spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm.

There were 269 passengers and 10 crew members on board.

“Our passengers deplaned normally, and our maintenance team will inspect the aircraft,” Dohm said in an email to ABC News.

Earlier this month, another Boeing 777 operated by United made an emergency landing on the tiny Pacific island of Midway after passengers reported a burning smell.

United did not say when the passengers on Friday’s flight would be able continue on to Hawaii.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Song of The Day

FAA Investigating Drone Incident at Seattle’s Space Needle

Friday, July 25th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) — The Federal Aviation Administration told ABC News on Friday that it is looking into reports that a drone recently hovered above the observation deck of Seattle’s famous Space Needle.

While curious tourists waved, the mysterious flying object gave security quite a scare.

Authorities said a man launched the drone out of his hotel room window on Tuesday.

“There was no malcontent or malice,” said Drew Fowler of the Seattle Police Department. “He wasn’t trying to do anything wrong. He was just trying to capture some interesting footage.”

While recreational drone usage is legal in Washington state, the incident was the latest raising questions about whether it’s safe to fly drones above crowded cities.

Last year, a drone buzzed over the busy streets of New York, flying past iconic landmarks like the Chrysler building and then crash-landed, nearly hitting pedestrians during the height of rush hour.

And there have been close calls with planes. A drone last year came within 200 feet of a jumbo jet.

Drones have been exploding in popularity but the rules for how and where they can be used have not caught up. The FAA said it is working on new safety guidelines but it could take two years for them to take effect.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Home Instead Senior Care

California Gym Beats Drought with Green Scheme

Friday, July 25th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN JOSE, Calif.) — At least one gym in California is trying to conserve water during what is called the state’s worst drought in nearly four decades using a technology appropriate for its Silicon Valley setting.

Almaden Valley Athletic Club in San Jose, California, started using a trademarked product this week that coats brown lawns into green grass with paint.

Jeff Griffith-Jones, general manager of operations of the 38-year old fitness center, said the gym decided to pay about $600 for the services of Green Polymer Systems, a company based in nearby Los Gatos. The green treatment should last three to six months, he said.

“It looks phenomenal,” Griffith-Jones said.

While some cities in California are responding to a severe drought by charging more for water or limiting water use, San Jose doesn’t have those restrictions. Last week, the state’s water regulators voted to approve fines up to $500 a day for residents’ excessive water use.

But the fitness center’s management decided to take measures upon the concern of some of its 6,000 customers.

“The important thing is we’re saving water and that’s what our members are looking for, so that’s what’s important to us,” he said.

After all, the five-acre athletic club has two swimming pools and plenty of showers and bathrooms for its guests.

When his gym members saw workers applying the treatment onto the lawn, they started asking whether the product is available for residences. (Green-Canary.com states that a treatment for the average residential lawn is about $175.)

“The members love it so much,” he said. “They love the concept of it, so we display brochures,” he said.

The product that coats the grass is called Green Canary and is described on the company website as an “eco-friendly solution to dried, dormant or diseased grass.” The company claims on its site that it is waterproof, non-toxic and “safe for children, elderly and pets.”

The company did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Griffith-Jones said Green Polymer Systems asked the gym to first let its grass turn fully brown before the treatment is applied. Otherwise, the treatment would create two tones of green on the lawn. So the gym stopped using its sprinklers about two weeks ago.

The gym still waters the lawn to keep the roots alive, but it uses only 10 percent of its former sprinkler use, Griffith-Jones said.

What if the gym’s management wants to return to naturally green grass?

“If and when we decide to stop using the pigment — the grass is still alive–we can mow off the paint,” he said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Nugget of Knowldege

Researchers Return to Real World After Four Months on ‘Mars’

Friday, July 25th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) — Six researchers who have been living in a mock-up Mars habitat on a Hawaiian volcano returned to the real world Friday, feeling a breeze and hearing birds for the first time in four months.

The second Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation mission, known as HI-SEAS, ended 120 days of the Red Planet exploration on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano.

Expedition leader Casey Stedman and his five crew members had been living inside their 1,000-square-foot solar-powered dome, which includes common areas such as kitchen, dining room, bathroom with shower, lab and exercise space.

“I haven’t seen a tree, smelled the train, heard a bird, or felt wind on my skin in four months,” Stedman posted on his Instagram account.

The crew have been cooking with dehydrated food that doesn’t require refrigerated food and venturing out of the dome only for simulated spacewalks in mock spacesuits.

“It’s really great to taste fresh fruit and vegetables again,” Stedman told ABC News on Friday.

“The main purpose of the project is to learn about the problems that might occur to crew members if they went to Mars,” Kimberly Binsted, principal investigator of the project, told ABC News.

Binsted said crew members have to deal with disagreements and conflicts with each other, and solve depression and anxiety.

“It’s not like if you have a problem with someone, you can go out for a run in a park on Mars,” Binsted said. “You have to get along with each other in a very small space.”

Not only were the members confined physically, they couldn’tt surf the internet to kill time either.

“Communication with the outside world has a 20-minute delay each way,” Binsted said. “So one click on the internet will take 40 minutes to refresh.”

Binsted said one of the technologies tested in the past four months is a device that detects the voice and proximity between two crew members.

“It was a really good experience,” Stedman said. “The first thing I wanted to do after I come outside was to squint.”

“We had little direct contact to the sun in the past four months,” Stedman said. “We wear our spacesuits when we go out, and the masks cover most of our face.”

“There weren’t really altercations among the crew,” Stedman said. “But even in a family vacation, you disagree with someone over something.”

Stedman said most disagreements were about procedures to get things accomplished.

“We all come from different backgrounds, so we have different interpretation of data,” Stedman said.

Stedman said he found sun dried tomatoes taste really good with mustard during the past four months.

“We have the dried and ground tomato powder,” Steadman said. “You can make a paste out of it.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Metal Depot

Chinese National Pleads Guilty to Smuggling US Arms

Friday, July 25th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A 28-year-old Chinese citizen pleaded guilty Wednesday to a plot to illegally export U.S. sensors.

Bo Cai planned to export defense articles made for military purposes to China, according to offcials. He and his cousin, 29-year-old Wentong Cai, plotted to take the technology without a license to give in order to give to a customer.

The sensors, orginally created for sale to the U.S. Department of Defense, were intended for use in motion control systems. Cai admitted that from March 2012 to December 2013, Bo Cai enlisted the help of his cousin to acquire the products under the cover that he would use the sensors at Iowa State Univeristy for academic purposes.

Wentong Cai was a Chinese citizen in the country under a student visa at the time of the incident.

Bo Cai obtained a sensor from undercover agents in New Mexico, then developed plans to smuggle the product out of the country. He was arrested in December 2013 before boarding a flight to China.

“It is a top priority for the Justice Department and the District of New Mexico to protect our national security and our technology from disclosure to foreign governments,” U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said.  “This prosecution demonstrates the federal law enforcement community’s commitment to safeguarding our nation’s military secrets by keeping America’s critical technology from falling into the wrong hands.”

Bo Cai faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted. His cousin, who was arrested in January 2014, pleaded not guilty.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Pet of the Week

Woman, Kids Evicted After Renting House from Fake Owner

Friday, July 25th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — An Atlanta woman who said she was duped into renting a house from a fake homeowner has been evicted along with her children.

“I just don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say,” Lyna McNeil told ABC News affiliate WSB-TV after she was forced to abruptly move out Thursday evening.

McNeil has eight children, but at least one of her kids is an adult. It’s not clear how many were living with her in the house.

Animal control officers were also on the scene, taking the family dogs because they no longer had a home.

“Animal Control came and took our dogs,” said McNeil, “The children are crying because they’re taking our dogs.”

Animal Control did not return calls to ABC News.

McNeil’s furniture and belongings were stacked in the yard Thursday evening and she spent the night in her car while her children stayed with friends, WSB-TV reported.

McNeil said that she moved into the northwest Atlanta neighborhood after renting the Caron Circle home from a man named “Shawn,” under the agreement that she would pay $750 a month after making minor repairs, WSB-TV reported.

After moving in, McNeil says she was contacted by the real homeowner, identified only as Mr. Carr, demanding that she and her eight children leave the house.

“I have offered to pay him rent. I’ve offered to pay him security deposits, but he doesn’t want that,” McNeil told the station.

The homeowner filed an intruder affidavit with the Superior Court of Fulton County demanding that McNeil be out by Thursday, a representative from the Fulton County Sheriff’s department told ABC News. Officers arrived at the scene “to keep the peace while the order was executed,” said the representative, who said the sheriff’s department could not comment on the issue any further.

A neighbor of the family told ABC News that the house the McNeils were living in had been empty for as long as she could remember, and the house had never been up for sale.

“I just don’t understand how somebody could rent a place that’s not theirs,” said the neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous.

“They were nice and polite,” the neighbor said of the McNeils. “I pray things work out for her.”

WSB-TV reports that McNeil is getting a lot of support from the community in finding a home.

McNeil could not be immediately reached by ABC News for comment.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Kids Kare PC

One Dead in Pennsylvania Hospital Shootout

Friday, July 25th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(DARBY, Penn.) — A patient opened fire at a hospital campus in Pennsylvania on Thursday, killing his case worker and wounding a psychiatrist, according to police.

District Attorney Jack Whelan announced charges Friday against Richard Plotts, the suspect in the deadly shootout in Darby.

Plotts had an appointment with his doctor, Lee Silverman, scheduled for 2:30 p.m., but showed up about an hour earlier.

Silverman had the suspect’s case worker, Theresa Hunt, meet him and the patient in the office. According to the doctor, Plotts was agitated, refusing to sit down. He removed the gun from his waistband and start to rant, then pointed the weapon at Hunt and shot her in the head.

In response, Silverman said he pulled out a semi-automatic gun he had in the office, and returned fire with the suspect. The doctor was shot through his thumb as he was covering his face, and was also grazed in the head, according to officials. He was treated and released Thursday night.

Another doctor and caseworker wrestled with Plotts to subdue him until police arrived.

The patient was found with an additional 39 bullets, which authorities believe indicate that he was going to reload and shoot others.

Plotts criminal history dates back to 1990 and he is prohibited from possessing a firearm.

“If it wasn’t for the heroic action of the doctor and the case worker, we believe he was there and going to reload that revolver, and continue to fire and continue to kill,” Whelan said.

Officials believe Plotts had an issue with a rule that banned guns from the medical facility.

He is being treated for his injuries, including two gun wounds to the stomach, and is sedated, according to Whelan.

The District Attorney’s Office is in the process of charging him with murder and the attempted murder of Silverman.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Crusin In Cruces

Mom Who Left Kids in Car for Job Interview Glad for ‘Second Chance’

Friday, July 25th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Scottsdale Police Department(PHOENIX) — The Arizona mom arrested after leaving her kids in a hot car while she went on a job interview said she’s “extremely grateful” for a second chance, a week after reaching a deal with prosecutors that would drop criminal charges against her.

“Not many people get the opportunity that I have, so I’m grateful,” Shanesha Taylor, 35, told ABC News Friday.

The mom left her two young sons, 2 years and 6 months old, alone in her SUV with the fan on and the windows rolled down in March during her interview in Scottsdale for a job Taylor says the family desperately needed. Taylor told police she was homeless at the time and hadn’t been able to find a babysitter for the boys.

Taylor couldn’t say if she would do it again.

“That’s a difficult decision because I was basically choosing between caring for my children or providing for my children. That’s something people face every day,” she said.

Taylor didn’t get the job she was seeking, but her plight prompted an outpouring of support and financial donations from strangers.

Taylor and her attorney Benjamin Taylor (the two are not related) reached an agreement with Maricopa County Bill Montgomery’s office last Friday that will allow her to avoid prosecution if she meets several conditions.

“She will take 26 weeks of parenting classes and set up a trust fund for her children,” Benjamin Taylor said. “That’s the main agreement. Once everything is completed, which it will be, then they will officially dismiss the case.”

The attorney’s office confirmed that those conditions are part of the deal, but elaborated that Shanesha Taylor must take a minimum of 26 weeks of parenting classes. It could be up to 52 weeks, they said, determined by a judge based on a report from the adult probation department.

The next hurdle is getting her kids back, who are under supervision of Child Protective Services, according to her attorney, who is working pro bono. They have a court date in late August.

Taylor currently has weekend visitation rights to see her three children, the two sons and a 9-year-old daughter who was in school on the day of her arrest. She remembers that day as a nightmare.

“It was a good moment when I walked out of the interview and once I saw the police, and the scene, it was devastating,” Taylor said. “My mind went from, I had just secured what I needed to to take care of my family, to, oh my gosh, what’s going to happen to my family?”

Bystanders had reported seeing the kids left in the car, police said.

One witness said the youngest boy was crying and sweating. Temperatures in the SUV had exceeded 100 degrees.

Taylor said she thought they would be OK, and had no other choice.

“It was a moment of trying to do the right thing,” she said. “I previously scheduled care that didn’t come through, so I had to make a spur of the moment decision. I had to make a decision based out of desperation.”

Her story — and her tearful mugshot — garnered sympathy from supporters who raised more than $114,000 for Taylor’s family. Taylor said she’s using the money to rent a house in Phoenix and start a trust funds for her kids, per the attorney’s deal.

Her sons are too young to grasp why their mom is gone, but her 9-year-old daughter understands, Taylor said.

“It’s a difficult balance trying to explain to her that sometimes people do things wrong, and sometimes they have to go to jail,” she said. “But at the same time, she knows my intentions and how I am as a mother. She knows I do my best.”

Taylor hopes her case sheds light on other parents who struggle to find work and provide for their kids.

“Parents have to make decisions: Do I keep this job, or do I get rid of this job because I can’t afford daycare?” she said. “People are struggling.”

Soon Taylor will begin looking for work again — perhaps something in finance or administration — but she’s also interested in starting a nonprofit for parents like her.

“People need that one place they can go to receive help,” she said. “Right now, they don’t know where to go.”

But for now, Taylor is just grateful to avoid being tried on felony abuse charges.

“I was given a second chance and my children were given a future,” she said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Foster Dad Arrested in Toddler’s Hot Car Death

Friday, July 25th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WICHITA, Kan.) — A foster parent was arrested Friday in the death of a 10-month-old girl who had been left for hours in a hot car, according to Wichita, Kansas police.

Police officers got a call reporting a baby left on the backseat inside a car just before 7 p.m. on Thursday.

“We arrived on scene just a little before 7 p.m. on Thursday night,” Wichita Police Department spokesperson Lt. Dan East told ABC News. “The girl was unconscious and unresponsive.”

“She was sitting in the back seat of the car,” East said.

The child was pronounced dead minutes after paramedics arrived on the scene, according to a police report by the Wichita Police Department.

The foster child was in the care of two men, who were questioned by police on Thursday night.

“To our knowledge, the two men have four foster children,” East said. “One 5-year-old and one 7-year-old have been taken from the home and put in protective custody.”

“The 29-year-old dad picked up the girl from the babysitter and left her in the car,” he said.

“The two men were watching TV when the foster dad saw something that reminded him of the girl, and he ran outside and got the child out,” East added. “They appeared really upset when we arrived on scene.”

Shortly before 1 a.m. Friday, police officers arrested the 29-year-old, Seth Jackson, for aggravated child endangerment. The second man, 26, was not arrested.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Double Your Dollars

Man Who Killed Neighbor over Tree-Trimming Feud Has No Regrets

Friday, July 25th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(ENCINITAS, Calif.) — From inside the California jail where he is awaiting sentencing, Michael Vilkin said that given the chance, he would not change anything about the day he killed his neighbor John Upton.

“I’m not a kind of person who, if you spit in my face, I will not…just turn around and leave,” Vilkin, 62, told ABC News’ 20/20. “And Upton was, figuratively speaking, spitting in my face the whole year.”

A jury found him guilty of murder in the first-degree and assault with a deadly weapon last month. He faces 25 years to life in prison for the first-degree murder charge.

Vilkin and Upton, 56, had been arguing for over a year about Vilkin’s landscaping efforts on his property in Encinitas, California. The focus of their dispute was a narrow strip of land on Vilkin’s property in front of Upton’s rental home, where Vilkin was attempting to clear Brazilian pepper-trees.

“I wanted to clear the land from the wood and to build a house there,” Vilkin said.

On March 28, 2013, the neighbors’ dispute took a fatal turn. Vilkin shot Upton while he was outside on Vilkin’s driveway, first in his midsection and then in his head.

Upton, a documentary filmmaker and philanthropist, was profiled on ABC News’ 20/20 in 1993 for his mission to rescue hundreds of deformed Romanian orphans. But while friends and family saw him as a hero, Vilkin said he was afraid of Upton.

“No, he did not [raise a hand at me]. But I was afraid of him, really afraid because he was roaring at me, he was yelling at me,” Vilkin said. “He acted like a gangster, like a tough guy, like a Mafioso. I believe that he was a Mafioso.”

Vilkin told police he believed Upton was carrying a gun and shot him in self-defense, but police found no evidence of a second gun at the scene.

“I was shooting. I did not aim. It was very close,” Vilkin said. “I expected to act in self-defense.”

Having already spent 18 months in jail, Vilkin said he will appeal the jury’s decision, saying his lawyer was incompetent.

“I’m always hopeful,” Vilkin said, “unless I see a pistol in your hand. Then I will shoot you in one second.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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