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Buffalo Snow Pile Refuses to Melt Eight Months After Snowstorm

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Patrick McPartland/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — The sun is shining, swimming pools are open and there’s still a giant snow pile in New York.

The calendar says it’s almost August, but an estimated 12-feet-tall snow pile still lingers in Buffalo, New York from a snow storm eight months ago.

“The original problem started back in November,” New York state climatologist Mark Wysocki told ABC News Wednesday. “The city had no place to put the snow, so they found a vacant lot and starting bringing in dump trucks full of snow. When they used bulldozers to flatten it out, it just compacted the pile.”

Wysocki said the dirt on top of the pile is insulating the snow from melting.

“It’s like an Oreo. The soil on top is warm and [the snow] is sitting on the warm ground and it just takes time,” he said.

The area around the pile is marshy and filled with dirty water from what snow has melted over the past eight months.

The pile — which now has grass growing on top — could last until the first snowfall or it could be gone by the end of August, but until then, Wysocki thinks Buffalo has a great tourist attraction.

Boston announced its last snow pile melted on July 14.

ABC US News | World News

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hometown Headlines w/ Brad Barrett

Video Shows Chattanooga Gunman’s DUI Arrest

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Chattanooga Police(CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.) — Newly released video shows the Chattanooga gunman being arrested for driving under the influence earlier this year, an incident his family believes may have led to him opening fire at two military offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee, killing five service members.

The video shows Mohammod Abdulazeez being stopped after 2 a.m. on April 20 by police for “driving over 10 mph under the speed limit, and stopping at green lights.” During the stop, an officer says he noticed that Abdulazeez’s car smelled like alcohol and marijuana odor, and that his eyes were bloodshot and he was unsteady with slurred speech, according to the arrest report.

The video also shows Abdulazeez taking a field sobriety test. After walking the line, an officer notes that Abdulazeez “is counting steps that aren’t happening.”

An officer said he also noticed irritated nostrils and a white powdery substance under his nose, but Abdulazeez responded that he had “crushed caffeine pills and snorted them” and that he was around friends who were drinking and smoking marijuana.

Abdulazeez, 24, was charged with driving under the influence. He refused to consent to the state blood test, police said.

Earlier this month, Abdulazeez opened fire at the Navy Operational Support Center and the Marine Reserve Center in Chattanooga before he was killed by a police officer.

The FBI is considering Abdulazeez a “homegrown, violent, and extremist” who acted on his own, though the agency is investigating all possible leads and every relative and associate he has, including an uncle in Jordan, FBI Special Agent Edward Reinhold said last week.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Couple on Trial for Allegedly Allowing Underage Drinking Before Teen Killed in Crash

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) — The mother of a Raleigh, North Carolina, teenager killed in a car crash last year broke down while testifying in the trial against a couple accused of allowing her son and several other teens to drink before the crash.

Carrie Taylor testified Tuesday that she and her husband, a North Carolina state trooper, learned of their 18-year-old son Jonathan’s death when they arrived at the crash site on June 28, 2014. He was killed when his car slammed into a tree.

“As a mother, I knew something horrible happened,” she said. “My husband — he’s in law enforcement and when the road’s closed, they weren’t letting him through. I just — I knew.”

Jonathan was leaving a wedding reception where teenagers were drinking underage, police said. The parents who hosted the reception, Dr. Charles Matthews and his wife Kim, are charged with four counts of aiding and abetting underage possession and consumption of alcohol.

Attorneys for the Matthews said the teenagers were drinking liquor they bought before the reception, noting that the couple never gave the teens permission to drink at the party. But prosecutors argued the teenagers — including the Matthews’ son Thomas, who pleaded guilty to underage purchase of alcohol in connection with the crash — were drinking openly at the reception.

“Obviously, we were underage,” testified Mary Anna Ergsh, one of the teenagers. “There was free alcohol. We were just trying to get as much as we could. No one was kind of limiting us.”

Prosecutors dropped the charges filed against the clerk at the liquor store where the teenagers allegedly bought liquor before the reception.

Both Charles and Kim Matthews have pleaded not guilty. If found guilty, they face possible probation or a fine.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Loyal Listeners Club

400-Year-Old Remains Identified as Founders of Jamestown

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Michael Lavin, Courtesy of Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation(WASHINGTON) — A team of scientists on Tuesday revealed that a set of 400-year-old skeletons are believed to be early leaders from Jamestown, the place where the English settlement of North America took root, at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

“They were four of the first founders of English America,” said James Horn, president of Jamestown Rediscovery. “They endured years of starvation, Indian attacks, and disease.”

The four men — Rev. Robert Hunt, Capt. Gabriel Archer, Sir Ferdinando Wainman and Capt. William West — were prominent Englishmen in their 20s to 40s, according to scientists at the Jamestown Rediscovery.

Their bodies were exhumed in 2013 from a recently-discovered 1608 church in Jamestown, which was also the site of Pocahontas’ marriage to John Rolfe.

According to the Smithsonian, scientists used a number of tools to make the determination including chemical testing, 3D technology and genealogical research, cross-referencing that information with a list of colonists who died during that time.

Only about 30 percent of the skeletons remained, but scientists were able to determine their sex and approximate age at death.

“This information, paired with the style of coffins and associated artifacts found at the site, led the scientists to match this set of remains,” the Smithsonian said.

Hunt, the first Anglican minister at Jamestown, was found “buried in a simple shroud with no coffin facing the people he served, his congregation.” He, along with Archer, arrived on the first expedition to Jamestown with Capt. John Smith. Testing determined Hunt died at age 34 in either late 1609 or early 1610.

Archer led early expeditions in Jamestown and was a fierce critic of Smith.

Wainman arrived at Jamestown with his first cousin, governor of Virginia Lord De La Warr. He died in 1610 at the age of 34.

West arrived in Jamestown with his relatives, Wainman and De La Warr. He was killed in 1610 “fighting against elite Indian warriors,” said Douglas Owsley, division head of Physical Anthropology at the Museum of Natural History.

But with one mystery solved, another remains.

The small silver box on top of Archer’s coffin is believed to be a Catholic relic. Although scientists are unable to open it, 3D X-ray images of the box reveal it contains bone fragments and an ampulla, a small container used for holy liquids.

Michael Lavin, senior conservator with Jamestown Rediscovery, said the box is significant because “artifacts associated with burial are extremely rare.” Archer’s parents were Catholic and scientists believe the box suggests that at least one of the colonists retained his Catholic faith, perhaps in secret.

The bone fragments found inside the box are “representative of bones of a saint,” Lavin explained. He said the Catholic tradition behind the box predates the Protestant split with the Catholic Church, leading Lavin to speculate whether the box is evidence of “a Catholic cell” at Jamestown or simply remains of an evolving religion.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Why Do Some Colleges No Longer Require an SAT Score?

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Looks like your chances of getting into your dream school just got easier — at least, if your dream college is George Washington University.

The Washington, D.C. private college is removing the SAT and ACT from most freshmen admission requirements, The Washington Post reports.

The reason speaks to the ongoing debate about the alleged cultural bias of standardized testing, which could cause some students from minority backgrounds to perform less well.

“We want outstanding students from all over the world and from all different backgrounds — regardless of their standardized scores — to recognize GW as a place where they can thrive,” said Dean of Admissions Karen Stroud Felton.

GWU is the largest of the more than 125 private colleges and universities with testing-optional admission policies, according to the National Center of Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest. Wesleyan University, American University and Wake Forest University are other major institutions included on the list.

Even so, test-optional admission policies aren’t a major growing trend, according to ACT President Jon L. Erickson. The majority of schools still require the SAT or ACT scores for consideration, and millions of students still follow the traditional ritual of taking one, or both tests, usually multiple times, in hopes of college admittance.

“I have to question why having less information to make a decision is a good thing,” said Erickson. “To me, for a good decision, you want as much information as possible.”

Ironically, both tests were originally created to increase college access and remove entrance bias by basing student candidacy on merit, and not relationships. However, research shows there are correlations between test scores and economic circumstances — a potential barrier George Washington University hopes to remove in order to increase diversity at the institution.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Song of The Day

James Holmes’ Father Says Son Is ‘Excellent Kid’ in Desperate Bid to Save His Life

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Shelly Greer/Hemera/iStock/ThinkStock(AURORA, Colo.) — Bob Holmes took the stand Tuesday in a desperate attempt to save the life of his son, who was convicted of killing 12 people and wounding 70 others in the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre.

James Holmes is potentially facing the death penalty after being convicted of 165 counts on July 16.
“Do you still love your son?” asked public defender Tamara Brady. “Yes. He was an excellent kid. He’s my son,” Bob Holmes said quietly.

Bob Holmes testified that the trial has been very difficult for him. He and his wife, Arlene, have sat directly behind their son in support of him enduring weeks of gut-wrenching testimony from the victims of families he killed and wounded.

Bob Holmes told the court that he wasn’t aware that his son was mentally ill and also did not know that he was having homicidal thoughts.

At the urging of defense attorneys, the killer’s father described a bucolic California childhood as pictures and videos of the gunman were shown to the jury on three flat screens in the courtroom. There were pictures and home movies of Christmas gatherings, neighborhood Halloween parties, camping out and, at 5 years old, getting a haircut by his grandmother.

All week, the jury has heard from neighbor moms, church leaders, college roommates and childhood friends. They’ve listened to stories of better days when the defendant got good grades on school science projects, volunteered to pull weeds at the church and brought toys to orphans.

But the older Holmes described life starting to turn south for his son after a move from the strawberry fields of Castroville, California to San Diego when the defendant was entering middle school.

“Jimmy,” as the family calls him, got good grades, but was struggling to fit in.

After graduating from high school, he started a job in a pill-coating factory.

“I suspected he was unhappy,” explained his dad. Life started looking up when the defendant got into the Neuropsychiatry program at the University of Colorado. In the fall of 2011 he had his first girlfriend.
Holmes’ father testified that at Christmas break that year, James was very sick with mononucleosis and he was concerned. By that spring, his son wasn’t returning phone calls.”We knew he had broken up with his girlfriend. We knew some things weren’t going very well.”

In truth, the convicted shooter had already begun buying guns and plotting out the July 20th attack; but he didn’t reveal his plans to anyone.

Though they usually communicated by email, they set up a phone call for July 4th and had a long conversation, which for the normally-introverted James they knew, was very unusual. “He sure didn’t sound depressed. He was pretty chatty,” testified the father.

When Bob and Arlene Holmes got the call that a gunman had opened fire into the premiere of a Batman movie in the early morning of July 20 three years ago, they thought their son had been shot. To their horror, they found out from the media that it was their son who had done the shooting.

The family sent nearly 50 letters to the jail and visited three times before the trial procedures started. “Jim doesn’t allow visitors, so we hadn’t been able to see him. The first time was when he had his red hair.”

Wednesday, Arlene Holmes will have her turn on the stand and tears are expected to be flowing in the Arapahoe County courtroom. Thursday morning both sides will have closing arguments and then the jury will deliberate whether the Holmes family’s plea for them to see their son as a human being worked to save him from moving to the next phase, the decision of whether or not to put him to death.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Eight Kids Hurt, Two Critically, When Tree Falls Outside Museum

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

File photo. (iStock/Thinkstock)(PASADENA, Calif.) — A huge tree fell and hit children near a museum in California on Tuesday, injuring eight children, two of them critically.

The tree toppled over around 5 p.m. near the Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, hitting children who were waiting to be picked up by their parents from summer day camp.

“I heard a tree crack, and then I turned around and I saw little kids running, then I saw the tree fall on top of the little kids,” Greg Prodigalidad told ABC News station KABC-TV in Los Angeles. “I ran over there with a bunch of parents and we just started going through the tree and the bushes and we started pulling them out.”

Fire officials said two children were transported with critical injuries. The other six suffered minor injuries.

It’s unclear what caused the tree to fall. An investigation is underway.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Nugget of Knowldege

Officials Release Sandra Bland Jail Footage to Address Theories About Her Death

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Sandra Bland/Facebook(HOUSTON) — Texas officials released new footage of Sandra Bland in the county jail where she remained for three days until her death, showing her talking to officers, facing a magistrate judge, sleeping in a holding cell and making multiple phone calls.

One clip from the day after her arrest shows a seemingly upset Bland in her orange jumpsuit make multiple phone calls from the jailer’s phone. As she makes calls she used a tissue to wipe her eyes.

Waller County Judge Carbett Duhon said he released the footage because of threats related to Bland’s death, which caused an uproar and to address theories that she was dead prior to her mug shot being taken. Bland was found hanged from a plastic trash bag in her cell on July 13, three days after she was pulled over for a traffic infraction.

County officials said that Bland spent about 22 minutes making calls after she made multiple requests to use the phone. They said it was possible she was leaving voicemails. In one voicemail she was heard telling a friend that she did not know how a traffic stop turned into time in jail.

County officials said that the numbers she called were being retrieved as part of the investigation into her death.

Waller County Judge Carbett Duhon walked reporters through the videos of Bland during the three days at the county jail before she was found dead in her cell.

Initial video showed Bland at the jail wearing the same dress as the one she wore during the arrest.
Other video showed Bland waiting around for hours in a holding cell before she was booked and had her mug shot taken.

Duhon pointed out that Bland had been asleep for hours before her picture was taken that Friday. On Saturday Bland is shown facing a judge to have her bond determined. In the video she stands facing a judge with her hands clasped in front of her answering questions.

An autopsy released indicated that Bland committed suicide and did not show any signs of a struggle that would be associated with a violent death.

But her family has called for a Department of Justice investigation and ordered an independent autopsy.
Dash cam footage released of the arrest shows a heated confrontation between her and the officer before she was taken into custody.

Questions have been raised about what occurred after her arrest as well.

Sheriff’s officials said that Bland told jailers that she was “fine” just hours before her death.

A jail intake form indicated that she had tried to commit suicide at some point in 2014 or 2015 after she lost a baby, but also said that she was not suicidal on the day she was taken into jail.

ABC US News | World News

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Cyclist’s Helmet Cam Captures Moment SUV Hits Him Then Speeds Away

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Trip Volpe(SEATTLE) — A cyclist’s GoPro camera on his helmet caught his recent close encounter with a SUV at an intersection in Seattle, Washington, where the driver crashed into the cyclist and sped away.

The cyclist, Trip Volpe, was headed northbound on Dexter Avenue at Thomas Street when the SUV made a quick turn in front of him, ABC affiliate KOMO-TV reported. Volpe’s helmet cam captured the sound of his bike braking hard and the moment the SUV crashed into his bike and then fleeing the scene.

Volpe was knocked down and suffered minor injuries, KOMO reported.

“I was really angry at the guy because he pulled out in front of me, we collide, and he just flees the scene,” Volpe told KOMO. “I could’ve been seriously injured. Hell, he could’ve run me over if I had somehow slipped under his tire. That’s really not cool.”

A still from the video Volpe caught on his $400 GoPro also appears to show the SUV driver holding a cell phone, KOMO added.

“He was staring at his phone during the turn,” Volpe told KOMO. “If you’re driving, don’t look at your phone. Please. You’ll kill somebody.”

Seattle Police Department Sgt. Whitcomb told ABC News that the driver turned himself into police about an hour-and-a-half after the incident and that the case remains active under investigation. Whitcomb said he could not immediately identify the driver’s age or name.

Volpe did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for additional comment.

ABC US News | World News

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pet of the Week

Man Arrested In ISIS-Inspired Plot to Bomb Florida Beach, Officials Say

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/ThinkStock(KEY WEST, Fla.) — The FBI has arrested a man who allegedly wanted to detonate a bomb at a Florida beach and attack police at their homes in what authorities describe as an ISIS-inspired terror attack, officials said.

Harlem Suarez, 23, of Key West, Florida, has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in the United States.

“Stopping attacks on our homeland by those inspired or directed by designated foreign terrorist organizations is the highest priority,” the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, John Carlin, said in a statement.

Suarez first came onto the FBI’s radar in April, after he posted “extremist rhetoric” and pro-ISIS messages on Facebook, according to the Justice Department.

The FBI then sent in a “confidential source,” who for months allegedly talked with Suarez online and in person about plans to attack the United States.

In May, according to the FBI, Suarez recorded his own ISIS recruitment video, declaring: “We will destroy America and divide it into two. We will raise our black flag on top of your White House and any president on duty.”

The FBI said that in subsequent meetings with the FBI informant, Suarez discussed plans for an attack around the July 4 holiday and said he would “cook American[s] … in cages” — an apparent reference to a horrific propaganda video released by ISIS showing a captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive while in a cage.

Last week, Suarez allegedly gave the informant two boxes of nails, a cell phone, a backpack and $100 to build a bomb. In the most recent discussions, Suarez talked about bombing a public beach in Key West and placing explosive devices under police cars and at their homes, according to charging documents filed by the FBI.

The FBI arrested Suarez on Monday.

“There is no room for failure when it comes to investigating the potential use of a weapon of mass destruction,” said Special Agent in Charge George Piro, head of the FBI’s Miami Field Office.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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