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Saturday
Nov202010

Thanksgiving Without Turkey? Down Economy Means Fewer Donations

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- No law says that you have to have turkey on Thanksgiving, but just try to imagine the holiday without it.

With less than a week before Thanksgiving, the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions surveyed 25 of its members in some of the country's biggest cities. The association found that more than half of those missions -- including ones in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, Detroit and Seattle -- have seen a "major drop" in turkey donations this year.

The missions "will not be able to provide food boxes the way they have done in the past unless there is a sudden increase in turkey donations in the next couple of days," association president John Ashmen told ABC News.

ABC News called the CEO of Butterball, Keith Shoemaker, to see if they could help. The company gives away thousands of turkeys every year, but now inventory is way down.

"I just don't have a lot of turkeys sitting anywhere in a bag to give someone at this point," Shoemaker said.

Charities and food banks nationwide also report donations have plummeted. They blame empty freezers on the poor economy and higher turkey prices.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov202010

Obama: TSA Security Scans, Pat-Downs Necessary for Now

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(LISBON, Portugal) --  President Obama said Saturday he understands Americans’ frustrations with what some have called invasive screening procedures conducted by the TSA throughout the nation's airports. The president, however, noted that the process is the best way right now to ensure their safety.

“What I’ve said to the TSA is that you have to constantly refine and measure whether what we’re doing is the only way to ensure the American peoples’ safety and you have to think through are there ways of doing it that are less intrusive?” he said.
 
President Obama said his counterterrorism advisors have told him that these procedures “are the only ones right now that they consider to be effective against the kind of threat we saw in the Christmas Day bombing.”

“Every week I meet with my counterterrorism team and I’m constantly asking them whether is what we’re doing absolutely necessary, have we thought it through, are there other ways of accomplishing it that meet the same objectives?” he said.

U.S. airline pilots learned Friday that they will be exempt from the invasive x-ray screening and pat-downs that have sparked a revolt across the country.

As of yet, there is no change in policy for regular travelers.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov202010

Wedding Nightmare: Fire Leaves Brides Desperate

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CHICAGO) -- When a Chicago-area bridal shop went up in flames this week, so did the dreams of dozens of brides-to-be whose burned dresses were left among the rubble.

Eva's Bridal Shop in Oak Lawn, Ill., was destroyed by the fast moving fire Wednesday. Only a handful of dresses were salvaged.

Bride-to-be Ashley Kuhl lost her dress, as well as four of her five bridesmaids' dresses. "I looked good in it," she said. "I felt good in it and it has some special touches." With her wedding scheduled for Dec. 4, two weeks away, Kuhl was at a loss for what to do.

Enter Renee Fennell, owner of A' Paris House of Bridal & Fashion in Michigan City, Ind., which boasts one of the largest selections of wedding dresses in the Midwest. Fennell has offered to outfit not only Kuhl but all her bridesmaids -- for free.

Fennell said she knows what Eva is going through. About 20 years ago, her family-owned store, then located in downtown Chicago, lost everything in a fire. "I am a firm believer in karma," she said. "What goes around comes back and we just want to help."

Several other bridal shops in the area have rushed to the rescue as well, offering several brides-to-be help in replacing their dresses, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov202010

Authorities Hunt for Mysterious Figure in Veterans Charity Scam

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The man who once rubbed shoulders with GOP political luminaries is now wanted by Ohio state authorities who say the $100 million he raised in the name of a charity for U.S. Navy veterans cannot be located.

He went by the names Bobby Thompson and Ronnie Brittain, but authorities say both were stolen identities. His charity, the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, ran its national headquarters in Washington, D.C., out of a post office box at a UPS store.

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray charged that this alleged con artist had done "in the charitable sphere what Bernie Madoff did in the investment sphere. It's shocking, and it's discouraging and it's depressing to think so many people wanted to give to veterans and in fact they were giving to this man and his sham organization."

Thompson collected as much as $100 million over the past decade from donors who thought they were contributing to a legitimate veterans service organization, according to Cordray, and 99 percent of the funds are now unaccounted for. He donated more than $200,000 to prominent politicians, mostly Republicans.

Some, like President George W. Bush and the presumptive incoming House Speaker, John Boehner, posed for photographs with him. Others, including a former Ohio Attorney General, initially supported what they believed were his legitimate charitable efforts.

Darryl Rouson, a Florida legislator, initially helped represent the man he thought was Bobby Thompson after he first came under fire in reports by the St. Petersburg Times, the newspaper that first raised questions about the so-called veterans charity.

"He seemed to be a knowledgeable man about politics and community affairs," Rouson told ABC News. "He was engaging, jovial. I had no reason to suspect he was anything other than who he said he was."

Mike DeWine, a former U.S. Senator who is preparing to take over as Ohio Attorney General, was one of many Republicans who took donations from the man who called himself Bobby Thompson. He now says he expects to pursue the case against Thompson with the same vigor as his Democratic predecessor, Cordray.

He conceded in an interview with ABC News that the business of political fundraising is not always as intimate as people believe -- that candidates raise most of their money from people who are, essentially, total strangers.

"Some people who give you money, you just don't know them," DeWine said. "You don't know who they are. You're talking about thousands of people, you don't have a clue who they are. It can be pretty hard to sort all that out. You've got to try."

Now, authorities are trying to sort out Thompson's real identity. And his location.

The person calling himself Bobby Thompson and claiming to be a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy surfaced in Florida in 1998, according to a timeline compiled by the St. Petersburg Times, giving his age as 52 when he registered to vote in Hillsborough County. He formed a Navy veterans' political action committee the next year, and then launched the U.S. Navy Veterans Association as a non-profit veterans service organization in 2002, applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS.

After the St. Petersburg Times began investigating Thompson, a reporter from the newspaper was able to confront "Thompson" outside his Ybor City, Florida duplex in 2009 and conduct an interview with him. Thompson told the paper he was part Choctaw Indian and was from Mississippi. He also said he had a relative in the tribe named Bobby Thompson, "but I'm not him." He also claimed to have joined the Navy underage, but the Navy has no record of his service.

According to Ohio authorities, "Thompson" stole the identity of a man named Bobby Thompson from Washington State. He also had an identity card from the state of Indiana issued under the name of a man from New Mexico named Ronnie Brittain. The real Ronnie Brittain is the head of a veterans group in New Mexico.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov202010

Storms Dump Snow, Rain in Parts of Western US

Photo Courtesy - ABC News/KOMO-TV Seattle(SEATTLE) -- Parts of the west are getting slammed by powerful, winter like storms.

Up to two feet of snow fell in parts of Washington. There was heavy rain and mountain snow from California into Utah and Montana. Higher elevations could get five feet of snow.

“Saturday and Sunday night could be some of our heaviest,” said Brian O’Hara of the National Weather Service.

Another storm is moving into Washington and Oregon bringing more snow, rain and high winds.

Winter warnings and watches have been posted in 11 western states.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov192010

TSA Says Pilots Will Be Exempt from Invasive Pat-Downs, Scanners

Photo Courtesy - Blog dot TSA dot gov(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. airline pilots learned Friday that they'll be exempt from the invasive x-ray screening and pat-downs that have sparked a revolt across the country.

In a statement, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced new procedures that it says will streamline airport security.

Pilots in uniform acting on airline business will be allowed to pass through airport security by showing two photo IDs. The identification will be cross-checked against a flight crew database.

"Allowing these uniformed pilots, whose identity has been verified, to go through expedited screening at the checkpoint just makes for smart security and an efficient use of our resources," TSA Administrator John Pistole said in a statement.

The decision comes after pilots' unions had called on members to avoid going through the advanced x-ray screeners that produce full-body images, and they had also expressed concerns about enhanced pat-downs. A handful of pilots have said they were so traumatized by the searches that they couldn't perform their duties, though critics have accused them of making such claims to push a political agenda.

As of yet, though, there is no change in policy for regular travelers.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Friday
Nov192010

Arizona Homeless Man Turns in Lost Backpack With $3,300

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TEMPE, Ariz.) -- When a homeless Arizona man found a backpack containing thousands of dollars in cash, he could have seen it as a windfall. Instead, he saw that it was returned to its owner, an honorable act that's now paying off.

Dave Tally, a recovering drug addict, came across the lost backpack earlier this month in a light rail station in Tempe. He opened it up, trying to find some sort of identification or baggage tag.

Inside, there were no clues about its rightful owner, but Tally did find an envelope stuffed with $3,300 in cash, as well as a laptop computer.

"Finding the envelope with the case was just mind-blowing," Tally said. "There were lots of crazy thoughts that went through my head."

The cash could have meant a lot for Tally, who's lived on the streets for several years after losing his home. He now sleeps in the basement of local churches, saving what little he can to fix his broken bike, his only source of transportation.

"I went into survival mode for a moment, actually more than a moment," Tally said, "thinking about all the things I could do for myself."

But in the end, the money wasn't worth more than his honor.

"It wasn't easy, but I know it was the right thing to do," Tally said. "I beat myself up pretty hard for even thinking I would spend one dime of that person's money."

Tally took the bag to his boss at the Tempe Community Action Agency, which helps homeless people in the area find shelter and where he holds down a part time job. With no ID on the bag, they had no way of finding the owner until someone thought to plug in a flash drive that was with the computer.

On the drive was the resume of Bryan Belanger, an Arizona State University student who thought he'd never see his belongings again after mistakenly leaving them in the station on his way to work. He was carrying the envelope of money with plans to buy a used car off Craigslist.

Thanks to Tally's good deed, the bag, cash and computer were back in Belanger's hands five days after he reported them missing.

"It's just the greatest thing I've ever experienced, I think," said Belanger. "It really is a lesson to keep your faith in people, and character exists no matter what your circumstances are."

When Belanger met Tally, he offered a grateful handshake and a cash reward. Belanger even promised to volunteer at the Tempe Community Action Agency.

But those aren't the only rewards Tally's decision brought him. After his story aired on ABC's Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV, strangers sent Tally checks, and even found him to hand him cash. More than enough money has come in to fix his broken bike.

For his part, Tally hopes his act will change some people's notions about the homeless.

"My time being on the streets, I met some of the most intelligent people that just made bad choices," Tally said. "They are just everyday people that have a different way of life right now."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov192010

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough Suspended for Political Donations

Photo Courtesy - Virginia Sherwood/MSNBC(NEW YORK) -- MSNBC personality Joe Scarborough has been suspended for two days after admitting he had donated thousands of dollars to political campaigns, a breach of network policy.

In a statement released Friday, Scarborough called the donations "simple acts of friendship" and said that he did not seek approval for the donations because they involved "local, noncompetitive races" that he didn't think were "relevant" to his work.

Scarborough's suspension comes two weeks after it was revealed that another MSNBC host, Keith Olbermann, had made donations to three Democratic candidates.

As in Olbermann's case, MSNBC President Phil Griffin, released a statement explaining that Scarborough's donations were against company policy.

Scarborough will be suspended for two days without pay and will return to the air Nov. 24, according to Griffin.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov192010

9/11 Health Settlement Goes Through

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The $625 million settlement for 9/11 emergency responders who sued New York City over health risks at Ground Zero has been approved. More than 10,000 workers are involved in the suit, which combined many lawsuits over the city's failure to provide protective gear as crews worked to remove soot and ash in the post 9/11 cleanup.

Thousands of people who worked at the wreckage of the World Trade Center have fallen ill since the terror attacks that brought the buildings down in 2001, and more than 900 have died of illnesses  related to their work at Ground Zero.

Tuesday was the deadline for workers to opt in or out and 95 percent of those who sued had to agree to participate for the deal to be approved.  On Friday, it was announced that enough workers had signed on.  Mayor Michael Bloomburg issued a statement, saying "this settlement is a fair and just resolution of these claims, protecting those who came to the aid of this city when we needed it most." 

There are other defendants, including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  The other defendants involvement could inject more money into the settlement. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov192010

TSA Chief: No Second Thoughts About Security Measures

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Cries of outrage from the public, threats to opt-out of full body scanning, and lawsuits over overly aggressive frisking aren't giving the head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) any second thoughts about airport security.

"Obviously we know the threats are real so that's what we are trying to deal with here, to keep it in context," John Pistole told ABC News. "The reason we are doing these types of pat-downs and using the advanced imagery technology is trying to take the latest intelligence and how we know al Qaeda and affiliates want to hurt us, they want to bring down whether it is passenger air craft or cargo aircraft."

Next Wednesday -- one of the busiest travel days of the year -- some airline passengers are threatening to opt-out of the full body scanners en masse to snarl airport traffic in an effort to protest the machines and full body pat-downs they say are too invasive.

Pistole defended the measures saying the TSA is trying to balance the public's concerns with the intelligence information about potential threats. He said the scanners do not store images and TSA employees offer private screenings for passengers who request them.

"In the final analysis it comes down to the men and women of the TSA who are there, again, to protect everybody from having somebody get on that flight with explosives," he said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio