Happy Wednesday night folks….here's what 's going on
VETERANS DAY/TWO NEW HEROES SPEAK-Today is a day we honor all those who have served our country in the military in times of war (and peace). Veterans Day-as David Wright noted on WORLD NEWS, “for generations, Veterans Day was for old men. And members of their generation who never got to be old men.” Today with U.S. armed forces engaged in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations around the globe, a sense that this day belongs to the “now” as well. Specialist Jessica Duggan, speaking from Fort Hood, notes that “we don’t need to look in the past for our heroism, we have all created our own name for the newer generation of the Army.”
And on a day when that military heroism is feted, a chance to hear from two new heroes-civilian police sergeants Mark Todd and Kim Munley. They were instrumental in bringing down the Fort Hood shooter last week. They spoke for the first time publicly today in a satellite feed from Killeen, Texas on the OPRAH WINFREY SHOW. Munley was just ahead of Todd on the scene and Bob Woodruff, relaying the story on WORLD NEWS, says that “as Munley approached the chaotic scene, she apparently exchanged fire with Nidal Hasan. Munley was hit. First in the hand and then the leg.” Woodruff continues: “Todd then engaged Hasan with repeated shots. In 25 years in law enforcement he says, it’s the first time he’s ever had to discharge his weapon.” When Hasan was down, Todd noted, “we started the lifesavers measures on him because now that he’s in custody, he belongs to us, so we have to maintain his life.” Munley’s recovery from her gunshot wounds progresses-Woodruff notes Munley received a visit from ‘the Secretary of Defense…Robert Gates.” But that’s not what’s foremost on her mind-“every day is progress for me and things are getting better day by day. I’m just hoping that the rest of the officers and the families of the deceased are healing as well.”
FORT HOOD SHOOTER/INFORMATION FLOW LOOPHOLE-One of the lessons learned from the 9/11 tragedy was that intelligence agencies needed to share information better. The tragedy at Fort Hood is the latest indication that there continues to be situations that might have been prevented by the sharing of information between agencies, local and federal officials. We and others have reported that Major Nidal Hasan purchased the gun believed responsible for the massacre in August from a Killeen, Texas gun store. The transaction was completely legal. Pierre Thomas, reporting tonight for WORLD NEWS, picks up the story. Thomas: “An FBI background check was done when Hasan purchased the pistol-but that information was never shared with a Joint Terrorism Task force which was aware that Hasan had been repeatedly contacting a radical Imam suspected of ties to al-Qaeda.” That information, former FBI agent Brad Garrett told Thomas, “about the gun could have been critical.” Thomas mentions a second recent incident, a shooting at a Little Rock recruiting station that killed a soldier. Charged as the gunman in that incident was Abdulhakim Muhammed, who was under investigation at the time for possible ties to terrorists. Thomas: “A senior law enforcement official tells ABC NEWS that Muhammed purchased a gun in the weeks before the shooting at a Walmart. An FBI background check was done-but the FBI counterterrorism investigators working Muhammed’s case were apparently unaware.”
Two instances where a little heads-up might have made a difference. Unfortunately, things aren’t that easy. Thomas: “Senior law enforcement officials say the federal law forbids them from widely sharing-even to police-information about legal gun purchases.” Thomas notes in his close that “sources say some law enforcement officials are reviewing ways to close such gaps in information sharing, but they worry that Congress may not have the will to make the changes.”
NEW H1N1 ESTIMATES: Next week the Centers for Disease Control will release an update on the number of people who have died from the H1N1 virus. This number will be more than three times higher than previous official estimates; the CDC is expected to report that 4,000 Americans have died from the flu since April. Earlier estimates were 1,200. “The new numbers expected from the CDC will be based on a computer model looking at surveillance systems that the CDC uses to track influenza…systems such as hospitalizations, lab testing and emergency room visits. It doesn’t mean deaths have gone up sharply…it’s just a more accurate snapshot of the toll of the epidemic,” Lisa Stark reported on WORLD NEWS.
Sanofi Pasteur provided an update on their progress of manufacturing the vaccine, which has been in short supply across the nation. “Sanofi had promised 20 million doses by the end of October…but delivered only 17 million,” Stark reported. “The reason – this virus, which is grown in eggs, grew much more slowly than anticipated.” Sanofi CEO Wayne Pisano told ABC NEWS “We assumed 50 percent of historical yield. Surprisingly it was only 30 percent when we started. So the differential was not that great for us and we’ve been able to close that gap.”
“Sanofi says its production is now at full steam and that it will soon be ahead of schedule…Sanofi insists today – not for lack of trying – saying it will deliver its promised 75 million doses before the end of the year,” Stark reported. Tomorrow the CDC will have its first H1N1 briefing for the week (time TBD). (thanks to Marisa Bramwell for this entry)
UNITED PILOT/ALCOHOL-As was mentioned in this note last night, Erwin Washington, a pilot from United Airlines was pulled from his London to Chicago flight before take-off earlier this week when a fellow crew member suspected he had been drinking. While we don’t know the results of the breathalyzer in this case, David Muir, reporting for WORLD NEWS, notes that limits are stringent. Muir: “Pilots in the US are prohibited from flying if their blood-alcohol level is .04 or higher. That’s half the driving limit in most states. In Britain, it’s even tougher….02 for pilots…or about a half glass of beer.” And before you start wondering just how widespread the problem might be, Muir reminds that there are “35 thousand flights a day in this country” while only 13 pilots were cited last year for violating FAA alcohol rules. So rare as it is, Muir notes that ‘authorities say…fellow crew members must remain vigilant.” And passengers on UA#949 ought to be plenty thankful that their crew was vigilant. As for Mr. Washington, he’ll appear in a London court next week facing up to 2 years in prison if convicted.
LITTLE ROCK ANCHOR MURDER/GUILTY-A Little Rock, AR jury convicted Curtis LaVelle Vance in the death of KATV anchor Anne Presseley. Still to be decided by the jury-execution or life in prison. Vance was also convicted of rape and burglary charges.
VIRGINIA BEACH WEATHER-Virginia Beach, Virginia is the scene of a particularly nasty storm, a noreaster packing strong winds and rains. Officials are talking about waves reaching 16 feet in height, and say to expect moderate to severe flooding in flood-prone areas. And this is just the start of the storm, expected to continue thru tomorrow.
LOU DOBBS ANKLES CNN/WILL PURSUE “NEW OPPORTUNITIES”-CNN’s longest-running anchor Lou Dobbs announced on his self-named broadcast this evening that tonight would be his last show. Dobbs noted that CNN had released him from his contract which would enable him to “pursue new opportunities”. It’s unclear what those new opportunities might be. Dobbs anti-immigration views has made him a lightning rod for controversy, especially on a network looking to maintain its’ middle-ground objectivity. That controversy may not be a problem for other employers, especially the Fox News Network whose president Roger Ailes had dinner with Dobbs last month.
STUDENTS ARRESTED FOR FOOD FIGHT: Who knew throwing food in the school cafeteria could get you arrested? Some Chicago school children learned that lesson the hard way last week when they were carted off to jail for starting a food fight in their school cafeteria. “Police rounded up more than two dozen students – 11 to 15 year olds – now charged as criminals with misdemeanor reckless conduct,” Barbara Pinto reported on WORLD NEWS. Why did school officials opt to have the children, who attend the high-performing Perspectives Charter School (which sends 90 percent of its graduates to college), arrested for misconduct? In a statement, the school said “The Chicago police officers who help protect our school, concerned about potential injuries resulting from the fight, felt it was necessary to arrest those responsible.” (thanks to Marisa Bramwell for this entry)
–HOUSING/FORECLOSURES DOWN-Another day…another housing report. Today’s missive covers foreclosures-RealtyTrac says the number of foreclosure filings fell 3% in October, the third straight monthly decline. Hopeful sign? Yes….but….Arnall: “it is not a guarantee that continued problems in the jobs market won’t push foreclosures back to new record levels in the coming months. Year-over-year filings are still up almost 19%.” (Dan Arnall)
–AHNOLD TO IRAQ- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) will be in Iraq next week to visit U.S. troops. It will be his first visit to Iraq as governor. Back in the summer of 2003, before he became governor, Schwarzenegger visited with U.S. servicemen stationed in Iraq on Independence Day and held a screening of his film, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.” (Teddy Davis)