WBEZ | National News http://www.wbez.org/tags/national-news Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Sen. Charles Schumer Wants 'No-Ride' List For Trains http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-09/sen-charles-schumer-wants-no-ride-list-trains-86267 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//0" alt="" /><p><p>After intelligence gathered at Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan revealed al-Qaida thought about attacking trains in the United States, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said that like we do for airplanes, the name of anyone who rides a train should be checked against a "no-ride" list.</p><p><a href="http://www.newsday.com/news/breaking/schumer-wants-no-ride-list-for-amtrak-1.2864500"><em>Newsday</em> reports</a>:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>Schumer said there should be a "no ride" list for Amtrak, similar to the "no fly" list maintained by the federal Department of Homeland Security. It would require Amtrak passengers to show photo identification before boarding a train, to be checked against the name on their tickets and against lists of suspected terrorists.</p><p>Currently, not all Amtrak passengers have their ID checked, Schumer said.</p><p>"Anyone, even a member of al-Qaida, could purchase a train trip ticket and board an Amtrak train without so much as a question asked from an Amtrak official," Schumer said at a news conference. "That's a glaring loophole."</p><p></blockquote></p><p>The reaction to the proposal was mixed,<a href="http://www.wnyc.org/blogs/wnyc-news-blog/2011/may/09/commuters-mixed-proposed-no-ride-list-amtrak/"> reports NPR member station WNYC</a>. Some train passengers at New York's Penn Station thought it was a good idea but difficult to execute; another thought the idea would be impossible to implement. Part of the issue, here, is that some train passengers chose rail over air, specifically because of the inconvenience of airport security. In fact, Amtrak targeted exactly that crowd <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/02/business/media/02adnewsletter1.html">in a 2009 ad campaign</a>.</p><p>As <a href="http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/05/rail-commuters-balk-proposed-no-ride-list-trains/37485/">the <em>Atlantic</em> reports</a>, Amtrak and the federal government have already had their run-ins. Back in February, Amtrak kicked Transportation Security Administration officers off of Amtrak property, after outcry over the patdown of a 9-year-old.</p><p>Glenn Greenwald, of Slate, <a href="http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/05/09/fear">asks simply</a>, if we there's a no-ride list for regional trains, shouldn't there be one for the New York City subway? The <em>Atlantic</em> also points to a pragmatic problem: A lot of small Amtrak stops aren't manned, so how could they check an ID and a list before boarding? Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1304973427?&gn=Sen.+Charles+Schumer+Wants+%27No-Ride%27+List+For+Trains&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=Travel,National+News,Security,The+Two-Way,Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136146271&c7=1091&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1091&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110509&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=127610560,127602855,127602719,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 09 May 2011 14:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-09/sen-charles-schumer-wants-no-ride-list-trains-86267 Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster Rescue Put More Lives At Risk http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-06/upper-big-branch-mine-disaster-rescue-put-more-lives-risk-86195 <p><p>The 31 mine workers hit by the explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia last year weren't the only people whose lives were at risk that day.</p><p>Some of the mine rescuers who tried to find the disaster's victims say their lives were also endangered by a reckless mine rescue effort.</p><p>That's according to transcripts of interviews with mine rescuers that are part of a joint state and federal investigation of the nation's worst mine disaster in 40 years. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released the transcripts Friday to the families of the 29 mine workers killed in the explosion.</p><p>MSHA won't make the transcripts public until Monday but the <em><a href="http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201105061151">Charleston Gazette</a></em> already has obtained and <a href="http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/2011/05/06/transcripts-describe-upper-big-branch-rescue/">posted</a> some of the documents.</p><p>One of the transcripts posted by the <em>Gazette</em> quotes <a href="http://wvgazette.com/static/coal%20tattoo/cooktranscript.pdf">Jerry Cook</a>, who was deployed to Upper Big Branch on April 5, 2010, as part of an MSHA mine rescue team.</p><p>"They could have killed every one of us," Cook testified. "We were expendable that night... They didn't care what they did with us."</p><p>Cook and others described a mine rescue effort that failed to abide by mine rescue protocols designed to keep rescuers from becoming victims themselves.</p><p>One protocol requires one mine rescue team standing by while another goes deeper into the mine. That's in case the team advancing underground gets in trouble and needs its own rescue.</p><p>According to testimony in the transcripts, MSHA mine rescuers resisted going deep underground but were overruled by MSHA supervisors who were pressured by officials from Massey Energy, the owner of the mine.</p><p>"We have not had an opportunity to read the testimony," says Shane Harvey, Massey's vice president and general counsel. "However, I can say that we are very grateful to the many teams that participated in the rescue operations. We felt that the heroism, professionalism and teamwork exhibited by the teams was nothing short of remarkable."</p><p>A spokeswoman for MSHA declined to respond to NPR's questions about the transcripts. But Amy Louviere did say that the transcripts were released to fulfill a promise to the Upper Big Branch families.</p><p>Louviere also noted that "the Department of Justice has no objection to their release," despite an ongoing federal criminal investigation.</p><p>Another transcript posted by the <em>Gazette</em> quotes MSHA mine rescuer <a href="http://wvgazette.com/static/coal%20tattoo/hickstranscript.pdf">Mike Hicks</a>, who told investigators, "Our first priority is our team. We have to protect them."</p><p>But there was no backup, Hicks testified. "That procedure... [in] this disaster was not followed."</p><p>That still concerns some mine rescuers, Hicks added. "A lot of them [are] about ready to get off the team."</p><p>NPR has learned from other sources that a mine rescue team deployed by a mining company refused to go underground that night because no backup teams were available.</p><p>NPR has also learned that several teams from the West Virginia Office of Mine Health Safety and Training (OMHST) were not deployed quickly after the accident was first reported to state officials. The state's Mine Industrial Accident Rapid Response System was notified about a problem at the mine at 3:27 p.m. that day. But the state's mine rescue teams were not notified and deployed until 90 minutes later, according to a source familiar with their deployment. And those teams were more than an hour from the mine.</p><p>Over the last month, OMHST has not responded to NPR's repeated requests for comment about its role in the mine rescue effort.</p><p>MSHA released transcripts of 25 interviews but missing is the testimony of Robert Hardman, the recently retired District Manager for the agency who managed MSHA's mine rescue effort the night of the disaster and who over-ruled the safety concerns of MSHA's own mine rescuers, according to the testimony released. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1304778732?&gn=Upper+Big+Branch+Mine+Disaster+Rescue+Put+More+Lives+At+Risk&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=National+News,The+Two-Way,Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136072049&c7=1091&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1091&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110506&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=7&v21=D%3Dc2&c31=127602855,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Fri, 06 May 2011 20:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-06/upper-big-branch-mine-disaster-rescue-put-more-lives-risk-86195 NASA: Endeavour Will Launch No Earlier Than May 16 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-06/nasa-endeavour-will-launch-no-earlier-may-16-86171 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//0" alt="" /><p><p>NASA announced today that the space shuttle Endeavour will not launch earlier than May 16 at 8:56 a.m. ET. Last Friday, <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/04/30/135837786/endeavor-launch-scrubbed-because-of-technical-issue">NASA scrubbed the launch</a> because a blown fuse prevented heaters on a hydraulic system fuel line from turning on.</p><p>Endeavour's STS-134 mission has been closely watched because it will be commanded by Mark Kelly, Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford's husband, and it is also the penultimate launch of the 30-year-old shuttle program.</p><p>"This weekend, technicians will continue to repair and retest electrical circuitry that caused a postponement of Endeavour's April 29 launch attempt," NASA said in <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/index.html">a news release</a>. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1304710629?&gn=NASA%3A+Endeavour+Will+Launch+No+Earlier+Than+May+16&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=Science,National+News,The+Two-Way,Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136060118&c7=1001&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1001&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110506&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=127606256,127602855,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Fri, 06 May 2011 13:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-06/nasa-endeavour-will-launch-no-earlier-may-16-86171 Massey Energy Wants To Seal Upper Big Branch Coal Mine http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-29/massey-energy-wants-seal-upper-big-branch-coal-mine-85878 <p><p>The site of last year's deadly coal mine explosion in West Virginia may be abandoned and sealed-off, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).</p><p>29 coal miners died at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine a year ago in the nation's worst mine disaster in four decades.</p><p>"Massey Energy has indicated it wants to seal the UBB mine," says MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere. "A meeting is set for May 5 to discuss the plan for sealing the mine."</p><p>Massey has yet to respond to NPR's request for comment.</p><p>Sealing coal mines after mine disasters is common, says Rod Breland, a former MSHA official.</p><p>"It's not really surprising given the devastation and the loss of life," Breland adds. "The mine may have too many bad connotations to continue to operate."</p><p>There may also be too much damage to make rehabilitation feasible and to remove the longwall and continuous mining machines still inside. They're worth millions of dollars but Massey has reported that it's insured against some losses.</p><p>Sealing the mine involves closing off all external entry points. But that doesn't necessarily mean that valuable coal reserves are lost.</p><p>"The company could put in a new shaft and slope and access the reserves from a different direction," says Larry Grayson, a former coal mine manager who is now a professor of energy and mineral engineering at Penn State University.</p><p>But there must be "sufficient reserves to justify" the cost of essentially building a new mine, Grayson adds.</p><p>A new mine must go through a lengthy permitting process. But that would enable Massey to retire the infamous Upper Big Branch name while still having access to the mine's coal.</p><p>Massey provided new jobs to Upper Big Branch coal miners displaced by the explosion so sealing the mine may not result in any job losses.</p><p>Sealing the mine is a complete surprise to lawyers who are suing Massey and still need access to Upper Big Branch.</p><p>"The mine is the subject of at least two court orders covering multiple wrongful death suits," says Mark Moreland, an attorney who represents the families of two Upper Big Branch victims. "Massey cannot seal the mine without violating those court orders, which permit our experts to review evidence underground." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1304118079?&gn=Massey+Energy+Wants+To+Seal+Upper+Big+Branch+Coal+Mine&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=Energy,National+News,The+Two-Way,Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135849802&c7=1091&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1091&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110429&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=128644960,127602855,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Fri, 29 Apr 2011 16:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-29/massey-energy-wants-seal-upper-big-branch-coal-mine-85878 Report: Idaho Mine With Trapped Miner Lacks Modern Communications http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-21/report-idaho-mine-trapped-miner-lacks-modern-communications-85532 <p><p>As workers continue to blast through solid rock to try to reach an Idaho silver miner missing in a cave-in, reporter Jessica Robinson of the Northwest News Network <a href="http://api.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=135604167">has produced a fascinating story</a> about the antiquated communication technology used in the Lucky Friday mine. (We've posted the audio at the top of this post.)</p><p>"So you're working more than a mile below the surface of the Earth, and there's a cave in," Robinson begins. "How do you let someone know you're alive?"</p><p>The answer, Robinson reports, is "pounding on piping, or even shouting."</p><p>That's a quote from Mike Summerkamp, who spent 30 years working as an electrician underground at another Idaho silver mine.</p><p>The Lucky Friday mine "is rigged up with regular phones underground - like the land line you grew up with — plus phones that act as pagers," Robinson continues.</p><p>But she reports that mine owner Hecla Mining Company says trapped miner Larry Marek wasn't near one of the wired phones when the mine collapsed and did not carry a personal communication device.</p><p>Robinson goes on to review the modern communication technology that is available underground, including a wireless system used in similar mines and another mine owned by Hecla.</p><p>But she reports that metal mines like Lucky Friday were not included in a 2006 mining law that required two-way wireless communication devices and electronic tracking systems underground.</p><p>Mine safety expert Celeste Monforton tells Robinson, "Those regulations and that law only applied to underground coal mines."</p><p></p><p>Larry Marek has been missing since Friday's cave-in and workers digging a rescue tunnel are about half-way to the area the miner was working in when the rock fall occurred. It's taken them three days to dig that far.</p><p>It's not known whether Marek, 53, survived the mine collapse or has injuries. Rescuers have fed a narrowly-focused, high resolution camera through a borehole into a "void" behind the collapsed rock but there's no sign of Marek so far.</p><p>That and another borehole have been used to pump fresh air into the cavity. Drilling on a third borehole is underway. Company officials hope the boreholes will help them determine the size of the void.</p><p>Temperatures underground are reported to be in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Marek was believed to have some food and water with him at the time of the cave-in.</p><p>Hecla is posting updates <a href="http://www.hecla-mining.com/documents/Fact_Sheet_-_Lucky_Friday_Fall_of_Ground_21-04-11_AM.pdf">here</a> on its website.</p><p>The company has posted a new set of sketches <a href="http://www.hecla-mining.com/documents/Sketches_LuckyFriday_04-20-11.pdf">here</a> showing a rough cross-section of the mine, a top-down view of the caved-in area, bore holes and rescue tunnels, and a depiction of the abandoned attempt to dig through the cave-in debris. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1303476042?&gn=Report%3A+Idaho+Mine+With+Trapped+Miner+Lacks+Modern+Communications&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=National+News,Accidents+and+Disasters,The+Two-Way,Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135615526&c7=1091&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1091&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110421&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=127602855,127602334,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Thu, 21 Apr 2011 19:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-21/report-idaho-mine-trapped-miner-lacks-modern-communications-85532 Congress Threatens ATF With Contempt In Border Weapons Probe http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-21/congress-threatens-atf-contempt-border-weapons-probe-85533 <p><p>House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA.) sent a letter to the ATF in which he threatened the federal agency with contempt proceedings if it did not produce documents pertaining to "Operation Gunrunner."</p><p>Earlier this month, documents revealed by Congressional investigators showed that under the Gunrunner operation the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives let high-powered weapons cross the U.S./Mexico border. The sting was supposed to trace weapons and lead to the prosecution of illegal drug sellers, but, <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/15/nation/la-na-guns-20110415">as <em>The Los Angeles Times</em> reported</a>, "three guns sold to suspects who were part of Project Gunrunner have since turned up at the scenes of the deaths of two U.S. agents — in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi and near the Mexican border in Arizona."</p><p><a href="http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/04/issa_says_atf_not_cooperating_with_subpoena_threat.php">Talking Points Memo reports</a> on Issa's ultimatum:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>The Justice Department has asserted that disclosing certain documents would compromise several ongoing federal prosecutions that came out of Project Gunrunner, an effort aimed at stopping the flow of U.S. weapons into Mexico.</p><p>But in a <a href="http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/documents/2011/04/issa-threatens-contempt-proceedings-if-atf-doesnt-cooperate-with-project-gunrunner-probe.php?page=1">letter</a> to the director ATF, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) wrote that DOJ's "internal policy to withhold documents from what it labels pending criminal investigations may not deprive Congress from obtaining those same documents if they are pertinent to a congressional investigation - particularly in a matter involving allegations that reckless and inappropriate decisions by top Justice Department officials may have contributed to the deaths of both U.S. and Mexican citizens."</p><p></blockquote></p><p><a href="http://thehill.com/homenews/house/157031-house-committee-chairman-threatens-atf-with-contempt-charges-for-withholding-documents">The Hill reports</a> that the committee's ranking Democrats sided with ATF:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>"Our committee has a responsibility to investigate allegations of waste, fraud and abuse," Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.) said in a statement. "However, despite my repeated requests, Chairman Issa has refused to meet with the Department of Justice to ensure that his actions do not compromise ongoing investigations and prosecutions, including a trial of 20 individuals that is scheduled to begin in June."</p><p></blockquote></p><p>If you're looking for more detail on Operation Gunrunner, <em>The Los Angeles Times</em> has <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/03/nation/la-na-guns-mexico-20110304">a pretty comprehensive piece</a>. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1303476042?&gn=Congress+Threatens+ATF+With+Contempt+In+Border+Weapons+Probe&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=National+News,Politics,The+Two-Way,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135605385&c7=1003&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1003&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110421&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=127602855,127602596,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Thu, 21 Apr 2011 14:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-21/congress-threatens-atf-contempt-border-weapons-probe-85533 Report: Plane Carrying First Lady In Near Miss At Andrews Air Force Base http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-19/report-plane-carrying-first-lady-near-miss-andrews-air-force-base-85411 <p><p>Because of an air traffic controller's mistake, a military cargo jet and a plane carrying Michelle Obama came too close to each other, causing the Obama plane to abort its Monday landing at Andrews Air Force Base. Citing unnamed federal officials, <em><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/plane-with-michelle-obama-had-to-abort-landing-due-to-mistake/2011/04/19/AFsRLC7D_story.html?hpid=z1">The Washington Post</a></em><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/plane-with-michelle-obama-had-to-abort-landing-due-to-mistake/2011/04/19/AFsRLC7D_story.html?hpid=z1"> reports</a>:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>The controllers in the tower at Andrews recognized that the massive C-17 and Obama flight designated EXEC1F, a classification for a plane carrying members of the president's family, were far too close when the Warrenton controller handed off responsibility for the two aircraft.</p><p>They ordered the Obama plane to execute a series of S-turns in an effort to create a safe distance between it and the C-17, federal officials said. When those maneuvers failed to achieve the required distance between the two planes — and the Andrews controllers realized the cargo jet would not have time to get off the runway before the presidential plane arrived — they aborted landing of the Obama plane and ordered it to circle the airport.</p><p></blockquote></p><p><em>The Post</em> reports that the mistake was made by the Potomac Terminal Radar Approach Control, which directs approaches and departures in the mid-Atlantic region. This news comes at a time when the Federal Aviation Administration is facing multiple controversies surrounding <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/04/19/135536374/should-air-traffic-controllers-be-allowed-to-sleep-during-their-breaks">sleeping or distracted controllers</a>.</p><p>The FAA, reports the <em>Post</em>, could only confirm that the first lady was on the plane that landed at Andrews. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1303252926?&gn=Report%3A+Plane+Carrying+First+Lady+In+Near+Miss+At+Andrews+Air+Force+Base&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=National+News,The+Two-Way,Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135551528&c7=1091&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1091&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110419&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=127602855,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 16:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-19/report-plane-carrying-first-lady-near-miss-andrews-air-force-base-85411 Pentagon Clears McCrystal Of Any Wrongdoing Described In Magazine Article http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/2011-04-18/pentagon-clears-mccrystal-any-wrongdoing-described-magazine-article-8 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-18/mccrystal_wide.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Pentagon inquiry into the magazine profile that led to the retirement of Gen. Stanley McChrystal could find no evidence that would confirm what was written in the <em>Rolling Stone</em> article.</p><p>As <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/06/22/128003919/in-rolling-stone-article-gen-mcchrystal-criticizes-biden-and-holbrooke">we reported</a> back in June, McChrystal was summoned to the White House and relieved of his position as top commander in Afghanistan, after <em>Rolling Stone</em> ran a piece titled <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-runaway-general-20100622">"The Runaway General" </a>that described McChrystal and his staff as making disparaging remarks about officials in the Obama administration.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/us/politics/19military.html?_r=1&hp">The New York Times</a></em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/us/politics/19military.html?_r=1&hp"> reports </a>on what the Defense Department's Inspector General found:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>The inquiry, which the Defense Department's top investigative body began last fall, disputed key incidents or comments as reported in the article.</p><p>"Not all of the events at issue occurred as reported in the article," the inspector general's review stated. "In some instances, we found no witness who acknowledged making or hearing the comments as reported. In other instances, we confirmed that the general substance of an incident at issue occurred, but not in the exact context described in the article."</p><p></blockquote></p><p><em>Rolling Stone</em> said it stands by its story. <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/rolling-stone-statement-on-the-pentagons-mcchrystal-report-20110418">Responding to the report</a>, it said the Pentagon had offered no "credible source – or indeed, any named source – contradicting the facts as reported in our story, 'The Runaway General.'"</p><p>The magazine notes that when the story hit print, McChrystal's immediate response was to issue an apology. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1303171333?&gn=Pentagon+Clears+McCrystal+Of+Any+Wrongdoing+Described+In+Magazine+Article&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=Military,National+News,The+Two-Way,Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135524256&c7=1091&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1091&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110418&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=127857532,127602855,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 18 Apr 2011 18:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/2011-04-18/pentagon-clears-mccrystal-any-wrongdoing-described-magazine-article-8 First Guilty Plea In Mine Disaster Criminal Probe http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/2011-04-13/first-guilty-plea-mine-disaster-criminal-probe-85159 <p><p>A former foreman for Massey Energy has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the federal criminal investigation of last year's <a href="http://www.npr.org/series/131960177/massey-mine-investigation">deadly coal mine disaster</a> in West Virginia.</p><p>Thomas Harrah, 45, admits in a plea agreement (see below) to faking the foreman's credentials he used at the Upper Big Branch mine and then lying about it to federal agents.</p><p>Harrah left Upper Big Branch seven months before the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 Massey mine workers. But U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says the charges are "directed at preventing a similar tragedy from happening again."</p><p>Mine foremen are responsible for conducting safety inspections before and during production shifts underground that are supposed to catch problems that could put lives at risk. Harrah failed the examination that would have certified him as a properly trained foreman.</p><p>In the plea agreement, Harrah admits to falsely blaming an unnamed official from Massey Energy for helping to fake his foreman's certification.</p><p>"He left [Massey Energy] before we could terminate his employment, which we intended to do," says Shane Harvey, the company's vice president and general counsel. "We have no tolerance for such behavior and are thankful that no one was hurt as a result of Mr. Harrah's conduct."</p><p>Harrah faces as much as ten years in prison when he is sentenced August 11.</p><p>Charges are also pending against <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/02/28/134143338/massey-safety-chief-indicted-in-mine-disaster-probe">Hughie Stover</a>, a security chief at Upper Big Branch and other Massey mines. Stover is accused of lying to federal investigators about a practice in <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127200527">which security guards warned miners in advance</a> when federal mine safety inspectors arrived at the mine.</p><p>Stover is also accused of attempting to dispose of evidence in the Upper Big Branch investigation. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial in July.</p><p>A federal grand jury has been considering evidence in the disaster but has yet to return indictments directly related to the explosion.</p><p>Here is the full plea agreement: Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1302734826?&gn=First+Guilty+Plea+In+Mine+Disaster+Criminal+Probe&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=National+News,The+Two-Way,Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135389820&c7=1091&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1091&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110413&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=127602855,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Wed, 13 Apr 2011 17:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/2011-04-13/first-guilty-plea-mine-disaster-criminal-probe-85159 In One Chicago School, A Mom-Made Lunch Is Not Allowed http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/2011-04-11/one-chicago-school-mom-made-lunch-not-allowed-85052 <p><p>School lunches have always been the subject of much discussion within a school cafeteria. But, lately, they've gotten even more attention: First Lady Michelle Obama and lawmakers <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/12/02/131761469/house-passes-bill-to-upgrade-school-lunches">passed the child nutrition bill</a> aimed at bettering school lunches, last December. And star chef Jamie Oliver is leading a national campaign to prove school lunches can be healthful and cheap.</p><p>Today, <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-school-lunch-restrictions-041120110410,0,2614451,full.story">the </a><em><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-school-lunch-restrictions-041120110410,0,2614451,full.story">Chicago Tribune</a></em><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-school-lunch-restrictions-041120110410,0,2614451,full.story"> brings us word</a> that one principal is facing the issue by taking on the old brown-paper-bag staple. Elsa Carmona of Little Village Elementary Academy in Chicago's West Side has prohibited students from bringing pack lunches from home, unless they have a medical excuse. <em>The Tribune</em> reports:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>"Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school," Carmona said. "It's about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It's milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception."</p><p>Carmona said she created the policy six years ago after watching students bring "bottles of soda and flaming hot chips" on field trips for their lunch. Although she would not name any other schools that employ such practices, she said it was fairly common.</p><p>A Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman said she could not say how many schools prohibit packed lunches and that decision is left to the judgment of the principals.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>As expected, the policy has been met with some opposition from the students but as <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110411/us_yblog_thelookout/chicago-school-bans-homemade-lunches-the-latest-in-national-food-fight">Yahoo!'s </a><em><a href="http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110411/us_yblog_thelookout/chicago-school-bans-homemade-lunches-the-latest-in-national-food-fight">The Lookout</a></em><a href="http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110411/us_yblog_thelookout/chicago-school-bans-homemade-lunches-the-latest-in-national-food-fight"> reports</a>, the policy is following in the footsteps of increasingly restrictive schools:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>Alabama parents <a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/yblog_thelookout/us_yblog_thelookout/storytext/chicago-school-bans-homemade-lunches-the-latest-in-national-food-fight/41044975/SIG=11hv2fkpd/*http://www.waff.com/global/story.asp?s=12971602">protested</a> a school's rule that barred students from bringing any drinks from home, as ice water was provided at lunch. East Syracuse, New York schools <a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/yblog_thelookout/us_yblog_thelookout/storytext/chicago-school-bans-homemade-lunches-the-latest-in-national-food-fight/41044975/SIG=12d8i65sn/*http://blog.syracuse.com/family/2007/11/east_syracuseminoa_schools_ban.html">have outlawed</a> cupcakes and other desserts. And schools around the country <a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/yblog_thelookout/us_yblog_thelookout/storytext/chicago-school-bans-homemade-lunches-the-latest-in-national-food-fight/41044975/SIG=11m7i22h9/*http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/dining/25Milk.html">have kicked out </a>chocolate milk and <a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/yblog_thelookout/us_yblog_thelookout/storytext/chicago-school-bans-homemade-lunches-the-latest-in-national-food-fight/41044975/SIG=136cnmvm7/*http://www.opt-osfns.org/osfns/nutrition/NutritionalGuidelinesforProductsSoldinSchools_3-23-2011.pdf">soda vending machines</a>. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin <a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/yblog_thelookout/us_yblog_thelookout/storytext/chicago-school-bans-homemade-lunches-the-latest-in-national-food-fight/41044975/SIG=12j7lnia7/*http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/magazine/28FOB-wwln-t.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper">even showed up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania,</a> with dozens of cookies to express her disdain for a <a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/yblog_thelookout/us_yblog_thelookout/storytext/chicago-school-bans-homemade-lunches-the-latest-in-national-food-fight/41044975/SIG=124q11stt/*http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/politics&id=7775339">debate</a> in the state about recommending teachers limit the number of times per month the sugary treats are eaten in classroom birthday celebrations.</p><p></blockquote> Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1302567137?&gn=In+One+Chicago+School%2C+A+Mom-Made+Lunch+Is+Not+Allowed&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=Food,National+News,The+Two-Way,Around+the+Nation,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135329477&c7=1091&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1091&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110411&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=129009726,127602855,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 11 Apr 2011 18:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/2011-04-11/one-chicago-school-mom-made-lunch-not-allowed-85052