Little Tikes recalls 1.6 million toys

August 13, 2009 by  
Filed under National News, Special Report

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Recall is due to a potential choking hazard from plastic nails included in Workshop sets and Trucks products.

NEW YORK — Little Tikes Co. is recalling about 1.6 million toys because of a choking hazard, a government agency said Tuesday.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of Little Tikes Workshop Sets and Trucks after it received a report that an 11-month-old boy was hospitalized after getting a plastic nail lodged in his throat.

The boy made a full recovery, the release said.

Little Tikes, based in Hudson, Ohio, said the plastic nail is about 3-1/4 inches long by 1-1/4 inch in diameter and comes in red or blue colors.

The plastic nails were sold with a variety of Little Tikes children’s products, and the recall includes the Electronic Project Workshop; Little HandiWorker Workhorse; Home Improvements 2-Sided Workshop; Swirlin’ Sawdust Workshop; and Black Pickup Truck with Tools.

Little Tikes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The affected toys were sold at retailers nationwide and online, from March 1994 through June 2009, for between $25 and $100. The products were manufactured in the U.S. and China.

Customers can call Little Tikes at 800-791-2737 or visit www.littletikes.com for more information about model numbers and UPC codes of the affected products.

Fort Pierce: Jeremy Palacio charged with attempted murder

August 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Crime, Featured, Latest Top Stories, Special Report, Videos

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A St. Lucie County man’s quick reflexes may have saved his life Tuesday night after a man tried to shoot him point blank in the head during a fight at a house party but only grazed his head, according to sheriff’s officials. Deputies arrested two men today in that shooting.

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Jeremy Palacio, 21

Jeremy Palacio, 21, of Fort Pierce, faces attempted murder charges in connection with the shooting of 20-year-old Dereck Gervais in the driveway of a home in the 2800 block of S. Jenkins Road west of Fort Pierce around 11 p.m. Tuesday. Robert Bourbon, 19, of Fort Pierce, was arrested on charges of being an accessory to attempted murder.

Witnesses told deputies they saw Gervais arguing with Palacio in the driveway of the home during the party, then heard the shot and heard Palacio yelling “You all don’t want no more of this.”

A friend drove Gervais to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, where he told deputies that during the argument he felt something pressed against the side of his head and quickly brushed the gun away with his hand just before he heard the shot go off, according to the report. The bullet only grazed his head.

Witnesses told deputies that Bourbon was standing next to Palacio and helped him get away into a car after the shooting, according to the report. Deputies later found the car and interviewed the driver, who told deputies he heard Bourbon and Palacio bragging about the shooting on their cell phones. Later this morning deputies found and arrested Palacio and Bourbon at a home in the 5300 block of Wintergarden Parkway in Fort Pierce.

The two residents of the home, identified by deputies as Christopher Alfonso and Michael Laneve, were arrested on charges of holding an open house party where alcohol was served to minors.

Source: Tcoasttalk.com

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Robert Bourbon

Broward deputy charged with fourteen felony counts

August 4, 2009 by  
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FORT LAUDERDALE, FL — The Broward County Sheriff has announced the arrest of a sheriff’s deputy on fourteen felony counts including sexual battery in a position of control or authority, armed kidnapping, stalking and battery.

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Jonathan Bleiweiss

Sheriff Al Lamberti says the deputy “betrayed his badge and abused his power.”

Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss has been with Broward County Sheriff’s Department since 2002.

The Sheriff says Bleiweiss was targeting undocumented immigrants while on patrol in uniform, armed, in his patrol car.

According to the Sheriff, Deputy Bleiweiss would search for his victims, pull them over, and sexually batter them.

Sheriff Lamberti says the investigation began when an employer of one of the victims came forward with the allegations. Fort Lauderdale PD was contacted by an attorney and then notified BSO’s Sex Crimes Unit when they realized the incidents happened in Oakland Park.

The Sheriff’s Office says there are several victims and believes there are more.

In one case an adult male victim was waiting outside an apartment complex in Oakland Park for a ride to work. That’s when Sheriff Lamberti says Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss approached in a marked BSO patrol car and requested his identification.

The victim told BSO Sex Crimes detectives that Deputy Bleiweiss placed him against the patrol unit and during the pat down placed his hand inside the victim’s underwear and groped him.

Investigators said during that encounter Dep. Bleiweiss demanded the victim’s cell phone number and proceeded to call and send him text messages. Similar sexual encounters continued until June.

The Sheriff’s Office wants victims to come forward and are urged to call Detective Graciela Benito at (954) 321-4249.

Bleiweiss is remains in BSO custody. He is currently suspended without pay and being held without bond, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Ronald Wright Arrested for fatal Lantana Rd Accident

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LANTANA, FL–Ronald A. Wright of Boynton Beach has been arrested in connection with Thursday’s deadly hit-and-run accident on Lantana Road.

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Charges include a deadly non-moving traffic violation with a suspended license and a fatal hit and run.

Wright is listed as a habitual offender. Previous arrests include several driving and drug-related charges.

7 people in custody for Pensacola murders

July 14, 2009 by  
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Masked suspects, some dressed as ninjas, stole a safe and other items during a deadly break-in at the sprawling Florida Panhandle home of a couple known for adopting children with special needs, authorities said Tuesday.

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Melanie and Byrd Billings were shot to death Thursday in their nine-bedroom home. Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan hugged their sobbing adult daughter, Ashley Markham, at a press conference Tuesday to announce that three more people had been arrested, bringing the total to seven.

“It is my honor today to tell you, Ashley, and your family, we have found them and they are in custody,” Morgan said.

Investigators had said previously that there were many motives for the crime, but prosecutor Bill Eddins said Tuesday that robbery was the main one. He would not say what was in the safe or what else might have been taken from the house.

Nine of the couple’s 17 children were home at the time and three saw the intruders but were not hurt.

Morgan said investigators were still looking for at least one more person in the case and at least one of the suspects in custody may have done work at the Billings home. He has previously said the suspects had no direct connection to the victims.

Several of the suspects were day laborers who knew each other through either a pressure washing business or a car detailing group, Morgan said.

The arrests started Sunday with 56-year-old Leonard Gonzalez Sr., who was originally charged with evidence tampering but will be charged with murder, authorities said. He is accused of driving a red van seen on surveillance video pulling away from the Billings home and then trying to paint over it.

His son, 35-year-old Leonard P. Gonzalez Jr., was also arrested Sunday along with day laborer Wayne Coldiron, 41. Both were due in court Tuesday to face murder charges.

Another day laborer, Gary Lamont Sumner, 31, was arrested on a murder charge in a nearby county Monday after he was pulled over in a traffic stop. Morgan said investigators have placed Sumner at the scene, though he would not provide details.

Three more people were arrested Tuesday — a juvenile whom police did not identify; Frederick Lee Thorton Jr., 19; and Donnie Ray Stallworth, 28, who was arrested in Alabama but lives in Florida.

The break-in was captured by an extensive video surveillance system the Billings used to keep tabs on their children.

Surveillance video showed three armed, masked men arriving in the red van, entering through the front of the house and then returning to the vehicle. Others dressed in what the sheriff called “ninja garb” went in through an unlocked utility door in the back. They were in and out in under 10 minutes.

“I think you’ll find this particularly chilling and here’s why: We have a team that enters at the rear of the home and another that enters at the front of the home,” Morgan said. “It leads me to believe this was a very well-planned and methodical operation.”

Morgan said, however, that there was no indication anyone had unlocked the door for the intruders, adding that people in the community felt comfortable leaving their doors unlocked.

The couple owned several local businesses, including a finance company and a used-car dealership. They lived in Beulah, a rural area west of Pensacola, near the Alabama state line, in a house set deep in the woods. They had 17 children in all — 13 of them adopted.

Tips from the public led police to the van on Saturday.

Study: Arctic sea ice melting faster than expected

April 2, 2009 by  
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WASHINGTON – Arctic sea ice is melting so fast most of it could be gone in 30 years. A new analysis of changing conditions in the region, using complex computer models of weather and climate, says conditions that had been forecast by the end of the century could occur much sooner.

A change in the amount of ice is important because the white surface reflects sunlight back into space. When ice is replaced by dark ocean water that sunlight can be absorbed, warming the water and increasing the warming of the planet.

The finding adds to concern about climate change caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels, a problem that has begun receiving more attention in the Obama administration and is part of the G20 discussions under way in London.

“Due to the recent loss of sea ice, the 2005-2008 autumn central Arctic surface air temperatures were greater than 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above” what would be expected, the new study reports.

That amount of temperature increase had been expected by the year 2070.

The new report by Muyin Wang of the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean and James E. Overland of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, appears in Friday’s edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

They expect the area covered by summer sea ice to decline from about 2.8 million square miles normally to 620,000 square miles within 30 years.

Last year’s summer minimum was 1.8 million square miles in September, second lowest only to 2007 which had a minimum of 1.65 million square miles, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The Center said Arctic sea ice reached its winter maximum for this year at 5.8 million square miles on Feb. 28. That was 278,000 square miles below the 1979-2000 average making it the fifth lowest on record. The six lowest maximums since 1979 have all occurred in the last six years.

Overland and Wang combined sea-ice observations with six complex computer models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to reach their conclusions. Combining several computer models helps avoid uncertainties caused by natural variability.

Much of the remaining ice would be north of Canada and Greenland, with much less between Alaska and Russia in the Pacific Arctic.

“The Arctic is often called the Earth’s refrigerator because the sea ice helps cool the planet by reflecting the sun’s radiation back into space,” Wang said in a statement. “With less ice, the sun’s warmth is instead absorbed by the open water, contributing to warmer temperatures in the water and the air.”

The study was supported by the NOAA Climate Change Program Office, the Institute for the Study of the Ocean and Atmosphere and the U.S. Department of Energy.

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