January 16th, 2014
06:20 AM ET

Air Force Nuke Officers Caught up in Big Cheating Scandal

The U.S. Air Force's nuclear command has been rocked by a cheating scandal involving nearly three dozen officers.

Cheating on a proficiency exam involving intercontinental missile launch officers at the Global Strike Command at Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana apparently was carried out around last August and September by text and appears to be the largest incident of its kind, the Pentagon said.

"This is absolutely unacceptable behavior and it is completely contrary to our core values in the Air Force and as everybody here knows, the No. 1 core value for us is integrity," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told reporters.

Officials said the nuclear arsenal is secure.

The case involving 34 officers with the 341st Missile Wing stemmed from a drug possession investigation at multiple air bases in the United States and overseas. Two of those caught up in the cheating episode have been linked to the other probe, officials said.

Sixteen officers were ultimately found to have actually cheated on the monthly proficiency exam while the rest knew the answers had been shared with others and did not report the violation, the Pentagon said.

All those disciplined in the investigation are no longer certified to conduct nuclear operations. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh indicated there are enough officers on hand to securely maintain the nuclear missiles in Montana.

He also echoed concern expressed by James about the integrity of the officers overseeing those caught up in the widespread cheating.

"We're going to look into this with every means at our disposal," he said.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel "was deeply troubled" to learn of the allegations and "he strongly supports the aggressive steps the Air Force is taking in response to them," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.

Hagel just returned from visiting ICBM officers in Wyoming.

There are approximately 190 officers overseeing readiness of nuclear weapons systems in Montana, meaning the scandal has touched nearly 20% of that force.

The Air Force said all officers in the command will be re-tested by the end of Thursday.

This is the latest incident to rock the Air Force nuclear operations.

Last year, a missile unit at Malmstrom failed a safety and security inspection.

They operate about a third of the 450 Minuteman III nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles in the U.S. force, according to the Air Force statement.

Also last year, another outfit based at Minot, North Dakota, did poorly in an inspection, resulting in the removal of 17 military personnel from their jobs.

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January 16th, 2014
06:16 AM ET

3 Dead in Grocery Store Shooting

A gunman killed two women inside an Indiana grocery store Wednesday night before police rushed to the scene and gunned him down.

The tragic scene played out in a sprawling grocery store in Elkhart, Indiana.

Officers were called to the scene just after 10 p.m. and found an armed man in the store, according to Indiana State Police Trooper Brooks Shirk. The man also fired at officers.

Officers fatally shot the gunman, police told CNN affiliate WXIN.

They found the bodies of two women aisles apart inside the grocery store, both of them shot by the gunman, Shirk said. One of the women was a shopper, the other was an employee.

It was unclear whether he knew the victims or if there was any connection between the three, Shirk said.

Police said the man used a semi-automatic handgun. A knife was also recovered at the scene.

Investigators scoured through a huge crime scene overnight, police said, as shell casings and debris stretched throughout the store.

The names of the gunman and victims were not released. Neither was a motive.

"You never know why this happens," said Indiana State Police Sgt. Trent Smith "People are depressed. People do things that are not rational. You just can't explain these things a lot of the times."

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January 16th, 2014
05:24 AM ET

5 Things to Know for Your New Day - Thursday, January 16

A tough day awaits teachers and students of a New Mexico school after a shotgun attack, the next time we see Gov. Christie’s aide might be under oath, and an Ohio convict on death row will make history today.

Welcome to the Thursday edition of "5 Things to Know for Your New Day."

A bit experimental? European companies that make lethal drugs have banned them for use in executions in the United States. Now, an Ohio man is set to be put to death today by a two-drug cocktail that has never been used. No one knows exactly how Dennis McGuire will die, a death penalty expert said. His lawyers say the mixture of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller, will cause him to suffocate in agony and terror. McGuire was convicted in 1994 of the brutal murder of Joy Stewart.


"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee": That message is attributed to Bridget Anne Kelly, a former close aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. A special State Assembly committee investigating traffic tie-ups on the nation’s busiest bridge - possibly as an act of political retribution - wants to hear from her. The first priority, when the committee gets to work today, is to issue subpoenas for people close to the governor and for more documents, two sources familiar with the matter tell CNN. That message allegedly kicked off the giant mess that crippled traffic in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The mayor there, a Democrat, had declined to endorse the Republican governor for re-election.

The scandal has put a dent in the popular governor’s poll numbers, but only a small one.

The bridge scandal has spawned some political satire, including this musical spoof by Jimmy Fallon and New Jersey rock icon “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen.

Erin McPike reports on the investigation at 7 and 8.


The proverbial finger on the button: Air Force officers who work around the country’s nuclear arsenal have to take proficiency exams. Nearly three dozen of them at a base in Montana are now caught up in a cheating scandal involving those tests. Sixteen of the officers were found to have actually cheated, but 18 more knew what they were up to and didn’t turn them in. But this is actually one scandal piled on top of another: A separate drug investigation brought the cheating scandal to light. Two officers implicated in it were also involved in the cheating. All 34 lost their certification to conduct nuclear operations, and the Air Force says the nation’s nuclear arsenal is secure. This is one in a string of scandals for the country's nuke handlers; here are some others.

Joe Johns gives details of the scandal at 6 and 8.


Dealing with it: Teachers face a tough task when Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, New Mexico, reopens today. They will help students cope with the shotgun attack by a 12-year-old that traumatized them this week, while they try to cope themselves. It’s a continuation of what they did right after the boy opened fire. On 911 recordings released to the media, teachers tried to calm terrified students. One caller heard on the tapes was perhaps distracting a child with small talk: “Talk to me. Hey, yesterday we had a day off. What did you do on your day off yesterday?”


Stephanie Elam talks about how Roswell will face the day at 6, 7 and 8.

Deeply troubling: Neighbors are distressed about the deaths of Alex Berman, 16, and his sister, Jacqueline, 15, at the hands of their mother this week. The two Florida teens were promising classical music students, living in an upscale neighborhood. But then their parents ended up in debt amid the economic downturn, which led to emotional stress and eventually to a recent divorce after 20 years of marriage. The wife, Jennifer Berman, e-mailed her ex-husband to tell him she would harm their children. When Richard Berman arrived at his former home in West Palm Beach, his children and ex-wife were dead. She allegedly killed the children before committing suicide.

Here's a special big one to start the day with:

Who will be picked? We'll tell you on "New Day" at 8: There are a lot of factors to take into account when trying to determine Oscar nominations. Take, for example, diet. Did the star gain or lose much weight to better perform the role? It worked for Robert De Niro ("Raging Bull"), Tom Hanks ("Philadelphia") and Charlize Theron ("Monster"). Or is there a sense of being overdue for recognition - the "lifetime achievement" factor? Welcome to the club, Don Ameche ("Cocoon") and Geraldine Page ("The Trip to Bountiful")! Maybe you're on the cusp of stardom. That helps, especially if you're an actress, because the Academy always wants to be au courant with the kids.

Those are your biggies for the day. Here are a few others that are brewing and have the Internet buzzing:

Biff! Zok! Pow! It was the height of video graphics in 1966. Those hand-drawn words flashed across the TV screen when Batman and Robin planted their knuckles on bad guys’ ugly mugs. The campy Caped Crusaders have re-re-re-run in their colorful leotards for decades, and the series is rumored to be released for sale or rent to the public this year, says Conan O’Brien. And, hey, he got to sit in the Batmobile!

Beatboxing analyzed: Here are some more smash-mouth noises, while we’re at it. Ever want to know exactly how your mouth makes beatboxing sounds? Try filming your lips in super slow motion. Funny ha-ha and funny weird.

Olympic sacrifice: It’s hard to tell Tracy Barnes from Lanny Barnes. They are identical twins and equally skilled on skis and with guns - they’re superbad at the Olympic discipline of biathlon. Tracy qualified to go to Sochi in February, but Lanny got sick at qualifiers and didn’t make it. Now, Tracy is giving up her slot so Lanny can go compete.

Against all odds: Just quit. You won’t make it. This isn’t for you. That’s what people told Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman to get him to stop playing football, because he is deaf. Luckily, he listened to his inner voice instead. Now, he is one game away from making it to the Super Bowl. Watch him in the playoffs against the 49ers on Sunday.

Traffic stinks! Scenario: Skunk gets paper cup stuck on its head in the middle of the road; a sympathetic guy can’t help but try to remove it - hopefully without getting sprayed. Pardon his couple of profanities, but he doesn’t want the skunk, let alone himself, to become roadkill.

Speaking of skunks in the middle of the road, are you old enough to remember this ode to roadkill?

Be sure to tune in to "New Day" from 6 to 9 a.m. ET. Join us at NewDayCNN.com, and go and have a GREAT NEW DAY!

January 16th, 2014
04:40 AM ET

Sister Sacrifices Her Olympic Spot for Twin

Forget sibling rivalry, this is a story of sibling love.

Twin sisters Tracy and Lanny Barnes are both biathlon athletes with Olympic dreams.

But last weekend, both were competing for spots on Team USA when Tracy finished strong and earned her spot and Lanny did not.

Lanny became sick and her Olympic dreams vanished but that's when Tracy stepped in.

She sacrificed her own spot on the team so her sister could go instead.

Speaking on "New Day" Thursday about her decision, Tracy said once she found out her sister was getting ill the idea started going through her head to help Lanny if she didn't make the Olympics cut.

"I think I decided before the last race of the Olympic trials – that I had a good idea that I'd make the team because of my results... So after the team was announced, we went hiking in the mountains and I told her I have something to tell you and she obviously protested."


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