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(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Though it is scheduled to open a year ahead of schedule, the San Francisco 49ers' new $1.2 billion stadium is still working out how it will find enough parking for fans in the heart of Silicon Valley and its tech businesses.
One solution the stadium is considering is asking neighboring businesses whether they can shift employee hours for the occasional Monday and Thursday night NFL football games.
Santa Clara City Councilwoman Lisa Gillmor said the 49ers have been approaching local businesses to work out possible arrangements, such as parking and other ways to diminish traffic congestion, as first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
"There are not that many Monday night games in a year -- only a handful if that, so they are working with our businesses ahead of time," she told ABC News.
Not only are there so few weeknight games per team in the NFL, Gillmor said the workers in the area may already be amenable to changing hours.
"Many people are flexible in Silicon Valley, or they can work from home. It's a fluid society around here. And again, we are talking a few days a year -- a handful of days a year -- we're not talking on a regular basis," she said.
Some of the major businesses in the area include Yahoo, Cisco and Mission College.
The first stadium event will take place on Aug. 2, 2014, for a game between the Major League Soccer teams, San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders. Then, NFL pre-season games will take place shortly after that.
During the first year the San Francisco 49ers will play in the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., about an hour south of San Francisco, there will be no Monday or Thursday night games while the 49ers and stadium authority study traffic patterns in the area. That was a decision that was made in early 2010.
Bob Lange, a spokesman for the 49ers, said Monday and Thursday night games in the second year of the stadium would start at 5:30 or 5:40 p.m., the same time workers are typically leaving their offices.
How the 49ers will help minimize congestion and determine their place in the area are still being finalized.
"These plans are still being developed as we speak. They're not finalized yet," he said.
Lange said he did not have details about whether the 49ers were asking businesses to change their workers' hours.
Ed Maduli, vice chancellor of the West Valley-Mission Community College District, which is within walking distance of the new stadium, said the team has not asked the school to change hours for its students and their classes.
"We have not had discussions about class schedules. Our students come first," he said.
Mission College has about 7,200 full-time equivalent students, or about 10,000 in total.
Maduli said the details about the school's agreement with the 49ers will become public during a school board meeting on Jan. 21.
The school may provide about 2,200 or more parking space to the 49ers for about 12 Sunday games during the first year or so.
Maduli said it would be "very difficult to give parking spaces to 49ers on Mondays and Thursdays."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/11/2013 07:00:05 AM
(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- The week-long memorial to former South African President Nelson Mandela continued on Wednesday as his body was carried through the streets of Pretoria to the nation's main government building.
There, the civil rights leader's body will lie in state until Friday so that South Africans can pay their final respects.
"The remains of our beloved Madiba will lie in state at the seat of government, the union buildings in Pretoria, where he served as the first president," South African President Jacob Zuma said last Friday in an address to the nation.
After three days of lying in state, Mandela will then be taken to his ancestral village of Qunu where, on Sunday, he'll be buried alongside three of his children who are deceased.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/11/2013 06:51:18 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Rescuers said a Nevada couple and four children were found Tuesday bundled up by a fire after spending two days in subzero temperatures in the wilderness.
James Glanton, 34, his girlfriend, Christina McIntee, 25, their two children, a niece and a nephew, never returned after driving into the mountains of northern Nevada Sunday afternoon to play in the snow.
As 200 searchers fanned out across the area, which is located roughly 100 miles northeast of Reno, here's what we know about what happened, and what the family did to stay warm -- and calm -- during its two-day ordeal:
- The family's Jeep Grand Cherokee drove over an embankment and flipped over on Sunday. Chris Montes, a member of the rescue team, said the family wasn't lost but figured someone would come to its aid.
- The family members knew a search team was looking for them because they could hear whistling and saw choppers flying overhead, Montes said.
- As they waited for help, Montes said the adults built a fire, which they kept fueled for two days. When the family was located, Montes said the kids were "bundled up and in good shape."
- A search team followed tracks on the road, which led them to footprints. Using binoculars, Montes said they were able to see the family's overturned Jeep.
- Dr. Douglas Vacek of Pershing General Hospital said the entire group, including the four children, who range in age from 3 to 10 years old, did not suffer frostbite.
- Montes and Vacek both credited Glanton for taking care of his family as temperatures dipped below zero. Vacek said the entire group is in "amazing condition considering what they've been through."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/11/2013 06:38:27 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Demi Lovato's past struggles with alcohol and cocaine and her three-year rehab stint are already well-known, but The X Factor judge revealed even more details about her addiction to Access Hollywood this past Monday.
Lovato recalled her struggle with addiction while a teenager, telling the entertainment show, "I couldn't go 30 minutes to an hour without cocaine and I would bring it on airplanes," adding, "I would smuggle it basically and just wait until everyone in first class would go to sleep and I would do it right there. I’d sneak to the bathroom and I’d do it."
Lovato also reveals to Access Hollywood that she became so good at covering up her addiction that even her mother Dianna, who suspected her daughter might be using drugs, believed her when Lovato insisted she wasn't.
Dianna admits, “I didn’t actually see her, so when she said, ‘Oh no, there’s nothing going on. I’m not using, I’m not drinking, I wasn’t doing any of these things,’ Why was I not to believe her?”
The X Factor judge and singer says she hit rock-bottom when she was 19 years old.
She tells Access Hollywood, “I was going to the airport and I had a Sprite bottle just filled with vodka and it was just nine in the morning and I was throwing up in the car."
She adds, "I had a moment where I was like, ‘Oh my God… that is alcoholic behavior. [It’s] no longer, I’m young and rebellious and out having fun, it was, wow, I’m one of those people…I gotta get my s**t together.’”
Lovato also opened up to Access Hollywood about her eating compulsion.
"I started overeating, compulsively overeating," she admitted. "I would bake cookies and then eat the whole pan...It was just this crazy battle going on inside me. It got really difficult. I would throw up and it would just be blood and it was something that I realized if I don't stop this, I am going to die."
Lovato is now 21 years old and clean and sober. Her struggle to recover is detailed in her book, Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/11/2013 04:49:49 AM
(DALLAS) -- Shannon Guess Richardson, the Texas woman accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg last spring, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to her role in ordering the components to make the ricin and mailing the letters.
In exchange for her plea, the federal government has agreed to a sentence not exceeding 18 years.
When news of the ricin letters first came to light, Richardson, 36, falsely implicated her estranged husband, Nathan, who was never charged in the case.
Richardson, an actress, has had small roles in TV shows and films, including The Vampire Diaries, Franklin & Bash, The Change-Up and The Walking Dead.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/11/2013 04:28:22 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Stephen Jackson thought his NBA career was over, but now he finds himself California Dreamin'.
The Los Angeles Clippers announced Tuesday that they've signed the veteran forward to a one-year deal. Jackson spent last season with the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 6.2 points in 19.5 minutes per game in 55 appearances. The Spurs waived Jackson on April 27. and was believed to be done playing basketball until the Clippers came calling.
"I just think he's a veteran," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "We need him in a pinch. We need him like now and that's a guy that you can bring in and he can give you something right away with Reggie (Bullock) being out for at least this trip and maybe longer and Matt (Barnes) being out. We don't have another three right now and he fits that bill for us."
The 35-year-old Jackson has played 13 seasons with seven NBA teams, averaging 15.1 points in just over 32 minutes per game. He now becomes the only player on the current Clippers roster to have won an NBA championship, which he accomplished back in 2003 with the Spurs.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/11/2013 04:04:36 AM
(NEW YORK) -- The New York Rangers have been struggling recently, and now they have to continue playing without their captain.
Forward Ryan Callahan left Tuesday night's loss to the Nashville Predators with a Grade 2 MCL sprain. He is expected to be sidelined anywhere from four to six weeks.
The 28-year-old Callahan suffered the injury while attempting to deliver a hit in the first period. He left the game and did not return.
This is the third injury this season that has caused the forward to miss time. Callahan missed the season opener with a shoulder injury after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum over the summer. He also missed seven games with a broken thumb in October.
"It's been a tough stretch for him and we all feel for him," Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said. "Everyone has to step up a little more. He brings a lot to the team, a lot of different characteristics, and someone's going to have to find a way to step up for him.
Callahan is in the final season of a three-year, $12.825 million deal with the Rangers.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/11/2013 03:50:23 AM
(NEW YORK) -- We prepare so meticulously for our lives, but not so well for our deaths, according to data from a national survey published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Only about one of every four Americans have completed an “advanced directive” on how they’d like to be treated at the end of life, the survey found. The top reason many of the people surveyed had not signed an advanced directive was because they didn't even know what the document is or why it exists.
Skipping the directive, and the talk with your family, can have huge financial implications; health care costs are greatest during the final years of life, and use of advance directives are associated with lower Medicare spending and fewer in-hospital deaths.
Who does this best? Advance directives were more frequent among women, whites, respondents who had a college degree or postgraduate training, were married, or had a chronic disease requiring a regular source of care. For Black and Hispanic respondents, advance directives were less frequent across all educational groups.
This data indicates racial and educational disparities in advance directive completion and highlights the need for education about their role in facilitating end-of-life decisions.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/11/2013 00:17:58 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- A bipartisan budget agreement reached Tuesday night by House and Senate negotiators would avoid a government shutdown in January and help break a fiscal stalemate that has caused gridlock in Washington.
But it would stop far short of tackling the underlying causes of the national debt.
The deal would raise military and domestic spending over the next two years, while avoiding the continuation of deep across-the-board spending cuts. Taxes will not go up under the plan, which will instead raise fees on some airline tickets.
While modest in scope, the compromise represents the first budget agreement in two years. It could pave the way to a broader debate to deal with the root causes of the national debt, the rising costs of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., announced the deal at a Capitol Hill news conference, capping a month of intense negotiations.
“I see this agreement as a step in the right direction,” Ryan told reporters. “In divided government, you don’t always get what we want. That said, we can still make progress to our goals.”
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The agreement eliminates about $65 billion in across-the-board domestic and defense cuts — known as sequester — and includes an additional $25 billion in deficit reduction from Medicare savings through 2022 and 2023, two years beyond the cuts set by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Those savings would be replaced by increased fees for airline travelers and cuts to pensions for federal workers and members of the military.
The deal calls for military and domestic spending to go slightly beyond $1 trillion — higher than the $967 billion in the Budget Control Act — but would be capped for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years.
In the coming days, the agreement faces a difficult sales job among rank-and-file Republicans, who believe the spending is too high, and Democrats, who lost their fight to include an extension of unemployment benefits to 1.3 million workers that are set to expire this month.
“I’m confident that we won’t have 100 percent of the Senate or 100 percent of the House,” Murray said Tuesday night. “What the American people ought to know: This Congress can work. People can come from very different corners and find common ground.”
The budget conference, comprising Democrats and Republicans from both chambers, has met twice since the government shutdown. But Murray, Ryan and their staffs have engaged in private negotiations throughout the past two months. As they emerged Tuesday night with their deal, the two chief negotiators said the agreement called for cutting spending “in a smarter way.”
The White House applauded the deal, a sign that President Obama would encourage skeptical House Democrats to support the plan.
“This agreement doesn’t include everything I’d like — and I know many Republicans feel the same way,” Obama said in a statement. “That’s the nature of compromise. But it’s a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come together and break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making to get this done.”
The deal won’t be finalized until it is voted on by the House and Senate, and it may be a tough pill to swallow for some Republicans, particularly those facing primary challenges from tea party activists in the mid-term elections. Several conservative groups spoke out against the agreement, urging Republicans to vote against it.
“We urge Congress to stick to their promise and adhere to the deficit-reducing measures of the Budget Control Act. It is essential if our country is to achieve economic prosperity once again. It is also the right thing to do,” Phillip Ellender, president and COO of Government and Public Affairs for the Koch Companies Public Sector LLC, wrote Tuesday in a letter to lawmakers.
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, signaled his skepticism about the agreement because the spending went above the 2011 Budget Control Act.
“I remain convinced the Budget Control Act has done what it was supposed to do,” he said. “We’ve reduced government spending for two years in a row for the first time since right after the Korean War. It has been a success, and I hope we don’t revisit it.”
Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee who has deep credentials among fiscal conservatives, acknowledged the questions he will face about the deal. But he said it was time for a Republican reality check.
“As a conservative, I deal with the situation as it exists. I deal with the way things are — not necessarily the way things I want them to be,” Ryan said, adding that he has passed three consecutive budgets that have gone nowhere in the Senate.
“We’re in divided government,” he added. “I realize I’m not going to get that, so I’m not going to go a mile in the direction I want to, but I will take a few steps in the right direction. This agreement takes us in the right direction.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 23:58:00 PM
(RENO, Nev.) -- A missing family of six was found alive Tuesday after surviving two days in snow and brutal Nevada cold.
There was celebration and relief in the snowy Nevada mountains where search and rescue crews found alive the two adults and their four children under the age of 10.
The family told rescuers their car hit an embankment and flipped. Missing since Sunday in very cold conditions, they built fires and sheltered in their flipped vehicle to stay warm.
They insisted they could hear whistles being blown by search and rescue teams and they could see helicopters, but they had no way of getting the rescuers' attention.
Authorities say, fortunately, the family was found in good spirits, and doctors say they do not have frostbite.
Watch the ABC News report from World News with Diane Sawyer:
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Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 23:48:19 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration has a long way to go in selling its Iranian nuclear deal to lawmakers.
For the first time since striking the controversial deal in Geneva on Nov. 24, Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on Capitol Hill Tuesday to testify on the arragement, continuing his sales pitch to a skeptical Congress. He encountered plenty of resistance -- not just from Republicans, but also from fellow Democrats.
Case in point: Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., a nine-term Democrat, told Kerry, “I was briefed by the administration on this deal and I was impressed a little bit less after I read it,” and pressed for new sanctions that the administration is trying to prevent.
Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif., a freshman, expressed at length at the outset of his questioning his support for Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Then called the deal “naive.”
Ranking Member Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., voiced “serious reservations” about the deal in his opening statement.
Republicans, as expected, attacked the deal with force. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Utah, pressed Kerry to guarantee that “not one single dollar of that new money coming in to Iran is going to be used to kill one American soldier.” Kerry couldn’t. Iranian weapons were found throughout Iraq and were linked to the deaths of U.S. GIs when they were deployed there.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., a long-tenured foreign-policy voice in the House GOP conference, admonished Kerry for referring to Ayatollah Khamenei as “supreme leader.”
“Quite frankly, that’s 'groveling but verify,'” Rohrabacher said, a quip on Kerry’s advertisements of a “test but verify” approach to Iran.
As expected, Kerry plugged the widely panned deal as a rollback of Iran’s nuclear program that would create breathing room for negotiations, in exchange for modest sanctions relief.
“This agreement halts the progress of Iran’s nuclear program -- halts the progress-- and rolls is back in certain places for the first time in nearly 10 years,” Kerry said in his opening remarks.
“There’s nothing naive about what we’re doing. It is calculated. It may be wrong. You may find that it’s a miscalculation, but it’s not miscalculation based on naivete. We understand the dangers. We understand the risks. We understand how critical this is and how high the stakes are,” Kerry said later, responding to criticism.
“I’m not saying never,” Kerry said of passing new sanctions. “If this doesn’t work, we’re coming back and asking you for more. I’m just saying not right now.”
Kerry called it a “very delicate diplomatic moment” with Iran.
On Wednesday, the secretary of state will return to the Hill to brief senators on the Iran deal behind closed doors, with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
Congressional cooperation will be important if the deal is to succeed, and the administration has reached a crossroads with lawmakers.
Both Republicans and Democrats have pushed for new sanctions on Iran -- or at least a bill that would guarantee new sanctions at the end of the six-month “first step” agreement if a broader deal isn’t reached and would trigger new sanctions if Iran doesn’t hold up its promises under the interim agreement.
But under the Geneva agreement, any new oil sanctions would invalidate the deal, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told Time Magazine this week that the deal is off if Congress imposes new sanctions -- even if they’re delayed for six months. It’s unclear what would happen if Congress were to pass new sanctions and President Obama were to veto them.
The Senate will likely be the more critical battleground. With Democrats in control, it would be harder for sanctions backers to gain the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.
For now, the Senate Banking Committee, which is responsible for passing sanctions legislation, will hold off on moving forward with a new bill.
“The President and Secretary Kerry have made a strong case for a pause in Congressional action on new Iran sanctions, so I am inclined to support their request and hold off on Committee action for now. I’ll have more to say on this at Thursday’s Banking Committee hearing,” committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said in a statement Tuesday.
The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday to examine the nuclear agreement reached last month, featuring testimony from Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary of political affairs at the State Department, and David Cohen, the agency’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
In the House, Kerry told lawmakers Tuesday that new sanctions -- even delayed ones -- would not only upset Iran but could spook world powers from holding to the international sanctions regime.
“Our partners, if we pass them now, could get squirrelly on the whole idea of sanctions,” Kerry said.
“We told them we would not do it,” Kerry said of Iran, noting that “our partners don’t expect us to” pass new sanctions.
Kerry also revealed he expects the Geneva deal to take effect soon.
Although it’s been three weeks since Iran and the United Nations’ P5+1 reached it, the agreement hasn’t actually been implemented. Iran has yet to submit to additional monitoring, and the U.S and world powers have yet to roll back sanctions. Technical teams met in Vienna on Monday to discuss implementation, but until Tuesday the State Department had provided no guidance on when that final haggling might be over with.
The deal will take effect “in the next weeks,” Kerry said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 23:34:00 PM
(NEW YORK) -- NBA: Indiana Pacers 90 (19-3) – Miami Heat 84 (16-6)
San Antonio Spurs 116 (16-4) – Toronto Raptors 103 (7-13)
Cleveland Cavaliers 109 (8-13) – New York Knicks 94 (5-15)
Oklahoma City Thunder 101 (16-4) – Atlanta Hawks 92 (11-11)
Brooklyn Nets 104 (7-14) – Boston Celtics 96 (10-13)
Minnesota Timberwolves 121 (10-11) – Detroit Pistons 94 (10-12)
Milwaukee Bucks 78 (5-16) – Chicago Bulls 74 (8-11)
Phoenix Suns 114 (12-9) - Los Angeles Lakers 108 (10-11)
Top 25 Men’s College Basketball: (11) Kentucky 70 (8-2) - Boise State 55 (8-1)
(19) Florida 67 (7-2) – (13) Kansas 61 (6-3)
(20) Gonzaga 80 (9-1) - West Virginia 76 (6-4)
NHL: Buffalo Sabres 2 (7-22-2; 16pts) – Ottawa Senators 1 (12-14-6; 30pts) SO
Washington Capitals 6 (16-12-2; 34pts) – Tampa Bay Lightning 5 (17-10-2; 36pts) SO
Columbus Blue Jackets 5 (13-15-3; 29pts) – New Jersey Devils 4 (12-14-6; 30pts)
Los Angeles Kings 6 (20-7-4; 44pts) – Montreal Canadiens 0 (19-10-3; 41pts)
Florida Panthers 3 (9-17-5; 23pts) – Detroit Red Wings 2 (15-9-7; 37pts) SO
Nashville Predators 4 (14-14-3; 31pts) – New York Rangers 1 (15-16-1; 31pts)
St. Louis Blues 2 (20-6-3; 43pts) – Winnipeg Jets 1 (14-14-4; 32pts)
Chicago Blackhawks 6 (22-6-5; 49 pts) - Dallas Stars 2 (14-10-5; 33 pts)
Phoenix Coyotes 3 (17-8-5; 39 pts) - Colorado Avalanche 1 (20-9-0; 40 pts)
Boston Bruins 2 (21-8-2; 44 pts) - Calgary Flames 1 (11-15-4; 26 pts)
Edmonton Oilers 5 (11-18-3; 25 pts) - Carolina Hurricanes 4 (13-13-6; 32 pts) OT
New York Islanders 3 (9-18-5; 23 pts) - San Jose Sharks 2 (19-6-6; 44 pts) SO
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 22:57:53 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate confirmed Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., as the next director of Federal Housing Finance Agency Tuesday night.
The Senate voted 57-41 to confirm Watt, who president Obama nominated in May.
Watt’s confirmation was previously blocked by a Republican filibuster, but became the second nominee to be confirmed under a new rule which allows for cloture to be invoked on most of the president’s nominees with only 51 votes.
Watt is the second of Obama’s nominees to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency (which supervises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) after North Carolina banking regulator Joseph Smith withdrew from consideration. Watt is the only sitting member of Congress to have been filibustered since Reconstruction. Many think that was because Watt would arguably make it easier for homeowners to refinance their home loans, which acting agency head Ed DeMarco has been more reluctant to do.
The Senate now heads into a series of procedural votes on the nomination of Nina Pillard to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the D.C. Circuit Court of appeals.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 22:56:14 PM
(NEW YORK) -- The 41st president, George H.W. Bush, has joined Twitter.
Bush, 89, used his first official tweet to offer his prayers for the family of the late South African President Nelson Mandela.
Barbara and I wish we could have joined the U.S. delegation honoring President Mandela today. He, and his countrymen, are in our prayers.— George Bush (@GeorgeHWBush) December 10, 2013
Bush, who now uses a wheelchair to get around, was unable to join the official presidential delegation to South Africa for a memorial service Tuesday.
He is the latest former president to join the social media service. Former President Bill Clinton joined in April, and Hillary Clinton joined in June.
The White House’s social media official welcomed Bush as well:
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 22:08:39 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- As Afghan President Hamid Karzai continues to withstand pressure to sign a bilateral security agreement to keep U.S. forces in his country past 2014, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan told a Senate panel Tuesday that there is still “some prospect” that a deal could still be signed by the end of the year.
“The administration is committed to an expeditious signature of this agreement. Delaying signature is in no one’s interest,” James Dobbins, special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, testified Tuesday at a Senate Foreign Relations hearing. “Delay would add another element of uncertainty as the Afghans prepare for their elections. For the United States and our NATO allies it would mean a lack of clarity about our own presence in 2015. That in turn would jeopardize the fulfillment of pledges of assistance that NATO and other countries have made.”
While stressing that he sees “little chance” that a deal is not ultimately reached, Dobbins echoed warnings from national security adviser Susan Rice that without a prompt signature of the agreement, known widely as a BSA, the Obama administration “will have no choice but to initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there would be no U.S. or NATO troops in Afghanistan.”
“Let me make clear, however, that plans are not decisions and assure you that we are not about to decide to abandon all that we and the Afghan people have achieved over the last 12 years,” Dobbins emphasized. “I don’t believe that there can be any serious doubt that the Afghan people want the United States and NATO forces to stay and recognize that the bilateral security agreement is a necessary prerequisite.”
Before he signs the BSA, Dobbins said Karzai wants to establish a peace process with the Taliban while also ensuring that any soldiers remaining in Afghanistan would not be able to enter Afghan homes under any circumstances.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, warned further delay of any length “will have real implications on the ground” making it more difficult for military commanders to plan while simultaneously drawing into question the U.S.’s ability to meet its obligations to its allies and partners throughout the region.
“President Karzai has in my view unwisely decided to gamble with the lives of millions of his citizens with the delay in signing the Bilateral Security Agreement, testing our patience and threatening the progress made by so many Afghans in partnership with the international community since 2001,” Menendez said. “I believe this brinksmanship is unwarranted and frankly insulting to the sacrifices made by the United States military and taxpayers, and it is not in Afghanistan’s best interest.”
Menendez added that “at some point” the U.S. “has to ask if we should let our long-term interests and our substantial investments in Afghanistan be determined by a lame duck president.” Karzai’s term ends in 2014.
“If we are not able to finalize the bilateral security agreement, the results are clear: All U.S. troops would have to leave the country, support in Congress for appropriations for the Afghan military and development efforts will diminish and we will not be able to support the Afghan military in any significant way or be able to provide development assistance at the same levels,” Menendez said. “Afghans seem to understand this. It’s unfortunate that President Karzai doesn’t.”
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the top Republican on the committee, agreed that as Karzai dithers, he creates the impression in the United States that the blood and treasure invested through 12 years of war is unappreciated by Afghans.
“We certainly have a president of a country that’s really not speaking for its citizens, and I think everyone understands that and all of us have had encounters with Karzai and understand the irrationality that comes with most dealings with him,” Corker said. “He’s not speaking for Afghanistan, and we’ve got to look to the longer view and the Afghan people and not to one individual that’s somehow trying to find his place in history.”
Dobbins testified that finishing the BSA “will send an important signal” to the region “that the United States will remain engaged, as will its allies, and that we are not going to abandon Afghanistan.”
“For the Afghan people, it will reduce anxiety and uncertainty about the future,” he said. “A signed BSA will tell the Taliban, who may think that the end of 2014 means the end of international support, that their only path to peace is ending violence, breaking ties with al Qaeda and accepting the Afghan constitution.”
Dobbins is scheduled to testify at the House Foreign Affairs committee on Wednesday.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 21:26:45 PM
(NEW YORK) -- It’s a boy for Kate Winslet.
The Oscar winning-actress, 38, and her husband, Ned Rocknroll, welcomed a son on Dec. 7 in Sussex County, UK, her rep confirmed to ABC News.
“Mother and baby are doing great,” the rep said.
This is Winslet’s first child with her husband of a year. She has two other children, Mia, 13, and Joe, 9, from previous marriages. Both of them live with her.
“Of course, they have lovely relationships with their dads, but they don’t go and live with them for a week and come to me for a week and go to their dads for a week,” she told Vogue magazine earlier this year. “They’ve always been with me. They don’t go from pillar to post. They’re not flown here and there with nannies. That’s never happened.”
She also refuses to hire a housekeeper or a cook to help her care for her family, though she acknowledged that she knows she could.
“I choose not to because that is not what I want my children to be exposed to,” she said. “I remember my mother cooking, and that’s being a parent, and that’s what I want to do.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 19:07:44 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Stocks moved lower after a day of record highs.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 52 points to 15,973.13 on Tuesday. The Nasdaq Composite gave up 8 points to close at 4,060.49. The S&P 500 closed down 6 points at 1,802.62.
Materials stocks climbed higher, while the utilities sector produced the weakest performances Tuesday.
For the first time in history, a woman will run one of the big three major U.S. automakers. General Motors' new CEO Mary Barra has been with the company for more than 30 years, most recently as an executive vice president in marketing and product development. She's behind the rollouts of some of the most successful vehicles in recent years.
Meanwhile, there's more encouraging news for job hunters. The Labor Departments says employers advertised the most job openings in more than five years in October. The number of people quitting their jobs reached a five-year high -- considered a sign that people may be feeling more confident about the job market.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 17:18:28 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- A houseguest who moved in with an elderly California woman 10 days before the woman died -- and allegedly became a beneficiary of her will -- has been charged with forgery and burglary and is being investigated to determine whether she has a history of moving in with elderly and ailing people, Los Angeles police said Tuesday.
Phyllis Ciocca, 80, of Mission Hills, passed away last month and at first her death did not raise any questions because she had been in failing health, Lt. Paul Vernon of the Los Angeles Police Department told ABC News. At the time of her death, Patricia "Tisha" Rodriguez, 56, was living with Ciocca.
Ciocca's son Charles Dominique told ABC News affiliate KABC that Rodriguez "started showing me a will that stated the mobile home and a gold tea set was going to be given to her."
"She was very forward with the son saying this is all mine now, saying that the son and his wife needed to leave Ciocca’s trailer because it was all hers," the lieutenant said. “They were not aware that this woman was living with his mother and they had never met her before.”
When Ciocca's family informed police of the last minute change in the will, police asked the mortuary to put a hold on the body for an autopsy. Toxicology results are pending.
Rodriguez has been charged with burglary and forgery, and police are looking into whether there are other alleged victims, Vernon said.
"We're interested to know if Tisha has taken up residence with other persons, especially if they were elderly and living alone," Vernon said. "Tisha's actions could all just be opportunistic crimes after Phyllis died, or they could be much more sinister and pre-meditated."
As part of their investigation, police have recovered thousands of dollars in checks written in Ciocca's name that had been dated after her death, Vernon said. The checks were made out to cash, restaurants, manicure salons, and motels.
"We believe that she wrote them,” Vernon said referring to the checks.
Detectives also discovered a storage facility that had been rented by Rodriguez containing prescription bottles belonging to other people, the lieutenant said.
Rodriguez has a history of convictions for burglary, DUI, battery and illegal sales of prescription medicine, police said.
Vernon told ABC News that there may be other victims of fraud and the investigation continues.
It wasn't clear whether Rodriguez had yet entered a plea. She is in custody at the Los Angeles County Jail being held in lieu of $140,000 bail.
Anyone with information about possible crimes involving Rodriguez are asked to contact LAPD's Mission Homicide Unit at 818-838-9948.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 16:40:08 PM
(LAKE BUNEA VISTA, Fla.) -- Mark Trumbo will be suiting up for the Diamondbacks in 2014.
Arizona acquired the 27-year-old first baseman from the Los Angeles Angels in a three-team trade that also includes the Chicago White Sox.
The White Sox will receive outfielder Adam Eaton from the D-Backs while the Angels will pick up left-handed pitchers Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs.
In 159 games with the Angels last season, Trumbo batted .234 with 34 home runs and 100 RBIs. For his career, he has belted 95 homers in 1,718 at bats,
The 25-year-old Santiago compiled a record of 4-9 with a 3.56 ERA in 34 games and 23 starts for the White Sox. He struck out 137 batters in 149 innings of work.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 16:37:11 PM
(LONDON) -- It's baby's first Christmas for England's newest royal infant.
Prince George celebrates his first Christmas this year with his parents and the rest of the royal family at an estate owned by his great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.
There the family gathers to eat, exchange presents, attend church and hunt, although Prince George's exact schedule and participation in activities (especially the hunting) has not been confirmed by the Palace.
The little prince, who was born in July, travels with parents William and Kate to the queen's estate at Sandringham, on England's east coast, on Christmas Eve, joining Prince Charles and Camilla, and Prince Harry there.
British tabloids have reported that Kate Middleton's parents, Carol and Michael Middleton, have been invited to this year's Christmas celebration, but ABC News' royal contributor Victoria Murphy said Tuesday that's likely not the case.
"I think this is extremely unlikely," Murphy said. "Royal Christmas is steeped in tradition, and there is absolutely no precedent for in-laws being invited for Christmas. William and Kate spent last Christmas with her family, and I think this year they will see the Middletons at a different point over the festive period, and probably for New Year's."
The family will gather around a Christmas tree to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve -- not Christmas morning -- according to tradition, Murphy said. Prince George will likely receive gifts from his family members, although traditionally, the royals only give one another small or humorous gifts, according Murphy. That means no Furby or Playstation for the heir to the throne -- at least not yet.
"Legend has it that, despite having enough money to afford luxury gifts, the royal family instead gives each other joke presents," she said. "Perhaps Prince George will get something funny from his relatives. I also think he will be inundated with gifts from the public, just as he was when he was born. He is one lucky little prince!"
After the royals exchange presents they change into formal clothes for a black-tie dinner at Sandringham House, according to Murphy.
On Christmas Day, Prince George will go to church services with the whole group. Traditionally, members of the family walk to the nearby church, St. Mary of Magdalene, in Sandringham, while Queen Elizabeth drives.
"On Kate's first Christmas there were huge crowds," Murphy said. "The church service is broadcast on loudspeakers to the people standing outside. Afterward the queen receives flowers from children, and members of the royal family stop to say hello to the crowds before going back to the house for lunch."
The family then has a big Christmas lunch and gathers to watch the queen's annual televised address to the nation at 3 p.m.
Finally, the royals celebrate Boxing Day on Dec. 26 by going on a pheasant hunt on Sandringham's grounds.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 16:25:39 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Paul Walker’s remains have been transported to Forest Lawn cemetery in Hollywood Hills, Calif., at the request of his family, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office confirmed to ABC News.
The family will now decide on how he will be laid to rest.
Walker died Nov. 30 when the 2005 Porsche he was riding in crashed and then erupted in flames after striking a light pole and tree.
The coroner’s office told ABC News last week that two diffferent doctors did autopsies on Walker and friend Roger Rodas, who was driving the car at the time of the crash. They found Rodas died on impact, with Walker dying “maybe” a few seconds after from the combined effects of the impact and the fire.
“Both deaths have been ruled by the coroner to be accidents,” the coroner said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 16:17:36 PM
(DETROIT) -- General Motors CEO Dan Akerson will be stepping down from his position next month, the company announced on Tuesday.
Replacing him will be Mary Barra, GM's executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain. She will be the first female CEO of a major automotive firm.
“With an amazing portfolio of cars and trucks and the strongest financial performance in our recent history, this is an exciting time at today’s GM,” Barra said in a statement. “I’m honored to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”
The 51-year-old, who has worked at GM for 33 years, was elected as the next CEO by the company's board of directors.
Akerson, 65, made the decision to leave his post on Jan. 15, 2014, after his wife was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer, GM said.
In a message to employees, Akerson said: “I will leave with great satisfaction in what we have accomplished, great optimism over what is ahead and great pride that we are restoring General Motors as America’s standard bearer in the global auto industry.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 13:20:40 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s unprecedented handshake with Cuban President Raul Castro on Tuesday was not a pre-planned encounter, a White House official told ABC News.
“Above all else, today is about honoring Nelson Mandela, and that was the President’s singular focus at the memorial service,” the official said. “We appreciate that people from all over the world are participating in this ceremony. As the president said, we urge leaders to honor Mandela’s struggle for freedom by upholding the basic human rights of their people.”
The leaders of the long-estranged Cold War foes had a brief encounter at a memorial service honoring the life and legacy of former South African leader Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg. Obama and Castro, who both delivered remarks at the ceremony, shook hands and spoke to one another on the podium.
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and fierce critic of the Castro regime in Cuba, told ABC News that he didn’t have a problem with Obama shaking Castro’s hand.
“I’m more focused on policy than some moment,” Rubio said in a brief interview. “But if he was going to be there and shake his hand, he should have asked him about those basic freedoms that Mandela is associated with that are systematically denied in Cuba.”
Rubio, whose father fled Cuba, believes the Obama administration should be taking a harder line with Castro.
“My biggest problem,” he said, “is not the handshake.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 13:03:29 PM
(JOHANNESBURG) -- What do President Obama and a bunch of teenagers have in common? It turns out they like to appear in selfies at funerals.
Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt appeared to hold out her smartphone for a three-way selfie at Nelson Mandela's memorial service on Tuesday. Obama, who sat to her left, and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who sat to her right, leaned in close for the snap.
Meanwhile, a serious-looking Michelle Obama looked like she was not at all interested in taking part in the pic. The first lady was captured in photographs with an icy stare, though it remained unclear whether they were taken before or after the selfie.
The selfies at funeral trend was popularized thanks to a Tumblr site that had since shut down; however, the owner couldn't resist resurrecting it on Tuesday for one more post.
"I'd intended for the post below to be the final one here, but then this just happened at Nelson Mandela's memorial service -- not exactly a funeral, to be fair, but I'll just go ahead and take credit for the whole thing," the latest post reads. "Thank you, world, and good night!"
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 13:01:16 PM
(EUGENE, Ore.) -- A playful snowball fight that got out of control at the University of Oregon has prompted the school to suspend one of its starting football players for the team’s upcoming bowl game and could result in the prosecution of other students.
The snow brawl broke out Friday when the football team, one of the best in the country, challenged fans to a snowball fight. But it escalated and turned on innocent bystanders with students blocking traffic and attacking cars.
One of the alleged victims was UO professor Sherwin Simmons, who was captured on video emerging from his car and being pelted with snowballs and a bucket of snow.
As Simmons calmly approached the students, they retreated and started shouting at him and throwing more snowballs.
The exchange was caught on a video and it has gone viral on YouTube, with more than two million views. Now, the video could be used as evidence against the students if they were to be prosecuted.
“The police department is investigating,” said Joe Mosley, a university spokesman. “They are trying to identify as many of the students that are involved as possible.”
University of Oregon athletic department officials confirmed on Monday that starting tight end Pharaoh Brown has been suspended for his part in the fight and will not play in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30 in San Antonio.
Brown released a statement through the university saying, “I was one of the many UO students involved in the snowball fight on Friday and my actions escalated to an inappropriate level and for that I sincerely apologize. We never should have engaged innocent people and I deeply regret my actions and will accept the consequences.”
Other members of the Ducks football team were also disciplined for involvement in the snowball fight.
The incident is being now handled by the school’s dean of students, Paul Shang, Mosley said.
Shang did not return calls by ABC News seeking comment. However, Shang issued a statement on the university’s website.
“The behavior exhibited in the video is unacceptable and will not be tolerated on our campus,” Shang said in the statement. “We will use this incident as an opportunity to remind our campus community of the positive values and quality of character that we as a university hold dear.”
The school may take disciplinary action against the students involved, said Kelly McIver, spokesman for the university’s Police Department.
McIver couldn’t identify the driver in the second car nor confirm to ABC News how many students were involved in the incident. But he said they are working with other departments within the school to identify the students seen in the video.
Though the two people attacked on the video are not pressing charges at this time, McIver said that doesn’t necessarily mean that criminal charges couldn’t be filed in the future.
“They can face sanctions -- legal sanctions through law enforcement channels -- and/or they could be disciplined through the university’s code of conduct,” McIver said.
Students had organized a snowball fight near the student center on the same day, McIver said, noting that the snow attack on the drivers “ruined everything.”
Student leaders also lamented the incident. “While the reprehensible actions of a small number of students and student athletes are very disappointing, this single incident should not be taken as a reflection of the student body at large or our athletes,” Sam Dotters-Katz, president of the university’s student body, said in a statement to ABC News.
“The proper disciplinary actions have been taken and the last thing we would like to see is the poor choices of a small group of students overshadowing the other amazing things happening on our campus,” Dotters-Katz continued.
Simmons did not respond to calls by ABC News seeking comment.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 12:19:17 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- America’s favorite anchorman is back with his starched suit, camera-ready hair and that baritone voice. And now, Will Ferrell is revealing the man who helped bring Ron Burgundy to life: veteran anchorman Mort Crim.
In the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Ferrell says he found inspiration while watching Crim in a Lifetime documentary on pioneering journalist Jessica Savitch.
“At one point, they were talking to this anchor, Mort Crim, who was basically saying, ‘I was an (profanity) to her,’” Ferrell told the magazine. “What made me laugh was watching him. He still spoke like this…He still used his on-camera voice.”
“Well you have to understand,” Crim explained of his behavior in the documentary about Savitch. “That I was a typical traditional 1972 male chauvinist anchor.”
Crim, 78, who co-anchored with Savitch at KYW-TV in Philadelphia, says he “did not take any offense” at Ferrell’s comedic interpretation of himself.
“You know comedy and satire and parody is nothing but taking a grain of truth and stretching it out to an absolutely ridiculous conclusion,” the retired anchorman told ABC News. “And I think that’s what they have done very skillfully in Anchorman, and I enjoyed it immensely.”
Now an author and voiceover artist, Crim says the movie holds true to life as a journalist in the 1970s.
“I think they’ve done an excellent job of taking some real situations, some real tensions that existed and squeezed the humor out of them,” he said.
This weekend, the real anchorman is heading to New York City for the premiere of Anchorman 2 and is set to meet Ron Burgundy for the first time.
“Not only will it be my first time to meet Will Ferrell, but more importantly, it’ll be his first time to meet me,” Crim quipped.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 11:33:16 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Forbes has again compiled its annual list of the most overpaid stars in Hollywood, and thanks to the under-performance of last year's That's My Boy and Jack and Jill, Adam Sandler has the dubious honor of topping the list. He should fare better next year, thanks to his hit sequel Grown Ups 2.
The same silver lining can't be said for No. 2, Katherine Heigl, who left Grey's Anatomy for movie star fame, only to suffer a series of misfires. Her 2010 movie, Killers, grossed just $47 million, while her 2012 effort, One for the Money, managed to gross just over $26 million.
The list crunches the numbers to determine what kind of return on investment studios can recoup for each star's salary. The period analyzed was for three years ending June, 2013, which is why July's successful Grown Ups sequel didn't count, and animated films -- usually a better bet at the box office -- don't count. In Sandler's case, for every dollar he was paid in salary, he generated $3.40 in ticket sales.
While list newcomer Kevin James' box office fate will fare better next year, also thanks to Sandler's sequel, and Meet the Millers' blockbuster performance will shift No. 8 Jennifer Aniston's rankings positively, No. 10 Ryan Reynolds will certainly be feeling the effects of his summer of discontents' Turbo and R.I.P.D. -- the latter, one of the biggest bombs of 2013.
Here's the full Forbes list:
Top 10 Overpaid Actors, 2013
1. Adam Sandler ($3.40 per $1 of salary)
2. Katherine Heigl ($3.50)
3. Reese Witherspoon ($3.90)
4. Nicolas Cage ($6.00)
5. Kevin James ($6.10)
6. Denzel Washington ($8.30)
7. Steve Carell ($10)
8. Jennifer Aniston ($10.60)
9. Matt Damon ($10.60)
10. Ryan Reynolds ($10.70)
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 10:56:49 AM
(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A Texas judge is hearing testimony in a civil trial to determine whether Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg should stay in office after a drunken-driving conviction.
Lehmberg, who told authorities she is 60, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in jail after her arrest this past April. Her license was suspended for 180 days and she was fined $4,000. Since then, Lehmberg has issued a public apology and gone to rehab.
An Austin attorney then filed a petition to have her removed from office, which has led to the civil trial, but Lehmberg refuses to resign.
County sheriff's deputies testified on Monday that the night Lehmberg was arrested she was rude, angry, loud and belligerent. Authorities said she was so combative, at one point she had to be strapped into a restraint chair with a spit guard put over her face.
Lehmberg was pulled over on April 12 and prosecutors say her blood alcohol level was almost three times the legal limit. Witnesses were called to the stand on Monday to testify about Lehmberg's actions before and after she was in police custody.
A concerned driver called 911, reporting a person behind the wheel of a car swerving along the highway.
"I am behind a vehicle. This person is incredibly intoxicated I have never seen anything like it," the person told a 911 dispatcher.
After police arrested Lehmberg, she can be heard asking the arresting officers while in the back of the squad car, "Do you know who I am? Why do you have me handcuffed?"
Lehmberg later told them, "You have just ruined my career," according to dash cam video.
Other deputies testified that her behavior only became more bizarre and violent when she was in custody at the police station. Jailhouse video shows her stomping, kicking, sticking her tongue out and even gesturing with her fingers as if she were firing a gun.
The video also shows her repeatedly asking guards to call Greg, referring to Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton.
"Did you call Greg? Did you? Did you let him know you have me in custody?" Lehmberg asked.
In July, Lehmberg issued a public apology, saying, "Last April I made a huge mistake and I have spent a lot of time trying to make amends for that."
James Collins, the executive assistant Travis County attorney, who is prosecuting the case for the state, has said Lehmberg is unfit for office and could harm the public interest if she remains in her position.
Lehmberg is expected to testify in court Tuesday.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 10:14:06 AM
(JOHANNESBURG) -- Honoring the man who inspired his political career, President Obama on Tuesday hailed Nelson Mandela as the “last great liberator of the 20th century” and urged the world to continue his life’s work for justice and equality.
“To the people of South Africa -- people of every race and walk of life -- the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us. His struggle was your struggle,” the president told a crowd of thousands at a memorial service for the former South African leader in Johannesburg. “His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy.”
Comparing him to the great leaders who came before him, Obama likened Mandela’s legacy to that of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln.
“In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness; persistence and faith. He tells us what’s possible not just in the pages of dusty history books, but in our own lives as well. Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals,” Obama said.
“It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailor as well; to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion, generosity and truth. He changed laws, but also hearts,” he said.
Calling himself a beneficiary of Mandela’s struggle for equality, Obama said his perseverance to end apartheid “stirred something in me.”
“It woke me up to my responsibilities -- to others, and to myself -- and set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example...he makes me want to be a better man,” he said.
“With honesty, regardless of our station or circumstance, we must ask: how well have I applied his lessons in my own life?” he asked.
Obama warned world leaders that “we cannot allow our progress to cloud the fact that our work is not done.”
“Around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger, and disease; run-down schools, and few prospects for the future. Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs; and are still persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love. That is happening today,” he said to cheers from the exuberant crowd, braving the rain to celebrate Mandela’s life.
“There are too many people who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality,” Obama cautioned. “There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. And there are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.”
President Obama was one of nearly 90 world leaders who traveled to South Africa to pay tribute to Mandela and one of six who delivered remarks at the memorial. Former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter were also in attendance.
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Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 09:07:05 AM
(JOHANNESBURG) -- President Obama is among the throngs of foreign leaders and dignitaries attending the memorial service Tuesday for the late Nelson Mandela at the 95,000-capacity FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa.
Watch a live stream of the event from ABC News:
Follow the day's events with this live blog:
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 08:13:31 AM
(NEW YORK) -- As New York and Chicago become the first major U.S. cities to propose tighter regulation of electronic cigarettes, the row over their safety has caught fire. Supporters believe the battery-operated cigarettes are a harmless alternative to tobacco smokes, while opponents say they may carry the same dangerous health effects.
Tom Kiklas, the president and co-founder of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, said he believes the fears about e-smoking, or "vaping," are unfounded, and a bit misleading.
"First of all, nicotine is classified as a secondary stimulant, the same as caffeine. People believe it is dangerous on an emotional level, but it is not a dangerous drug," Kiklas said.
But many health experts vehemently disagree with this statement, including Dr. Roy Herbst, the chief of medical oncology at the Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, Conn., and a spokesman for the American Association for Cancer Research.
"We do know that nicotine is an addictive substance, and that it affects blood pressure and the blood vessels. It could also have other noncancerous side effects," Herbst said.
Jason Levine, a clinical psychologist who specializes in smoking cessation at the Source Health and Wellness Treatment Center in Los Angeles, said he had seen e-cigarette usage lead to headaches, nausea and other symptoms consistent with nicotine poisoning.
"Some people suck on their e-cigarette all day long like it's a pacifier. You don't have to light up, only plug it in, and you can keep smoking without a break," he said.
Regarding suspicions about e-cigarettes causing cancer, Kiklas said these fears are also unproved. E-smoke vapor contains just five chemicals, he said, compared with the up to 9,000 chemicals that have been identified in tobacco smoke.
"The vapor is closer to regular water vapor than tobacco smoke, and poses no risk of any kind," he said.
Citing a 2009 Food and Drug Administration report comparing traditional cigarettes with the e-cigarettes, Kiklas claimed that e-cigarettes are 1,400 times less harmful than tobacco. The flavorings and glycerin used in e-cigarettes have been consumed for generations without causing harm to humans, he said.
Most experts will admit that the scientific research conducted so far suggests that electronic cigarettes do pose a much lower cancer risk than regular cigarettes, and that in particular, they carry a greatly reduced risk of lung cancer and other cancers as well as lower risks for lung disease and heart disease. However, as Dr. Bechara Choucair, the commissioner of health for the Chicago Department of Public Health stressed, the question is far from settled.
"It is difficult to evaluate the risks, because as of now, there are no federal regulations imposed on the more than 250 e-cigarettes now on the market, which means that there currently are no restrictions on the ingredients manufacturers can or cannot use," he said.
Until more is known about these products, limiting their use is just good common sense, Choucair said.
But Kiklas countered that more study was not necessary. "We've been on the market for seven years and used by millions of people. There is no proof that a single person has been harmed by the product. There is nothing to study," he said.
And as for the idea that e-smoking can be a gateway to more hardcore tobacco use, especially among young people, Kiklas dismissed these claims as irresponsible and misleading. He said that e-cigarettes were regulated by the FDA as tobacco products and as such, companies are forbidden to advertise or market them to children.
"I defy you to name one e-cigarette company that targets minors," he said.
Coming in such flavors as Captain Crunch, Fruit Loops and Bubble Gum, e-cigarettes seem clearly designed to appeal to young people, many health experts say.
"When you see these flavors, it's pretty obvious that these flavors could be attractive to kids, said Vince Willmore, a spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
Willmore also said that many of the tactics used to market e-cigarettes are the same as what the tobacco companies have used to market cigarettes to kids.
"They have ads that use celebrities, race car sponsorships -- they have even used cartoons," Willmore said. "They don't do this to appeal to adult smokers, who they say are their main targets."
E-smoking among young people is on the rise. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that nearly 1.8 million young people had tried e-cigarettes, and that the number of U.S. middle and high school student e-smokers doubled between 2011 and 2012. He also said that up until last week, it was legal to sell e-cigarettes out of ice cream trucks in Los Angeles.
Choucair said the increase in e-smoking raises alarms, considering the products have only been available for a short time. He said the reason for Chicago's proposed ban on their use in public places is to protect people, particularly young people, until there is conclusive evidence either way regarding the safety of the product.
Such restrictions make sense for now, Kiklas said, because they mirror other tobacco product-related policies, though he opposes any outright bans. He believes that as people understand the technology better, public opinion will evolve.
"They will come to view this as an innocuous product with nothing in the vapor that is harmful or dangerous to humans," he said.
Whether electronic cigarettes will help people quit smoking or lower their risk of tobacco-related diseases remains to be seen.
In the meantime, lung cancer remains the single greatest threat to the health of smokers, according to the American Cancer Society. In the United States, tobacco use is responsible for nearly one in five deaths, or 443,000 early deaths, each year.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 08:01:27 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Pop singer Justin Bieber visited the Philippines on Tuesday to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
The storm claimed thousands of lives and caused millions of dollars of damage to the country in early November.
Bieber, 19, posted a photo a few weeks ago on his Instagram page where he posed next to a sign that read “Pray 4 Philippines” with his initials at the bottom.
The singer then posted a video on his Facebook page on Dec. 4 asking for his fans help with giving back to the Philippines.
“The moment I heard about the tragedy a few weeks back,” Bieber said, “I thought I can count on you guys to make a difference.”
Those that donate to the singer’s cause will be entered for a chance to meet and hang out with the Canadian singer at a recording studio, Bieber said in the video.
Bieber has risen more than $600,000 so far that will go to charities like UNICEF, Action Against Hunger, and the Philam Foundation. His goal is to raise $1 million according to the fundraising website.
During the singer’s visit to the country, he performed an exclusive concert in Tacloban, according to local media reports.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 07:34:42 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Taco Bell's $1,000 donation to the late visionary behind the popular Doritos Locos Tacos is being criticized as miserly in an online petition asking the company to donate a larger portion of the millions of dollars the company earned from his idea.
Todd Mills, an Air Force veteran and long-time Taco Bell customer, underwent surgery for brain cancer in August and died on Nov. 28 at age 41.
Last week, Taco Bell made a statement about the famous Taco Bell customer, saying that the company donated $1,000 toward his medical expenses.
"We know this is a tragic time for Todd's family," Taco Bell said in a statement on Wednesday. "He was a huge Taco Bell fan. He was passionate about the Doritos Locos Taco, and although he did not invent it, he founded a Facebook page to drum up support. In light of his passion, we invited him to be one of the first to try it. He became a true friend of the brand, so when we learned of his ill health, we made a $1,000 donation towards his medical expenses. We will miss Todd very much and our hearts are with his family and friends in this difficult time."
Mill's Facebook page launched in Aug. 2009, the site says, with a mission to "convince FritoLay snack company to develop a taco shell made from Doritos."
The donation amount riled Ashley Tyrner, from New York City, who started a Change.org petition on Wednesday asking Taco Bell to start college funds for Mills' two daughters and his widow, who lost Mills on Thanksgiving Day.
A 30-year-old mother, who started an organic produce delivery business, said she started the petition to "try and just help."
"I figured I had to do something when I read how awful Taco Bell dropped the ball on this," she said. "Everyone who knows Todd seems to truly believe he is what helped Taco Bell get this idea out there for the rest of the world to enjoy."
Taco Bell, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, launched Doritos Locos Tacos in 2012, and a Cool Ranch version earlier this year. The company said it sold about one million Doritos Locos Tacos a day at the menu item's height.
A Taco Bell spokesman referred ABC News this week to the company statement it made last week and declined to comment further.
Tyrner said she has communicated with the Mills family and his sister.
"They seem to be very nice people with a very large support system," she said.
The Mills family could not be reached for comment. The amount of Mills' medical bills is not known.
Earlier this year, friends of the family launched an online fundraising campaign that closes in 23 days to raise money for his medical bills. The campaign website indicates it has raised $15,586 thus far.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 06:59:06 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday will announce a $100-million initiative that will help "increase access to mental health services and improve mental health facilities," according to a White House official.
The initiative will be evenly co-funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The HHS money will go toward assisting "Community Health Centers establish or expand behavioral health services for people living with mental illness or addiction," the official says.
The remaining $50 million will be put up by the USDA to provide funding "for the construction, expansion, or improvement of mental health facilities in rural areas over the next three years."
Biden will unveil the details at the White House during a meeting with victims' families of last year's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. Mental health advocates will also be in attendance.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 06:55:41 AM
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Every hour on average, a child's injury from falling out of a high chair requires a trip to the emergency room, according to a study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Co-author Dr. Gary Smith says there were 10,930 accidents of this kind in the U.S. by 2010, an increase of 22 percent from 2003, which he called "alarming."
Worst of all, says Smith, most of the injured youngsters are under the age of 1, and 85 percent of the injuries treated by ER docs occur to the infants' heads and faces.
Smith also noted in the study published in Clinical Pediatrics that about two-thirds of the falls from high chairs or booster chairs happen when the child is either standing or getting into the seat.
The reason for the increase in high chair accidents can be traced to restraints that either don't work as they should or parents who aren't fastening them properly.
Smith's advice to parents, "Use the restraint, use the restraint, use the restraint!"
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 05:21:23 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Hollywood stars from past and present turned out Monday night for the premiere of Saving Mr. Banks on the Disney lot in Los Angeles.
The film tells the untold story of how Walt Disney landed the rights to Mary Poppins, a book series that inspired the classic 1964 movie Tom Hanks portrays Disney and Emma Thompson stars as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers.
Dick Van Dyke starred in the 1964 movie and attended Monday night’s premiere. He told ABC News Radio he loved doing the song and dance numbers in the movie, but the scene where he and others had to dance on the rooftops was hard work.
“That was killer. We were out there dancing and all those guys were half my age. It was so hard,” Van Dyke recalled.
Hanks recalled seeing Mary Poppins as a kid and remembered thinking the kids in the movie “talked funny."
"I couldn't figure out what they were saying,” Hanks added.
Saving Mr. Banks opens nationwide on Dec. 20.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 05:09:45 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Two men allegedly caught on camera swiping the T-top roof from the wrecked Porsche in which Paul Walker and friend Roger Rodas were killed on Nov. 30 are facing jail time.
According to the Santa Clarita Sentinel, the L.A. County District Attorney's office has thrown the book at 18-year-old Jameson Witty and 25-year-old Anthony Janow, and they face a maximum of four and a half years in prison for felony grand theft of personal property and misdemeanors of destroying evidence and resisting, obstructing, and delaying a peace officer.
Witty is the man TMZ says can be seen on cellphone video grabbing the part from the tow truck hauling away what was left of the doomed Porsche after it was removed from the crash site; Janow was reportedly the driver who sped him away with the item.
As ABC News Radio reported, Witty apparently then posted now-deleted pictures of the item on his Instagram account. "Piece of Paul Walker's car, took it off a tow truck at a stop light," the user jamesonwitty posted at the time.
Witty was arrested last Thursday night and later released on bail. Janow will reportedly surrender to the authorities on Tuesday.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 04:52:18 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- The U.S. attorney's office announced on Monday that 18 current or former Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials, including lieutenants and sergeants, have been indicted due to allegations of abuse and misconduct inside L.A. County jails. The allegations include beating up prisoners and unlawful detainment.
Prosecutor Andre Birotte Jr. said the "behavior that had become institutionalized" also included obstructing a probe into misconduct at the Men's Central Jail.
Birotte Jr. told reporters that the charges from the investigation, which came from five cases, range from conspiracy and obstruction of justice to improperly arresting and searching visitors to the jails.
Even for a city that has a problem with crooked or rogue cops for as long as anyone can remember, the charges were stunning.
In one alleged incident, a sheriff's sergeant told deputies to use excessive force on jail visitors, including beating up people in a deputy break room. One visitor suffered a fractured arm.
Gabriel Carrillo, who was visiting his brother when his arm was broken, said following the indictments, "Justice is being served."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 04:25:49 AM
(PRINCETON, N.J.) -- Earning a degree at Princeton comes with an unexpected bonus: a free vaccination against meningitis.
The unusual program came about because eight students at the Ivy League university were diagnosed with the serious disease that, left untreated, can cause diabetes, deafness and even death.
On Monday, Princeton began offering shots of a vaccine that has been imported from abroad because the Food and Drug Administration has not approved the medicine to protect against the B strain of meningitis found on campus.
The plan is to vaccinate all 6,000 students by Thursday and then bring them back next February for a second round of shots to ensure they don't contract the disease.
Last week, the University of California, Santa Barbara revealed that four students were infected with the same strain although the two events are unrelated. Due to complications from meningitis B, the feet of one freshman had to be amputated.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 04:24:21 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Holiday hiring by retailers, which got off to its best start since 1999, has now tapered off.
That was the bad news delivered Monday by John Challenger, president of the outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Although retailers made 159,500 hires in October, representing a 6.7 percent boost from the same period in 2012, Challenger says that hiring in November was under levels from the same time last year.
Overall, malls, shops and other retailers brought on 629,000 seasonal employees in October and November, representing 2.3 percent less than 2012.
Challenger believes after the initial exuberance, stores might have come to the realization that their expectations for the 2013 shopping season might have been a bit too heady.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 04:22:37 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Pittsburgh Penguins winger James Neal was suspended five games by the NHL on Monday for kneeing Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand in the head.
Neal committed the offense during in the first period of the Penguins' 3-2 loss to Boston on Saturday. Marchand was down on the ice when Neal skated by and put his knee into the 25-year-old's head. Marchand had to be treated by a trainer and taken to the locker room before returning.
Neal received a two-minute minor for kneeing.
"With a clear view of Marchand, and plenty of time to avoid him, Neal skated directly through Marchand's head with his left knee," NHL's senior vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan said in his video breakdown on why Neal was suspended.
"While looking down directly at Marchand, Neal turns his skates and extends his left leg, ensuring contact is made with Marchand's head," Shanahan said. "While Neal does not kick or violently thrust his leg toward Marchand, it's our belief after reviewing this incident that this is more serious than simply not avoiding contact with the fallen player."
Shanahan said it was taken into consideration that Neal has been previously suspended twice and fined once.
Neal will lose $128,205.15 in salary, which will go into Player's Emergency Assistance Fund.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 04:20:25 AM
(SOWETO, South Africa) -- President Obama will be among the throngs of foreign leaders and dignitaries attending the memorial service Tuesday for the late Nelson Mandela at the 95,000-capacity FNB Stadium in Soweto, South Africa.
Obama will be joined by former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter as well as a 23-member congressional delegation that includes Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who has taken a great deal of heat from some constituents for his impassioned praise of Mandela.
Other leaders confirmed to attend the event include British Prime Minister David Cameron, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Cuban President Raul Castro, who will speak at the service along with Obama, Chinese President Vice President Li Yuanchao and others.
The keynote address will be delivered by South African President Jacob Zuma.
Sources tell ABC News that no specific, credible threats have been identified in connection with the service. The Secret Service is working closely with South African authorities, which have the overall responsibility for securing the event.
While normal presidential visits are months in the making, security arrangements for Obama’s trip to Soweto have been underway since Mandela was first hospitalized last June in critical condition.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 04:14:17 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- Federal investigators have concluded the investigation into the deadly plane crash over the summer of an Asiana jumbo jet at San Francisco International Airport. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says the pilots on Asiana flight 214 were not properly trained and over reliant on the autopilot system.
According to the report, the pilots didn't recognize that they didn't have enough power to make the runway safely until it was too late. They also didn't recognize the throttle was not responding automatically, and simply didn't know enough to fly the plane themselves.
Former commercial pilot and ABC news aviation consultant John Nance says it's shocking that the pilots did not know how to manually fly the plane out of trouble.
"Most pilots would have known as soon as they saw the airplane beginning to slow down, and slow down, that they needed to look down and increase the thrust; but because these pilots are really not trained to fly the airplane manually they got terribly confused and we saw the result," Nance said.
The so-called automation addiction by modern pilots is a major concern at the NTSB, and Nance says this crash should be a major wake up call that something is wrong with airline training today, which is turning out systems operators rather than pilots who can actually fly planes.
"There were no pilots in that Asiana cockpit by the normal measure. These were systems operators, and that's the way they had been trained. That's not their fault, that's the fault of the airline and the fault of the industry," Nance said.
"You know, it's not just a matter of pilots needed to fly more, they need to have the training, the experience and the time in just flying an airplane manually to know what they're doing when the automation fails," he added.
The NTSB also blamed a faulty emergency response to the Asiana jumbo jet that crashed as it landed at the San Francisco airport in July.
Three teenage girls were killed during the crash and its aftermath; one victim was reportedly run over and killed by a rescue vehicle after the crash.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/10/2013 00:21:58 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- With the clock ticking until the House of Representatives departs Washington, D.C. on Friday, leaders of the Senate and House Armed Services Committee hammered out a deal Monday to move forward with the defense authorization bill to fund the nation’s military next year.
The chairmen and ranking members of each committee announced Monday that they reached an agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2014, which will authorize $552 billion in national defense spending and nearly $81 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations. But as Congress faces a time crunch, the lawmakers were forced to act more quickly on the legislation than they would have liked. Rather than going to conference on the House bill and the measure approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee, private negotiations between the committee leaders occurred to craft the final deal.
“I wish we had time for a more full debate on this. But we’re here at this point saying we are where we are and we ran out of time,” Rep. Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said. “We owe the men and women in uniform and our national security to finish up this bill.”
“This is the only way we could pass a bill this year. It’s not the first time something like this has happened,” Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said.
The NDAA, which still faces votes in the House and the Senate, ensures that troops will be paid in 2014. It also contains provisions which prohibit the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. and bars the construction of facilities for detainees in the U.S.
But notably missing from the NDAA is a controversial measure sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., which would have removed the chain of command from the prosecutions of sexual assault cases in the military. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to hold a vote on Gillibrand’s amendment last month, but the vote was blocked by Senate Republicans. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., also crafted an amendment dealing with sexual assaults in the military that failed to receive a vote.
Though it won’t be included in NDAA, Gillibrand’s amendment could see a vote as a stand alone bill in the future.
"We are confident that we will get a vote. Regardless of what happens, the Senator will not go away, she will keep fighting to protect our brave men and women in uniform and to strengthen our military,” Bethany Lesser, a spokesperson for Gillibrand, said.
But despite Gillibrand’s and McCaskill’s bills not making it into the NDAA, there are still historic reforms regarding military sexual assaults contained in the legislation, including stripping commanders of their ability to overturn jury convictions, providing independent counsel to each victim that reports a sexual assault, and requiring a dishonorable discharge or dismissal for anyone convicted of sexual assault. The NDAA also criminalizes retaliation against victims who have reported a sexual assault, creates a civilian review of cases that are not prosecuted, and eliminates the statute of limitations in these cases.
McKeon hoped that the House could vote on the NDAA by the end of the week, setting up a vote in the Senate for next week.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 23:48:00 PM
(NEW YORK) -- It's been known for a while that deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses have surpassed deaths from traffic accidents in the U.S. Now there's a call from a top doctors' group to clamp down on painkiller prescriptions.
The American College of Physicians has issued a new recommendation for prescribers and policy makers that calls for an effort to educate, prevent, diagnose, and treat all substance abuse and supports the establishment of a national Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
About 16 million Americans are abusing pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants or sedatives, and most report their supply came from a friend or relative -- in 50 percent of teens, they were getting them from their own home. The burden of this addiction costs taxpayers over $500 billion in health care, law enforcement and crime.
Unintentional overdose deaths involving prescription opioids now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined.
"Expect to see fewer pills per prescription, a mandatory visit to the doctor to get a renewal and no more prescriptions over the phone," says ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser.
Watch the ABC News report from World News with Diane Sawyer:
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Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 23:29:52 PM
(NEW YORK) -- NFL: Chicago Bears 45 (7-6) - Dallas Cowboys 28 (7-6)
NBA: Los Angeles Clippers 94 (14-8) – Philadelphia 76ers 83 (7-15)
Denver Nuggets 75 (13-8) – Washington Wizards 74 (9-11)
Charlotte Bobcats 115 (10-11) – Golden State Warriors 111 (12-10)
Memphis Grizzlies 94 (10-10) – Orlando Magic 85 (6-15)
Portland Trail Blazers 105 (18-4) - Utah Jazz 94 (4-19)
Sacramento Kings 112 (6-13) - Dallas Mavericks 97 (13-9)
Top 25 Men’s College Basketball: (23) Iowa 92 (10-1) – Fairleigh Dickinson 59 (3-9)
NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins 2 (21-10-1; 43pts) – Columbus Blue Jackets 1 (12-15-3; 27pts)
Ottawa Senators 5 (11-14-5; 27pts) – Philadelphia Flyers 4 (13-14-2; 28pts)
Anaheim Ducks 5 (21-7-5, 47pts) - New York Islanders 2 (8-18-5, 21pts)
Vancouver Canucks 2 (18-10-5, 41pts) - Carolina Hurricanes 0 (13-13-5, 31pts)
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 22:52:27 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John Cornyn, the second-highest ranking Republican in the Senate, drew a last-minute primary challenger Monday when Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, filed paperwork for the 2014 Texas Senate race, just minutes before the filing deadline.
“Stockman withdrew his application for his current seat and filed to run in the U.S. Senate race,” Spencer Yeldell, a spokesman for the Republican Party of Texas, confirmed to ABC News.
The announcement came as a surprise for those who thought Cornyn would run without a serious opponent, but the match-up echoes the trend seen in many Senate races across the country next year with a tea party candidate challenging the establishment-backed incumbents.
On Friday, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., announced he would seek re-election for a seventh term, setting up one of the biggest establishment vs. tea party races in 2014.
Cornyn, who is seeking his third term, may be forced to move further right on issues with a challenger like Stockman, a first-term congressman who has been vocal in his criticism of the administration -- and what he sees as establisment Republicans not fighting hard enough against it.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee plans to back Cornyn’s bid.
“We are proud to support Sen. Cornyn and while this primary challenge is quite the head scratcher, it will be defeated,” Brad Dayspring, communications director for the NRSC, tweeted Monsteveday.
It is unknown whether conservative groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund and Club for Growth, who are backing many candidates challenging incumbents, will support Stockman.
The Senate primary in Texas will be on March 4.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 22:26:20 PM
(CLACKAMAS, Ore.) -- A 13-year-old Oregon girl is recovering at home with her parents Monday after authorities believe she spent nearly five harrowing days outdoors in the cold with a man with whom she willingly left home.
The man, 40-year-old Kelsey McCune, has been arrested and charged with sexual abuse, rape, sodomy, kidnapping and custodial interference, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.
ABC News is not using the teen's name since she is the alleged victim of sexual abuse.
"That is the belief, that she went voluntarily," Clackamas County Lt. Robert Wurpes told ABC News Monday. "We believe they were outside."
Wurpes said they were in a wooded area not far from her home and were "limitedly prepared" for the terrain and sustained cold temperatures.
The teen and McCune were in stable condition when found, Wurpes said, and were taken to a hospital to be checked out. He said the teen is now at home with her parents.
Wurpes said further details, including why the teen may have gone with him, will have to come from detectives once the investigation is complete.
The teen, who had been last seen Tuesday night, was found in a wooded area near a mobile home park just outside Oregon City with McCune on Saturday.
Police were concerned that the girl was an "endangered runaway," especially after discovering that she had been traveling with McCune, a family friend who authorities said was a possible transient with no permanent address.
The pair was found after a resident reported seeing them near a mobile home park. A SWAT team was used to locate the pair due to the area's remote location and size.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 20:13:31 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- NBA star Lamar Odom received 36 months probation and agreed to attend a three-month alcoho education program after entering a plea of no contest for his Aug. 30 arrest for Driving Under the Influence.
Odom's attorney represented him in a Van Nuys, Calif., court Monday after his case was moved up so he could enter the plea, said Los Angeles City Attorney's Office spokesman Frank Mateljan.
Mateljan also said Odom, 34, was ordered to pay $1,814 in fines and penalties.
The LA Clippers forward and husband to reality star Khloe Kardashian was arrested and charged with DUI in Los Angeles this summer, when he was stopped while driving his Mercedes SUV on U.S. Route 101 at 3:25 a.m., police said.
The police report on Aug. 30 stated he "showed objective signs of intoxications," according to California Highway Patrol.
After he was unable to perform a field sobriety test, he was arrested and taken to a Van Nuys jail, where he was booked. There, he refused all chemical tests, police said.
Mateljan said a separate hearing to determine his driver's license status would be set by the DMV.
Usually, when a person refuses to take chemical tests at the time of arrest, their license is suspended for one year, he noted.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 20:02:21 PM
(CALGARY, Alberta) -- Travelers at two Canadian airports who got the chance to video conference with Santa giggled as they shared their requests. Little did they know that Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick and 175 WestJet employees were listening.
After the travelers boarded their Calgary-bound flights, from Toronto and Hamilton airports, the WestJet elves got to work filling the Christmas wishes of their passengers.
There was a young boy who asked for a “choo-choo train.” His parents told Santa they wanted a big television.
Another boy asked for “an Android tablet.”
Then there was the practical passenger who told Santa, “What I need is new socks and underwear.”
Little did the weary travelers know that their dreams were about to come true at Carousel 8.
Fake snow fell as the presents paraded down the carousel to the delight of the passengers, who cheered, hugged and shed a few tears.
One woman beamed when she found out her wish for a flight home for the holidays had come true, while another was moved to tears when she received a new camera.
And that practical passenger who asked for socks and underwear? He still looked pretty pleased with his gift, too.
Last year, the Canadian carrier also got in the holiday spirit by surprising passengers with a flash mob of singing and dancing elves.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 19:57:23 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- In an affair usually noted for its glitz and glamour, President Obama made news at the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors as the first president to utter the words “Area 51.”
A beloved subject of conspiracy theorists and UFO enthusiasts, the government testing site, officially known as the Nevada Test and Training Range, and Groom Lake, came up during Sunday night’s gala when the president was honoring actress Shirley MacLaine.
“Now, when you first become president, one of the questions that people ask you is, what’s really going on in Area 51?” Obama said to the audience.
“When I wanted to know, I’d call Shirley MacLaine. … I think I just became the first president to ever publicly mention Area 51. How’s that, Shirley?”
Area 51 was only officially acknowledged this past August in declassified CIA documents that were released following a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Jeffery T. Richelson of the National Security Archives.
Richelson confirmed to ABC News that though past presidents had signed waivers referring to Air Force activity in Groom Lake, Obama was the first president to use the phrase “Area 51″ — at least in public.
Much less entertaining than the rumors that the area was used to test aliens and hide UFOs, documents revealed that Area 51 was merely a testing site for government aerial surveillance programs such as U-2 and Oxcart.
The only mention of UFOs the report made was in saying the U2 plane’s ability to fly higher than 60,000 feet (when most planes at the time were flying below 40,000) was the reason for a major spike in reported UFO sightings in the 1950s and ’60s.
Incidentally, most believe test flights of the oddly shaped and then-top secret F-17 stealth fighter and B2 stealth bombers led to similar "sightings" in the '80s. Those one-time "skunk works" projects went very public during coverage of the first Gulf War.
As for Obama's mention of MacLaine, the Academy award-winning actress has been plenty vocal in the past about her beliefs in alien encounters. She talked about her personal alien encounters in her 2007 book Sage-ing While Age-ing and during a 2011 interview with Oprah Winfrey in which MacLaine shared stories of witnessing UFOs from her New Mexico home.
“I’ve seen a mother ship here, and I’ve seen them at my ranch,” MacLaine said. “One famous day, a friend of mine was sitting in my hot tub out there, and three UFOs came over and hovered over the hot tub for about 10 minutes.”
Though never quite reaching Roswell status, Area 51 has prevailed in pop culture, mentioned in the Indiana Jones films (such as Hangar 51) and 1996′s Independence Day, as well as in the former UPN TV show Seven Days.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 19:05:56 PM
(NEW YORK) -- The net worth of U.S. households rose 2.6 percent in the third quarter of 2013. Americans’ collective worth is now $77.3 trillion, according to data released Monday by the Federal Reserve.
This rise in household wealth masks the fact that a lot of wealth is unevenly distributed in the country. Well off Americans who own stocks are seeing a more robust recovery than those who rely on a regular job and salary for income.
For example, the median annual household income in October 2013 ($52,299) was about the same as it was a year ago ($52,082), according to data released last week by Sentier Research.
There may, however, be one particularly good sign in Monday's Federal Reserve report, Americans increased the amount of mortgage debt they took on by 0.9 per cent. This was the first increase since early 2008, and could be a sign that the painful process of dealing with crippling debts after the financial crisis is coming to an end.
Consumer finances may now be healthy enough to resume a more normal process of spending and debt.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 18:18:05 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Pink‘s daughter Willow is two and a half now, and the singer says she can’t wait to expand her family — either by adoption, or by having more children, or both.
Speaking to Billboard for its Women of the Year issue, the singer said that her brother is “everything” to her, and she wants her daughter to have the same experience.
“I want [Willow] to have family beyond her Papa and me,” she said. “I mostly want another one for her to have a lifelong friend.”
She explained that she has a stepbrother and stepsister, but they’re much older than her, and her husband Carey was an only child for 12 years until his brother came along, but sadly, he died a few years ago.
“Family is the most important thing… I love it,” she said. “It’s like, holidays, the chaos, the… fighting, the mom always having a kid around. For sure. I want to adopt, I want to have more. Just, yes!”
Sound like a new Pink? It is. The singer said that, motherhood has “changed everything” about life.
“I didn’t used to think about ever stopping. And now I’m like, ‘I can’t wait to find her school! What’s she going to be like when she’s 8? How many Xanax am I going to be on?’ I hope I’m making that wine by then so it’s free,” she said, laughing. “But she’s wonderful. It’s really awesome.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 18:06:07 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Curiosity had its head in the clouds for the past couple of months, so to speak. Its first scientific reports focused on what was left of Mars' atmosphere, including the lack of any methane there.
But Curiosity's research team is now turning its focus back on the ground, narrowing its search toward where exactly to find organic material that may have supported life on the red planet.
NASA's latest findings are spread across six different papers published in the online edition of the journal Science. In addition to thoroughly analyzing the data that led to the claim earlier this year that Mars could have harbored life once upon a time, the papers also address the chemical and geological clues that may guide where Curiosity travels next to hunt for organic material.
The hunt has been a difficult one on account of the high level of radiation on Mars' surface. "The radiation has so much energy that it breaks apart the chemical bonds," said Jennifer Eigenbrode, who co-presented Curiosity's most recent findings Monday at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting. "It forms radicals and reacts with anything they can as quickly as they can. Understanding the chemistry is important to hypothesize what the story could have been [on Mars]."
Paul Mahaffy, a research scientist at NASA, said that because of that radiation, it's important to find patches of Martian land that were only recently exposed to the surface. "We need to look for a site that was recently eroded, like the site exposed by a fresh crater," he told ABC News. "If we were to find an area exposed for only 1 million years, we'd be happy, since there's a much better chance of preserving the original organic material."
And finding those sites may be easier thanks to knowing the geology of Mars as well. The new research suggests that Curiosity should look near the bases of downwind scarps, a specific type of cliff. By combining the radiation data with geological data, Mahaffy said that there's a better idea of where to hunt for organic material. "We need to drive close to a scarp that's been exposed for about 1 million years," said John Grotzinger, project scientist for Curiosity that also presented the new research. "We only need a few centimeters."
Mahaffy added that while it's good to officially confirm what NASA hypothesized several months ago about Mars' potential to harbor life, there's more to the picture. "We kind of knew that already," he said of the likelihood that there was life of Mars. Instead, he sees the real draw as confirming that radioactive dating methods that are commonly used on Earth work on another planet.
"We have a powerful technique for understanding the environment," he said. "We have three independent measurements and they're all close together. It's extremely reassuring since we can say, 'We must be doing something right.'"
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 17:48:09 PM
(APOPKA, Fla.) -- George Zimmerman's girlfriend who called Florida police to say he was breaking her stuff and was brandishing a weapon no longer wants to press charges against him and instead wants to get back together with him.
Zimmerman, 30, who faces a felony aggravated assault charge as well as lesser charges stemming from the incident, is asking to have conditions of his bail modified so he can resume contact with Samantha Scheibe.
According to court documents filed by Zimmerman's attorney Jayne Weintraub, Scheibe, 27, gave a sworn statement in which she wrote, "I do not want George Zimmerman charged."
Zimmerman, who had been acquitted earlier this year of murder in the death of teenager Trayvon Martin, had posted a $9,000 bond and was barred from any contact with Scheibe. He was also ordered to give up his guns and wear an electronic monitor.
Scheibe's new affidavit taken Dec. 6 stated, "When I was being questioned by police I felt very intimidated...I believe that the police misinterpreted me and that I may have misspoken about certain facts in my statement to police."
Scheibe wrote that Zimmerman "never pointed a gun at or toward my face in a threatening manner" and that "I want to be with George."
Weintraub claims that Scheibe reached out to her and asked that the order barring contact between herself and Zimmerman be lifted.
Scheibe originally told a 911 dispatcher that the incident began when Zimmerman grew upset during an argument and brandished a weapon at her.
"He's in my house, breaking all my s--- because I asked him to leave," Scheibe told the dispatcher. "He's got a freaking gun, breaking all my stuff right now."
Scheibe said at the time Zimmerman pushed her out of the home and locked her out. Authorities said when they arrived Scheibe gave them keys to the home, and that they had to push through obstacles by the door to get in.
At the time, Zimmerman told police that Scheibe instigated the incident.
The November incident was Zimmerman's latest run-in with the law since his acquittal in Martin's death.
In September, he was arrested and then released without charges after his wife called 911 to say Zimmerman punched his father-in-law in the nose and threatened to shoot him and his wife.
Zimmerman claimed that he was acting in a "defensive manner" during the incident, according to police, who later added that they never found a gun on Zimmerman.
He has also been pulled over for speeding, once in July and again in September. During the July incident, he alerted the officer that he had a gun in his glove compartment.
On July 18, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said Zimmerman was one of two men who came to the aid of a family who became trapped inside their Ford Explorer after it rolled over on the side of the highway.
By the time police arrived, two people -- including Zimmerman -- had helped the family get out of the overturned car, according to the sheriff's office.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 17:38:43 PM
(LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.) -- Retired managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa were unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday, by the expansion era committee.
Cox managed for 29 years in the big leagues, where he compiled a record of 2,504-2,001. During his 25 seasons as skipper of the Braves, he won a World Series championship and the National League pennant five times.
As manager of the New York Yankees from 1996-2007, Torre won four World Series titles (’96, ’98-’00), becoming just the fifth manager in big league history to accomplish the feat. In addition to the Bronx Bombers, he also led the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers during his 29 year career (2,326-1997).
La Russa won two World Series championships as manager of the Cardinals and one as skipper of the Oakland Athletics. In his 33 year career, his record was 2,728-2,365.
Enshrinement ceremonies will take place in Cooperstown, N.Y. on July 27, 2014.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 17:36:03 PM
(NEWTOWN, Conn.) -- Emotional triggers for the traumatized community members of Newtown, Conn., include holiday staples like gingerbread houses and school recitals as well as every day things like sirens and news trucks, town officials said in a news conference Monday.
The families of 14 victims came together in a separate news conference and stood in front of a banner with a heart made of the victims' names and made an emotional statement. They encouraged people wanting to help to perform acts of kindness in honor of their children or volunteer with an organization in their own communities.
"We have come to realize that we want our loved ones to be remembered for the lives they lived and how they touched our hearts," Krista Rekos, mother of 6-year-old Jessica Rekos, said.
They also announced a website that will be a singular place of communication and sharing for the families.
Each family then approached the microphone and said they would be lighting a candle Friday night, the anniversary of the last night they spent with their loved ones, and made a brief comment about their child or relative.
Town officials met with the media earlier in the day in order to urge them to stay away as the one-year anniversary of the school shooting approaches.
"Please don't come. Please respect our need to be alone and to be quiet and to have that personal time," First Selectman Pat Llodra said at the news conference. "We also have a real need for our community to gain its foothold, particularly during this difficult time."
"We don't need to be reminded. We don't need to re-live it," she said. "Please give us that chance."
Newtown Youth Academy co-director Cody Foss said the "triggers" are difficult for community members.
Saturday will mark the first anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School where a gunman killed 20 students and six staff members before turning the gun on himself. He had shot and killed his mother earlier that morning.
Newtown Police Chief Mike Kehoe said that there will be extra law enforcement personnel in the town from Friday to Sunday, but officials also hope to maintain a sense of normalcy, especially for students and teachers.
On Friday, interim superintendent of schools John Reed said he expects most students to be present in school and they will aim for consistency throughout the day. Mental health resources have been and will continue to be available.
"Newtown is cracked. We've been through a devastating experience and yet in the midst of those cracks, you're seeing light shining through," Newtown Minister Matt Crebbin said.
Some of the victim's families of the Sandy Hook School Shooting are expected to gather this afternoon for a press conference reflecting on the grim anniversary.
The officials also made a request for a positive way to honor those who died.
"We really, truly are asking people to honor those who lost their lives here on Dec. 14, and we ask they do that by a random act of kindness," Llodra said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 17:27:04 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Ted Cruz defied critics angry that he eulogized Nelson Mandela and left for South Africa Monday as part of a 23-member congressional delegation going to honor the former South African president and anti-apartheid hero.
“He endured decades of imprisonment and steadfastly continued his fight for equality. And, when justice prevailed in his battle against apartheid, and Mandela was elected president of his nation, he nobly chose reconciliation instead of retribution — a legacy for which he will be remembered forever,” Cruz, R-Texas, said.
Cruz’s press secretary, Catherine Frazier, also rejected the arguments of those who criticized Cruz for lauding Mandela.
“Mr. Mandela deserves to be remembered and honored for his sacrifices in pursuit of freedom for the oppressed and his historic achievements to that end,” Frazier said.
Rep. Aaron Schock, the Republican congressman who was tapped by Speaker John Boehner to lead the delegation to South Africa, has also been met with social media heat for eulogizing Mandela as “the George Washington of our time.”
In response to the Illinois congressman’s tweet, Twitter user Mark Christopher said, “@aaronschock @NelsonMandela George Washington? He was a communist…. Not the devil, but GW?”
Perhaps the staunchest defense of praising Mandela came from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
On Friday, Gingrich wrote a scathing criticism of Mandela’s opponents among his fellow GOP members, and suggested that Tea Party types share Mandela’s values, even his violent resistance against apartheid.
“Some of the people who are most opposed to oppression from Washington attack Mandela when he was opposed to oppression in his own country,” Gingrich wrote.
The former Speaker of the House continued to speak out against Mandela critics, sighting examples of historic American leaders fighting against oppression, sometimes with force.
“As Americans we celebrate the farmers at Lexington and Concord who used force to oppose British tyranny,” Gingrich noted. “We praise George Washington for spending eight years in the field fighting the British Army’s dictatorial assault on our freedom.”
“Patrick Henry said, ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’” he added.
Republicans aren’t the only ones being met with criticism for honoring Nelson Mandela.
The White House posted a video to Facebook of the president speaking about the anti-apartheid leader’s passing, and quoted Obama saying, “He no longer belongs to us—he belongs to the ages.” The Facebook post received 4,085 likes, and 700 comments, many of which were critical of the president and his eulogizing of the South African leader.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 16:59:31 PM
(LONDON) -- From the moment she stepped into the public spotlight, singer Susan Boyle has been surprising people.
The shy middle-aged woman stunned the audience of Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 with her soaring vocals while performing the Les Mis song “I Dreamed a Dream.”
Since then, the 52-year-old Scottish singer has sold millions of albums, been nominated for two Grammy Awards, written an autobiography and become the subject of a hit musical and a possible biopic with Meryl Streep reportedly in talks to play her.
Now, she’s surprising the world once again with her response to learning that she has Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism.
“Now I have a clearer understanding of what’s wrong and I feel relieved and a bit more relaxed about myself,” she told British newspaper The Observer on Sunday. “I have always known that I have had an unfair label put upon me.”
That label – that she was “brain damaged” as a result of oxygen deprivation at birth – followed her through school, where she had difficulties learning and was mocked as “Susie Simple.”
Then, a year ago, she sought help from a Scottish specialist, who told her not only that she has Asperger’s, but an above-average IQ.
“I would say I have relationship difficulties, communicative difficulties, which lead to a lot of frustration. If people were a bit more patient, that would help,” she told the newspaper.
She added, “Asperger’s doesn’t define me. It’s a condition that I have to live with and work through, but I feel more relaxed about myself. People will have a much greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 16:19:06 PM
(HELENA, Mont.) -- Jury selection began Monday in the case of a Montana bride who is accused of pushing her husband off a cliff at Glacier National Park after an argument just eight days after their wedding.
Jordan Graham, 22, is fighting for her freedom as she prepares to go on trial for allegedly killing her husband, Cody Johnson.
Prosecutors allege that the couple had been married just eight days when Graham blindfolded her husband and pushed him face-first to his death.
In their legal briefs, Graham's attorneys admit her "story changed over time," but maintain Johnson's death was an accident.
The defense wrote in a federal court brief last week that despite expected testimony that Graham had gotten cold feet about the marriage, "witnesses thought the wedding was perfectly normal." The case is being tried in federal court because Johnson died in a national park.
"Videos and photographs from the wedding will show their affection," the defense wrote. "They look at each other and smile, but are both obviously nervous."
Prosecutors, however, plan to argue that Graham killed her new husband after she allegedly told a friend she was having doubts about her marriage.
In the days after Johnson was reported missing, Graham went to great lengths to "hide her crime from friends, family, and law enforcement," according to prosecutors, even allegedly sending herself emails from a fake account she created named "Tony."
When interviewed by authorities the following day, Graham claimed that she saw "a dark-colored car pulling out of the driveway" after receiving a text from her husband saying he was heading out with a friend from out of town, according to the affidavit.
Graham reported the discovery of Johnson's body to a park ranger on July 11, according to the affidavit. When the park ranger commented that it was unusual that she was the one to make the discovery, Graham allegedly said, "It was a place he wanted to see before he died."
Police had to use a helicopter to retrieve Johnson's body from the steep cliffs below the park's Loop Trail. His body was recovered on July 12.
U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy ruled on Friday that alleged statements Graham made about wanting to kill her mother and stepfather just weeks before her wedding would not be admissible at trial.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 16:04:15 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will speak Tuesday at a memorial honoring Nelson Mandela and will reflect on what “Mandela meant to the people of South Africa," and "to him personally,” according to Ben Rhodes, the president's Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.
“You’ve heard him speak in the past about Nelson Mandela and the impact he had on the president,” Rhodes told reporters aboard Air Force One.
“I think also, though, remembering the various different roles that Nelson Mandela played over the years. He obviously is cemented in our memory as an icon, but he was an extraordinary political leader, an extraordinary leader of a movement to bring about change,” Rhodes said.
President Obama did not begin working on the speech until after Mandela’s passing, according to Rhodes. “We waited until we had an indication from the South African government that he may speak, and then he has been working on it over the weekend. And I'm sure he'll continue to work on it on the plane,” Rhodes said.
Mandela, the former president of South Africa, celebrated for helping to end apartheid, died last Thursday evening at the age of 95.
More than 50 presidents, 15 prime ministers and nine royals, including kings, princes and queens, are expected attend the service. Hundreds of thousands of South Africans are also expected to attend.
Here's who you can expect to see at the service:
- President Barack Obama - United States of America
- Prince Charles - United Kingdom
- Prime Minister David Cameron - United Kingdom
- President Francois Hollande - France
- King Philippe - Belgium
- President Raul Castro Ruz - Cuba
- President Mamnoon Hussain - Pakistan
- Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz al-Saud - Saudi Arabia
- Prince Felipe de Borbon - Spain
- Princess Victoria - Sweden
- Prince Federick - Denmark
- Queen Rania al Abdullah - Jordan
- Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour - Jordan
- President Robert Mugabe - Zimbabwe
- Grand Duke Henri - Luxembourg
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 15:46:54 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will return to Jerusalem and Ramallah this week to try to rescue Israeli/Palestinian peace talks.
“In Jerusalem, Secretary Kerry will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss a range of issues including Iran and the ongoing final status negotiations with the Palestinians,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement. “In Ramallah, Secretary Kerry will meet with President Abbas, where he will also discuss the ongoing final status negotiations, among other issues.”
In meetings in the Middle East last week, Kerry and special envoy Gen. John Allen offered some specific ideas on security under a deal for Palestinian statehood. Kerry has set an aggressive goal of reaching a long-sought deal this spring.
The State Department also said Monday that Kerry will travel to Vietnam and the Philippines, visiting recovery efforts in Tacloban following last month’s devastating typhoon.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 15:37:26 PM
(NEW YORK) -- If you thought that gun makers might have suffered in the year following the Newtown massacre, you'd be wrong. Their business briefly plunged, but it has since rebounded now to levels higher than before Dec. 14 tragedy. And leading gun makers, sales, share price and profits are up.
At Freedom Group, makers of the Bushmaster rifle that was used in the Newtown shootings, net sales for the most recent quarter, which ended September 29, were a little over $347 million, up from $238 million a year before. Net income exceeded $31 million, up from $16 million the year before. Freedom Group is not a publicly traded company. Performance figures came from financial disclosures made pursuant to the trading of its debt.
The company's parent, Cerberus Capital Management, put Freedom up for sale in the days following the tragedy, saying in a statement that its prayers were with the families and communities impacted. "It is apparent," said the company, "that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level."
There was expectation at the time that new gun control legislation would emerge from Washington that would adversely affect the gun business. That expectation, plus the decision of some investors -- both institutional and individual 00 to dump gun company stocks led to a drop in share prices as dramatic as it was brief.
Smith & Wesson, which had been trading at around $10 a share before the shooting, plunged to a low $7.79 on December 18. But like the stocks of other gun manufacturers, it quickly recovered and has climbed since. It now stands at $12.30.
Sturm, Ruger & Co., whose shares fell briefly to $40, recently has touched $80. Its third-quarter sales of $171 million rose from $118 million a year before. Third-quarter earnings surged to $1.44 a share from 88 cents last year. The company in a statement attributes its 64 percent earnings increase to its 45 percent growth in sales.
Peter Zeuli, CFA, head portfolio manager at Philadelphia Investment Partners, tells ABC News he is surprised how well Ruger, Smith & Wesson and other gun makers have performed. Ruger's earnings he calls consistently strong. He used to own the company's shares, he says, but had sold the stock, in part on expectations that the Obama administration would push through new firearms restrictions. That has not happened.
Those same expectations have sparked a surge in buying by gun owners. During the first quarter of 2013, the FBI reports it saw a 46 percent in background checks for firearms purchases.
Randy Bateman, chief investment officer of the Huntington Asset Advisors in Columbus, Ohio, tells ABC News there's another explanation for gun makers' good times: Rural consumers have more money in their pockets. Farm incomes, he says, have risen in the past year. On top of that, hydraulic fracturing in farm states has brought in more money. That, he says, translates into increased sales by gun makes.
Cerberus has so far failed to find a buyer for Freedom Group. Someone familiar with the effort to sell Freedom says the problem is not the company's financial health, which he says is stronger than it was a year ago.
It's been a tough sale, he says, partly because Freedom Group (formerly Remington) is the biggest gun manufacturer, making it hard for a smaller competitor to swallow. On top of that, some public pension funds have decided they want to make a political and moral statement by divesting themselves of ownership of gun companies.
And finally, he acknowledges, there is an emotional dimension: the company's lingering association with a great tragedy. The mass shooting by a lone gunman left 20 first-graders and six educators dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 15:12:01 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- The porn industry has shut down for the third time this year after a fifth performer reportedly tested positive for HIV.
The Free Speech Coalition, an adult film industry trade group, announced on Dec. 6 its latest moratorium on filming.
"We are taking every precaution while we do research to determine if there's been any threat to the performer pool," Free Speech Coalition CEO Diane Duke said in a statement. "We take the health of our performers very seriously, and felt that it was better to err on the side of caution while we determine whether anyone else may have been exposed."
This comes more than a year after Los Angeles County voters passed a ballot initiative that made using condoms in porn mandatory. But the new rule was never enforced and eventually found to be unconstitutional.
In a "Frequently Asked Questions" blog post about the moratorium on filming, the coalition explained that performers underwent mandatory testing for sexually transmitted infections every two weeks. They prefer this to using condoms.
"Unfortunately, condoms aren't perfect," the blog reads. "They break. In the shoots that can take several hours, they can cause abrasions known as "condom rash," which, paradoxically, can make it easier to transmit an infection if one does break. For this and a host of other reasons, performers generally prefer to rely on the testing system over condoms."
Porn industry leaders have also said condoms were bad for business, leading to a decline in pornography sales.
As in previous HIV outbreaks, the industry is currently testing the performer's on- and off-screen sex partners to make sure that the virus hasn't spread. It expects to have results early this week, according to the Free Speech Coalition.
"The performers' health and safety is the most important thing," Duke said in a statement. Porn star Cameron Bay tested positive for HIV last August, prompting a six-day moratorium on filming.
On Aug. 28, the industry declared all performers who worked with Bay "tested and cleared," but on Sept. 4, Bay's boyfriend, porn actor Rod Daily, announced that he, too, tested positive for HIV.
Bay and Daily have since spoken out about unsafe industry practices.
"Ultimately, it's just a big industry, and their main concern is money," Daily said in a September news conference. "If they do care that much about the performers, they would use condoms."
On Sept. 6, a third actor, whose identity has been kept secret, tested positive for HIV, prompting the second industry shutdown.
The following week, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation -- the nonprofit behind the mandatory condom measure -- announced that a fourth HIV-positive porn actor came to it looking for information. The Free Speech Coalition said this was "a lie" created by the foundation to forward its agenda.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation president Michael Weinstein said at the time that performers were becoming afraid to work without condoms as a result of the outbreak. He said if they insisted on condoms, they'd probably be out of a job.
"We need to stop taking medical advice from pornographers," he told ABC News in September. "The bottom line is that when you're employed, when you go to work and get paid, then employment law applies. You can't dangle 30 stories above the street without a harness."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 14:34:32 PM
(NEW YORK) -- 'Tis the season for short-lived deals. Monday's is brought to you by Microsoft and Dell, which have teamed up to offer the Dell Venue Pro 8 for $99, down from its usual $299.
It's a deal for the 8-inch tablet that is powered by a Intel Atom processor and has the full version of Windows 8.1, but it's limited at that price. Only the first 20 people at Microsoft Stores Monday can get the $99 price. After that you can get it for $199.
The tablet sold out online for the $99 price early on Monday morning; it will remain online for $199 until the end of the day.
The promotion is the first planned for the next 12 days at Microsoft Stores. But the sale also calls attention to the demand for affordably priced Windows 8 devices. Most Windows 8 tablets are priced competitively for the laptop market since they are hybrid devices -- a tablet with a keyboard dock -- but few of them fall below $350. A large part of that is how Microsoft prices its Windows licenses, which tablet makers have to pay to load on the software.
"I think Microsoft has missed a big opportunity with the low need, but that is in line with them missing the boat on almost every major trend for the last few years," Patrick Moorhead, founder and principal analyst of Moorhead Insights, told ABC News. "They missed the boat on touch, they missed the boat on the 7-inch form factor -- which they finally do have -- and now they have been late with a low-priced offering."
Moorhead also points out that Windows devices -- tablets, laptops and phones -- have lost their higher-end luster because Microsoft fell behind Apple and Google in the mobile market. And that is ultimately what today's deal is about, he says.
"This is to get excitement going about not only Windows 8 tablet but also about the Microsoft Store before the holidays," Moorhead said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 14:30:17 PM
(JOHANNESBURG) -- Sunday was another day of prayer in South Africa for Nelson Mandela, with memorials continuing throughout the week before his funeral.
The nation is now preparing for Tuesday’s memorial service to honor the late South African president at the Johannesburg soccer stadium that hosted the 2010 World Cup. President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and close to 100 heads of state will be present at the service.
The stadium, on the edge of Soweto, holds 94,000 people and was the site of Mandela's first speech in Johannesburg after his release from prison in 1990.
From Dec. 11 to Dec. 13, Mandela's body will lie in state in Pretoria so that South Africans can pay their final respects.
Then, on Dec. 15, Mandela will be taken to his ancestral village of Qunu, where he'll be buried alongside three of his children who are deceased.
"We should all work together to organize the most befitting funeral for this outstanding son of our country and the father of our nation," South African President Jacob Zuma said in a public statement.
Meanwhile, Mandela’s family issued their first statement over the weekend since his death in Johannesburg last Thursday.
Through a spokesman, the family said that they are "humbled by the messages of condolences and support" received from governments and people all over the world.
Spokesman Lt. Gen. Themba Matanzima, a member of the Thembu clan to which the Mandelas belong, referred to the former South African president by his clan name, Madiba, saying that he "was not just a citizen of South Africa and the broader African continent, but a global citizen."
"The pillar of the royal Mandela household is no more with us physically," the Mandela family statement said, "but his spirit is still with us."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 14:02:19 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Are Americans losing their artificially-sweetened taste for soda? According to new research, sales of diet soda are falling faster than other types of soft drinks.
Wells Fargo says sales of zero- and low-calorie carbonated drinks are down 6.8 percent in the last year. For full-calorie sodas, the drop was 2.2 percent. It's the third year in a row diet sales have been slimming at a faster rate.
Part of the decline may be due to studies that have linked the sweeteners in diet soda to obesity.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 13:58:20 PM
(DALLAS) -- Incredible video was captured in Plano, Texas, of ice sheets flying off the roof of an apartment complex and onto parked cars.
“Holy freakin’ moly!” one woman shouted as she watched the avalanche of ice slide off her building.
Several cars were damaged, but no injuries were reported.
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With temperatures rising in Texas, residents have been warned to be extra vigilant around tall buildings where melting ice could fall to the ground.
After walloping Texas, the wintry weather moved on to the East Coast on Sunday, where it caused highway pileups and resulted in thousands of flights being canceled or delayed.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 13:50:12 PM
(SAN DIEGO) -- Bob Filner, former San Diego mayor and 10-term congressman, was sentenced Monday to three years probation and 90 days of home confinement for sexually assaulting three women.
The sentencing is part of a plea deal granted to Filner, 71, after he pleaded guilty in October to felony false imprisonment and two counts of misdemeanor battery. Filner is barred from seeking or holding public office during his probation. During his 90 days of home confinement, Filner will wear a GPS monitoring device.
In court Monday, Filner apologized for his crimes, saying he “hurt and offended” the women he assaulted.
“To all of you, I make the same promise that I made to my family to earn back your trust and my integrity no matter how long it takes and what I have to do. I’ve already started on that path and I’m grateful to all of those who are helping me,” Filner said.
Under the plea deal, Filner will also have to give up the mayor’s pension he received from the time of the first offense -- March 6 -- to the time he resigned from office in August. Under the terms of the deal, Filner admitted kissing or grabbing three women, but they were among 19 women who accused him of abusive behavior during his time as congressman and mayor.
Attorney Gloria Allred wanted a tougher sentence for Filner. “Though some may feel that Filner has paid the price for his betrayal of the public trust, I think that he is one lucky man,” she said at a press conference outside of the courthouse.
Filner also faces up to six months in prison if he violates his probation.
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Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 13:47:25 PM
(BANGKOK, Thailand) -- Thailand’s prime minister has dissolved parliament and called for new elections in response to a growing wave of protests.
"At this stage, when there are many people opposed to the government from many groups, the best way is to give back the power to the Thai people and hold an election," Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said, according to the BBC. "So the Thai people will decide."
More than 100,000 protesters flooded the streets of Bangkok on Monday, with more expected for a march to the Government House.
The opposition says protesters won’t leave until the country is run by a “people’s council.” Dissolving parliament and calling for elections isn’t enough, they contend; the protesters have been camped out for weeks, often fighting with police, and say they are not going anywhere.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 11:42:52 AM
(LONDONDERRY, N.H.) -- Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown has been spending quite a bit of time in New Hampshire testing the waters for a possible U.S. Senate run there next year, but the Granite State is also a place where presidential contenders frequent and Brown is again not ruling out a 2016 run.
“I don’t think I ever said I was thinking about running for president,” Brown told reporters at a stop in Londonderry, N.H., according to the Stoneham Patch. He then added, “I don’t think anything’s off the table at this point.”
Brown first floated the idea of a possible 2016 presidential bid in August, even stopping at the Iowa State Fair, a rite of passage for any presidential contender.
At the Iowa State Fair, he told supporters he was “exploring a possible run” and indicated to reporters that he’s interested in seeing how voters in Iowa feel about him.
“I’m going to be coming out more often to try to determine whether there’s an interest in my brand of leadership and Republicanism,” Brown told the Des Moines Register on that August trip.
When asked last week about his possible aspirations to rejoin the Senate, but this time from New Hampshire, Brown would only say in an email to ABC News, “Nothing has changed. I’m all set. Thanks for checking.”
In Londonderry, Brown slipped in a shot at his former rival, Elizabeth Warren who announced last week that she won’t run for president in 2016.
“Listen, you have to have a record first,” Brown said. “I think you actually have to go and pass legislation and have experience to be president. I think that’s critically important.”
Brown added, “That’s a personal decision she made.”
Brown lost to Warren last year by almost eight points.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 11:37:04 AM
(PHILADELPHIA) -- A 50-car pile-up in Pennsylvania Sunday left one driver dead and dozens of motorists stranded on the state turnpike for hours in the middle of a major snowstorm.
State police said late Sunday afternoon that the 50 cars that were involved in the accident had been pulled over to the shoulder and they estimated plow and salt trucks would be able to clear the area by evening.
According to ABC station WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, the motorist who died in the collisions was killed when he got out of the car and was hit by another car.
The accident occurred around 12:30 p.m. near Morgantown, Pa.
Bobbi Lupkin, 57, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., was on her way home around noon Sunday when traffic suddenly slowed to a stop, she told ABC News. (Lupkin is mother of ABCNews.com health reporter Sydney Lupkin.) More than four hours later, she was still sitting in her car with no way to get off the highway.
"The truth of the matter is nobody is doing a thing for us," she said.
A few of those stranded decided to take advantage of the opportunity.
Two brothers -- Josh Lobach, 21, and Andrew Lobach, 22 -- were hand-delivering pizza slices to hungry drivers, charging $5 a slice.
The brothers were returning to college in South Carolina, when they got caught in the traffic jam around 2 p.m. Since they were hungry, the brothers decided to order a pizza and after realizing how many other cars were stranded they ordered a little extra.
The brothers managed to get two pizzas delivered to the nearest overpass.
"It took some convincing," Andrew, a college sophomore, told ABC News.
When the brothers realized they had extra slices, they figured they could make a little extra money by selling slices to other stranded motorists. The brothers were so successful they ordered four more pizzas.
"We had a lot of thumbs up even when they weren't buying," Andrew said. The brothers also delivered water bottles to thirsty families for free.
In spite of the weather and traffic jam, Andrew said after nearly five hours of being stuck on the road, most motorists were in good spirits and staying warm by cycling their engines on and off.
Lupkin said some drivers were frustrated by the lack of information, but that other families had been making the most of it. Two girls from a nearby car took a break to play in the snow for half an hour.
Lupkin said she finally started to inch forward at around 5:45 p.m. When she passed the accident, she saw dozens of cars facing "every which way."
"If I was 15 minutes earlier, I would have been in the middle of that," she said. "I feel blessed. Sitting for five hours is one thing. To be in that mess...that's pretty scary. I feel very lucky."
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country, an icy roadway in Yonkers, N.Y., led to a 20-car pile up Sunday night that sent about 40 people to the hospital. No one was said to have had any life-threatening injuries.
Near Milwaukee, a 30-car crash injured dozens, shutting down Interstate 94. And in Greenwich, Conn., about 27 vehicles were involved in an accident that left six people injured.
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Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 11:36:43 AM
(NEW YORK) -- For years, Garth Brooks has refrained from touring because he wanted to be home for his three young daughters. Well, they're not so young anymore, and that means the star is finally free to go back out on the road.
"We're going on a world tour in 2014," Brooks unexpectedly told ABC's Robin Roberts on Monday's Good Morning America. "Our baby" -- that's Brooks' daughter Allie -- "is a senior in high school and we've talked about it. And all my babies are fine with it."
Referring to his wife, Trisha Yearwood, Brooks added, "And Ms. Yearwood is fine with it and so now I get to do what I love to do, which is play music. I get to be with the person I want to be with, which is Ms. Yearwood. And my children are off on their own."
Brooks may have hinted at a tour being in the works with an email in October that read, "The sevens have aligned. It has begun... Thank you for believing...love, g."
Sevens was the name of Brooks' 1997 album.
Brooks officially announced he was retiring from touring in 2000, though he has played select concerts since then, and has also performed a Las Vegas residency.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 11:28:17 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Mila Kunis took a walk down the aisle this past Saturday, but it wasn't with her boyfriend, Ashton Kutcher. The Ted star served as a bridesmaid for her brother Michael Kunis' wedding in St. Petersburg, Fla., with the Two and a Half Men star on hand to witness it, according to E! Online.
Michael, 36, tied the knot with ballet dancer Alexandra Blacker, 29, who trained Mila to play a ballerina in 2010’s Black Swan, People magazine reports.
A source tells People magazine Mila and Ashton's present to the newlyweds was a 10-day honeymoon in Australia.
Now that the 35-year-old Ashton's divorce from Demi Moore has been finalized, he reportedly hopes to tie the knot with Mila, 30.
A source tells E! Online, "Mila wore a gold band on her engagement ring finger but it didn't have a diamond, just a simple gold band similar to a wedding band," adding, "Mila was very happy for her brother and his wife. During the ceremony, she stood at the altar and seemed very focused on the vows."
The E! source went on to say, "Every once in a while, [Mila] would look out to Ashton and make eye contact with him." The source adds, "Ashton was very supportive of Mila and happy for the family. He was joking around with Mila's brother and they invited him to come and pose for family pictures with the bride and groom after the wedding."
"They rarely left each other's sides and were always holding hands and whispering to one another," the source went on. "Ashton let Mila do her thing but always was right there at her side. If she was busy, he knew lots of people to talk to and was having a great time with her parents and friends."
A business source close to Kutcher tells People, "Ashton and Mila have talked about getting married for quite a while."
The former That ‘70s Show co-stars have been dating since spring 2012.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 11:19:57 AM
(NEW YORK) -- If you're one of the reported 232 million active users who use Twitter to find news, follow celebrities or share life events with friends, you can add a new function to the list of reasons for staring at your mobile device: now you can make vacation plans, too.
Loews Hotels & Resorts recently became the first hotel company to book reservations via Twitter, but people are increasingly booking travel using their mobile devices.
By using the #BookLoews hashtag in a tweet to @Loews_Hotels expressing interest in a reservation, travelers will be prompted by a Loews Travel Planner to enter a secure chat conversation "to process personal and payment information in a PCI-compliant digital environment" that protects all credit card information, a spokesperson told ABC News.
"When it comes to reservations, we recognize that giving consumers the option of booking efficiently on a network where they are already engaging on a daily basis is going to set us apart and grow our consumer base in a meaningful way," said Piper Stevens, director of social media, Loews Hotels & Resorts.
The exchange goes something like this:
"Good morning! We're ready to assist you with Twitter Reservations – use #BookLoews to initiate a conversation," now announces the @Loews_Hotels Twitter handle each morning.
Then tweets such as "@loews_hotels #bookloews can I have a deal at miami beach for january 5, 2014? Thanks" or "@loews_hotels Looking to #bookloews in NYC. How do I go about doing this through Twitter?" trickle in throughout the day.
Since launching in mid-November, 176 inquiries have generated more than 90 bookings via Twitter, according to Loews Hotels & Resorts data. But the company expects that number to rise soon.
"The launch is very new," said, Sarah Murov, a spokesperson for Loews Hotels & Resorts. "As we move into 2014 we feel this form of booking will become even more popular."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 11:18:15 AM
(NEW YORK) -- The New England Patriots may still be riding high after their come-from-behind victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, but it came with a price. According to ESPN, tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a torn ACL and MCL and will miss the rest of the season.
Gronkowski suffered the injury during the third quarter after catching a pass from quarterback Tom Brady. He took a hit to his right knee from safety T.J. Ward and immediately fell to the ground.
"It was a decision I made just to make a tackle on a big man and unfortunately he got hurt, but if I would've hit up high, there's a chance I would get fined and all that other stuff. I'm just being safe," Ward said.
This is just the latest injury setback for the Pro Bowl tight end. He missed the first six games of the season as he recovered from offseason back and forearm surgery.
In seven games this season, the 24-year-old Gronkowski caught 39 passes for 592 yards and four touchdowns. Since his NFL debut back in 2010, Gronkowski has caught 42 touchdowns in 50 games.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 10:29:14 AM
(NEW YORK) -- The Rudy Gay era in Toronto lasted just 51 games as the Raptors have traded the forward to the Sacramento Kings in a seven-player deal.
According to ESPN, the Kings will send John Salmons, Grevis Vasquez, Patrick Paterson, and Chuck Hayes while the Raptors will send Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy.
The Raptors are moving on from Gay less then a year after they acquired him in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies.
This can be viewed as a salary dump for the Raptors as Gay is set to earn $20 million next season in the final year of his deal while three of the players acquired from the Kings will be free agents at season's end.
"Rudy is a prince of a guy," Raptors head coach Dwayne Casey said. "He's an athletic, dynamic wing player; gets to the basket at will; can shoot the ball; handle the ball. We were using him more in a drive situation, pick-and-roll situation. He was growing into that role, doing a better job because he can see over a defense."
In 18 games this season for the Raptors, Gay averaged 19.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 10:08:25 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- A coalition of eight technology companies including Google, Yahoo and Facebook have launched a campaign to reform government surveillance programs, pushing back on perceptions that these companies voluntarily hand over widespread access to users’ private data.
Launched on Monday morning, the website ReformGovernmentSurviellance.com, outlines several principles the companies are seeking.
“The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual -- rights that are enshrined in our Constitution,” the group wrote in a letter to President Obama and members of Congress. “This undermines the freedoms we all cherish.”
“It’s time for a change,” the group added.
The five principles include limiting government’s authority to collect user information, greater oversight over the process of requesting this information, increased transparency about government requests, allowing data to move across borders freely, and establishing a framework to prevent conflicts among governments.
Additional partners in the effort include AOL, Apple, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Twitter.
The CEOs of Google and Facebook have been particularly aggressive in pushing back against the perception that their companies have given the government a “back door” into the personal information of their users.
“Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information,” wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “The US government should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right.”
The tactical offensive on the part of these companies comes after revelations about the scope of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs have continued months after the most explosive ones were revealed in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Since then, Obama has said that he will move to reform parts of the NSA’s activities, even while insisting that the programs are operating within the law and by and large without abuses.
“NSA actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance, not reading people’s emails, not listening to their -- the contents of their phone calls,” Obama told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in an interview last week.
His statement on the subject has largely remained the same since the revelations first emerged.
“But I want everybody to be clear: The people at the NSA generally are looking out for the safety of the American people,” Obama continued. “They are not interested in reading your emails.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 09:39:39 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Meredith Baxter is a married woman.
The Family Ties star, 66, wed her girlfriend of seven years Nancy Locke on Sunday in Los Angeles, People magazine reports.
Baxter’s five children from previous relationships were in attendance at the intimate affair, while the couple exchanged vows.
The couple has been together since 2005.
Baxter came out as a lesbian in 2009, admitting she had difficulty connecting with men in her earlier marriages. This will be Baxter’s fourth marriage.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 09:32:58 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Florida State University's star quarterback Jameis Winston said his recently-dismissed sexual assault case has taught him that he needs to be "more mature."
Two days after prosecutors decided not to press charges against him in a sexual assault case, Winston threw three touchdown passes and ran for a score as Florida State stormed into the title game with a 45-7 victory over Duke Saturday night in the ACC championship game.
While basking in his team's undefeated season, the 19-year-old Heisman Trophy front-runner made his first comments regarding the sexual assault case.
When asked what he learned from the investigation, Winston told ESPN, "I learned I got to get more mature. I got to get better at everything I do."
Winston, who has been named the ACC's Player of the Year, said he was grateful for the support of head coach Jimbo Fisher during the investigation.
"I love him. I love him. That is how you have a successful team, that's how you do what we did today. We are trying to make history. We got to keep going," Winston said minutes after the game.
On the fourth question about the investigation, Winston was done talking. When ESPN asked Winston why he chose not to talk during the process, the quarterback turned his back and his media handlers whisked him away.
With the cloud removed from over Winston's head, the rookie quarterback can now focus on the team's most crucial point of the season. The undefeated Seminoles are on their way to the BCS National Championship game in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 6.
The Heisman Trophy ballots are due to be handed in on Monday and the award will be given on Dec. 14 in New York City.
The alleged rape took place in a Tallahassee apartment on Dec. 7, 2012, according to a heavily redacted police report. However, the case did not reach prosecutors until last month. Winston's attorney acknowledged his client had sex with his accuser, but insists it was consensual.
State Attorney Willie Meggs said Thursday there was not enough evidence to win a conviction against Winston, mostly because there were too many gaps in his accuser's story.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 09:18:52 AM
(NEW YORK) -- American Airlines and US Airways are set to sign merger documents on Monday, which would create the largest airline in the world.
The deal also means that American is emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The combined carrier will operate under the American Airlines name and will be based in Fort Worth, Texas, the headquarters of American. US Airways CEO Doug Parker will head the new company.
Consumer groups warn, however, that the merger will lead to higher prices, as it will leave four airlines in control of more than three-quarters of the air travel market in the U.S.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 07:40:26 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Although the vast majority of women who get married have children, the numbers of married women who remain childless has increased over the past quarter century.
An analysis by the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University reveals that 6 percent of married women ages 40 to 44 have no biological, adopted or stepchildren in their households, compared to 4.5 percent in 1988.
One of the reasons for the change can be attributed to more women concentrating on careers and putting off starting families until later in life. At that point, older women find it more difficult conceiving than their counterparts in their 20s and early 30s.
However, as Susan L. Brown, co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, explains, there's another factor accounting for fewer married women having children, namely the changing nature of the institution of marriage.
Brown says that unlike the past, marriage is becoming less associated with bringing up children and that by delaying parenthood, couples may make the conscious decision not to share their lives with kids.
It's possible, according to studies from the Pew Research Center and the journal Demography, that the job of child rearing is too demanding since parents are spending more time and money on children than past generations.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 05:28:38 AM
(BEIJING) -- North Korea confirmed a major shakeup Monday in top leadership with its purge of Kim Jong Un’s uncle, who was accused of drug abuse, improper relations with women and living a “capitalist lifestyle.”
The news comes just as the reclusive country’s neighbor, South Korea, announced on Sunday an expansion of its own Air Defense Identification Zone. Seoul’s new ADIZ now overlaps with airspace claimed by both Japan and China. Vice President Joe Biden “conferred,” according to a statement from the State Department, with South Korea on the expansion before the announcement. China has yet to respond.
In North Korea, the shakeup revolves around the ouster of Jang Song Thaek, seen by many as the second most powerful man in the country. His fall weaves a dramatic tale of family loyalties and the harsh nature of political survival in the secretive regime.
Jang is Kim’s uncle, married to Kim Kyong-hee, the only full sibling of former leader Kim Jong Il.
Jang has long served the government. But in 2004, Kim Jong Il, the current leader’s father, had him purged. Perhaps, because he started to establish himself as a liberal, willing -- even seeking -- to engage with those outside the border on a range of issues.
According to New Focus International, which tracks North Korea, Jang “attempted personal diplomacy with the outside world.” Still, he was later brought back into the fold to help groom Kim Jong Un for power.
In the two years since his father’s death, Kim Jong Un kept him close, installing him in powerful positions including on the Central Military Commission and the National Defense Commission. But like his father and grandfather before him, Kim Jong Un has spent his first two years as leader consolidating loyalties, getting rid of those who threaten him and their deputies.
On Sunday, Kim Jong Un presided over a special meeting of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee, which made Jang’s dismissal official.
State run news broadcast the accusations against him, saying Jang was “soaked with the capitalist lifestyle” and “led a dissolute and depraved life…had improper relations with several women…[and was] wined and dined at the back parlors of deluxe restaurants.” He was also accused of “acts of treachery” including involvement in selling of “precious resources” to China at cheap prices.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 05:17:56 AM
(VALENCIA, Calif.) -- A crowd estimated to be in the thousands paid their respects Sunday night for Fast and the Furious series star Paul Walker and his friend Roger Rodas, a week and a day after the pair were killed in a fiery car crash in Valencia, Calif.
Friends, fans, and family members flocked to the scene of the crash, and a parade of souped-up cars drove by the site to honor the actor and gearhead.
Walker, 40, performed many death-defying stunts behind the wheel in the Fast films, but was a passenger when Rodas, 38, lost control of the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT on Nov. 30.
Cops in Santa Clarita tweeted just before 1:30 p.m. that cars were "backed up for miles" near the "unofficial" memorial. The L.A. County Sheriff's Department tweeted a picture of a massive queue of fans, along with the caption, "There are more people than parking spaces at unofficial Paul Walker Memorial."
Rick Yune, one of Walker's co-stars in the original The Fast and the Furious in 2001, was among those mourners on hand.
"We mourn his loss, but maybe we can just remember how great a guy this guy was and celebrate his life," he said.
Speed was said to be a factor in the crash, but not street racing, according to investigators. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 05:13:21 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- Several of of the country’s biggest figures from film and music were recognized at the White House Sunday for their mark on the performing arts.
Actress Shirley MacLaine, along with musicians Carlos Santana, Billy Joel, Herbie Hancock and opera soprano Martina Arroyo each received achievement awards at the annual Kennedy Center Honors gala Sunday night. But first, President Obama welcomed them to the nation’s capital with a smaller reception in the executive residence.
“President Kennedy once said of such a great genius that ‘the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist, is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may.’ Now that’s easy to say when, as they do for these artists, the chips usually fall in your favor, whether at Woodstock or the Oscars or elite venues all over the world. But the fact is the diverse group of extraordinary individuals we honor today haven’t just proven themselves to be the best of the best,” Obama said. “Despite all their success, over fame they’ve remained true to themselves and inspired the rest of us to do the same.”
The president recounted each recipient’s contributions to his audience: Arroyo’s humble beginnings in Harlem redefined “what magnificent artists look like and where they come from;” jazz artist Hancock’s world tours as a UNESCO ambassador; Santana giving voice to a rising Latino community; Joel’s depictions of working class American struggles; MacLaine’s wide performance range from Alfred Hitchcock to Downton Abbey.
“Each of our brilliant honorees has given us something unique and enriched us beyond measure, as individuals and as a nation,” Obama said. “Together they bring us closer to President Kennedy’s vision of the arts as a great humanizing and truth telling experience. Their triumphs have lifted our spirits and lifted our nation, and left us a better, richer place.”
Obama’s humor was also on display Sunday night, commenting on 73-year-old Hancock’s “spooky Dorian Gray doesn’t get older thing,” and Santana’s lifestyle.
“Before Carlos Santana took the stage at Woodstock few people outside his hometown of San Francisco knew who he was, and the feeling was mutual: Carlos was in such a, shall we say, ‘altered state of mind,’ that he remembers almost nothing about the performance,” he joked.
The Kennedy Center Honors has no categories or competition, selecting recipients solely for lifetime contributions to entertainment culture.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 04:45:46 AM
(NEW YORK) -- The waitress and former Marine who has been accused of orchestrating a hoax by claiming a family left her a homophobic note instead of a tip is no longer working at the New Jersey restaurant where she'd claimed the incident occurred.
Dayna Morales made national headlines and received an outpouring of public support and at least $3,000 in donations after she claimed a family stiffed her and left her a note on the receipt reading, "Sorry, I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and the way you live your life."
But after an unidentified couple came forward days later with a customer receipt and bank statement to prove that they had in fact left Morales an $18 tip on top of the $93.55 check, former friends of Morales also came forward claiming she was a compulsive liar.
Following the allegations against Morales, her employer, the Gallop Asian Bistro, said on Saturday she no longer would work at the restaurant.
The restaurant posted a message on its Facebook page that read in part, "In light of the investigation and recent events, both Ms. Morales and Gallop Asian Bistro have made a joint decision that Ms. Morales will no longer continue her employment at our restaurant. We wish her well in the future."
After the couple came forward to show their receipt to prove they paid a tip, at least three duped donors had their money refunded via PayPal, according to the founder of the website that had first publicized the story and posts on the site.
Morales, 22, did not contact media directly with her story, but it soon went viral after it was picked up by a gay advocacy website, Have a Gay Day, which posted it on its Facebook wall.
"I am THOROUGHLY offended mad pissed off and hurt that THIS is what her kids will grow up learning and that I served in the Marines to keep ignorant people like them free," Morales posted, along with a picture of the receipt to Have a Gay Day on Nov. 13. "Sorry lady but I don't agree with YOUR lifestyle and the way you're raising your kids but you didn't see me throwing that in your face and giving you sh--y service. Keep your damn mouth shut and pray we never cross paths again."
The Founder of the Ohio-based website said on Friday he had received messages from at least three people saying they had received their donations back.
"It has been confirmed that refunds have been issued to people that gave to Dayna Morales and the story we posted last month that she sent about the note on the receipt where she was not tipped," Have a Gay Day founder Michael Knote wrote on the Facebook page. "We're not sure who is exactly issuing the refunds but we have had 4 different people send us info that they received paypal refunds this morning."
Knote, 30, told ABC News he feels betrayed by the whole episode, and a "responsibility to find the truth" because it was his site that initially posted Morales' story. He said the last time he spoke to Morales was a few days after the media had picked up the story, but he hasn't been able to reach her since then because she has since taken down her Facebook page.
"She thanked us and also she told us at that moment that media agencies were doing interviews and she was going to donate the money to Wounded Warriors," Knote said.
The Wounded Warrior Project, a group that supports injured military service members and their families, did not immediately respond to calls from ABC News. LGBTQ Nation reported that a spokesperson from Wounded Warriors said on Friday they had no records of any donations from Morales.
Shortly after the New Jersey couple emerged with their receipts, former friends and colleagues of Morales also came forward and claimed she is a pathological liar.
"She lied to me about having cancer and did a whole other mess of things she stayed at my house and lied to all my family and friends," Kiersten Lynn Bremer, 23, a former friend of Morales, wrote on Facebook.
Bremer says she met Morales two years ago when Morales was then engaged to her close friend, Teresa Rivera, and that Morales was dishonorably discharged from the Marines and lied about having oiliodendraglioma, an incurable form of brain cancer, among other things.
The U.S. Marine Corps did not immediately respond to calls from ABC News for comment. A Pentagon source told LGBTQ Nation on Friday that Morales had been given an administrative general discharge for failing to show up at required monthly reserve drills.
Knote said he felt "protective" of his online community and was disappointed that Morales was "dishonest," especially pulling a stunt like this "around the holidays."
Gallop Asian Bistro says they conducted an internal investigation into whether Morales forged the receipt by examining security surveillance footage and their computer records, but that the results were inconclusive.
"Despite news reports to the contrary, this is not a simple, straight-forward matter and we have conducted our own internal investigation," the restaurant wrote on its Facebook page Sunday. "In light of the investigation and recent events, both Ms. Morales and Gallop Asian Bistro have made a joint decision that Ms. Morales will no longer continue her employment at our restaurant. We wish her well in the future."
Knote said while some people posted on Facebook that they had received electronic donations back from PayPal, he had also received complaints from others who had sent their money in the mail or in person that had not received their donations back.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 04:24:39 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Frozen is heating up at the box office. Disney's animated hit reached number one in its second weekend of release, earning an estimated $31.6 million.
After two weekends on top, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire slipped to second place, collecting $27 million.
The new Christian Bale-Casey Affleck drama Out of the Furnace rounded out the top three, with a $5.3 million debut.
Here are the top 10 movies from Friday through Sunday, with estimated ticket sales, according to Rentrak:
1. Frozen, $31.6 million
2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, $27 million
3. Out of the Furnace, $5.3 million
4. Thor: The Dark World, $4.7 million
5. Delivery Man, $3.8 million
6. Homefront, $3.4 million
7. The Book Thief, $2.7 million
8. The Best Man Holiday, $2.7 million
9. Philomena, $2.3 million
10. Dallas Buyers Club, $1.5 million
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 04:14:00 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Kobe Bryant's return to action was dampened by Los Angeles' 106-94 home loss to Toronto on Sunday night. The 35-year-old made his season debut at the Staples Center after sitting out following a torn Achilles tendon in April.
Bryant had nine points and eight rebounds in his first game since the injury occured on April 12, but he also had eight turnovers.
"The biggest thing for me was just trying to take care of the basketball," said Bryant after the game, giving himself an "F" for his performance. "My rhythm is completely out of sync in terms of being able to read passing lanes and judge the timing of players in between those lanes and so forth."
The game marked the beginning of his 18th season in the NBA and the first under his new two-year, $48.5 million contract extension he signed in November. With the loss, the Lakers fell to 10-10 on the season. The team has lost two of their last three games.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/9/2013 03:44:11 AM
(NEW YORK) -- NFL: New York Jets 37 (6-7) - Oakland Raiders 27 (4-9)
Cincinnati Bengals 42 (9-4) - Indianapolis Colts 28 (8-5)
Green Bay Packers 22 (6-6-1) - Atlanta Falcons 21 (3-10)
New England Patriots 29 (10-3) - Cleveland Browns 26 (4-9)
Philadelphia Eagles 34 (8-5) - Detroit Lions 20 (7-6)
Miami Dolphins 34 (7-6) - Pittsburgh Steelers 28 (5-8)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 (4-9) - Buffalo Bills 6 (4-9)
Kansas City Chiefs 45 (10-3) - Washington Redskins 10 (3-10)
Baltimore Ravens 29 (7-6) - Minnesota Vikings 26 (3-9-1)
Denver Broncos 51 (11-2) - Tennessee Titans 28 (5-8)
Arizona Cardinals 30 (8-5) - St. Louis Rams 10 (5-8)
San Diego Chargers 37 (6-7) - New York Giants 14 (5-8)
San Francisco 49ers 19 (9-4) - Seattle Seahawks 17 (11-2)
New Orleans Saints 31 (10-3) - Carolina Panthers 13 (9-4)
NBA: Boston Celtics 114 (10-12) - New York Knicks 73 (5-14)
Miami Heat 110 (15-5) - Detroit Pistons 95 (10-10)
Oklahoma City Thunder 118 (15-4) - Indiana Pacers 94 (18-3)
Houston Rockets 98 (15-7) - Orlando Magic 88 (6-14)
Toronto Raptors 106 (7-12) - Los Angeles Lakers 94 (10-10)
NHL: Minnesota Wild 3 (18-9-5, 41 pts) - San Jose Sharks 1 (19-6-5, 43 pts)
Washington Capitals 4 (16-12-2, 34 pts) - New York Rangers 1 (15-15-1, 31 pts)
Boston Bruins 5 (20-8-2, 42 pts) - Toronto Maple Leafs 2 (16-12-3, 35 pts)
Chicago Blackhawks 6 (21-6-5, 47 pts) - Florida Panthers 2 (9-17-5, 23 pts)
Vancouver Canucks 3 (17-10-5, 39 pts) - Avalanche 1 (20-8-0, 40 pts)
NCAAB: (13) Oregon 115 (8-0) - Ole Miss 105 (6-2)
(24) San Diego State 70 (7-1) - Washington 63 (4-4)
Golf: Zach Johnson ralled from four shots down with eight holes to play and defeated Tiger Woods in a playoff to win the World Challenge.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 20:11:00 PM
(BALTIMORE) -- A little bit of snow was not going to stop these two teams.
Marlon Brown hauled in a touchdown pass from Joe Flacco with four seconds remaining as the Baltimore Ravens rallied to defeat the Minnesota Vikings 29-26 on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
Baltimore took a 15-12 lead with 2:05 remaining. It was the first of five combined touchdowns by both teams in the final two minutes. Matt Cassel hit Vikings rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson for a 79-yard touchdown with 45 seconds remaining, before the defending Super Bowl answered one final time.
"I've never seen a game like that before," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "Besides the Super Bowl, that's probably the most special win I've been a part of. Crazy game."
The Ravens (7-6) have won three-straight and currently hold the second and final wild-card spot in the AFC playoff picture.
Minnesota (3-9-1) lost running back Adrian Peterson to a sprained left foot in the second quarter. He had to be carted off the field through the snow and sleet.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 19:34:00 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Earlier this year, Zoe Saldana pulled off something hard to do in Hollywood: get married in secret. Yet, the Out of the Furnace star says that after months of being married to Italian artist Marco Perego, she's still not talking about her marriage.
"I love what I do so much, but I love my [personal] life more," the 35-year-old actress told Ocean Drive magazine. "And I realized throughout the years of being in this business that the only way to maintain some kind of sanity is to protect that which is most dear to you, which is your life and everyone that’s in it."
Saldana added that staying private about her love life "provides a sanity that gives me the ability to be insane by playing other people and living in other bodies for a long period of time, and then coming back home and knowing that my roots are so grounded that it’s easy for me to go back to being myself. The only way I can continue having that is by absolutely avoiding the questions that are asked."
The Star Trek actress reportedly tied the knot with Perego in June.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 16:48:47 PM
(NEW YORK) -- After her brother posted a photograph of his injured face, Paris Hilton had some unpleasant words for Lindsay Lohan on Instagram.
The New York Daily News reported that Barron Hilton, the brother of Paris and Nicky Hilton, posted a photograph of his blooded face. He claimed that the injuries were caused by an attack that Lohan had ordered against him.
According to TMZ, a police report filed by Barron Hilton claimed that Lohan approached him prior to the attack, saying "You talk s**t about me to my boyfriend, this is what you get."
Paris later wrote on Instagram that "They both will pay for what they did. No one f***s with my family and gets away with it!!" She also retweeted a post from her sister Nicky on Twitter, which read "Bad things happen when you hang out with bad people."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 16:00:29 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Cold weather continues to stretch across most of the east coast, covering a number of major cities in snow and ice and causing travel delays and car accidents.
More than 2,000 passengers were stranded overnight at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Philadelphia International Airport was under a ground stop on Sunday afternoon. Delays and cancellations were reported from Salt Lake City to New York.
ABC's affiliate in Milwaukee, WISN, reported that a 30-car pileup was caused by quickly falling snow and icy conditions. More accidents have been reported in a number of state due to the icy cold weather.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 15:01:58 PM
(NEW YORK) -- A new hepatitis drug that can be taken in pill form once per day was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday.
The drug is called Sovaldi and is meant to be taken with other existing drugs to treat the main forms of hepatitis C. The new drug works faster and is much simpler to take, HealthDay News says.
About 3.2 million Americans suffer from hepatitis C, which can destroy the liver if left untreated. HealthDay News says that people born between 1945 and 1965 are five times as likely to have hepatitis C.
Current treatments involve weekly injections and can take a year to gain significant ground on the virus. Sovaldi -- when combined with the current treatments -- cured close to 90 percent of patients in just 12 weeks. Current methods alone cure about 75 percent of patients.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 14:13:13 PM
(NEW YORK) -- When asked if Nelson Mandela was a ruthless politician, his former pollster and campaign strategist Stan Greenberg said, “Absolutely.”
“He had clear goals. And one of the things that ran through was the desire to make sure there was racially inclusive politics,” said Greenberg, who served as a pollster and strategist for Mandela’s 1994 campaign for president of South Africa. “And he wanted to use the election to send a message about this was going to be inclusive country.”
On This Week Sunday, Greenberg said the former South African president and anti-apartheid leader would spend hours looking through polling data and attending focus groups. “He thought there had to be a popular sensibility,” said Greenberg, who also served as President Clinton’s pollster during his election campaigns.
Even after his presidency, Mandela, who passed away Thursday at the age of 95, maintained his status as a world leader by developing close relationships with politicians from across the globe, including several U.S. presidents.
Former New York Times South Africa bureau chief Bill Keller said it came as no surprise that Mandela developed a particular bond with President Bill Clinton, because of their love of retail politics.
“One of the things that Mandela had was the joy in the robust give and take of politics,” Keller said. “The schmoozing, the deal-making, stage-craft, the theater.”
According to Keller, Mandela was a pragmatist, willing to modify his stance, alter his rhetoric and compromise to achieve his ultimate goals.
“In the course of his life, he was a communist for a while, he was a capitalist, he was an advocate of non-violence, he was an advocate of armed struggle,” Keller said. “He was whatever it took, but he never lost sight of the man goal, which was a South Africa that was run by south Africans… He knew the difference between strategy and tactics.”
One of Mandela’s strategies, the This Week panel agreed, was to educate. Human rights attorney and long-time Mandela friend and supporter Dr. Gay McDougall described Mandela’s role as a professor to the other political prisoners incarcerated during the anti-apartheid movement.
“They often talk about the ‘University of Robben Island,’” McDougall said, referring to the infamous prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years behind bars. “They spent their time studying political developments around the world, deciding who as a political party and as activists they wanted to be… So that when they finally emerged from that prison they knew exactly the road that they wanted to travel.”
“I think that he came out of jail knowing his place in history,” McDougal added. “He led that nation through a tumultuous run-up to the elections, knowing where he was going and being a very steady hand and voice of reason through what was a very turbulent time in the run-up to the election.”
Keller, who also wrote Mandela’s biography, credited his restraint, and his “surplus of discipline.”
“He was the most disciplined politician I have ever seen,” Keller said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 13:08:43 PM
(NEW YORK) -- President Obama praised "the first fully multilateral trade agreement in the 20-year history of the World Trade Organization" on Sunday.
The deal simplified customs procedures and eased barriers to trade for all 159 of the WTO's members countries.
Obama added that the deal will "eliminate red tape and bureaucratic delay for goods shipped around the globe." Small businesses, he said would benefit greatly under the new rules as they "encounter the greatest difficulties in navigating the current system."
"The WTO's Bali agreement also represents the rejuvenation of the multilateral trading system that supports millions of American jobs and offers a forum for the robust enforcement of America's trade rights," Obama said, thanking the WTO Director General and the other WTO members for their work on the deal.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 12:47:18 PM
(KIEV, Ukraine) -- After weeks of anti-government protests in Ukraine, demonstrators toppled a statue of Vladimir Lenin on Sunday.
In central Kiev, protestors are speaking out against Ukranian president Viktor Yanukovych's decision to reject a trade deal with the European Union. Rejecting the deal would mean closer ties between Ukraine and Russia.
The pro-EU protestors have given Yanukovych 48 hours to dismiss the government, the BBC reports, and have set up barricades outside the Prime Minister's office.
Hundreds of thousands of protestors remained in the streets of the capital on Sunday.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 11:53:59 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Bernie Madoff, in prison for operating a multibillion dollar Ponzi scheme told the Wall Street Journal that inmates and prison guards constantly ask him for investment advice.
In fact, the prisoners wanted Madoff to teach a course on how to invest, but the prison would not allow that. Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence connected to the decades of fraud he perpetrated against investors.
The 75-year-old Madoff also told the Journal that he felt "trapped" into his Ponzi scheme and "always thought he would be able to get himself out of it."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 11:09:40 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Many political observers divide the nation into red states and blue states, but a new study focuses on an entirely different measurement and ranks the 50 states based on how frequently their residents curse.
A study by the technology company The Marchex Institute shows that of all Americans, Ohioans curse the most, at least when they’re on the phone. Maryland took a close second, followed by New Jersey, Louisiana, and Illinois.
Researchers scanned for the frequency of F-bombs and other popular curse words in more than 600,000 phone conversations over one year, and found that Ohioans swore around once every 150 conversations.
The calls had been placed by consumers to businesses such as cable companies, auto dealerships and pest control centers.
Folks in Washington state are least likely to curse on the phone, followed by residents of Massachusetts, Arizona, Texas, and Virginia.
Ohio also landed in the top 5 “Least Courteous” category, based on the number of times Ohioans said “please” and “thank you” during customer service calls.
The South takes the lead when it comes to saying “please” and “thank you.” The top 5 “Most Courteous” states are South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Louisiana, and Georgia.
The researchers also found that as a nation, two-thirds of curses over the phone come from men, and cursing is most likely to occur in phone conversations lasting more than ten minutes. The study also reveals that many people do not like mornings; morning calls are twice as likely to involve swearing as calls in the afternoon or evening.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 10:32:32 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- America reached a diplomatic landmark in the form of a nuclear agreement with Iran, but the details are still a bit hazy.
Case in point: it’s unclear when the deal will actually take effect, and teams of experts will meet in Vienna on Monday to figure that out.
The United States and world powers touted a six-month freeze in Iran’s nuclear program, in exchange for rolled-back sanctions over that same timeframe. The goal was to create six months of leeway to reach a comprehensive deal that would end Iran’s progress toward weapons-grade uranium and assure the world that its nuclear program is peaceful.
But that six-month clock hasn’t yet started ticking, and the U.S. State Department hasn’t indicated when it might.
The agreement, finalized on Nov. 24 in Geneva, called for a team of experts from Iran and the world powers with which it negotiated — the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, China, Russia and the European Union — to figure out the implementation later.
For instance, Iran agreed to enhanced monitoring from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and to provide more schematics and maps of its nuclear facilities, but it was left unclear where specifically inspectors will be allowed to go and how often. Also unclear was what those documents must specifically contain. The four-page deal inked in Geneva provides the general requirements, but another phase of negotiation will soon unfold over the technicalities.
In Vienna on Monday, technical experts from Iran, the U.S., and the other world powers will meet for the first time to discuss how to implement the specific requirements of the Geneva deal, a State Department official said. Higher-level talks will almost certainly follow.
The State Department has declined to predict when those negotiations will be finished, so it remains unclear when the “first step” will take effect — and when the six-month countdown will begin.
In the meantime, Iran has yet to submit to additional nuclear monitoring, and the U.S. and world powers have yet to roll back sanctions.
The State Department has continued its sales pitch to skeptical members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats alike — who want to buck the administration and seek to enact new sanctions on their own, possibly over President Obama’s veto. Doing so would likely invalidate the deal with Iran, which calls for no new oil sanctions over the six-month timeframe.
In hammering out a comprehensive deal, international negotiators will likely need all the time they can get.
“Getting to a comprehensive agreement will be very, very difficult,” U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, a key player in the Iran talks, told the PBS NewsHour this week.
The interim deal could last even longer: Unmentioned by foreign leaders when they announced it, written into the agreement is a provision that, at the end of the six months, both sides can renew the “first step” agreement if they see fit. Technically, the preliminary nuclear deal could last a year.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 09:41:01 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Kelly Clarkson doesn’t know the gender of her baby yet, but she has a name picked out that will work either way.
“You won’t guess it,” she told Ellen DeGeneres. “[But] it’s not like, some weird famous person, that’s gonna be like, ‘Blue Jazz!’”
Last month, Clarkson, 31, announced that she and her husband, Brandon Blackstock, are expecting their first child, and unfortunately for the American Idol winner, it’s been a rough 11 weeks.
“I vomit a good dozen times a day,” she said. “I vomited before coming out here! … It’s, like, so gross.”
“You’re not attractive when you’re pregnant. Everybody tells you [that] you glow and your hair is pretty and your nails are pretty. That is total crap,” she continued. “My nails are short, my hair still falls out — it’s not all lush and beautiful — and I have no glow. Unless it’s, like, something left over from a bad throw up. It’s horrible.”
In spite of her illness, Clarkson insists that she’s thrilled to become a mother.
“I’m so happy I’m pregnant,” she said. “I just wish he or she would stop trying to kill me.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 09:27:41 AM
(DALLAS) -- They were set to depart on one of the world’s longest non-stop flights, from Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, to Brisbane, Australia. Instead, passengers spent the longest night of their lives sleeping on a plane grounded by the weather.
Passengers on board Qantas flight QF8 were set to depart on Friday at 10 p.m., but because of weather conditions, the plane was forced to return to the terminal and park at the gate.
“The passengers were given the option to stay on the plane or to go around the terminal,” Qantas spokeswoman Sharna Rhys-Jones said in a statement. “Due to the congestion at the airport from other cancellations, many passengers chose to stay on board.”
Black ice affecting the roads surrounding the airport meant that authorities couldn’t transport passengers to the hotel rooms they had organized for everyone after the flight was cancelled.
Passengers were provided with blankets as well as catering and entertainment such as movies while they camped out on the Being 747, airport officials said.
“Qantas was able to obtain hotel rooms, but not transportation for its passengers,” airport spokesman David Magana said. “They offered to the passengers the option to stay on the plane if that was more comfortable for them. Doors remained opened, passengers could get in and out as they wished.”
Many passengers did go back and forth between the plane and terminal, according to a tweet from DFW Airport, and were able to go to the hotel once the roads reopened.
The airport also tweeted this afternoon that about 400 departures had been cancelled on Saturday. It said it is prepared for the coming ice storms with “de-icing equipment and top-of-the-line snow plows.”
The roughly 17-hour flight from Dallas to Brisbane was rescheduled for 11 p.m. Saturday.
As of Sunday morning, three runways were cleared and made operational. The number of passengers in the terminal was down from 3,000 to about 2,076. Still, about 400 more flights were cancelled for Sunday.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 09:11:38 AM
(CLEVELAND) -- The Los Angeles Clippers (13-8) still have high expectations this season, but fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers 88-82 on Saturday for their third loss in four games.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers called the team out after the loss and said they have to work on maturing if the team is going to be in contention in April.
"We did a lot of pouting in the game," Rivers said Saturday. "You can't play that way. You have to keep playing. I always call them emotional hijacks, and we had a lot of that going on. That happens, but you have to be able to pull yourself out of it individually or as a group, and I don't think we did a good job of that."
Rivers said the team has to focus more on the game rather than the score.
"When we become a good team, if we become a good team, it will be because we miss 30 shots in a row and you wouldn't know it," Rivers said. "We just keep playing. You get some bad calls on you and you just keep playing. Right now we're not at that point maturity-wise. When we go bad, we start thinking bad. That's an area we have to grow in. …You can preach it but it's a habit and you have to get over it. There's been times where we've fought it and did good job, and this is one of those nights where we didn't."
The Clippers are currently sitting in fourth in the Western Conference.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/8/2013 08:30:00 AM