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(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs to their payrolls in February, exceeding expectations, the Labor Department reported Friday morning.
Most economists had expected to see around 145,000 jobs added last month.
The unemployment rate, meanwhile, ticked up slightly from 6.6 percent to 6.7 percent.
The Labor Department on Friday also revised its numbers for December and January to show that 25,000 more jobs were added during those months.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/7/2014 08:34:26 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, trying to appeal to conservative activists. He even walked out holding a rifle, getting a cheer from the crowd, before giving it to Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
McConnell is in the middle of a primary fight against businessman Matt Bevin and the CPAC crowd is one he is trying to woo. His campaign is out Friday with a new radio ad attacking not only Bevin, but also declaring war on the Senate Conservatives Fund, an outside group working to unseat some Republican incumbents, including McConnell.
ABC News got a sneak peak of the ad, titled “Absurd,” which will run for the next two weeks, and the campaign says it has an ad buy in the “upper five figures.”
“Matt Bevin and out-of-state special interest groups are attacking Mitch McConnell,” the narrator says. “Nothing new. But can you believe them? PolitFact, a non-partisan fact-checker, says Bevin’s attacks on McConnell are quote ‘absurd…the claim is not only wrong, but ridiculous…Endquote.”
The one-minute ad then mentions Bevin’s resume exaggerations, first reported in The Hill last year, before going after the Senate Conservative Fund.
“Bevin’s allies at the so-called Senate Conservatives Fund are also attacking,” the narrator reads. “The media say their ads are quote ‘misleading’ and ‘erroneously cited.’”
The ad then digs into fund officials, saying they “solicit money from people under the guise of advocating for conservative principles,” but then spend that cash on renovating headquarters in Washington, D.C, calling it a “1.4 million dollar luxury townhouse,” something the Senate Conservative Fund says is an exaggeration.
“So the attacks on McConnell? -- absurd, wrong, and ridiculous,” the narrator says, before McConnell’s voice comes on to approve the message.
In a statement, McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore again hit the Senate Conservative Fund, saying, “Perhaps if SCF had spent less of their donor’s money on their luxury town home with interior decorators, hot tub and wine room they could have better vetted candidates like Matt Bevin who lied about attending MIT, accepted government bailouts and flip-flipped on supporting TARP.”
The Senate Conservative Fund is an outside grassroots group that is not affiliated with the Republican Party or its campaign committees, but is promoting conservative candidates and working to unseat some GOP incumbents. They have already put more than $1 million in the Kentucky race, backing Bevin.
The group has been hammering McConnell, coming out with radio ads and a Web ad last month that had $100,000 behind it and drew parallels between the Kentucky Republican and last year’s Internal Revenue Service scandal, in which tea party and conservative groups were given extra scrutiny on their tax-exempt applications, saying he too is “bullying” conservatives.
Matt Hoskins, the group’s executive director, said in a statement responding to the new radio ad, “Mitch McConnell is clearly in trouble in this primary or he wouldn’t be attacking Matt Bevin and declaring war on conservatives.”
“Mitch McConnell isn’t upset because SCF rents a townhouse for office space; he’s upset because we’re spending money on radio and TV ads that expose his record of voting for bailouts, more debt, higher taxes, and Obamacare funding,” Hoskins said. “Matt Bevin is different. He’s a businessman, not a politician, and he will fight to stop the spending and debt that are bankrupting our country. Mitch McConnell has been in Washington for thirty years and it’s time for a change.”
Polls still show McConnell with a wide advantage over Bevin, but whoever wins the primary will go on to face Democratic candidate Kentucky Secretary State Alison Lundergan Grimes, and those polls are much tighter, with some showing Grimes leading.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/7/2014 07:39:41 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Companies that were once the darlings of malls and shoppers recently have made headlines for financial struggles.
Some were hit by changing consumer tastes and technological changes, while others have cited a tough winter for store traffic.
Here are seven companies that are either closing locations or reported to be struggling financially:
Sbarro LLC, the pizza fast-food chain, is considering bankruptcy protection, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. Citing unnamed sources, the Journal said Sbarro has about $140 million in debt. Last month, the chain said it was closing 155 of its 400 restaurants in North America to cut costs. A spokesman for Sbarro said the company “cannot comment on market rumor or speculation. But during the past nine months, our new management team and its advisers have been thoroughly evaluating the business. We are making significant progress. Sbarro continues to be a strong brand with a bright future.”
Barnes and Noble
Other book stores would shudder at news of a Barnes and Noble store opening nearby during the chain's 1990s heyday. Eventually, competitors such as Borders fell to the wayside -- but Barnes and Noble has had its struggles, as well, despite remaining on top. The Motley Fool has reported that the company may have over-invested in its Nook e-books but failed to compete effectively with Amazon's Kindle when the mega online retailer introduced its own tablets. Barnes and Noble made a $63 million profit last quarter after reporting a loss previously, so things appear to be improving at the book chain. The company still has a sizable number of stores: 700, in all 50 states, according to the company website.
Back in December, Blackberry announced that it lost $4.4 billion in its third quarter, and bruising competition drove restructuring at the company. Though it no longer may be the corporate smartphone maker of choice, the Canadian company could be experiencing a turnaround under CEO John Chen since November, as Blackberry stock has risen more than 50 percent. Chen said he hopes to focus on Blackberry's devices, server business and Blackberry Messenger, its chat service.
On March 6, Staples announced it would close 225 stores of its 1,846 locations in North America. As part of the announcement, the company said almost half of its sales are made online. The company may save about $500 million in its cost-cutting efforts. The company, based in Framingham, Mass., began in 1985.
Quiznos may be considering filing for bankruptcy, according to a report last week by the Wall Street Journal. Citing unnamed sources, the Journal said the sandwich chain may be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy within weeks, and is saddled with $570 million in debt. The chain has closed thousands of Quiznos franchisee locations in the last few years. It has about 2,100 locations, according to the Journal. That's compared to Subway's 41,391 restaurants in 104 countries, according to Subway's website.
On Tuesday, RadioShack announced it was closing 1,100 stores, leaving the company with 4,000 locations. RadioShack reported a quarterly loss of $191.4 million for the three months that ended Dec. 31. The company has revamped its image from a place to buy electronics to a wireless provider. "Our fourth quarter financial results were driven by a holiday season characterized by lower store traffic, intense promotional activity particularly in consumer electronics, a very soft mobility marketplace and a few operational issues," said CEO Joseph C. Magnacca in a statement.
After closing hundreds of stores over the last few years, Sears Holdings Corp. reported a $358 million loss in its fourth quarter, the company said last week. Sears Holdings owns its namesake Sears department stores and Kmart.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/7/2014 07:01:59 AM
(BEIJING) -- Hundreds of IBM workers in China are on strike this week, protesting the sale of the U.S. tech giant's plant in Shenzhen.
Protesters at the plant, which is slated to be sold to the Chinese firm Lenovo, say the severance package being offered is unfair and insufficient, and are concerned that wages may drop if they stay.
Lenovo is buying IBM's low-end server business in a $2.3 billion deal. If approved, Lenovo could better compete with other U.S. firms, like Dell and Hewlwett-Packard.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/7/2014 06:45:19 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Here’s a look at the new movies opening nationwide Friday:
-- Mr. Peabody & Sherman: The super-intelligent dog Mr. Peabody and his young human pal, Sherman -- originally introduced in the 1960s Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon -- are back for more historical adventures. Mr. Peabody has to rescue Sherman and a girl named Penny after they rip a hole in the universe by using the time-traveling WABAC machine. Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Patrick Warburton, Stanley Tucci, Allison Janney and Lake Bell lend their voices to the film, which is screening in 3D. Rated PG. [Click here to read a review]
-- 300: Rise of an Empire: In the follow-up to Gerard Butler’s 2007 hit film 300, the Greek general Themistokles goes to battle against Persian forces, which are led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes and navy commander Artemesia. Butler does not appear in the movie, which is screening in 3D. Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green and Lena Headey star. Rated R. [Click here to read a review]
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/7/2014 05:36:02 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Support for the Keystone XL pipeline reached a two-year high in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, with the public overwhelmingly saying it would create jobs, while dividing on its potential environmental impact.
Two-thirds favor government approval of the 1,700-mile, $5.4 billion pipeline to move oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, up 6 points from 2012, vs. two in 10 opposed. Eighty-five percent think it would create jobs, with 62 percent feeling that way strongly -- up 11 percentage points.
Views that the pipeline would create a significant number of jobs far outstrip concerns that it poses a sizable environmental risk – an opinion nonetheless held by 47 percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Notably, among those who see a risk, 45 percent support the pipeline anyway, apparently persuaded by the perceived jobs benefit.
Strong belief that the pipeline will create jobs is up in particular, by 13 to 20 points, among men, political independents, nonwhites and Americans living in the Midwest and the South, regions through which the pipeline would pass.
Opinions about Keystone’s potential effects factor into support for it: Among those who strongly feel that it will create more jobs, 83 percent think it should be approved. Support plummets to 27 percent among those who feel strongly that it poses risks to the environment. (It’s far higher, 67 percent, among those who see an environmental risk, but don’t feel strongly about it.)
A State Department report in January concluded that oil would be produced and transported to the market regardless of Keystone, contrary to suggestions that it would add to the release of greenhouse gases. In addition to jobs, supporters have argued that the pipeline would reduce dependence on oil from less reliable or less friendly sources.
GROUPS – Partisan and ideological divisions are at play, with support for approving the pipeline peaking among Republicans at 82 percent, vs. 65 percent among independents and 51 percent of Democrats. Ideological patterns are similar, with support ranging from 75 percent of conservatives to 46 percent of liberals. Similarly, expectations that it would create jobs are higher among Republicans and conservatives, while Democrats and liberals are more likely to see significant environmental risks.
Regionally, the pipeline is supported by 71 percent in the Midwest and the South alike, vs. 60 and 56 percent, respectively, in the Northeast and West. Perceptions that it would create jobs peak among Southerners, while fewer in the Midwest and South see environmental risks.
Among other groups, the pipeline gets more support from suburban and rural Americans than from urbanites, from older compared with younger adults and from men vs. women.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/7/2014 05:09:24 AM
(BOSTON) -- Massachusetts lawmakers wasted literally no time at all to respond forcefully to a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that a man did not violate state law by taking pictures up women's skirts on a public transit system.
The case against Michael Robertson was dismissed Wednesday due to a loophole since none of the women he secretly photographed were nude or partially nude, the specific provision that makes upskirting a crime in the state.
However, with the public furious that Robertson got to walk away without punishment, both the Massachusetts House and Senate approved a bill Thursday banning the practice known as "upskirting." Gov. Deval Patrick has promised to sign it into law, making taking these photos a misdemeanor and distributing them a felony.
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said in a statement, "We are sending a message that to take a photo or video of a woman under her clothing is morally reprehensible and, in Massachusetts, we will put you in jail for doing it."
Since Robertson's case was thrown out before the new law is enacted, he still gets off Scott-free. He was caught in the act by undercover cops snapping photos of women under their skirts while riding the Boston public transit in 2010.
The high court overruled a lower court decision that Robertson could not seek to have the charges dismissed based on the current law.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/7/2014 05:08:46 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- The Army’s top prosecutor in charge of sexual assault cases has been suspended from his position because he is under investigation for allegedly groping and assaulting a female lawyer on his staff.
The news came on the same day that the Senate voted down a controversial proposal that would have removed the military chain of command from referring sexual assault cases for prosecution to specially trained military prosecutors.
A defense official confirmed that Lt. Col. Joseph “Jay” Morse has been suspended from his post as the chief of the Army’s Trial Counsel Assistance Program, which supervises a team of Army attorneys who prosecute sexual assault cases.
Morse was suspended because he is being investigated by the Army’s Criminal Investigative Command for allegations that two years ago he groped and assaulted a female lawyer on his staff.
The military newspaper Stars and Stripes was first to report the Morse investigation and his suspension from his post.
A Defense official confirmed Stars and Stripes’ account that Morse allegedly attempted to kiss and grope the female Army lawyer against her will while both were attending a sexual assault legal conference in Alexandria, Va. The alleged attack took place in 2011 before Morse took over the Trial Counsel Assistance Program.
Army spokesman Col. Dave Patterson said in a statement to ABC News, ”We can confirm that this matter is currently under investigation and the individual in question has been suspended from duties pending the outcome of the investigation.”
He added that he was precluded from providing any additional information because it is still an open investigation.
Morse is a noted military prosecutor who led the prosecution team in the court-martial of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who killed 16 Afghan civilians in southern Afghanistan in 2012. Bales eventually pleaded guilty in the case.
Last May, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, who headed the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, made headlines when he was charged by Virginia police for alleged assault and battery against a woman in the parking lot of a bar near the Pentagon.
Krusinski was later acquitted in civilian court of the charges filed against him. His case was among several high-profile cases that led Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to order the military services to conduct a review of personnel involved in assisting sexual assault victims.
Last week, the Army acknowledged that a review of 20,000 sexual assault coordinators, recruiters and drill instructors had led to 588 soldiers being dismissed from the positions because of prior instances of bad or criminal behavior. The three other military services conducted narrower reviews that resulted in a handfuls of individuals being disqualified from sexual assault coordinator positions.
Preliminary figures provided by the Pentagon on Thursday showed a 600-percent increase in the number of sexual assault reports filed last year. There were about 5,400 reports in 2013 compared to 3,774 in 2012. Eleven percent of the reports were for sexual assault incidents that occurred before a victim entered military service. That’s a 300-percent increase from 2012, when that amount was approximately 4 percent of 3,374 reports.
Pentagon officials see the increased reporting as a positive step that might be attributable to increased awareness about reporting sexual assaults and better resources available to sexual assault victims.
However, the increased reporting may under-represent the number of sexual assaults that may be occurring in the military.
Last year, the Pentagon released a survey that estimated there could possibly have been 26,000 instances of “unwanted sexual contact” in 2012. That number was derived from a sampling of military service members who were asked if they had experienced some sort of “unwanted sexual contact.” That term includes a range of unwanted behavior, from unwanted touching to rape.
Morse did not immediately return a phone call to his office and and an email seeking comment.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/7/2014 05:08:28 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Don't forget to spring forward one hour at 2 a.m. this Sunday. Sure, you’ll lose an hour of sleep but isn’t it all worthwhile, especially if daylight saving time means a saving in energy costs?
Don’t you believe it, says Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time.
Downing, who has done extensive research on the subject, argues that the government's claim of DST helping to slash energy costs is vastly overrated. For instance, he points out that the extra hour of daylight only reduces electricity use by less than one half of one percent.
While it’s true that people might be enticed to do more than just head home after work if they see it’s light outside, Downing complains that wherever it is people go, they do so in their cars, pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which scientists say contributes to global warming.
Need more proof that DST isn’t all that great? Downing says if people don’t use their lights as much during the spring and summer, the cost savings are undermined by the use of air conditioning, which really drives up energy bills.
The bottom line, according to Downing, “Every time the government studies [DST], it turns out that we are really saving nothing when all is said and done.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/7/2014 04:45:02 AM
(HOUSTON) -- Those days of getting in your car and driving to the polling station on Election Day may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to mobile voting on your smartphone.
The technology to download an election app already exists and tests on the system by Rice University researchers that let smartphone owners vote show it’s so user friendly that people make fewer errors than in conventional voting booths.
Phil Kortum, assistant professor of psychology at Rice University, says some of the advantages include the elimination of long lines and slashing costs associated with running polling stations and managing electronic or paper ballots.
So what could possibly go wrong? Well, plenty because both the people who design apps for online voting and the lawmakers who will ultimately approve them have to be 100 percent sure that security won’t be compromised.
Given the prevalence of cyber-hacking that exists now, a scenario where outside forces can skew the outcome of an election is a potential nightmare that could set back mobile voting indefinitely.
Washington might test the system with armed service personnel overseas before any widespread rollout in the states.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/7/2014 04:41:17 AM
(NEW YORK) -- On a famous episode of The Office, Steve Carell's Michael Scott was injured by his morning routine that includes an alarm clock and a George Foreman grill filled with bacon. But now, there's an app for that.
Thanks to Oscar Mayer's Institute for the Advancement of Bacon -- and its new iPhone plug-in -- lovers of the stuff can be coaxed awake by an alarm that emits the smell of cooking bacon.
The device won't be available in stores as of yet. Instead, the company has launched an online sweepstakes for people looking to get their greasy mitts on the matchbook-sized plug-in, which, when coupled with the app's alarm, puffs out that unmistakable smell.
Oscar Meyer also launched a lavishly-produced commercial to plug the plug-in. In it, a beautiful woman becomes overwhelmed by images of the crispy stuff -- falling from the sky as rain, or coiled up as roses -- until it becomes obvious the scent from the app has flavored her dreams.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/7/2014 04:36:20 AM
(CINCINNATI) -- JayVaughn Pinkston scored eight of his 15 points in the final 3:20 to help No. 6 Villanova fend off Xavier 77-70 Thursday night, clinching its first outright Big East Championship in 32 years.
Darrun Hilliard led Villanova (27-3, 15-2, Big East) with 19 points, while James Bell scored 12 and Ryan Arcidiacono added 11 in the Wildcats' 11th win in 12 games.
Xavier (20-11, 10-8) was playing its first game without starting center Matt Stainbrook, who strained the MCL in his left knee during the team's loss to Seton Hall Monday.The Musketeers trailed by ten with 9:40 left in the game, but Justin Martin scored nine of his game-high 20 points from that point on, as Xavier whittled the Wildcats' lead to three with 24 seconds remaining. But after that, Josh Hart and Bell both converted two free throws for Villanova and Xavier didn't score again, securing the win for the Wildcats.
This is the first time Villanova has won the Big East title outright since the 1981-82 season.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/7/2014 04:18:00 AM
(NEW YORK) -- You walk out of 300: Rise of an Empire feeling like you were just at a Gallagher show, only swap the watermelon remnants for fake movie blood. When the original 300 came out in 2007, the fancy 3D technology of today didn’t exist, so this time around the filmmakers use every possible opportunity to make that blood fly right at you. I wouldn’t be surprised if at least half of the film’s budget was for red dye and corn syrup. Even the film’s poster is a blood-red tidal wave enveloping the main character, Themistokles. Let that be a warning to all: the subtitle to this film should have been There Will Be Blood.
Not that the target audience of 300: Rise of an Empire will be complaining. They’re going specifically for all of the blood, and severed limbs, and killer horses that graphically crush skulls beneath their hooves. And that crowd won’t be disappointed, oh no. This orgy of battle-porn panders right to its audience without shame. But it’s not a one-trick skull-crushing pony -- there’s enough here even for the friends or dates dragged unwillingly to see this sequel to enjoy.
300: Rise of an Empire doesn’t pick up where 300 left off, after the battle of Thermopylae. It focuses on another conflict happening at around the same time, involving clashes not between Spartans and Persians, but between the Greek and Persian navies. The story focuses on two new characters: the aforementioned Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton), who commands the Greek ships, and his beautiful but deadly Persian counterpart, Artemisia (Eva Green, last seen in Dark Shadows).
We’re meant to be rooting for the Greeks here, but Artemisia is by far the most interesting character in the story. She’s a woman hell-bent on revenge, and Green does a great job portraying her as a dark, manipulative warrior who uses her sword, not her sexuality, to crush foes. In the hands of a less skilled actress, Artemisia probably would have devolved into an overly sexualized cliché. The same could be said of returning Spartan Queen Gorgo, played again by Lena Headey. Though they’re the only two women in the film, these ladies aren’t relegated to the meek damsel-in-distress roles you normally find in movies like this.
Director Noam Murro also deserves kudos for being able to deliver Zack Snyder’s trademark look and feel. Snyder wrote and directed 300, and serves as writer/producer this time around. But fans of the visually stunning and innovative original won’t notice Snyder’s absence from the director’s chair -- which is pretty impressive, considering this is only Murro’s second feature film (his first was the 2008 comedy Smart People).
There’s a lot to like in 300: Rise of an Empire. It looks great and delivers on the action, though personally, I would have enjoyed a little more heart to the story. I didn’t really find myself emotionally involved at any point and some of the plotlines fail to connect, like a father and son we’re supposed to care about. But this isn’t Gladiator, nor do I think that’s what this is aspiring to be. 300: Rise of an Empire is all about blood, battles, and strong babes, and on that level it doesn’t disappoint.
Oh, and for maximum enjoyment, see it in 3D. While I’m not typically a fan of the technology or the higher ticket prices, it’s worth it here. The battle scenes are crisp and clear, and it’s not hard to follow the action. Arrows and spears flying at your face, blood squirting past your head every couple of minutes -- this is what 3D was made for, right?
Three-and-a-half out of five stars.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/7/2014 04:00:51 AM
(NEW YORK) -- When Angelina Jolie was cast as the lead in Maleficent, she was game to completely morph into the villain. After all the makeup had been applied and her costume was in place, only one of her six children was unafraid of her new look: her 5-year-old daughter, Vivienne.
Her cool demeanor landed her the role of young Aurora in the film.
"We think it's fun for our kids to have cameos and join us on set, but not to be actors. That's not our goal for Brad and I, at all," Jolie told Entertainment Weekly for its new issue. "But the other 3- and 4-year-old [actors] wouldn't come near me. It had to be a child that liked me and wasn't afraid of my horns and my eyes and my claws. So it had to be Viv."
Also making appearances in the film are her kids Pax, 10, and Zahara, 9.
"I had to walk by them being very mean," said the star, who added that the kids appear in the famous christening scene. "Of course, I wanted to stop and wink at them!"
However, she did have to cajole Pax a little bit. When he first saw his mother in her costume, he ran away.
"I thought he was kidding, so I was pretending to chase him until I actually found him crying," she said. "I had to take off pieces [of the makeup] in front of him to show him it was all fake and not freak out so much."
She also talked to her family about taking the role before she formally accepted it. Despite their initial reaction of, "She's so scary!" Jolie said that they eventually warmed up to the idea.
"The next day, I heard Shiloh getting into a fight with another kid, defending Maleficent, saying, 'You don't understand her!'" Jolie said. "They got into a bit of an argument and I thought, 'That's the reason to do the film.'"
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 23:42:16 PM
(NEW YORK) -- NBA: San Antonio Spurs 111 (45-16) – Miami Heat 87 (43-16)
Phoenix Suns 128 (36-25) – Oklahoma City Thunder 122 (46-16)
Los Angeles Clippers 142 (43-20) - Los Angeles Lakers 94 (21-41)
Top 25 Men’s College Basketball: (6) Villanova 77 (27-3) – Xavier 70 (20-11)
(15) Cincinnati 97 (25-5) – (20) Memphis 84 (22-8)
(22) Michigan State 86 (23-7) – (24) Iowa 76 (20-10)
NHL: Boston Bruins 3 (40-17-5; 85pts) – Washington Capitals 0 (29-25-10; 68pts)
Los Angeles Kings 3 (36-22-6; 78pts) – Winnipeg Jets 1 (30-27-7; 67pts)
Buffalo Sabres 3 (19-35-8; 46pts) – Tampa Bay Lightning 1 (34-24-5; 73pts)
Colorado Avalanche 3 (41-17-5; 87pts) – Detroit Red Wings 2 (28-21-13; 69pts) OT
Chicago Blackhawks 6 (37-13-14; 88pts) – Columbus Blue Jackets 1 (32-26-5; 69pts)
St. Louis Blues 2 (42-14-6; 90pts) – Nashville Predators 1 (26-27-10; 62pts)
Dallas Stars 6 (30-23-10; 70pts) – Vancouver Canucks 1 (28-27-10; 66pts)
Phoenix Coyotes 5 (29-23-11; 69pts) – Montreal Canadiens 2 (35-23-7; 77pts)
Edmonton Oilers 3 (22-34-8, 52pts) - New York Islanders 2 (24-32-9, 57pts) OT
San Jose Sharks 5 (40-17-7, 87pts) - Pittsburgh Penguins 3 (41-17-4, 86pts)
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 23:39:14 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- One of the Obama administration’s highest-ranking diplomats said Thursday that Russia’s involvement in the Ukrainian crisis – militarily backing a secessionist movement in Crimea – does not appear to have bled over into its role as a negotiator in Syria’s bloody, three-year civil war. But the reality of how the conflicts play off each other is less clear.
“I believe Russia remains committed to the object here, which is the removal and destruction of all of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile,” Deputy Secretary of State William Burns told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday.
Responding to questions from Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Burns confirmed reports that weapons removal could still meet its June deadline and that, so far, he has not seen evidence Moscow would allow Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to change course.
“That’s an area where I believe Russia has a self-interest in trying to ensure that that happens,” Burns said. “It’s not a favor to the United States. It’s something that Russia has committed to and I hope we can accomplish that goal.”
He added the caveat that Moscow’s intentions are “hard to predict,” but, “as I said before, I think Russia, having made a very visible and public commitment to accomplishing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, I think, has a self-interest in trying to ensure that that happens.”
Not everyone agrees that Russia’s role in the Ukraine had no implications for Syria or vice versa. Burns may have said Russia continues to cooperate on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, but made no mention of Russia playing a constructive role in the peace talks to end the conflict that, by United Nations estimates, has killed more than 100,000 people. Indeed, the ambassador voiced ongoing frustration with Moscow’s reluctance to push Assad harder in the conflict, now a center for fighting among foreign Islamic extremist factions.
A growing number of Syria experts are pointing to what they see as a Russian trend in both places: putting its own interest ahead of peaceful solutions regardless of what the U.S. and international community wish to see as an outcome.
Edward Joseph, a Middle East expert at the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies, wrote that while Russia is embroiled in the Ukraine, this is the time for the Obama administration to test Putin’s real resolve on Syria.
“Even if the Obama administration is wedded to diplomacy with Russia, it might as well maximize whatever prospects there are (which may prove minimal) to exact Russian cooperation on Syria, simultaneously forcing Moscow to show its true cards,” said Joseph. “President Obama has already acknowledged that the diplomatic track is not working, so there is little risk for even a highly risk-averse White House in actively testing the Russians.”
There is also the Republican criticism that President Obama’s wavering on the “red line” on use of chemical weapons in Syria set a precedent that has led Russia to not take the president seriously.
“I think that [there is] the permissive environment that we have created through this reset, thinking that someone like Putin reacts to warmth and charm and reach-out, when what he really reacts to is weakness,” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said at a hearing Thursday.
“I think he has seen that in our foreign policy efforts over the course of this last year,” Corker added. “I don’t think we can make a case that what happened in Crimea wouldn’t have happened, but I certainly don’t think he has felt that there would be much of a push-back from us.”
Former U.S. special representative on Syria, Ambassador Fred Hoff, said Wednesday that while his assessment wouldn’t go that far in placing blame, the U.S. approach to Syria is having an effect on the Ukraine crisis.
“Our approach to Syria has not discouraged Putin’s approach to the Ukraine,” Hoff said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 23:08:00 PM
(MIAMI) -- The mother of a baby who had to be resuscitated by the side of the road said the incident may have led doctors to the cause of the infant’s distress.
Sebastian De La Cruz made headlines last month when a news photographer captured dramatic photos of the infant being resuscitated by his aunt by the side of a Miami highway.
After being resuscitated twice, Sebastian was initially listed in stable condition at a Miami hospital before being released. His mother Paola Vargas told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday that Sebastian had cysts removed from his trachea to help with his breathing, according to the Miami Herald.
Pamela Rauseo, Vargas’ sister who was photographed resuscitating De La Cruz, said doctors performed “invasive” tests to find the reason for Sebastian’s respiratory distress.
“We finally got to the root of what was causing his condition and his difficulty breathing. Had it not been for that incident the doctors would not have performed such an invasive procedure,” Rauseo told reporters. “That is the only way we would have been able to determine what he had.”
Vargas said she was grateful for her sister’s actions every day.
“I thank God, I thank my sister every day,” Vargas told reporters. “When I wake up and I see my baby I’m so happy. ”
Sebastian, only 5 months old, was born premature and had respiratory problems. Rauseo jumped into action when she realized her nephew wasn’t breathing and started CPR even though her only training was seven years ago.
“I don’t know how I remembered what to do....I just knew I couldn’t let him die,” she told ABC News.
See the Dramatic Moment When a Woman Pulled Over to Give Infant Nephew CPR
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 23:03:51 PM
(LONDON) -- Prince William and Kate headed to the Maldives for a romantic break ahead of their Australian and New Zealand tour next month, according to newspaper reports.
Kensington Palace has refused to confirm or deny the story. The palace never comments on the private activities of the Royal family.
They apparently arrived on a BA flight Thursday morning and, according to local sources, will spend a week on vacation in the Noonu atoll in the Maldives.
The Maldives has hosted Hollywood celebrities from George Clooney to Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Moss because of its glittering white sand beaches and privacy. It’s also a favored destination for Brits because of its outdoor water activities, spectacular snorkeling and direct flights from London.
William and Kate have spent a number of holidays in the Indian Ocean previously, including their honeymoon in the Seychelles after their wedding.
Whether it’s a vacation a deux is anyone’s guess. It’s unclear whether Prince George is on holiday with the new mother and father. Prince George will travel with his parents to New Zealand and Australia next month from April 17-25 on his first foreign tour. Prince William made a similar visit at 9 months of age with Princess Diana and Prince Charles 31 years ago.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 22:54:15 PM
(TACOMA, Wash.) -- Automotive students and faculty at a community college in Washington are distraught after learning that their beloved 1992, one-of-a-kind, $250,000 Dodge Viper has been ordered destroyed by the car's manufacturer, Chrysler.
"It's like taking a family pet, putting it in front of kids and destroying it," Norman Chapman, automotive professor at South Puget Sound Community College, told ABC News.
The car was donated to the Tacoma, Wash., college eight years ago by Chrysler for students in their automotive program to use the car as an educational tool.
"We destroy cars all of the time, but that's usually because they have lost their educational value," Chapman said. "This here is kind of unique and the students are definitely up in arms about it. It has around 600 horsepower and it will go 200 mph really easy. It's definitely a race car. There are no frills in it, but it's definitely a speed machine."
In addition to the students' use of the car, it is also used for promotional purposes to attract high school students to the school program.
"It's a much-beloved car on campus," Dean of College Relations Kellie Purce Braseth said.
The Viper model is so rare that Jay Leno once tried to buy the car from Chrysler, but they would not sell it to him because the car is not street legal.
An e-mail was sent by Chrysler to Chapman earlier this week, simply telling the school that, "Chrysler Group LLC will be eliminating all Dodge Vipers from its educational donations fleet."
The school has two weeks to destroy the car and present the proof of its destruction to Chrysler.
School officials say that Chrysler has not said why they want the car destroyed, but that a contract signed when the car was donated by Chrysler states that the school is responsible for having it destroyed if Chrysler wants to eliminate the fleet.
"I have no idea. That's pretty secret there, but the contact that I talked to said it was for liability reasons," Chapman said. Chapman also said that it was rumored that similar cars had "gotten loose" at other schools and were involved in accidents.
A statement from Chrysler said, "As part of the donation process, it is standard procedure -- and stipulated in our agreements -- that whenever vehicles are donated to institutions for education purposes that they are to be destroyed when they are no longer needed for their intended educational purposes. With advancements in automotive technology over the past decade, it is unlikely that these vehicles offer any educational value to students."
"Chrysler Group has no record of any legal proceedings involving Dodge Viper vehicles donated to educational institutions being involved in accidents and product liability lawsuits," Chrysler said.
The school's Viper is a pre-production car and its VIN number indicates it was the fourth vehicle off the production line and one of the first hardtop Vipers made.
Students have started an online petition to save the Viper and maybe have it preserved in an automobile museum, but Chapman says there is no way to save the car unless there is some sort of presidential pardon or the governor's support.
"Chrysler Group fully understands and appreciates the historical significance of the Viper and is very active in preserving many of its legendary models and designs for historic purposes however, none of these vehicles fit into this category," Chrysler said.
"If they can pardon a turkey at Thanksgiving, they can pardon a Viper," Chapman says.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 20:58:18 PM
(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- The Sacramento Kings signed free agent forward Royce White to a 10-day contract on Thursday and assigned him to the Reno Bighorns of the NBA’s Development League.
White was selected by the Rockets with the 16th overall pick in the 2012 draft. He never suited up with Houston after both sides couldn’t come to an agreement on how to handle his anxiety disorder.
The Rockets suspended him in January 2013 after he refused to report to Rio Grande Valley of the D-League for another tour.
Houston traded White to the 76ers last July 13 and was waived by Philadelphia on Oct. 25.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 20:27:00 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off Women’s History Month on a high note on Thursday -- celebrating alongside some of music’s most talented “women of soul” and over 100 students from across the country.
“Today we’re celebrating the kind of music that makes you move no matter who you are or where you come from; music that taps into feelings and experiences that we all share -- love and heartbreak, pride and doubt, tragedy and triumph. It is called soul music,” Obama said at the “I’m every woman: The History of Women in Soul” event.
“Sometimes it makes your hips move. Sometimes it makes you rock your head. Sometimes it helps you just kick back and relax and soak it in. But no matter what form it comes in, you know this music always comes straight from the heart,” she continued. ”You know you’re listening to someone who’s found her own unique voice, and isn’t afraid to show it to the world. And these women are perfect examples of just that.”
Obama was joined by Melissa Etheridge, her “other mother” Patti LaBelle and Janelle Monáe, who she said is now like another child to her.
“We might as well give her a room here because she’s here so much,” she joked.
Thursday’s event is part of the “In Performance at the White House” series and will continue well into the evening with star-studded performances by Aretha Franklin, Ariana Grande, and others, celebrating the “foremothers” of American music who pour both their struggles and their achievements into their songs.
The three singers talked about their road to fame, Monáe highlighting her “living room training,” and LaBelle reminisced about her days spent singing in front of the mirror with a broom in hand instead of a microphone. Before performing for the students, they touched on the struggles each faced and offered some advice.
“You’ve got to have a dream, you’ve got to create, you don’t have to be a huge star, but you’ve got to create something in this life every day, that’s what moves you forward,” Etheridge said. “It’s what gets you up in the morning, it’s what keeps you alive. That dream is what we’re all here to do.”
LaBelle, who said she was too shy as a child to even ask her teacher to go to the bathroom, advised the students to embrace both their talents and identity.
“This is the time to realize that I have something that touches people, and it doesn’t matter who you are, what race, what religion, what gender, straight, gay whatever,” she said.
Obama agreed, saying, “At one time or another, we all had to find our own voices and show the world what we have inside. ”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 19:03:30 PM
(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is lobbying for the organization to sign Michael Vick once free agency begins next week.
The six-time Pro Bowler believes Vick is the missing piece to the Vikings playoff chances.
"@MikeVick would intently make the vikings a playoff team!" Peterson wrote in a Twitter message late Wednesday night.
Vick started six games for the Eagles last season and was beat out by Nick Foles for the starting job late in the season after a hamstring injury.
The Vikings hired Norv Turner during the offseason as their new offensive coordinator and Christian Ponder is the only quarterback under contract.
Vick has not started more than 13 games since 2006. Free agency begins on Tuesday.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 18:32:00 PM
(NEW YORK) -- A positive weekly employment report kept the markets mostly higher on Thursday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 63 points at 16,421.89. The Nasdaq Composite fell 6 points to 4,352.13. The S&P 500 rose 3 points to finish the session at 1,877.03.
The number of people who filed for unemployment benefits last week fell much more than economists expected -- a sign that fewer workers are being laid off, according to the research firm Fact Set.
The February employment numbers from the government come out on Friday.
Though unemployment claims appear to be declining, the rate is still high in the U.S. According to a survey by recruiting firm Career Builder, more than half of employers say they're having trouble finding qualified workers. Many told the firm that some jobs go unfilled for three months or more.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 17:17:20 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- By a bipartisan vote of 385-23, the House voted to approve legislation to provide loan guarantees for Ukraine, paving the way for the administration to extend about a $1 billion loan to support the government there.
The House voted to add Ukraine to a 2013 measure that initially made funds available for loan guarantees under the Economic Support Fund for Jordan and Tunisia.
Although all 23 votes of opposition came from the GOP, 194 other Republicans and 191 Democrats supported the measure.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, applauded the vote and said the House will work next week to continue pressuring Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The House’s swift, bipartisan action today reflects America’s solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” Boehner wrote in a statement. “This is only a start on fulfilling our commitment to provide the president as many tools as needed to keep President Putin in check and protect the sovereignty of Russia’s neighbors. In the coming days, the House will work to leverage every available resource – including American-made energy – to strengthen Ukraine and our allies in Europe.”
Based on the funds remaining from last year and the ability of the Obama administration to transfer funding between accounts through a normal transfer process, proponents believe the approach will ensure that resources are immediately available to cover the costs of the administration’s loan guarantee proposal. Because the approach uses existing resources, it does not require any new appropriation of budget authority.
Earlier Thursday, Boehner did not back off comments calling Putin a “thug,” and said he supports the sanctions outlined by President Obama earlier Thursday to freeze some assets and block U.S. visas.
“You’ve heard me call President Putin a thug. That’s because he is, and he’s counting on the United States to sit back and watch him do and take whatever he wants,” Boehner said during a news conference at the Capitol Thursday. “We remain committed to working with the administration to give President Obama as many tools as needed to put President Putin in check and prevent Russia from infringing on the sovereignty of any of its neighbors.”
Boehner has called on the president to order Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to expedite approval of American natural gas exports in order to weaken Russia’s influence over European countries that depend on Russian energy exports.
“Russia … has an energy stranglehold on much of Europe and has been using it to its own advantage,” he said. “There is growing consensus that ending this de facto export ban would not only keep Putin in check but help our economy, as well as help our allies in Europe. I think it’s time to act, and I hope the president does.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 16:22:44 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Four former leaders of the now-bankrupt law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf were charged Thursday in New York with what prosecutors called “blatant accounting fraud” and other questionable conduct.
The indictment of former chairman Steven Davis, former executive director Stephen DiCarmine, former chief financial officer Joel Sanders and ex-client relations manager Zachary Warren came two years after Dewey & LeBoeuf, once one of the most prominent firms in the world, collapsed in the largest law firm bankruptcy ever. Some 3,000 people lost their jobs and creditors were out $500 million.
The firm was established in late 2007 as a result of the merger of Dewey Ballantine LLP and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP. Dewey was former New York Gov. Thomas Dewey. The firm had cash-flow problems from the start as the U.S. economy tanked, and, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said, the defendants “simply lied” to cover them up.
“For years, these defendants had been fraudulently been claiming revenue that the firm did not have and pushing off expenses and financial obligations into the future,” Vance said.
Vance said seven unnamed Dewey finance department employees have already pleaded guilty for their role in a scheme that, he said, ran from 2008 until the firm’s collapse in 2012.
“As alleged, rather than speaking openly with creditors about mounting debt and shrinking revenue, the defendants deliberately manipulated the firm’s financial statements,” said FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos. “In the height of the crisis, the defendants used every trick in the book in an elaborate attempt to cover up the increasingly dire situation.”
The four defendants surrendered.
One defense attorney said his client committed no crime.
“The actions taken by Steven Davis when he was chairman of Dewey & LeBoeuf were taken in good faith in an effort to make the firm a success,” attorney Elkan Abramowitz said.
Other defense attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 15:27:21 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has signed an executive order imposing sanctions on individuals he said violate Ukrainian sovereignty or are "stealing the assets" of the Ukrainian people.
Obama told reporters at a White House briefing the sanctions were meant to "impose a cost" on Russia's action in Crimea.
Obama emphasized that new visa restrictions the U.S. placed on those who are opposing the Ukraine government “continue our efforts to impose a cost on Russia and those responsible for the situation in Crimea.”
“We took these steps in close coordination with our European allies,” Obama said in a brief statement in the White House briefing room.
The president said a referendum for Ukraine's Crimea region to separate and become part of Russia would violate international law. Local government officials in Crimea today set March 16 for the referendum vote. Obama also said the referendum would violate the Ukrainian constitution.
The president said he was “pleased that our international unity is on display at this critical moment.”
He did not specify what actions his administration would take if Russia continues its presence in the neighboring country, but said U.S. “resolve will remain firm.”
He also called upon the Russian government to “let international monitors into all of Ukraine, including Crimea.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 15:03:31 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- A bill that would remove the prosecution of military sexual assaults out of the chain of command faced defeat in the Senate on Thursday, falling just short of the 60-vote threshold needed to advance the legislation.
The Military Justice Improvement Act fell five votes short, with the Senate voting 55 to 45 to invoke cloture on the bill Thursday.
The measure was the brainchild of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who spent months lobbying senators to sign onto her bill. The legislation had the support of many groups representing survivors of rape and sexual assault in the military, but it was vehemently opposed by military brass. Gillibrand even drew the support of two unlikely allies – Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky.
“The people who do not trust the chain of command are the victims,” Gillibrand said on the Senate floor Thursday before the vote. “That breach of trust, that fundamental breach of trust has been broken for victims of sexual assault.”
The issue became a high-profile debate as it pit two Democratic women of the Senate against each other – Gillibrand and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. McCaskill led the charge against Gillibrand’s bill, arguing that stripping military commanders of their prosecution powers would undermine the military’s authority.
Joining forces with Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Deb Fischer, R-Neb., McCaskill introduced a bill of her own, which eliminates the “good soldier” defense and allows sexual assault victims to challenge the military if they are discharged from their service. Gillibrand has said she will support McCaskill’s measure.
The vote came shortly after the Army suspended its top prosecutor for sexual assault cases after a lawyer who worked with him recently alleged he groped and attempted to kiss her at a sexual-assault legal conference more than two years ago.
Protect Our Defenders, a group representing survivors of military sexual assaults, expressed disappointment in the vote.
“It is a travesty that this very practical, conservative measure, supported by a substantial majority of the Senate and 60% of Americans was blocked by a procedural filibuster,” Nancy Parrish, president of Protect Our Defenders. “We may have lost this battle due to political maneuverings, but effective reform will be accomplished. It is only a matter of time. We will redouble our efforts to secure the legal rights of American servicemen and women who have been sexually abused while serving their country.”
Before Thursday’s vote, McCaskill said she was disappointed that the disagreement between Gillibrand and McCaskill “overshadowed the amazing work that so many have done this year to enact a different day in the United States military.”
Gillibrand countered, “This is not an opportunity to congratulate ourselves on the great reforms we’ve done.”
Last year, the Senate approved historic reforms that were included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014. The reforms included 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 legislation also criminalized retaliation against victims who have reported a sexual assault, created a civilian review of cases that are not prosecuted and eliminated the statute of limitations on those cases.
Notably silent in the debate was President Obama, who has stressed the need to deal with sexual assaults in the military, but never weighed in on whether he would support Gillibrand’s proposal.
Even if the Gillibrand bill would have passed the Senate, House Speaker John Boehner seemed unlikely to bring the measure to the House floor.
“The House and Senate have both acted on this issue and I frankly think that the agreement that was struck in the House in the Defense Authorization Bill strikes the correct balance,” Boehner said today during a news conference at the Capitol. “And so I don’t, frankly, see any reason at this point for any further action to be taken.”
The Pentagon updated its sexual assault statistics Thursday, reporting a 60 percent increase in the number of sexual assault reports filed last year. There were about 5,400 reports in 2013 compared to 3,374 the previous year. Last May, a Pentagon survey estimated there were 26,000 instances of unwanted sexual contact, a 37 percent increase from the previous survey released two years prior.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 15:02:21 PM
(LAS VEGAS) -- Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart is hoping to carry over his success at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend.
Stewart currently sits 20th in the Sprint Cup standings, but has one victory at Las Vegas to go along with six top-five finishes.
"Hopefully after today we'll have a little better idea of what we can do for the rest of the weekend," Stewart told ABC Sports Radio on Thursday before starting testing on the track.
Stewart said his team is still getting used to the new rule changes that NASCAR instituted this season.
"That's what makes racing and especially NASCAR so much more unique," Stewart said. "Everything with our series changes constantly because of technology."
As for going for his fourth Sprint Cup title this season, Stewart is hopeful.
"I've never said never in my life," Stewart said. "We've got a good group of teammates and crew chiefs here at Stewart-Haas."
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 15:00:00 PM
(ROME) -- Secretary of State John Kerry underscored the United States’ opposition to a referendum vote that the Crimean parliament approved Thursday on whether to separate from the rest of Ukraine, saying such a referendum would only be constitutional if the entire country were allowed to vote.
“Crimea is part of Ukraine. Crimea is Ukraine,” Kerry said during a statement delivered in Rome. “And we support the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and the government of Ukraine needs to be involved in any kind of decision with respect to any part of Ukraine.”
Kerry added that the United States would “absolutely” consider doing more to punish Russia, on top of the visa bans and sanctions announced Thursday, if the nation did not take steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine.
“While we reserve the right to take steps beyond what we've announced today, our preference is to get back to a normality and get back to a place where the rights of the people will be respected,” he said, addressing reporters after a day spent shuttling between group and bilateral meetings.
While the European Union, which met Thursday in Brussels, announced some steps to punish Russia but no economic sanctions, Kerry said the E.U. had been “extremely cooperative” in working with the United States on the Ukraine crisis.
Kerry also noted that he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov again Thursday and said of his relationship with his Russian counterpart, “there are moments when we may be able to laugh at something, and there are moments when you may disagree, and disagree strongly.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 14:48:15 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- Two young boys stand in front of a column of adult fighters clad in all black, one boy attempting to look as serious as his baby-face will allow, the other absentmindedly fiddling with the black flag of jihad he holds in front of him.
The first boy begins an earnest half-chant, half-song in Arabic as a man toting a machine gun and draped in bullets stands just off to the boy’s left. When the boy is finished, both children and the men standing behind them yell, “Allahu Akbar!”
The striking images come from a video recently posted online that purports to show a training camp in Syria named after al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for fighters from the al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front. While the video provides few confirmable details, a U.S. counter-terrorism official told ABC News similar videos have appeared before and there is little reason to doubt its authenticity.
In another portion of the video, the children stand in the middle of an open training ground and watch as recruits dive through hoops of fire, the man with the machine gun close by. The children are not shown holding weapons.
The counter-terrorism official said children have appeared in other videos made by “terrorist groups” as well, but as of yet, the groups “do not seem to have used children operationally.”
However, in November, Human Rights Watch reported that some rebel groups have used children “as young as 14″ to transport supplies and act as lookouts.
A United Nations report from late January, stated, “Armed opposition groups have been responsible for the recruitment and use of children both in combat and support roles, as well as for conducting military operations, including using terror tactics, in civilian-populated areas, leading to civilian casualties, including children.”
Boys as young as 12 years old, the report said, have been “trained, armed and used as combatants or to man checkpoints.” The report said no information about the Syrian government’s use of children in the conflict was available.
READ MORE: UN Report on Children and Armed Conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic (PDF)
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 14:12:20 PM
(NEW YORK) -- One day after RadioShack announced plans to close 1,100 stores, Staples has announced a big cost-cutting move.
Staples will shut 225 stores by the end of next year -- part of a bid to make annual savings of $500 million. The office supply retailer says nearly half of its sales are now generated online, so it will aggressively cut costs to become more efficient.
Staples, RadioShack and many other stores are struggling to fight back against Amazon and other discount online retailers.
Staples store sales plunged 7 percent in the latest quarter compared to the year before.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 13:14:48 PM
(NEW YORK) -- A trailer for the Annie remake starring 10-year-old Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhané Wallis has just made its debut.
Cameron Diaz co-stars as evil orphanage matron Miss Hannigan, while Jamie Foxx plays billionaire Benjamin Stacks, who comes to Annie's aid.
The remake, which was co-produced by Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and Jay Z, opens on Christmas Day.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 12:45:26 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- America's favorite five-year-old superhero was snubbed by the Oscars.
Miles Scott, the leukemia survivor who spent a day as "Batkid" last November in San Francisco thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, was scheduled to appear on the Academy Awards telecast on Sunday, but was dropped on the day of the show.
Speaking with the International Business Times, Miles' mother, Natalie Scott, says the family traveled from Northern California to Los Angeles for the Oscars, and that Miles attended a rehearsal for the ceremony on Saturday. However, they learned on Sunday morning, hours before the show, that Miles' segment was cut.
Scott says, “I don’t know if they ran out of time, or if there was something about the segment they didn’t like.” She says the Academy hasn't informed the family why the decision was made.
Scott says that while the cancellation was "kind of a disappointment," Miles took the news well.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the segment -- which was supposed to be part of the show's "movie heroes" theme -- would have featured Miles with The Amazing Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield.
This was the official reason for the decision, given by an Academy spokesperson to The Hollywood Reporter: "Basically, because of the fluid nature of live TV production, ultimately the segment didn't work."
The Make-a-Wish Foundation tells the International Business Times it had little involvement in Miles' Oscars segment.
Miles captured the hearts of Americans across the country in November, when he fought "crime" as "Batkid" in San Francisco. He completed his treatment last summer and is said to be doing well.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 12:36:29 PM
(SIMFEROPOL, Crimea) -- Lawmakers in Crimea voted on Thursday for the mostly Russian enclave to become part of Russia and moved up to March 16 a referendum to decide the matter.
Ukraine’s interim government and Supreme Court have rejected talk of a Crimean referendum to determine its status, calling it unconstitutional. Russia says it will decide how to go forward after the referendum happens.
The referendum will ask Crimeans two questions: whether they want to be part of Russia or whether they’d like to adopt the 1992 Crimean Constitution, which would give Crimea more autonomy under Ukraine.
“We’re not working out what to do if Crimea joins the Russian Federation because we believe it’s unconstitutional,” Ukrainian interim Economy Minister Pavlo Sheremeta said.
Crimea’s new prime minister, Sergei Aksyonov, has rejected the Kiev government, saying ousted President Viktor Yanukovich is the country’s rightful president.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked two days ago about Russia annexing Crimea, he told reporters: “Only the people who live in a certain territory have the right to decide their own future.”
In other news, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said pro-Russian forces sank a boat at the opening to Donuzlav Lake north of Yevpatoria on Wednesday, bottling up Ukrainian warships in the lake. It is not clear how many military ships the Ukrainians might have had in the lake and ministry spokesman Maxim Prowta declined to say.
Prowta said that just before midnight Wednesday, the forces filled an old ship with water and it is now partially submerged.
The Defense Ministry said it will be expensive and time consuming to remove the sunken ship.
Russian officials have repeatedly denied that the professional, heavily-armed forces that have taken control of Crimea are Russian, calling them Crimean “self-defense forces.”
“We do not have any power over them, they do not listen to our orders,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
Lavrov met in Paris with Secretary of State John Kerry and their European counterparts Wednesday, but did not appear to make any progress in resolving the Ukrainian crisis.
Lavrov did not meet with the acting Ukrainian foreign minister. Moscow doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the interim government, calling Yanukovich’s ouster a coup.
Lavrov and Kerry are expected to meet again in Rome Thursday.
Forty observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe arrived in Crimea Thursday.
“The situation might seem quiet, almost normal, if you go to the streets,” said OSCE envoy Tim Guildimann in Kiev. “However it’s extremely tense and I would consider it a miracle that bloodshed [has been] avoided so far given the political and even military circumstances on the ground.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 11:52:49 AM
(CHICAGO) -- Dynamic punt returner and wide receiver Devin Hester won't be back with the Chicago Bears in 2014.
Hester will become an unrestricted free agent after eight seasons in the windy city.
"From my knowledge, I know that Chicago wants to go a different route with me," Hester told the NFL Network on Wednesday. "All I can say is thanks to the fans for their support. They've always been great to me. Always been loyal. I couldn't have played for a better city than those guys. At the end of my career, I do want to retire as a member of the Bears."
The three-time Pro Bowler tied Hall of Famer Deon Sanders' NFL record with 19 returns for touchdowns last season and brought back 13 of them for punt returns.
"To all my Chicago people ... I can't thank you all enough for my time in Chicago," Hester posted later on his Facebook page. "I've always said I wanted to retire a Chicago Bear but sometimes things don't work out the way we would like. Chicago will always hold a special place in my heart and if I am fortunate enough to break the return record, we will have all broken it together ... no matter where I am. Thank you again and God Bless."
The Bears have signed 10 players who were set to hit the unrestricted free agent market.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 11:40:00 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Younger men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer may do well to consider surgery over so-called “watchful waiting,” a new study shows.
The new research, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, is unlikely to end the long-running debate in the medical community over if and when surgery to remove the prostate is needed -- particularly since the men in the study were diagnosed before the sensitive prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test was widely implemented to detect prostate cancer in its early stages.
The findings are the latest to come out of a 23-year-long, ongoing study comparing radical prostatectomy versus watchful waiting in 695 men who had been diagnosed with localized prostate cancer.
Between 1989 and 1999, researchers randomly assigned these men to either receive a prostatectomy or not. The study found that those younger than 65 who underwent surgery to remove their prostates had a 15.8 percent lower risk of dying from prostate cancer than patients who had not had surgery. They also had a 25.5 percent lower risk of dying from any cause, as well as a 15.8 percent lower risk of the disease having spreading to other organs.
“Our results suggest that surgery may be more beneficial to younger men,” said study author Jennifer Rider, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard University School of Public Health. Rider added that the men under 65 who had their prostates removed were also less likely to need radiation or chemotherapy.
The trial, funded by the Swedish Cancer Society and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is the first of its kind to entail such an extended follow-up.
Urologists not involved with the research said the findings were important, particularly at a time when many men have concerns about the side effects of going under the knife for prostate cancer.
“This study makes a world of a difference,” said Dr. David B. Samadi, chairman of urology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Samadi added that in the years since the study began, the operations to remove the prostate have become more refined.
“Surgery has become much improved,” he said. “ We’ve come a long way.”
“The important finding is that the benefits of surgery have increased over the course of time,” said Dr. Philip Kantoff, director of genitourinary oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
But Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, said that the results should be interpreted with caution, particularly since the study dealt with men who were not diagnosed using a PSA test -- currently the common early detection method used in the U.S.
“That is a very different population from men in the U.S., where PSA screening means most cancers are caught at a much earlier stage,” he said in a statement to ABC News.
The concern is that using prostate-removing surgery to treat these very early cancers may not be the best option, as it could mean a drastic surgery to remove a prostate that would never have presented a life-threatening problem.
Dr. Lee Green, professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan, said more research will be needed before men facing a prostate cancer diagnosis get definite answers to the questions they have.
“It doesn’t prove that radical prostatectomy is better than less radical procedures, and it doesn’t prove that surgery is better than chemotherapy,” Green said. “It just says that surgery is better than doing nothing.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 11:36:18 AM
(MIAMI) -- While Michelle Obama's husband, the president of the United States, is fighting fires in Ukraine, battling Congress and traveling the country, the first lady is dealing with a crisis of sorts much closer to home.
Obama, 50, is preparing for a rite of passage faced by parents everywhere; her eldest daughter Malia is getting her driver's license.
"She's that age," Obama told ABC's Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts of Malia, who will turn 16 this summer. "I'm good with it, as long as somebody else is riding with her."
Malia and sister Sasha, 12, have been a point of interest for the media and U.S. public alike since they entered the White House with their parents after the 2008 election.
The Obamas have made a point to keep their daughters' lives as normal as possible while living in the White House.
"Right now, whether you like me or the president, people in America are praying for those two little girls," she said. "And that's one of the many reasons why they're standing up straight.
"They are still the light of our lives," Obama told Roberts. "It is not a day that goes by -- and I'm trying to stress this to them -- that I don't worry about, that I am not thinking about their well-being and how they're handling this stuff.
"I'm just so proud of how they have managed all this with poise and grace and maturity," she said.
The first lady sat down with Roberts this week in Miami at the BET Network's 5th Annual Leading Women Defined Summit, where she also discussed another cause close to her heart: lowering childhood obesity.
Though a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released last month showed a 43 percent drop in obesity rates among children ages 2 to 5 during the past decade, Obama, whose "Let's Move!" campaign aims to encourage healthier habits in kids, says there is still "a lot of work to do."
"The statistics are still pretty abysmal for everyone else," Obama said. "But what it shows is that we are creating a new norm for what a healthy environment looks like, or should look like for our kids."
Obama also spoke out on a top initiative of her husband, the president's "Affordable Care Act," which came under fire after a rocky start with online registration.
"Because of the Affordable Care Act, people now have an option, affordability," Obama said. "The accessibility of it will allow the average American to get an insurance plan for less than $100 a month. That's the cost of a cellphone bill, a decent pair of sneakers."
The first lady also said it is most important for young people, whom she described as thinking "they're invincible," to sign up for health care coverage by the end of this month.
"As I joke with many of the young people in my life, you all are the ones who need insurance because you're out there living crazy," Obama said. "You're the one at the club in heels at three o'clock in the morning, walking on ice, you know?"
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 10:51:29 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- Jobless claims wrapped up the month of February by plummeting to 323,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday morning.
For the week ending March 1, the number of people filing for benefits dropped by 26,000. The previous week, claims stood at 349,000 -- an upward revision of 1,000.
The four-week average also went down, decreasing by 2,000 to 336,500.
On Friday, Americans will see just how well the job market fared in February when the Labor Department releases its monthly employment report at 8:30 a.m. ET.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 09:11:38 AM
(NEW YORK) -- The nominees for the MTV Movie Awards were announced Thursday morning, and you can't be blamed if you initially mistake the list for the recent Oscar nominees.
12 Years a Slave, American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street are all nominated in the Movie of the Year category, along with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
Conspicuously absent in the Movie of the Year category is Gravity, starring VMA favorite Sandra Bullock. She picks up a nod in the Best Female Performance category, along with Amy Adams, Lupita Nyong'o, Jennifer Lawrence -- for The Hunger Games, not American Hustle -- and Jennifer Aniston, for We're the Millers.
Best Male Performance nominees include Bradley Cooper, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, and Josh Hutcherson, for The Hunger Games.
This being the MTV Movie Awards, we've also got nominees in categories like Best Scared-as-S**t Performance, Best Shirtless Performance, Best Fight, Best Kiss, Best Villain, and Best #WTF Moment.
You can see the full list of nominees now at MTV.com/ontv/movieawards.
Conan O'Brien will host the awards ceremony Sunday, April 13, at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 08:56:53 AM
(BOSTON) -- Due to a technicality, a man caught taking pictures up women's skirts on a public transit system won't face punishment after the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Michael Robertson did not violate state law.
He was initially charged under a Massachusetts law that prohibits people from intentionally and secretly photographing people who are nude or partly nude without their permission in a setting where they should reasonably expect privacy.
However, Robertson was exonerated in the upskirting case because the women he photographed were neither nude nor partially nude.
The high court's ruling was unanimous in spite of what many argue is a loophole in the law that was enacted before the proliferation of phones that can take photographs in virtually every situation.
State lawmakers are expected to work on legislation that catches up with modern technology to prevent upskirting and other so-called invasions of privacy.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 08:34:54 AM
(NEW YORK) -- American Express has introduced a new, cash-back “EveryDay” credit card that charges no annual fee and doesn’t require customers to pay their balance in full each month, and yet gives them a number of attractive perks.
But how good a deal is it compared to competing cards?
The card -- which, according to AmEx, will become available by April 2 -- rewards customers based on how often they use it, not just on how much they spend. If they use the card 20 or more times per month, they earn 20 percent extra reward points on those purchases, less returns and credits.
The company says it created the card with “busy moms” and other multi-takers in mind. Users get double reward points at supermarkets on purchases of up to $6,000 a year.
The card also incorporates advanced EMV anti-fraud technology, which uses a code and an embedded chip, rather than a magnetic stripe, to connect with retailers’ registers at check-out.
Asked by ABC News for his opinion of the new card, Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of CardHub, a site that helps consumers comparison-shop for card plans and features, calls it a good card with above-average features.
“But from a rewards standpoint,” he says, “it’s not anything that would make you say, ‘Wow.’”
He also calls the EMV feature “not a big deal.” Most U.S. merchants, he says, don’t yet take EMV-equipped cards because their registers haven’t yet been updated to accept that technology.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 07:53:59 AM
(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- At least five members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) were killed on Thursday during an operation carried out by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in eastern Afghanistan.
The airstrike by coalition forces also left eight ANA soldiers injured, according to Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for the Afghan Defence Ministry.
In a statement, ISAF called the incident in the Charkh district of Logar Province an accident and said an investigation is underway to determine what caused it.
"Our condolences go out to the families of the ANA soldiers who lost their lives and were wounded," ISAF said. "We value the strong relationship with our Afghan partners, and we will determine what actions will be taken to ensure incidents like this do not happen again."
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 06:54:10 AM
(GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.) -- The city of Grand Rapids, Mich., says it’s now OK to annoy thy neighbor.
A section of the city code stating that “no person shall willfully annoy another person” is set to be struck next Tuesday, after 38 years on the books. And it's about time, says the city attorney.
Next week, a commission is expected to give its final approval to repeal the rule after city attorney Catherine Mish requested its removal, saying the rule's vague language was archaic and “unconstitutional,” as well as “simply unenforceable.”
"An ordinance is vague if a person of ordinary intelligence can't differ its meaning," Mish told ABC News, "and annoyance is in the eye of the beholder."
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 06:07:49 AM
(NEW YORK) -- After living with a stunted leg for most of her life, a 21-year-old Chinese woman underwent intensive surgery to lengthen her left leg by nine inches.
Xu Juan’s left leg was damaged after an infection left her thigh bone eroded by bacteria as a child, according to the Rex Press agency. Lacking proper medical care, her left leg was left 23 centimeters shorter than her right leg. As a result, she had to use crutches to effectively move around.
After years of saving money for the procedure, her parents were finally able to pay for her surgery to even out her legs, though she had other complications besides a deteriorated thigh bone.
"Her condition was very complicated. As she not only has a shorter leg, but her knee and hip joints were also underdeveloped and had to be replaced,” Dr. Hu Yihe told the Rex Press Agency. "So we made a treatment plan of two phases. The first phase was to extend her left leg and made the two legs evenly long, then the second phase surgeries was replacing the left knee joint and left hip joint."
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 05:59:57 AM
(WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.) -- Tyler Cavanaugh scored 20 and Travis McKie added 19 as Wake Forest shocked No. 4 Duke 82-72 Wednesday night.
Wake Forest (16-14, 6-11 ACC) trailed 66-59 with 5:21 remaining in the game, but proceeded to go on a 17-0 run that broke the Blue Devils.
Duke (23-7, 12-5), who was playing for the first time in over a week, shot 6 for 27 from behind the 3-point arc in its first loss to Wake Forest since 2009.
Jabari Parker led the Blue Devils with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Duke closes out its season Saturday with a rematch against No. 14 North Carolina.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 05:27:00 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Just days before her new reality show premieres on OWN, Lindsay Lohan has landed another TV gig.
CBS announced Wednesday she'll guest star in an episode of 2 Broke Girls, airing April 14. She'll play a soon-to-be-bride named Claire Guinness, who turns to Kat Dennings' Max and Beth Behrs' Caroline to make her wedding cake. However, Claire has a hard time making decisions.
Last fall, Lohan guest starred on the HBO comedy Eastbound & Down. Her reality show, simply titled Lindsay, premieres Sunday night on OWN.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 05:08:23 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Taking care of yourself doesn’t pay sometimes.
An Ohio dermatologist says that he’s seeing more people with itchy rashes that come from using pre-moistened wipes and other products in their attempt to kill bacteria.
While Dr. Matthew Zirwas’ patients might being avoid colds, they’re also getting exposed to high concentrations of the chemical preservative MI (methylisothiazolinone). In some cases, people are having allergic reactions, accounting for red, raised, itchy and even blistery irritations on the skin.
What looks like poison ivy, says Zirwas, director of the contact dermatitis center at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center, is actually an irritation from MI that often shows up on the face, fingers, hands, buttocks and genitals.
Zirwas says people who develop these sometimes painful rashes, need to stop using wipes or liquid soaps immediately and stay away from them for at least one month or more to prevent a re-occurrence of the rash.
He adds that makers of products with MI have become increasingly aware of the allergies and are looking into finding different cleansing agents.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 04:47:18 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- Liz Wahl, a news anchor based in Washington, D.C., for Russia’s state-owned Russia Today, announced on the air Wednesday that she could no longer continue to work for the TV station due to what she suggested was RT’s slanted reporting of the incursion into the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
Wahl, whose parents fled the Soviet occupation of Hungary, told viewers during her newscast, “I'm proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth.”
She charged RT with “whitewashing” Moscow’s action in Ukraine, which follows the Kremlin’s assertions that so-called “self-defense” forces are behind the occupation of Crimea, not Russian forces.
The on-air resignation, which was effective at the conclusion of Wahl’s newscast, was likely spurred by Wahl’s now former colleague, Abby Martin, who said during her own program, “I can’t say enough how strongly I am against any state intervention in a sovereign nation’s affairs. What Russia did is wrong.”
Martin also refused RT’s offer to send her to Crimea to get a first-hand look at the official Russian position of the crisis.
Later Wednesday, Wahl told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that “RT is not about the truth. It's about promoting a Putinist agenda. It's also about bashing America."
For its part, RT called Wahl’s on-air resignation “a self-promotional stunt” but nonetheless wished her “the best of luck on her chosen path.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 04:21:49 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Two-thirds of Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say they’d consider supporting Hillary Clinton for president, far more than the current take-a-look numbers for a range of potential Republican candidates – some of them less popular, others just less known.
As potential candidates make their appearances at the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference starting Thursday, 25 percent of Americans say they’d “definitely” support Clinton if she ran for president and 41 percent say they would consider her. The rest, 32 percent, rule her out – fewer than did so in 2006-7, in advance of her losing run for the 2008 Democratic nomination.
Some in the potential GOP herd start with bigger handicaps, including some marquee names: Forty-nine percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, say they’d definitely not support Mitt Romney; 48 percent say the same about Jeb Bush (perhaps conflating him with his brother George, deeply unpopular in his second term).
Thirty-eight to 40 percent rule out other notable Republicans, including Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry. Fewer, 32 and 28 percent, respectively, rule out supporting Marco Rubio or the particularly little-known Scott Walker. In any case, each of these still has a clear majority available to woo – and a majority is what it takes.
GOP DIVISIONS – Getting there, though, is a challenge: Sharp ideological divisions mark views within the ranks of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, underscoring the conflict between “very” conservative Republicans and less-so ones.
Willingness at least to consider Rand Paul, for example, reaches 83 percent among very conservative Republicans but slides to 60 percent among their “somewhat” conservative counterparts. There’s a similar gap for Scott Walker and a sizable one for Ted Cruz, as well.
Tea Party favorites are likely to be among the most popular attendees at CPAC, while Christie, with his more moderate image (and recent Bridgegate scandal) may fare less well. As noted, potential support from strong conservative Republicans ranges as high as 83 percent for Paul – but drops as low as a downright chilly 52 percent for Christie. Nor does Christie do better among somewhat conservative Republicans, a challenge if he runs.
At the same time, among all adults, 48 percent say they’d consider Christie, as good or better than any of his competitors. It’s the nomination that’s his bigger difficulty.
Rubio, Paul and Huckabee, for their part, maintain high levels of support among somewhat conservative and moderate Republicans, but it’s Bush and Romney who lead in this wing of the GOP. Seventy-four percent of somewhat conservatives in the party would at least consider Romney and two-thirds say the same for Bush; both also have potential support from seven in 10 moderate leaned Republicans. (Strong conservatives account for 23 percent of all Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in this poll, somewhat conservatives for 36 percent and moderates for 32 percent.)
Meanwhile Walker, the Wisconsin governor, has an opportunity to gain a greater following given that he’s unknown to 35 percent overall and three in 10 leaned Republicans.
OVERALL – Two-thirds of Americans, as noted, say they’d at least consider Clinton for president; that drops to the high 30s to high 40s for the Republicans tested in this survey. Simply being known is one factor: While just 2 percent can’t say whether or not they’d consider Clinton, that jumps, for example, to 15 percent for Paul, 23 percent for Rubio and 35 percent for Walker. As they become better known, their take-a-look numbers may well grow.
Clinton’s potential voters include nine in 10 Democrats, two-thirds of independents and even a third of Republicans. Among possible Republican candidates, Rubio is competitive within his own party and also has reasonable interest outside it. Some of the others show less cross-border appeal.
GROUPS – As expected given partisan preferences, whites, rural dwellers and evangelical white Protestants are most willing to consider Republican candidates. Clinton, for her part, gets the closest look from nonwhites, those with no religious affiliation, young adults, people earning less than $50,000 a year, those with either the most or least formal education, Northeasterners and women.
There’s also an age effect: Young adults generally are more willing to give any of the possible candidates a chance, while seniors are most apt to rule them out.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 04:01:34 AM
(NEW YORK) -- For most kids today, this will probably be their first run-in with the characters of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, who were first introduced in segments during the Rocky and Bullwinkle TV cartoons of the 1950s and 60s. Mr. Peabody, you may recall, is a glasses-wearing beagle that not only talks, he’s the smartest creature to ever live. Sherman is his 7-year-old glasses-wearing adopted son. Together they live in a killer penthouse apartment in a big city. They also frequently travel back in time because, of course, Mr. Peabody invented a time machine. Remember, he’s really smart.
The basic premise involves Peabody, Sherman, and Sherman’s classmate, Penny, traveling back in time and experiencing famous moments in history first-hand: Hey, there’s Leonardo da Vinci painting the Mona Lisa! Whoops, we’re in the middle of the Trojan War! Over there, is that Marie Antoinette? Let them eat cake! And so on.
The device is a sneaky way to make history fun for kids, kind of like cheese sauce on vegetables, and I bet most parents will probably appreciate a little extra learning tucked into a Saturday matinee. For kids, it won’t feel like homework. There are plenty of jokes where various things fall out of various butts -- and let’s be honest, many adults will enjoy that, too. Adults should also enjoy the distinct Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure vibe that happens whenever history and time travel are combined.
History lessons aren't the only thing Mr. Peabody & Sherman teaches: there are lessons about inclusion, bullying, and name-calling, which parents may also appreciate. But they feel a little shoe-horned in and obvious. At one point, you may feel like there’s a neon sign hanging over the movie, flashing, “THIS IS THE MORAL OF THE STORY.”
Like most marquee animated films these days, Mr. Peabody & Sherman fulfills the unwritten animation rule that recognizable names must voice the characters. Modern Family’s Ty Burrell stars as the title beagle, and at times you can hear the dorky dad from the ABC sitcom squeak through, though not in a distracting way. His daughter on the show, played by Ariel Winter, here plays Penny, the female foil to clumsy, earnest young Sherman, played with charming precociousness by 10-year-old Max Charles. Other familiar names jumping in on the action include Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, animation mainstay Patrick Warburton, Allison Janney, Stanley Tucci, and Mel Brooks in a brief appearance.
Animated movies today are pretty much required to work on two levels -- one that’s goofy and silly and shiny enough to hold the attention of children for 90 minutes, and another that’s hip and smart and a touch subversive enough to hold the attention of adults for the same amount of time. Mr. Peabody & Sherman strikes the right balance of bathroom jokes and historical humor. It lacks a bit of the originality of The Lego Movie and it doesn’t have as much heart as Frozen, so it likely won’t become a classic or an Oscar nominee. But it will keep both children and parents entertained long after the popcorn is finished.
Three-and-a-half out of five stars.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 04:01:00 AM
(NEW YORK) -- A 25-year-old woman dangling over the edge of the upper level of New York’s George Washington Bridge was stopped from jumping to her death by a cop, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Officer Christopher Outhouse climbed over an inner railing Tuesday and grabbed the woman, whose torso was hanging 212 feet over the icy Hudson River. Authorities did not release her name, but said she was taken to the hospital. She had threatened to kill herself in text messages, and authorities found several unfilled prescriptions for medication to treat bipolar disorder and depression.
Hers was the fourth suicide attempt in the first two months of this year, according to Port Authority spokesman Joe Pentangelo. One, a 19-year-old male on Feb. 22, was successful.
Suicide numbers are greater at the 81-year-old bridge than all other local bridges combined, but Pentangelo would not comment on what prevention measures had been taken.
Civilian security guards assist Port Authority Police in watching for jumpers, but pedestrian walkways and low railings make the bridge easily accessible.
Since 2000, suicides off the bridge have averaged about six a year, but are on the rise, according to USA Today; 10 deaths were reported in 2010, but by 2012, there were 18 successful jumps.
In 2010, two made national headlines: 18-year-old Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, who jumped from the bridge after he was secretly filmed having an intimate encounter with a man, and chef Joseph Cerniglia, a contestant on the reality cooking show Kitchen Nightmares, who had mounting restaurant debts.
In February 2013, 22-year-old Ashley Riggitano, a recent grad of the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising in Manhattan, jumped off the bridge. And in October, Donovan Dickson, a 24-year-old teacher from New Jersey’s Peddie School, leapt to his death, landing on a patch of gravel.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline promotes the use of bridge barriers as the "most effective" means of bridge suicide prevention. They also recognize that signage or other public education media near bridges promoting awareness of hotlines can supplement such barriers.
In 2012, Port Authority police ordered foot and car patrols be intensified with patrols that looked out for jumpers. That year, 43 attempted suicide and 18 were successful, according to the Port Authority.
The George Washington Bridge has no barriers or nets to dissuade suicide attempts.
About a dozen telephones along its walkways are labeled in Spanish and English, “Need Help,” which can connect potential jumpers to suicide hotlines.
Some studies show that iconic bridges and other physical structures draw those with suicidal impulses, but if barriers are in place, many deaths can be prevented.
The biggest “suicide magnet” in the world is San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, with nearly 2,000 so far, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 2013, there were 10 confirmed deaths in August alone, the most suicides in any month in the bridge’s history.
Besides its historic appeal for jumpers, the bridge offers easy access with parking lots on either side and walkways for pedestrians and bikers. Some critics say its low rail – only four feet high – is no deterrent. The newspaper reports that “anyone can climb over it.”
In 2008, the city proposed a suicide prevention net, but it was never funded. “As a result, the Golden Gate Bridge continues to be the only major international suicide landmark without a barrier.”
More than 230 people have taken their lives at the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, making it the second-deadliest "suicide bridge" in the United States, behind the Golden Gate Bridge, according to Seattle Friends. Since 1995, 50 people have died, and more than half of the victims landed on the pavement and busy intersections below.
But since 2011, safety barriers have been in place, thanks to a suicide-prevention organization. Now, state transportation officials, who spent $4.8 million on the project, say guardedly that it is working.
American universities struggling with high suicide rates are also finding barriers are effective.
New York University in lower Manhattan just completed the renovation of a 150-foot-tall space after several students jumped to their deaths inside a library.
In 2003, after two suicides less than a month apart, the university installed 8-foot, plastic-glass walls in its library's atrium. But another student scaled the wall in 2009 and killed himself. Now, a new system of lace-like aluminum panels has been installed around the balconies and staircases.
Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has also addressed its suicide problem by installing mesh nets on five bridges that cross gorges around campus. The school has had 27 such deaths between 1990 and 2010, 15 of them students.
Some experts argue that those intent on suicide will find a way, regardless of attempts to dissuade jumpers, but one study, reported in the New York Times story, "The Urge to End It All," suggests otherwise.
Two bridges in Washington, D.C., span the 125-foot deep Rock Creek gorge: the Ellington, famous as the "suicide bridge" with about four deaths a year, and the Taft, with fewer than two a year.
But after three people died in a 10-day period in 1985, the city erected barriers at the Ellington Bridge. Critics feared jumpers would just go to the Taft instead. But five years later, a study showed no suicides at the Ellington Bridge and no change at Taft. As a result, the overall suicide deaths went down in the nation's capital by 50 percent.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/6/2014 04:00:18 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- You've seen the most retweeted picture ever -- Ellen DeGeneres' star-filled selfie -- obviously. But did you know DeGeneres set the goal herself during Oscars rehearsals?
DeGeneres made sure to have her cameras at the rehearsal process. The video recorded a closer look at the host's candid and casual comedic ways.
During a meeting with her team, DeGeneres fretted as she discussed the selfie stunt.
"I think if I just say I'm trying to break the record of most retweeted picture, I really hope that everyone jumps in this picture," she said. "I keep thinking, I mean, that would be amazing if everyone really gets in."
The jokes were non-stop throughout her crew meetings, stage practices, photo and video shoots.
The recordings also captured her whereabouts backstage on the night of the event, greeting celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Channing Tatum with warm hugs and banter. Then lauding Lupita Nyong'o for her heartwarming speech:
"Oh my God," she told the actress. "You won an Oscar and it was a beautiful speech. It was beautiful."
The Oscars show was successful on multiple fronts. It reached the highest ratings for an Oscars telecast in more than 10 years, with an audience of 43.7 million.
As for the selfie: Success! Less than an hour after she posted it @TheEllenShow, DeGeneres' photo surpassed the previous record of 780,000 retweets set for a President Obama tweet after his re-election. The instantaneous surge even caused technical problems for Twitter.
As of Wednesday, the tweet had more than 3 million retweets.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 23:58:20 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Moving in might be one of life’s most stressful experiences. The process can be a minefield of potential rip-offs. Linda Bauer Darr, president and CEO of the American Moving and Storage Association, recently shared with ABC News’ 20/20 some of her moving tips.
Check out Darr’s top eight tips for making the move a smooth and reasonably priced experience:
1) Hire a mover with an established track record, not the one that just pops up first on your Google search.
As consumers are buying more moving services online, the rogues have figured out a way to scam the system. The rogues are investing all their money in the technology it takes for them to have priority placement in the online environment, whether it’s search engine optimization or some other set of tools they’re using.
But, ultimately, they are using their dollars for those marketing purposes, and they’re not necessarily using those dollars to invest in things like safe drivers and maintaining their vehicles. Those are the costs of compliance that professional movers take on in their everyday business.
2) Get that estimate in person.
It’s important that the mover is invited into the home and is able to evaluate everything that needs to be moved. Is there a playground set that needs to be moved? Is there special equipment or a plasma TV that needs to be disassembled and taken off the wall that’s going to have to be packed in special crating? Those kinds of things add to the cost. If that kind of an estimate is provided online or over the phone, chances are the movers aren’t really going to be able to give you a sound estimate if they haven’t been in the house and had a chance to eyeball it.
3) Make sure your estimate is binding. Then, by law, a mover can’t charge more than 10 percent beyond the estimate.
If a mover shows up at your house and you have a binding estimate, you should expect to pay the price that was listed in the binding estimate unless there are special unforeseen circumstances. For example, with something that requires extra shuttle services or things that were unanticipated in the move initially, the mover can charge 10 percent beyond that binding estimate. But anything beyond that 10 percent would have to be negotiated.
4) Know who you’re dealing with: movers vs. brokers.
It’s important that when you choose your mover, you understand who you’re dealing with. Is the company that you’re working with the actual mover? Are they the people who are going to load your goods and move them, or are they front men for a series of companies that do that? There are a lot of middle men involved in the business, and when you have middle men involved, there’s often an additional charge. There’s also another layer of distance between you and the ultimate service provider, so that can get a little bit tricky. I would recommend that you go direct to the mover. Make sure that you know who you’re doing business with.
5) Weigh that sucker.
In order to make sure that you are being charged correctly and in accordance with how much the load actually weighs, you should ask for the receipt that the mover receives at the weigh station that says exactly how much that load weighs.
6) Be clear when you want stuff delivered, but be flexible, too.
If you’re within a 24-hour window of the goods being delivered to your destination, I think it’s very important that you arrange to be flexible. You don’t know for sure when that truck is going to pull into town. I think you need to clear your schedule and make sure that you’re available to the mover. You don’t want a mover to be waiting with a loaded truck on a city street or in your community. You’re upsetting your neighbors, and you’re wasting his time and probably yours.
7) One burly dude alone cannot move your stuff.
If a mover shows up at the destination by himself and he is the only person available to unload that truck, that’s not a good sign. As a consumer, I think that I would call the company immediately and ask for reinforcements. That’s a big job, and you don’t want to leave it to one individual person.
8) What to do in the worst-case scenario of hostage loading.
If the mover is refusing to remove your goods from the loaded tractor and requiring you to pay more money than you believe is reasonable, you’re in a hostage-goods situation. When that situation comes up, it really is a civil issue and not at that point a criminal issue. You might want to call local law enforcement just for the presence because I think that is going to put additional heat on the rogue during the operation. You can also call the American Moving and Storage Association, because we can help to negotiate between the mover and the consumer and make sure that we and the consumer really understand what’s going on, what the consumer’s rights are and what the proper actions are to take. You can also report rogue activity on this website.
Finally, there is actually an industry-lead program called Move Rescue that employs 5,253 moving-industry experts and legal experts who can be called upon at a moment’s notice in real time when a hostage situation is taking place so that someone can come to the scene and help negotiate through what’s taking place.
Tune into ABC News’ 20/20 Friday, March 7, at 10 p.m. ET
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 23:39:29 PM
(NEW YORK) -- NBA: Charlotte Bobcats 109 (28-33) – Indiana Pacers 87 (46-15)
Houston Rockets 101 (42-19) – Orlando Magic 89 (19-44)
Washington Wizards 104 (32-29) – Utah Jazz 91 (21-40)
Golden State Warriors 108 (38-24) – Boston Celtics 88 (20-41)
Brooklyn Nets 103 (30-29) – Memphis Grizzlies 94 (34-26)
Chicago Bulls 105 (34-27) – Detroit Pistons 94 (24-37)
Sacramento Kings 117 (22-39) – Milwaukee Bucks 102 (12-48)
New York Knicks 118 (22-40) – Minnesota Timberwolves 106 (30-30)
Denver Nuggets 115 (26-34) – Dallas Mavericks 110 (36-26)
Portland Trail Blazers 102 (42-19) - Atlanta Hawks 78 (26-33)
Top 25 Men’s College Basketball: (3) Arizona 74 (28-2) - Oregon St. 69 (15-14)
Wake Forest 82 (16-14) – (4) Duke 72 (23-7)
(8) Kansas 82 (23-7) – Texas Tech 57 (13-17)
(9) Wisconsin 76 (25-5) – Purdue 70 (15-15)
(10) San Diego St. 73 (26-3) - UNLV 64 (19-11)
(11) Louisville 84 (25-5) – (18) SMU 71 (23-7)
Dayton 72 (21-9) - (17) St. Louis 67 (25-5)
(19) Connecticut 69 (24-6) – Rutgers 63 (11-19)
(21) New Mexico 80 (24-5) – Air Force 52 (11-17)
(23) Oklahoma 72 (22-8) – West Virginia 62 (16-14)
NHL: Philadelphia Flyers 6 (33-24-6; 72pts) – Washington Capitals 4 (29-24-10; 68pts)
Toronto Maple Leafs 3 (33-23-8; 74pts) – New York Rangers 2 (33-26-4; 70pts) OT
Montreal Canadiens 4 (35-22-7, 77pts) - Anaheim Ducks 3 (43-14-6, 92pts) SO
Calgary Flames 4 (24-31-7, 54pts) - Ottawa Senators 1 (27-25-11, 65pts)
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 23:16:51 PM
(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) -- A man who helped pull three children from a sinking minivan said he tried to stop the mother from driving the vehicle into rough surf on a Florida beach, but she suddenly veered away and plowed into the water.
Stacy Robinson, a sophomore at Seminole State College in Sanford, Fla., said he and his girlfriend were sitting in their car at the beach in Daytona Beach, Fla., when they saw a woman, whom police have identified as Ebony Wilkerson, 32, from Cross, S.C., driving a minivan partly in the rough surf.
"[My girlfriend] said what I thought was a joke and [I] was like, 'No, this is real,' because after that her son came out the window, probably about waist high, screaming for help," Robinson said.
Robinson, 21, said he jumped out of his car and ran over to the minivan and started walking beside the vehicle, talking to the mother.
"The son was snatching at the wheel, trying to get her to come back toward the shore and I was asking, I was like, 'What is going on, why are you driving on the water?' I said, 'You're going to get in trouble...you're not supposed to be doing this,'" Robinson said.
"All she repeated is 'OK, We are OK, we are OK,'" Robinson said. "I was like, 'You've got to get out of the water. You're going to get in trouble. You got kids. You're scaring them. They're crying.' And she said, she was like, 'OK' as though she was coming back out the water and took off. She sped off."
Robinson said he then ran into the pounding waves after the minivan, which started to sink. The mother, he said, had rolled up the car windows and locked the doors as the vehicle was rocked by waves and pulled deeper into the water.
The kids -- ages 3, 9 and 10 -- were screaming for help.
Robinson said one of the back windows was still cracked open and he was able to reach in and open the door.
"That's when I snatched out the boy first and the little girl," he said. "Then I noticed the baby in the car seat... she was in the back behind the passenger seat."
"Once I grabbed the little girl out, I saw [the mother], she began to climb out her window," Robinson continued.
At this point, Robinson said other bystanders and lifeguards had arrived and helped rescue the 3-year-old and the mother from the sinking car, as he carried the two older children to safety.
"When I was speaking to her, her eyes were like... stretched, wide, wide open. She was saying, she was repeating she was 'OK'... that's when she sped off," Robinson said.
Authorities said the mother was incoherent when they tried to speak with her and did not answer questions immediately after incident.
Police said Wednesday at a news conference that family members called them Tuesday before the mother, who is pregnant, drove her minivan into the water, indicating they were concerned about her. Police made contact with her, but said the woman told them she was going to a domestic abuse shelter, and decided not to pursue further action.
A few hours later, she drove her minivan into the water.
Other bystanders on the beach watched as rescuers raced across the sand in an attempt to stop the minivan and help save the children.
"I saw a child hanging out the window waving his hands screaming, 'Help us, help us,'" said Taylor Quintin, 14, of Milton, Vt., who was on the beach at the time of the rescue. "The kids started screaming, 'There's a baby in the car' and that's when another bystander ran in to get the toddler...I heard one kid say, 'Why did she do this?'"
Another bystander, Simon Besner, videotaped the dramatic rescue.
"The lifeguard went in the car to rescue the little girl, and then he was stuck himself in the car, so the other lifeguard took him back out of the car," Besner said.
In the video, the mother staggering in the heavy surf is seen nearly dragged under the car, sucked in by the undertow.
As for the rescuers, Besner said: "They did a really nice job. They did an excellent job."
The mother is currently hospitalized and is undergoing mental evaluation. No charges have been filed yet. The kids have been placed in the care of the child protective services, according to Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 20:31:54 PM
(UNIONDALE, NY) – The New York Islanders dealt Thomas Vanek to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday for forward Sebastian Collberg and a conditional second-round pick in the 2014 NHL draft.
Vanek had 17 goals and 27 assists for 44 points in 47 games with the Islanders this season. New York acquired the 30-year-old on Oct. 27 in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres, where he scored 254 goals in 598 games.
Montreal selected Collberg with the 33rd overall pick in the 2012 draft. The 20-year-old is currently playing with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League, where he has three goals and six assists for nine points in 40 games.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 20:29:00 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- With seemingly no end to the crisis in Ukraine, President Barack Obama on Wednesday focused his attention back to his current domestic policy push -- a new $10.10/hour minimum wage.
At a college gymnasium in Connecticut -- a state which has adopted the new wage -- Obama ignored arguments from congressional Republicans that the wage hike would kill jobs.
“What happens if workers got a little more money in their pocket? They spend a little more money. Which means that suddenly businesses have more customers, which means they make more profits, which means they can hire more workers, which means you get a virtuous cycle. … It’s common sense,” Obama said to applause.
“Republicans in Congress don’t want to vote on raising the minimum wage. Some have actually said they just want to scrap the minimum wage,” Obama added.
In the face of GOP resistance, the White House has made raising the minimum wage a major policy objective ahead of the midterm elections. The president has made several trips in recent weeks to promote the increase, using big-name retailers like Costco and The Gap as examples of businesses who are committed to providing higher wages for rank-and-file employees.
Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, who was on stage with Obama, said the policy is not only business-friendly, but it’s also the right thing to do.
“I don’t mind the rich getting richer. I just don’t want the poor getting poorer,” Malloy said after the speech.
Since he first made the pitch to raise the minimum wage a year ago, six states have done so, Obama said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 20:18:37 PM
(PLYMOUTH, Wis.) -- Jean Paese says an iPod playlist of barbershop music helps her see glimpses of the Bill Paese she married 53 years ago.
Bill Paese, 82 and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, sang in a quartet most of his life – so his customized playlist is a bridge to good memories for both of them.
“He’s in there and sometimes we get to see him,” said Jean Paese, who visits her husband daily at the Rocky Knoll Health Care Center in Plymouth, Wis.
Dan Cohen, a social worker in New York, came up with the idea in 2006 to take unused iPods and make them available to those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. He started by creating playlists for residents at a local nursing home.
In 2010, Music & Memory was created and iPod donations by the thousands poured into Cohen’s organization.
More than 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
The customized playlists somehow link senior citizens with their pasts. Researchers think the music touches so many areas of the brain, making connections, that it may have the power to awaken memories and feelings that would otherwise be lost.
Cohen said his goal is to collect 1 million music players. So far, about 10,000 have been donated.
“It’s not a cure. Nobody is going to live longer,” Cohen said. “But their function is very often is better....The impact of music grows over time.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 18:54:54 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- The masked men in military uniform spotted all over Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula are not Russian military forces but “well-trained militia forces,” Russian officials have claimed to America’s top military officer.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey aren’t buying the claim, telling a congressional panel Wednesday that they are confident the masked men are Russian troops.
“It’s pretty clear that they’re Russian troops,” Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“My judgment is they are soldiers,” said Dempsey.
Earlier in the day, Dempsey added, he had spoken by phone with his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, who denied that the military men spotted throughout Crimea were Russian military forces.
He said Gerasimov told him “that they were not regular forces; they were well-trained militia forces responding to threats to ethnic Russians in the Crimea.”
Dempsey told the committee that he feels they are in fact Russian military forces.
“My military judgment is that these are soldiers who have been taken out of their traditional uniforms, repurposed for placement in Crimea as a militia force,” said Dempsey. ”But my judgment is, they are soldiers.”
However, Dempsey said, there is not concrete evidence to support his belief that they are Russian military forces in unmarked uniforms.
“We don’t have any evidence as yet,” he said. “I think evidence could likely become available over time.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., complained to Hagel that U.S. intelligence had sustained what he called a “massive failure” for not predicting that Russian President Vladimir Putin intended to intervene militarily in Crimea.
“Mr. Putin was not going to see Sevastopol go into the hands of a government that was not his client, and that’s just a fact, ” said McCain.
Hagel said the Obama administration was not caught unaware.
“We were well aware of the threats,” Hagel said, citing NATO meetings in Brussels he attended last week and his recent conversations with Ukraine’s previous defense ministers.
Either way, Hagel said, American officials don’t place much trust in President Putin’s claims about Crimea. Hagel said he agreed with Secretary of State John Kerry that “we don’t accept anything that President Putin said as fact about why they had to protect the so-called ethnic minority in Crimea, and the other reasons that the Russians have laid out as to why they took the action they did."
Dempsey told the panel that he could not be certain where the Russian military forces inside the Crimea had come from, though the U.S. has been tracking Russian military exercises east of Ukraine’s borders.
U.S. officials have also been unable to cite with precision exactly how many Russian forces entered Crimea.
One official said that he has seen estimates ranging from between two to ten thousand additional forces had been sent to Crimea. The official said it has been difficult to get a clear picture of what has been going on inside the region.
Another official said that the number of Russian military forces already stationed inside Crimea before the crisis developed last week was 15,000.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 18:52:36 PM
(HOLLYWOOD, Fla.) -- Deana Valorose knows that each click of the camera on her smartphone could mean money in her bank account.
Valorose, of Hollywood, Fla., said she’s made more than $300 from selling 68 of her pictures - from breakfast to sports and nature – through a free app called Foap.
The app sells the photographs to big brands like MasterCard for use in their advertisements.
Each photograph on Foap sells for $10. The owner gets $5 and Foap gets $5.
“The picture that I’ve sold the most of is parasailing -- people parasailing,” Valorose said.
Business is booming, according to Foap, because it’s much cheaper for companies to buy stock photos from sites like Foap than from the professionals.
Foap said that half of its users were making money and that half were raking it in.
The app’s user base has grown 25 percent in the last financial quarter as the company seeks to win a share of the $4 billion market for stock photos, competing against longtime stakeholders iStock, Getty and The Associated Press.
Duyum Dulom of California made almost $4,000 in less than a year by uploading his photos and winning competitions on Foap. Sony and MasterCard each have bought his images. And, he said, Heineken paid him $100 for an image.
Some big brands have even started sending users out on specific missions. MasterCard paid Foap user Adam Hamilton, 42, of Portland, Maine, $500 for this picture of his son playing in the snow.
Sneaker and apparel brand Puma paid Hamilton $2,000 for an image.
At first, Valorose said, she was skeptical about selling her images.
“Once I sold a couple pictures, I went to cash out,” she said, “and got my money. … This is the real deal. Yep!”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 18:47:52 PM
(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Murder and aggravated kidnapping charges were filed Wednesday against a suspect in the disappearance of Holly Bobo.
Zachary Rye Adams, 27, is being held without bond in connection with the disappearance of the nursing student, who hasn't been seen since 2011.
"We believe we can prove she was taken forcefully from her home without her consent," a law enforcement official said. "We also feel she was killed in the perpetration of the kidnapping, thus we have a charge of felony murder."
Authorities did not rule out another arrest in the case and would not reveal if or where Bobo's remains were found.
Adams is scheduled to be arraigned March 11 in Decatur County, Tenn.
The announcement comes just a week after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations searched Adams' property in Holloday, Tenn., about 15 miles north of where Bobo disappeared.
Adams was arrested last week on unrelated charges.
Bobo disappeared from her home in April 2011 when a man in camouflage dragged her into the woods near her home, according to witness statements from her brother, Clint.
Bobo lived with her family about three hours outside of Nashville. Clint Bobo said he mistakenly believed the man was her boyfriend.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 17:43:04 PM
(PARIS) -- After an exhaustive day of talks with his European counterparts on resolving tensions in Ukraine, Secretary of State John Kerry had little to show for it, but struck an optimistic tone.
“I’d rather be where we are today, than where we were yesterday,” he said, adding that he “hopes” Wednesday’s discussions with foreign ministers from France, the U.K., Ukraine and Russia will lead to a peaceful solution.
Kerry said he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would go back and consult with their respective bosses, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has flatly denied the presence of additional Russian troops in Crimea.
But Kerry didn’t spare Russia from tough talk, saying, “Russia made a choice. We have clearly stated we believe it is the wrong choice.”
Kerry also urged Russia to welcome international human rights monitors into Crimea — but Russia has made it difficult for unarmed inspectors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to gain access to the region.
Kerry said it was important for the European Union, Ukraine and Russia to resolve tensions by “coming together as a community of nations” — although he did not announce any new measures that the EU and United States might collaborate on.
The EU has so far refrained from imposing comprehensive sanctions on Russia, in part because European countries depend heavily on Russia as a trade partner.
Kerry said he would continue his conversation Thursday with Lavrov in Rome.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 17:04:17 PM
(NEW YORK) -- If you have a sweet tooth -- beware.
The World Health Organization says your daily sugar intake should be just 5% of your total calories, which is half of what the agency previously recommended.
Your daily sugar intake includes sugars added to foods, as well as sugar naturally present in foods like honey, syrup, and fruit juice.
According to an expert panel from the World Health Organization, dropping your sugar intake level to 5% can help prevent cavities and fight obesity.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 16:53:42 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Target's technology chief Beth Jacob resigned Wednesday in the wake of a series of massive data breaches that affected more than 40 million customers.
The investigation into the holiday security incident is still ongoing. Gredd Steinhafel, Target's chairman, president and CEO, said the company will conduct a search for an interim chief information officer and will hire externally for the position.
In addition to filling her position, Target is also searching outside the company for a chief compliance officer. The period is one of major transition during which an external advisor will help evaluate the company's technology, structure, processes and talent, Steinhafel said.
"While we are still in the process of an ongoing investigation, we recognized that the information security environment is evolving rapidly," he said. "To ensure that Target is well positioned following the data breach we suffered last year, we are undertaking an overhaul of our information security and compliance structure and practices at Target."
A data breach following Black Friday in 2013 affected 40 milion credit and debit card accounts, and the company later disclosed hackers took information such as phone numbers and addresses from as many as 70 million customers.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 16:27:21 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- House Republicans continue targeting the president's signature health care law, casting on Wednesday their 50th vote to change it since seizing majority control in 2011.
The vote passed 250 to 160, with 27 Democrats crossing the aisle to vote with the GOP majority. One Republican, Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia, voted against the delay.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says the bill, known formally as “Suspending the Individual Mandate Penalty Law Equals Fairness Act,” would enact a one-year delay of Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, changing the penalty for failing to buy health insurance from $95, or one percent of income, to zero.
"Hardworking Americans are struggling under the president's health care bill. They don't need to see one percent of their salary taxed because they can't navigate a failing Obamacare bureaucracy,” Cantor, R-Va., said during a news conference on Capitol Hill.
House Speaker John Boehner added the tax is "not fair” since the president has already delayed the law’s mandate for businesses.
“The president's outlined and protected big businesses from problems with Obamacare and mandates on Obamacare,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “It's time to provide the same kind of relief for American families.”
Of the 50 health care-related votes, Obama has signed seven changes into law, but none since winning a second term.
Democrats like California Rep. George Miller, a chief architect of the legislation, contend the vote is meaningless since the president is highly unlikely to sign any more changes into law.
“This country has a lot of things that have to be addressed and they use time almost every week that the House is in session to use up considerable time to debate the repeal of the Affordable Care Act,” Miller, D-Calif., said. “It’s unfortunate.”
During debate leading up to the vote, New York Democrat Louise Slaughter said it was “truly amazing” that Republicans “managed to hold the same vote 50 times while so many Americans and so much of the world cries out for help.”
“I have a list of 50 votes that we could be taking today instead of another vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” Slaughter added. “Everything from rebuilding our crumbling bridges and roads to creating American manufacturing jobs.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 16:22:28 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Glee star Lea Michele has had a whirlwind year — getting through the tragedy of losing her boyfriend, Cory Monteith, last summer as a result of a heroin and alcohol overdose.
The multiple Grammy and Emmy-nominee now has a new solo album, Louder, which was released Wednesday — a feat that would never had been possible without the enduring support of her friends and family, Michele said on ABC’s Good Morning America.
“I’m really very, very, very thankful for all the amazing people I have in my life,” Michele, 27, explained to George Stephanopoulos. “I know that sounds like something everyone says, but honestly, my friends and my family, they got me through this and really, really have been there for me and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
One of Michele’s fans on Twitter compared listening to the new album to reading the star’s diary, a window into her life.
“That’s really what I sought out to do when making this record,” she agreed. “Moving to Los Angeles from working on Broadway I was cast on Glee within just a few weeks, so I really was introduced to the world as Rachel Berry.
“I wanted to take this opportunity in making this record to really let my fans know who I am, and I think the music should be personal,” she said of her much more introspective creative endeavor.
Watch the full GMA interview:
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 15:25:34 PM
(NEW YORK) -- The New York Rangers have traded captain Ryan Callahan and a pair of picks to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Martin St. Louis.
The deal gives the Lightning a first-round draft pick in 2015 and a second-round pick in 2014.
Callahan has played his entire eight-year NHL career with the Rangers and has 11 goals and 25 points this season.
St. Louis has 29 goals, 32 assists, and 61 points this season. He was a member of the 2004 Stanley Cup team, but reportedly asked for a trade after being frustrated with the team.
Callahan had been seeking a long-term contract with New York.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 15:20:00 PM
(NEW YORK) -- The College Board announced Wednesday the biggest changes to the SAT college admissions test since 2005.
Along with announcing updates to the test, the nonprofit organization, which also organizes the Advanced Placement Program in schools, said it is offering free SAT prep with free online educational program Khan Academy.
In addition, low-income students will receive four waivers to apply to college for free, through the "generosity" of its more than 6,000 member educational institutions, College Board President David Coleman said.
The College Board already sponsors free waivers to low-income students to take the SAT.
The changes announced today will be implemented for the spring 2016 exam, giving time to high school students who wish to prepare for the admissions test. A full test document example, which will include samples items, will be available April 16.
Here are eight changes to the SAT that students will face in 2016:
1. Returning to 1600 scale from 2400: For about a half a century, the SAT had a math and reading section, each scored from 200 to 800. Then in 2005, the College Board introduced a new writing section, introducing a perfect score of 2400. Now the test will go back to a 1600 scale.
2. Essay is optional instead of mandatory: The essay will now be optional on the SAT, with a separate score. It will be scored by human raters who will be trained to score the essays using a scoring rubric that will be released at a later date, the College Board says. Member school districts and colleges will be able to decide whether they will require an essay. The exam will have a new evidence-based reading and writing section. "Students will be asked to support answers with evidence, including questions that require them to cite a specific part of a passage to support their answer choice," the College Board announced in a statement.
3. Includes passage from a founding document: Each SAT exam will include a passage from "founding documents of America," such as the Federalist Papers, Declaration of Independence, Gettysburg Address and the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" by Martin Luther King, Jr.
4. No penalty for wrong answers: While the previous exam penalized students' scores for wrong answers, the College Board will no longer deduct points for incorrect answers in the new exam.
5. No more "obscure" vocabulary words: The College Board says it will test vocabulary focused on words that are "widely used in college and career" instead of "words that are sometimes obscure."
6. SAT will be available in paper and digital forms: Previously, the SAT was available on paper only.
7. Limits on calculator use: Calculator use only will be permitted for certain parts of the math section, as opposed to for the entire math section. The "no-calculator" section, the College Board says, "allows greater assessment of students' understanding, fluency, and technique."
8. Shorter exam: The new exam will be three hours, with an optional essay of 50 minutes. The old exam was three hours and 45 minutes.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 15:04:30 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Put down the crawdads. Mississippi has unseated West Virginia for the title of fattest state for the first time in three years, with an obesity rate of 35.4 percent. But the state just inched past West Virginia, where the obesity rate registered 34.4 percent.
Gallup has compiled this list every year since 2008 by asking a random sample of 178,072 adults about their height and weight, calculating their body mass index, or BMI, as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Anyone with a BMI greater than 30 is classified as obese.
Mississippi’s fattest-state crowning follows the passage of its so-called “anti-Bloomberg bill” last March, which prevents municipalities from limiting how much Mississippians can eat or drink. The governor signed the bill a week after a judge blocked former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s supersize soda ban.
On the flip side, Montana was crowned the state with the lowest obesity rate of 19.6 percent, down from 22.0 percent in 2012. However, the national obesity rate edged up to 27.1 percent from 26.2 percent.
According to the poll, people living in the 10 fattest states were more likely to have chronic diseases, including high cholesterol, diabetes, depression and cancer.
States with Highest Obesity Rates:
West Virginia: 34.4%
South Carolina: 31.4%
States with Lowest Obesity Rates:
New Mexico: 23.5%
New York: 24.0%
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 14:10:41 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- Seven Democrats took a rare step Wednesday and joined Republicans to oppose President Obama’s pick to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
The Senate failed to advance the nomination of attorney Debo Adegbile by a vote of 47 to 52 as eight Democratic senators voted against invoking cloture on the nominee. The senators included Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., Chris Coons, D-Del., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and John Walsh, D-Mt. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid joined the seven senators by voting no for technical reasons which allow him to bring up the nominee in the future.
Adegbile’s nomination was controversial because of his previous work as counsel for the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, which helped overturn the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted more than 30 years ago of killing Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Both of Pennsylvania’s senators, including Democrat Casey, were vocal in their opposition to Adegbile’s nomination.
New Senate rules instituted last year only require 51 votes to clear a procedural hurdle on nominees, which normally offers Senate Democrats enough room to get the president’s nominees passed through the Senate. But Democrats fell short of the votes needed after seven decided to vote against Adegbile, who also once worked as a child actor on Sesame Street.
Vice President Joe Biden even traveled to Capitol Hill to preside over the Senate in case he was needed to cast a tie-breaking vote, a vice presidential duty he has never performed.
President Obama expressed disappointment in the Senate’s rejection of Adegbile.
“The Senate’s failure to confirm Debo Adegbile to lead the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice is a travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant. Mr. Adegbile’s qualifications are impeccable,” President Obama said. “As a lawyer, Mr. Adgebile has played by the rules. And now, Washington politics have used the rules against him. The fact that his nomination was defeated solely based on his legal representation of a defendant runs contrary to a fundamental principle of our system of justice – and those who voted against his nomination denied the American people an outstanding public servant.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 14:05:35 PM
(LA JUNTA, Colo.) -- The small town of La Junta, Colorado is on high alert as authorities search for prisoners who escaped the Otero County Jail late Tuesday, one of whom was being held for an earlier escape attempt.
As of 10 a.m. MST, Curtis Apodaca–one of four that escaped–had been captured, according to the Chief of the La Junta Fire Department. No further details have been released regarding Apodaca’s capture.
The Colorado National Guard, Colorado State Patrol and Colorado Department of Corrections confirmed to ABC News that they are helping locate the inmates along with the Otero County Sheriff’s Office.
In a statement posted on its website, the Otero County Sheriff’s Office said two inmates rushed and overpowered a detention officer at about 8 p.m. MST Tuesday. The two prisoners then let another two inmates out of their cell, and together the four fled the jail.
“After a skirmish inside, they were able to make their way out of the facility and head north from the sheriff’s office,” Otero County Sheriff Chris Johnson told ABC affiliate KRDO.
Apodaca, Angel Castrejon, Johnny Nunez and Malcolm Hoffert headed away from La Junta – shedding some of their jail clothing in a rail yard at the edge of town, according to the statement.
Roger Hudson with the Colorado Department of Corrections, told ABC News that his organization has taken the lead on the search–deploying 50 or more people to hunt down the inmates–including a “canyon escape team,” which is used to rugged terrain.
“We will continue to assist the Otero County Sheriff’s Office until these men have been captured,” Hudson said. In addition, a K-9 unit and a fugitive apprehension unit are helping locate the prisoners.
The Colorado National Guard said in a statement that they have a Blackhawk helicopter assisting the search, with “a crew of four citizen-soldiers on board.”
All four escapees were being held in jail awaiting court appearances.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 13:35:48 PM
(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Investigators in Tennessee may have made a breakthrough in the case of missing nursing student Holly Bobo, a 20-year-old who disappeared in 2011.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations said it will hold a news conference Wednesday to announce updates in the case.
Law enforcement sources told ABC News affiliate WKRN in Nashville that the briefing will be about criminal charges that have been leveled in the case.
The announcement comes just a week after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations searched a property in Holloday, Tenn., about 15 miles north of where Bobo disappeared. The owner of the property was arrested on unrelated charges and has not been named as a suspect in the disappearance, according to WKRN.
Bobo disappeared from her home in April 2011 when a man in camouflage dragged her into the woods near her home, according to witness statements from her brother, Clint.
Bobo lived with her family about three hours outside of Nashville. Clint Bobo said he mistakenly believed the man was her boyfriend.
In the years since, police have stopped searching for Bobo and said they had no suspects in the case.
Bobo has blond hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a pink shirt and light-blue jeans.
The TBI will hold its briefing at 5 p.m. Eastern Time.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 13:11:29 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., shouted at his House colleague, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., at a committee hearing on Wednesday looking into alleged IRS targeting of conservative groups.
“Mr. Chairman, you cannot run a committee like this,” Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, told Issa, the chairman, at a hearing about the IRS political targeting controversy. “You just cannot do this. This, we are better than that as a country. We’re better than that as a committee.”
At first, Issa did not silence Cummings, but then the chairman reached over and muted Cummings’ microphone, telling him the hearing was over.
“We are adjourned,” Issa said.
“I don’t care. The fact is I am asking a question,” Cummings responded. “I am the ranking member of this committee and I want to ask a question! What are we hiding? What’s the big deal? May I ask my question? May I make my statement?”
Issa informed Lois Lerner -- a former senior official at the Internal Revenue Service who is at the center of the IRS controversy over alleged targeting of conservative groups who appeared before the committee on Wednesday --as well as the rest of the lawmakers that they were all free to leave.
Issa told Cummings to go ahead and ask his question. After the two became entangled in a disagreement about whether Cummings was asking a procedural question, Issa reiterated the hearing was adjourned and instructed committee staff to “close it down.”
All the Republicans on the committee then stood up and walked out of the hearing. Democrats hissed and booed from their seats at the dais, shouting “shame, shame.”
But Issa did not immediately follow. He once again asked Cummings to state his question, but Cummings shot back: “If you will sit down and allow me to ask a question. I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America! I am tired of this!” he shouted. “We have members over here each who represent 700,000 people! You cannot just have a one-sided investigation. There is absolutely something wrong with that and this is absolutely un-American.”
Issa then told Cummings, “We had a hearing. It was adjourned. I gave you an opportunity to ask a question. You had no question,” and stormed out of the room.
Although the microphones were turned off, the cameras kept rolling as Cummings delivered a statement lambasting Issa leadership of the committee. Lerner remained seated and listened from the witness table. A few moments later, Cummings yielded back and Lerner left with her lawyer.
Asked whether he felt personally disrespected by Issa, Cummings was reluctant to clash further.
“I’m not going to get into disrespected,” he said. “We are determined is not to be distracted, to get to the truth, and so I see it as a distraction. I don’t worry about disrespect.”
At the hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, Lerner asserted her Fifth Amendment rights and refused to answer questions.
Last year, Lerner became a chief target of a congressional investigation into whether the agency unfairly targeted conservative organizations applying for tax exempt status.
Lerner, the former IRS director of Exempt Organizations, first refused to answer questions from members of the committee at the May 22 hearing last year. But that day, when Lerner read a statement aloud and authenticated a document for the record under oath, questions arose surrounding the validity of Lerner’s assertion of her Fifth Amendment. Republicans asserted her actions waived her right to refuse to testify.
On Wednesday Lerner stuck to the script from her counsel. Nine times she declined to answer questions from Issa.
“On the advice of my counsel, I respectfully exercise my Fifth Amendment right and decline to answer that question,” Lerner repeated over and over.
Issa then said he did not believe Lerner would answer any questions so he tried to adjourn the hearing, which is when the kerfuffle with Cummings began.
“Seeking the truth is the obligation of this committee,” Issa said. “I can see no point in going further. I have no expectation that Ms. Lerner will cooperate with this committee and therefore we stand adjourned.”
Upon learning that Lerner did not answer questions at the committee again, House Speaker John Boehner did not rule out a vote in the House to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress.
“At some point I believe that she has to testify, or she should be held in contempt,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 12:52:19 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Nashville star Hayden Panettiere calls her engagement to world champion boxer Wladimir Klitschko "simple and from the heart."
The actress, 24, spoke to Brides magazine for its April issue and even got a taste of what it's going to be like to go dress shopping.
The magazine dressed her in gowns by Oscar de la Renta, Marchesa and Monique Lhuillier for the cover shoot, People reports.
She hasn't started planning for the big day yet, in fact, she said she's nervous to wear her dress and have everyone looking at her on the big day.
"For the aisle, you're the purest, most emotionally stripped down version of yourself, sharing this raw moment with the most important people in your life," she said. "It seems very overwhelming!"
One thing's for sure, the actress's wedding day won't be black and white.
"I love color, so that will play a big part," she said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 12:42:27 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Chipotle's recent acknowledgement that climate change may affect the availability of the restaurant chain's guacamole and salsa has caused concern across the Internet over the beloved ingredients, but a spokesman calls it "routine risk factor disclosure."
"The sky is not falling," Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, told ABC News.
Public companies must periodically disclose their "risk factors" about everything from labor and management issues to regulations and competition.
It was the weather-related portion of Chipotle's most recent 10-K quarterly filing last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission that caught the attention of Think Progress.
"Increasing weather volatility or other long-term changes in global weather patterns, including any changes associated with global climate change, could have a significant impact on the price or availability of some of our ingredients. Any increase in the prices of the ingredients most critical to our menu, such as chicken, beef, cheese, avocados, beans, rice, tomatoes and pork, would adversely affect our operating results. Alternatively, in the event of cost increases with respect to one or more of our raw ingredients, we may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas, rather than paying the increased cost for the ingredients," the company said.
Back in January, the media jumped on the possibility of an avocado shortage because of colder than average temperatures, causing mild hysteria over Super Bowl guacamole. But Arnold said Chipotle experienced a similar issue in 2011 with higher avocado prices, but the company never stopped serving guacamole.
Weather or climate can impact the supply of Chipotle's fresh ingredients and, like other companies, the quick service restaurant is required to disclose those issues that could present risk, Arnold said.
That includes supply constraints or higher food costs, such as two years of drought conditions in parts of the U.S. that led to increases in beef prices during late 2013 and early 2014, the company said in its filing.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 10:52:54 AM
(PHILADELPHIA) -- The Philadelphia Eagles released wide receiver Jason Avant on Tuesday.
Avant spent eight seasons with the Eagles and had 38 catches for 447 yards and two touchdowns last season.
"There have not been any players who have represented the Philadelphia Eagles with more class and dignity than Jason Avant," Lurie said in the statement. "Whether it was in the locker room, on the playing field or in the community, he has always been a true professional, a role model and a winner every step of the way.
"On behalf of the entire organization, I wish Jason and his wife, Stacy, and their two daughters nothing but the best as he continues his fine career," Lurie continued.
Avant was owed $1 million roster bonus on March 15. The Eagles saved $3.25 million against the salary cap by releasing him.
"There's no question releasing a player like Jason is one of the toughest parts of the job," general manager Howie Roseman said. "It's a tough day when you have to say goodbye to a player who you have so much respect for. I can't thank him enough for the leadership, the big plays and the positive impression he made on so many of his teammates."
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 09:58:50 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Michele Bachmann is “sorry” that Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a controversial bill in Arizona that would have allowed businesses to legally refuse service to same-sex couples because of religious objections.
“I believe that tolerance is a two-way street, and we need to respect everyone's rights, including the rights of people who have sincerely held religious beliefs,” Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, told ABC News.
Many prominent Republicans, including former Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have backed Brewer’s decision to veto the bill, but Bachman said they are wrong on this issue.
“Religious liberties and the protection of our religious liberties is right,” Bachmann said. “Right now, there's a terrible intolerance afoot in the United States, and it's against people who hold sincerely-held religious beliefs.”
Bachmann was recently quoted as saying that she doesn’t believe there’s a “pent-up desire” for a female president. When asked about the remark, Bachmann said her position comes from her own experience as a presidential candidate in the Republican 2012 presidential primary.
“Obviously, I believe that a woman can be president; I believe that a woman will be president,” she said. “I just don't think that it will be Hillary Clinton for obvious reasons. She's proved that she would be incapable of being commander-in-chief. She's the godmother of Obamacare, and she represents the third term of a Barack Obama presidency.”
On the topic of 2016, Bachmann said there are many Republican presidential hopefuls who, “without a shadow of a doubt,” could go head-to-head with the former secretary of state in a presidential contest.
“There's a lot of them out there … but I think it would be a real mistake to focus on 2016,” she said. “We've got the 2014 election in front of us, just months away. We need to focus on that because that will change the table, rearrange the table here in Washington.”
Though she is not personally seeking reelection this year, Bachmann forecasts that Republicans will have a strong showing in the midterm elections and gain a majority in the Senate -- a prediction that she credits in part to President Obama, who she says has “fundamentally transformed” the country in a way that’s unrecognizable.
“We didn't' want a third-world nation; we don't want a so-called banana republic,” she said. “We want to be the economic powerhouse of the world. We want to be the military powerhouse of the world and President Obama is gutting us on both of those fronts … that's why I think President Obama and his party are going to do very poorly at the polls this fall.”
The congresswoman, who is credited with helping to start the Tea Party in Congress five years ago, rejected the notion that the Republican establishment and Tea Party are at war with one another, and said the party should work toward unity as it progresses into the election year.
“What we're trying to do is embrace each other as much as we can because the greatest politician of modern times was Ronald Reagan, and his advice was find someone who you can agree with 80 percent of the time and agree with them,” Bachmann said. “And we've got that between the Tea Party and the so-called establishment.”
Some Tea Party groups have called for a primary challenge to House Speaker John Boehner, even holding a contest to find a candidate. Bachmann said she did not support such a move and said it’s time for the conservative activists to be more pragmatic in picking their battles.
“I really think that the bigger issue that we'll be focused on by Republicans, by conservatives, and by tea partiers will be the challenge to Harry Reid in the Senate as opposed to John Boehner,” she said. “Right now, the House of Representatives is in conservative hands. That's really the goal. And we have to keep our eye on the prize.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 09:22:24 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Lawmakers in Los Angeles have moved to pull the plug on electronic cigarette use in some public places across the city.
The Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 on Tuesday to ban e-cigarette use at bars, nightclubs, restaurants and other public places where conventional cigarette smoking is also prohibited.
The ban on the use of e-cigarettes, also known as "vaping," still has to go to Mayor Eric Garcetti's desk for approval before it officially becomes law.
The proposed ban doesn't apply to vaping lounges and stores.
E-cigarette use is also banned in public places in New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 09:13:46 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Record numbers of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support gay marriage, say adoption by gay couples should be legal and see gays and lesbians as good parents. Most oppose a right to refuse service to gays, including on religious grounds. And, by a closer margin, more also accept than reject gay marriage as a constitutional right.
The results continue a dramatic transformation of public attitudes on the issue, led by political, legislative and court-ordered developments alike. Seventeen states now allow gay marriage, and federal courts in four others – most recently Texas and Virginia – have rejected laws banning it.
Support for gay marriage has advanced from 32 percent in 2004 to a majority for the first time three years ago and on to 59 percent in this survey, a new high. Opposition, at 34 percent, is down by 6 percentage points since last summer and 13 points in less than a year and a half.
“Strong” support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, moreover, now exceeds strong opposition by 15 points, a record positive gap in intensity of sentiment. By contrast, strong opposition held sway by a vast 34 points in a similar question nearly 10 years ago.
Other changes in this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, are equally profound:
- In a Time/CNN poll in 1992, just 29 percent of Americans supported allowing gay couples to adopt children. That advanced to 49 percent in an ABC/Post poll in 2006 – and to 61 percent now, a sizable majority.
- In a question posed by a Newsweek poll in 1996, 57 percent said gays “can be as good parents as straight people.” Today, 78 percent say so, a 21-point jump.
- Sixty-five percent, another high, say being homosexual is just the way people are, rather than the way they choose to be – similar to a year ago (62 percent) but up from 49 percent when first asked by ABC/Post polls in 1994. The number who see being gay as a choice has ebbed from 40 percent two decades ago to 25 percent now.
Further, with the subject clearly headed back to the Supreme Court, a new question in this survey asks whether – regardless of their own preference on the issue – Americans think the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution gives gays the legal right to marry. In a closer but still significant division, 50 percent say it does, while 41 percent say not, with the rest undecided.
In another question, 81 percent say businesses should not be allowed to refuse service to gays and lesbians; 65 percent say so even if the business says homosexuality violates its owners’ religious beliefs. That refers to controversial legislation approved by the Arizona legislature but vetoed by its governor last week.
The questions on adoption and parenting, for their part, test attitudes on suggestions by opponents of gay marriage that children of homosexuals fare less well than those raised by heterosexuals – an argument currently before a federal court in Detroit.
GROUPS – Some longstanding differences among groups remain, with gay marriage continuing to divide the nation sharply by ideology, partisanship, age, education and religious belief.
Among the largest divisions, support for gay marriage ranges from 82 percent of liberals to just 27 percent of strong conservatives, and from 81 percent of the non-religious to 33 percent of evangelical Protestants.
Seventy-five percent of young adults (under age 30) support gay marriage, compared with 47 percent of seniors; so do 70 percent of Democrats compared with 40 percent of Republicans, and 71 percent of adults with a postgraduate education vs. 52 percent of those who haven’t gone beyond high school. There’s also a narrower division between the sexes, with women more apt than men to support gay marriage by a 9-point margin, 63 vs. 54 percent.
The partisan and ideological differences play out in other ways. Support for gay marriage ranges from 64 percent in urban areas, which tend to have more Democrats and liberals, to 50 percent in rural areas, with more conservatives. Similarly, 65 percent support gay marriage in the so-called blue states won by Barack Obama in 2012, vs. 48 percent in Mitt Romney’s red states.
Divisions on other questions are similar. Viewing gay marriage as a constitutional right peaks, at 67 to 71 percent, among the non-religious, young adults, liberals and postgraduates; it bottoms out at 22 percent of strong conservatives, 29 percent of evangelical Protestants and about four in 10 Republicans, older adults and rural dwellers.
At the same time, there are few groups in which majorities oppose allowing gay or lesbian couples to adopt a child -- strong conservatives and evangelical Protestants -- and none in which majorities (or even more than a third) say gays can’t be as good parents as straight people.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 08:36:01 AM
(PARIS) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are scheduled to meet in Paris Wednesday to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.
Kerry met earlier Wednesday with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia, though that meeting was not directly related to the Ukraine situation.
The men are in Paris for a global conference.
The proposed meeting between Kerry and Lavrov comes one day after Russia test-launched a missile over the Caspian Sea. U.S. officials say the missile test had been planned well before the unfolding crisis in Ukraine, calling it “a previously notified and routine test launch of an ICBM.”
Politicians such as Arizona Sen. John McCain are skeptical.
“It’s time we woke up about Vladimir Putin. It’s time this [Obama] administration got real,” he said on the Senate floor Tuesday.
U.S. officials hope to ease tensions while firmly condemning Russia’s actions. Kerry’s presence in Europe and President Obama’s comments in Washington are sending the same decisive message: that Russia needs to de-escalate or face international pressure.
“Our partners will have absolutely no choice but to join us to continue to expand upon steps we have taken in recent days in order to isolate Russia politically, diplomatically and economically,” Kerry said Tuesday in Ukraine.
Kerry spent Tuesday walking the streets of Ukraine, meeting with political leaders and promising crowds that U.S. aid is on the way.
"It is not appropriate to invade a country, and at the end of a barrel of a gun dictate what you are trying to achieve,” he said. “That is not 21st century, G-8, major-nation behavior.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 08:28:58 AM
(NEW YORK) -- United Airlines is cracking down on oversized carry-on bags.
The airline is placing new bag-sized kiosks at security checkpoints to catch people trying to avoid bag fees. Passengers caught trying to overstep the carry-on size limit will be plucked out of line and forced to check the bag -- and pay the $25 bag fee.
United says the move is just an enforcement of preexisting rules on the size and number of bags passengers can bring on board.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 08:22:27 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Former Seattle Seahawk Brandon Browner says the NFL has reinstated the suspended cornerback, tweeting that he was contacted by the league on Tuesday. Browner was suspended in November for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
The Seahawks would not comment on Browner's reinstatement because he is, officially, no longer on the team. A 2011 Pro Bowler, Browner is an unrestricted free agent and able to now enter into negotiations with other teams on Saturday. The corner has served just two and a half months of his one-year suspension for marijuana use.
Browner played in only eight games in 2013 and was out with a groin injury when suspended. The 29-year-old appealed the suspension but lost on Dec. 18, missing out on Seattle's Super Bowl run.
The NFL classified Browner as a Stage 3 offender because he did not submit urine tests while playing in the Canadian Football League from 2007-10 following a failed test for marijuana use while with Denver in 2006.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 08:14:00 AM
(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Professional boxer Kenin Lerena was a surprise witness at Oscar Pistorius' murder trial Wednesday, where he testified that the athlete accidentally fired a gun in a crowded restaurant last year and then asked a friend to take the blame.
The incident happened on Jan. 11, 2013, one month before Pistorius said he shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
Pistorius, the paralympic Blade Runner, is charged with murder for firing four shots through a locked bathroom door, killing Steenkamp. He could face at least 25 years in prison if convicted. Pistorius, 27, claims he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder during the night.
Lerena, who was a friend of the couple, told the court that the incident happened at the upscale Tasha's restaurant, located in northern Johannesburg. Pistorius and Lerena were joined by two friends, Darren Fresco and Martin Rooney, he said.
Lerena testified that Fresco handed Pistorius a firearm under the table with the words "There's one up," which Lerena understood to mean there was a round in the chamber.
Moments later, Lerena said a shot went off in the restaurant and the entire dining room went silent. Lerena described his shocked state of mind as he went to the bathroom to wipe some blood off his toe after it was grazed by the bullet.
"I had never been in a situation where a gun goes off like that," he said.
Lerena said Pistorius apologized profusely, said it was an accident, and asked several times if everyone was OK.
He said Pistorius, one of South Africa's most famous figures, also begged Fresco to say it was him who fired the shot because he didn't want any negative publicity.
"Please Darren, just say it was you. I don't want any tension around me," Pistorius said, according to Lerena.
When the managers of the restaurant came to their table to ask what happened, Lerena said Fresco took the blame for his friend. He said the group then paid their bill and left.
Lerena said he didn't speak to anyone about the incident until he received several calls from foreign journalists asking about it two days after Steenkamp was killed.
Jason and Maria Loupis, the owners of Tasha's, also testified on Wednesday about the shooting inside their restaurant.
Jason Loupis told the court he heard a loud bang and went to the group's table to ask what happened. He said Fresco told him, "Sorry Jason, my gun fell out of my pants."
Maria Loupis said she went over to the table where the four men were sitting and asked Fresco what's the first rule of gun ownership. "I said 'Safety First!' before hitting him against the head" she told the court.
The cross examination of prosecution witness Charl Johnson, a neighbor who said he heard screams just before Steenkamp was shot to death on Valentine's Day morning last year, was put on hold Wednesday amid questions about notes the witness had taken after the killing.
Defense attorney Barry Roux asked to see Johnson's computer after Johnson claimed during testimony that he had taken notes on it about what he heard.
Johnson's wife, Michelle Burger, provided a powerful testimony during the first two days of the trial in which she said she heard a woman's screams and a pause after the first gunshot, followed by three more pops.
The defense has tried to poke holes in Burger's story and by pausing her husband's testimony on Wednesday, may try to prove that they colluded to line up their stories.
Johnson is expected to resume his testimony on Thursday.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 08:11:00 AM
(MELBOURNE, Australia) -- Looking for a great plaything for your kid? Try giving him or her an empty carton.
While that might sound unusual, researchers in Melbourne, Australia, contend that everyday items might boost your child’s activity and creativity more than playground equipment designed to spur exercise.
Dr. Brendon Hyndman at RMIT University made the discovery while analyzing the benefits of conventional playgrounds, which he contends don’t do much to reduce sedentary behavior because they’re designed by adults.
At one primary school, Hyndman and his staff supplied children between the ages of 5 and 12 with items including buckets, exercise mats and swimming pool noodles, while youngsters at another school had typical playground equipment such as monkey bars and slides.
With researchers recording their activity, youngsters at the school with the less sophisticated playthings took more steps per minute and played more intensely than their counterparts, while their sedentary behavior, defined as sitting or standing around the playground, fell by half.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 05:46:54 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Drew Carey has already set a goal for himself as he approaches the new season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars: survive the first week.
The Price Is Right host is one of 12 celebrities who were officially named to the Dancing with the Stars cast on Tuesday morning. When ABC News Radio asked him if he's afraid of any aspect of the competition, Carey quipped, "I'm afraid of being the first to get voted off."
Carey has tagged Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the U.S. ice dancing team that just won the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, to be two of the front-runners. He says, "I think they're going to go far in the competition, if anybody."
On Dancing with the Stars, Davis and White will be opponents, not teammates. In fact, Davis tells ABC News Radio she and White have developed a rivalry in dance rehearsals.
"There's certainly a little bit of competitive nature there, and [my partner] Maks [Chmerkovskiy] said that he's already picked up on it. But I don't think there will be any serious smack talk," she comments.
Former Wonder Years actress Danica McKellar is excited to enter the ballroom for various reasons. She says the experience will represent a new chapter for her, after becoming a mom and going through a divorce in recent years.
"I'm going to get out there and just do something for myself and treat myself to some ballroom dancing lessons and get to feel sexy and fun," she says.
Among the other notable celebrities taking part in Dancing with the Stars this season: The Real Housewives of Atlanta cast member NeNe Leakes; Big Time Rush star and musician James Maslow; long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, who last year became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage; and 2014 Paralympic Games snowboarder Amy Purdy, who becomes the first star to compete on the show with two prosthetic legs.
ABC has added a few new wrinkles to season 18 of Dancing with the Stars. In a new twist, called "The Switch Up," all couples will have to switch pro partners during the season.
The show will also have a new co-host: Erin Andrews, who replaces Brooke Burke-Charvet and joins Tom Bergeron.
The season begins on March 17.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 05:30:51 AM
(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Texas state Senator Wendy Davis won the Democratic nomination for governor Tuesday, continuing her improbable climb from obscurity that began last summer when she tried to torpedo a tough anti-abortion bill.
Davis, 50, will face Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott in the general election to replace Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who opted not to seek a fourth full term.
Abbot is considered the favorite in the race as Davis attempts to become the first woman to hold the governorship since the late Democrat Ann Richards, who left office in 1994.
Davis rose to national prominence when she attempted to filibuster a bill that curtailed abortions after 20 weeks and shuttered about a third of the clinics in Texas that provide the procedure because they didn’t meet state requirements.
She got about as far as 11 hours into her planned 13-hour filibuster when the Legislature cut her off and tried to hold a vote on the bill. It was first rejected but ultimately passed in a special session called by Perry a few weeks later.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 04:43:19 AM
(SEOUL, South Korea) -- There are rumors that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is about to do away with yet another second-in-command.
South Korea's Unification ministry is looking into reports that Choe Ryong Hae, who assumed the post following the execution of Kim's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, might also meet an untimely end.
Speculation began mounting last week that Choe upset Kim and was jailed because he had taken management of several state-run industries.
Due to Pyongyang's total news blackout, confirming the information, at least immediately, will be difficult.
During the previous purge last December, Kim accused Jang, who was married to the sister of Kim's late father, Kim Jong-il, of trying to overthrow him. As a result, Jang and others close to him were either killed or exiled.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 04:27:09 AM
(CHAMPAIGN, Ill.) -- For the first time since 1986, Michigan (22-7, 14-3) can claim the Big Ten title as theirs and only theirs. The twelfth-ranked Wolverines rolled to an 84-53 win over Illinois (17-13, 6-11) on Tuesday night, capturing the conference championship outright.
Nik Stauskas hit a career-best seven 3-pointers in the victory, leading the way with 24 points. As a team, Michigan was 70 percent from beyond the arc and hit 56.9% of their total shots.
"We came with that mindset, this was our championship and we wanted to win it," said Stauskas.
A dominating first half saw the Wolverines go into the locker room with a 52-30 advantage and they never looked back. Leading by only three, Michigan rattled off five consecutive treys to extend their lead to 35-17 by the eight minute mark. Illinois, who had won three straight, tried to fight back in the second half, but a strong defensive effort by the Wolverines quelled any threat of an upset.
Michigan won a share of the conference title in 2012, splitting the championship with Michigan State and Ohio State.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 01:53:46 AM
(NEW YORK) -- RadioShack announced Tuesday it will close up to 1,100 underperforming stores. The news came as part of the company's release of its fourth-quarter results for 2013, which included a loss of $191.4 million on sales of $935.4 million, down sharply from sales last year of more than $1.171 billion.
Same-store sales dropped 19 percent, which management attributed to reduced traffic. By late afternoon, RadioShack stock was trading at $2.26, down 17 percent.
CEO Joseph Magnacca, in a statement accompanying the results, said that even with the announced closings, RadioShack would still have more than 4,000 stores, including more than 900 dealer-franchise locations. "Without minimizing the challenges ahead," he said, "we have a detailed strategic path to profitability."
He noted sales were up at the company's new Concept Stores, designed, in the company's words, to attract "tech-hungry shoppers" and to give them a new environment "that makes the buying experience fun."
"We have also been encouraged by the positive response to our new brand positioning around 'Do It Together,' which we kicked off with our award-winning Super Bowl commercial," Magnacca said.
Pessimists read the fourth-quarter results as a preview of the company's demise. Optimists held out hope management could still turn things around.
In a note to clients Tuesday, David Schick, an analyst with Stifel Financial Corp. in Baltimore, acknowledged that the company's strategic initiatives would need both time and money to succeed. Still, he wrote, "closing stores is a positive," and lower store sales could be offset with higher online sales.
Analyst Anthony Chukumba of BB&T Capital Markets did not share Schick's optimism.
Chukumba, asked by ABC News how RadioShack might turn things around, said, "Your guess is as good as mine. These numbers are much worse than we expected."
It's true that the holiday season was tough for retailers in general, Chukumba said: "We heard the same from Best Buy and others." But RadioShack's performance was so bad that "it raises serious doubts about their long-term viability," he said.
However, the company's new Concept Stores "are interesting -- better than the legacy stores," he conceded. "But they haven't opened that many of them. And it's not clear they have the financing or the wherewithal to do so."
In the meantime, the company faces increased competition from Amazon, Walmart and a re-invigorated Best Buy, Chukumba noted. Exacerbating the Shack's troubles, he said, is a weak product cycle: "There just aren't enough new, whiz-bang products."
He said he doesn't expect RadioShack to file for bankruptcy in the next 12 months. "But can it be turned around? That's unclear," he said, noting there is no silver bullet for what ails it. "A clever Super Bowl ad is not a silver bullet."
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/5/2014 01:35:07 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Bachelor host Chris Harrison took the "good business" route when answering whether the show would ever have a gay or "chubby" bachelor.
When asked by the New York Times if he ever "considered a less hunky bachelor," like a chubby guy, Harrison was candid.
"No. You know why? Because that's not attractive, and television is a very visual medium, and I know that sounds horrible to say, but I know that at 42, in the eyes of television, I'm old and unattractive," he said.
He continued, "Sure, I can put a suit and tie on, but I have hair on my chest and I don't have a 12-pack. I live a healthy life, but I don't do eight hours in the gym, nor do I want to. And I don't eat 50,000 egg whites."
Harrison, who has hosted the show and its spin-off Bachelorette, defended the current Bachelor Juan Pablo's stance on whether there should ever be a gay "Bachelor."
"The question is: Is it a good business decision?" he said. "Look, if you've been making pizzas for 12 years and you've made millions of dollars and everybody loves your pizzas and someone comes and says, 'Hey, you should make hamburgers.' Why? I have a great business model, and I don't know if hamburgers are going to sell."
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 23:44:30 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- Two years after Ted Cruz upset the political establishment in the Lone Star State, Texas voters helped two major Republican establishment candidates secure their posts in the state’s primaries on Tuesday.
Sen. John Cornyn, the second-highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, crushed his primary opponents with well over 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a May 27 run-off.
Cornyn’s closest challenger was Rep. Steve Stockman, who gave up his House seat to run against the two-term senator. Stockman, a well-known Tea Party firebrand, entered the race on the day of the filing deadline but quickly disappointed many conservative activists hoping to uproot Cornyn from his Senate office.
In another establishment vs. Tea Party test, Rep. Pete Sessions, chairman of the House Rules Committee, beat his Tea Party opponent Katrina Pierson in the primary for his seat representing Texas’ 32nd congressional district. Tea Party activists had their eye on the Sessions race as a potential upset, but Pierson’s candidacy fizzled out despite endorsements from Sarah Palin and Rafael Cruz, the father of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
The success of Cornyn and Sessions in Texas could offer hope to other establishment candidates across the country in 2014. The mid-term election is teeming with establishment vs. Tea Party matchups -- from the Republican primary in the Kentucky Senate race between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Tea Partier Matt Bevin, to the Mississippi primary race between Sen. Thad Cochran, who is seeking a seventh term, and Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel.
The primary results come as a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday showed that 47 of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents called it a bad thing for Tea Party candidates to challenge Republican incumbents.
But the Tea Party did see success in one statewide contest -- the Republican primary for lieutenant governor. State Sen. Dan Patrick secured more votes than current Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, but did not clear the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a run-off. Dewhurst, who has served as lieutenant governor for over 10 years, was already politically wounded after losing to Ted Cruz in the Republican run-off for the Texas Senate race in 2012.
The oldest member of Congress will also face a run-off later this spring. At age 90, Rep. Ralph Hall failed to receive the 50 percent needed to secure his party’s nomination for his seat in Texas’ 4th congressional district which he’s held since 1981. Ralph will face John Ratcliffe, a 48-year-old former U.S. attorney in the May run-off.
Hall recently tried to combat charges that he is too old for elected office with an ad playfully highlighting the wrinkles on his face he said he acquired after fighting against liberals.
Gubernatorial candidates Attorney General Greg Abbott and state Sen. Wendy Davis easily coasted to win their respective party’s nominations as did George P. Bush, who is running for Texas Land Commissioner and is the newest Bush family member to seek political office.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 23:32:26 PM
(NEW YORK) -- NBA: Golden State Warriors 98 (37-24) – Indiana Pacers 96 (46-14)
San Antonio Spurs 122 (44-16) – Cleveland Cavaliers 101 (24-38)
Houston Rockets 106 (41-19) – Miami Heat 103 (43-15)
Oklahoma City Thunder 125 (46-15) – Philadelphia 76ers 92 (15-46)
Los Angeles Clippers 104 (42-20) - Phoenix Suns 96 (35-25)
New Orleans Pelicans 132 (24-37) - Los Angeles Lakers 125 (21-40)
Top 25 Men’s College Basketball: (1) Florida 72 (28-2) – South Carolina 46 (11-19)
Georgia Tech 67 (14-16) – (7) Syracuse 62 (26-4)
(12) Michigan 84 (22-7) – Illinois 53 (17-13)
Georgetown 75 (17-12) – (13) Creighton 63 (23-6)
Baylor 74 (20-10) – (16) Iowa State 61 (22-7)
(25) Kentucky 55 (22-8) – Alabama 48 (12-18)
NHL: Boston Bruins 4 (39-17-5; 83pts) – Florida Panthers 1 (23-32-7; 53pts)
New Jersey Devils 4 (27-23-13; 67pts) – Detroit Red Wings 3 (28-21-12; 68pts)
Columbus Blue Jackets 4 (32-25-5; 69pts) – Dallas Stars 2 (29-23-10; 68pts)
Colorado Avalanche 4 (40-17-5; 85pts) – Chicago Blackhawks 2 (36-13-14; 86pts)
St. Louis Blues 4 (41-14-6; 88pts) – Tampa Bay Lightning 2 (34-23-5; 73pts)
Pittsburgh Penguins 3 (41-16-4; 86pts) – Nashville Predators 1 (26-26-10; 62pts)
New York Islanders 3 (24-32-8; 56pts) – Winnipeg Jets 2 (30-26-7; 67pts) OT
Phoenix Coyotes 1 (28-23-11; 67pts) - Vancouver Canucks 0 (28-26-10; 66pts)
Edmonton Oilers 3 (21-34-8; 50pts) - Ottawa Senators 2 (27-24-11; 65pts)
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 23:02:52 PM
(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- The Oscar Pistorius trial has become a worldwide blockbuster, but the fate of the Blade Runner paralympian is in the control of one judge who will pronounce the athlete innocent or guilty of murder in his girlfriend's shooting death.
In South Africa, jury trials were abolished in 1969 -- during the white minority rule known as apartheid -- as there were fears of racial prejudice by jurors.
Here's a look at how the trial is expected to progress and what Judge Thokozile Masipa will have to weigh as she makes her decision.
Meet the Judge
Judge Thokozile Masipa will be helped by two assessors, who will likely be legal experts, as she decides her verdict.
Masipa, who used to work as a newspaper crime reporter before turning to law in 1990, was the second black woman to be appointed a judge in the country.
The judge, 66, has a reputation for being tough but fair.
Last year, Masipa sentenced a serial robber and rapist to 252 years in prison, according to the Telegraph.
In 2009, she handed down a life sentence to a policeman who was convicted of killing his ex-wife during an argument over their divorce settlement.
The prosecution is trying to prove that Pistorius, 27, intended to kill Reeva Steenkamp when he fired four shots through a locked bathroom door -- fatally wounding the 29-year-old model, lawyer and reality TV star.
Apart from the murder charge, he's also accused of illegal possession of ammunition and two counts of discharging a firearm in public. The additional firearms-related charges, two of which were only added late last year, are not related to the Steenkamp shooting. One refers to an accidental firing in a restaurant and the other alleges Pistorius fired a gun through the sunroof of a girlfriend's car. Those charges will form part of the state's tactics to prove that Pistorius was a gun-toting hothead with a violent temper.
Judge May Consider Reduced Charge
Aside from finding him guilty or innocent of premeditated murder, the judge may also be able to consider a lesser charge of culpable homicide, which is basically the equivalent of manslaughter.
After closing arguments, the court will adjourn until a later date when Masipa will hand down the verdict. Her judgment will contain a summary of all the evidence. She might also comment on the credibility of witnesses.
If Pistorius is found guilty, he will be led down to the holding cells. His legal team will then bring an application for his bail to be extended as he awaits sentencing.
The Sentencing Process
When sentencing proceedings start, the state will call witnesses to testify in support of aggravation of a sentence while the defense will call witnesses to testify in support of mitigation of sentence. After witnesses are called on both sides, the state and defense will deliver closing arguments.
What's at Stake for Pistorius
If Pistorius is convicted of murder, he faces a mandatory life sentence, which in practice boils down to 25 years behind bars. South Africa does not have the death penalty.
A culpable homicide charge could send Pistorius to prison for up to 15 years, although a non-custodial sentence could also be imposed.
The Appeals Process
The appeals process to South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal would likely take years.
"Unlike in the U.S., the appellate court in South Africa has a bit more latitude to review the facts," ABC News chief legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams said. "In South Africa you have a judge trial. Here in the U.S., appellate courts try not to review the facts based on a jury finding. Generally they don't want to overturn a jury, they want to review the legal decisions made by a judge. Because it [the verdict] was made by a judge, there is more latitude."
If he's not guilty, the legal drama could still drag on for Pistorius, who could also face a civil lawsuit from Steenkamp's family.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 22:47:48 PM
(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Twitter's new San Francisco headquarters on Market Street (a re-purposed 1930s building) soon will get a dining room made from even older structures: two wooden, weather-beaten 1870s cabins uprooted from the Montana plains, disassembled, shipped to the city and re-assembled inside Twitter's HQ.
Where homesteaders might once have eaten beans and bacon (on a good day), tweeters, in their current cafeteria, can order off a four-course tasting menu, which was listed in a corporate tweet as "pork belly arancini, swordfish, quail and a bread pudding oh yeah."
Olle Lundberg of Lundberg Design, who came up with the idea re-purposing the cabins, told the Marin Independent Journal that in a few weeks Twitter employees will be able to hang out in these genuine Old West relics, which still bear the adze marks of the ranchers who built them.
Lundberg bought the structures for an undisclosed price from Karl Beckmann of Novato, Calif., who tells ABC News that his firm, Beckmann Engineering & Design, has made a minor specialty of wood salvage.
"One cabin, I believe it's fair to say, was uninhabitable, sitting in the middle of a cow field," says Beckmann. "The other, located near Stanford [about half way between Lewiston and Great Falls] had been lived in by a rancher. It was just sitting out on the open prairie. Originally, these two would both have been homesteaders' cabins."
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Lundberg's plans call for using the two 20 X 20-foot buildings more or less as paneling. They would be conjoined, with built-in corner tables and booth seating added. 20-somethings can talk bits and bytes where the pioneers shivered.
The irony, however, goes only so far: Beckmann says that whoever was living in the Stanford cabin in 1943 wasn't exactly starving: He left behind him, in the attic, a suitcase full of stock certificates.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 22:37:42 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- After being slapped with a temporary protective injunction barring him from contact with his estranged wife, Rep. Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat serving his second term in the House, Tuesday denied that he battered her during a spat at the couple’s home over the weekend.
“It simply isn’t the way she described it,” Grayson told a small group of reporters as he left the House chamber after casting votes. “She hit me and I retreated. That’s what happened.”
Asked whether he looked forward to putting the incident behind him once he appears before a judge March 20, Grayson worked to downplay the altercation, saying, “It’s not an incident at all.”
“There’s nothing to put behind,” he said. “She’s simply lying and I think that our statement makes that clear.”
Grayson and an aide directed further inquiries to a statement released by his spokeswoman earlier Tuesday.
“It has come to our attention that Ms. Grayson has filed a completely dishonest complaint against Congressman Alan Grayson regarding personal matters that took place last week,” Lauren Doney, communications director for Grayson, wrote in an email Tuesday. “These allegations are absolutely false, completely unfounded, and clearly designed to vilify and harm Congressman Grayson.”
Still, a judge granted a temporary protective injunction against Grayson after his future ex-wife accused him of causing her injury after he allegedly pushed her during an incident over the weekend. Grayson was not arrested and has not been charged with any crime, but the order will remain in effect until both parties appear before a judge on March 20.
Lolita Carson-Grayson, who filed for divorce earlier this year, petitioned for the injunction Monday, alleging that the congressman pushed her against a door, causing her to fall to the ground, the Orlando Sentinel reported. An Orange County circuit judge on Monday granted Carson-Grayson temporary custody of their children and possession of the home, and barred the congressman from contacting her.
Orange County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Angelo Nieves said the investigation is “an open and active case.”
“We will refrain from any speculation and will await the findings and conclusions of our investigation,” Nieves told ABC News Tuesday evening.
A heavily redacted report provided by the sheriff’s office identified Lolita Carson-Grayson as the victim. The congressman’s name was apparently redacted from the suspect field on the document.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 21:16:19 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary, who was a key witness in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case, told a dozen players during a November 2011 closed-door meeting that he, too, was sexually abused as a boy, according to ESPN The Magazine.
McQueary told the players that he could relate to the helplessness of the young boy he said he saw in the shower with Sandusky a decade earlier, sources told ESPN. He did not tell the players who had abused him or when or how long the abuse had taken place.
Sandusky was the defensive coordinator under former head coach Joe Paterno from 1977 through 1999. He was convicted of 45 of 48 counts of child sexual abuse by a jury on June 22, 2012, and will serve at least 30 years in state prison.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 20:12:00 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Ukraine Tuesday to show support for the country’s new government amid mounting tension from Russia -- and he showed up with a pretty big gift, too.
Kerry brought news of a $1 billion aid package the U.S. is giving Ukraine to help it get through the next few months of turmoil, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
The aid is made up of a $1 billion loan guarantee as well as technical and financial experts to help the Ukraine’s bank and finance ministry with its financial affairs and help prepare the country for national elections in May.
News of the $1 billion loan guarantee was met with skepticism in this country:
$1 Billion in aid to the Ukraine?? How about some money for education— Oscar (@OAG707) March 4, 2014
So Obama gives the Ukraine $1 BILLION dollars. Seriously?!?! WTH!!! Thought we were out of money 17 TRILLION dollars ago.— Katie K (@HelloChampagne) March 4, 2014
To help explain why the United States would offer Ukraine $1 billion, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace expert Eugene Rumer explained the back story of Ukraine’s financial woes. The story helps explain the current conflict between pro-Western and pro-Russian groups in Ukraine.
Rumer said Ukraine was in dire financial straits in November 2013. The International Monetary Fund offered financial assistance on the condition that it come with strict reforms for the country, but Russia stepped in and offered a cushy $22 billion without such reforms.
“Putin offered Ukraine a $22 billion aid package -- with $15 billion in loans on very favorable terms and $7 billion in energy discounts, which today they’ve announced they’ve withdrawn,” Rumer said.
Then-President Viktor Yanukovych accepted Russia’s offer, a decision that played a large role in protestors calling for his ouster. Pro-European groups in Ukraine wanted to see the country more closely aligned with the West, not Russia.
Last month, Yanukovych fled Ukraine to seek shelter in Moscow and a new interim government was put in place in Ukraine. The U.S. and other Western countries are now offering support to the newly pro-Western government.
“The significance of this is Kerry is going to show political and moral support for the people’s revolution and the new government,” Rumer said. “He brings with him this loan guarantee which is, relatively speaking, well, a billion dollars is a billion dollars but it is a small step compared to Ukraine’s needs. It’s significant in that it says, if you do the right thing we’re prepared to help you.”
The Treasury Department said Tuesday that the U.S. was intent on helping Ukraine find new revenue sources and cut its spending on gas that it imports from Russia.
The U.S. “is ready to provide assistance and financing to help Ukrainian businesses find new export markets and adjust to trade pressures and to enhance energy efficiency, helping to reduce dependence on imported gas,” according to the statement released by the Treasury.
“We’re trying to show in a tangible way that we’re prepared to put some of our money where our mouth has been,” Rumer said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 18:33:35 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Too much meat and cheese may be a recipe for disaster, according to a new study that links the consumption of animal-based protein to an increased risk of early death for people in their 50s and early 60s.
The study of more than 6,000 American adults found those between the ages of 50 and 65 with diets high in animal protein were 74 percent more likely to meet an untimely end than those who consumed less animal protein or got their protein from non-animal sources.
For deaths due to cancer, the risk was four times higher, according to the study.
Eating plant-based proteins like nuts and beans seemed to reverse the unhealthy trend. And after the age of 65, the trend dissipated, suggesting that a diet high in protein from animals or plants can be beneficial later in life.
“The main message is to go to a safe level of protein and try as much as possible to have those proteins come from plant-based products,” said Dr. Valter D. Longo, director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California and lead author of the study, published Tuesday in the journal Cell Metabolism. ”The advice was that everyone should have high protein. That’s not the case.”
Why did the effect disappear with older people? As we age, our demand for protein increases. So getting more of it from a host of sources after 65 is important in extending our longevity, the study found. The patients whose diets were packed with protein were more than 25 percent less likely to meet an early death.
“What we know for sure is older people have a problem getting enough protein,” said Keith Ayoob, registered dietician and associate clinical professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who was not involved in the study. The condition is known as sarcopenia, and is estimated to affect nearly half of seniors by the time they reach eighty years of age.
Ayoob’s advice for seniors is simple.
“Look at where your diet is excessive and where it is deficient and make up the differences,” he said.
Ayoob also stressed the importance of a balanced diet.
“This isn’t an opportunity to say either or, but rather to diversify your intake,” he said.
Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, agreed.
“Having enough high-quality protein in your diet from whatever source is important,” he said. “The evidence is overwhelming and incredibly consistent that people who eat plant-based products have a reduced risk of death.”
“By and large, the main message here is kind of what it always was," Katz added. “If you shift to a diet more about plant-based foods, you are likelier to live healthier and experience less chronic disease.”
So will that charcuterie and cheese plate kill you? If it’s once in a while, you probably don’t have much to worry about. While this study found that routinely eating too much animal-based protein could be a problem, it does not mean that meat and cheese are poison. On the contrary, these foods can provide many vital nutrients that are not easily found in other foods.
Nutrition and medical experts who spoke with ABC News noted that a limitation in the study is that it groups all animal-based proteins together, ignoring the healthier options that exist among them. Nonfat yogurt and a ballpark hot dog are no match in terms of fat content, cholesterol or nutrients.
So for now, moderation is key. A well-balanced diet that covers all the major food groups -- and goes a little easier on the meat and cheese -- may be best for a healthy future.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 18:18:54 PM
(NEW YORK) -- The Russia Today anchor who condemned the Russian occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean region on air Monday said Tuesday that she has “declined” the station’s decision to send her to Crimea.
“I am not going to Crimea despite the statement RT has made,” Abby Martin, an American who works in Washington, wrote on Twitter.
She later told ABC News in an email, “Despite what RT has said officially, I declined their offer to go to Crimea.”
Martin said on the state-owned news agency’s broadcast on Monday, “Just because I work here, for RT, doesn’t mean I don’t have editorial independence and I can’t stress enough how strongly I am against any military intervention in sovereign nations’ affairs.”
On her Facebook page, Martin was more candid.
“First I get called a ‘Russian propagandist’ for toeing the RT line, now I am getting vitriol from people claiming I ‘sold out’ to Western imperialism because I voiced an opinion that I believe in,” she wrote earlier Tuesday. “I am against military intervention. Period.”
She also got in a Twitter war with The New York Times writer Robert Mackey, who reported that Martin frequently uses her show to talk about her belief that the 9/11 attacks were a conspiracy by the Bush administration.
Martin disputed Mackey’s comments. “Nothing I have said in the past about 9/11 has anything to do with my staunch and continuous opposition to military intervention,” she wrote.
Russia Today did not respond to repeated requests for comment by ABC News. But in a statement sent to the Huffington Post, the organization said that Martin will not be punished for her anti-interventionist stance.
“Contrary to the popular opinion, RT doesn’t beat its journalists into submission, and they are free to express their own opinions, not just in private but on the air,” the statement, sent to The Huffington Post, said.
“In her comment Ms. Martin also noted that she does not possess a deep knowledge of reality of the situation in Crimea,” the statement continued. “As such we’ll be sending her to Crimea to give her an opportunity to make up her own mind from the epicentre of the story.”
Despite the controversy with her news station, Martin told ABC News she did not feel threatened. “I do feel secure right now,” she wrote.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 18:13:39 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Barely two weeks since Facebook coughed up $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp, the social network is on the hunt for another company. It's venturing outside the app world, this time with its eyes set on the skies.
Facebook is interested in buying the drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace for $60 million, according to TechCrunch.
But don't expect a troop of Facebook drones to swoop in to monitor your every "like" and photo tag. Though Titan drones can be customized to help track oil spills or helping with search-and-rescue missions, it's likely the drone's voice and data capabilities that Facebook finds attractive.
At a keynote address at last week's Mobile World Congress, Mark Zuckerberg brought up Internet.org, an organization devoted to making the Internet available to the entire planet. "It's only about a third of people [that] have any access to Internet at all," he said in his speech. "It's a really important problem."
Facebook and its partners at Internet.org, which include Samsung and Nokia, among others, aren't the only ones looking to wire the remaining two-thirds of the planet. Google has Project Loon, which uses balloons instead of drones. Loon made its debut in New Zealand in the summer of 2013 and has also been spotted in California.
Teresa Mastrangelo, principal analyst at Broadbandtrends, said that more traditional companies are also looking for ways to get involved. "I'm sure Bell Labs has stuff going on behind closed doors," she told ABC News. "But the biggest difference is that companies [like Google and Facebook] are a more public display."
Neither Facebook nor Titan responded to ABC News' request for comment.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 17:59:18 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- One of the stories coming out of Oscar Sunday was John Travolta's pronunciation of Frozen singer Idina Menzel as "Adele Dazeem."
The actor was introducing Menzel so that she could sing her Oscar-winning song "Let it Go," off the Frozen soundtrack.
After voicing his love for the movie musical, he said, "please welcome the wickedly talented, one and only Adele Dazeem."
Since that flub, name generators have sprung up on websites, and Adele Dazeem now has her own Twitter account.
Tuesday, Travolta released a statement saying, "I've been beating myself up all day. Then I thought ... what would Idina Menzel say, She'd say, Let it go, let it go! Idina is incredibly talented and I am so happy Frozen took home two Oscars Sunday night!"
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 17:47:20 PM
(MORRISTOWN, N.J.) -- A New Jersey family court judge ruled Tuesday that Rachel Canning’s parents do not have to pay her high school tuition after she sued them to cover her schooling and living costs.
The judge delayed a ruling on whether the parents must pay the 18-year-old student’s college tuition while asking lawyers to consider whether it’s wise to “establish precedent where parents live in fear of establishing rules of the house."
The judge also denied her request for weekly allowance and additional financial support including attorney fees.
The next hearing is scheduled for April 22.
The New Jersey family was in court Tuesday, with the teenage daughter facing off against her parents in a battle to get them to pay for her schooling and living costs even though she's 18.
Rachel Canning sued her parents in family court in Morristown, N.J., because she says they refuse to pay for her Catholic high school education and for college in the fall.
She claims that her parents, Sean and Elizabeth Canning, kicked her out of their Lincoln Park house when she turned 18 in October, which they deny. Dad Sean Canning says she left voluntarily because she didn't want to follow their house rules concerning curfew and chores.
"Private school, new car, college education; that all comes with living under our roof," he told ABC News station WABC-TV.
His lawyer, reading from a statement before the start of Tuesday afternoon's hearing, said the Cannings "are distraught that their oldest daughter feels that litigation is a better option than living together as a family."
"To be clear, my clients never abandoned nor abused their child and they have asked her to come home," Laurie Rush-Masuret said.
The young woman laid eyes on her parents for the first time in five months, listening to her lawyer accuse her parents in court of leaving Rachel Canning with nothing and painting the “most disgusting picture of their daughter" to get out of paying her tuition.
It was the first time the parents had seen their estranged daughter, 18, since she moved out in October.
“Why can’t she go home?” the New Jersey family court judge asked.
Her home life is an "abusive unhealthy situation," the teen's attorney, Tanya Helfand, replied.
Rachel Canning, an honor student and athlete at Morris Catholic High School, filed the lawsuit days ago and is asking a judge to declare her dependent on her parents for support as a student, according to The Daily Record.
The newspaper said Rachel Canning was asking that her parents settle a $5,306 tuition bill and pay living and transportation costs, as well as "commit" to an existing college fund.
Rachel Canning said in court documents, “My parents simply will not help me any longer. They want nothing to do with me and refuse to even help me financially outside the home although they certainly have the ability to do so.… I am unable to support myself and provide for my food, shelter, clothing, transportation and education."
Steve Mindel, a family law specialist with no connection to the case, said, "This is a case that is totally unusual."
The Daily Record also reported that Rachel Canning had been living with her best friend's family. John Inglesino, the friend's father and a lawyer, is reportedly funding Rachel Canning's lawsuit but is not representing her. Inglesino declined to comment to ABC News.
He has reportedly said he wants her parents to foot the bill for legal fees as well, which now total $13,000.
Sean Canning, a former New Jersey police chief, said the ordeal was tearing his family apart.
"We'd be whole and healed as a family if she were back home," he said. "And I think she's being enabled. I think she's being steered down the wrong area and it's killing us."
Rachel Canning has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 17:43:13 PM
(EWING, N.J.) -- Firefighters are currently battling a two-alarm blaze that took over a Ewing, New Jersey condominium complex after an apparent explosion that injured seven people.
It is believed that the blast happened when a private contractor was digging in the area shortly before 1 p.m. and struck a gas line.
Five of the injured were from utility company PSE&G, while the other two were workers from a contracting firm.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 16:29:47 PM
WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blasted President Obama Tuesday for his handling of Russia, saying the crisis in Ukraine should serve as a wakeup call for the president about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions.
“It’s time we woke up about Vladimir Putin. It’s time this administration got real,” McCain said on the Senate floor. “We are on the verge of possibly of seeing a move to reassert the old Russian empire, which is Mr. Putin's lifelong ambition.
“This president does not understand Vladimir Putin. He does not understand his ambitions,” McCain said. “This president has never understood it. This president is the one who ridiculed Mitt Romney, when Mitt Romney said the great enemy was Russia and its geopolitical threats.”
McCain recounted a warning about Russia and Ukraine that he gave to the president during a debate when the two battled for the presidency in 2008.
“Watch Ukraine. Ukraine, right now, is in the sights of Vladimir Putin, those that want to reassemble the old Soviet Union,” McCain said in 2008 in a debate against then Sen. Barack Obama.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 15:26:23 PM
(MOSCOW) -- Russia test fired an intercontinental ballistic missile Tuesday amid growing tensions between Moscow and Washington, but a U.S. official said the launch was planned in advance of the current crisis in Crimea.
The Russian Ministry of Defense announced the test of a RS-12 M ICBM that it said was designed “to test a promising start warheads of intercontinental ballistic missiles.”
A U.S. official confirmed the ICBM launch and said it was carried out through the protocols of the START Treaty. Per the treaty requirements the official said the United States was notified of Russia’s planned launch long before the current crisis in Crimea.
The official said that the missile was fired east over the Caspian Sea and landed in a remote part of Kazakhstan.
That matches the information provided by the Russian Defense Ministry that the missile “struck a condition target on the range in Sary-Shagan, Kazakhstan.”
The planned launch comes at a time when Russia has raised international tensions by moving military forces into the Crimean peninsula, ostensibly to protect that region’s ethnic Russian population. The Russian action has led to international condemnation and the United States is considering punitive actions against Russia that could take the form of economic sanctions.
On Monday, the Pentagon announced that it was suspending military engagements with Russia in the wake of the Crimean crisis. That includes a hold on military exercises, bilateral meetings, port visits and planning conferences.
American officials said they were not concerned about the launch because it was a long-planned research and development launch. “We’re not concerned,” said a U.S. official.
The United States military also conducts ICBM tests to test its arsenal of 450 Minuteman III missile.
The U.S. routinely delays or cancels tests of weapons or exercises if they might be unnecessarily provocative or inflammatory. Last spring Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delayed a long-planned Minuteman test launch during a time of heightened tensions with North Korea.
A defense official said at the time that Hagel had delayed the launch so it would not be misinterpreted and exacerbate the Korean crisis. The launch took place a month later after tensions had ebbed.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 15:05:33 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Tuesday unveiled a $3.9 trillion budget for the 2015 fiscal year that promotes his policy priorities and contains few concessions to Republicans, outlining an election-year blueprint that stands little chance of becoming law.
“Our budget is about choices. It's about our values. As a country, we've got to make a decision if we're going to protects tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans or if we're going to make smart investments necessary to create jobs and grow our economy and expand opportunity for every American,” Obama said.
This year’s budget lacks olive branches that were included in years past when the president was seeking to strike a fiscal deal with Republicans. For instance, it does not include an offer to lower future cost of living increases for Social Security and other federal benefits.
Instead, the budget put forth Tuesday, billed as a “roadmap for growth, opportunity, and fiscal responsibility,” focuses largely on fighting poverty and leveling income disparity. It expands tax credits to benefit the poor and middle class while raising taxes on the wealthy.
“At a time when our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years, we've got to decide if we're going to keep squeezing the middle class or if we're going to continue to reduce the deficits responsibly while taking steps to grow and strengthen the middle class,” Obama said in remarks unveiling the budget at a local Washington, D.C., public school.
The budget tilts federal spending in the direction of Obama pet programs like cleaner energy and early-childhood education, creating jobs on projects he has championed. It also trims military weapons systems.
The proposal, which comes just three months after lawmakers and the White House agreed to a two-year, bipartisan budget deal, is dead on arrival at Capitol Hill.
“After years of fiscal and economic mismanagement, the president has offered perhaps his most irresponsible budget yet,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a written statement. “American families looking for jobs and opportunity will find only more government in this plan. Spending too much, borrowing too much, and taxing too much, it would hurt our economy and cost jobs.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 14:40:56 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama spoke at Powell Elementary School in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and had some harsh words for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But the backdrop was anything but serious.
After a classroom tour, Obama stood on a multicolored alphabet carpet and said that “the course of history is for people to want to be free to make their own decisions about their own futures. …We stand on the side of history that more and more people around the world believe in.”
The president also spoke about his fiscal year 2015 budget, noting that he felt “this was an appropriate setting to talk about the budget” because the plan was designed with the Pre-K students’ generation in mind.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 14:33:09 PM
(NEW YORK) -- New Jersey is sometimes not-so-lovingly referred to as the "armpit of America" perhaps because of the shape of the state or the odors that emanate from its northern industrial region. But that doesn't mean you can joke about it in company marketing.
Unilever's Dove learned that when New Jersey residents responded in an uproar to a billboard that advertised deodorant. The ad read: "Dear New Jersey, When People call you 'The Armpit of America,' take it as a compliment. Sincerely, Dove"
Offended Facebook users posted on Dove's page in response to the ad.
"Memo to Dove advertising (aka idiots): good luck selling in NJ. I will not buy a Dove product again," one Facebook user wrote.
Unilever, which owns dozens of brands from Pond's, Axe, Degree and Ben and Jerry's, is based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
Unilever responded to Facebook users with the statement: "Thank you for your comments. With our 'Dear New Jersey' advertisement, Dove deodorant never intended to upset the residents of the state. As a result of your feedback, Dove deodorant will not be moving forward with publishing or displaying this ad."
Matthew McCarthy, senior marketing director of antiperspirants and deodorants at Unilever, explained the idea behind the ad.
"We did not wish to cause any misunderstanding and apologize for any offense. Our intent with the 'Dear New Jersey' billboard, which was one of many ads for our campaign, was to call attention to the fact that armpits can and should be considered beautiful and ask women everywhere to accept this as something that is okay," he said in a statement. "As a New Jersey-based company and longtime supporter of many charitable organizations in the state, we will instead be donating this billboard space to one of them."
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 14:12:38 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Ever stop to think about how medical marijuana is like sushi?
That’s the premise for the first-ever medical marijuana TV ad, which aired on Comcast stations in New Jersey late Monday night.
“Yo, you want sushi? I got sushi. I got the best sushi,” an actor playing a dealer tells the camera shortly before opening his coat to show it is lined with sashimi. “Ain’t nobody sellin’ but me.”
Then, a disembodied female voice interrupts.
“You wouldn’t buy your sushi from this guy, so why would you buy your marijuana from him?” she asks.
The ad is for MarijuanaDoctors.com, which aims to connect patients in states with legalized medical marijuana with doctors who will prescribe it.
Twenty states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana since 1996, according to the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy.
“We recognize that the sale and use of marijuana is still considered very controversial and we are pleased that Comcast understands that there are legitimate businesses providing legitimate and legal services to people who have legitimate needs,” Jason Draizin, founder and CEO of MarijuanaDoctors.com, said in a statement.
Comcast spokeswoman Melissa Kennedy said the Monday night ad was the first of others that will only air in states where medical marijuana is legal. The ads will air between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., she added, but exclude children’s and family programming.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 13:32:31 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- In his address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual convention, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed deep skepticism of the Iranian regime’s intentions in nuclear negotiations, restating his opposition to Iran’s ability to enrich any uranium in a final deal.
That position puts Israel at odds with the United States, which has expressed a willingness to allow Iran to enrich a small amount of uranium for civilian purposes, with strict limits to ensure it does not reach a weapons-grade threshold.
“Unfortunately, the leading powers of the world are talking about leaving Iran with the capability to enrich uranium,” Netanyahu said, referring to the P5+1 negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear intentions.
“I believe that letting Iran enrich uranium would open up the floodgates. It really would open up a Pandora's box of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and around the world,” he continued.
Netanyahu also said in the speech that he was ready to make “a historic peace” with the Palestinians.
“Peace would be good for us. Peace would be good for the Palestinians. But peace would also open up the possibility of establishing formal ties between Israel and leading countries in the Arab world,” he said.
He also thanked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for his work on both Iranian nuclear negotiations and the Israeli peace talks, calling him “the secretary who never sleeps.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 13:25:22 PM
(CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla.) -- A Florida couple was arrested for abandoning their three young children in the woods, authorities said.
Michael and Sarah Butcher, both 30, were first arrested Friday after illegally parking their red truck in a private RV park in Punta Gorda.
Cops later found crystal meth in their car's glove compartment, along with a syringe and a burnt spoon, according to the arrest report.
After the pair was taken to jail -- where they repeatedly claimed to be brother and sister -- the police received a call that three children were found walking in the woods, “very dirty, hungry, and cold,” according to a police report.
They told police their parents were named Michael and Sarah.
The children -- ages 10, 8, and 6 -- had walked nearly two miles before they were found, police said.
They said their parents had driven them to a wooded area where they often went camping. While they played in the woods, their parents drove off in their truck, leaving only Michael’s shoes, police said.
The children were sent to Florida’s Department of Children and Families, authorities said.
Following the couple's arrest, police officers also found a baggie of crystal meth in the father's pocket, authorities said.
The couple has been held without bond.
Debbie Bowe, a spokesman for the Charlotte County Sherriff’s office, would not say whether the couple confessed to abandoning their children.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 13:23:07 PM
(KIEV, Ukraine) -- Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday accused the Russian government of spreading rumors in order to justify military aggression in the Ukrainian region of Crimea and urged Russia to de-escalate or face the isolation of the United States and its allies.
He also praised the new Ukrainian transitional government, which took the place of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, for showing “restraint” in the face of Russian aggression and intimidation.
“The contrast really could not be clearer: determined Ukrainians demonstrating strength through unity, and the Russian government out of excuses, hiding its hand behind falsehoods, intimidation and provocations,” Kerry said, speaking at a press availability shortly after meeting with key members of the transitional government in the country’s parliament.
“There is nothing strong about what Russia is doing,” he continued, saying their assertions of Ukrainian aggression, the illegitimacy of the transitional government and threats to Russian military bases in Crimea were simply Putin’s attempts to create a “pretext” for being able to invade further into the country.
Kerry warned, as he and other U.S. officials have in recent days, of a united international front against Russia if it does not withdraw its troops from Crimea.
“Our partners will have absolutely no choice but to join us to continue to expand upon steps we have taken in recent days in order to isolate Russia politically, diplomatically and economically,” he said.
Kerry spoke with emotion about walking through a street in Kiev where 67 protestors were killed on February 20th, where violence between the Ukrainian opposition and Yanukovych government reached a fever pitch.
“It was very moving and it gave me a deep personal sense of how closely linked the people of Ukraine are to not just Americans but to people all across the world who today are asking for their rights, asking for the privilege to be able to live, defining their own nation, defining their futures,” he said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 13:19:44 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Just a few weeks after Juan Pablo Galavis broke up with Renee Oteri on The Bachelor, ABC News confirmed that the single mother is engaged to someone else.
No other details were immediately available.
Oteri became a fan favorite on the show, often taking a maternal approach to her feuding co-stars. She also refused to bash Juan Pablo after filming stopped, instead choosing to praise him for being a "great dad."
"I've never dated a single parent before, so it's huge," she told reporters in a press call last month, when asked about her relationship with him. "We can totally connect on a whole different level. And it's really, really sweet. I love it."
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 13:15:53 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Real Housewives of New Jersey stars Teresa and Joe Giudice have pleaded guilty in New Jersey federal court to federal fraud charges.
The couple pleaded guilty to several counts of loan and bankruptcy fraud, opening themselves to possible prison time.
Sentencing is set for July 8.
The couple was indicted on multiple counts of fraud last summer, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud.
Joe, 43, had also been accused of failure to file tax returns from 2004 through 2008, a period when he allegedly earned nearly $1 million.
Joe was born in Italy. After his sentencing, U.S. immigration officials get to decide if they want to proceed with sending him back to his country of birth.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 12:10:11 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- The midterm election officially gets underway Tuesday as Texas hosts the first primaries in the country.
The primary races in the Lone Star state will offer an initial glimpse at some of the key trends in the 2014 primaries, including the establishment vs. Tea Party fight and the newcomers who are trying to oust aging incumbents.
The contests will also shed light on how the ascension of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has influenced politics in Texas.
Here’s a look at six things to watch for in the Lone Star state’s primaries Tuesday:
THE IMPACT OF CRUZ CONTROL: Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is trying to hold onto his seat as he faces Tea Party challenges from Rep. Steve Stockman, who sold “Obama barf bags” as a campaign ploy, and Dwayne Stovall, who recently filmed a website video comparing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to a turtle. Cornyn, who is seeking his third term in the Senate, was forced to adapt his campaign playbook after Cruz entered the Senate last year. Cruz is highly popular in his home state of Texas and his willingness to buck the establishment put Cornyn, the second highest ranking Republican in the Senate, in a politically tight spot. Cornyn is expected to win his primary decisively despite Tea Party hopes for a candidate who could push him out of office, but watch for the margin of victory to gauge anti-incumbent sentiment.
ESTABLISHMENT VS. TEA PARTY: Rep. Pete Session’s primary in the 32nd Congressional District against Tea Party-favorite Katrina Pierson is a prime example of the establishment vs. Tea Party fight brewing in Republican primaries across the country this year. Republicans who have tired of establishment figures like Sessions, a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, are looking for candidates with Tea Party credentials as their best chance to oust incumbents. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that 41 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say it’s a good thing for Tea Party candidates to challenge Republican incumbents, while 47 percent call it a bad thing.
AGE DIVIDE: At Age 90, Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, is the oldest member of Congress, representing Texas’ 4th Congressional District since 1981. But some Texas Republicans have tired of waiting for him to bow out of the political spotlight, spurring five Republicans to challenge him in the primary: John Ratcliffe, the former mayor of Heath, Texas, and a former U.S. attorney; Tony Arterburn Jr.; Brent Lawson; John Stacy; and Lou Gigliotti, who unsuccessfully ran in the past two contests. This primary highlights a generational fight that could resonate throughout 2014.
DEMOCRATIC TURNOUT: The primaries won’t tell us much about the governor’s race, but keep an eye on Democratic turnout in the state’s primaries. Battleground Texas, a Democratic group led by alumni of President Obama’s campaign, has made it their goal to get more Democrats to the polls. The push comes at a time when the state’s demographics are changing, giving Democrats hope the state could someday turn at least purple, if not blue.
RUNOFF BLUES: Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst felt the runoff blues two years ago when he lost to newcomer Ted Cruz in the Senate runoff, and it could happen again. Dewhurst, who once famously called a police station asking for the release of a relative who had been arrested, is running for re-election in a crowded primary against state Sen. Dan Patrick, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. The four candidates could split the vote, forcing the primary -- and likely Dewhurst -- into a runoff.
BUSH IS BACK: The Bush dynasty is making its way back to political office as George P. Bush is on the ballot in the Texas Land Commissioner Republican primary. George P. Bush follows in the steps of his father, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, uncle, President George W. Bush, and grandfather, President George H.W. Bush, in seeking political office. George P. Bush is expected to easily win his primary and general election, but the land commissioner post is just a launching pad for answering the next big question: what does he run for next?
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 11:34:00 AM
(SURPIRSE, Ariz.) -- Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is enjoying his Major League Baseball experience as he participates in the Texas Rangers spring training. Still, he left the door open to pursue it further at some point.
"You never say never," Wilson said when asked if he'd ever pursue baseball further. "I've always had the dream of playing two sports. If somehow it was a miracle that it could work out, I'd consider it. At the same time, my focus is winning the championship with the Seattle Seahawks and hope to be playing for a long time."
Back in December, the Rangers selected Wilson in the Rule 5 Draft from the Colorado Rockies farm system. The Rangers decided to invite him to spring training and he accepted.
It was Wilson's first time playing baseball since 2011, when he was part of the Rockies Class A affiliate. He hit a combined .229 in 2010 and 2011.
In just his second NFL season, Wilson led the Seahawks to their first-ever Super Bowl Championship this past February.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 10:35:37 AM
(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A California couple who found a stash of buried gold coins valued at $10 million may not be so lucky after all. The coins may have been stolen from the U.S. Mint in 1900 and thus be the property of the government, according to a published report.
The San Francisco Chronicle's website reported that a search of the Haithi Trust Digital Library provided by Northern California fishing guide Jack Trout, who is also a historian and collector of rare coins, turned up the news of the theft.
The California couple, who have not been identified, spotted the edge of an old can on a path they had hiked many times before several months ago. Poking at the can was the first step in uncovering a buried treasure of rare coins estimated to be worth $10 million.
"It was like finding a hot potato," the couple told coin expert Dr. Don Kagin from Kagin's, Inc. The couple hired the president of Kagin's, Inc. and Holabird-Kagin Americana, a western Americana dealer and auctioneer, to represent them.
The coins are mostly uncirculated and in mint condition, and they add up in face value to $27,000. "Those two facts are a match of the gold heist in 1900 from the San Francisco Mint," the newspaper reported.
Trout told the paper that an 1866 Liberty $20 gold piece without the words “In God We Trust” was part of the buried stash, and the coin may fetch over $1 million at auction because it's so rare.
“This was someone’s private coin, created by the mint manager or someone with access to the inner workings of the Old Granite Lady (San Francisco Mint),” Trout told the newspaper. “It was likely created in revenge for the assassination of Lincoln the previous year (April 14, 1865). I don’t believe that coin ever left The Mint until the robbery. For it to show up as part of the treasure find links it directly to that inside job at the turn of the century at the San Francisco Mint.”
If the coins were stolen from the government, the couple may be entitled to a finder's fee but they may not be able to keep the stash. The Mint has not yet commented on the situation.
Last week, when news of the stash first broke, coin dealer Kagin spoke about the rarity of such a find.
"Since 1981, people have been coming to us with one or two coins they find worth a few thousand dollars, but this is the first time we get someone with a whole cache of buried coins...It is a million to one chance, even harder than winning the lottery," Kagin told ABC News.
The couple, who is trying to remain anonymous after finding the five cans of coins last spring on their Tiburon property in northern California, conducted an interview with Kagin.
"I never would have thought we would have found something like this. However, in a weird way I feel like I have been preparing my whole life for it," the couple said.
"I saw an old can sticking out of the ground on a trail that we had walked almost every day for many, many years. I was looking down in the right spot and saw the side of the can. I bent over to scrape some moss off and noticed that it had both ends on it," they said.
It was the first of five cans to be unearthed, each packed with gold coins.
"Nearly all of the 1,427 coins, dating from 1847 to 1894, are in uncirculated, mint condition," Kagin told ABC News.
He said that the couple plan to sell most of the coins, but before they do, they are "loaning some to the American Numismatic Association for its National Money Show, which opens Thursday in Atlanta."
"Some of the rarest coins could fetch as much as $1 million apiece," said Kagan. He also said that they wish to sell 90 percent of the collection through Amazon.com and on the company's website.
"We'd like to help other people with some of this money. There are people in our community who are hungry and don't have enough to eat. We'll also donate to the arts and other overlooked causes. In a way it has been good to have time between finding the coins and being able to sell them in order to prepare and adjust. It's given us an opportunity to think about how to give back," said the couple.
Kagin and his colleague David McCarthy, senior numismatist and researcher at Kagin's, met with the couple last April, two months after the hoard was found.
When McCarthy and Kagin told the couple that their bonanza will be in the annals of numismatic stories for quite some time, the couple said, "It would have been quite a pity not to share the magnitude of our find. We want to keep the story of these coins intact for posterity."
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 09:22:39 AM
(BELBEK, Crimea) -- A column of unarmed Ukrainian troops marched up a hill Tuesday under a World War II banner to demand that they be allowed back on their airfield, seized several days ago by Russian forces.
The Russians fired warning shots in the air, the beginning of a tense, four-hour standoff that ultimately ended with the Ukrainian troops' being denied access to the airfield and returning to their nearby base.
“We wanted to take [the troops up there] so the whole world can see what the Russians are like,” a top officer of the unit, Chief of Staff Viktor Kuharenko, told ABC News.
He said the group, numbering around 300, was met by about 25 Russian men with light weapons.
The two sides negotiated for hours, with the Ukrainians asking to resume their responsibilities at the airfield.
Russian forces have demanded the surrender of Ukrainian military bases across Crimea and have taken several of them. The Belbek base, next to the airstrip, is still held by Ukrainian forces that have refused to lay down their weapons.
“The two brotherly nations cannot be head-against-head, and I hope we’ll come to an agreement very soon,” Ukrainian base commander Col. Yuli Mamchur said.
He also said he received an ominous text message with a threat to “make the right decision.” He declined to say who it was from.
“We will continue our service here in a little more tense situation but we are used to it and it’s our duty,” one officer who took part in the standoff said, adding that they returned to the base when “the commander decided we should go back for lunch.”
Following the standoff, the troops returned to applause from fellow soldiers and their wives.
The showdown occurred as Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about the situation in Ukraine, arguing that Russia has the right to use force there.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 09:12:18 AM
(NEW YORK) -- The celebrity contestants for the upcoming 18th season of Dancing with the Stars were announced live Tuesday morning on ABC's Good Morning America, with the assistance of DWTS host Tom Bergeron and new co-host Erin Andrews.
In a first for Dancing with the Stars, the competition this season will feature a new twist dubbed "The Switch Up.” Viewers will have the power to vote and change the celebrity and professional dance pairings, meaning at some point during the season, all of the couples will have to switch partners.
Here's the celebrity cast of Dancing with the Stars:
- Danica McKeller, actress, mathemetician; pro partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy
- Cody Simpson, singer; Witney Carson
- Billy Dee Williams, actor; Emma Slater
- Diana Nyad, swimmer; Henry Byalikov
- Nene Leakes, reality TV star; Tony Dovolani
- James Maslow, singer/actor; Peta Murgatroyd
- Sean Avery, former professional ice hockey player; Karina Smirnoff
- Drew Carey, game show host/comedian; Cheryl Burke
- Candace Cameron Bure, actress; Mark Ballas
- Charlie White, Olympic figure skater; Sharna Burgess
- Meryl Davis, Olympic figure skater; Maksim Chmerkovskiy
- Amy Purdy, snowboarder; Derek Hough
The new season kicks off with many new changes. Along with Andrews joining as co-host, replacing longtime host Brooke Burke-Charvet, there is also a new music director: Ray Chew will replace longtime band leader Harold Wheeler.
The new season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars premieres March 17.
Copyright 2014 ABC News RadioPublished: 3/4/2014 08:45:29 AM