ABC Digital News
(NEW YORK) -- If you've ever read an article on your computer screen and stopped to realize you have no idea what you just read, you've experienced something similar to highway hypnosis.
A commuter train engineer told investigators he was in a "daze" moments before the Dec. 1 derailment that killed four people in New York City. That could have been highway hypnosis, experts say.
"When we're tired, effectively there's a change in the state of our brain that results in that information just not getting to those centers where we actively, consciously process it," said Sean Meehan, a University of Michigan kinesiology professor.
Read about the train derailment here.
A person who has lapsed into highway hypnosis is experiencing slowed brain activity, Meehan said, meaning different parts of the brain aren't communicating with one another as frequently as when the person is fully conscious. It's actually similar to the brain activity of someone who is asleep, and is most likely to occur in a driver who is tired, he said.
As a result, the driver's reaction time is slowed, he said.
"I'm sure most people experienced this on a long trip where they all of the sudden realize they really haven't been aware of what they're doing," said Meehan, who is currently working with the Hyundai-Kia Technical Center to determine the feasibility of a device that would tell car drivers when their brain activity has slowed.
Going into this autopilot-like mode often happens on long, mundane highway drives with few turns or traffic signals, Meehan said. The driver usually can't recognize highway hypnosis until his environment is somehow jostled -- another car cuts him off or he hits a bump.
Drowsy driving results in more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 1,550 deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Highway hypnosis often gets lumped into drowsy driving because it happens in tired drivers, Meehan said.
Still, a highway isn't the only place it can happen. It can happen on a train, Meehan said, though it hasn't been blamed for any other train accidents to his knowledge. It can also happen at your desk when your eyes gloss over a work document and you realize you didn't comprehend it.
To prevent highway hypnosis on the road, Meehan suggests taking a break every 90 minutes or so, or -- if you're lucky enough to be driving with someone else -- switch drivers. Listening to the radio isn't enough to prevent this daze, and can even contribute to it, he cautioned. And always get at least six hours of sleep the night before a long trip, he said.
The University of Kansas Transportation Center published guide for rural transit drivers to avoid driver fatigue. In addition to Meehan's tips, it suggests keeping the vehicle cool and maintaining good posture to stay alert.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/5/2013 05:20:25 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama is enlisting young people to help sell the Affordable Care Act to the demographic critical to the success of his signature law.
“This law is already making a difference for millions of young people, and it’s about to help millions more,” he said at a White House youth summit. “I'm going to need you all to spread the word about how the Affordable Care Act really works, what its benefits are, what its protections are and, most importantly, how people can sign up.”
Youth leaders from around the country were invited to the White House to help get the word out to young Americans about how to enroll. No group is more important to the economics of Obamacare. Getting young, healthy people to enroll is key to offsetting the health care costs of older Americans.
“I do remember what it's like being 27 or 28, and aside from the occasional basketball injury, most of the time I kind of felt like I had nothing to worry about,” Obama said. “Of course, that's what most people think until they have something to worry about.”
Relating to the rowdy young people in the audience, who snapped pictures on their phones throughout the event, the president said they should be able to get health insurance for less than their monthly cell phone bill.
“I am not allowed, for security reasons, to have an iPhone,” said Obama, who uses a BlackBerry and is often spotted on his iPad. “I don’t know what your bills are. I have noticed that Sasha and Malia seem to spend a lot of time on it. My suspicion is that for a lot of you, between your cable bill, your phone bill, you're spending more than 100 bucks a month.”
“The idea that you wouldn’t want to make sure that you've got the health security and financial security that comes with health insurance for less than that price, you guys are smarter than that. And most young people are, as well,” he said.
With the clock ticking toward the March 31st deadline to enroll, the president is hoping to encourage young people to sign up for insurance now.
“I'm here, because I need your help; that’s why you're here, because you know I need your help,” he said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/5/2013 05:03:22 AM
(BEIJING) -- Over the course of more than five hours of discussions in Beijing on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden and China’s leader Xi Jinping held steadfast to their respective country’s position regarding rising tensions in the East China Sea.
Biden said he was “very direct” when he told President Xi the U.S. does not recognize China’s contentious Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). He indicated the White House expects China to take steps to ease the concerns of its neighbors to avoid undue escalation.
For his part, Xi defended China’s right to police the skies over the disputed islands known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. He said he would “take in” what Biden had to say but gave no guarantee China would consider recalibrating its position.
Aides said they did not expect Biden to leave Beijing with a concrete resolution but the outcome -- a near diplomatic stalemate -- almost certainly falls short of what Japan and even the U.S. might have envisioned. It also places the ball squarely in China’s court.
“It’s up to China,” said a senior administration official traveling with Biden who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
That the two met for such an extended period of time may be due to their long-standing personal relationship. Biden has spent more time with Xi than any other leading U.S. politician, a fact that means, as one aide put it, the two men “can be very direct about difficult issues.”
On Thursday, his last day in Beijing, Biden told a group of American executives doing business in China that, “China’s recent and sudden announcement of the establishment of a new air defense identification zone has, to state the obvious, caused significant apprehension in the region.” Whether or not Biden’s visit did anything to diffuse that apprehension remains to be seen.
“We are looking to China to take steps as we move forward to lower tensions, to avoid enforcement actions that could lead to crisis,” said the official traveling with Biden, “and to establish channels of communication with Japan, but also with their other neighbors to avoid the risk of mistake, miscalculation, accident or escalation.”
The islands are at the center of a decades-long power struggle between China and Japan, a U.S. ally, with Taiwan and South Korea invested on the perimeter. Before traveling to China, Biden met with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and promised to raise concerns with Chinese leaders with “great specificity.”
But when he arrived in Beijing, Biden was met with an editorial in the state-run newspaper China Daily, accusing Washington of unfairly siding with Japan. It essentially predicted the outcome that came to pass by saying Biden would hit a dead end if he simply repeated, “his government’s previous erroneous and one-sided remarks.”
More progress was perhaps made when the two men discussed deepening concern over North Korea’s nuclear program. According to a senior administration official, they talked at length about the example Iran sets, whether the same could be applicable to North Korea and “the need for pressure in order to sharpen the choice for North Korea and our common quest to have them denuclearize.”
Biden will address the same issues and more when he meets next with South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye in Seoul.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/5/2013 05:02:54 AM
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- LaQuinton Ross scored 20 and grabbed six rebounds, as No. 8 Ohio State trampled Maryland 76-60 Wednesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.Sam Thompson had 14 points while Lenzelle Smith Jr. added 12 for Ohio State (7-0) which has now won its last 73 home games against unranked opponents.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/5/2013 04:38:41 AM
(NEW YORK) -- LSU senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger has a torn ACL and a sprained MCL, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan.The injury was suffered in the fourth quarter of LSU's 31-27 win over Arkansas last week when Mettenberger was hit in the knee by Arkanas defensive end Byran Jones. Mettenberger immediately left the game and did not return.While the school wouldn't confirm the specifics of the injury it did announce that Mettenberger will miss whatever bowl game the Tigers play. Freshman quarterback Anthony Jennings will take his place.
"We are very disappointed for Zach," coach Les Miles said. "He's been a tremendous leader for our team and he's as competitive a guy as I have ever been around. He's had a great impact on our program."Mettenberger threw for 3,082 yards, 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 64.9 percent of his passes. Mettenberger joins Rohan Davey and JaMarcus Russell as the only three LSU quarterbacks to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season.An ESPN source reports Mettenberger will have surgery to repair his torn ACL in approximately two weeks.Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/5/2013 04:35:24 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- The National Security Agency has a database that stores nearly five billion cellphone records from around the world on a daily basis, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
It's the latest fallout from the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who first exposed the massive spy activities of his one-time employer last spring.
By mining hundreds of millions cellphones worldwide, the Post reports the NSA can "track the movements of individuals -- and map their relationships -- in ways that would have been previously unimaginable."
As for the privacy of Americans, the NSA claims it doesn't track the whereabouts of it citizens although the location data is retrieved "incidentally," a process the agency says is legal.
The Post also writes that the NSA "has no reason to suspect that the movements of the overwhelming majority of cellphone users would be relevant to national security."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/5/2013 04:25:26 AM
(NEW YORK) -- A report on the loans college students take out to get an education shows a wide disparity in the debt owed, depending on what schools are attended and the areas of the country where they're located.
According to an estimate from the Institute for College Access and Success, just over seven in 10 U.S. students take out loans with the average debt of $29,400. Delaware had the highest debt per borrower at $34,000 with New Mexico the lowest at $18,000.
Meanwhile, the report also lists the huge differences in the amount of money borrowed. At Anna Maria College and Wheelock College in Massachusetts, the average debt for the 80 percent of students who need financial assistance is close to $49,000.
On the other side of the country, just under half of students who got a degree at the California State University at Sacramento had to borrow money. The average debt at that school was less than $4,500.
In terms of which states had colleges that were perhaps more affordable because students were least likely to owe money after graduation, the winners were Arizona, California, Louisiana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.
Students most likely to have to obtain loans went to college in Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
The numbers were compiled from more than 1,000 colleges and a federal survey taken every four years.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/5/2013 04:22:32 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Maria Kang, AKA "Fit Mom," posted a controversial photo on her Facebook page back in September, baring her toned abs, with her three young kids by her side. The 33-year-old created a firestorm of attention by asking, "What's your excuse?"
Many interpreted the post as fat shaming. Kang seemed to be saying, if you don't look like me, you're just not trying hard enough.
Subsequent Facebook posts, blogs and media interviews have only given her detractors more reasons to call her out as a judgmental fat shamer. Meanwhile, her supporters continue to cheer her on as the voice of reason in a world that promotes fat acceptance despite the unhealthy effects of obesity.
Now that Kang has an international spotlight, she says she's not backing down. She's willing to take on anyone who says that obesity looks OK. Here's what she had to say to ABC News about her views on the impact of size on health.
ABC: Earlier this week, Caroline Berg Eriksen, a Norwegian soccer player's wife, came under fire for posting an Instagram selfie featuring her flat, chiseled stomach just four days after giving birth. What do you think about that?
KANG: I say, good for her! I've never seen anyone look like that after four days, but every woman's body is different. We shouldn't feel bad about ourselves if we don't look like her but we shouldn't bash her for it either.
My body certainly didn't look like that after having a baby. I posted pictures to my Facebook page and anyone who looks at them will see I am like everyone else. I had to work to get it back.
ABC: You recently scuffled with the owner of Curvy Girl Lingerie, Chrystal Bougon, on CNN. Bougon encouraged "regular women" to bare it all online, stripping down to their lingerie to prove that real women are beautiful. Do you object to that?
KANG: All of the women they showed were obese and I said that was not healthy. Maybe that particular obese woman really is healthy. If so, then she's just like the Norwegian who can have flat abs four days after giving birth – an anomaly.
I said you can just tell by looking at someone if they are fit or not. I know this from being in the fitness world and working with people. It's instinct. You can tell if someone is sick and unhealthy by how they look. When someone has a poor waist-to-hip ratio, that's a huge indicator. Studies show that you are more susceptible to heart disease and other types of illness based on that. Anyone can tell this with a bare naked eye looking at a bare naked stomach.
You can tell if someone is obese and that's the word I am using here. Your body is not meant to carry this much weight. You can tell when they expose all their goodies to you they are not healthy. And can I just say I am tired of everyone posing in their lingerie?
ABC: So, can someone who is overweight but who works out and eats right ever be considered healthy?
KANG: You can base a lot off of visual results. If someone is working out and eating healthy, however their body manifests, you have to respect that.
I don't look like an athlete or someone who could be on the cover of "Vogue." I won't ever look like Heidi Klum and I don't beat myself up over it. No one can get the same results – everyone is built differently and has different genetics.
I never said anyone should look like me or anyone else. I am talking about health not looks. But if you exercise and eat healthy you can be healthy. That is my message.
ABC: You've been accused of being a fat shamer. Do you think you are being fit shamed?
KANG: I hate the word shame. It has a connotation of guilt. I don't feel any guilt and I don't feel any doubt. Anyone who does feel shame is probably feeling negative about themselves already.
But in a sense I really was fit shamed by a lot of people. People really put me down for being healthy. I was seriously attacked.
And here these women on CNN are showing the same amount of skin as I did in my Facebook post and being proud. Everyone is saying to them, "You go girl." People don't look at these photos and ask about what message they're sending. And then someone like me who is in shape, they are saying how dare you put yourself out there? You are the reason for eating disorders. You are the reason women feel bad about their bodies.
What about this woman who is overweight in lingerie? What message she is sending? In a way, we have the same message.
The problem is, we are normalizing what people should look like; overweight and obese. We can't normalize this and that's my problem with it. You are sending the message that being obese is OK.
We are seeing extreme sizes of the spectrum in the media, people who are very thin and very obese. There are a small percentage of people we see who are average. We need real role models like me. People in everyday life – somewhere in the middle of fat and thin, we're not seeing them. I am the minority here.
ABC: In retrospect, do you wish you had used words other than, "What's your excuse?" and perhaps toned down some of the remarks that got you banned from Facebook for three days?
KANG: All I've tried to imply is that my body is representative of what health looks like. Of course there are different ways to look healthy. I have flat and toned abs but I don't have a six-pack. People are focusing too much on the body image aspects versus what my body defines, which is healthy.
I'm not a model or celebrity. I am your next-door neighbor but I am making it work. Being fit isn't always my first priority but it is a priority. It makes them madder because I broke their glass house. I can overcome my challenges and so can you. I am showing them what's possible and creating a discussion.
I can see that people would hate me because I am closer to the ideal. But I have stretch marks and I struggle with being larger on the bottom. I am genetically susceptible to being overweight.
I've always been inspired by overcoming excuses and challenges. I could have said something that was perhaps more supportive but then I wouldn't have started an international dialog about all of this now. If I said something softer it wouldn't have had such an impact. It woke people up.
ABC: You're young now. It may get harder for you to maintain your weight and figure as you age. Any thoughts on that?
KANG: When I had a baby, people told me watch out your body will change. But my body really didn't change that much. I started doing my homework and changing my habits. I weight train and I exercise and I eat right.
Of course I understand life will change and it will get harder. But I am getting it done because I know how important it is. I think I will still be able to make it work even as I age.
Remember, your body is the only thing you own in this life. And I can't wait until I am 70 taking a picture with my boys and asking, "What's your excuse?"
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/5/2013 04:00:53 AM
(NEW YORK) -- NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers 98 (6-12) - Denver Nuggets 88 (11-7)
Atlanta Hawks 107 (10-10) - Los Angeles Clippers 97 (12-7)
Phoenix Suns 97 (10-9) - Houston Rockets 88 (13-7)
Detroit Pistons 105 (9-10) - Milwaukee Bucks 98 (3-15)
Dallas Mavericks 100 (12-8) - New Orleans Pelicans 97 (9-9)
Indiana Pacers 95 (17-2) - Utah Jazz 86 (4-16)
Portland Trail Blazers 111 (16-3) - Oklahoma City Thunder 104 (13-4)
NHL: Montreal Canadiens 4 (17-9-3, 37pts) - New Jersey Devils 3 (11-12-6, 28 pts) SO
Philadelphia Flyers 6 (13-13-2, 28pts) - Detroit Red Wings 3 (14-8-7, 35pts)
Calgary Flames 4 (10-13-4, 24pts) - Phoenix Coyotes 1 (16-8-4, 36pts)
NCAAB: North Carolina 79 (5-2) - (1) Michigan State 65 (7-1)
(5) Ohio State 76 (7-0) - Maryland 60 (5-3)
(7) Louisville 90 (7-1) - UMKC 62 (1-6)
(8) Wisconsin 48 (9-0) - Virginia 38 (7-2)
(14) Villanova 77 (8-0) - Pennsylvania 54 (2-5)
(25) Dayton 56 (7-1) - Delaware State 46 (2-6)
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/5/2013 02:32:48 AM
(MIAMI) -- An investigation into whether Florida State's star quarterback, Jameis Winston, sexually assaulted a woman is complete and will be announced on Thursday -- just days before votes for the prestigious Heisman Trophy must be turned in.
Winston, 19, is a leading contender for the award as the country's best college football player.
The office of Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs said Wednesday that investigation has been concluded and the results of the probe will be announced at a news conference at 2 p.m. ET Thursday.
The announcement will complete a week of turmoil for the freshman star. On Monday, Meggs vowed that he would conduct a thorough investigation and that it would not be "based on a football schedule or anyone else's calendar."
On Tuesday, Winston was voted the Atlantic Coast Conference's rookie of the year. And on Saturday, the Florida State Seminoles, ranked No. 1 nationally, will play for the ACC title.
Winston has been hit with accusations of sexual battery in connection with an alleged assault in a Tallahassee apartment Dec. 7, 2012, according to a heavily redacted police report. However, the case did not reach prosecutors until last month.
Winston's attorney, Timothy Jansen, acknowledge his client had sex with his accuser, but insists it was consensual.
"We are hopeful that this cloud will be removed from Jameis as soon as possible," Jansen told ABC News Tuesday.
Jansen says he was told back in February by police that the case was closed. Interim Tallahassee Police Chief Tom Coe held a news conference two weeks ago and said the case was never closed.
"When we received a media inquiry, TPD consulted with the state attorney's office. At that time, that case was reopened or reactivated. Let me reiterate to you please, the case was never closed," Coe said.
The Tallahassee Police Department has come under fire for their handling of the investigation after the alleged victim's attorney said detectives warned them about pressing charges against Winston.
Detectives allegedly told the alleged victim's attorney, Patricia Carroll, that Tallahassee was a "big football town, and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against him because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable," the victim's family said in a statement last month.
Coe said his department could only make "limited" remarks about the case because it was an open investigation and he did not want to influence the way the victim and Winston were treated.
But under mounting pressure, Tallahassee police finally took Winston's DNA samples last month, nearly a year after the alleged rape.
Meggs will ultimately decide whether charges should be brought against Winston, a freshman who has led FSU to an undefeated season. The timing of possible charges is coming at the height of Winston's monster season, passing for 3,490 yards and throwing 35 touchdowns.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/5/2013 01:09:10 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Wonder Woman is finally making it to the big screen. Landing the role of the iconic Amazon superhero is Israeli model and actress Gal Gadot.
Gadot, 28, is probably best known for her role as Gisele Harabo in the last three Fast & Furious films.
When she makes her debut as Wonder Woman in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel, she will star alongside Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck.
“Wonder Woman is arguably one of the most powerful female characters of all time and a fan favorite in the DC Universe,” director Zack Snyder said in a Warner Brothers news release. “Not only is Gal an amazing actress, but she also has that magical quality that makes her perfect for the role. We look forward to audiences discovering Gal in the first feature film incarnation of this beloved character.”
Until then — the film is scheduled for the big screen in July 2015 — keep reading to get to know more about Gadot.
1. She Was Born in Israel
Gadot was born in Rosh HaAyin, Israel, in 1985. “I definitely have a strong sense of my Jewish and Israeli identity,” she told TotallyJewish.com in 2011. “I was brought up in a very Jewish, Israeli family environment, so of course my heritage is very important to me.”
2. She Started Out in Pageants
In 2004, at age 19, Gadot won the Miss Israel title. She went on to represent Israel at the 2004 Miss Universe beauty pageant but failed to place in the top 15.
3. She Served in the Israeli Army
Gadot joined the Israeli Army at the age of 20 for her mandatory military service. Throughout her two-year term as a sports trainer in the Israel Defense Forces, she continued to work as a model.
4. She Got Her Break in Fast & Furious
Gadot was just finishing her military service when she auditioned for Fast & Furious, the fourth film in the franchise, and won the role of Gisele Harabo over six other actresses. The following year, she landed a small role in the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz action-adventure film Knight and Day and Date Night, playing Mark Wahlberg’s Israeli girlfriend. By the time Gadot reprised her character in the Fast & the Furious series in 2011, she was splitting her time between Los Angeles and Israel.
5. She’s Married and Has a Daughter
Gadot married her husband, Israeli businessman Yaron Versano, during the filming of Fast & Furious in 2008. In November 2011, they welcomed their first child, a girl named Alma.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/5/2013 00:46:49 AM
(VIENNA) -- Mexican authorities said a stolen truck carrying "extremely dangerous" material used in medical treatment was located Wednesday. The nuclear waste, however, had been removed.
Using radioactive detectors, authorities located 40 grams of Cobalt-60 about a half-mile away from the truck's container, according to Juan Eibenschutz, director of the Mexican Nuclear Agency.
A spokesperson for the attorney general's office told ABC News the truck had likely been abandoned when authorities located it in the town of Hueypoxtla, located about 90 miles from Mexico City.
No arrests have been made.
The truck was transporting Cobalt-60 from a hospital in the northern city of Tijuana to a radioactive waste storage facility when it was stolen in Tepojaco near Mexico City on Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement. Cobalt-60 is a radioactive isotope and was being used in radiotherapy.
"At the time the truck was stolen, the source was properly shielded. However, the source could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it was damaged," the IAEA said in the statement.
There was no indication from officials that the truck was headed for the U.S.
U.S. law enforcement and Department of Homeland Security officials said earlier this week that they were aware of the theft and working closely with Mexican authorities, a U.S. official briefed on the situation told ABC News.
Border officials were armed with radiation detection devices in the event the person who stole the material tried to cross into the U.S., the official said.
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/5/2013 00:25:01 AM
(STOCKTON, Calif.) -- As an elementary school student in Stockton, Calif., Sarim Chabb was shot in the leg when a gunman used an assault rifle to spray bullets at a schoolyard full of students at recess. The Stockton shooting in 1989 was one of the worst mass shootings the country had ever experienced up until then.
Now a quarter of a century later, Chabb, along with her brother, is accused in the shooting death of a man.
Joseph Silva, public information officer for the Stockton Police Department, said police received a report of shots fired from inside an apartment complex on Saturday, Nov. 30.
When officers arrived, Silva said they found Marshawn Black, 22, who had been shot to death.
He declined to say what evidence led police to arrest Chabb, 31, and her brother, Sarth Chabb, 27, on Sunday. However, he said Black and Sarim Chabb knew each other.
"It was basically just good old-fashioned police work," Silva said. "Just going to the apartment, talking to people and piecing the events that led up to the shooting together in a fast manner, which led them to the suspects."
Sarim Chabb was 7 years old was enjoying her lunch recess with hundreds of other students at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton on Jan. 17, 1989 when a gunman opened fire. Chabb is of Cambodian descent and nearly all of the children in the playground were Cambodian and Vietnamese.
Patrick Purdy, 26, sprayed the playground with 106 rounds from his assault rifle. The terror lasted for three minutes before Purdy killed himself.
Among the carnage were five dead children, while at least 29 students and one teacher were wounded.
Chabb, who was a first grader, according to news reports from the time, was shot in the left leg.
Sam Behar, Chabb's public defender, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.
He told ABC News' Sacramento affiliate the connection was "interesting, but irrelevant" to the current case.
Chabb and her brother are due back in court on Dec. 17.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 22:40:46 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- Without realizing it, millions of American commuters are in close proximity every day to extremely hazardous nuclear material that terrorists would love to turn into weapons of mass destruction -- if they could.
It happens when we drive down roadways and pass certain cargo trucks. Or when we are near buildings under construction. Or receive cancer therapy treatments and X-rays. Or walk under household smoke detectors.
Radioactive material of various types is part of all kinds of everyday tools commonly used to kill cancer cells, build things and keep heart patients alive -- from cancer therapy and X-ray machines to laser drills and even obsolete heart pacemakers -- which are commonly transported between medical centers, construction sites and waste disposal areas.
In theory, a committed terrorist could break open the shielded containers of nuclear material inside larger medical devices and use it to make an improvised explosive device laden with radioactive ingredients, known as a "dirty bomb."
But they might die trying -- from radiation sickness -- and that may be why a dirty bomb has never been used.
"That's probably one of the major roadblocks to creating a dirty bomb, that the terrorist would be exposed to radiation," Dr. Ellen Carlin, a former WMD expert at the House Committee on Homeland Security, told ABC News on Wednesday.
Very few terrorists caught inside the U.S. since 9/11 succeeded in building a viable conventional IED, and only the Boston Marathon bombers actually detonated explosive devices.
Another top expert said that while unprecedented, it is possible.
"To me, it's a bit of a puzzle why it hasn't happened," Matthew Bunn, a nuclear expert at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, said in an interview.
On Wednesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that a VW truck in Mexico transporting an old cancer therapy machine containing highly hazardous Cobalt-60 was hijacked by unknown gunmen. A U.S. official briefed on the Mexico theft told ABC News that it appears that the truck, not its contents, was targeted by the thieves.
According to a 2007 U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics study, 515,000 tons of radioactive materials are transported in the U.S. per year. Most of that is by truck and the rest is by air and parcel.
Ever since federal officials revealed a decade ago that since-convicted al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla had been sent by 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to the U.S. to attempt to make and detonate a dirty bomb, counter-terrorism officials and government scientists have been on watch for unusual signs of radioactivity in cities, and they've also studied whether these are viable weapons. In Padilla's case, the KSM "plot" was not viable and he made no known effort toward carrying it out.
In one demonstration for U.S. government officials of a radioactivity sniffer system in New York City last year, a commuter's vehicle was almost immediately flagged and pulled over. Inside the trunk was a laser drill – a harmless construction tool containing a small amount of radioactive material, according to a source who was there.
As common as machines are that contain material that could possibly make an improvised explosive device "dirty" with radioactive material that would scare Americans more than it would kill any beyond the bomb blast itself, their transport is regulated by security requirements of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Of three categories of nuclear material in the U.S., the most dangerous -- Category 1 -- has never been stolen inside the United States, NRC officials told ABC News. The Mexican cargo would be considered Category 1.
Even outside the U.S. homeland, where similar medical and construction devices are used in more lawless countries where extremist groups might steal one more easily and exploit its lethal innards, "nobody has ever attempted to use a dirty bomb," Bunn said.
The problem for terrorists is that aspiration hasn't been matched with operational capability.
"You don't need to hijack a truck in Mexico to make a dirty bomb in the U.S. There is so much equipment in the U.S. with Cobalt-60 or other radiation sources," Carlin said. "It's extremely widespread. It's in every hospital and even veterinary clinics."
However, simply prying open a small device on Wall Street, for example, would likely pose minimal danger to anyone outside the immediate vicinity of the device. It also wouldn't have immediate health impact.
Placing radioactive material within an IED would conceivably spread it over a larger area and contaminate it. "That's the appeal of a dirty bomb," Carlin said.
The challenges of a terrorist personally handling or transferring any kind of radioactive material from a stolen medical machine to an IED and exploding it at a target site without exposing themselves to radiation in the process may in part explain why a dirty bomb has never been used, the experts agreed.
The NRC reports that during fiscal year 2013 there were no recorded incidents of unrecovered lost, abandoned or stolen nuclear material in the United States.
An NRC spokesman also said the agency has never received a report of something as dangerous as Cobalt-60, the material missing in Mexico, being stolen in the United States. More specifically, "there has never been a Category 1 source reported stolen in the U.S."
IAEA Category 1 materials "are considered to be the most 'dangerous' because they can pose a very high risk to human health if not managed safely and securely. An exposure of only a few minutes to an unshielded Category 1 source may be fatal." Category 3 incidents, like those involving the old pacemakers, are much less worrisome.
The NRC recorded only 10 serious incidents of lost, abandoned or stolen nuclear material in the United States in fiscal year 2012. All but one was recovered. The one missing is in the chest of someone who died, one of the few remaining people in the U.S. with plutonium-powered pacemakers.
"The body was buried without recovering the pacemaker," the NRC reports. "There is no planned action to recover the pacemaker from the buried patient."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 21:13:21 PM
(ATLANTA) -- Just days after having twins, Kim Zolciak is back to her pre-baby body.
The former Real Housewives of Atlanta star, 35, gave birth to twins less than two weeks ago, and Wednesday, her daughter gave fans a glimpse of her post-baby body.
“HOW,” Brielle Biermann posted on Twitter, along with the above photo.
Zolciak, who has two sons with her husband, NFL player Kroy Biermann, and two daughters from previous relationships (whom Biermann adopted), retweeted the sentiment.
“How is my mom a size 4?” Brielle asked. “It’s been 9 days since she gave birth to twins.”
Zolciak gave a clever response to which most moms can relate: “From chasing after you!”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 18:48:03 PM
(CHICAGO) -- The Chicago White Sox and first baseman Paul Konerko have agreed to a one-year contract worth $2.5 million.
“Paul Konerko has been an extremely important member of our lineup and presence in our clubhouse since his arrival in Chicago,” said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn. “Paul needed time this fall to step away, think about his situation, and reach his own conclusions. We are very pleased that he has decided to come back for another season.”
The White Sox plan to use Konerko as designated hitter against certain left-handed pitching as well as assisting rookie Jose Abreu’s transition into the role as the primary first baseman.
The 37-year-old Konerko has batted .281 with 434 home runs and 1,390 RBIs during his 17-year career.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 18:08:46 PM
(ELOY, Ariz.) -- What was supposed to be a week of extreme skydiving fun in Arizona for hundreds of experienced jumpers turned deadly when two men collided in mid-air and then plummeted to their deaths.
An investigation is being conducted by the Eloy Police Department's Criminal Investigations Division and the Federal Aviation Administration to determine what caused the two men, who were described as experienced skydivers, to collide during a 200-person jump on Tuesday afternoon.
The victims were identified Wednesday as Keiron O'Rourke, 40, of the United Kingdom, and Bernd Schmehl, 51, of Germany, Eloy Police Sgt. Brian Jerome told ABC News.
Schmehl logged 1,707 career jumps while O'Rourke had 849 under his belt, Jerome said.
Witnesses told police the men somehow collided with their parachutes open approximately 200 to 300 feet above the ground. Following the collision, their parachute canopies collapsed and both individuals plummeted to the ground, Jerome said.
A third skydiver also suffered injuries, but Jerome said it was not related to or caused by the collision between the other two skydivers.
Schmehl was pronounced dead on scene and O'Rourke died at Casa Grande Regional Medical Center, Jerome said.
The men’s families have been notified, he said, and their bodies are now at the Pinal County Medical Examiner's Office pending autopsies.
Skydive Arizona opened in 1978 and averages over 135,000 jumps per year, according to their website.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 17:34:43 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Google must have thought that it didn't have enough on its sci-fi to-do list. In addition to Google Glass and the Google self-driving car, the Internet giant still has enough time and money to create its own robot division.
The unnamed robot initiative will be led by former Android CEO Andy Rubin.
But this robot division won’t be completely built from scratch. Over the past six months, Google has acquired several companies that specialize in various robotics fields. Industrial Perception focuses on robotic arms that specialize in handling packages, while other companies such as Schaft and Meka are working on making more human-like robots.
Gary McMurray, the associate director of industry at Georgia Tech's Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, said that based on the companies Google bought, it's not too hard to sketch out a rough picture of Google's plans. "They aren't going for the consumer market," he told ABC News. "They can use their robots for marketing, or they can go for something in manufacturing."
Regardless of how the robots will ultimately be put to use, both Rubin and Google seem intent on making robots sooner rather than later. In an interview with The New York Times, Rubin said that time was a factor. "We need enough runway and a 10-year vision," he said.
Google CEO Larry Page expressed confidence in Rubin to pull this off. "His last big bet, Android, started off as a crazy idea that ended up putting a supercomputer in hundreds of millions of pockets," Page said. "It is still very early days for this, but I can't wait to see the progress."
Other big companies have also incorporated robotics into their own businesses. "GE was the first company to get into robotics," said McMurray. "Amazon purchased their own robotics company (Kiva Systems) to help with its warehousing."
So while Google might not be the first company to work with robots, they seem to fit in. "Google is a very forward-thinking company," said McMurray. "I think [this initiative] fits in with what they're trying to do as a company."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 17:27:18 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- The newest member of the Obama family got a little rambunctious as she stepped into the spotlight Wednesday.
Sunny, the Obamas’ new puppy, joined the first lady Wednesday afternoon for some holiday arts and crafts with the children of military families. Mrs. Obama walked Sunny around the State Dining Room on a leash as the children made paper flowers and decorated edible ornaments with an array of candy.
Bounding with excitement, Sunny got a bit too frisky at one point and knocked a little girl to the ground. Mrs. Obama gasped and immediately helped up the toddler, in a bright red dress and big black bow, who appeared to be fine.
The first lady then introduced her to Sunny, who moments later playfully licked the girl’s face.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 16:06:25 PM
(NEW YORK) -- The home of former Felicity star Keri Russell was broken into around 3 a.m. Wednesday, a rep for the actress confirmed to ABC News.
“Everyone is fine,” the rep said. “Keri sends her thanks to the police.”
Reports have the actress, 37, sleeping at the time of the break-in. Two suspects are now in custody and are being questioned, police confirm.
A spokeswoman for the New York Police Department said a second victim, a 70-year-old white female, was the reason the suspects were apprehended. Her home was also broken into at around 5:20 a.m., after Russell’s. She then gave police a description of the suspects -- Steffon Swindell, 19, and Ronald Swindell, 50 -- who were taken in for questioning after police had canvassed the area.
There are no reported injuries, and electronics and jewelry were taken during the thefts, police said.
Russell is currently starring in the FX drama The Americans. It’s unknown if Russell’s husband, Shane Deary, and two children, daughter Willa Lou, 23 months, and son River, 6, were in the home at the time of the break-in.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 15:09:25 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- A poll out Wednesday from Harvard University’s Institute of Politics shows that the majority of young people, a core support group throughout President Obama’s time in office, disapproves of the Affordable Care Act, with less than a third saying they would sign up, an essential element to the success of Obamacare.
The survey polled 18- to 29-year-olds, and twice as many respondents said they believe health care under the Affordable Care Act will get worse than get better -- 44 percent to 17 percent. And half of the respondents said they believe costs will increase while about 10 percent said costs will decrease.
“We found that millennials are unlikely to buy something, invest in something, to vote for something from people and from things they don’t necessarily trust and that’s a serious concern today,” Harvard Institute of Politics Polling Director John Della Volpe said in a conference call outlining the results.
When the law was referred to as the Affordable Care Act, 39 percent of respondents approved, while 56 percent disapproved. When the law was referred to as Obamacare, the numbers were similar, with 38 percent saying they approve and 57 percent saying they disapprove.
Harvard’s findings are similar to the ABC News/Washington Post poll from last month that found 40 percent of adults supporting the law, while 57 percent oppose.
Harvard’s survey comes out the same day the president is scheduled to speak at the White House Youth Summit on the Affordable Care Act.
The survey also found fewer than one-in-four young Americans will definitely or probably enroll in insurance through an exchange, a critical element of the success of the Affordable Care Act.
Among the uninsured -- accounting for 22 percent of those surveyed -- 25 to 29 percent said they are likely to enroll, 41 percent remained on the fence, and 28 percent said they are unlikely to enroll.
When broken down among party affiliation, less than 10 percent of Republicans planned to enroll through an exchange, less that 20 percent of independents, and 35 to 40 percent of Democrats.
The president’s approval ratings have also plummeted and are at the lowest point this survey has found since the beginning of his administration. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, the survey found 41 percent approve and 54 percent disapprove, an 11-point decline in seven months.
The Harvard study also found the president losing 16 points in his approval rating among women since last April, 9 points from men, as well as 9 points among young African Americans.
In the ABC News/Washington Post poll from last month, the survey also found support fading with young adults, a group Obama won by a historic margin in 2008 and strongly again in 2012. The president’s overall approval rating dropped 23 points among adults age 18 to 29 since January, his steepest loss in any group.
“Although millennials have held firm in their approval of the president’s job performance in past polls, we are now seeing a sea change among this critical demographic,” said Trey Grayson, director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. “The president is experiencing double-digit drops in his job performance rating among millennials over the past 7 months and that rating is now the lowest we’ve seen in his presidency.”
The survey also found approval ratings for both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have also fallen significantly over the same time period, with 35 percent approval for Democrats in Congress and 19 percent approval for Republicans.
Della Volpe said he believes the results are “absolutely” because the president has not been effective in communicating to young people what the health care law is about.
“They have been the folks that are the most optimistic and most trusting of the president and Congress to solve the problems they care about,” Della Volpe said.
Grayson said other issues, such as a still struggling economy, college debt, as well unemployment and underemployment are all reasons the president’s numbers have taken a hit.
“Clearly when you have a signature domestic policy achievement that far under water with approval and that lack of an interest in signing up even if you are uninsured that’s got to translate into low numbers as well,” Grayson said.
Della Volpe noted that despite the disappointment with Obama, as well as Democrats and Republicans in Congress, this group remains “passionate about government, they are passionate about America, and they want to go to work and solve the issues that are facing this generation and future generations.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 15:03:40 PM
(NEW YORK) -- The 911 calls from the Newtown school shooting were released Wednesday and at least one of the calls is punctuated by gunfire in the background.
While one of the callers was clearly distraught, others -- including one woman who was shot in the foot -- were calm while talking to police dispatchers as the shooting continued.
The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, opened fire on Sandy Hook Elementary School almost a year ago, on Dec. 14, 2012. He killed 20 students and six staff members before turning the gun on himself. He had shot and killed his mother earlier that morning.
A Connecticut judge ruled last week that the 911 calls must be made public because there is a "clear public interest" in the recordings.
Victims' family members and the prosecutor had been opposed to making the calls public.
Below is a partial transcript of the calls:
One of the first calls received by 911 dispatchers was a woman who was panting and on the verge of tears. "Sandy Hook School. I think there's somebody shooting in here, Sandy Hook School," she said. The woman said she believed someone was shooting in the school "Because somebody saw a gun…I saw a glimpse of somebody. They're running down the hallway…They're still shooting. Sandy Hook School, please."
A female teacher told the dispatcher it sounded like there were gunshots in the hallway. She was in her classroom with all of her students. "The door is not locked yet," she said. "I have to go lock the door." "Keep everybody clam," the dispatcher instructed. "Keep everybody down. Get everybody away from the windows." The teacher said her classroom was on the left after walking in the front entrance.
A man who identified himself as Rick and is believed to be school custodian Rick Thorne is heard on the calls several times. "Something's happening," he said. "Now it's silent." At one point, the custodian said, "All doors are locked, kids are in classrooms." "There's still shooting going on. Please," he said.
A woman called police to say she was shot in the foot. The woman calmly told the dispatcher she was in room number one facing the playground. "My classroom door is not locked," she added. "There are two other adults in the room with me," she said. "They're over on the other side of the bookshelf." She also said there were children in the room. When asked if she was okay, the woman said, "For now, hopefully."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 14:32:57 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has been fined $100,000 for interfering with Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones as he ran down the sideline in their game on Thursday night.
The incident occurred during the third quarter of Thursday night's game, when the Steelers trailed 13-7, and Jones was running down the sideline during a kickoff. Tomlin's foot was on the white stripe of the sideline in Jones' direction. Jones then slowed up and was tackled, but could have run in for a touchdown.
"I can't be in that space and I was, so I take full responsibility for that," Tomlin said on Tuesday. "It's an inexcusable blunder on my part. I understand with my position comes the charge of preserving and protecting the integrity of the game of football, and I think probably my biggest error on Thursday night is not realizing that play jeopardized the integrity of the game from a perception standpoint."
Tomlin had his back to the play and was not called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 14:18:00 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- Researchers have uncovered a new clue about human origins after discovering the oldest known human DNA in a legendary Spanish archeological site called Sima de los Huesos, or the "Pit of Bones."
Researchers were able to extract DNA from a leg bone that was estimated to be 400,000 years old. After extracting the DNA from a femur bone, Matthias Meyer, who published his findings in a study in the journal Nature, was able to replicate the entire genome for the ancient human relative.
The genetic sequence surprised researchers, who thought it was likely that the sequence would reveal that remains were related to the Neanderthals. Instead, the genetic sequence revealed that this early human species is related to another genetic cousin of modern humans, the mysterious Denisovans.
Little is known about the Denisovans, who are thought to have been common throughout the regions now known as Asia and Eastern Europe. This early human species was discovered after genetic sequencing was used to map DNA through the ancient pinkie bone of a girl in 2010.
Anthropologists and genetic experts said the findings from the Pit of Bones could help shed light on how early human species evolved and spread across different continents.
"This places what we have to assume from the genetic sequence is an earlier branch of our family that goes back even further" in time, said Kenneth Kidd, professor of genetics at the Yale University School of Medicine. Kidd said since the DNA was from 400,000 years ago, this mysterious human relative likely predated most Neanderthals.
Kidd explained that one reason there is little known about the Denisovans is that "the Neanderthals may have annihilated the Denisovans," similar to how the Neanderthals died off as modern humans became more populous.
Kidd said there is no evidence that the Denisovans provided any genetic material for the modern human race.
Theodore Schurr, professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, said the findings were significant since it showed clearly how DNA mapping was changing the field of anthropology. Schurr said solely from the skeletal remains researchers thought the human species appeared to be related to Neanderthals.
"This is also significant because it's the DNA coming from the oldest remains," said Schurr. "It's interesting to compare the skeletons to the genetics because the stories may not match up."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 13:46:13 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- More Americans signed up for health insurance through the federal online exchange on the first two days of December than in all of October, a source familiar with the enrollment numbers tells ABC News.
Roughly 29,000 people completed applications and selected a plan through the revamped HealthCare.gov site between midnight Sunday and midnight Tuesday, the source said. It is not clear how many of those paid their first month’s premium, which is how insurers formally define enrollment.
In October, 26,000 people selected plans through the federal system, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The latest figures are a burst of good news for the Obama administration following the relaunch of its signature insurance website. Traffic to the site continues to be high, topping 1 million visitors on Monday and 950,000 visitors on Tuesday, officials said. The White House says the volume reflects serious, persistent interest in signing up.
Approximately 100,000 Americans selected plans through the federal exchange in November, a significant increase in sign-ups but still lagging behind pace for a White House target of 7 million by March 31. More comprehensive figures for last month, including state by state data and other metrics, will be released in the next two weeks, an administration official said.
The early December enrollment figures were first reported by Politico.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 13:43:33 PM
(HAMILTON, Ontario) -- A Canadian woman who purchased a lottery ticket, lost it and forgot about it until lottery officials tracked her down and showed up at her door will be $50 million richer.
Lottery officials announced Tuesday that Kathryn Jones, of Hamilton, Ontario, was the mystery face behind the $50 million Lotto Max ticket that was drawn on Nov. 30, 2012 and left unclaimed, prompting more than 430 inquires from possible winners.
“I am still in shock and very grateful OLG approached me regarding the outstanding $50 million prize,” Jones said at a press conference Tuesday in Ontario. “I completely respect OLG’s rules and processes. I now anxiously anticipate the end of the wait period.”
Jones, an engineer, must wait until January to claim her prize, following the Ontario Lotto and Gaming Corporation’s (OLG) standard policy to wait 30 days after the claim is publicized.
The 30 day-wait will be nothing for Jones, who lost the lottery ticket after she purchased it at a Shoppers Drug Mart in November and paid no attention until lottery officials traced her from a camera image at the store and showed up at her door this fall.
“We weren’t sure we wanted to let them in the house,” Jones told CBC News. “Then they showed us their ID, so they came in and sat down and started asking a number of questions.”
OLG investigators began to focus in on Jones through their investigation in another claim to the winning jackpot. They used surveillance tools including credit card proof of purchase, store surveillance video footage and in-person interviews to confirm that Jones was, in fact, the winner, lottery officials said.
Jones was informed of her soon-to-be multi-millionaire status last Thursday, just 48 hours before the filing deadline, according to CP24 in Toronto.
“You try to brace yourself for ‘maybe this isn’t going to happen,’” Jones said Tuesday, alluding to another complication in her story, the fact that her sister owns a store near Ottawa that sells OLG lottery tickets, prompting a mandatory additional review of her claim.
“The case of this outstanding $50 million Lotto Max jackpot is one of the most unique in OLG’s history,” OLG CEO Rod Phillips, said in a statement. “I am pleased that we are one step closer to awarding this multi-million dollar prize.”
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 13:20:17 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Kyle McGinnis of Los Angeles doesn't necessarily consider himself an "old-fashioned" guy, but he admits that he prefers to pay for the first date.
"I don't think it's wrong for a girl to expect this kind of treatment," McGinnis, a former visual effects technical director, said.
Hence, the 28-year-old conceived of HiDine.com, a dating site that allows women to post their favorite restaurants and allows men to offer dates via those restaurants and cuisines, of course with the men picking up the checks.
The website's tagline: "The dating site for food lovers where women are taken out to their favorite restaurants."
"Alternatively, [women] can browse guys based on their tastes," the website states. "Wink at them to let them know you are interested, but it is up to them to break the ice and ask you out. After that, you are both able to freely message each other to learn more."
Some chatter online has already called the site "sexist" for some of its language.
"Men pay for first dates," copy on the site explains. "You spend enough time and money on clothes, shoes, hair styling and beauty products."
Male users pay on a per date basis as the site keeps a "small matching-making fee," which is $5 on average, and users put down a deposit that is refunded after the date.
"This setup allows men to only pay when they have confirmed dates, so that they don't waste money on monthly charges like many other dating sites," McGinnis said. "That's about it -- female users never pay for anything."
What about women who want to date women? Or men who want to be taken out by men? McGinnis said those users can designate in their profiles whether they want to pay for the date or be taken out.
And how any couple decides to pay for dates after the first one is up to them.
McGinnis says that the idea for the site, which came to him while he was visiting a friend in France in late August, is controversial.
"I thought it would be great to be able to quickly meet a local girl and take her to a wonderful restaurant in a foreign city," said McGinnis, who is the CEO of HiDine. "Meeting someone new and interesting, combined with fantastic food, would really enhance any traveling experience."
Especially for an early-stage startup, McGinnis said "the feedback and debate stirred from our concept has been more than we could have hoped for."
"This idea strikes a nerve with some people, from both perspectives," he said. "Some love the HiDine concept and wish our dating practices were more traditional. They believe that romance is slowly waning. Others find it sexist and outdated."
McGinnis has already attracted a global audience in online publications and while users have signed up all over the globe, he said the company is focusing on the U.S. first. The company has a staff of about 15 people.
With the help of a friend, he narrowed the concept down to a traditional date site that revolves around food, based in the "best foodie cities in the world," he said. Those cities are currently Los Angeles and New York City, but anyone in the U.S. can try to sign up. Right now the company vets applicants to find the most interesting candidates before the site's official launch in a few weeks.
"We have approved people with no photos simply on the quality of what they wrote and the information about them," he said. "We just want a great community that loves food and meeting new people."
McGinnis began building the community of users around mid-October.
"We plan to expand to some of the best food destinations in the world, and most exciting cities," he said.
McGinnis, who is single, said many women enjoy being taken out on a date, which can show that a man is interested, or takes the date "seriously."
"It's an unwritten rule," he said. "In a relationship, you have to show the other partner you're interested. This is a certain gesture that this is the type of guy you are and you're comfortable with that."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 12:59:38 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Anyone who's hooked up a USB device to their computer knows it can be a slightly irritating process. You switch between sticking it in upside down and rightside up, jiggling it around until it finally goes into its slot. But that concern could become a ghost of technology past.
The USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced that a new connector, USB Type-C, is being developed.
"We recognize the need to develop a new connector to meet evolving design trends in terms of size and usability," Brad Saunders, chairman of the industry standards group, said in a statement. "The new Type-C connector will fit well with the market's direction and affords an opportunity to lay a foundation for future versions of USB."
Unlike the Type-A USB connector, the type most often seen plugged into your computer, the Type-C will work either up or down. "Users will no longer need to be concerned with plug orientation/cable direction," the USB 3.0 Promoter Group said in its statement.
However, there is a catch. The new USB connector is smaller than the traditional Type-A cable, so it will not directly connect to the standard ports. "The Type-C specification will define passive new-to-existing cables and adapters to allow users to use their existing products," the group said.
But the cable's smaller size and shape may not be made with a computer's USB ports in mind. Alex Peleg, VP of Intel's Platform Engineering Group, said that the new connector will usher in a new class of even thinner electronic devices.
"This new industry standards-based thin connector delivering data, power, and video is the only connector one will need across all devices," he said in a statement.
The Type-C connector will be available in the mid-2014, officials said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 12:55:54 PM
(NEW YORK) -- After seven years of waking up before dawn and delivering the weather to millions of morning TV watchers, Sam Champion offered his final ABC News weather forecast Wednesday on Good Morning America.
“Here’s a little five-day of Atlanta,” Champion said, giving the forecast for what will become his new home as he steps into the role of managing editor at the Weather Channel. “Get ready Atlanta.”
After 25 years with ABC, a network Champion has called “my home and my heart,” it was not without tears that his fellow anchors -- Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Josh Elliott and Lara Spencer -- bid him farewell.
“I promise there’s happy on the inside but the tears,” Elliott said, choking up. “I’m going to miss you and you are the best live broadcaster I’ve ever worked with. Thank you for giving the gift to us and to everybody at home every day.”
Champion started off his final morning on GMA with a surprise look back at his very first appearance on GMA, as he was introduced by then-anchor Charlie Gibson.
“I think it’s reminiscent of Elvis,” Champion said of his voice then. “I had just moved up from Jacksonville, Fla., and there’s a little southern accent.”
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
When his fellow anchors pleaded for Champion to deliver his second-to-last GMA weather report as he had done his first, Champion gave it a try but couldn’t pull it off again.
“I can’t do it that way. I don’t know what happened,” he said.
Champion could not avoid a look back at his greatest acting moments on the show, in which he gave performances during GMA’s Oscar and Halloween specials.
“Sam, you’ve covered so many huge stories, we thought we would just ignore those for now so that we could bring you all of this,” Elliott said in introducing a special “Play of the Day” devoted to Champion’s acting highlights.
The clips included a look back at Champion transforming into characters from the big screen to the small, including as a Magic Mike dancer and King Joffrey of Game of Thrones.
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
To deliver his final GMA weather forecast, Champion ventured outside the Times Square studio with Elliott and Spencer, where he was greeted by a crowd of cheering fans, many holding signs and even placards of his face.
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
After delivering the forecast of his new home, Atlanta, Champion finished his final forecast with the same phrase he was ended his more than 7,000 previous forecasts.
“That’s the weather around the nation, ladies and gentleman,” he said.
Up next for Champion was yet another stroll down memory lane, this one a closer look at all that he has covered during his time on GMA, including his Peabody Award-winning coverage of Superstorm Sandy last year.
“You are a Renaissance man,” Roberts told her friend and co-anchor in introducing the montage. “You encompass all that is good and right in this world and you show it every day when you show up here.”
“So here, Sam, this is your life on GMA,” she continued.
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
From Iceland to New York City, Champion was seen in the midst of storms, zip-lining above water, scuba diving, doing a one-arm pushup in a gravity-free zone, riding a bull in Central Park, dressing as Harry Potter, dancing on the Big piano and winning the GMA Christmas sweater contest, just to name a few.
“I think it’s something that people will go through in their life when you want to stay, doing something you want to, and there’s an opportunity that says you gotta take it,” Champion said of moving on from GMA. “I’m not going to leave you guys. I’m not going to leave you.”
Starting Thursday, instead of Champion it will be Ginger Zee that GMA viewers turn to for their weather forecasts. On Wednesday, Champion took the opportunity to pass the torch on to Zee, previously the weekend weather anchor for GMA.
The torch, in the case of weather editors, is an all-important and necessary pair of boots.
“They got you some boots,” Champion said, referring to a pair of standard, knee-high rain boots. “I’m going to get you some orange waders because you and I both know these things will not keep us dry where we go. This is for walking to get in a cab. I’m going to get you some bright orange Extreme Team hip-waders.”
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
Champion then “threw” the boots to Zee, who was nearly 2,000 miles away, reporting live from Denver on the frigid temperatures there.
“These boots are the biggest boots in the world,” Zee said to her predecessor. “I will never be able to be you or fill them. I am genuinely honored and humbled to have this opportunity.”
“You taught me one thing, that the ‘Extreme Team’ will be extreme forever, I can promise America that, and that you have to appreciate the people that you work with that do a great job,” Zee said. “You have been the best partner I could have ever asked for coming to this national stage. I couldn’t have had a better leader and I couldn’t have learned from anyone [better].”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 12:28:10 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is mulling a run to be the next governor of Louisiana and will make a decision about a potential 2015 bid next month.
In an e-mail to friends and supporters Wednesday, Vitter said he will weigh his options about a gubernatorial run over the Christmas break.
“Many good friends and supporters have encouraged me to run for Governor in 2015 -- to bring my focus and leadership to the challenges we face as a state,” Vitter said. “We started to consider this as a family over Thanksgiving. We certainly haven’t made our decision yet, so we’ll be reflecting and praying on it very carefully through the Christmas holidays.”
Vitter has represented Louisiana in the Senate since 2005. Prior to that, he served in the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2005.
In 2007, Vitter was embroiled in a prostitution scandal after his phone number appeared in the phone records of the D.C. madam, who ran a high-end Washington escort service. Vitter later apologized for what he called a “very serious sin.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal cannot run for re-election because he is term-limited. Other Republicans considering a bid for governor include Louisiana’s Lieutenant Gov. Jay Dardenne and state Treasurer John Kennedy.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 11:48:08 AM
(NEW YORK) -- On the heels of the release of NORAD's Santa tracker site and apps, which was built this year with the help of Microsoft, Google is unwrapping its Santa tracker website and Android and Google Glass apps on Wednesday.
Visit www.google.com/santatracker now and you will be able to visit Santa's village, which is stocked with cartoon elves and games. Much like NORAD's site, Google will release new games every day. One will allow you to race reindeer and another will let you drop presents down a chimney.
Come Dec. 25, the site will transform into a Santa tracking command center. Using Google Maps, the site will show Mr. Claus' whereabouts and a ticker of the number of presents he and his reindeer have delivered. You will also be able to search "Santa" in Google Maps on Christmas Eve.
NORAD will be relying on Microsoft's Bing Maps.
Google will also release a Santa tracking app for Android phones and Google Glass. With the Google Glass app you'll get updates about Santa's location on Christmas.
NORAD will be releasing its tracking apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone.
It would appear that it is a fierce competition this year for the best Santa tracking tech. However, NORAD maintains that it isn't in "competition with any other Santa tracking sites."
"We only worry about providing the very best experience for our Santa trackers," Stacey Knott, NORAD's Deputy Chief of Strategic Outreach, told ABC News. "We have been tracking Santa since 1955 using our military satellites, radars, fighter jets and Santa cams."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 10:15:39 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- John Dennis Apel says he has a First Amendment right to protest peacefully outside of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the site of missile and space launch facilities. In fact, years ago, the base commander designated a protest area near the main gate, just off of public Highway 1.
But in 2010 Apel was arrested for protesting in the designated zone. Federal officials say that because Apel had previously been arrested -- in 2003 and 2007 -- for trespassing and vandalizing property (he threw a vial of blood on a sign), he has been barred from the base. They say that the protest area is owned by the base and when Apel returned in 2010 to protest he was violating a federal law. The law makes it a misdemeanor to reenter a federal military installation once an individual has been barred. Apel was arrested and convicted under the law.
Apel appealed his conviction, arguing that he wasn’t reentering a federal military installation. He was standing beside a public highway outside of the base that had been designated as a protest area.
A federal appeals court reversed the conviction, ruling in favor of Apel. In a one paragraph opinion, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the federal law cannot be used against Apel because it only applies where the federal government has exclusive possession of the land. In Apel’s case, while the stretch of land that comprises the protest zone is owned by the federal government, it allows state and local authorities to use the land for vehicular traffic.
The government is appealing the decision to the Supreme Court, worried that if the lower court decision stands, the government will be unable to enforce the federal statute on at least 36 major military bases in the 9th Circuit alone that have similar roadway easements.
In court papers, lawyers for Apel argued that it shouldn’t matter that Highway 1 is a public street only by virtue of the easement. They argue that “it is no less a public forum for purposes of the First Amendment.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 09:46:31 AM
(NEW YORK) -- The engineer of the Metro North train that derailed in the Bronx, N.Y., on Sunday, leaving four passengers dead and dozens injured, told federal investigators that he fell into a state of “highway hypnosis,” sources told ABC News.
William Rockefeller, who was also hurt in the derailment, made the statement during a three-hour debriefing with the National Transportation Safety Board.
Rockefeller, 46, told investigators he remembers nothing about what happened just prior to the derailment which happened as the train was traveling at 82 mph when it reached a sharp curve that is supposed to be taken at 30 mph.
Black boxes recovered from the site indicate that Rockefeller didn’t apply the brakes until just five seconds before the derailment.
According to NTSB official Earl Weener, Rockefeller was on the second day of a five-day shift, seemed well-rested and was familiar with the train route from Poughkeepsie to Manhattan's Grand Central Station.
However, Weener was hesitant to talk about comments Rockefeller reportedly made to police about being "zoned out" at the time of the crash.
Although there was no signs of alcohol on his breath, other tests are being conducted on the engineer.
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 07:48:28 AM
(NEW YORK) -- PETA has jumped into the Plan B conversation to offer its own contraceptive plan: Plan V. As in go vegan to lose weight and Plan B will work better for you at preventing unwanted pregnancies.
In its letter to Population Connection, a nonprofit organization aimed at population stabilization, PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, president Ingrid Newkirk noted that vegans were 18 percent thinner than nonvegans.
"With access to family-planning tools being essential, we're proposing 'Plan V,' a program that will encourage women to adopt a healthy vegan diet in order to lose weight and so take control of their reproductive rights," Newkirk wrote.
This comes on the heels of news that the French manufacturer of a Plan B-like drug in Europe announced that it was seeking to change its label after a study of 1,700 women found that the emergency contraceptive pill didn't work as well for women who weighed more than 176 pounds.
"If extra pounds are thwarting a woman's ability to use Plan B, PETA's 'Plan V' could be the prescription they need," PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a statement. "Going vegan is a great way to lose weight and get healthy, and it could help women regain control over their reproductive lives."
In a response to PETA, Population Connection president John Seager wrote, "It would be unfortunate if the importance of access to and consistent use of modern contraception gets lost in some wide-ranging discussion about everything under the sun, including the many positive benefits of a vegan diet."
Weight experts worry that PETA is sending the wrong message, oversimplifying the weight loss and perhaps even unintentionally adding stigma to the issue.
Emily Dhurandhar, an obesity researcher at the University of Alabama, said there's often more to losing weight than simply going vegan. If dieters don't reduce the number of calories they take in through food and increase their energy output, they won't lose weight.
"We assume weight loss is easy. 'Oh, you just do one thing,'" she told ABC News. "It's a challenge."
She said this is an example of an oversimplication of weight loss, which is prevalent throughout society today. This "is often rooted in a bias that weight loss is simple and that people are choosing to be overweight, and weight is an issue of personal responsibility," Dhurandhar said in an email.
Dhurandhar said she believes PETA was trying to use recent Plan B news as a springboard for promoting its own goal of convincing more people to forgo animal products -- not intentionally engaging in "fat shaming," as Mother Jones called it in a recent article.
Alicia Woempner, a special projects manager at PETA, said she is 6 feet tall and weighed more than 200 pounds before going vegan a few years ago. Now she weighs 150 pounds.
"It's unfortunate that we cannot have a productive discussion about women's health without devolving into fat shaming," Woempner said, adding that the average woman is under 5 feet 4 and would be overweight if she weighed more than 176 pounds and was therefore too heavy for Plan B to be effective.
Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a senior medical contributor to ABC News and practicing OB/GYN, said that regardless of whether they decide to go vegan, it's important for women to remember that all forms of hormonal contraception can potentially have decreased effectiveness for women with higher body weights.
"For women in this weight range, they should understand the need for checking future pregnancy tests following the use of [emergency contraception] and also the value of an IUD [intrauterine device] ...following unprotected intercourse to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy," she said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 06:33:20 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Now you can add a little citrus-inspired zip to your shower by installing a vitamin C-infused filter to your shower head.
The MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas offers vitamin-powered showers in its Stay Well rooms. Leonardo DiCaprio will also soon enjoy this “nutrisoothical” amenity when he moves into his wellness-focused condo in New York City, according to Delos Living, the company providing the shower heads.
Vitashower, a company that sells vitamin C shower filters, claims that releasing the essential vitamin into a shower stream neutralizes the chemical chlorine that’s added to virtually all water in the United States.
“By definition, chlorine is a nonmetallic element occurring naturally as a poisonous, greenish-yellow gas with an irritating, pungent odor,” Vitashower’s website states. “The new technology used in the Vitashower Shower Filter astonishingly uses a vitamin as the agent to remove the harmful chlorine in the water we use to shower.”
This theory seems all wet to Neal Langerman, a chemist who is an officer at the American Chemical Society.
“To make the argument that chlorine is dangerous as it exists in water is totally specious,” he said. “There is also absolutely no evidence that chlorine in water form is bad for your skin.”
Langerman said that when vitamin C is added to chlorinated water, it may indeed convert the element into chloride, a chemical compound commonly found in plain old table salt. However, Langerman said, it’s unclear whether the shower head creates the right conditions for the chemical conversion to take place. Even assuming it does, he’s not sure the new compound proffers any health advantage.
Vitashower and Delos Living could not be reached for comment.
Scientific evidence or no, Spa Finders, a group that tracks the spa and wellness industry, said that vitamin showers are definitely in vogue. Spa Finder spokeswoman Betsy Isroelit said the group highlighted the shower heads last year as part of a larger healthy hotel room trend. This year, the idea is now hotter than ever in the home market, Isroelit said.
When asked if it’s worth the $40 or so for a vitamin C shower, Langerman replied, “Nope. Why spend money when whether it does what it says it’s going to do or not, there’s no reason to do it?”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 06:19:41 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- The Affordable Care Act’s tax on medical devices has few friends among Republicans and some Democrats, and former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has benefited from his share of medical devices, counts himself among its opponents.
“I think that’s one of the dumbest ideas I’ve heard. I feel very strongly about it,” Cheney said at an event at the National Press Club Tuesday night. “I’m literally walking around proof of how great and how innovative our health care system has been...But I just think it’s an example of how ill-conceived parts of this program are.”
In his long history with heart disease, Cheney had a stent implanted in his arteries as well as a pacemaker, both of which would be affected by the tax. He spoke at the press club to promote his book new book, Heart: An American Medical Odyssey, which he co-wrote with his doctor Jonathan Reiner.
Cheney cited the invention of the stent, a medical device that opens the arteries in the heart to prevent or counteract a blockage, which he said wouldn’t have been possible without the ingenuity of “two guys who had a good idea and no money.”
An investor, he said, “gave them enough to build it and get a patent. ...[They] sold it to Johnson and Johnson and saved millions of lives.”
Cheney has had five heart attacks and has undergone several procedures to treat heart disease, including a full heart transplant in 2012.
Though he criticized the device tax, and worries that people might not be able to keep their health insurance, Cheney, for the most part avoided denouncing the entire health care law.
“There was a time in my life when I was about 23, shortly before we got married when I was sick, hospitalized and uninsured,” Cheney said. “I spent our honeymoon money on medical bills. Later on, I learned that I needed health insurance.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 06:11:53 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Tyrese Gibson continues to turn to social media to express his grief over the death of his Fast and the Furious series co-star, Paul Walker.
In a Facebook post published Tuesday, Gibson writes, "Bishop TD Jakes reached out to me today and spoke healing and closure. ...Then I went online and came across this powerful word he spoke at a recent funeral and the word was 'I know it feels like death has won'..."
Gibson shares Jakes' "word," having revised it slightly "so that it felt more personal to what we're all going through right now in this moment and I just wanted to share this. ...So that we all get a [sense] of closure around Paul's transition and or whoever else you may have lost this is a powerful word."
Jakes is quoted as saying, "In moments like this, it feels -- it feels like death has won. But the Bible says that love is stronger than death."
Another Jakes remark, amended by Gibson, reads: "You'll be driving down the street one day and you'll hear Paul's voice talking in your head. Something he said or something he did will pop up in your spirit and you'll giggle inside of yourself as if he were sitting in the car with you. And you will find that people that you really love, they may leave you outwardly, but they never leave you inwardly."
Previously, Gibson commented on Walker's death on Instagram, and paid an emotional visit to the Valencia, Calif., site where his friend's accident occurred.
E! News reports Gibson is helping Walker's family make funeral arrangements.
Autopsies for both Walker and the other man in the car, Roger Rodas, were performed Tuesday.
Prior to Walker's accident, the 40-year-old actor had attended a fundraiser held by his Reach Out WorldWide charity; the event benefited the victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines.
Universal Pictures, the studio behind the Fast and the Furious franchise, announced Tuesday that a portion of the proceeds from the home entertainment release of Fast & Furious 6 will be donated to the organization. The movie will debut on DVD, Blu-ray, digital and on demand Dec. 10.
In the announcement, studio head Donna Langley said, "[T]he world has lost a man who spent a great deal of his life in service to others. We share in the deep grief of his family, friends and the countless fans who love him...We keep Paul’s memory alive and honor his legacy through continued support of Reach Out WorldWide, the non-profit he founded to give hope to those who must rebuild after they have experienced natural disasters."
Production on Fast & Furious 7, which is due in theaters July 11, 2014, continues to be delayed in light of Walker's death.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 05:25:08 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Jim Mora is staying in Southern California a little longer.The 52-year-old agreed to a six-year contract extension with UCLA to remain the schools head football coach through the 2019 season.
Mora decided to stay despite being linked to the newly vacant head coaching position at Washington."Under his guidance, UCLA football has garnered national recognition for its success on the field, in the classroom and in the community," Athletic director Dan Guerrero said. "We are excited about the commitment Jim has made to our student-athletes and this university and feel this extension further demonstrates UCLA's commitment to building a championship-caliber football program."Mora has led the Bruins to back-to-back 9-3 regular seasons, that includes wins over rival USC both seasons.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 04:45:15 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Delta on Tuesday apologized to customers after its regional partner cancelled their flight and instead let the University of Florida men’s basketball team use their plane to get to a game.
Delta’s partner Sky Express on Sunday swapped two planes at Florida's Gainesville Regional Airport, letting the team’s charter flight take off at 3 p.m. and leaving 50 passengers with tickets for Atlanta, but stuck with a plane that had a maintenance problem with one of its two engines, Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant told ABC News Tuesday.
Durant said the Gators basketball team was allowed to take the working plane to get to its game in Connecticut because the Atlanta flight was scheduled to leave 30 minutes later and Sky Express thought it could fix the engine issue by then, Durrant said.
But the airline did not fix the problem in time, leaving customers stranded in Gainesville on one of the busiest travel days of the year, he said. They had to reschedule their travel, he added.
“Unfortunately, an operational decision with good intentions did not play out as was intended,” Durrant said.
Delta compensated and apologized to passengers on the fully booked flight, although some had to wait until Monday to fly out of Gainesville, Durrant said. He did not know what the compensation entailed.
A spokesman for Gainesville Regional Airport, Laura Aguiar, referred questions about the incident to Delta.
The Gators’ flight did take off on time, Durrant said. It landed at Bradley International Airport, in Windsor Locks, Conn., according to University of Florida Athletic Association spokesman Denver Parler.
The team was traveling ahead of a Monday game against the University of Connecticut, Parler told ABC News. The Gators lost that game, 65-64.
Durrant said Sky Express did not make the decision to swap planes because one set of passengers happened to be a basketball team.
“We want to do what’s best for all of our customers,” he said.
The basketball team was unaware that the swapped planes would result in the commercial flight’s cancellation, Durrant said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 04:45:02 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- The military records of Merrill Newman confirm that the 85-year-old Korean War veteran served in a special forces unit that advised Korean partisans who fought in North Korea behind enemy lines.
Newman has been held by North Korean authorities since Oct. 26 when he was taken off an airliner that was to take him to South Korea. He had just ended a two-week trip to North Korea.
This past weekend, Newman was seen in a videotape reading from an apology where he cited his role in the Korean War as an adviser to a Korean partisan unit.
Newman said in the apology that during his trip to North Korea he had wanted to meet with former members of the unit he had worked with. At the time of the video’s release, U.S. officials could not confirm his wartime role.
Newman’s records were provided to ABC News as part of a request filed last week with the National Personnel Records Center, which is a part of the National Archives that houses the military records of America’s veterans.
According to the military records, Newman began his Army service in September 1950 and quickly rose to the rank of sergeant a year later. After various stateside assignments, Newman received an officer’s commission as a second lieutenant on April 27, 1952, after attending officer candidate school.
According to the records, Newman arrived in Korea on Feb. 7, 1953, and began the first of two tours as an “infantry unit commander.”
The unit he was assigned to is described as “FEC/LD(K) 8240 AU FECOM.” Those acronyms stand for Far East Command Liaison Detachment (Korea) 8240 Army Unit Far East Command. The U.S. Far East Command was the U.S. military command for the Asia- Pacific region that at the start of the Korean War was headed by Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
Shortly after the war began in June 1950, Far East Command began a secret guerrilla campaign behind enemy lines in North Korea using thousands of Korean fighters opposed to the communist regime in North Korea.
Unit 8240 AU was one of those Korean partisan units that were headed by junior American officers who served in leadership and advisory roles.
Histories of the operation indicate that for the most part the units were trained on islands off the western coast of North Korea, and the American advisers did not fight behind enemy lines with the partisans.
The existence of these units was not declassified until the 1990s.
Newman’s service with the unit ended on Sept. 14, 1953, two months after the July armistice that ended three years of war on the Korean peninsula.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 04:37:46 AM
(BOSTON) -- President Barack Obama's uncle is staying put in the U.S.
U.S. Immigration Judge Leonard I. Shapiro ruled Tuesday that Onyango “Omar” Obama will get to remain in the country he's called home since 1963 even though the native Kenyan was twice ordered deported during the 1980s, a case he lost on appeal in 1992.
However, Onyango, 69, continued living in Framingham, Mass., flying under the radar until 2011 when he was arrested for drunken driving. Although he satisfied all conditions after pleading guilty to the charge, the issue of deportation resurfaced.
In allowing him to stay in the U.S., Judge Shapiro said that Onyango met criteria for legal permanent residency, adding "Welcome to America."
Onyango also decided to play his trump card during the hearing, telling the court, "I do have a nephew. He’s the president of the United States."
Onyango, whose brother was the president's father, also contested his nephew's assertion that they had never met, saying Barack stayed with him for three weeks while going to Harvard Law School during the late 1980s.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 04:22:09 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- More Americans than not believe the nation is less important and powerful in global affairs than it was a decade ago.
According to a Pew Research Center poll, 53 percent hold this view, the first time in nearly 40 years that a majority of the general public feels the U.S. has a less powerful role in the world. Only 20 percent of Americans expressed the same opinion a decade ago.
Meanwhile, seven in 10 respondents to the Pew poll say the U.S. has lost respect in the world, about the same as in May 2008 when George W. Bush was president.
Views on President Obama’s handling of foreign policy have taken a decided turn against the commander in chief with 56 percent saying they disapprove of his overall decisions, compared to 34 percent who support them.
Obama’s only saving grace is that a majority back his handling of terrorism, 51 percent to 44 percent.
Meanwhile, 52 percent of Americans believe in the statement that the country “should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own” with 38 percent not endorsing that view. That’s the greatest disparity in opinion since Pew first asked respondents about the statement in 1964.
However, when it comes to participating in the global economy, Americans overwhelmingly support U.S. involvement. Seventy-seven percent say that improving trade and business ties with the international community is either very good or somewhat good.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 04:19:52 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Even Darth Vader can’t resist taking a selfie.
An Instagram account that self-identifies as “the official home of Star Wars on Instagram,” posted this photo of the Star Wars villain taking a photograph of himself.
“Another day at the office,” read the caption next to the photo. “#StarWars #DarthVader #selfies #gpomFollow”
The selfie marked the first post from the account, which posted it on Sunday. If it’s meant to drum up attention for the next film in the franchise, Star Wars: Episode VII, it’s working, but fans have to wait until Dec. 18, 2015 to see it.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/4/2013 03:20:27 AM
(NEWTOWN, Conn.) -- Wednesday will be a heart-wrenching day for families of victims of the Newtown school shooting as Connecticut state attorney Stephen Sedensky has decided not to block the public release of the 911 calls made on Dec. 14, 2012.
The calls came from Sandy Hook Elementary School to local police after 20-year-old Adam Lanza began his shooting onslaught that left 20 children and six adults dead before he took his own life.
Sedensky argued unsuccessfully before Judge Eliot Prescott that the calls should remain sealed because Lanza's actions amounted to child abuse and were the same as signed witness statements.
Prescott previously acknowledged the calls "will likely be a searing reminder of the horror and pain of that awful day." However, delaying their release would not "ameliorate the pain."
The judge asserted that what will become evident "is the professionalism and bravery of the first responders on December 14, 2012."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 23:59:00 PM
(NEW YORK) -- In the murky waters off the coast of Nigeria, divers were performing the grim task of recovering the bodies of 12 crew members from the Jascon 4, a sunken tug 100 feet below the surface on the ocean floor, when they got quite the surprise.
“We had already recovered four bodies,” said Tony Walker, the dive crew’s team leader, who was in the control room on the surface in May. “So the anticipation wasn’t great that we were going to find anybody alive at that stage.”
Then, incredibly, after nearly three days, a survivor emerged.
The survivor — Harrison Okene, the ship’s cook — had been in the bathroom onboard the tug just before 5 a.m., when a massive rogue swell capsized the ship. As it sank, Okene scrambled into a cabin and found an air pocket — just a few feet of precious air.
He stayed there for more than 60 hours in utter darkness and in fear of sharks until the dive team found him. He prayed and drank six sodas.
“The diver saw a hand in the passageway and assumed it was another body,” Walker told ABC News Tuesday. “When the diver reached up to grab the hand, the hand grabbed the diver.”
The team used a standby umbilical diving cable to help Okene reach a diving bell, talking him through the treacherous wreck. Okene’s ordeal is believed to be the longest anyone has ever survived after being trapped underwater.
“When he surfaced again, he didn’t want to go to sea again,” Walker said. “He wanted to go back to being a cook in the hotel.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 23:26:20 PM
(NEW YORK) -- NBA: Philadelphia 76ers 126 (7-12) – Orlando Magic 125 (6-12) 2 OT
Boston Celtics 108 (8-12) – Milwaukee Bucks 100 (3-14)
Denver Nuggets 111 (11-6) – Brooklyn Nets 87 (5-13)
Detroit Pistons 107 (8-10) – Miami Heat 97 (14-4)
Memphis Grizzlies 110 (9-8) – Phoenix Suns 91 (9-9)
Dallas Mavericks 89 (11-8) – Charlotte Bobcats 82 (8-11)
Oklahoma City Thunder 97 (13-3) - Sacramento Kings 95 (8-11)
Golden State Warriors 112 (11-8) - Toronto Raptors 103 (6-11)
Top 25 Men’s College Basketball: (2) Arizona 79 (8-0) - Texas Tech 58 (6-3)
(4) Syracuse 69 (8-0) – Indiana 52 (6-2)
(10) Duke 79 (7-2) - (22) Michigan 69 (5-3)
(18) UCLA 89 (8-0) - UC Santa Barbara 76 (3-3)
(21) Massachusetts 69 (7-0) - Eastern Michigan 57 (5-2)
(23) Iowa 98 (8-1) - Notre Dame 93 (5-2)
NHL: San Jose Sharks 4 (19-3-5; 43pts) – Toronto Maple Leafs 2 (14-11-3; 31pts)
Pittsburgh Penguins 3 (19-9-1; 39pts) – New York Islanders 2 (8-15-5; 21pts) OT
Columbus Blue Jackets 1 (11-14-3; 25pts) – Tampa Bay Lightning 0 (16-10-1; 33pts)
Carolina Hurricanes 4 (11-12-5; 27pts) – Washington Capitals 1 (14-12-2; 30pts)
Dallas Stars 4 (13-9-4; 30pts) – Chicago Blackhawks 3 (20-5-4; 44pts)
Ottawa Senators 4 (11-13-4; 26pts) – Florida Panthers 2 (7-16-5; 19pts)
Vancouver Canucks 3 (15-10-5; 35pts) – Nashville Predators 1 (13-12-3; 29pts)
Phoenix Coyotes 6 (16-7-4, 36pts) - Edmonton Oilers 2 (9-18-2, 20pts)
Los Angeles Kings 3 (18-7-4, 40pts) - Anaheim Ducks 2 (18-7-5, 41pts)
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 23:13:59 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Selecting "Drone Delivery" instead of "Next Day Air" or "Standard Shipping" might become a very real option, and not just from Amazon.com. After Amazon announced its plans for Amazon Prime Air on Sunday evening, UPS confirmed to ABC News that it, too, was experimenting with drone delivery.
"The commercial use of drones is an interesting technology, and we'll continue to evaluate it. UPS invests more in technology than any other company in the delivery business, and we're always planning for the future," UPS told ABC News in a statement.
The Verge, which first reported on UPS' plans, said that UPS had been "testing and evaluating different approaches" to using drones to deliver packages. It might use the flying vehicles not only to deliver packages but also to move packages around its own warehouses and locations.
But this is all still quite far out. Even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has gotten everyone buzzing about drone delivery since his big reveal on 60 Minutes last Sunday, admitted that.
"The hardest challenge in making this happen is demonstrating to the standards of the FAA that this is a safe thing to do. This is years of additional work at this point," Bezos said. The FAA's rules surrounding unmanned aerial vehicles could be in place as early as 2015.
Even if the technology is in place to make this happen, however, many have doubts on the policy front.
"There are huge legal questions here. Not only do we have tactical questions but we have these civil liberty questions about privacy," Stephen Ganyard, ABC News' aviation consultant and expert, said. Ganyard brought up questions about the cameras on these flying vehicles, liability if someone was hurt by one of these devices and their access to private areas.
"I don't think there is any problem from the technology side," he said, "but on the policy side there are a lot of questions that remain to be answered."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 23:09:48 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- For 22 days, a group of activists has gone without food in hopes of getting Congress to vote on immigration reform. But now, they’ve reached their limit.
Four demonstrators, including union leader Eliseo Medina, announced Tuesday they are ending their hunger strike and passing the torch to seven others who will fast in their place. The new group includes freshman Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., the grandson of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
The core group of demonstrators went without food and drank only water for more than three weeks. Medina, 67, lost 20 pounds during the fast and others experienced rapid weight loss and exhaustion.
They were taken to George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., for examination, according to the organizers.
Kennedy thanked those in attendance, saying they are “carrying on this fight for the next generation.”
“We have always relied on those that are fearless enough to challenge us to be that better country that we can be,” Kennedy said during remarks in both Spanish and English.
The protest, known as the “Fast for Families,” began Nov. 12 and has drawn attention from national leaders. The audience of about 100 included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Al Sharpton, Bernice King, and Rep Luis Gutiérrez , D-Ill., among others. In all, at least 15 lawmakers appeared at Tuesday’s event, all House Democrats.
President Obama visited the group last Friday and Vice President Joe Biden paid a visit the previous week. A handful of GOP lawmakers, including California Reps. Jeff Denham and David Valadao, have also stopped by the group’s tent on the National Mall.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, offered a blessing for the demonstrators who ended their fast.
“Today we end one fast and begin another,” he said. “You have kept the nation’s focus on this vital issue because of your sacrifice.”
With lawmakers looking on, the Rev. Jim Wallis, a new faster, said he was depriving himself of food to counteract gridlock blocking an immigration reform in Congress.
“This must go deeper than politics because politics is stuck,” he said. “We must go deeper now. Fasting changes us. Prayer changes us.”
Pelosi told Fusion after the event that the fasters serve as an “inspiration” and that she hopes their actions “make it too hot” for House Republicans not to hold a vote on an immigration bill.
“They are fasting to show how desperate the situation is,” she said.
The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in June, but House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said he won’t take up that piece of legislation. House Republicans have said they want to deal with immigration through a series of smaller bills, but so far, none have come to the floor for a vote.
Eddie Carmona, an immigrant rights activist who has been fasting for three days, said he hopes lawmakers do more than just sympathize with the demonstrators.
“We appreciate them all coming down here,” he said following the event. “But we need action. Let’s get to work.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 22:57:52 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Jessica Alba, famous for her roles in Dark Angel, Sin City and the Fantastic Four, is taking on her most serious role yet, warning mothers about what she said are the dangers of toxic chemicals in many everyday products.
The 32-year-old actress and mother of two became worried about this issue when she was pregnant with her first child and had an allergic reaction to a brand of baby laundry detergent.
"I was like ... I'm an adult, and if I'm having an allergic reaction, like who knows what's going to happen with my baby," Alba said. "So I did some research, and I found that there are a lot of toxic chemicals in everyday products, and I was more horrified to find that there are more toxic chemicals in baby products."
Alba's concerns have propelled her to become the public face of a movement of people trying to avoid synthetic chemicals. It started for Alba when she met Christopher Gavigan, the author of Healthy Child, Healthy World, a guidebook on living a healthier lifestyle.
"I asked … what products do I buy, and he was like, 'Well, this company does that one thing and this company does that one thing,' and I was like, 'Gosh, why isn't there a company that does everything. This is so stressful,'" Alba said.
The duo teamed up to help create the Honest Company, a mail-order business that started out by selling 17 products made of ingredients they claim are safe and tested, unlike conventional products.
"We don't have a regulatory system in place here in the United States at least that allows for and or monitors and or requires reporting on what's inside," Gavigan said. "So the raw materials and the ingredients ... they don't have to report those. They don't have to prove they are safe before they hit the marketplace."
Alba is not the only worried mom. For the past seven years, Ellen Padnos has made it her mission to avoid synthetic chemicals in her home, and everyone in her household of four lives by her rules.
"Everything that I do is an effort to stay away from chemicals and [move] more toward plant-based ingredients," she said. "I want them to be normal and still be kids and enjoy little things like taking baths and not be too extreme, so I still let them have princess toothbrushes and things like that."
Pandos' husband, Ben, goes along with his wife's rules, with some exceptions.
"For stuff related to body, health, food, I'll never really complain about that," he said. "There are other things, when it comes to excess clothing and things like that, I'm going to argue way more about a pair of shoes than something my kid is going to bathe in."
There are more than 87,000 commercial chemicals on the market in the United States. In Europe, more than 1,110 chemicals are banned in products, but in the U.S., only 11 chemicals are banned.
Nearly two years after the Honest Company launched, it has sold 7.5 million products, and Alba's line has expanded to 50 items, from diapers to lip balm to lead-free candles.
With demand growing, several small businesses have sprung up, selling everything from beauty products to stainless steel baby bottles.
After she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Valerie Grandury started Odacite, a line of toxin-free beauty products. Four years later, she marked her 100,000 shipment to more than 20 countries.
"I realized that there was a lot of toxin ingredients in skin care. And it was something I had no clue about," she said.
Aerospace engineer Roger Moore and his wife, Jennifer, created "Pura" stainless steel baby bottles as an alternative to plastic ones.
Amy Ziff, a mother of three living in Palo Alto, Calif., started a company called Veritey.com, a website devoted to toxin-free products.
"They were the canaries in the coal mine, and their reactions to everyday baby products made me realize that there are so many chemicals in our products," Ziff said.
She is also part chemical policeman, part personal coach, going to clients' homes, looking at the products they use around their house, from the kitchen to the nursery, and offering what she said are safer alternatives.
"Just because it's sold in a store, just because you're seen it on TV or in a magazine, doesn't mean that there's been any kind of regulation for that product, for the specific ingredients inside it," she said.
Both Ziff and Gavigan agree about scented lotions.
"Fragrances, they're qualified as trade secret industry of personal care. So a company does not have to disclose what's inside a fragrance," Gavigan said. "The reality is, that can be 150 more ingredients on this label."
But is all this worry an over reaction? U.S. manufacturers say their products are safe. According to the American Chemistry Council, "more than a dozen federal laws govern the manufacture and use of chemicals, and consumers can have confidence that chemistries in everyday products are being used safely."
Many people agree. Merrick White, a mother of two living in Huntington Beach, Calif., said she wasn't worried about the conventional products she uses in her home.
"The things that I use, as far as I know, do not have chemicals that harm my family, and they work for us and so I'm not willing to pay more for products that are just organic," she said.
White, who blogs for the website Babble.com, trumpeted her embrace of mass brands.
"The products that I use are just conventional products that I get at a big-box store that come in bulk that are cost-effective and they keep my house clean," she said. "I've never looked at the label for this so ... and to be honest, I don't really care. If it works for me, I'll use it."
Dr. Phil Landrigan, an epidemiologist and pediatrician, who is also the director of the Children's Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, said there is cause for concern.
"I feel that American families need to be aware that they're being exposed every day to chemicals of unproven toxicity," he said. "We've been looking very carefully at connections between exposures to toxic chemicals in early life and bad developmental outcomes in children."
But Dr. Cyrus Rangan, a medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, said more research is needed on this subject.
"We need a lot more research, and it's not an area where we have conclusions yet," he said.
Angela Logomasini of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based Libertarian think tank, conducts research and analysis on environmental regulatory issues and said she didn't believe there was a need to worry about conventional products.
"I think it's reasonable for consumers to be confident that the products they buy in the stores are safe. I don't think they should be worried about trace chemicals or low-level risks," she said.
But Jessica Alba isn't waiting for science to come up with definitive answers.
"We have this mission," she said. "What we do and about what we want to do in our lives, and the planet that we want to leave our children, and our children's children, and so we created the solution."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 22:45:04 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney reluctantly commented Tuesday on the rift between his two daughters Liz and Mary Cheney, saying that he was surprised that Mary, who is lesbian, and her wife attacked Liz on Facebook.
“We were surprised that there was an attack launched against Liz on Facebook, and wished it hadn’t happened,” Cheney said at the National Press Club. “It’s always been dealt with within the context of the family and frankly that’s our preference.”
After Liz Cheney, a candidate for Senate in Wyoming, made comments on Fox News Sunday indicating that she supports a “traditional” definition of marriage, her sister’s wife Heather Poe took to Facebook to condemn the remarks.
“Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children, and when Mary and I got married in 2012 — she didn’t hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us,” Poe wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “To have her now say she doesn’t support our right to marry is offensive to say the least.”
Tuesday, Cheney said the incident is “obviously a difficult thing for a family,” but he declined to comment any further on the controversy or his position on gay marriage.
“That’s as far as I’m going to go on the subject,” Cheney told his interviewer. “Don’t waste your time.”
Cheney appeared with his doctor, Jonathan Reiner, to discuss their new book Heart: An American Medical Odyssey, about his lifelong struggle with heart-related ailments.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 22:35:15 PM
(NEW YORK) -- The New York Yankees and free agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury have agreed to a seven-year contract worth $153 million Tuesday night, according to ESPN. The deal is pending a physical exam.
The 30-year-old Ellsbury had spent his entire seven-year career with the Boston Red Sox, where he won two World Series titles. In 715 career games, he has batted .297 with 65 home runs, 476 runs and 314 RBIs.
The former All-Star has also stolen 241 bases.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 21:20:15 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Farrah Fawcett's personal items are up for auction.
Fawcett died in 2009 of cancer, and now, her nephew wants to make it possible for her super-fans to own a piece of Hollywood history.
Among the items that Gregory Walls is putting up for auction are her passport, driver's license, and a script for the 1994 film The Burning Bed, which earned the actress an Emmy nod.
For those buyers who are hoping for something less personal and more industry-focused, Fawcett's 1977 People's Choice Award (for Charlie's Angels) is also up for grabs.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 20:47:12 PM
(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- The Tampa Bay Rays acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan from the Cincinnati Reds and right-handed reliever Heath Bell from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, in a three-team trade.
The Rays sent minor league right-handed pitcher Justin Chaote and a player to be named to Arizona. The D-Backs dealt left-handed pitcher David Holmberg to the Reds. Tampa Bay will also receive cash considerations from Arizona.
The 33-year-old Hanigan agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Rays, with a club option for 2017, worth a guaranteed $10.75 million. He spent his entire seven-year career with the Reds, where he batted .262 with a total of 20 home runs and 138 RBIs.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 17:33:12 PM
(NEW YORK) -- November was the best month for car and small truck sales since February 2007.
In November, 16.4 million cars and trucks were sold, up from 15.3 million last November, says Autodata and Kelley Blue Book. One factor in the strong sales numbers were Black Friday deals and stable gas prices. Additionally, the housing recovery has been a boon to truck sales over the last few months.
This year is also on track to be the best year for car and truck sales since 2007, the year the recession began.
General Motors, Chrysler and Ford each reported boosted sales numbers in November.
GM reported deliveries on 212,060 vehicles, up 14 percent from last November and the highest November sales in six years. “November sales were strong at all four of our brands, and demand was robust for everything from cars to crossovers to the industry’s newest and best full-size pickups,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations at GM.
Chrysler reported even more substantial growth, with 16 percent more sales compared to last November. That marks 44 consecutive months of sales gains for Chrysler.
Led by sales of the all-new Lincoln MKZ -- up 114 percent -- Ford reported seven-percent sales increases, and the largest growth since 2004. In the first quarter of the 2014 fiscal year, Ford sold 770,000 vehicles.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 16:52:53 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- Launching a renewed push to tout the benefits of his signature health care reform law, President Obama on Tuesday insisted the Affordable Care Act is working and warned Republicans that “we’re not going back.”
After the first two months of enrollment were plagued with technical problems, the president is attempting to focus the public’s attention on the positive aspects of the law. “Now that the website's working for the vast majority of people, we need to make sure that folks refocus on what's at stake here,” he said at a White House event.
“What's important for everybody to remember is not only that the law has already helped millions of people but that there are millions more who stand to be helped. And we've got to make sure they know that,” he said.
The event kicked off a three-week public relations campaign ahead of the December 23rd deadline for consumers to enroll for coverage starting on January 1. Every day between now and then, the White House and its allies will highlight different benefits of the law to try and sell the American people on the necessity of the Affordable Care Act and encourage people to sign up.
The president recognized that “we may never satisfy the law’s opponents” and challenged Republicans to put forth their own plan to reform the nation’s health care system.
“You got good ideas? Bring them to me. Let's go. But we're not repealing it as long as I'm president. I want everybody to be clear about that,” he said to applause.
“Right now what this law's doing is helping folks, and we're just getting started with the exchanges, just getting started with the marketplaces. So we're not going to walk away from it,” he said.
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 16:18:48 PM
(LANSING, Mich.) -- A U.S. Bankruptcy Court ruled Tuesday that Detroit is legally eligible to pursue bankruptcy.
The ruling, according to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, allows the city to "stay on a path to a brighter future."
Detroit can now file a plan to restructure nearly $18 billion in long-term debt. That figure is the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Snyder said, "Authorizing the emergency manager to seek federal bankruptcy protection was...the last viable option to restore the city and provide Detroit's 700,000 residents with the public services they need and deserve."
"We know that Detroit's comeback is already in motion. We've seen the revitalization in downtown and midtown," Snyder said. "There will be other difficult decisions as we work through this process. But Michigan and Detroit are resilient and are the comeback stories in the country."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 14:48:20 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- While the divided Congress has disagreed over the past year about changing the country’s gun laws, the House of Representatives on Tuesday came together to extend a ban on the possession of undetectable firearms, including plastic weapons produced by 3-D printer technology.
In a voice vote, the House passed H.R. 3626, extending the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 for 10 years. The law explicitly prohibits the possession or manufacturing of firearms undetectable by X-ray machines and metal detectors at security checkpoints around the country.
Congress passed the original law in 1988, and had previously extended it twice. The current ban expires on Dec. 9, leaving little time for the Senate to follow the House’s lead.
Rep. Steve Israel called an extension “a matter of common sense” that will make it tougher for terrorists and criminals to bring guns into secure environments.
“In 1988, when we passed the undetectable firearms act, the notion of a 3-D printed plastic firearm slipped through metal detectors, onto our planes in secure environments was a matter of science fiction,” Israel, D-N.Y., said during floor debate on the bill. “The problem is that today it is a reality.”
The move comes after numerous reports this year that lethal plastic weapons could be built at home with the emerging printing technology. Designs for firearms, such as an AR-15, are spread throughout the internet.
Last month, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) detailed the increasing threat of undetectable firearms.
“We did the right thing today, acting in a responsible manner to maintain public safety standards. Ensuring that all families have safe access to airports and other public spaces is an obligation we all share,” Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., wrote in a statement after the House acted to extend the ban. “Advancements in technology have created new challenges for law enforcement and serious public safety concerns. This commonsense legislation helps to support the men and women working to keep our communities safe by banning lethal firearms that can slip past metal detectors.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 14:45:35 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Applebee's has announced it will be installing a tablet computer at every one of its 100,000 restaurant and bar tabletops across the U.S. With the devices, diners will be able to order menu items, play games, pay their check and enjoy other services.
Applebee's is not the first with plans to put tablets on tables. This fall, Chili's announced it would be making the same move, putting a computer on each table of its' 823 Chili's-operated restaurants by March 2014. IHOP reportedly is considering following suit.
Applebee's spokesperson Dan Smith tells ABC News that Applebee's rollout is the most sweeping to date. It plans to have installed 100,000 E la Carte Presto tablets, powered by Intel, by the end of 2014. Says an Applebee's statement: "E la Carte designed Presto specifically for restaurants, creating both a best-of-breed tablet platform for operators and a fun, easy-to-use experience for guests."
Maybe best of all, says Smith, diners will be able to control when and how they pay their check. There's no lag time waiting for the bill, handing off your credit card or waiting to sign. When you're finished with your meal, you can just swipe your card or press a button notifying your server that you want to pay by cash. The tablets will come equipped with games, including ones aimed a single diners, couples, or families with kids.
What will be the effect of tablets on family dinner table dialog? The custom of families sharing news and conversation around the dinner table stands in danger of extinction today as never before, says John Sarrouf, director of The Family Dinner Project (FDP). Many factors threaten its perpetuation, says Sarrouf, but technology certainly can be one.
Sarrouf's group tries to promote family dinner table conversation, which it says has been linked by research to the well-being of a family's physical, emotional and mental health. Children of families who share meals and talk, he says, perform better academically, have higher self-esteem, and have a lower risk of substance abuse that those of families who do not.
Having a tablet or a smart phone at the home dinner table, he says, is increasingly common. And it's more common, too, for parents -- young ones especially -- to tolerate their children's use of such devices during dinner.
"We do workshops with young parents about how to get the family to connect around the table," he says. "I hear particularly from parents of young children they give them tablets to distract them, so the adults can talk without being disturbed." Better, he thinks, that parents use smart devices as a way to get adults and kids to connect.
The Family Dinner Project website has advice on how to do that. If, say, somebody orders a piece of cake for desert, mom or dad can ask if anybody knows who the queen of France was who was famous for saying "Let them eat cake." Then the tablet becomes a way to pull up Marie Antoinette's story, with the kids asking questions about who she was.
Applebee's Smith agrees. Nothing says that a family needs to use the tablet at all, he points out. They can go low-tech and order off the menu. "The tablet is just an option," he says. "It's not meant to replace the traditional service model."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 14:33:45 PM
(LONDON) -- One of Princess Diana‘s most iconic dresses sold Tuesday at an auction house in South London for £85,000 ($140,000).
The buyer is an overseas museum, though further details have not been released.
Kerry Taylor, a specialist fashion auctioneer who orchestrated the “Passion for Fashion” auction, told ABC News that the iconic dress is “going to be loved and looked after.”
The dress was snapped up by the museum after a tussle with another anonymous telephone bidder from the United States, according to Taylor.
The gown, designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel from their Diaghilev collection, is accompanied by matching headband, optional sleeve panels and a petticoat.
While the headband was sometimes replaced by a tiara or simply by nothing at all, Diana made several high-profile appearances in the dress including at the Bolshoi Ballet and at the 1987 premiere of the James Bond film The Living Daylights, in Central London.
Taylor says that Diana adored the dress, as she did so many of the Emanuels’ creations. So much so that she chose them to design her wedding dress.
This is now the 11th dress worn by Diana that Taylor has sold this year. Among them was Diana’s famous midnight blue velvet number known as the John Travolta dress after a visit to the White House.
Diana set her eyes on the dress at a Red Cross benefit fashion show in 1986, choosing it from 12 other Emanuel gold and white creations that were on display. For Taylor, the fact it fitted her perfectly really made it a Cinderella Princess moment.
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 14:25:10 PM
(NEW YORK) -- America may be the world's one remaining superpower, but high school test scores remain mired in mediocrity.
The latest results from the Program for International Student Assessment, which compared 15-year-olds in 65 wealthy, developed nations, show that American students are lagging behind their international peers -- especially in math.
Students in 19 countries scored better than the U.S. in reading, 22 countries scored higher in science and 29 did better in math. Those numbers basically haven't changed since 2009.
Students in Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong scored the highest.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 13:58:49 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- The Treasury inspector general warns in a new report Tuesday that Obamacare tax credits are vulnerable to fraud and that existing safeguards in the system may be inadequate.
The credits are managed by the Internal Revenue Service; eligible consumers can start claiming them on their 2014 tax returns.
“The IRS’s existing fraud detection system may not be capable of identifying ACA refund fraud or schemes prior to the issuance of tax return refunds,” the auditors wrote in the report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
The independent review concluded that the IRS has properly developed and tested systems that compute the consumer tax credits but that “critical” parts of the security controls are not up to speed.
“With the healthcare exchanges open for business, it is imperative that the IRS ensure the accuracy and completeness of Premium Tax Credit and Advanced Premium Tax Credit calculations and ensure the security of information provided by taxpayers to the IRS and subsequently transmitted to other government entities,” said inspector general J. Russell George in a statement.
Acting IRS commissioner Danny Werfel responded to the findings by defending the system, calling it “strong” and “effective.”
“We have a proven track record of safely and securely transmitting federal tax information and we have a robust and secure process in place to deliver this important credit for taxpayers,” Werfel said.
Click here for the full IG report.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 13:57:12 PM
(NEW YORK) -- An anonymous person or persons armed with an AMEX Centurion card, a love for college football and an Instagram account is setting out to "do the Lord's work, one tip at a time," leaving thousands of dollars in tips to unsuspecting servers.
On Sept. 8, a @tipsforjesus Instagram account posted the first photo verifying its mission, capturing the image of a receipt for Bar Louie in Ann Arbor, Mich., where they left a $3,000 tip for an $87.98 tab. The account posted two more receipt photos the next day, one featuring a $5,000 tip, the other showing a receipt with a $7,000 tip held by a grinning man, confirmed to be the co-owner of Alley Bar in Ann Arbor. Both of the receipts were signed, "@tipsforjesus."
That same day, tipsforjesus also posted a screenshot of an ABC 4 Utah article about a "mysterious" tipper who left thousands of dollars in tips in Ogden, Utah, this August, with the photo description "#tipsforjesus."
The account has remained active ever since, continuing to leave tips of over $1,000 in bars and restaurants in cities like San Francisco and Chicago. And although tipsforjesus has received numerous comments of praise, and some of skepticism, the account has continued to keep its user's identity a secret.
The only clue that follows the generosity is the account's love of college football. The signed receipts consistently show up in college town establishments on game days and include sentiments such as "Fight On!" Restaurant employees who have received the tips in Ogden, Utah, and Ann Arbor, Mich., say the anonymous person uses an American Express Centurion Card, more commonly known as the Black Card.
But while keeping their identity secret, the account is still verifying the large tips through signed customer copy receipts (now being marked with an "@tipsforjesus" stamp), and recently, they posted a photo of their online account activity to clear up a controversy concerning a Notre Dame University restaurant, where they left over $10,000 in tips in one night, that have still not been distributed to their servers.
A Legends of Notre Dame server contacted them through Instagram, writing that she had waited on them on the day of a USC vs. Notre Dame game and never received their tip. Tipsforjesus wrote back, "AMEX got paid, you should've got paid. Check with Legends management...sounds like the owners are trying to screw you. Tipsforjesus pays it's tabs!"
They then posted the screenshot of their online statement, which confirmed the large amounts charged to the card, with the caption, "Let's be clear, the Legends of Notre Dame tips were processed by AMEX and paid. tipsforjesus pays it's tabs. God bless! @notredame Your move."
Tipsforjesus has posted little in the way of written explanations for their generosity, focusing only on photos of their tipping habits and leaving comments from inquiring news outlets unanswered. But that hasn't stopped the account's commenters, a large number of them wait staff requesting visits to their own establishments, from speculating about their reasons.
One Instagram user, @mrs_ewing_, who said their father works at Legends in Notre Dame and witnessed their large tipping wrote, "That was an awesome thing! It gives me some kind of hope in humanity for people."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 13:26:33 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Fast & Furious 7 will not be scrapped, The Hollywood Reporter and The Wrap have reported via sources, but the schedule for the film is uncertain following the death of star Paul Walker.
Production of the film was reportedly more than half completed before Saturday's death of Walker, the face and star of the franchise. Walker, 40, was killed in a car accident.
The Wrap added that a scheduled shoot in Atlanta was canceled as studio executives for Universal Pictures try to cope and to give the rest of the cast, including Vin Diesel, a chance to grieve.
A rep for Universal would not comment to ABC News about production of Fast 7.
The film was scheduled for release next summer. It has not yet been determined if this date will be pushed back.
THR reported that the film's director James Wan held a conference call Sunday with executives to discuss the state of the film and if rewrites are necessary.
Shooting was scheduled to take place this week in Atlanta and Abu Dhabi later in the month. Universal couldn't confirm information about if and when production would resume.
Before his death, Walker was set to reprise his role as Brian O'Connor, undercover cop and federal agent turned wanted criminal. This would be Walker's sixth Fast & Furious film; he was absent from the Tokyo Drift spinoff movie.
The studio did release a statement after the accident Saturday night: "All of us at Universal are heartbroken. Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 12:54:37 PM
(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Three could be the magic number that finally gets SpaceX's watershed mission off the ground.
The space transport company is readying its third attempt at getting the Falcon 9 rocket off the launching pad. Liftoff is scheduled for 5:41 p.m. Tuesday.
The launch was originally scheduled over a week ago on Nov. 25. However, the rocket ran into some technical difficulties minutes before liftoff. "We observed unexpected readings with the first stage liquid oxygen system, so we decided to investigate," said a spokeswoman for SpaceX.
The second launch attempt was scheduled on Thanksgiving Day but also ran into problems. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the automated launch was aborted due to a "slower than expected thrust ramp." While he said he hoped that the rocket might still have a chance by starting up a manual launch sequence, Musk ultimately called off the holiday launch.
It appears that Musk and employees worked through the holiday weekend as well. Musk said that Thursday's launch was aborted due to an oxygen contamination in igniters containing TEA-TEB. At 8 p.m. Monday, he tweeted that the gas generator on the rocket's central engine was replaced "as a precautionary measure."
Any precautionary measure is a good one, according to David Todd, senior space industry analyst for FlightGlobal/Ascend. "A delay of a couple of days is not a problem," he told ABC News. "It's when things get delayed by months that it is."
The Falcon 9 rocket will carry the SES-8 telecommunications satellite into a geostationary orbit, approximately 80,000 kilometers above Earth's surface. "[SES] is a major satellite company, so if [SpaceX] messed up this launch, it would be bad," said Todd. SpaceX "needs to keep its clients happy."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 12:47:53 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Billy Joel has announced that he will become Madison Square Garden's first-ever "music franchise" in 2014.
Starting with his previously announced Jan. 27 concert, Joel will play one show each month at the famed New York City venue "as long as there is demand." The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer made the announcement at a press event on Tuesday at the venue with Garden honchos and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in attendance.
Joel has a long history with Madison Square Garden. He's played a total of 46 concerts at the arena, including a record-breaking run of 12 sold-out shows in 2006. The latter milestone earned the singer/songwriter a special banner that is displayed in the rafters of the venue.
Joel has just added a May 9 concert, which falls on his 65th birthday, to the four sold-out shows he's already scheduled in 2014 -- on Jan. 27, Feb. 3, March 21 and April 18. Tickets for the May event will go on sale to the general public this Saturday at 10 a.m. ET via Ticketmaster. Citi Card members can buy pre-sale tickets starting Wednesday at 10 a.m.
"Today’s announcement that Billy Joel is joining the Madison Square Garden family as their first music franchise is truly a momentous occasion," Cuomo said in a statement. "It is particularly fitting that these two great icons are coming together to make entertainment history right here in New York. I offer my congratulations to Billy Joel and Madison Square Garden and the millions of fans worldwide who will benefit from this collaboration for years to come."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 12:43:21 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Move over Aiden: There's a new top baby name in town.
For the first time in eight years, Aiden has been surpassed in popularity when it comes to baby boy names, according to the just-released Top Baby names of 2013 list from Babycenter. Jackson has taken over the number one spot, pushing Aiden down to second place.
As far as girl names go, Sophia still reigns supreme. It's the fourth year in a row Sophia has taken the top spot. There was some movement on the girl's list, however: Emily is making a big comeback, according to the web site.
And when it comes to naming babies, parents are looking to loved ones rather than celebrities for ideas.
"One of the biggest trends we see this year is a growing desire among new parents to choose a baby name with personal meaning. Family names are all the rage, and grandparents are the number one source of inspiration for new parents," says Linda Murray, BabyCenter Global Editor in Chief. "This year, more than half of moms say they found name inspiration in people they know. Celebrity influence is on the decline."
That said, celebrities are wielding at least some influence on expectant parents. While it may be hard to imagine a parent wanting their daughter to grow up to be like Miley Cyrus, the name Miley actually rose 16 spots on the girls' list this year.
And even though he's across the pond, Prince George is influencing parents stateside. The name George rose 37 percent as a female name and 10 percent a boy's name. Interestingly, George fell out of the top 10 this year on the BabyCentre United Kingdom Baby Names list.
And if Kanye West needed more proof that he is indeed taking over the world, his name jumped 2,228 spots since last year. But not so fast Kanye: another celebrity -- Korie from the popular Duck Dynasty -- saw her name rise 13,262 spots. The name Kim is also up. And while there was a slight rise in the name Nori (their daughter's nickname) Babycenter does not have even one baby named North in its extensive database.
Top 10 Boy Names:
Top 10 Girl Baby Names:
BabyCenter's Top 100 Baby Names list combines names that sound the same but have different spellings, making it, the site said a "a true measure of baby name popularity."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 12:28:02 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Sony may have delivered its best piece of news in a long time. Sales of the new PlayStation 4 reached 2.1 million units worldwide, giving Sony an early lead on its rival, Microsoft Xbox One.
“PS4 delivered the best launch in PlayStation history with the North American release and we’ve continued this incredibly successful start in Europe, Australasia and Latin America,” said Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment.
The holiday shopping season is the most important time of the year for console sales.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 12:11:51 PM
(NEW YORK) -- When you win a championship in any sport, there's bound to be roster turnover the following year and the Boston Red Sox are no exception. According to ESPN, the team has signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal.
Pending a physical, Pierzynski's deal is worth $8.25 million, according to ESPN.
The signing of Pierzynski marks the end of the Jarrod Saltalamacchia-era in Boston. Saltalamacchia was said to be seeking a three-year deal, while the Red Sox were unwilling to go past two years.
In three plus seasons, Saltalamacchia steadily improved offensively and defensively. While he hit .273 with 14 home runs during the regular season in 2013, he hit just .188 in the postseason. In 32 at-bats, he struck out 19 times.
Even though he's 36 and entering his 17th Major League season, Pierzynski is still a durable and reliable option at catcher. In his first and only year with the Texas Rangers this season, he hit .272 with 17 home runs and 70 RBIs.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 10:37:12 AM
(MOSCOW) -- A former top dancer from Russia's famous Bolshoi ballet has been found guilty of masterminding a vicious acid attack on the theater's artistic director earlier this year.
A judge in Moscow sentenced the dancer, Pavel Dmitrichenko, to six years in prison for ordering the attack. The man Dmitrichenko hired to carry it out received a 10-year sentence.
The acid scandal rocked the Bolshoi, a centuries-old ballet company that is considered among the world's best.
The artistic director, Sergei Filin, was nearly blinded when the assailant splashed acid in his face as he walked to his apartment on a snowy night in January.
In a twist that rivals any of the Bolshoi's dramatic productions, six weeks later, police detained Dmitrichenko and charged him with planning the attack.
In a video released by authorities, Dmitrichenko softly admitted his guilt, though he later denied that he ordered the attacker to use acid.
The trial aired the Bolshoi's dirty laundry. This was an act of revenge, the judge decided on Tuesday, after Dmitrichenko's girlfriend, a Bolshoi ballerina, was repeatedly passed over for top roles.
Witnesses testified about rampant nepotism and corruption at the Bolshoi, with money and favors exchanged for coveted positions.
In his testimony before court, Filin denied awarding dance roles for anything other than merit. He said that in the months leading to the attack he was subjected to increasing efforts to intimidate him. His email was hacked, he received threatening text messages, and his tires were slashed, he said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 09:42:59 AM
(SEOUL, South Korea) -- North Korea may have undergone the biggest political upheaval since current leader Kim Jong-un succeeded his late father in December 2011.
South Korea’s Yonhap news, citing the country’s top spy agency, reports the man thought to be the real power behind the throne in North Korea -- Kim’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek -- has been dismissed from his post.
Jang has been serving as the vice chairman of North Korea’s top military body. He is married to the sister of former leader Kim Jong-il.
Yonhap also reports that South Korea’s top spy agency presented parliament with intelligence indicating two of Jang’s closest confidants were recently executed in public, and that Jang has not been seen since.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 07:53:25 AM
(NEW YORK) -- For the first time, a United Nations inquiry into alleged war crimes committed in Syria has directly implicated President Bashar al-Assad.
U.N. Human Rights chief Navi Pillay alleged in a bombshell report Monday that there is "massive evidence…[of] very serious crimes, war crimes, crimes against humanity" and that "the evidence indicates responsibility at the highest level of government, including the head of state."
The international body has previously made accusations of mass killings, torture and rape against the Syrian government but never before has Assad, "the head of state," been directly associated with war crimes.
Pillay's allegation was dismissed by Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad, who remarked, "She has been talking nonsense for a long time and we don't listen to her."
Although Pillay wants the case handed over to the international criminal court (ICC) in The Hague to ensure accountability, such action needs approval of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Since Syrian allies Russia and China are members, it's unlikely they would agree to prosecute Assad.
Meanwhile, the timing of the new U.N. inquiry could have an impact on a planned summit in Geneva set for Jan. 22 in which Syrian government officials and opposition groups are scheduled to hold talks in an effort to end the nearly three-year-old civil war.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 07:28:37 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Swedish scientists have identified a new strain of HIV that appears to progress much faster than most previously identified variations of the virus.
The new strain, known as A3/02, is a recombinant, meaning it is a cross between two previously identified HIV strains. Writing in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, Lund University researchers said that the infection moves from HIV to full-blown AIDS in about five years, nearly two to two and a half years faster than most previously known strains.
So far the new infection seems confined to West Africa. But experts fear that recombinants are becoming more common and could start to spread globally, especially to highly mobile regions such as Europe and the United States. The researchers said recombinants develop faster than the "parental" strains they spring from, though fortunately, this latest strain seems treatable with existing drugs.
An HIV diagnosis changes to AIDS when a person's white blood cell count dips below 200, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Phalguni Gupta, a professor of infectious diseases and microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Graduate Health, said that most clinicians also consider a diagnosis of AIDS when someone with HIV develops a serious infection such as pneumonia, cancer or a wasting syndrome characterized by severe weight loss, diarrhea and high fever. In poorer regions such as West Africa, tuberculosis is the leading cause of death among people with HIV.
Gupta, however, said it was misleading to say that this new strain was the most aggressive form of AIDS yet known.
"There are some HIV types here in the United States that take as little as two years to develop into AIDS," he noted.
This information is particularly troubling in light of a new CDC report that found that since 2005, there has been a 48 percent increase in unprotected anal sex in the U.S. among men who have sex with men. Men who engage in risky sexual behavior are often unaware of their positive HIV status, the report found.
Gupta said the new West African strain needs to be monitored to see if it transmits more readily than other types of HIV. This is a question the researchers haven't yet explored.
An estimated 34 million people globally have been diagnosed with HIV, according to the World Health Organization. Since the epidemic began more than 30 years ago, the infection has claimed more than 33 million lives, the CDC estimates.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 07:27:34 AM
(NEW YORK) -- The twinkling lights, booming carolers and long lines of kids waiting to sit on Santa's knee are all part of an annual ritual for some mall-goers. But for children with autism, those same holiday staples can be overwhelming triggers for stress.
"Our son, Jackson, is severely affected by autism and is nonverbal with multiple other special needs," said J-Jaye Hurley, who lives in Atlanta. "We had not been able to get a picture with Santa since he was 2."
Fortunately, in the past few years, more and more shopping centers are beginning to offer alternative events for families who have children with special sensitivities, or needs.
When Hurley learned of the Caring Santa program in the Noerr, Abilitypath and Simon Malls near her home, "for the first time, our family was able to visit Santa, get a great pic, and Jackson really was relaxed and happy to be there," she said. This year will mark the Hurley's third trip to see St. Nick.
The Caring Santa program and other similar series around the country, such as Silent Santa or Sensitive Santa, strip down the typical meet 'n' greet with Mr. Claus to something straightforward and peaceful. The result is quieter, with smaller crowds and less stimuli.
"There's no reason why ASD [autism spectrum disorder] children shouldn't be able to have the same opportunities as other kids, and this gives them the chance to participate in a holiday custom," said Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a neurologist specializing in autism at University Hospitals' Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland. "If you remove the excessive sensory input for the children, their behavior will be better, they will get more out of it and it's a win-win."
According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 88 children is on the autism spectrum. Awareness has led to increasing modifications at movie theaters, theme parks and other social activity locales to limit sensory overload.
The same considerations can be made when approaching the holidays, said Wiznitzer.
"If you're going to go to a church service, holiday party or shopping, you need to create gradual exposure to the songs that will be played, or offer earplugs," he said. "There are going to be lots of strange noises and people coming through, so part of it is also keeping things quick. Don't spend three hours at your events. Recognize when the child's had enough so that it doesn't lead to meltdowns, tantrums and negative impressions from other people."
For Hurley, who is also an autism response team coordinator for Autism Speaks, an autism science and advocacy organization, keeping those kinds of tips in mind and seeking out sensitive environments such as Caring Santa has made a significant difference in her overall holiday experience.
"Not all children with autism need a program like this," she said. "But for so many families like mine, we are very thankful."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 07:14:49 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- Bob Smith, who served two terms as a U.S. senator from New Hampshire, said he has his eyes on his old job again and is gearing up to challenge Sen. Jeanne Shaheen next year.
“This is a classic liberal versus conservative race,” Smith said on Monday. “It’s about giving the people of New Hampshire the choice of taking the country in the direction of more government spending and nationalized healthcare, or in a conservative direction of less spending, reduced debt, and healthcare based off of the private sector.”
Shaheen is among the vulnerable Democrats seeking re-election next year. Speculation on her challenger has largely focused on Scott Brown, a former Massachusetts senator who is considering moving to New Hampshire to run. But Smith said whatever Brown decided to do, it wouldn’t have a large impact on his own campaign.
“I don’t know him personally and have no know idea what he will do, but if he will run, the more the merrier,” Smith said of Brown. “It’s good for the party to have a choice -- to decide what direction they want to go in taking the country away from the left.”
Regardless of Brown’s decision, some Republicans in New Hampshire are not enthusiastic about Smith’s candidacy and think his chances of defeating Shaheen are slim.
David Carney, a New Hampshire GOP consultant and former Deputy Chief of Staff to Gov. John Sununu, said Smith’s candidacy will not impact the race.
“He was rejected and thrown out of office…and I see very few folks who will rally to his tattered banner this time either,” Carney told ABC News. ”He is a craven free media seeker and he will provide some comic relief but in the serious business of fielding credible candidates he does not fit into that equation.”
Smith, 72, has frequently drawn criticism from Republicans, including when he switched his party affiliation several times and for running in the Republican Party primary for the Senate in Florida, where he lives five to six months out of the year, in both in 2004 and 2010.
“I understand when you have an 18-year political career, you have plenty to shoot at,” Smith said. “I’m not hiding from it. Sometimes you make mistakes and sometimes you do the right thing.”
He defended his New Hampshire ties, noting that he owns a house there dating back to the early 1970s, campaigned for Newt Gingrich in the state, and has written columns for and done interviews with local New Hampshire media outlets.
Fergus Cullen, who chaired the New Hampshire Republican Party from 2007 to 2008 and interned for Smith in 1992, said that while Smith should be able to make his case to the people of New Hampshire, his reputation is tarnished enough that it could hurt his chances at being a competitive challenger in the race.
“Senator Smith burned a lot of bridges and boats when his Senate career ended,” Cullen told ABC News. “His presidential candidacy in 1999 and his quitting of the party in a huff gave permission to establishment Republicans to abandon him, and they did.”
Cullen described Smith as a very polarizing senator among both parties. When then-New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen decided to challenge Smith in 2002, Cullen said it was unlikely that Republicans would hold onto the seat without a different candidate in place as the GOP nominee.
“The resulting primary between Smith and young John Sununu left scars,” Cullen said. ”I don’t see how Smith can repair many of those relationships.”
But Smith still remains confident that he can reclaim his old seat.
“I have a consistent conservative voting record in the Senate and House,” said Smith, defiant in his response to the criticism. “It’s who I am.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 07:03:01 AM
(LONGWOOD, Fla.) -- Florida officials searched a gated community Monday night for a black bear that attacked a mother, who was hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery for her injuries.
The Longwood, Fla., woman was attacked at 8:05 p.m. as she was walking her dogs in a subdivision, Seminole County Fire Rescue Lt. Alisa Keyes told ABC News. The unidentified woman was able to break free and run to a nearby residence where a neighbor called 911.
She was alert and oriented but had suffered serious undisclosed injuries, Keyes said. The woman was rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center and her condition was not known.
The attack took place within about a mile of the Wekiva River basin, which is known as a bear habitat.
Although it’s a wooded area and there have been several bear sightings, Keyes says this is the first full-fledged attack by a bear on a human she’s ever heard of in the state.
Neighbors say bear sightings in the area have become increasingly common lately.
“Two weeks ago I saw one go right across my driveway, into my neighbor’s yard. I watched it. Swear to God. Watched it go through a trash can and then walk out in the woods,” an unidentified neighbor said.
Last year, wildlife officials in nearby Orlando had to tranquilize a black bear, causing it to fall from a tree.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 06:57:19 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- There is new speculation regarding what exactly caused the fiery car crash in Valencia, Calif., that killed The Fast and the Furious series star Paul Walker and a friend on Saturday.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department acknowledges it received a tip by phone suggesting another car was at the scene at the time of the crash, but it says it has not been able to track down the person who made the call. For now, it says, the investigation is focusing on speed as the primary factor in the accident.
TMZ on Monday cited unnamed law enforcement sources who said investigators were looking into tips that Walker, 40, and Roger Rodas may have been racing another car before the red Porsche Carrera GT in which they were riding struck a pole. Fast drivers have been a problem on the street where the accident occurred, according to the sheriff's department.
Other reports raise the possibility the Porsche may have suffered a mechanical failure, but that has not been confirmed.
Autopsies on both victims are still pending. The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office has said dental records are needed to positively identify the victims.
Meanwhile, many actors who worked with Walker have shared their memories and expressed their condolences via social media in recent days. The Fast and the Furious franchise star Vin Diesel on Monday night posted on Facebook a photo of the two together. He quotes poet Thomas Campbell: "To live in the hearts we leave behind, is not to die."
Diesel writes, "Pablo, I wish you could see the world right now... and the profound impact, your full life has had on it, on Us... on me...I will always love you Brian, as the brother you were... on and off screen." Walker's character in the Fast and Furious movies was Brian O'Conner.
Variety reports previous comments posted on Instagram over the weekend and attributed to Diesel were fake.
Co-star Michelle Rodriguez issued a comment earlier Monday on Twitter, writing, "I'm gonna carry this torch for you brother, with a forced smile on my face and Im gonna open my heart just cause your telling me to."
A makeshift memorial for Walker continues to grow at the crash site, prompting police to set up traffic control. Many people have left flowers, candles and memorabilia in tribute to the late actor. Some visitors have been observed digging in the dirt at the crash site in an effort to recover pieces of the Porsche Walker was riding in when it crashed.
TMZ reports the crowds were pushed back by police for a spell Monday evening so that Walker's family and friends could grieve privately. Afterward, at around 10:45 p.m., Diesel spoke to the surrounding crowd with the help of an LAPD squad car's P.A. system.
"Thank you for coming down here and showing that angel up in heaven how much you appreciated him," Diesel said.
The Walker family has asked fans that in lieu of flowers and other gifts, donations be made to the actor’s charity Reach Out Worldwide at roww.org.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 05:15:19 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Superman actor Henry Cavill is looking forward to working with Hollywood's new Batman, Ben Affleck, even if some comic fans are upset with the casting decision.
Cavill, who made his Superman debut last summer in Man of Steel, will reprise the role of the superhero opposite Affleck in the project currently known as Batman vs. Superman. He tells TotalFilm.com, "I'm sure he'll be fantastic, above all else. And as a filmmaker he's got his own style, you know, he's not copying anyone else. And he's also sort of been tenacious in his career."
Cavill adds, "He's had ups followed by downs and now he's very up again and I think that requires and shows a very special strength of character, and it's something which I enjoy working with because jobs like this require a strength of character."
The Batman vs. Superman film, helmed by Man of Steel director Zack Snyder, is due out in July of 2015.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 04:55:37 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- The biggest problem facing President Obama now that the HealthCare.gov website seems to be working better is younger Americans' unfamiliarity with the Affordable Care Act.
The success of the president's signature law is highly dependent on younger, healthier people signing up for medical coverage in order to keep premiums down.
However, a Gallup poll conducted in late November suggests that large numbers of people under 30 are not only disinterested in the ACA, they seem to be unaware it even exists.
According to the survey, 37 percent of respondents ages 18-29 admit they're not familiar with the law more commonly known as "Obamacare."
In contrast, just over a quarter of the 30-49 age group and 22 percent between 50 and 64 say they're unfamiliar with the law.
If the White House can take any consolation from the poll it's that 72 percent of Americans say they have at least some understanding about what the health care law is about.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 04:14:10 AM
(EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.) -- The injuries keep on mounting for the Brooklyn Nets.
The team announced Monday that small forward Paul Pierce will miss the next 2-4 weeks with a broken bone in his right hand.
The 36-year-old Pierce has struggled in his first season with the Nets, averaging 12.4 points and 4.9 rebounds while shooting just 36.8 percent from the field.
The Nets (5-12) have also been without guards Deron Williams and Jason Terry, as well as swingman Andrei Kirilenko due to various injuries.
"Injuries are a part of the game," first year head coach Jason Kidd said. "You just hope that there are speedy recoveries. And for the guys in that locker room that can play, I believe in each one of those guys and that we can find a way to win until we do get whole."
Brooklyn will host the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night at Barclays Center.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 02:37:00 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- Israel will formally join the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) -- a U.N. voting group that includes western European nations, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S. -- as an observer.
In a statement Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the decision to invite Israel to join the group in Geneva is a welcome one that was "overdue."
"It goes without saying that at a time when the scourge of global anti-Semitism is on the rise, it is more important than ever for Israel to have a strong voice that can be heard everywhere. This is a particularly welcome development as we work to end anti-Israel bias in the U.N. system," Kerry said in the statement. "We will continue to speak out for our close ally, Israel, and we will continue to support efforts to normalize Israel’s treatment across the U.N. system as a full and equal member of the community of nations."
The American Jewish Committee has praised the move. Since 2000, Israel had been a WEOG member on a temporary basis, subject to renewal.
“Israel is now a full member of the regional group in the Human Rights Council and that means we can play a bigger role in the human rights activities in Geneva,” Aharon Leshno Yaar, the Foreign Ministry deputy director general for U.N. and International Organizations, told the Jerusalem Post.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/3/2013 00:05:11 AM
(SEATTLE) -- Russell Wilson threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns as the Seattle Seahawks blasted the New Orleans Saints 34-7 on Monday night.
The Seahawks (11-1) clinched a playoff spot with the victory, and now have a two game lead over the Saints (9-3) and Carolina Panthers (9-3) in the race for home-field advantage in the NFC.
"For us to come out in that fashion and to win that game the way that we did was awesome," Wilson said.
Drew Brees completed 23 passes for 147 yards and one touchdown, but also lost a fumble in the first quarter that was returned for a score.
"We took one in the chin today," Brees said. "We got outplayed today. They played great. They made a lot of plays, and we didn't."
The seven points scored by the Saints matches the fewest points they've ever scored in a game since Sean Payton became the head coach in 2006.
Russell Wilson is now 14-0 at home as a starter.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 23:46:44 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Speed was a factor in the fiery crash that killed Fast and Furious star Paul Walker and A friend, professional driver Roger Rodas, authorities said Monday, as Walker’s father spoke out about his grief.
Police got a phone tip after Saturday’s deadly accident saying that another car had been at the scene of the accident, according to Sgt. Richard Cohen, a spokesman for the LAPD.
Authorities say they want to know whether that driver cut off Walker and Rodas. So far, however, police have been unable to reach the tipster. Cohen said investigators were looking for surveillance videos for clues.
Investigators say they are also looking into skid marks at the crash scene to find out whether they came from Rodas’ car or someone else’s.
Walker’s publicist Ame Van Iden said he was a passenger in the car as Rodas drove in the community of Valencia on Saturday. The two were leaving a fundraiser they’d thrown to benefit victims of the typhoon in the Philippines. Walker was 40; Rodas, 38.
They were just blocks from the event, in a business park, when the car they were traveling in — a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT — smashed into a light pole and tree. Both bodies were badly burned. Police said the impact of the crash was so great that a piece of the car flew into an nearby building and broke a window.
The 2005 Porsche Carrera GT is one of the fastest cars in the world. It sells for more than $400,000 and goes from zero to 125 mph in less than 10 seconds. It can also reach speeds of 205 mph. The Porsche Carrera GT is reportedly so difficult to handle that even professional drivers have called it scary.
Porsche said it was cooperating with the investigation.
On Monday, as fans continued to gather at a makeshift memorial near the site of the crash, Walker’s father, Paul Walker III, said he’d always told his son he loved him.
“I knew that eventually he might come to realize what a good person he was,” Paul Sr. said. “We lost a spirit. … I’m devastated.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 23:33:29 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Bob Shlora of Alpharetta, Ga., was supposed to be a belated Obamacare success story. After weeks of trying, the 61-year-old told ABC News he fully enrolled in a new health insurance plan through the federal marketplace over the weekend, and received a Humana policy ID number to prove it.
But two days later, his insurer has no record of the transaction, Shlora said, even though his account on the government website indicates that he has a plan.
“I feel like this: My application was taken … by a bureaucrat, it was put on a conveyor belt and it’s still going around, and it’s never going to leave the building,” he said. “I’ve lost hope. If it happens, great.”
Obama administration officials acknowledged Monday that some of the roughly 126,000 Americans who completed the torturous online enrollment process in October and November might not be officially signed up with their selected issuer, even if the website has told them they are.
Technical problems surrounding the transfer of an applicant’s personal information from the federal marketplace to the selected insurance company have plagued the system since its launch, making it difficult for insurers to finalize some enrollments. The 834 forms that issuers receive from the system have been riddled with errors, including often duplicate or incomplete information.
While the front-end of the website has been vastly improved, the back-end glitches remain a serious concern, IT experts and industry officials say.
“Until the enrollment process is working from end-to-end, many consumers will not be able to enroll in coverage,” said Karen Ignani, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans. “In addition to fixing the technical problems with healthcare.gov, the significant ‘backend’ issues must also be resolved to ensure that coverage can begin on Jan. 1, 2014.”
Meanwhile for consumers, it’s all turning out to be a giant headache. Shlora, who currently pays $2,800 a month for health care, told ABC News the “false braggadocio” coming from the White House is making it worse.
“The White House announced that they have met their goal,” he said of the much-touted improvements to the website. “They are taking applications but they aren’t going anywhere. What kind of goal is that?”
For those who thought they enrolled in a plan through the federal exchange since October, the Obama administration now advises that individuals contact their insurance company to verify coverage and if none exists, to start all over again.
“Consumers should absolutely call their selected plan, confirm that they have paid their first month’s premium and that coverage would be available to them, beginning January 1st,” said Julie Bataille, communications director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.
“We will also make a concerted effort to reach consumers who selected a plan over the course of these past several weeks, so that they know what their next steps would be, which include paying their first premium and confirming enrollment with their plan,” she said.
Federal health insurance helpers told Shlora to wait several days for a specialist from the website to get back to him, he said, while Humana has told him that his application may pop up by the end of the week.
In recent weeks, Bataille has repeatedly refused to discuss the scope of the back-end problem, declining requests for information about the error rate among the 834 forms and how many people might be affected.
CMS officials said Monday that a single “bug” in the system that prevented a Social Security number from being included in an application was the root cause of “more than 80 percent of the 834 production errors.” Officials said that problem has been fixed, though they would not say when it was first identified and how many applications were flawed.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 23:11:51 PM
(NEW YORK) -- NFL: Seattle Seahawks 34 (11-1) - New Orleans Saints 7 (9-3)
NBA: San Antonio Spurs 102 (15-3) – Atlanta Hawks 100 (9-10)
Washington Wizards 98 (9-9) – Orlando Magic 80 (6-11)
New Orleans Pelicans 131 (9-8) - Chicago Bulls 128 (7-9) 3OT
Utah Jazz 109 (4-15) - Houston Rockets 103 (13-6)
Top 25 Men’s College Basketball: (12) Connecticut 65 (8-0) – (15) Florida 64 (6-2)
(17) Iowa State 99 (6-0) – Auburn 70 (4-2)
NHL: Montreal Canadiens 3 (16-9-3; 35pts) – New Jersey Devils 2 (11-12-5; 27pts)
Minnesota Wild 2 (16-8-5; 37pts) – Philadelphia Flyers 0 (12-13-2; 26pts)
Winnipeg Jets 5 (13-12-4; 30pts) – New York Rangers 2 (14-14-10; 28pts)
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 23:01:12 PM
(NEW YORK) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie denied Monday that he flip-flopped on his position before and after his landslide re-election victory on an important immigration issue in the state.
The New Jersey Star-Ledger hit Christie in a scathing op-ed for pulling support for a bill that would grant in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, but Christie said he has not; instead, it is just aspects of the legislation that he disagrees with.
“I said the legislature should move in the lame-duck session towards tuition equality in New Jersey. Period,” Christie said at a news conference. “That’s what I said. I didn’t support any particular piece of legislation. And I still support tuition equality.”
Immigration activists say Christie, who won 51 percent of the Hispanic vote last month, pledged his support for in-state tuition for undocumented students at the Latino Leadership Alliance gala in October.
“I believe every child should be able to give the opportunity to reach their God-given potential,” Christie said at the event, less than a month before his re-election win. “We need to make sure that we continue to work on issues that will make those children believe they have a bigger and brighter future. We need to get to work in the state legislature on things like making sure that there’s tuition equality for everybody in New Jersey.”
However, Christie has recently said he would not support the bill, known as the New Jersey DREAM Act, passed in the Democratic-controlled state Senate because though it would allow undocumented students in New Jersey to qualify for in-state tuition at state schools it would also allow undocumented out-of-state residents to be eligible for in-state tuition if they attended an in-state private high school for at least three years.
In the Star-Ledger op-ed, the newspaper said Christie was trying to appeal to Hispanic voters before his re-election, but is now switching his viewpoint because he is getting ready for a presidential campaign.
“The real reason for his flip-flop? Christie has his eyes on the presidency. And if he has to roll over Latinos to get there, he’ll do it,” the editorial reads.
He also said the state DREAM Act should be more in line with the president’s executive action that prevents for two years the deportation of any student seeking higher education as long as they were in the United States before 2012.
“We shouldn’t make our program an open ended commitment,” Christie said. “We should be in line with what the president has done, which is to cap it at 2012. Now, if they get to 2014, and they still don’t have federal immigration reform, then the president is going to have to make some judgment as to whether he wants to extend the executive action he took, and then New Jersey should react to that.”
At Tuesday’s news conference, which was called to announce Christie would be nominating his chief of staff to attorney general, as well as replacing him with a new chief of staff, Christie was also asked about the continued sniping from Kentucky senator and fellow Republican Rand Paul. Christie told the reporter, “You have to ask Sen. Paul.”
“He’s a fine guy,” Christie said of Paul, despite their prolonged family feud. “I have no problems with him. I’ve met him once in my life. He seemed like a very nice guy, but I’ve got nothing more to say about Sen. Paul,” Christie said. “Why he’s saying that stuff you have to go down to Washington and ask him. I have no idea. I am not inside his mind.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 21:57:09 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Tommy, a 26-year-old chimpanzee owned by a couple in upstate New York, has a lawyer and a trust fund in a bid by a non-human rights group to have him declared the first animal to be considered a person under the law.
In what may be the first case of its kind, the Boston-based Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is asking a court to free Tommy from what they describe as a "small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed" in Gloversville, N.Y.
NhRP argues, based on "law, science and history," that the chimp has all the rights of habeas corpus -- a writ that requires a person under detention to be brought before a judge -- so that he may be released.
Tommy is on the grounds of Circle L Trailer Sales, Inc., owned by Patrick and Diane Lavery, according to NhRP.
Diane Lavery told ABC News by phone from her part-time home in Florida that she and her husband had not been served court papers.
"I have no idea what is going on," she said. "I haven't seen anything."
Lavery said they are owners of Circle L Trailer Sales, but when asked about housing a chimpanzee, she said, "no comment."
The group says animals like chimpanzees possess: "complex cognitive abilities as autonomy, self-determination, self-consciousness, awareness of the past, anticipation of the future and the ability to make choices; display complex emotions such as empathy; and construct diverse cultures."
The most important cognitive ability is autonomy, according to NhRP, which includes, "possession of an autobiographical self, episodic memory, self-determination, self-consciousness, self-knowing, self-agency, referential and intentional communication, language planning, mental time-travel," among other traits.
The petition, filed Monday in the State of New York Supreme Court of Fulton County, asks that Tommy be granted immediate release, citing common law that has "issued writs of habeas corpus for slaves who were not legal persons at the time so that the issue of personhood and the legality of confinement could be resolved."
"New York statutory and common law do not limit legal personhood to Homo sapiens and have already conferred legal personhood status on non-human domestic animals who are the beneficiaries of trusts," says the petition. "Courts also have routinely extended rights to non-human entities such as corporations."
NhRP argues that these animals deserve fundamental rights such as bodily integrity and bodily liberty, in hopes of breaking down for the first time the barrier between animals and humans.
Today animals cannot be beaten or deprived of food, shelter or medical care, but they are still legally considered property.
"We are talking about bringing these lawsuits on behalf of nonhuman animals because there is a lot of scientific evidence that they, too, are autonomous," said Tommy's self-appointed lawyer, Steven M. Wise, author of Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals.
"We think there is sufficient evidence for all four groups of apes as well as elephants, whales and dolphins," he said. "We are going to be busy for a long time."
The organization says it has established a trust for the care of Tommy, who is named as beneficiary.
Wise said he will ask the judge to transfer Tommy to the North American Private Sanctuary Alliance in Wauchula, Fla. Founded in 1993, the 120-acre facility houses 45 great apes, many of them former research animals.
Since 1983, as president of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Wise said he has taught animal rights at Harvard Law School, authored several books on the subject and organized dozens of volunteers to found NhRP.
"Tommy is in a small cage in a small room that is part of a very large edifice – almost like a huge warehouse," said Wise, who said he had visited the large commercial property and got a glimpse of the chimp. He said the building houses 10 other empty cages.
"They had a lot of chimps before that were primarily used in entertainment," he said.
If the court hears the case, it will decide whether Tommy has the capacity for rights and if he does, if he can be released.
Wise said that NhRP decided to take up the case in the state, and in March went looking for caged animals to be plaintiffs in testing the law. "We tried to identify every chimp in New York," he said.
Three of the seven identified -- Reba, Charlie and Merlin -- had died, according to Wise. Two are currently being kept privately in a cement storage facility in Niagara Falls among other monkeys and exotic birds; two others are being used for locomotion research at Stony Brook University.
In October, Wise said they received word of a commercial operation that sold trailers and reindeer, and it was there they found Tommy and videotaped his living quarters.
"Our goal is to make sure that we move them from a legal status with no rights or capacity to rights for personhood so we can litigate on their behalf," said Wise. "They have a fundamental right to liberty and you can't imprison them, or use them for biomedical research or keep dolphins in aquarium."
Other lawyers have been critical of the effort to give personhood to animals, most notably Richard Epstein, an NYU law professor.
Rebutting Wise at a 2000 debate at Northwestern Law School, Epstein said the definition of personhood is "someone who is part of the same species -- who could interbreed."
He argued that animals should be free from torture but should not have legal rights.
"If you go the whole nine yards you face two major questions: Which animals do it? Chimps and bonobos are obvious, but what about other apes that are small and not friendly," said Epstein at the debate. "Or cattle or domesticated sheep or squirrels or rats. How far do we want to run with this?
"We can find emotions in rats – they have endorphins, too. The number of genes in fruit flies and human beings are the same -- 60 percent."
But Wise told ABC News that animals like Tommy would be treated more like a "4- or 5-year-old human child" under the law.
"They have the capacity for rights," he said. "But you can't sue them criminally or prosecute them civilly. They are autonomous enough to have fundamental rights but not mature enough to have criminal or civil liability."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 21:51:36 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- New numbers from the Energy Department show the price of regular unleaded gas has dropped two cents in the past week. The national average to fill up now stands at $3.27 a gallon for regular fuel. Prices at the pump are also down about 12 cents compared to the same week last year, according to the Energy Department.
Drivers in the Midwest, Gulf Coast and Rocky Mountains are paying the least for their gas with the average price at around $3.12.
But prices aren't dropping everywhere. The data shows states with the most expensive gas are still seeing prices rise. In New York, regular unleaded gas has gone up 3 cents in the past week, now at $3.61 per gallon. Prices also rose 3 cents in California where drivers are paying an average of $3.58.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 19:30:01 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Cristina Speirs, 22, was a self-proclaimed "health freak" during her senior year of college, which is all the more reason she would have never guessed that her body would betray her the way it did.
She exercised six times a week, taught hot yoga classes and drank a lot of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. So, when she stopped feeling tired and started getting up more frequently in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, she didn't think anything of it.
"I had a lot of energy," Speirs said. "I wasn't sleeping....I was always on the go. I was never tired."
She would eventually learn that she had a tumor the size of an orange on her adrenal gland, and that it was making the hormones that kept her up at night.
Doctors first noticed a problem at Speirs' annual checkup in the fall of 2012, when they found that her potassium levels were low but her blood pressure was "through the roof."
But they had no idea what was causing the strange symptoms.
"That really freaked me out because them not knowing what's wrong with me -- they're doctors, you know?" Speirs said.
A cardiologist quickly determined there was nothing wrong with her heart, but Speirs' mother suggested a renal sonogram to check her kidneys.
Speirs noticed that the sonogram technician spent a long time lingering over her kidneys and looked confused. Alarmed, Speirs asked what was wrong. The technician told Speirs she needed an MRI right away because she suspected Speirs had one large combined kidney instead of two normal-sized kidneys.
The MRI would reveal that Speirs had normal kidneys. It was a 10-centimeter tumor that the technician was seeing.
"I was in complete shock," she said, explaining that she phoned her parents immediately to tell them that she'd need surgery. "Then, I got so upset honestly. I had no idea where this came from."
Then she met Dr. William Inabnet, co-director of the Adrenal Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Upon learning that Speirs' tumor was producing two hormones -- cortisol and aldosterone -- he feared that the tumor was cancerous.
On Oct. 18, 2012, he scheduled surgery to remove it the following Halloween. Surgery on the spooky holiday made Speirs feel superstitious, but she didn't say anything.
And then Superstorm Sandy hit on Oct. 29, and the hospital was thrown into chaos. Evacuated patients from NYU Langone Medical Center were sent to Mount Sinai, and doctors from different hospitals were working side by side to help the sickest patients.
The hospital was packed, and most regular surgeries were canceled.
She said she'll always remember that right before the anesthesia took hold of her, Inabnet asked her what she wanted to listen to on the radio in the operating room. She passed out right after telling him to pick whatever he wanted, but it was calming anyway.
Inabnet said he removed the stage 2 cancer, describing the tumor as "sticky" because it stuck to Speirs' liver. Called an adrenal cortical carcinoma, Speirs' tumor affects one in several hundred thousand people, he said.
Inabnet removed it all.
More than a year later, Speirs is still cancer-free, but she takes medication to be sure the cancer doesn't return.
Still, the experience sometimes hits her emotionally.
"I can be perfectly fine one day, and the next day, I'll just cry and cry and get it out of my system," she said. "I feel like my body betrayed me."
She said the medication to keep her cancer-free makes her tired, and she can no longer do hot yoga, but she is slowly learning to trust her body again.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 18:46:46 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Monday announced that the U.S. would contribute up to $5 billion over the next three years to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, pledging $1 for every $2 donated by the international community.
Marking World AIDS Day at the White House, the president urged the donor community to “take up this commitment.”
“Don't leave our money on the table,” he said.
The president also announced that his administration is redirecting $100 million to the National Institutes of Health to develop new therapies, “because the United States should be at the forefront of new discoveries into how to put HIV into long-term remission without requiring lifelong therapies, or better yet, eliminate it completely.”
“The United States of America will remain the global leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS,” he said. “We will stand with you every step of this journey until we reach the day that we know is possible when all men and women can protect themselves from infection, a day when all people with HIV have access to the treatments that extend their lives, the day when there are no babies being born with HIV or AIDS and when we achieve at long last what was once hard to imagine, and that's an AIDS-free generation.”
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 18:08:35 PM
(NEW YORK) -- The commuter train that crashed in New York City on Sunday was going too fast.
Investigators don't know why it was going so fast, but the Metro-North train, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Earl Weener said, was well over its speed limit. “That speed again was 82 miles an hour at the entrance to a 30-mile-per-hour curve,” Weener said.
The operator hit the full brakes five seconds before the accident -- “very late in the game,” according to Weener. Investigators have found no problems or anomalies with the brakes, and though Weener said it's too soon to conclude the derailment was caused by human error, ABC News is told that is now the focus.
The train crew is being interviewed and investigators have the operator's cell phone to see if he was talking or texting.
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said Monday, “It's premature to blame anyone or anything right now,” but, he added, the train’s speed “raises so many questions.”
Four people were killed and more than 60 were injured when the Metro-North train derailed as it rounded a riverside curve in the Bronx borough of New York City Sunday morning.
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 17:24:44 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- USC has hired Steve Sarkisian of Washington as their next head coach, according to ESPN. He will take over for Lane Kiffin, who was fired on Sept. 28.
The 39-year-old Sarkisian previously served as an assistant for the Trojans under head coach Pete Carroll from 2001 to 2003 and 2005 to 2008. During his seven-year tenure, USC went 74-15.
Sarkisian has been the head coach at Washington for the past five seasons, where he has compiled a record of 34-29, including 24-21 in the Pac-12.
The Trojans have been led by interim coach Ed Orgeron since Kiffin was dismissed. Orgeron resigned on Monday after he was passed over for the full-time position.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 17:16:53 PM
(BANGKOK) -- Thousands of protesters continue to camp out in Bangkok after a weekend where more than 100 people were injured.
Amid clashes, Thailand's prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, has dismissed demands by the opposition to form a "People's Council" that will choose the next government. As violent protests continue, police fight back with water cannons and tear gas.
The demonstrations started on Nov. 24 and were mostly peaceful until Saturday, the BBC reports. Four people have died in the violence.
On Monday, protestors tried to storm Government House, the prime minister's office, in an attempt to get Shinawatra to step down. Though demands were reportedly not able to be met under the country's consitutions, the prime minister said she was open to talks, according to the BBC.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 17:07:07 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration says 750,000 people visited HealthCare.gov between midnight and 5:30 p.m. Eastern time Monday. The surge in users overloaded the site, which can handle 50,000 users at a time, and initiated a new queuing system.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) says the site is “on pace” to handle 800,000 unique visitors, its intended daily capacity that officials say is now achieved after two months of repairs.
Officials said average response time (time it takes to load a page) was 2 seconds on average between noon and 2 p.m. ET Monday; the error rate was 0.9 percent. Those metrics are higher than those touted by the White House on Sunday.
And many consumers Monday have been surprised by lengthy wait times simply to log in. CMS said they made a deliberate decision to deploy the new queuing system at 10 a.m. ET when the number of concurrent users was in the mid-30,000s – below the touted 50,000 concurrent user capacity.
Carney said the White House expected numbers to be high Monday. “We absolutely anticipated that on this day in particular, because it is the first workday after the deadline we set for ourselves to make sure that the website was functioning effectively for the vast majority of users, we would see a surge in visitors to the website,” he said.
“One of the fixes that has been made was the new queuing system, the improved queuing system, so that when we saw a surge in users, we would have a means by which individuals who are interested in enrolling would get information about when they can return to the site and enroll more effectively and efficiently, and that way make the whole operation more effective and smooth,” he added.
Officials said the decision was made in real-time in an effort to optimize the experience for those getting through and shopping for plans. They said to expect this system to be deployed most weekdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., the peak periods. Roughly 5,000 people between midnight and noon Monday chose to provide email addresses to get an invitation back at a better time.
Another new feature on the site unveiled Monday is aimed at alleviating some pressure from the application system. Consumers can now “window shop” for plans, by reviewing sample premiums and coverage options in their area without having to log in or apply.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 16:34:13 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- Moody’s, an agency that rates business’ credit worthiness, warned Monday that the Obama administration’s constantly changing rules and deadlines for the Affordable Care Act could negatively impact business for health insurance companies.
In the last few weeks, the Obama administration has changed the rules to let people keep their existing health insurance longer, delayed the open enrollment period for 2015 by one month, and extended the 2013 deadline for when individuals would have to enroll in order have health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014.
All of those, Moody’s warned in their bi-weekly credit outlook statement, are “credit negative” for health insurance companies and could “expose the sector to additional financial and operational risks.”
Steve Zaharuk, senior vice president of the U.S. Insurance team for Moody’s, told ABC News that over the next year, the uncertainty posed by last minute changes from the Obama administration could expose insurance companies to higher administrative costs and uncertainty about the effects of the changes on the composition of healthy and sick people they insure.
“There are a lot of risks and uncertainty for the Affordable Care Act at the moment,” Zaharuk said. “Insurance companies can deal with risk if they know the playing field. But when you keep changing the rules and adding more uncertainty into situation then it becomes even more risky and more difficult to deal with.”
Zaharuk also warned that two changes could be significant for insurance companies if the Obama administration decides to go forward with them, as some in Congress have advocated: delaying the individual mandate or extending the open enrollment period beyond March 31, 2014.
“At that point, insurance companies might want to reassess their position in the exchanges and possibly even lobby to have the premium rates changed,” Zaharuk said. “We’d consider those very significant rule changes.”
The Obama administration announced this weekend that they’ve met their goal of fixing the website for a “vast majority” of users. In November, enrollment numbers for the federal website jumped sharply.
But in the credit rating agency’s estimation, the claims about the website’s ability to handle enrollment demand remains “untested.” And the website’s ability to convey accurate information to insurers about enrollees, their premiums and subsidies, remains a huge question hanging over the insurance companies’ balance sheets.
“We are so close to the end of the enrollment period and given holiday distractions like Cyber Monday, people may put-off registering on Healthcare.gov, causing a bottle-neck towards the end of the year,” Zaharuk said. “This wave of applications may cause additional technology headaches.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 15:41:41 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Paul Walker’s father said his son knew just how much he loved him.
“I always told him that [I loved him], I always gave him a kiss,” he told ABC News affiliate KABC in Los Angeles. “I knew that eventually he might come to realize what a good person he was, his casual honesty…his smile.”
The Fast & Furious star’s father, Paul Walker III, said he and his son were very close. Walker, 40, died Saturday in a car accident near a Los Angeles event for the actor’s charitable organization Reach Out Worldwide.
“I’m glad to say the last time I was with him, we had a great, great talk about how he wanted to spend more time with his daughter Meadow,” he said. “Plans, things he wanted to do, things he was thinking about. He talked about everything but the film industry.”
Meadow Walker, 15, was at the event Saturday when the accident happened. She moved to Los Angeles a few years back to be with her father full-time.
“We lost a spirit,” he added. “I’m devastated.”
Walker Sr. also told KABC how great fans have been the days following his son’s death.
“The last couple days I’ve been hearing these wonderful stories about my son,” he said. “This fella came up to me and…he says, ‘I was with my family and Paul was down in the hotel lobby. I said I got a 17-year-old daughter who thinks you’re just the greatest thing on earth.’”
Walker said in typical fashion, his son said, “Let’s go meet her.”
“That was so what he did,” he said.
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 15:27:11 PM
(NEW YORK) -- A vibrant, young Oscar winner known as “the girl on fire,” an ABC News anchor who is in the fight of her life and the pop princess who helped turn “twerking” into a global phenomenon are just some of the people who made Barbara Walters’ list for the “Most Fascinating People of the Year” for 2013.
Some of the year’s biggest names in news, entertainment and pop culture are sitting down with Walters for her annual ABC special Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of the Year. The 90-minute program will air Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 9:30 p.m. ET.
The special, in its 21st year, includes Hollywood darling Jennifer Lawrence, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, ABC News Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West -- together known as KimYe-- the breakout stars from the hit reality TV show Duck Dynasty, and arguably the most famous infant in the world -- Duchess Kate and Prince William’s baby George, the heir to the British throne.
The most fascinating person of 2013 will be announced on the program. The show will also reflect on moments from the past 20 years of Walters’ Most Fascinating People of the Year specials, which started in 1993.
This will be the last Most Fascinating special for Walters, who announced last May that she would retire from TV journalism next year.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 15:08:06 PM
(NEW YORK) -- When medical examiners identify a body after a crash or disaster, dental records are sometimes all they have to go on.
Teeth are incredibly durable. They can withstand heat up to 1,200 degrees, said Dr. Roy Sonkin, the forensic dentist who is the deputy borough chief forensic odontologist at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City. Consequently, they are often the only identifiable feature left if a victim perishes in a car crash, such as the one that killed actor Paul Walker over the weekend, or if their remains are exposed to the elements for a long period of time.
To make an ID, a forensic dentist compares the dental records from when a person was alive to photographs, X -rays and visual observation of a person’s teeth after death, Sonkin explained.
“The dentist methodically and meticulously goes over everything, tooth by tooth, comparing each crown, cavity, implant and “virgin” tooth that has been untouched by a dentist,” he said. “We often ask the family for photographs of the person smiling for further confirmation.”
This comparison is then checked by computer, although some areas of the country still rely exclusively on a pen and paper approach, Sonkin said.
In cases where there is a “presumptive identification” and the person is known, confirming someone’s identity is typically straightforward. If someone has been through a traumatic event, the jaw and teeth may be fragmented, making identification more difficult though usually not impossible, Sonkin said.
Sonkin noted identifying dental remains can be a gut-wrenching process for family and friends. And, he said, as a dentist he often feels a connection to the person he is tasked with identifying.
“You always remember that this is someone’s loved one,” he said. “That can weigh on you emotionally.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 15:04:43 PM
(NEW YORK) -- A newly released video shows what happens when a sea eagle gets a hold of a camera and, not unlike what would happen in the hands of a human, the result includes a selfie.
The camera was set up by wildlife officials along Australia’s Margaret River in May to capture images of fresh-water crocodiles. When the camera disappeared a few weeks later, officials assumed it had fallen into the water.
It was months later that officials got a call from a ranger telling them the camera had been found at another river, nearly 70 miles away, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
The camera’s footage identified the culprit as a sea eagle who flew away with the camera and managed to record itself in the process.
“We knew it was a juvenile eagle because the adult sea eagles, once they get their food or their prey, they usually take it right up into the sky and drop it,” Gooniyandi ranger Roneil Skeen told ABC. “But this one was still learning because he just took it near the cliff-side and he never dropped [it]. He just put it down and started picking at it.”
“It was pretty cool so we were pretty shocked,” Skeen said.
Though Skeen and his fellow rangers were pleased with the footage the bird provided, he told ABC they plan to bolt the cameras down in the future.
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 14:59:41 PM
(NEW YORK) -- As millions of consumers click their way through holiday shopping for Cyber Monday, so too are hackers, cyber scammers and con artists gearing up to rip off American buyers.
In response, federal agencies tasked with cyber security have recently released bulletins filled with tips to help protect consumers as they shop online.
Check out some of the tips below and then click the following links for additional security information:
Published: 12/2/2013 14:10:04 PM
- Stick With What You Know: “When shopping online, make sure to use reputable sites,” says a recent report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). “It’s best to shop on sites with which you are familiar and that have an established reputation as trusted online retailers.”
- Too Good to Be True Probably Is: The IC3 advises consumers to be wary of Cyber Monday advertisements that sound too good to be true, especially if you see them in an email. Phishing emails could link consumers to fake store websites designed to steal a person’s personal or financial information. If you want to see if a deal at a store is real, enter the website for the store into the URL bar yourself (don’t trust the link).
- Feeling Lucky? Not So Fast: If you’re searching for a particular item using a search engine, stop before clicking on that first link. IC3 says to take a look at the search results before clicking and be on the lookout for “fraudsters” who make their website appear to look like real, well-known ones. If you think you’ve found the item you want at a particular store, go to that store’s official website first, then try to find the item that way.
- E-Cards, E-Worries: E-Cards may be cute, but they can also contain malware, according to U.S.-Cyber Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT). Beware of E-cards from people you don’t recognize or invitations you didn’t expect.
- Maintain Up-to-date Antivuris Software: Even if you’re careful where you click online, US-CERT urges consumers to make sure their antivirus software is up-to-date, just in case some malware slips in.
- Check Out the Charities: The holidays are a popular time to give a little to charity, but before you break out your wallet, make sure you know where the money is really going. US-CERT suggests you look up charities you’re interested in at the Better Business Bureau’s National Charity Report Index.
- Keep an Eye on Your Credit: “While monitoring credit reports on an annual basis and reviewing account statements each month is always a good idea, consumers should keep a particularly watchful eye on their personal credit information at this time of year,” IC3 says. “Scrutinizing credit card bills for any fraudulent activity can help to minimize victims’ losses.”
(CONCORD, N.H.) -- A New Hampshire hospital lab technician who pleaded guilty in August to infecting at least 46 people with hepatitis C has been sentenced to 39 years in prison.
David Kwiatkowski, 34, a former lab technician at Exeter Hospital, admitted to stealing syringes of the anesthetic fentanyl intended for patients, injecting his own arm and then refilling those empty syringes with saline, according to the United States Attorney's Office in New Hampshire.
Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty in August in exchange for a lighter prison sentence, according to the plea agreement obtained by ABC News.
Kwiatkowski tested positive for hepatitis C in June 2010, and passed the infection on to the hospital patients who were injected with his used, saline-filled syringes, according to the plea agreement. At least one patient he treated died in Kansas, and a coroner determined hepatitis C played a role in that death.
According to the plea agreement, Kwiatkowski had been fired or forced to quit for stealing and replacing syringes at least as far back 2008, but he would simply move on to the next hospital.
For example, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center fired Kwiatkowski in May 2008 after an employee saw him take a fentanyl syringe from the operating room, and he was later found with three empty syringes on his person, according to the plea agreement.
Less than two weeks after that, Kwiatkowski got a job at the VA Medical Center in Baltimore. A patient who received care from him on May 27, 2008, at the Baltimore hospital later tested positive for the same strain of hepatitis C that Kwiatkowski has.
"If he knew that he was infected and he put those needles back on the shelf, that is the definition of evil," Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' chief health and medical editor, told Good Morning America last summer. "Anyone who was in those hospitals when he was working there is potentially at risk. We're talking tens of thousands of people."
Hepatitis C is a liver disease that can last a few weeks or for the rest of a patient's life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus is spread through blood and there is no vaccine. Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain and jaundice.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 14:06:45 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Investigators searching for the cause of a New York commuter train derailment that killed at four and injured more than 60 people have recovered both black boxes from the train.
The black boxes, also known as event data recorders, will provide information on whether speed, mechanical problems or human error may have caused the Metro-North to derail as it rounded a riverside curve in the Bronx borough of New York City Sunday morning. The event data recorders were said to be in good condition.
"We have recovered the event recorder of the cab car. We have downloaded the data off the locomotive. We've not had a chance to analyze it," National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener said Sunday evening. Weener says investigators will know today how fast the train was going, whether the brakes were applied and whether they worked.
The train's operator reportedly told emergency workers the brakes failed, which is one possibility investigators are looking as the cause of the derailment, officials briefed on the investigation told ABC News.
Investigators have not said why the train derailed but the NTSB could speak to the train operator as soon as Monday.
Investigators will also examine the track's condition although New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday the track did not appear to be faulty, leaving speed as a possible cause for the crash.
"Our mission is to understand not just what happened but why it happened with the intent of preventing it from happening again," Weener said.
Investigators confiscated the train operator's cell phone as a part of the probe into the derailment. Authorities are looking at his conduct and possible human error, and in turn are reviewing his call and text history to see if he had been using his device in the minutes leading up to the accident.
In addition, investigators are trying to find out of the operator was distracted by co-workers moments before the derailment. The confiscation and investigation are part of standard practice, with no indication thus far that the operator's attention was elsewhere.
NTSB officials worked overnight collecting evidence and spotlights were brought in to illuminate the mangled train. With the help of cranes, some of the train cars were lifted upright early Monday morning. NTSB officials said they expected to be on the scene investigating for a week to 10 days.
The dead were identified as Donna L. Smith, 54, of Newburgh, N.Y.; James G. Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring, N.Y.; James M. Ferrari, 59, of Montrose, N.Y.; and Ahn Kisook, 35, of Queens, N.Y.
Three of the dead were found outside the train, and one was found inside, authorities said. Autopsies were scheduled for later Monday, said the New York City medical examiner's office.
Lovell, an audio technician married with four children, was traveling from his Cold Spring home to midtown Manhattan to work on the famed Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, a neighbor told ABC News station WABC-TV.
Eleven people were in critical condition at area hospitals, according to Cuomo as of Sunday, although he said he believed they were in stable condition.
With the track out of commission for the next few days, thousands of people braced for a complicated morning commute today on the Hudson Line, with shuttle buses ferrying passengers to another line.
It's the second commuter train accident on the Metro-North line since July, but New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told ABC News riders shouldn't worry.
"The systems are safe. Just based on sheer volume, sometimes accidents happen, but in terms of the specific cause here, that's going to have to be determined by a full investigation by the NTSB," he said.
The train, which was estimated to have had around 150 passengers on board, left Poughkeepsie for New York's Grand Central Terminal at 5:54 a.m. when it derailed at 7:20 a.m. along the sharp curve near the Spuyten Duyvil Station. The speed limit on the curve is 30 mph, compared with 70 mph in the area approaching it, Weener said.
At least two of the cars had flipped on their side after the crash, and one car stopped only feet from the banks of the Harlem River. Cuomo told reporters that the four fatalities were from the two cars that had flipped on their side. Firefighters, rescue workers and ambulances responded quickly to the scene, and some firefighters broke through windows to remove passengers from the train.
Some of the passengers were jolted from their sleep to screams and the frightening sensation of the train car rolling over.
"It was the speed of the car when I woke up and felt it tilting a bit and by the time I realized what was going on, everyone was getting thrown around," passenger Ryan Kelly told ABC News.
Kelly survived the crash but suffered a fractured hand.
"Everyone in my car was alright except for one woman who was pinned between two seats," he added.
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 13:52:50 PM
(NEW YORK) -- One of Hollywood’s best-known bachelors, George Clooney, admitted that he’s still single because he’s still waiting for the love of his life.
“I haven’t met her yet,” Clooney told W magazine.
The 52-year-old leading man shared his first cinematic crush.
“When I was a kid, I was in love with Audrey Hepburn,” Clooney told W. “I watched Roman Holiday when I was 11, and I thought she was as elegant as anything I’d ever seen. And I fell madly in love with her. I also always loved Grace Kelly. I mean, when she comes out of the water in To Catch a Thief, I thought, ‘That’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.’”
Elsewhere in W’s art issue, Clooney opened up to five premier female artists. When they asked him whether he talks while making love, he said, “only on the phone.” He also said he’d like to die “before my friends.”
The Oscar-winning actor revealed that he gets “depressingly homesick” when he spends too much time away from the friends and family who know him best.
“Home is where my friends and family are,” Clooney told W. “I spend eight months a year in a one-bedroom hotel room in a city I probably wouldn’t vacation in. ...But no city...no space...fails to be a home if your family or friends can find a time to visit."
“I get desperately, depressingly homesick,” he continued, “if I can’t find a way to be near the people that bring joy wherever they go.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 13:33:22 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Even the most physically fit moms know how hard it is to shed those extra pounds post-baby.
And while jaws dropped after seeing royal mom Kate Middleton bearing her sculpted abs three months after giving birth, now there’s a new mom creating backlash after posting a picture of herself on Instagram just three days after giving birth.
Caroline Berg Eriksen, wife of soccer player Lars-Kristian Eriksen, has the biggest fitness blog in Norway. She says she posted the controversial photo showing off her chiseled body and washboard abs with the caption, “I feel so empty,” because she missed her baby bump.
“During the pregnancy, people kept telling me that my body will never be the same and I wanted to show everybody that’s not entirely true,” Berg Eriksen, 26, told ABC News.
Berg Eriksen says she was amazed at how fast her body bounced back after gaining 22 pounds.
“Right after birth, like three minutes after, I felt like myself again,” she said.
But now this picture has started a firestorm online, with one woman writing, “This can’t be true,” and another saying, “I just think it is absolutely inconceivable that we are of the same species.”
“I think we need to put this all on a spectrum and realize that we should applaud the women who look great,” said ABC News senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton. “But we shouldn’t bash the women who can’t achieve that.”
This isn’t the first time a post-baby picture has started an online uproar. Mother of three Maria Kang, known as the “Fit Mom,” found herself playing defense after catching heat from moms for posting a picture of herself with her three young children with the caption, “What’s Your Excuse?”
“Maria was very much in your face,” said editor at The Stir, Erica Souter. “She meant it as a motivational tool. It came off insulting. Caroline was all about celebrating herself.”
Though Berg Eriksen says she hasn’t worked out since giving birth, she says the purpose of the picture wasn’t to be cruel.
“I think all women should be proud of themselves, regardless of how they look after labor,” she explained.
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 13:28:11 PM
(NEW YORK) -- It's not only Cyber Monday; it's also a record day for shippers. FedEx forecasts Monday, Dec. 2, will be the busiest day in the company's history.
In a press release last week, the company said it would handle 22 million packages Monday, which equates to 125 packages per second --11 percent more packages than the busiest day last year, according to FedEx.
In order to handle all those shipments, FedEx says it will be using 630 aircraft and 90,000 vehicles worldwide. And in addition to the more conventional types of transportation, FedEx also says it will be using boats, gondolas, and even electric tricycles to get all those packages delivered.
The company projects it will handle more than 85 million packages this week, what FedEx says will be its busiest week of the year.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 13:24:18 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- It's a dangerous job but somebody's got to do it. In this case, it's getting rid of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is overseeing the mission, the U.S. has said it will do a lion's share of the work.
OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu announced over the weekend that the U.S. is offering "destruction technology, full operational support and financing to neutralize" some of the most lethal parts of Syria's chemical arsenal at an offshore facility believed to be in the Mediterranean Sea.
Uzumcu added that a U.S. Navy ship "is undergoing modifications to support the operations and to accommodate verification activities by the OPCW."
If all goes to plan, the stockpiles will be out of Syria by a Dec. 31 deadline.
In another operation, nearly 800 tons of dual-use chemicals are expected to be removed by Feb. 5, 2014 for destruction by private companies in order to complete the goal of eradicating all of Syria's chemical weapon arsenals by the end of the spring. As many as three dozen companies have applied to offer their services.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 12:42:34 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Good Morning America weather anchor Sam Champion is leaving ABC News for the Weather Channel, ABC News president Ben Sherwood announced Monday.
Champion, 52, will be managing editor and the on-air face of the Weather Channel.
"While he is leaving ABC News, he will always be a part of our family," Sherwood said.
Champion began his career with WABC-TV in New York in 1988 and joined the Good Morning America team in 2006.
Since then, he has broadcast more than 1,800 weather forecasts, and has traveled to nearly every major weather event, nationally. His reporting on Superstorm Sandy in 2012 contributed to ABC's Peabody Award for coverage of that historic storm.
"Only an amazing opportunity like this at @weatherchannel cld take me away from my @ABC family of 25 yrs and @GMA #blessedlife," Champion tweeted.
Sherwood announced that meteorologist Ginger Zee will take over weather reporting responsibilities for ABC News and GMA.
"As you know, Ginger always rushes straight toward the eye of any storm and weaves cutting-edge science with human emotion to elevate our coverage," he wrote.
Champion's last day on GMA will be Wednesday, Dec. 4.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 12:18:56 PM
(WASHINGTON) -- Around 100,000 Americans successfully signed up for health insurance in November through the troubled federal online marketplace, HealthCare.gov, a person familiar with the preliminary data confirmed to ABC News.
The figure reflects a surge in enrollment as software and hardware fixes to the site were made over the course of the month. In October, only 26,0000 people could successfully enroll in Obamacare plans, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
“We’ve been working 24/7 to make improvements, and more consumers are successfully shopping online and enrolling in a health plan each week,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a USA Today op-ed.
While the administration says the latest enrollment data is “still being scrubbed,” the early November numbers underscore that sign-ups are still far short of White House monthly targets and behind pace for a goal of 7 million enrollments by March 31.
Before the website launch, the administration projected signing up half a million Americans for new health insurance coverage in October alone.
Fourteen states plus the District of Columbia, which run their own online exchanges, have generally fared better than the federal government in enrolling new customers. They have also seen a surge in sign-ups through mid-November, topping more than 94,000 in early data compiled by the independent Commonwealth Fund.
On Sunday, the White House announced that the federal online marketplace was vastly improved and will now work smoothly for the “vast majority” of users. The administration is beginning a campaign to drive consumers back to the site to complete their applications and enroll.
More than 975,000 Americans completed an application in October but did not select a plan and finalize enrollment, according to Health and Human Services.
“As a result, today’s user experience on HealthCare.gov is a dramatic improvement over where it was on Oct. 1. The site is running faster, it’s responding quicker and it can handle larger amounts of traffic,” Sebelius wrote.
Consumers still have four months to sign up for insurance to be in compliance with the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. The deadline to enroll for coverage to take effect in early 2014 is Dec. 23.
Meanwhile, health insurance companies say there are serious and unresolved problems with the backend of the enrollment system, particularly with the electronic data they receive about applicants. Insurers said some of the data continues to be unreliable, often in duplicate, incomplete or error-riddled.
“Healthcare.gov and the overall enrollment process continue to improve, but there are significant issues that still need to be addressed,” said Karen Ignani, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans.
“Until the enrollment process is working from end-to-end, many consumers will not be able to enroll in coverage. In addition to fixing the technical problems with healthcare.gov, the significant ‘backend’ issues must also be resolved to ensure that coverage can begin on Jan. 1, 2014,” she said in a statement.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 12:02:51 PM
(LONDON) -- As the popularity of e-cigarettes rises, so does the need for public places for those who inhale vapor instead of smoke.
The world’s first e-cigarette lounge opened last week at London’s Heathrow Airport. Previously, e-smokers were subject to the same restrictions as traditional smokers: They had to stand outside the terminal to get their nicotine fix.
E-cigarettes produce water vapor rather than smoke.
The 323-square foot lounge was opened by Gamucci, an electronic cigarette manufacturer.
“Electronic cigarettes are subject to the same restrictions as standard cigarettes and therefore cannot be used inside terminal buildings, except in the designated e-cigarette lounge in Terminal 4,” the airport’s web site states. “They can be carried on your person, but please check with your airline on whether they are allowed on board the aircraft.”
Most travelers appear to be supportive of the lounge. A survey by Skyscanner.net found 57 percent of people would not object to other airports following Heathrow’s lead. Not surprisingly, more smokers than non-smokers were in favor of the lounge. Still, half of all non-smokers surveyed were supportive of more lounges.
The lounge opens at the same time a ban is being sought on e-cigarettes in the U.K. The Telegraph reported on concerns that “electronic cigarettes can develop into a gateway to normal cigarettes.” More than 10 percent of smokers in Britain have switched to the electronic devices, according to the paper.
Although e-cigarettes now account for only 1 percent of U.S. cigarette sales, the market will approach $2 billion in sales by the end of 2013 and may exceed $10 billion by 2017, Bonnie Herzog, an analyst at Wells Fargo & Co. in New York told Bloomberg News last month. Demand for the smokeless devices could surpass that for traditional cigarettes over the next decade, according to Herzog.
Fewer travelers said they would support so-called “vaping zones” on board aircraft.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 10:52:00 AM
(NEW YORK) -- One of the breakout starts of the NBA season will have to take a seat for the foreseeable future as New Orleans Pelicans forward-center Anthony Davis is out indefinitely after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his left hand.
Davis suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the team's win against the New York Knicks on Sunday. According to Davis, he hit his hand on the rim while attempting an alley-oop.
Through 16 games, Davis has established himself as one of the most improved players in the NBA, and a dominant post-presence for the Pelicans. So far this season, Davis has averaged 18.8 points, 10.2 rebounds per game, and 3.6 blocks per game. Davis ranks in the top-10 in rebounding, and leads the NBA in blocks per game.
The 20-year-old Davis was the number one overall pick by the then-New Orleans Hornets during the 2012 draft out of Kentucky.
It is unknown how long Davis will be out of action. Ryan Anderson is expected to start in place of Davis.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 10:26:33 AM
(CHICAGO) -- Caffeine energy drinks can have adverse effects on heart function, particularly in young drinkers, a study by German researchers finds.
A team from the University of Bonn in Germany studied the effects of energy drinks on 18 healthy, young adults and found heart contraction rates increased one hour later.
The report was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago. Radiology resident Jonas Dörner, M.D., who helped in the study, said there is growing concern due to little or no regulation of energy drink sales.
"Usually energy drinks contain taurine and caffeine as their main pharmacological ingredients," Dr. Dörner said. "The amount of caffeine is up to three times higher than in other caffeinated beverages like coffee or cola. There are many side effects known to be associated with a high intake of caffeine, including rapid heart rate, palpitations, rise in blood pressure and, in the most severe cases, seizures or sudden death."
From 2007 to 2011 in the U.S., the number of emergency department visits related to energy drink consumption nearly doubled from 10,068 to 20,783, according to the Radiological Society of North America.
The study, which is ongoing, used cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to measure the effects of the drinks on heart function. Researchers said the results show the short-term impact of the energy drinks, but further studies are needed to learn the long-term effects.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 09:49:47 AM
(MOSCOW) -- Halfway up what will be the women's downhill skiing course at next year's Winter Olympics, a massive silver mound covers much of the trail.
Inside is likely the key to Russia's pulling off hosting the Winter Games in this sub-tropical beach resort: tons and tons of last year's snow.
Afraid the weather would not cooperate, at the end of last season organizers created several large piles of snow and covered them with special insulated blankets. The hope was that enough snow would last the summer to use during the Olympics.
The idea was widely ridiculed in the media, but Mikko Martikainen, the man in charge of snow for the Sochi Games, may get the last laugh.
Martikainen told ABC News that some 500,000 cubic meters of snow, or enough to fill about 200 Olympic sized swimming pools, survived the summer. That is enough, he said, to act as a backup in case the massive snowmaking machines fail or if it is too warm to make snow.
This snow-saving process is one that Martikainen pioneered 12 years ago. He called it a "dream come true" that it's being used at the Olympics.
"You just make snow or collect snow for huge piles in the spring and then you insulate them and in the autumn or early winter you take the insulation away and the snow is there," he explained.
He's also hopeful that there will be a lot of natural snowfall. The Caucasus Mountains, rising up from the Black Sea near Sochi, are some of the tallest in Europe and it is considerably colder there than by the sea, where the beaches were still busy in November.
"Don't worry. We will have snow of course because we studied the statistics about the weather. There will be snow. For sure," he said. He suggested the combination of warm air off the Black Sea and cold air from the mountains could even create "too much snow."
Some winters, conditions are indeed great, but last February, just a year before the Winter Olympics, there were dirt patches on some of the slopes. Martikainen explained that was due to "logistical challenges" that should be resolved in time for the games.
What organizers want to avoid is what happened during the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver. There they had to airlift snow at the last minute.
Martikainen dismissed concerns that might happen again in Sochi.
"Organizers are prepared for everything. Don't worry about the snow," he said with a smile.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 09:19:47 AM
(PHOENIX) -- Passengers aboard a US Airways flight said they were told to get tuberculosis tests after they landed in a Phoenix airport over the weekend because of an ill passenger on board.
The passengers aboard US Airways Flight 2846 from Austin to Phoenix Saturday night say the plane was swarmed by paramedics and police on landing, who advised that everyone on board should get a tuberculosis test and follow up with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A Phoenix-area woman told ABC News affiliate KNXV-TV her husband and 10-year-old daughter were on the flight when paramedics and police removed a man who reportedly had tuberculosis.
“As we were taxiing, a stewardess came down the aisle,” passenger Dean Davidson said. “She had a mask and she instructed the gentleman to put a mask on.”
“The fireman said he has tuberculosis, he’s contagious, you must see your physicians immediately and you must be tested in three months’ time,” Davidson added.
US Airways confirmed to ABC News that the crew of Flight 2846 received notice from the Transportation Security Administration about midway through the flight that a passenger’s boarding status had changed because of a medical condition.
“The warning that came from the CDC did not occur until after the flight had departed so the passenger did not have a red flag in their reservation system or any warning there,” airline spokesman Bill McGlashen told ABC News.
US Airways could not confirm what the medical condition was, but the 74 passengers and crew members on board were met by the Phoenix Fire Department at the at Sky Harbor Airport and were given information following the removal of the passenger who had the medical condition.
“Passengers were provided some information about what had occurred. And we are following up the situation with the CDC and monitoring it with them,” McGlashen said.
Maricopa County Dept. of Public Health Spokesperson Jeanene Fowler said they were notified by the airport in Phoenix of an unconfirmed case of tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis, a bacterial infection of the lungs, is contagious and sometimes deadly. But the CCD tells ABC News even if the passenger has tuberculosis, “exposure to other passengers would be unlikely.”
“We believe there is very low risk of anyone being exposed to tuberculosis,” Fowler said.
Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 08:27:00 AM
(WASHINGTON) -- Some states and insurers are seeking ways to bypass the troubled technology associated with the Affordable Care Act, despite recent announcements by the Obama administration that the online marketplace functions smoothly.
Planned and unplanned outages on the healthcare site have created problems for several states, which are now looking to separate themselves from the federal infrastructed used to confirm applications, according to the Wall Street Journal.
James Wadleigh, chief information officer of Connecticut's exchange, told the Wall Street Journal he wanted the state to be self-reliant and provide healthcare services even when the federal government's functions are affected by technological maintenance.
Insurers also told the Obama administration they want more help to enroll customers directly. A pilot program was started with insurers in Florida, Ohio and Texas to help identify problems in the system.
After Nov. 30, the deadline to improve the website, officials declared the site fixed.
"We've doubled the system's capacity and HealthCare.gov can now support its intended volume," said Jeff Zients, the administration official overseeing repairs to the system, on a conference call with reporters Sunday.
A report released by the Department of Health and Human Services says the marketplace, which was down roughly 60 percent of the time in October, is now much more stable, but problems still persist.
In the report, officials signaled that there are still concerns about slow-downs during high traffic periods and the real culprit of the malfunctions were significant software and hardware glitches.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 07:43:25 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- The one-car crash that claimed the life of The Fast and the Furious franchise star Paul Walker on Saturday continues to be investigated by authorities in California.
Investigators say speed was a factor in the crash, which occurred in Valencia, about 30 miles northwest of downtown L.A.
Both Walker and the other person in the red Porsche Carrera GT -- a friend named Roger Rodas -- died in the fiery accident. Rodas is believed to have been the driver of the car.
Autopsies on both men are not expected to be conducted for a couple of days, due to the condition of the bodies. The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office says dental records are needed to positively identify the victims.
Prior to the accident, Walker had attended a fundraiser, held by the 40-year-old actor's Reach Out Worldwide charity, that benefited the victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines.
Fans and friends, including Walker's Fast and the Furious series co-star Tyrese Gibson, gathered at the crash site Sunday to mourn his death.
Walker played Brian O'Conner in several of the Fast and the Furious films. He had been expected in Atlanta on Sunday to resume work on the next sequel in the blockbuster franchise, Fast & Furious 7, according to The Hollywood Reporter, but production was delayed by at least one day.
Director James Wan reportedly spoke with executives of the film's studio, Universal Pictures, on Sunday regarding how to proceed with the project. Fast & Furious 7 is due in theaters July 11, 2014.
Following news of Walker's death, Universal Pictures said in a statement, "All of us at Universal are heartbroken. Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast and Furious films, and to countless fans."
Walker appears in two films that have yet to be released. One of them, a Hurricane Katrina-focused drama titled Hours, will open in limited release on Dec. 13. The other film, the drama Brick Mansions, does not yet have a U.S. release date.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 07:10:17 AM
(NEW YORK) -- As more supermarkets experiment with "personalized pricing," the more likely it becomes that you and the shopper standing next to you will pay two different amounts for the same quart of milk. Same store, same milk, different prices.
Personalized pricing refers to the ongoing effort by brick-and-mortar retailers, supermarkets especially, to imitate what online retailers such as Amazon.com have done for years: Use customers' shopping history to make intelligent guesses about what they will want to buy next, when they'll want it, and how much they'll be willing to pay.
Safeway 18 months ago introduced "Just For U," a service shoppers access through their home computers or through their smart phones, using a special app.
Teena Massingill, director of corporate public affairs at Safeway, explains that once a customer signs up, Just For U takes their past six months of shopping history (as captured by their club card) and uses it to build a shopper profile specific to him or her.
"That way," says Massingill, "we can offer them personalized deals."
If there's no history of their buying dog food, they won't be bothered with coupons good for dog food; if they've never bought baby food, they won't get coupons good for baby food or wipes. "But if we see them buying baby food but not wipes," she says, "we'll try to sell them wipes, via personalized deals and coupons you can download. There's no clipping, no mailing. The discounts load directly to the club card, so the discount is already taken by the time you get to the register. If you buy hotdogs but no buns, you'll get a bun discount."
Other, more sophisticated personal pricing programs can keep track of where you are in the store, using your smart phone's GPS feature. If you're in the oral hygiene aisle, for example, the system knows that, and may give you cents off on mouth wash.
It may be able to keep track of your purchasing in real time, says Nancy Childs, PhD, professor of food and marketing at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, if you are using the bar code reader on your phone to keep track of what you're buying. You could total your purchases and make your payment via your phone, skipping checkout. "What a bonus that would be Thanksgiving week!" she adds.
Such systems, says Ellen Dixon, senior vice president of marketing for the Food Marketing Institute, aren't yet in wide use. "The technology exists, but it hasn't been widely adopted. Lots of experimentation still is going on," she explained. Supermarkets are in the vanguard, she says, because they tend to have more data on their customers (via club cards) than do other merchants.
John Caron, vice president of Catalina Marketing, tells ABC News that "personalization" has become the holy grail of retailing. Reason: merchants regard it as the key to winning a customer's loyalty and preventing him or her from taking their dollars elsewhere. "Would you rather interact with a retailer who takes your needs into consideration?" he asks, "or do you want somebody who regards you as just one of a million others?"
Caron says most shoppers appreciate the services that come along with personalization more than they resent having to share information about their shopping habits. The same smart phone app that knows when you've likely run out of paper towels (because you buy them once a week and two weeks have passed without a purchase) can remind you to buy them. It can recommend items for your shopping list, help you assemble your list and then, based on where the items are located in the store, recommend the most efficient shopping route that saves you the greatest number of steps.
The payoff for stores, Caron says, can be dramatic: "We surveyed shoppers. The ones using mobile apps shop 41 percent more often, and their basket size is 43 percent bigger."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 12/2/2013 06:36:28 AM