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National News
Posts from June 2013
by Associated Press posted Jun 27 2013 7:14AM
 WASHINGTON (AP) - The chief of the Internal Revenue Service is facing questions from Congress for the first time since documents showed that progressives joined the tea party on a list of groups that screeners handling applications for tax-exempt status were to watch closely. 
 
     Danny Werfel's appearance Thursday before the House Ways and Means Committee was to be the third time he's testified to Congress since President Barack Obama appointed him to head the troubled agency last month. 
 
     On Monday, Werfel said that when he took office, the IRS was still using inappropriate terms to choose applicants for close scrutiny. He says he stopped the practice.
 
     Werfel issued a report that day blaming management failures but saying he had no evidence of intentional wrongdoing by anyone inside or outside the agency.
 
     
 
Filed Under :
Location : Washington
by Associated Press posted Jun 27 2013 7:13AM
 SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - One of the prosecution's most important witnesses in the Trayvon Martin murder case will face a second round of defense questioning about what she heard while on the phone with the teen right before he was killed.
 
     Nineteen-year-old Rachel Jeantel's testimony that will continue Thursday is considered important to the state's case. She was the last person to talk to the 17-year-old Martin before his encounter with defendant George Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012.
 
     Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder.
 
     Jeantel bolsters prosecutors' contention that Zimmerman was the aggressor in his confrontation with Martin.
 
     She says Martin told her a man was following him. Later, she heard what sounded like Martin's phone earpiece drop into the grass and she heard him say, "Get off! Get off!"
 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
Location : Florida
by Associated Press posted Jun 26 2013 8:29AM
 WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court is meeting to deliver opinions in two cases that could dramatically alter the rights of gay people across the United States.
 
     The justices are expected to decide their first-ever cases about gay marriage Wednesday in their last session before the court's summer break.
 
     The issues before the court are California's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies legally married gay Americans a range of tax, health and pension benefits otherwise available to married couples.
 
     The broadest possible ruling would give gay Americans the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals. But several narrower paths also are available, including technical legal outcomes in which the court could end up saying very little about same-sex marriage.
 

Filed Under :
Location : CaliforniaWashington
People : Gay Marriage
by Associated Press posted Jun 26 2013 5:42AM
  ATLANTA (AP) - Republican officials across the South promise swift action in response to a Supreme Court ruling that invalidates a key part of the Voting Rights Act.
 
     Officials in Texas and Mississippi pledged to immediately implement laws requiring voters to show photo identification before getting a ballot.
 
     North Carolina Republicans promised they'd quickly try to adopt a similar law. Florida now appears free to set its early voting hours however it pleases. And Georgia's most populous county likely will use county commission districts that Republican state legislators drew over the objections of local Democrats.
 
     Officials in those states no longer have to submit election law changes for federal approval. Congress could resurrect the "preclearance" requirement with new rules, but for now, the 5-4 decision represents a major change across the South. 
 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
by Associated Press posted Jun 26 2013 5:41AM
 SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - Prosecutors at George Zimmerman's trial continue their questioning of witnesses who saw some of the confrontation between the neighborhood watch volunteer and Trayvon Martin that left the Miami-area teen dead.
 
     The third day of testimony in Zimmerman's murder trial resumes Wednesday.
 
     The testimony of a neighbor of Zimmerman on Tuesday was the first by a witness who saw some of the fatal struggle.
 
     Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming self-defense.
 
     Prosecutors also may learn Wednesday whether they can introduce five police dispatch calls Zimmerman made in the six months before the shooting.
 
     Prosecutors want to use the calls to bolster their argument that Zimmerman had reached a breaking point the night he shot the unarmed teenager.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
Location : FloridaMiami
by Associated Press posted Jun 26 2013 5:41AM
  LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - In axing a dozen combat brigades in the face of steep spending cuts and the wind-down of two wars, the Army says it's trying to ease the sting by spreading it around.
 
     But one post stands out on the list of 10 installations targeted in Tuesday's announcement of a major restructuring that has been a long time coming: Kentucky's Fort Knox. In losing the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, the famed post an hour south of Louisville will soon know what it's like to be an Army post without a combat brigade.
 
     The elimination of 3rd Brigade means a 43 percent cut to Fort Knox's active duty force. That's far beyond the level of cuts elsewhere.
 
Filed Under :
Location : KentuckyLouisville
by Associated Press posted Jun 25 2013 5:51AM
 WASHINGTON (AP) - Five years ago, Joe Miller, an Army Ranger captain with three Iraq tours under his belt, sat at home near Fort Bragg holding a cocked Beretta 40mm, and prepared to kill himself.
 
     He did not pull the trigger. So Miller's name wasn't added to the list of active-duty military men and women who've committed suicide. That tally reached 350 last year, a record pace of nearly one a day. That's more than the 295 American troops who were killed in Afghanistan in the same year. 
 
     The U.S. military and the Department of Veterans Affairs are battling the disturbing increase, but administrative backlogs at the VA and the stigma many victims still attach to seeking help with mental issues stand in the way of sweeping action that would sharply decrease the tragic loss of life.
 
 
Filed Under :
Location : VirginiaWashington
People : Joe Miller
by Associated Press posted Jun 25 2013 5:49AM
 SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - Prosecutors in the George Zimmerman trial are trying to introduce recordings of non-emergency calls he made to law enforcement to prove the former neighborhood watch leader is guilty of second-degree murder in shooting Trayvon Martin.
 
     Prosecutors want to convince Judge Debra Nelson on Tuesday that a series of calls Zimmerman made to authorities about suspicious people in his Florida neighborhood in the months before the shooting indicate his state of mind that night.
 
     State attorney John Guy said in his opening statement that Zimmerman thought Martin was one of the "punks" who "always get away" whom he'd observed previously in his neighborhood and called police about.
 
     Defense attorneys objected to the introduction of the calls, saying they were being used in violation of evidence rules to show prior bad acts.
 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
Location : Florida
by Associated Press posted Jun 25 2013 5:49AM
 MIAMI (AP) - Forecasters say Tropical Storm Cosme is likely to become a hurricane later in the day as it swirls in the Pacific off Mexico's coast.
 
     The storm's maximum sustained winds early Tuesday are near 65 mph (100 kph) with additional strengthening expected.
 
     Cosme is centered about 385 miles (615 kilometers) west-southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, and is moving west-northwest near 16 mph (26 kph).
 
     The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says the storm will generate large swells that will affect parts of Mexico's Pacific coast into Wednesday morning. The swells are likely to cause dangerous surf and rip current conditions.
 
Filed Under :
Location : ManzanilloMiami
by Associated Press posted Jun 24 2013 5:27AM
 GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gettysburg changed the direction of American history 150 years ago, and the town hasn't been the same since.
 
     The couple of hundred thousand visitors expected at events to mark the anniversary of the 1863 clash won't have to look far to find remnants of the pivotal campaign of the Civil War, even outside the grounds of the meticulously maintained national park.
 
     Cannonballs and shrapnel remain embedded in a few of the roughly 200 buildings that remain from the period.
 
     Many of the businesses in the rural county seat cater to the throngs of tourists that stream into one of the country's most historic places, from General Pickett's Buffet to a battle-era clothing shop.
 
     About 400 cultural events will be held in and around Gettysburg from June 28 through July 7.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : War_Conflict
Location : Pennsylvania
by Associated Press posted Jun 24 2013 5:25AM
  SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - Opening statements are set in the trial of a neighborhood watch volunteer charged with second-degree murder for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in central Florida.
 
     Prosecutors and George Zimmerman's defense attorneys will present their cases Monday for the first time before a jury of six women.
 
     Zimmerman says he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in self-defense. Prosecutors say Zimmerman profiled Martin as he walked through a community on a rainy night in February 2012 wearing a dark hooded shirt.
 
     The initial decision not to charge Zimmerman led to public outrage and demonstrations around the nation. Civil rights leaders and others accused Sanford police of failing to thoroughly investigate the shooting.
 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
by Associated Press posted Jun 24 2013 5:25AM
 WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama will convene a meeting of CEOs and business leaders to tout what the White House says are the economic benefits of a landmark immigration bill.
 
     The afternoon meeting is scheduled just hours before the Senate holds a key test vote on a border security amendment. The measure could help the bill garner more Republican support.
 
     Obama is expected to highlight new estimates about the bill's impact on the national deficit. The Congressional Budget Office says the bill would reduce the deficit by about $200 billion over the next 10 years and by about $700 billion over the following decade.
 
     The bill would provide a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : PoliticsSocial Issues
Location : Washington
People : Barack Obama
by Associated Press posted Jun 21 2013 5:14AM
 NEW YORK (AP) - One of the busiest crossroads in the world is coming to a standstill as yoga enthusiasts take over Manhattan's Times Square to celebrate the longest day of the year. 
 
     The "Mind over Madness" event on Friday includes free classes, activities and giveaways from 7.30 a.m. until 9 p.m. 
 
     Thousands of people are expected to roll out their yoga mats throughout the day. All skill levels and ages are welcome. 
 
     President of Times Square Alliance and co-founder of the event Tim Tompkins says that part of the event's appeal was finding stillness and calm in the middle of the city rush. 
 
     The summer solstice tradition has grown from just three people to more than 15,000 and is now in its 11th year. 
 
Filed Under :
Location : New York
People : Tim Tompkins
by Associated Press posted Jun 21 2013 5:14AM
 SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - With six female jurors now seated to consider whether George Zimmerman committed murder when he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, prosecutors and defense attorneys turn Friday to unresolved issues before next week's opening trial statements.
 
     The jurors were sworn in Thursday for the second-degree murder trial of Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer who says he fired on the unarmed black teenager in self-defense last year in a gated Florida community. Zimmerman is pleading not guilty.
 
     Opening statements are scheduled Monday. 
 
     Issues to be resolved Friday include whether an audio expert can testify for the prosecution that screams captured on a 911 call belong to Martin. Circuit Judge Debra Nelson said she would make a decision Friday. Defense attorneys don't want the expert to testify, claiming his analysis is flawed.
 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
Location : Florida
by Associated Press posted Jun 21 2013 5:13AM
  WASHINGTON (AP) - Immigration legislation offering the prize of U.S. citizenship to millions is gaining ground in the Senate following agreement between Republicans and Democrats on dramatic steps aimed at securing the border with Mexico. 
 
     The costly deal to double Border Patrol agents and fencing along the Southwest border won support from four undecided Republican senators Thursday for an immigration bill that's a top priority for President Barack Obama. More Republicans appeared likely to come on board, putting the legislation within reach of the strong bipartisan vote that its authors say is needed to ensure serious consideration by the GOP-controlled House. 
 
     Republican Sen. John McCain says the deal should satisfy those Republicans concerned that the border security provisions in the bill were too weak.
 
     The Senate continues work on the bill Friday.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : PoliticsSocial Issues
Location : Washington
by Associated Press posted Jun 20 2013 4:52PM
   SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - An all-women jury has been chosen in the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman, who says he shot an unarmed Trayvon Marin in self-defense.
 
     Prosecutors and defense attorneys chose the panel Thursday. 
 
     Prosecutors have said Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer for his community, profiled the black teenager as Martin was walking back from a convenience store to the home of his father's fiancée. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
 
     At least five of the women are white. The other is a minority but her race or ethnicity was not immediately available.
 
     Martin's shooting death and the initial decision not to charge Zimmerman led to public outrage and demonstrations around the nation, with some accusing Sanford police of failing to thoroughly investigate the shooting. 
 
Filed Under :
Location : Florida
People : George Zimmerman
by Associated Press posted Jun 20 2013 4:51PM
 WASHINGTON (AP) - The Veterans Affairs Department is chipping away at a massive inventory of disability claims for veterans, reducing the number of claims considered backlogged by about 15 percent in recent weeks. 
 
     Republican lawmakers are skeptical that the trend will continue, but they've been unable to agree on a solution to a problem that has become a major headache for the Obama administration.
 
     The VA pays disability benefits to veterans who are injured or become ill as a result of their active service.
 
     For years, veterans have complained that it takes too long to resolve their claims. In March, more than 633,000 claims, or about 70 percent, were pending longer than 125 days.
 
     The VA said Thursday that mandatory overtime and other steps have reduced that total to about 531,000.
 
 
Filed Under :
Location : Washington
by Associated Press posted Jun 20 2013 4:47PM
   TEXARKANA, Texas (AP) - A Texas woman accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in an attempt to frame her husband will undergo a psychological evaluation.
 
     U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven on Thursday ordered that Shannon Richardson undergo the exam after her court-appointed attorney, Tonda Curry, requested it. Curry said in a court motion that she had observed "a pattern of behavior" that made her wonder if Richardson can assist with her defense. 
 
     Richardson has been jailed without bond since her arrest June 7 on a charge of mailing a threatening communication to the president. 
 
     The government alleges Richardson was trying to pin the crime on her estranged husband.
 
     Richardson did not speak at Thursday's hearing. She appeared in an orange jumpsuit with her hands shackled. 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
Location : New YorkTexas
by CBS posted Jun 18 2013 7:50AM


VIDEO - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, spent some time with former President Bill Clinton at a conference. CBS News political director John Dickerson discusses the move, which may be part of a plan to portray him as a bi-partisan problem solver.

Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
Location : New Jersey
by CBS posted Jun 18 2013 7:47AM

VIDEO - As President Obama landed in Northern Ireland to attend the G8 Summit, a British newspaper printed new secret documents from NSA leaker Edward Snowden that accuse the U.S. and U.K. governments of spying on G20 participants. CBS News' Major Garrett reports.

Filed Under :
by Associated Press posted Jun 17 2013 5:18PM
 WASHINGTON (AP) - The man who leaked details about top-secret U.S. government surveillance programs is defending his actions. 
 
     In what The Guardian newspaper said was an online chat with him, Edward Snowden attacked U.S. officials for calling him a traitor. He says he didn't reveal any U.S. operations against what he calls legitimate military targets.
 
     Snowden said being labeled a traitor by former Vice President Dick Cheney is "the highest honor you can give an American."
 
     He said the government had "destroyed any possibility of a fair trial" for him, and indicated he won't be returning to the U.S. voluntarily. 
 
     Snowden was asked at one point whether he had fled to Hong Kong because he was spying for China. He wrote, "If I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing?" He said he could be "living in a palace" by now. 
 
     Snowden dismissed the U.S. government's claim that the surveillance programs had helped thwart dozens of terrorist attacks. He said the real question is how many attacks were prevented solely by information that came from this surveillance, but couldn't have been gathered any other way.
 
     He added, "Bathtub falls and police officers kill more Americans than terrorism," but that Americans have "been asked to sacrifice our most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it."
 
by Associated Press posted Jun 17 2013 5:15PM
   WASHINGTON (AP) - The details are expected to be announced tomorrow on the military's plan to start moving women into thousands of combat jobs, including those in special operations forces. 
 
     Under the schedules delivered to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Army will develop standards within the next two years to let women train and possibly serve as Rangers. By March of 2016, women could begin training as Navy SEALS. 
 
     U.S. Special Operations Command is working on deciding what commando jobs could be opened to women, and when the transition would take place. 
 
     The plans require women and men to meet the same physical and mental standards to qualify for the front-line positions. It's still possible that women will be kept out of some jobs if research and testing find that they couldn't be successful in sufficient numbers.
 
     The military services are also working to determine the cost of opening certain jobs to women, particularly aboard a variety of Navy ships, including some submarines and small warships. Dozens of ships do not have adequate berthing or facilities for women to meet privacy needs, and would require design and construction changes.
 
Filed Under :
Location : Washington
People : Chuck Hagel
by AP posted Jun 17 2013 12:10PM

VIDEO
 By COREY WILLIAMS
 Associated Press
     OAKLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The FBI says it is searching a field in suburban Detroit based on information involving the disappearance of former Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa.
 
     Robert Foley, special agent in charge of the FBI's Detroit division, says the agency and its partners on Monday executed a search warrant in Oakland Township, about 25 miles north of Detroit. He says the warrant is sealed and didn't take questions from reporters.
 
     Tony Zerilli told Detroit TV station WDIV in February the FBI had enough information for a search warrant to dig at the site. Zerilli was in prison in 1975 when Hoffa disappeared from a Detroit-area restaurant but told New York TV station WNBC in January he was informed about Hoffa's whereabouts after his release.
 
     Hoffa was president of the Teamsters union until 1971.

by WPIX-New York City posted Jun 13 2013 10:50AM


VIDEO - Mayor Bloomberg wants to ban styrofoam

by Associated Press posted Jun 12 2013 2:10PM
  CHICAGO (AP) - The National Weather Service is upgrading the risk of storms to its highest alert level for parts of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. 
 
     The agency's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., says there's a high risk that damaging winds will strike in extreme eastern Iowa into northern portions of Illinois and Indiana and northwest portions of Ohio.
 
     Storm Prediction Center Director Russell Schneider says it's the first time this year that the center has used its highest alert level. Wednesday's storms are likely to generate tornadoes and cause power outages.
 
     The storms could affect more than one in five Americans on Wednesday as they rumble from Iowa to Maryland packing hail, lightning and tree-toppling winds.
 
     Schneider says the storm could hit Chicago around rush hour.
 
 
by AP posted Jun 12 2013 11:52AM
     NEW YORK (AP) - The country's book-buyers are reading up on being watched.
 
     Sales for dystopian classics such as George Orwell's "1984" and Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" have been strong since news broke last week that the U.S. government had vast surveillance programs targeting phones and Internet records.
 
     Several editions of Orwell's "1984," about an all-seeing government, were among Amazon.com's top 200 sellers as of Wednesday morning. Huxley's story of a mindless future ranked No. 210 and was out of stock.
 
     A perennial favorite of futuristic horror, Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451," was ranked No. 75.
 
Filed Under :
Location : New York
by AP posted Jun 12 2013 11:47AM
 By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI
 Associated Press
     HOUSTON (AP) - The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide money to help rebuild the small Texas town where a deadly fertilizer plant explosion leveled numerous homes and a school, and killed 15 people.
 
     According to a letter obtained by The Associated Press, FEMA says it reviewed the state's appeal for the funds to help West. But the agency says the impact from the explosion "is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration."
 
     West Mayor Tommy Muska says the money is needed to cover $57 million in damage, including $40 million to rebuild a destroyed school. The West Fertilizer Co. blew up in April. 
 
     The letter is addressed to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and dated June 10. 
 
     FEMA did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
 
Filed Under :
Location : HoustonTexas
People : Rick PerryTommy Muska
by AP posted Jun 12 2013 10:53AM
 By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER
 AP Economics Writer
     WASHINGTON (AP) - Chief executives for the largest U.S. companies are more optimistic about sales over the next six months and plan to add more workers. 
 
     The Business Roundtable says its April-June quarterly survey found 32 percent of its members expect to expand payrolls in the next six months. That's up from 29 percent in the January-March survey. And 78 percent expect their sales to increase. That's up from 72 percent from the previous survey. 
 
     Consumers have kept spending this year, despite an increase in Social Security taxes. That's helped the economy grow at a modest pace.
 
     Still, most of the CEOs don't expect growth to accelerate. They forecast growth of 2.2 percent this year, about the same as first quarter survey.  
 
     The group represents leaders of the 200 biggest U.S. companies.
 
 
     
 
by AP posted Jun 12 2013 9:51AM


VIDEO - When NSA leaker Edward Snowden revealed details of two National Security Agency surveillance programs, he spotlighted the risks of making so many employees of private contractors a key part of the U.S. intelligence apparatus. 

Filed Under :
Topics : Business_FinanceLabor
People : Edward Snowden
by Associated Press posted Jun 11 2013 10:32PM
 WASHINGTON (AP) - The entire House of Representatives has gotten a briefing from intelligence officials as part of an effort to calm outrage over National Security Agency programs that collect Americans' phone and Internet records. 
 
     The officials have been making the case that the information-gathering is necessary to protect Americans - and does not trample on their privacy rights. 
 
     Several key lawmakers have tried to refocus the furor on the 29-year-old former intelligence contractor who is claiming responsibility for revealing the programs. House Speaker John Boehner joined others in calling Edward Snowden a "traitor."
 
     But attempts to defend the NSA systems by a leading Republican senator who supports them is highlighting how confusingly intricate they are.
 
     Sen. Lindsey Graham described how the NSA uses pattern analysis of millions of phone calls from the United States, even if those numbers have no known connection to terrorism. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has vigorously maintained that there are strict limits on the programs to prevent intruding on Americans' privacy, and senior officials quickly denied Graham's description.
 
     Meanwhile, the ACLU American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit today, calling for the Obama administration to end the phone surveillance and purge the records it has collected.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
Location : Washington
by AP posted Jun 10 2013 10:21AM
     DETROIT (AP) - U.S. safety regulators are trying to figure out if Honda needs to recall some older Odyssey minivans because the air bags can inflate without a crash.
 
     The investigation covers 320,000 vans from the 2003 and 2004 model years. 
 
     The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has received six complaints about the front air bags suddenly inflating while the vans were being driven. Three people said they were hurt.
 
     The agency will determine if the problem is serious enough to cause a recall.
 
     The minivans have air bag control circuits that were linked to recalls last year of more than 1.8 million older-model Chrysler and Toyota vehicles worldwide. The circuits were made by parts supplier TRW Automotive 
 
     Dealers were to install an electronic filter to fix the problem.
 
 
by AP posted Jun 7 2013 9:36AM


VIDEO - President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to begin two days of talks Friday in the Southern California Desert. Protesters were on hand when Xi traveled through the town of Indian Wells. 

Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
People : ObamaXi Jinping
by AP posted Jun 7 2013 9:34AM


VIDEO - A high-ranking IRS official admitted that he saw no redeeming value in a now infamous IRS video. Faris Fink, who played the role of Mr. Spock in the Star Trek parody, testified before a House committee on Thursday.

Filed Under :
People : Faris FinkSpock
by AP posted Jun 7 2013 9:30AM

VIDEO - The first named storm of the Atlantic season hammered Florida with rain, heavy winds, and tornadoes Thursday as it moved over land toward the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas. 

Filed Under :
Location : CarolinasFloridaGeorgia
by AP posted Jun 7 2013 9:26AM

VIDEO - The search for victims of a building collapse that killed six people wound down Thursday amid mounting questions about whether the demolition company that was tearing down the structure caused the tragedy by cutting corners.

Filed Under :
by AP posted Jun 7 2013 9:24AM


VIDEO - The Obama administration and some leading members of Congress are defending the NSA spying on citizen's phone records . Republican congressman Mike Rogers says the search of phone records had, in fact, prevented a terror attack in recent years

Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
People : Mike Rogers
by Associated Press posted Jun 6 2013 1:54PM
   MIAMI (AP) - Much of Florida is getting a pounding today from heavy rain, as the first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season heads toward the state's western coast.
 
     Tropical storm warnings are in effect for a large section of Florida's west coast, and for the East Coast all the way to Virginia.
 
     Tropical Storm Andrea's top sustained winds are near 60 miles an hour. It's expected to make landfall this afternoon in Florida's Big Bend area before moving across southeastern Georgia and the Carolinas.
 
     South Georgia residents are bracing for heavy rains that could lead to flooding. Forecasters say while heavy rain and floods will be the main threats in Georgia, tornadoes are also possible.
 
     In Florida, the storm surge is expected to be the biggest threat as the storm comes onshore.
 
     As it moves up the East Coast, the storm is expected to hug the coastline, bringing rain as far as southern New England through the weekend. 
 
     Heavy rains associated with the storm have soaked the western part of Cuba for the last several days, overflowing rivers and damaging crops. 
 
by Associated Press posted Jun 6 2013 1:46PM
   WASHINGTON (AP) - The chairman of the House Intelligence committee says the ongoing NSA search of telephone records thwarted an attempted terrorist attack in the United States in the last few years.
 
     Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan defended the telephone records collection at a Capitol Hill news conference on Thursday. He said the information culled from the records enabled U.S. authorities to stop a "significant case." 
 
     He declined to provide additional details but said he was in touch with U.S. officials about providing more information.
 
     He said the NSA search is for business records and is constantly being reviewed. He said nothing is done without court approval.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : PoliticsWar_Conflict
Location : MichiganWashington
People : Mike Rogers
by AP posted Jun 6 2013 11:22AM


VIDEO - A federal judge in Philadelphia has made a dying 10-year-old eligible to seek donor lungs from an adult transplant list

Filed Under :
Location : PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia
by AP posted Jun 6 2013 11:18AM


VIDEO - Britain's Guardian Newspaper reports that the National Security Agency is collecting extensive phone records on millions of calls from Verizon. The Associated Press has not confirmed this report.

Filed Under :
by AP posted Jun 6 2013 10:24AM

VIDEO - Tropical Storm Andrea is forecast to hit the Big Bend area of Florida's West Coast Thursday afternoon. The storms maximum sustained winds increased Thursday morning to near 60 mph.

Filed Under :
Topics : Weather
Location : FloridaWest Coast
by CBS posted Jun 6 2013 10:19AM


VIDEO - First lady Michelle Obama's speech at a fundraiser in Washington was interrupted by a heckler shouting for gay rights. Norah O'Donnell reports.

Filed Under :
Location : Washington
People : Michelle Obama
by Associated Press posted Jun 5 2013 6:22PM
  PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Authorities say 14 people were taken from a building collapse in central Philadelphia and 13 were taken to hospitals with mostly minor injuries.
 
     Officials have declined to comment on the status of the 14th person.
 
     Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and Mayor Michael Nutter said Wednesday the rescue effort would continue with the aid of two search and rescue dogs until officials were assured no other victims remained.
 
     Ayers says rescuers pulled a woman trapped amid the rubble of a Salvation Army thrift store after they heard her voice after the 10:45 a.m. collapse on the edge of the downtown area.
 
     Rescuers used buckets and their bare hands to move bricks and rubble.
 
 
Filed Under :
Location : Philadelphia
by Associated Press posted Jun 5 2013 6:21PM
 JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. (AP) - Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the American soldier charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians during nighttime raids on two villages last year, pleaded guilty Wednesday to avoid the death penalty. This is what AP reporters and photographers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle are learning about the events unfolding (in Pacific Time):
 
     ---
 
     HEARING ENDS, 3:08 p.m. - The judge ordered the defense to give notice by July 1 if they're using mental health experts, and to turn over all underlying mental health data from examinations of Bales by that day. And with that, the hearing concluded. 
 
     ---
 
     LEGAL DISPUTE, 2:54 p.m. - As the hearing continued, Bales' lawyers and prosecutors sparred over whether the defense should have already notified the government of any intent to call expert witnesses at sentencing who could testify about any mental issues Bales was suffering from at the time of the slayings.
 
     ---
 
     GUILTY, 2:06 p.m. - The judge has accepted Bales' guilty plea in the slayings of 16 Afghan civilians. He asked the soldier to rise, then pronounced him guilty. A jury will decide in August whether Bales gets a sentence of life with or without the possibility of parole.
 
     --
 
     SOLDIER WAIVES RIGHTS, 1:53 p.m. - Among the terms of the plea deal is that Bales agreed to waive his right to confront certain witnesses against him in person during his sentencing in August. Instead, the government could present statements or audio or video recordings from the witnesses. The judge questioned Bales to make sure he understood those conditions.
 
     ---
 
     POSSIBLE SENTENCES DISCUSSED, 1:43 p.m. - After a midday break, the hearing resumes. The judge informs Bales of a possible sentence -- life without parole.
 
     ---
 
     LUNCH, 12:11 p.m. - After a morning spent reviewing the charges and hearing Bales recount how he killed Afghan civilians, the hearing has gone to recess for a lunch break.
 
     ---
 
     BURNINGS/STEROID USE, 12:09 p.m. -The judge again questioned Bales about burning his victims' bodies. Bales said he understood it would be considered desecration: "Sir, I understand it is against their cultural norms." Now onto drug use: Bales said he was taking steroids to make himself "smaller, leaner, more fit for the mission," and to help him recover more quickly from rigorous activity. "It definitely increased my irritability and anger," he said. Bales said he took three doses per week.
 
     ---
 
     HEARING RESUMES, 11:53 a.m. -Bales is now describing an unrelated attack: His assault on a man who was unloading a truck at the base in February 2012, the month before the massacre. Bales acknowledged striking the man with his fists and knees but didn't immediately explain why. "We were inside a truck. He fell to the floor of the truck."
 
     ---
 
     'MURDER ANYONE,' 11:22 a.m. - Bales spoke while seated at the defense table, hands folded in front of him, twiddling his thumbs. Lt. Col. Jay Morse, one of the prosecutors, raised concerns that Bales' testimony may have contradicted what he acknowledged in the stipulation of fact he signed. Morse noted that Bales testified he formed the intent to kill each victim when he raised his gun and pointed at them. But in the stipulation, Bales said he struggled with the grandmother, Na'ikmarga, before killing her, and that "after the tussle" he decided to "murder anyone that he saw." The judge questioned Bales about it, and Bales confirmed that yes, after struggling with her, he decided to kill everyone there. The hearing then went to a recess.
 
     --
 
     VICTIMS BURNED, 11:06 a.m. - When asked about the burning of the victims, Bales said he remembers a kerosene lantern in the room and recalls a fire and having matches in his pocket when he returned to the base, but not setting the bodies on fire. The judge pressed him on whether he set the bodies on fire with the lantern. Bales replied, "It's the only thing that makes sense, sir."
 
     ---
 
     WHY? 'NOT A GOOD REASON IN THIS WORLD,' 11:01 a.m. - As for the motivation behind the horrific slayings, Bales told the judge: "Sir, as far as why: I've asked that question a million times since then. There's not a good reason in this world for why I did the horrible things I did."
 
     ---
 
     'HOW DO YOU KNOW THEY'RE DEAD?,' 10:56 a.m. - The judge asked Bales of the victims: "How do you know they're dead?" Bales answered that he has seen the Army's investigation report, Afghan investigation report and heard testimony to that effect during a hearing last fall. "I formed the intent as I raised my weapon prior to shooting them, sir." Judge: "Was it your intent to end the lives of the persons you were aiming your weapon at?" Bales: "Yes, sir."
 
     ---
 
     SOLDIER SPEAKS, 10:43 a.m. - After a lengthy review of the charges, the judge said to Bales: "What I want you to do now is tell me in your own words why you believe you're guilty of these offenses." Bales reads from a statement in a clear and steady voice, describing his actions for each killing in the same terms: "I left the VSP (Village Stability Platform at Belambay) and went to the nearby village of Alkozai. While inside a compound in Alkozai, I observed a female I now know to be Na'ikmarga. I formed the intent to kill Na'ikmarga, and I did kill Na'ikmarga by shooting her with a firearm. This act was without legal justification, sir."
 
     ---
 
     VICTIMS NAMED, 10:24 a.m. - The judge read the names of two girls Bales wounded - Robina and Zardana - which evoked last fall's hearing when those young victims testified in bright head coverings and sipped from juice boxes. The judge was reading the names of the victims referred to in each charge.
 
     ---
 
     NO QUESTIONS, 10:20 a.m. - Bales has had no questions for the judge about any of the premeditated or attempted murder charges.
 
     ---
 
     JUDGE BREAKS DOWN CHARGES, - 9:56 a.m. - For each murder charge, the judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, asked Bales whether he understood the four elements: that the victim is dead; that the death resulted from Bales' actions; that the killing was unlawful; and that the killing was premeditated.
 
     ---
 
     HEARING RESUMES, - 9:49 a.m. - After a brief recess, the hearing continued with the judge asking Bales about his guilty pleas in the slayings. Judge: "Is everything in the stipulation true?" Bales: "Yes, sir." The judge asked if there is anything in the stipulation that Bales does not want to admit to as true. Bales: "No, sir."
 
     ---
 
     JUDGE TO QUESTION SOLDIER, 9:23 a.m. - Bales signed a lengthy stipulation of facts about his actions the night of the killings. The judge says he'll question Bales about the details he acknowledged in that document. The hearing then went to a brief recess.
 
     ---
 
     GUILTY, 9:14 a.m. - Bales has pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty. He made the plea in a military courtroom to multiple counts of premeditated murder and other charges.
 
     --
 
     JUDGE SPEAKS TO BALES, 9:09 a.m. - The judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, explained Bales' rights and asked if he understands them. Bales stood and answered: "Yes, sir, I do." Judge told him he can remain seated unless otherwise instructed.
 
     ---
 
     HEARING BEGINS, 9:05 a.m. - The proceedings have started. Bales is sitting next to his attorneys, Emma Scanlan and John Henry Browne. Browne is a well-known Seattle-area lawyer whose clients have included serial killer Ted Bundy and the teenage thief known as the Barefoot Bandit. The 6-foot-6 Browne has a sometimes brash courtroom style.
 
     ---
 
     FAMILY SUPPORT, 8:58 a.m. - Prior to the hearing beginning, Bales was in the courtroom, speaking with his wife and touching her elbow. Karilyn Bales has supported her husband throughout the legal proceedings, saying he is a loving father to his two children.
 
     ---
 
     HUGE MEDIA PRESENCE, 8:50 a.m. - The number of media vehicles waiting for the Bales hearing was so large that a regular lane of traffic was blocked off near the JBLM gate to accommodate them before moving the first group to the security screening area. There, as with past hearings, vehicles had to have all doors open and were screened by a dog and a handler wearing a bullet proof vest. As media filed in to the work area, John Henry Browne and Lance Rosen, attorneys for Bales and his family, were seen talking in a separate parking lot. It looks like that for this hearing, media in the work area will have a four-camera split-screen view of the proceedings, in order to show different areas of the courtroom.
 
by AP posted Jun 5 2013 8:18AM


VIDEO - Mississippi River communities scrambling Tuesday to fend off the rain-engorged waterway got discouraging news: More rains looming across much of the nation's midsection threatened to slow the potential retreat of the renegade river.

Filed Under :
Topics : Environment
Location : Mississippi
by AP posted Jun 5 2013 8:16AM


VIDEO - HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says she won't intervene in an "incredibly agonizing" transplant decision about a dying Pennsylvania girl who wants to be eligible to receive an adult lung.

Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
Location : Pennsylvania
by AP posted Jun 5 2013 7:49AM


VIDEO - The House Ways and Means committee heard from six conservative groups Tuesday who said the IRS put them through the wringer as they sought tax-exempt status.

Filed Under :
Topics : Religion_Belief
by AP posted Jun 5 2013 7:48AM

VIDEO - All six members of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee 
Tuesday to discuss the sexual assault crisis in the armed forces, acknowledging it's 'like a cancer' that could destroy the force.

Filed Under :
by Breitbart posted Jun 4 2013 10:37AM


VIDEO - Lois Lerner, a top IRS official in the non-profit division that paralyzed Tea Party groups with ongoing harassment, is on administrative leave and receiving a paycheck it was revealed in the House Appropriations Committee on Monday. Lerner invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions during Congressional testimony schedule before the House Oversight Committee last month concerning her involvement in IRS targeting conservative political groups seeking tax exempt status. Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel defended the department saying that many leaders have been "held accountable" by either being asked to resign or by resigning at the leisure and being replaced.

Filed Under :
Topics : Politics
by AP posted Jun 4 2013 10:35AM


VIDEO - A Mississippi man suspected of sending poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama and two other officials is facing charges that could send him to prison for life, if he's convicted.

Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
Location : Mississippi
People : Barack Obama
by AP posted Jun 4 2013 10:27AM


VIDEO - The final Boston Marathon bombing victim left the hospital on Monday. Erika Brannock returned home to Maryland, after 50 days in the hospital in Boston. She lost one leg and has had eleven surgeries.
 
Filed Under :
Location : BostonMaryland
People : Erika Brannock
by KOKH - Oklahoma City posted Jun 4 2013 8:20AM


VIDEO - First Hand Footage of Car Being Submerged by Flood Waters

by AP posted Jun 3 2013 11:42AM
     BOSTON (AP) - A Baltimore area pre-school teacher who lost a leg in the Boston Marathon bombings has been discharged from the hospital.
 
     Twenty-nine-year-old Erika Brannock of Towson was released Monday from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
 
     A hospital spokesman says Brannock is the last person brought to Beth Israel to be released following the April 15 explosions, which killed three people and injured more than 260.
 
     Her sister, Nicole Gross of Charlotte, N.C., suffered two broken legs and a severed Achilles tendon. 
 
     Brannock told reporters Monday that she's looking forward to hugging loved ones, getting on the floor to read to students, and eating steamed crab.
 
     Brannock and Gross were waiting to watch their mother, Carol Downing, cross the finish line when the bombs exploded. Gross' husband, Michael Gross, also was injured.
 
by AP posted Jun 3 2013 11:16AM


VIDEO - A California high school student has created a new type of "supercapacitor." The San Jose teen's invention could help pave the way for cell phones that can be charged in 30 seconds. 

by AP posted Jun 3 2013 7:46AM


VIDEO - Something akin to lottery fever has gripped residents in Zephyrhills, Florida. Two weeks ago, a Publix Supermarket there sold a winning Powerball ticket for the $590 million jackpot, but the winner is still a mystery.

Filed Under :
Topics : Human Interest
Location : FloridaZephyrhills
by AP posted Jun 3 2013 7:26AM


VIDEO - A fire north of Los Angeles has forced nearly 3,000 people to evacuate their homes. The fire has burned about 35 square miles in the mountains and canyons of the Angeles National Forest, destroying at least six homes and damaging 15 more.

Filed Under :
Location : Los Angeles
by AP posted Jun 3 2013 7:24AM


VIDEO - A rare tornado may have touched down in Maine on Sunday, as powerful winds, thunderstorms and hail pounded Northern New England. As of early Monday, 19,000 homes and businesses were without power in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

by AP posted Jun 3 2013 7:20AM


VIDEO - Seward, Illinois was evacuated on Sunday after an explosion and fire at a nearby chemical plant. Fire officials are letting the blaze burn itself out. 

by Associated Press posted Jun 1 2013 10:15AM
 Ark. (AP) - Flash flooding killed at least two people in Arkansas, including a sheriff who ventured out in bad weather with a game warden to check on residents in a home threatened by high water.
 
     State officials said Friday that the game warden and two people from the home in Y City were missing. Searchers found the boat that Sheriff Cody Carpenter and the warden took onto Mill Creek near the Oklahoma border.
 
     A woman's body was found in a car. Her death was attributed to the flooding but details weren't immediately offered. Her death was the third reported from storms overnight.
 
     Heavy rains over rugged terrain forced creeks and rivers up sharply around Y City.
 
     Forecasters are warning of more bad weather today in much of the Southern Plains and Ozarks.
 
     THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
 
     Forecasters warned that large hail and more tornadoes could strafe parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri on Friday, a day after powerful storms and floods killed at least three people in the storm-weary region.
 
     Up to a dozen tornadoes touched down in mostly rural parts of Arkansas on Thursday, as well as one in Illinois and three in Oklahoma. One twister bounced through the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow, causing some structural damage, but no injuries.
 
     A western Arkansas sheriff who went missing while checking on residents in a flooded area was among the fatalities. Keith Stephens of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said the body of Sheriff Cody Carpenter was recovered in Y City, 125 miles west of Little Rock, Friday morning. Carpenter and a wildlife officer were in a boat checking on a home in the area after the Fourche La Fave River rose sharply. The wildlife officer was still missing.
 
     State police spokesman Bill Sadler said there were "confirmed fatalities" in the area.
 
     Heavy winds caused a tree to topple onto a car in Tull, about 30 miles southwest of Little Rock, late Thursday, killing the driver, the Grant County Sheriff's Office said. 
 
     At least nine people were reported injured.
 
     The National Weather Service was sending teams to survey the aftermath of Thursday's storms in Arkansas. Warning coordination meteorologist in Little Rock, John Robinson, said it could take days for the weather service to confirm whether tornadoes struck as flooded highways was hindering access to the storm-hit areas.
 
     And more storms were expected Friday.
 
     The agency's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said large hail and tornadoes are likely Friday in Oklahoma and parts of the Ozarks in Arkansas and Missouri. The areas at greatest risk include Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Joplin, Mo., where the second-deadliest American tornado on record killed at least 158 people in 2011.
 
     Flooding was also a concern in parts of Missouri, Iowa and Illinois through Sunday.
 
     Thursday's tornadoes all appeared to be much less dangerous than the top-of-the-scale EF5 storm that struck Moore, Okla., on May 20 and killed 24 along its 17-mile path. The U.S. averages more than 1,200 tornadoes a year, but EF5 storms like the one in Moore - with winds over 200 mph - happen only about once per year. The tornado last week was the nation's first EF5 since 2011.
 
     This spring's tornado season got a late start, with unusually cool weather keeping funnel clouds at bay until mid-May. The season usually starts in March and then ramps up for the next couple of months.
 
     Of the 60 EF5 tornadoes since 1950, Oklahoma and Alabama have been struck the most, seven times each. More than half of these top-of-the-scale twisters have occurred in just five states: Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
 
     ---
 
     Associated Press writers Ken Miller in Oklahoma City, Jeannie Nuss in Little Rock, Ark., and Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.
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