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Updated: 1 hour 27 min ago

Bipolar teen's death in police station highlights rift between cops, mentally ill

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:55

17-year-old Kristiana Coignard was fatally shot after a scuffle with cops in the lobby of an East Texas police station last month. One national program aims to mend the relationship between law enforcement and the mentally ill population.

Missouri boy, 6, nabbed by family to teach him fear of strangers: police

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 18:34

(Reuters) - Three Missouri women were arrested on Thursday and charged with kidnapping after they allegedly arranged for a man to kidnap their six-year-old relative because he was "too nice" and he needed a shock lesson in the dangers of the world. The man involved, 23-year-old Nathan Firoved of Troy, a rural town outside St Louis, has also been arrested and charged with felony kidnapping and other crimes, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. According to the Sheriff's department, the boy's aunt, 38-year-old Denise Kroutil, mother, Elizabeth Hupp, 25, and grandmother, Rose Brewer, 58, wanted to teach the boy a life lesson and asked Firoved to help them.

Washington state mulls ban on capture of killer whales for entertainment

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 17:07
Washington state senators held a hearing on Thursday to consider banning the increasingly controversial capture or holding of killer whales for entertainment. More than half of the approximately 455 orcas taken for captivity originated in Washington state but the practice has come under more scrutiny following the 2013 documentary, "Blackfish," which described the capture of orcas and how one killed a trainer at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. Today, 57 orcas are in captivity in 14 marine parks in eight countries, including 25 in SeaWorld parks in Florida, California and Texas, according to a sponsor of the legislation, State Senator Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island.

Pilot's body found still clutching joystick of crashed Taiwan plane: media

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 16:31
The pilot of a doomed TransAsia plane, hailed as a hero for his actions in the final moments before a crash that killed 31 people, was still holding the joystick in the plane's cockpit when his body was found, media reported on Friday. The pilot, identified by TransAsia as 42-year-old Liao Chien-tsung, has been praised by Taipei's mayor for steering the plane between apartment blocks and commercial buildings before ditching the stalled aircraft in a river. TransAsia Flight GE235 was carrying 58 passengers and crew when it lurched nose-up between buildings, clipped an overpass and a taxi with one of its wings and then crashed upside down into a shallow river after taking off on Wednesday.

Lawmakers want tougher vaccine exemptions amid measles outbreak

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 16:26

By Eric M. Johnson and Shelby Sebens SEATTLE/PORTLAND, Ore (Reuters) - Several U.S. states are considering laws to make it harder for parents to legally opt out of vaccinating their children, as health officials fight a measles outbreak that has sickened some 120 people in more than a dozen mostly West Coast states. Lawmakers in California, Oregon, and Washington state, which have all had recent measles cases, want to remove exemptions based on personal beliefs, while farther afield, Ohio recently extended a law that covers those entering childcare.

New York train was not speeding before crash with car

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 15:35

By Sebastien Malo TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (Reuters) - The New York commuter train that plowed into a car stopped on a crossing this week was traveling just below the speed limit and no problem was found with the signals or traffic barriers at the site of the deadly crash, a federal investigator said on Thursday. The fiery crash that followed killed the SUV driver and five train passengers in the deadliest rail accident in the New York area in more than three decades. The driver of the vehicle behind the Mercedes told NTSB investigators on Thursday that traffic was "edging along" at the railway crossing in Valhalla, an affluent town north of New York City, Robert Sumwalt, an NTSB member, said at a news conference. The Mercedes came to a stop on the crossing, Sumwalt said.

RadioShack files for bankruptcy, sell up to 2,400 stores

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 14:00

Electronics retailer RadioShack Corp filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection on Thursday and said it had a deal in place to sell as many as 2,400 stores to Sprint and an affiliate of hedge fund Standard General, its lender and largest shareholder. RadioShack, which posted losses in 11 consecutive quarters after failing to transform itself into a destination for mobile phone buyers, said in a statement that the Standard General affiliate, called General Wireless, and Sprint will acquire between 1,500 and 2,400 of its more than 4,000 stores, creating a co-branded retail presence in up to 1,750 of them. Sprint would effectively operate a store within a RadioShack store, selling "mobile devices across Sprint`s brand portfolio as well as RadioShack products, services and accessories," Sprint said in a statement. RadioShack also reached a deal with liquidation firm Hilco to shutter underperforming stores.

Lawyers urge judge to lift grand jury secrecy in New York chokehold case

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 13:37

By Jonathan Allen NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lawyers for civil liberty groups, the news media, public defenders and New York's elected public advocate urged a judge on Thursday to release the transcripts of secret grand jury proceedings into the killing of an unarmed black man last July by a white police officer who put him in a chokehold. The lawyers told state Supreme Court Judge William Garnett that making the transcripts public would shed light on why the grand jury declined to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.

Pentagon study claimed Putin has Asperger's syndrome

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 13:20

A Pentagon study from 2008 claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin has Asperger's syndrome, giving him a need to exert "extreme control" when faced with crises, according to the report released Thursday. Experts studying his movements and facial expressions in video footage theorized Putin's neurological development was disrupted in infancy, giving him a sense of physical imbalance and a discomfort with social interaction, according to the report by the Pentagon's internal think tank, the Office of Net Assessment. "This profound behavioral challenge has been identified by leading neuroscientists as Asperger's Syndrome, an autistic disorder which affects all of his decisions," wrote the study's author, Brenda Connors, a senior fellow at the US Naval War College.

Adviser to Rep. Aaron Schock resigns over alleged racist Facebook posts

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 12:38

Benjamin Cole, a senior adviser for Rep. Aaron Schock, resigned after reports of racist posts on his Facebook page.

Five charged in ID theft ring that bought Apple gift cards

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 10:58
By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - Five people accused of running an identity theft ring in the New York City area have been charged in a 394-count indictment with stealing personal information from hundreds of dental patients to buy Apple gift cards. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance on Thursday said the ring bought $700,000 worth of gift cards after fraudulently obtaining "instant credit" that Apple had offered online in conjunction with Barclays Plc's Barclaycard, and then used the cards to buy Apple products. The alleged ringleader was Devin Bazile, a former Apple sales associate. Prosecutors said he recruited Apple store employees to misuse names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers that were stolen by defendant Annie Vuong from more than 250 patients at a Manhattan dental office where she worked as a receptionist.

Threat lifted after shooting report at University of South Carolina's public health school

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 10:30
(Reuters) - The University of South Carolina said there is no longer an "existing threat" on campus after reporting that shots had been fired on Thursday at its public health school. In an online alert, the school, located in Columbia, South Carolina, had warned of a shooting and directed people to stay indoors and seek safe shelter. The State newspaper in Columbia reported that all buildings at the university had been locked down and that Governor Nikki Haley cut a news conference short on Thursday due to security concerns.

Train recorder data may offer clues in deadly New York crash

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 09:39

By Sebastien Malo TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (Reuters) - Data to be released on Thursday from a train that slammed into a vehicle at a suburban New York crossing this week could shed more light on what caused the deadly crash, which has shaken commuters on one of the busiest rail networks in the United States. Federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board said the main question was why the SUV was stopped at the crossing in Valhalla, an affluent town north of New York City. I thought about it," said Alan Trager, 65, chief executive officer of a non-profit agency, as he rode the same train line out of Grand Central Terminal to White Plains on Thursday. So far, the probe has found that Tuesday's 5:44 p.m. train from New York City to its suburbs struck a Mercedes SUV driven by Ellen Brody, a 49-year-old mother of three, pushing it about 1,000 feet (300 meters) down the line.

U.S. House leader says State Department stonewalling on Keystone

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 08:18

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Thursday accused the State Department of stonewalling its review of the long-pending Keystone XL pipeline, saying Secretary of State John Kerry must address the issue to make the department's actions more transparent. "The Democrats are dragging their feet," Boehner, the top House Republican, told reporters, referring to the TransCanada Corp's project to bring 830,000 barrels per day of mostly Canadian oil sands petroleum to refineries and ports on the Gulf Coast. "Now the State Department is stonewalling and is refusing to answer basic questions about its review. The State Department, which is assessing the project because it crosses the national border, received comments from eight federal agencies this week on whether the pipeline is in the country's interest.

Humans of New York raises $1 million for Brooklyn public school

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 08:15

A Brooklyn teen’s story of living in a high-crime neighborhood struck a chord with thousands across the country.

Florida governor embroiled in scandal at start of second term

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 07:58

By Bill Cotterell TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - Republican Governor Rick Scott, off to a rocky start in his second term in office, faced an extraordinary meeting on Thursday with Florida's Cabinet in which he admitted botching the ouster of the state’s top police administrator. Since his narrow victory over former Governor Charlie Crist in November, Scott has run into a series of controversies. In the past month, Scott was rebuked by the state Republican Party, which rejected his choice to lead the party and instead elected state Representative Blaise Ingoglia in an unheard-of snub for a newly re-elected governor. Last week, former state prisons director Michael Crews, who had been ousted by Scott, accused the governor of neglecting staff shortages and crumbling facilities in the Department of Corrections.

Obama weighs in on freedom of speech after Charlie Hebdo massacre

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 07:25

At the National Prayer Breakfast, President Barack Obama calls the Islamic State a "death cult" and offers a thinly veiled response to those who criticized him for skipping a demonstration in Paris that saw hundreds of thousands march in solidarity wtih Charlie Hebdo.

Top Rand Paul aide working for Israeli PM reelection effort

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 06:23

Vincent Harris, Rand Paul's digital strategist, is working for Netanyahu's campaign.

Obama, Dalai Lama share greetings at prayer event

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 05:11

By Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama exchanged greetings but did not meet directly at a religious event in Washington closely watched by Beijing, which has warned against any meetings with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader. Both figures were at an annual prayer breakfast in Washington where Obama was scheduled to speak about the importance of religious freedom. The Dalai Lama also attended, seated at a table in the front row across from the president. Obama nodded and smiled at the Dalai Lama, waving after clasping his hands together in a bow-like gesture toward the Buddhist monk as the event began.

Americans OK with police drones - private ownership, not so much: Poll

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 05:06

By Alwyn Scott NEW YORK (Reuters) - New rules on privately owned drones can't come fast enough for most Americans. Some 73 percent of respondents to a Reuters/Ipsos online poll released on Thursday said they want regulations for the lightweight, remote-control planes that reportedly have been involved in an increasing number of close calls with aircraft and crowds. People are also uneasy about potential invasions of privacy by drones carrying cameras or other devices. Forty-two percent went as far as to oppose private ownership of drones, suggesting they prefer restricting them to officials or experts trained in safe operation.