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Supreme Court Denies Stay in Florida Same-Sex Marriage Case

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Jeffrey Hamilton/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — Same-sex couples in Florida could get married as soon as next month after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to issue a stay.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi had filed for a stay while awaiting an appeal hearing before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court, however, decided by a 7-2 margin not to grant the stay. Justices Scalia and Thomas dissented, saying that they would have granted the application for a stay.

In a statement on Friday night, Bondi said that “regardless of the ruling it has always been our goal to have uniformity throughout Florida until the final resolution of the numerous challenges to the voter-approved constitutional amendment on marriage.”

Despite her application for a stay being denied, Bondi said that “the Supreme Court has now spoken, and the stay will end on January 5.”

It’s not clear whether Florida clerks will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Crusin In Cruces

Patient Exposed to Ebola Released from NIH Facility

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Photo by Andrew Councill/MCT/MCT via Getty Images(BETHESDA, Md.) — The patient admitted to the National Institutes of Health facility in Maryland on Dec. 11 was discharged on Friday without having shown evidence of the Ebola virus.

The patient, who was not publicly identified, had been flown to the NIH facility from an overseas location by private medevac. The hospital said at the time that the patient’s admission and isolation was done “out of an abundance of caution.”

The patient will complete 21 days of monitoring at a private residence in Virginia, the facility said in a press release.

The patient had been providing bedside nursing care in Sierra Leone prior to being flown to the NIH facility.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

UVA Holds Board of Visitors Meeting Regarding “Rolling Stone” Article

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Alessandro Drago/iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors on Friday held a meeting to discuss the school’s reaction to the Rolling Stone article, which has come under criticism, describing a sexual assault case on campus.

The school’s President Teresa Sullivan said on Friday that the concerns about sexual assault didn’t start because of the article, noting the 2010 death of women’s lacrosse player Yeardley Love at the hands of men’s lacrosse player George Huguely. The school also held a public forum on sexual violence in February 2013.

Sullivan also detailed the changes that the university plans to take by January 15 — the day fraternity rush begins. The changes fall into three categories — culture changes, prevention and response.

In terms of the school’s culture, Sullivan stated her continued frequent meetings with faculty and student groups, a recent Town Hall meeting on sexual assault, and continued review and revision of agreements involving fraternities and organizations.

In order to prevent sexual assaults, the school will upgrade the campus’ camera system, enhance lighting and crosswalks near campus, hire ambassadors to provide extra security, intensify University Police Department patrols and implement a “Buddies on Call” program to walk with students at night. Additionally, the school will make their safety app available for personal phones and evaluate and recommend improvements for after-hours student transportation.

Finally, Sullivan said, UVa plans to ask the Charlottesville Police Department to investigate the case described in the Rolling Stone article, hire additional counselors to help students who have been the victims of sexual assault and engage national experts to review their internal response process. Sullivan also mentioned that the school will consider a 24-hour call system to aid in ensuring protecting survivors is a priority.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Double Your Dollars

Sony Says Alternate Means of Releasing “The Interview” Under Consideration

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

dan_alto/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Sony Pictures said Friday that while it has cancelled the theatrical release of The Interview following the hack that the FBI has attributed to North Korea, the idea of an alternate means of releasing the film is not out of the question.

“Sony Pictures Entertainment is and always has been strongly committed to the First Amendment,” the statement read. “For more than three weeks, despite brutal intrusions into our company and our employees’ personal lives, we maintained our focus on one goal: getting the film The Interview released.”

“Free expression should never be suppressed by threats and extortion,” the statement added.

Still, on Thursday, after threats of an impending attack on theaters showing the film were leveled by hackers, Sony told theater chains that they did not have to show the film. Several of the largest chains, including AMC and Regal, told Sony that they would not be screening The Interview, which prompted Sony’s decision to cancel the Christmas Day theatrical release.

“The decision not to move forward with the December 25 theatrical release of The Interview was made as a result of the majority of the nation’s theater owners choosing not to screen the film,” Sony said Friday. “This was their decision.”

“Let us be clear,” Sony said. “The only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theaters, after the theater owners declined to show it. Without theaters we could not release it in the theaters on Christmas Day. We had no choice.”

Still, Sony maintains that alternate releases are possible. “After that decision, we immediately began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform.” The statement also said that “it is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Staples Says Over One Million Payment Cards Affected by September Data Breach

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Staples says that more than one million customers’ credit and debit cards may have been affected by a September data breach at a number of its stores.

In a press release, the company provided an update on the breach, saying that malware had been deployed to point-of-sale systems at 115 of Staples’ 1,400-plus U.S. stores. Two stores were impacted between July 20 and Sept. 16, while 113 were believed to be affected from Aug. 10 through Sept. 16.

In total, the company believes that 1.16 million payment cards may have been affected.

Staples has offered free identity protection services and a free credit report to customers who used a credit or debit card at one of the affected stores during those time periods.

The company also said that its investigation remained ongoing, and that it has retained outside data security experts to investigate.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Hometown Headlines w/ Brad Barrett

Exclusive: Newly Released Ray Rice Video Shows Aftermath of Elevator Incident

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/MCT via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Turns out there’s even more surveillance video Ray Rice doesn’t want you to see.

ABC News on Friday exclusively obtained a copy of the security-camera video that shows the ugly aftermath of the assault earlier this year when Ray Rice punched his now-wife in an Atlantic City casino and knocked her unconscious.

The nearly 45 minutes of never-before-seen footage shows a clearly distraught Janay Palmer, Rice’s then-fiancée and now wife, unwilling to talk to him after the NFL star had punched her inside an elevator on Feb. 15 at the now-closed Revel casino.

Palmer is seen physically pushing Rice away from her when he approached her immediately after the incident. Palmer was then protected by hotel security guards as Rice attempted to move closer.

The video then shows Palmer going through something of an emotional evolution in the middle of the night. Almost immediately after the assault, she appears angry. Soon after, Palmer begins to cry. And by the time she and Rice are both escorted into an elevator — handcuffed — she appears to kiss and nuzzle the one-time NFL star.

Both Rice and Palmer were arrested that night and charged with one count of assault each. The charge against Palmer was later dropped for “insufficient evidence,” while the charge against Rice was upgraded to aggravated assault.

The former Baltimore Ravens running back is a sports celebrity in New Jersey because of his college career at Rutgers. He was admitted to a probationary program that would allow the criminal charge to be dismissed next year. Once a video of the assault appeared online, the Ravens cut Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. The league’s penalty was later overturned.

Rice went to court to stop ABC News from obtaining the recording, but lost. Rice’s attorney, Peter Ginsberg, was disappointed that the new video was made public.

“This is a time of healing and he, quite naturally, doesn’t want another media showing of what must have been the worst event of his life,” Ginsberg said in an interview Friday. “What the media ought to be focusing on is the issue of domestic violence and why the NFL never did anything to construct a personal conduct program that works and why the NFL ignored the issue of domestic violence. Showing yet another Ray Rice video is simply a distraction.”

During a two-hour hearing in Trenton, N.J., on Wednesday, Ginsberg said that Rice “literally does not talk to me about the events [at the casino] without crying — to this day.”

The new video shows hotel staffers concerned with Palmer’s condition, bringing a wheelchair to her in case she had trouble walking and then giving her first aid. It shows Rice agitated at times, being kept at a distance from Palmer and talking on the phone at one point.

By the time cops and hotel security are prepared to move the player out of the lobby area, Rice is handcuffed and led away by the arm. A cop can be seen pulling the hood of his sweatshirt over Rice’s head.

The startling moment comes in the elevator – the same or similar elevator as the one where the assault occurred – when Palmer stretches her neck so she can kiss and nuzzle Rice. The two are then walked separately to waiting police cars.

The new video was turned over to ABC News in response to a public-records request filed with the N.J. Gaming Enforcement Division.

Since winning his appeal of the NFL’s indefinite suspension, Rice has started re-emerging into public life. He appeared on NBC last month. On Thursday night, aware that the new video would be released, Rice appeared at a charity event in Baltimore and talked about the incident.

“I made a horrible mistake in my life, but if you truly believe in second chances, they will forgive me,” Rice said at the event. “I think all the fans have looked deep into who I am.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

LAFD Says Apartment Complex Fire Was Arson

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — The Los Angeles Fire Department determined on Thursday that the Dec. 8 apartment complex fire was an act of arson.

The fire destroyed a seven-story apartment complex that had been under construction, and also damaged at least one nearby structure and the 110 Freeway.

Investigators from the LAFD and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ National Response Team say they have sufficient evidence to determine that the blaze was set on purpose.

The fire caused between $20 and $30 million in damages, just to the destroyed apartment complex.

Investigators are seeking information on two potential witnesses who were spotted in video footage taken the morning of the fire. Those two people are not considered suspects or persons of interest, the LAFD says.

“The work at the crime scene is finished, however our investigation is not over,” ATF Special Agent in Charge Carlos Canino said. “ATF will continue to work together with our state and local partners to investigate this crime and bring those responsible to justice.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Loyal Listeners Club

Orion Returns from Road Trip: What’s Next for ‘America’s Spacecraft’

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

NASA(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) — After a trip to space, a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean and a cross-country road trip, the Orion spacecraft is finally back home in Florida.

Nicknamed “America’s spacecraft,” Orion completed the final installment of its epic maiden voyage when it arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday.

The capsule could one day ferry as many as four astronauts to deep space, however, engineers are currently focused on conducting a thorough post-mission analysis to refine Orion’s design.

This entails removing the back shell of the spacecraft so engineers can inspect the nuts and bolts of Orion, including its cabling, fluid lines, propulsion system and avionics boxes, according to NASA.

Sample pieces of the heat shield, which had to endure temperatures as high as 20,000 degrees Fahrenheit, were already sent to a laboratory, according to NASA, where they will be carefully examined by scientists.

Orion blasted off on an unmanned test mission earlier this month, where it was put through a series of stress tests, including traveling through temperatures twice as hot as molten lava before it triumphantly splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.

The spacecraft’s next unmanned flight is slated for 2018.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

“The Interview”: FBI Links North Korea to Sony Hacking

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. government has taken the big step of publicly branding the North Korean regime as the driving force behind the massive cyber-attack on Sony Pictures that has paralyzed the film company and raised fears of terrorist attacks inside the United States.

In a rare, official statement issued Friday, the FBI said it “now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions.”

“North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves” and seek “economic and social prosperity,” according to the FBI statement. “Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior.”

The statement lays out at least some of the evidence the U.S. government has uncovered tying North Korea to the attack.

The FBI says analysis of the malicious software used in the attack shows it is linked “to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed.”

“The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. Government has previously linked directly to North Korea,” the FBI statement continues. “Separately, the tools used in the [Sony] attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.”

This comes as a source close to Sony confirms that company executives received a new message laden with threats, saying, “Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy.”

On Nov. 21, Sony executives received an email warning them not to release their new “movie of terror,” referring to the comedy The Interview, which depicts a fictional assassination attempt of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Soon thereafter, Sony was hit with the now-infamous cyber-attack, crippling its computer network and flooding the Internet with embarrassing internal emails and employees’ personal information.

Earlier this month, a North Korean official denied allegations that the government was involved in the hacking, calling it “wild speculation.” Still, the official described the attack as a “righteous deed,” according to a North Korean state news agency.

Then, on Tuesday, a message posted online warned of a 9/11-style attack on theaters showing the film. Sony then decided not to release the movie at all.

Identifying exactly who executed the attack has been a challenging and painstaking task for federal investigators. Based on evidence collected so far, federal sources told ABC News, they believe an individual or small group stationed outside North Korea may have punched the computers keys that launched the attack, which was then likely routed through at least six countries overseas -– Singapore, Thailand, Italy, Bolivia, Poland and Cyprus -– before hitting its target in the United States.

A group calling itself “Guardians of Peace” has claimed responsibility.

Last week, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, John Carlin, said the Sony hack “has our full attention.” Two days later, FBI officials held a meeting in New York with executives from across the entertainment industry to brief them on cyber-related threats to their companies, sources told ABC News.

In addition, just hours before Sony’s decision on Wednesday to pull the plug on its Christmas Day release of the movie, the FBI issued its first official message about the Sony hack to joint terrorism task forces across the country -– comprised of federal, state and local officials that the FBI describes as “our nation’s front line on terrorism.”

“The FBI’s investigative team believes these [latest threats] increase the threat level” inside the United States, according to the message. But, FBI officials emphasized, the threat to movie theaters was not deemed credible, and the message distributed Wednesday by the FBI was simply precautionary and informational.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Song of The Day

Aurora Theater Shooter James Holmes ‘Is Not a Monster,’ Parents Say

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in National News

Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office(NEW YORK) — The parents of James Holmes, the man accused in a 2012 movie theater rampage in Colorado, said their son “is not a monster” and expressed hopes that he gets institutionalized in their first public statement since the attack.

“We love our son, we have always loved him and we do not want him to be executed. We also decry the need for a trial,” said Robert and Arlene Holmes in a statement released Friday through a lawyer, Lisa Damiani.

The Aurora, Colorado, attack left 12 dead and 70 injured. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

His parents, who declined previous interview requests, said a trial would be devastating for relatives and survivors.

“A lengthy trial requires everyone to relive those horrible moments in time, causing additional trauma. In the criminal justice system, the prosecution and defense can agree to a sentence of life in prison, without parole, in exchange for a guilty plea,” Robert and Arlene Holmes said. “If that happened, our son would be in prison the rest of his life, but no one would have to relive those horrible events at a trial the media has permission to televise.”

The parents said they are aware that people want their son to be executed.

“We have read postings on the Internet that have likened him to a monster. He is not a monster. He is a human being gripped by a severe mental illness. We believe that the death penalty is morally wrong, especially when the condemned is mentally ill,” the statement read.

Earlier this month, the judge overseeing the case refused to delay the trial, despite defense attorneys’ request for more time to review massive amounts of evidence.

“This case has been pending for 2 1/2 years,” Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. wrote in his 20-page order. “Counsel, their skilled experts and their staff have had a considerable amount of time to prepare for trial.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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