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Big 12 Commissioner: “Cheating Pays”

Big 12 Commissioner: “Cheating Pays”

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images(DALLAS) — During his annual state of the league address at the Big 12 media day, commissioner Bob Bowlsby proclaimed Monday that “cheating pays” in intercollegiate athletics.
“Enforcement is broken. The infractions committee hasn’t had a hearing in almost a year,” said Bowlsby. “It’s not an understatement to say cheating pays presently. If you seek to conspire to certainly bend the rules, you can do it successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions.”
Bowlsby continued by saying he does not believe cheating is a widespread epidemic, but that he fears for the future of the NCAA and its student-athletes.
“We certainly are operating in a strange environment in that we have lawsuits,” explained the commissioner. “I think all of that in the end will cause programs to be eliminated.”
While slamming college sports’ governing body, Bowlsby did come to the defense of the collegiate model, saying that he was against the unionization of student-athletes.
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Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts Awarded Medal of Honor for Valor in Afghanistan

Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts Awarded Medal of Honor for Valor in Afghanistan

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts is the sole survivor of an outpost that came under fierce attack in one of the bloodiest battles of the war in Afghanistan. On Monday, the former paratrooper became the ninth living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“In Ryan Pitts you see the humility and the loyalty that define America’s men and women in uniform,” President Obama said at a White House ceremony.
Pitts insists that the honor is not his alone. It’s a distinction he shares with the men he fought alongside that fateful day in the summer of 2008. Nine died and 27 were wounded, including Pitts, in the battle of Wanat, one of the fiercest of the entire war.
“Valor was everywhere that day and the real heroes are the nine men who made the ultimate sacrifice so the rest of us could return home,”  Pitts told reporters Monday. “It is their names, not mine, that I want people to know.”
It was before dawn when hundreds of Taliban fighters launched their attack, far outnumbering the United States troops defending their partially completed base outside the village of Wanat in northeastern Afghanistan.
For nearly two hours, Pitts, who was 22 years old at the time, helped fend off the enemy fighters from his isolated observation post. After suffering severe shrapnel wounds and being patched up by a fellow soldier who was later killed, Pitts crawled from position to position, lobbing grenades and firing at the enemy, resigning himself to certain death, the president said.
“As the insurgents moved in, Ryan picked up a grenade, pulled the pin, and held that live grenade — for a moment, then another, then another — finally hurling it so they couldn’t throw it back. And he did that again. And he did it again,” the president explained.
“Unable to stand, Ryan pulled himself up on his knees and manned a machine gun. Soldiers from the base below made a daring run, dodging bullets and explosions, and joined the defense. But now the enemy was inside the post — so close they were throwing rocks at the Americans, so close they came right up to the sandbags. Eight American soldiers had now fallen. And Ryan Pitts was the only living soldier at that post,” Obama said.
The enemy got so close that Pitts could hear their voices. “He whispered into the radio he was the only one left and was running out of ammo,” Obama said.
The battle later spurred an investigation and, as the president noted, a report concluded Wanat had “significant vulnerabilities.” As Commander-in-Chief, the president said one way to honor the fallen is, “by heeding the lessons of Wanat.”
“When this nation sends our troops into harm’s way, they deserve a sound strategy and a well-defined mission. And they deserve the forces and support to get the job done,” he said. “That’s how we can truly honor all those who gave their lives that day. … They’re hard lessons, but they’re ones that are deeply engrained in our hearts.”
Pitts now lives in Nashua, N.H., where he works in business development for a software company. He is married and has a 1-year-old son, Lucas. Monday is also his second wedding anniversary.
“As Ryan put it, it’s going to be tough topping this one, as anniversaries go,” the president joked. “But let me just give you a piece of advice as somebody who now has been married for over 20 years: You should try.”
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Scoreboard Roundup – 7/21/14

Scoreboard Roundup – 7/21/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — MLB: Boston Red Sox 14 (47-52) – Toronto Blue Jays 1 (51-49)
Los Angeles Dodgers 5 (56-45) – Pittsburgh Pirates 2 (52-47)
San Francisco Giants 7 (55-44) – Philadelphia Phillies 4 (43-56)
Texas Rangers 4 (40-59) – New York Yankees 2 (50-48)
Miami Marlins 3 (46-52) – Atlanta Braves 1 (54-45) – 10 Innings
Chicago White Sox 3 (48-52) – Kansas City Royals 1 (48-50)
Milwaukee Brewers 5 (55-45) – Cincinnati Reds 2 (51-48)
Minnesota Twins 4 (45-53) – Cleveland Indians 3 (50-49)
Washington Nationals 7 (54-43) – Colorado Rockies 2 (40-59) 
Detroit Tigers 4 (55-41) – Arizona Diamondbacks 3 (43-56)
Seattle Mariners 5 (53-46) – New York Mets 2 (46-53)
Baltimore Orioles 4 (54-44) – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2 (59-39)
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Gun Control Takes Center Stage on Chris Christie Conn. Trip

Gun Control Takes Center Stage on Chris Christie Conn. Trip

Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen(GREENWICH, Conn.) — When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie traveled to Connecticut to campaign with Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, the issue of gun control dominated the evening.Outside one of the fundraisers Christie attended, he was greeted by about 170 protesters angry at his decision in July to veto legislation that would have banned magazines with more than ten rounds of ammunition. In this state still reeling from the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, protesters from Newtown, Connecticut held signs that said “Not One More” and “Be a Gun Sense Voter.”At a diner he stopped at with Foley earlier he was asked by a voter from Newtown how he would limit gun violence in the nation without limiting access to high-capacity magazines, and Christie answered that he believes there is, “no evidence that high capacity magazines does anything to limit violence.””If you really want to limit mass violence in the country, you need to get at the mental health system in this country, which doesn’t deal with these folks,” Christie told the man named Richard Boritz. “Every one of these instances of mass killings, we had people with significant mental health issues. And that needs to be dealt with. It’s not the sexy part of it. It’s not the stuff that gets you big headlines when you are a politician. It’s the stuff that actually gets the job done. So I think we should stop doing the headline-grabbing stuff and start doing the actual work that makes a difference.”Boritz attempted to continue the conversation, but Christie said he is “not engaged in a debate.” “You asked a question,” Christie told him. “That’s my answer. I am not going to debate you. If you run against me someday I will debate you all you like.”Newtown families attempted to meet with Christie the day he vetoed the legislation and they have accused him of refusing to meet with them. On Monday, Christie told reporters that he met with the families a year ago, but he, “didn’t feel like it was necessary to meet with them again, especially after I had made the decision.””The fact is we have an honest disagreement,” Christie told reporters at the diner. “Now people on issues across this country can disagree, we disagree. I made the decision that I felt was best, they disagreed, that is certainly their prerogative to do so and to express themselves.”He added that he has “nothing but sympathy” for the families, but he doesn’t believe the bill in New Jersey, which passed the Democratic controlled state legislature, was an, “effective way to deal with it so I vetoed it; it’s a difference of opinion, but it’s nothing personal.”Foley chose not to reveal if he agreed with Christie’s veto.Christie was also asked if he thought he could be a viable 2016 presidential candidate if he did not veto the bill and he answered, “I don’t make decisions on what bills to sign or veto based upon someone’s perception of viability.”The protesters gathered at the bottom of a private road leading to the home of the fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association, where Christie serves as chairman. Katherine Morosky of Newtown, accompanied by her 7-year-old daughter Marie, held a politically-charged sign that read, “Stop Playing Politics, Children’s Lives are Not Trivial, Fewer Bullets Save Lives.”It was a reference to what Christie said in his veto message, writing he could, “not support such a trivial approach to the sanctity of human life.”Marie was not a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, but her mother claimed she was friends with five of the children killed, as well as some of the surviving children who were able to escape when Adam Lanza reloaded. Morosky said she was “extremely offended” by Christie’s veto, adding mental health is an issue, but there is still “easy access” for those with mental illness to ammunition making it possible to “kill 25 people in five minutes.””It’s such easy access to those weapons used for war and you can take out a lot more people out that way,” Morosky said of the higher-capacity magazines. “It makes a very big difference.”Sandy Hook resident Cindy Carlson held a sign that read, “My Kids are Not Trivial,” and said those moments when a murderer reloads is crucial. “The difference is when a person with bad intentions must stop and reload it gives potential victims time to escape,” she said.Christie and Foley appeared at the Glory Days Diner, appropriate for the devoted Bruce Springsteen fan. He was greeted there by a supportive crowd, with one woman shouting at the possible 2016 presidential candidate, “Hey good looking!” Another woman told him she once received a kiss from President George W. Bush so she needed one from him. He obliged saying to the cameras surrounding him, “You gotta do what you gotta do” with a smile.  Foley ran previously in 2010 losing to current Gov. Dannel Malloy by just over 6,000 votes. One of the fundraisers Monday night was for the RGA and the other was to raise money for the Connecticut GOP, that one was held at the home of former hedge fund manager Brian Olson.
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Four EMTs Suspended over Response in NYPD Chokehold Death

Four EMTs Suspended over Response in NYPD Chokehold Death

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The four EMTs who responded to the scene where New York City cops had taken a man named Eric Garner down with an apparent chokehold have been suspended without pay while their actions are being investigated. Garner died an hour after the controversial arrest.
On Sunday, the Fire Department of New York, which handles citywide emergency medical dispatch, barred the EMTs from responding to 911 calls. Richmond University Medical Center, which employs the first responders, made the decision to suspend them.
“The EMTs are suspended without pay while the investigation continues as they are placed on operational restriction,” the hospital said in a statement announcing the move. “This restriction means they are not working at this hospital or throughout the 911 system. Richmond University Medical Center continues to fully cooperate as this matter is under investigation.”
On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters trailing him on vacation in Italy that — as a layman — he thought a chokehold had been employed by a cop during the controversial caught-on-camera incident on Staten Island on Thursday.
“As an individual who’s not expert in law enforcement, it looked like a chokehold to me. But I also emphasize you have a full investigation because all sides need to be heard and all evidence has to be looked at,” de Blasio said in the statement provided to reporters in New York by the mayor’s office.
The mayor left New York City for Italy on Saturday night, after postponing his departure for a day to deal with the developing firestorm over Garner’s death.
Garner, who stood at 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighed about 350 pounds, died Thursday after police struggled to arrest him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on Staten Island, according to the NYPD. Police said he appeared to suffer a heart attack.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo, an 8-year veteran who was seen on video apparently putting Garner in the chokehold, was placed on “modified assignment” Saturday, meaning he was stripped of his badge and gun, pending the outcome of the dual probes by the district attorney and Internal Affairs.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton had announced Friday that the cop and his partner were on “desk duty,” but at that point they still had their guns and shields.
A chokehold is a violation of NYPD policy, regardless of whether the move causes any damage. Beyond that, prosecutors and police investigators will be looking at whether it caused or contributed to Garner’s death about an hour after he was taken into custody.
The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office said Sunday it had not reached any finding on Garner’s cause of death. Official preliminary results could come in the next few days.
Garner was arrested in Staten Island after he was allegedly seen selling “loosie” cigarettes, police said. Garner was known for selling individual cigarettes for 50 cents each in his Staten Island neighborhood.
Police said the cigarettes come from North Carolina and Garner is the end of the supply line. Because the Staten Island man allegedly sold cigarettes to children, the police called the cigarette sales a “quality of life” issue in the neighborhood.
Garner’s death has led to outrage, especially after video obtained by the New York Daily News appeared to show that the man was put into a chokehold as he was arrested.
The video shows officers approaching Garner, who initially denies that he’s selling loose cigarettes.
“I’m minding my business, why don’t you leave me alone?” Garner can be heard saying.
When police officers move in, Garner appears to not comply and at least five officers wrestle him to the ground as they attempt to handcuff him.
As Garner is being held down, he can be heard telling police that he “can’t breathe.” Eventually when officers realize he is not responsive, they called in an ambulance, which took Garner to a hospital where he died a short time later.
The apparent violence of the arrest led to outrage and the internal investigation. Online, numerous people tweeted #JusticeforEricGarner, calling attention to the deadly incident.
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Five Ways to Spot a Home Flip Money Pit

Five Ways to Spot a Home Flip Money Pit

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Just a few weeks after Eric Mann bought a Brooklyn brownstone for $1.2 million in February — and painted the walls, sanded the floors, and added a $300 chandelier — he sold it for $2.1 million.
“I was extremely lucky,” said Mann, who said he’d bought about 40 properties across Brooklyn over the years as a real estate investor.
That’s the wild world of house flipping, which is up 16% since last year and 114% from the previous year, according to real estate data-supplier RealtyTrac.
Ericka Doolittle said thought she was getting the deal of a lifetime as well when she purchased a newly renovated home in Oakland, California.”On the surface, it looked pretty good,” she told ABC News.Then she discovered something her inspector had cautioned her about: more than $15,000 in hidden costs, from loose wires to sewer leaks.A year after buying, Doolittle found two feet of water under debris in the basement.”There was a veritable lake,” she said. “[And] a lot of flooding issues. There was water under the house.””What flippers are particularly good at is to make surface repairs — and not handling the structural repairs that are sometimes needed,” said New York real estate guru Barbara Corcoran who appears on ABC’s Shark Tank.Jennifer and Steve Clark of The Home Co., a husband-and-wife team of flippers, shared the following insider secrets to spotting a potentially bad flip:1. In the utility rooms, make sure the dryer and heater are vented out of the house.2. Measure the height of the electrical sockets. Steve Clark said they should be about 12 inches off the floor — anything else could be a sign of old electrical wiring.3. Switches should be on the wall, not set into the molding.4. If the owner says the house comes with new appliances, ask to see the manuals.5. In the bathrooms, separate hot and cold knobs in the shower may mean old fixtures were replaced but not the old plumbing.The Clarks advised to always get a thorough inspection before buying and remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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Will National Guard Help Stop Illegal Immigrant Influx in Texas?

Will National Guard Help Stop Illegal Immigrant Influx in Texas?

Office of the Governor Rick Perry(AUSTIN, Texas) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry calls it “Operation Strong Safety,” but critics say it’s closer to “operation symbolic act.”
Perry announced Monday that 1,000 National Guard troops would be deployed over the next month to the southern border. But by law, they can’t make arrests and instead will act only as a “visual deterrent.”
“What we’re asking the National Guard to do is to be a force multiplier, to be there as a partner with the law enforcement,” Perry said Monday at a news conference. “Which they have done multiple times before.”
In 2006 and 2010, presidents Bush and then Obama ordered the National Guard in to assist border patrol. In 2006, operation Jump Start brought 6,000 National Guard to work mainly in non-law enforcement duties, relieving the Border Patrol agents in those positions to move into border security rules.
But because the governor, and not the president, has ordered this deployment, the troops are unable to move into U.S. Customs and Border Protection jurisdiction without a coordinated effort with the federal government.
The Texas general in charge confirmed his troops cannot physically detain or send any of the thousands of surging immigrants, many of them mothers and children, back across the border.
“We are planning on referring and deterring — so deterring with a visible presence,” Major General Nichols, Adjutant General of Texas National Guard, said at the news conference.
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And the troops cannot use their weapons to stop illegal immigration.
“You are not allowed to fire on someone who is fleeing away,” Thad Bingel, former Chief of Staff for U.S. Customs and Border Protection under President Bush told ABC News Monday. “They can use their weapons in self-defense only if they are threatened by physical harm.”
Ralph Basham, CBP commissioner under Bush (2006-2009), agreed, telling ABC News that they weapons they carry “are strictly for self-defense,” and the National Guard is, “limited in terms of what they could do.”
“They could best be used to go down and literally set up tents and medical facilities and housing and food services. And things that the border patrol are being asked to do today,” Basham said.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest characterized the governor’s action Monday as a publicity stunt.
“What we’re hopeful is that Gov. Perry will not just take these kinds of steps that are generating the kind of headlines I suspect he intended, but will actually take the kinds of steps that will be constructive to solving the problem over the long term,” Earnest said.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified in June that he’d want to, “understand better what the options are for the use of the Guard,” and cited concerns about their limitations.
The National Guard, “can’t be directly involved in law enforcement,” he said. “And Department of Defense has a lot to say about this as well. It’s their resource, comes out of their budget. Lot of demands on the Guard, particularly in this season, hurricane season.”
The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 (updated in 1981) works to limit the federal government’s use of the military to enforce state laws and, as such, bars it from performing tasks of civilian law enforcement such as arrests or apprehensions.
That could be why the head of the Border Patrol made it clear in a June interview with ABC News that the Guard isn’t needed.
“I don’t see the National Guard being particularly good help in this instance,” said CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske. “Many of these people are not people that we’re having to apprehend or chase, these are people that are turning themselves in asking for some type of status here in the United States.”
Perry maintains that the use of the Guard will serves as, “a deterrent effect on criminal and illegal activity along the border,” at a cost of $12 million per month — a figure he plans to ask the federal government to reimburse.
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John Kerry Arrives in Cairo to Broker Ceasefire as Israel/Gaza Fighting Rages On

John Kerry Arrives in Cairo to Broker Ceasefire as Israel/Gaza Fighting Rages On

US Department of State(CAIRO) — As fighting in between neighboring Israel and Gaza rages on, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo with a mission to try to stop the bloodshed, but his first task is to get the many stakeholders in the region to agree on what would even constitute a ceasefire.
Kerry came to Cairo because Egypt has been a key mediator between Israel and Hamas, the governing body of Gaza, which the United States and Israel consider a terrorist group. Egypt also released a proposal for an immediate ceasefire without conditions on either side, something Israel accepted but Hamas rejected.
Kerry is in Cairo now, rather than earlier in the conflict, partly because of the mounting civilian casualties on both sides of the Israel/Gaza border, but especially since Israel began its ground invasion of Gaza on Thursday.
“We are deeply concerned about the consequences of Israel’s appropriate and legitimate effort to defend itself,” Kerry said just before a meeting with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon late Monday night.
“But always in any kind of conflict, there is a concern about civilians,” he added.
Ban was more vehement in laying blame on the Israelis, also urging them to let up on trade and travel restrictions in Gaza so that Hamas, he said, won’t have to resort to violence.
“I understand that Israel has to respond militarily, but there is a proportionality and most of the death toll is Palestinian people,” Ban said.
Sunday was the bloodiest day so far in the Israel/Gaza crisis, with the Gaza Health Ministry reporting hundreds of deaths, many of which the U.N. said were civilians, and the Israel Defense Forces announcing the highest number of Israeli soldiers killed in the conflict thus far.
Earlier Monday as Kerry was en route to Cairo, a senior State Department official said that the U.S. had very few expectations for the next few days and that the primary objective was about getting the various players in the ceasefire negotiations on the same page, including Egypt, Qatar and Turkey, where Hamas’ exiled leadership is based, and Israel.
“It’s very complicated and it may very well take several days to get this done,” the official said. Hamas has previously called for preconditions for a ceasefire agreement, including the release of prisoners in Israel and a re-opening of Israel-Gaza border crossings.
Kerry is scheduled to meet with Egyptian officials on Tuesday, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby.
A second official said Kerry was best equipped to meet with parties on the ground at this time, versus continuing to communicate via phone, because the United States is the only stakeholder that shares good relationships with all the governments involved, except Hamas.
“It’s really only the Secretary of State who can come in and have close relationships with all the parties and who can get them all on the same page,” the official said.
Kerry is expected to stay in Cairo through Wednesday morning, but officials said he would make changes to his schedule, and add additional stops in the region as warranted.
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US Warns Americans in Yemen to Leave Now

US Warns Americans in Yemen to Leave Now

Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The United States government is warning Americans in Yemen they should leave the country in response to an “extremely high” security threat, “due to terrorist activity and civil unrest.”
“Terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), continue to be active throughout Yemen. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about the possible attacks on U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Yemen), and U.S. facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests,” the travel warning says. “An ongoing risk of kidnapping exists throughout Yemen.”
In addition to the terror threat, the State Department warning said, “Demonstrations continue to take place in various parts of the country and may quickly escalate and turn violent.”
“U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations, and to exercise extreme caution if within the vicinity of a demonstration,” the warning says.
A U.S. intelligence official did not immediately respond to requests for more information from ABC News, but one person briefed on intelligence in the region said the terror aspect of the warning could be related to perceived threats against Westerners at potential targets including shopping malls in Yemen and other Gulf nations.
Top U.S. officials have said that of al Qaeda’s affiliates, AQAP is among the greatest threats to the U.S. homeland. One of its members, Ibrahim al-Asiri, is believed to be a master bomb maker, implicated in several bomb plots. Last week the State Department announced it had added a Norwegian-born bomb maker and member of AQAP to its designated terror list.
Last September another al Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabab based in Somalia, attacked neighboring Kenya’s Westgate Mall, killing dozens.
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Close Encounters with Vladimir Putin: What Joe Biden and George W. Bush Saw

Close Encounters with Vladimir Putin: What Joe Biden and George W. Bush Saw

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(MOSCOW) — When Vice President Joe Biden and former President George W. Bush both looked into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eyes, they each saw very different things.
Biden recently told The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos of a 2011 meeting with Putin. The vice president got close to the Russian leader — so close, in fact, that the two nearly touched noses. Here’s what happened:

To illustrate his emphasis on personality as a factor in foreign affairs, Biden recalled visiting Putin at the Kremlin in 2011: “I had an interpreter, and when he was showing me his office I said, ‘It’s amazing what capitalism will do, won’t it? A magnificent office!’ And he laughed. As I turned, I was this close to him.” Biden held his hand a few inches from his nose. “I said, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.’””You said that?” I asked. It sounded like a movie line.”Absolutely, positively,” Biden said, and continued, “And he looked back at me, and he smiled, and he said, ‘We understand one another.’” Biden sat back, and said, “This is who this guy is!”

Although Biden looked at Putin and saw no soul, more than a decade earlier then-President George W. Bush saw something very different when he came eye-to-eye the Russian leader:

“I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue,” Bush said according a BBC account. “I was able to get a sense of his soul. He’s a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country and I appreciate very much the frank dialogue and that’s the beginning of a very constructive relationship.”

Putin is now coming under increasing pressure from world leaders in the wake of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last week.
On Monday, President Obama ratcheted up his rhetoric: “Given its direct influence over the separatists, Russia, and President Putin in particular, has direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation,” President Obama said.
And over the weekend Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-California, was even more blunt: “I would say, Putin, you have to man up. You should talk to the world. You should say this was a mistake, if it was a mistake,” she said in an interview with CNN.
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Malaysia Airlines’ Black Boxes Handed Over to Investigators

Malaysia Airlines’ Black Boxes Handed Over to Investigators

Courtesy of ABC’s Tanya Stukalova(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) — The two black boxes from the downed Malaysia Airlines plane that left 298 people dead were handed over Monday to Malaysian officials.
News media looked on as the transfer of the boxes was made late Monday. Earlier, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said independent investigators will be given safe access to the debris site.
“In recent days, we have been working behind the scenes to establish contact with those in charge of the MH17 crash site,” Razak said. “That contact has now been made. Under difficult and fluid circumstances, we have been discussing the problems that have occupied us all: Securing vital evidence from the aircraft, launching an independent investigation and above all recovering the remains of those who lost their lives.”In a statement, Razak said he had spoken “to Alexander Borodai, who is in command of the region where the tragedy occurred.”Razak said that the bodies of the 282 people recovered, currently in the Ukrainian city of Torez, will “be moved” by train to Kiev, where Dutch officials will take them.”The train will depart this evening…and will be accompanied by six Malaysian members of the recovery team,” he added. “The remains will then be flown to Amsterdam on board a Dutch C130 Hercules, together with the Malaysian team. Following any necessary forensic work, the remains of Malaysian citizens will then be flown home to Malaysia.””I must stress that although agreement has been reached, there remain a number of steps required before it is completed,” Razak added. “There is work still to be done, work which relies on continued communication in good faith. Mr Borodai and his people have so far given their co-operation.”Moments before Razak’s announcement, President Obama had called on Russian President Vladimir Putin “to compel” Russian-backed separatists to stop interfering with the probe.Obama, speaking from the South Lawn of the White House, said Russian-backed separatists needed to allow investigators to recover bodies. He said they had previously fired their weapons in the air when investigators approached the scene and have tampered with evidence.”Russia, and President Putin in particular, has a direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation,” Obama said.The president also said that if Russia continued to support violence against the Ukrainian people, it would face further isolation from the international community. He said he hopes to see the dispute settled diplomatically.
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Mother of Jailed Former US Marine in Iran Pleads with Obama

Mother of Jailed Former US Marine in Iran Pleads with Obama

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — The mother of a United States-born former Marine accused of espionage in Iran recently pleaded with President Obama “not to forget” her son’s plight as the U.S. continues tense, high-level negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
“Amir [Hekmati] was taken from me nearly three years ago, falsely accused of being a spy and sentenced to death,” Behnaz Hekmati wrote in a letter to Obama over the weekend. “That sentence was later overturned due to a lack of evidence, yet still he languishes. This is a historic time for Iran and the United States. I plead that you do not forget Amir, his service, his beautiful smile and his zeal for life… Mr. President, the stress is unbearable, but we persevere – just as I know Amir is strong.”
Born in Arizona, Amir Hekmati, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran, was traveling to Tehran in the fall of 2011 to visit his elderly grandparents when he disappeared, according to his family. In December, Hekmati suddenly appeared on Iranian state television where he “confessed” to being a secret agent sent by the CIA to infiltrate Iranian intelligence. U.S. officials and Hekmati’s family have firmly denied the allegations against him.
“My son is no spy. He is innocent. He’s a good fellow, a good citizen, a good man,” Hekmati’s father, Ali Hekmati, told ABC News shortly after the broadcast. “These are all unfounded allegations and a bunch of lies.”
Ali Hekmati’s health has been failing for months as he fights terminal brain cancer, his family says. “He wants nothing more than to see his son once again,” Behnaz Hekmati wrote in the letter.
Hekmati was sentenced to death after a secret trial in early 2012, only for the verdict to be overturned. He has been held in an Iranian prison ever since.
Bernadette Meehan, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, confirmed the White House received Behnaz Hekmati’s letter and told ABC News the administration remains “concerned about the lack of due process in Mr. Hekmati’s case” and is saddened by reports of Ali Hekmati’s failing health.
“We urge Iranian authorities to release Mr. Hekmati immediately so that he may be reunited with his family,” Meehan said in an email.
While Meehan said that U.S. officials do “raise the cases” of Hekmati and two other Americans currently believed to be held in Iran – former FBI agent Robert Levinson and American pastor Saeed Abedini – during negotiations, it is done “on the sidelines” and “they are not discussed in the context of the negotiations.”
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Woman, 105, Takes Pitching Mound for San Diego Padres

Woman, 105, Takes Pitching Mound for San Diego Padres

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) — A California woman celebrated her 105th birthday by throwing out the first pitch at a San Diego Padres game.
Agnes McKee, who is originally from Indiana, used a walker to get onto the field at Petco Park Sunday and tossed a ball underhand to open the game against the New York Mets– a move she practiced with friends at her San Diego retirement home, she told South Bend’s ABC station.
It didn’t quite reach the plate, but it got her a jersey with her name and the number 105 on it.
“My main thing is to enjoy every day as it comes along,” she told ABC57. “I enjoy life, I’m a happy person.”
The Padres won the game 2-1.
McKee admitted to another ABC affiliate, KGTV in San Diego, that she doesn’t have any tips for growing old.
“Everybody asks me that and I have no secrets,” she said. “I have no idea how I got to be 105 years.”
An employee at her retirement home said McKee is “overwhelmed” by all the media attention and spent part of today playing Wii Bowling — trying to score a 300.
ABC News | ABC Sports News
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Obama Reveals His Top Five Secrets to Success

Obama Reveals His Top Five Secrets to Success

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — Speaking at an event Monday promoting My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative designed to help at-risk youth navigate tough school districts, President Obama reflected on the principles that got him all the way to the White House.
The president, who has remarked that he sees himself reflected in struggling young men of color just like the ones who crowded into D.C. Walker Jones Educate Campus to hear him speak, said he hopes the My Brother’s Keeper Mentor program can keep boys from slipping through the cracks.
Here are Obama’s top five tips for success:
1. Find Out What Makes You Tick
“Figure out what it is that you care about passionately, something that you think is important to you, because if nothing’s important to you, you’re not going to put in the work,” the president told the kids.
“Everybody’s got different talents and everybody’s got different passions, and some — part of the goal of My Brother’s Keeper is to expose you to more things so that you don’t think that the only thing you can be passionate about is what you’re seeing on TV,” the president said.
“Part of the problem with young men of color is oftentimes the only thing they see to be passionate about is basketball or rap,” he added. “We want to make sure you get exposed to graphic design or you’re exposed to engineering or you’re exposed to being a lawyer, so that maybe you will be passionate about that.”
2. Practice Makes Perfect
“Work — it’s a pretty simple concept,” Obama said. “There is nothing worthwhile where it just falls in your lap.”
Explaining that just as basketball players must build muscle in order to nail the shot, academics must hone their craft. But the metaphor, the president noted, often gets lost in translation.
“It’s interesting, you talk to the young people about basketball, and they kind of understand that [practice is necessary],” the president said.
“But for some reason, you think the same doesn’t apply to school. There is no reason why you should think that you will be a good reader if you don’t read a lot, and read books that are hard, as opposed to just books that are easy. There’s no reason to think that you will be good at mathematics if you are not doing math problems and pushing yourself and trying math problems that are hard, not just ones that are easy,” Obama said, drawing applause from the crowd.
3. There Is No ‘I’ in Team
“Understand that you will not achieve by yourself, which means that you’ve got to be able to invest in relationships with other people who you can learn from, who will support you, who you will support in turn,” said Obama, who said he plans to take on a mentee through the My Brother’s Keeper program.
“You have to expand your network of people who can support you, give you ideas, buck you up when you’re down,” he continued. “Of course, the flip side is, though, you can’t just take. You also got to give. So you’ve got to show enthusiasm. You’ve got to want to be involved. You’ve got to be curious.”
4. No Slacking
“I don’t care how bad your school is. There’s a teacher in there somewhere who, if you went up to her or him and said, ‘I really want to learn. Can you help me?’ that teacher would snatch you up in a second, because they want to feel like they’re doing a good job,” the president said.
“But if you’re just sitting in the back of the class slouching and complaining about how bad the school is, well, then, you know — you may be right to be angry that you don’t have enough school supplies or the building’s bad or what have you — but it’s not going to help you,” he said.
5. Haters Gonna Hate, but That’s Okay
“When you’re young, it is natural to care a lot about what your peers think of you. That’s, that’s just human. And there’s nothing wrong with that,” said Obama, who is currently grappling with some of the lowest approval numbers of his presidency.
“At some point, to be a man or a woman, to be an adult, to be a full-grown person, you have to move beyond just what other people think and you have to make a determination about what do you believe in,” he said.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Chicago’s Gun Violence Is Taking a Toll on City’s Youth

Chicago’s Gun Violence Is Taking a Toll on City’s Youth

Fuse/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — An 11-year-old girl became the latest child in Chicago to be killed by gunfire this past weekend when a stray bullet sailed through a bedroom window and struck her.Shamiya Adams was at a sleepover in the city’s West Garfield Park neighborhood when a shooting occurred outside and a bullet hit her in the head, according to ABC News station WLS.She is one of 10 children under the age of 18 who have been killed since the summer began in what is quickly becoming a very deadly summer across the city, according to Chicago officials.There were three other people killed and 39 injured this weekend alone. More than 70 individuals have been killed since Memorial Day weekend, many of whom were young men in their teens and early 20s.”I don’t wish this on nobody. My daughter was so sweet and so kind. She kiss me on my cheek every night and told me how much she loved me,” Shaneetha Goodloe, Adams’ mother, said at a prayer vigil Sunday night, according to WLS.”I don’t want nobody to retaliate because I want no more killing. Let police do what they do,” Goodloe added.Police are still searching for the shooting suspect.The other children shot this summer include:

Kevin Diaz, 14
Dekarlos Scott, 15
Christopher Jones, 16
Nicholas Keener, 16
Lafayette Walton, 16
Adam Lara, 16
Marcel Pearson, 17
Michael Patton, 17
Brandon Peterson, 17

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Dutch Cyclist Who Missed Both Doomed Malaysia Flights Feels ‘Lucky to Be Alive’

Dutch Cyclist Who Missed Both Doomed Malaysia Flights Feels ‘Lucky to Be Alive’

iStock/Thinkstock(TERENGGANU, Malaysia) — A Dutch cyclist who escaped tragedy twice after missing flights on both doomed Malaysia Airlines flights, is shaken over the coincidences, but feels “lucky to be alive.”
Maarten de Jonge, 29, had planned to be on both Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17, which appears to have been shot down over eastern Ukraine last week, and Flight MH 370, which disappeared over the Indian Ocean in March. But in both instances, he changed his travel plans before the flights took off.
“I was so scared when I heard the news [about Flight 17]. I still cannot think about it,” de Jonge told ABC’s David Wright after landing at the airport in Terengganu, Malaysia on Monday. “A lot of people died in the crash and I feel very, very sorry for the passengers and their families. But I am very lucky to be alive.”
De Jonge had just arrived after an 18-hour journey– from Amsterdam to Frankfort to Kuala Lumpur to Terengganu. Flying from the Netherlands, where he was born, to Malaysia, where he now lives and competes as a professional cyclist, de Jonge said he had originally planned to take the direct flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and had bought a ticket on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
But the plane ticket was expensive, more than $1,300 US. Then, he said he saw another flight that was roughly $400 cheaper.
“There was one place left so I decided to buy another ticket,” de Jonge said. “Unbelievable, but yeah, that’s how it is.”
Even more unbelievable is the fact that he has been through this before.
“Yes, a couple of months ago, with MH370, it was the same story,” de Jonge said. “I was very, very close to be[ing] on that flight too.”
De Jonge said in March he and his cycling teammates were booking flights to compete in the Tour de Taiwan. They decided at the last minute not to take Malaysia Airways Flight 370 so they could avoid a lengthy layover. Instead they took a different flight half an hour later than Flight 370′s takeoff time from Kuala Lumpur.
Their flight arrived at its destination safely. Flight 370 vanished without a trace, and remains missing.
“I realize how in a split second a decision will decide how your life is going to be,” de Jonge said. “These things don’t happen twice.”
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Members of Congress Plan to Live on Minimum Wage for a Week

Members of Congress Plan to Live on Minimum Wage for a Week

Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — A trio of Democratic politicians are about to find out what it’s like to be poor.
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Rep. Jan Schkowsky, D-Ill., and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, announced Monday that they plan to “step into the shoes of a minimum wage worker and live for one week on just $77.”
It’s part of the Live the Wage Challenge starting Thursday— marking the fifth anniversary since Congress last increased the nation’s minimum wage.
From July 24 to July 30, the three politicians will chronicle their experiences on social media in an effort to shed light on the challenges facing minimum wage workers across the country.
A minimum wage of $10.10 pegged to cost-of-living increases would provide Americans who “work hard and play by the rules” a chance at joining the middle class, Ryan said during a call with reporters.
Strickland echoed the congressman’s sentiments, saying that full-time workers should not have to “live in poverty or have to choose between food and electricity every month.”
The federal minimum wage in the United States is currently set at $7.25 an hour — and has not been increased by Congress since 2009. The federal minimum wage for tipped workers has remained at $2.13 an hour since 1991.
According to a statement on its website, “the Live the Wage Challenge has called on elected officials, community leaders, advocates and anyone concerned about the growing inequality in this country to walk in the shoes of a minimum wage worker by living on a minimum wage budget for one week.”
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Norovirus Named in Washington Lake Outbreak

Norovirus Named in Washington Lake Outbreak

iStock/Thinkstock(KITSAP COUNTY, Wash.) — The stomach bug that sickened more than 260 swimmers at a Washington state lake was in fact norovirus, health officials have confirmed.
The contagious virus swept through Horseshoe Lake Park in Kitsap County, Washington, earlier this month, causing cramps, nausea, and diarrhea, according to the local health department.
The park was closed as officials investigated the cause of the outbreak, which was initially dubbed “norovirus-like.” It reopened Saturday after water samples from the lake came back negative for the virus.
The same virus sickened more than 100 people at Idaho’s Eagle Island State Park last week, according to the local health department.
Norovirus is the sixth-leading cause of recreational water illness in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention –- tying with the bacteria E. coli. Each year the virus causes more than 19 million cases of illness, 400,000 emergency room visits, 71,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths, according to the CDC’s website.
The virus spreads through food, liquid, and surfaces that are contaminated with infected feces or vomit, according to the CDC. There’s no specific treatment, so the agency recommends staying hydrated for the duration of symptoms, which is usually one to three days.
The CDC recommends the following tips for safe summer swimming:

Avoid getting water up your nose when swimming in warm, freshwater.
Don’t swim if you have diarrhea.
Shower with soap before taking a dip.
Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.
Don’t swallow the water.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tim McGraw Says He Feels Bad About Swatting at Fan During Concert

Tim McGraw Says He Feels Bad About Swatting at Fan During Concert

ABC/Eric Gebhart(LOS ANGELES) — Tim McGraw doesn’t feel good about swatting a fan at his show last week, but the country megastar said it’s time to move on.
“I reacted in an instinctive, defensive way from my perspective of what was going on,” he told ET Canada Sunday. “I think it was an unfortunate situation, I think, all the way around. But it happened. It happened in a split second. It was pure instinctive reaction. I think you just got to move on.”
A video posted to TMZ early last week shows the singer walking into the crowd to sing to his fans. When one grabbed at his pants, he waved his hand to get the fan off.
His rep told ABC News after the incident that McGraw “instinctively swatted” the fan away so that his jeans wouldn’t rip.
McGraw, 47, told ET Canada, “It is one of those things that happen, nobody feels good about it, but there’s nothing that could be done about it. You are in that position, you are out there, you are vulnerable, things happen and sometimes you react. There’s nothing to be said about it.”
McGraw is in the middle of an international tour, which runs until November.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Senate to Probe Flaws with Black Lung Program

Senate to Probe Flaws with Black Lung Program

Miner Gary Fox is pictured. (Courtesy Fox family)(WASHINGTON) — Lawmakers have called a hearing to address concerns that for years a federal labor program may have unfairly denied benefits for coal miners who suffer from black lung disease.“The current system of black lung claims has proven to be rife with problems, leading to undue denials and lengthy delays in miners’ pursuit of justice,” said Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., who is part of an effort in Congress to reform the program.Casey said he called the Senate committee hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, to “begin to look at the root causes of these issues and begin to outline possible legislative solutions.”Flaws with the federal black lung program were highlighted last fall in a year-long ABC News investigation with the Center for Public Integrity, and already, the U.S. Department of Labor has pledged to take a fresh look at cases that relied on the medical opinions of a leading Johns Hopkins doctor whose work for coal companies helped lead to benefits being denied to thousands of miners over the last two decades.
The reports demonstrated examples of miners who were denied benefits based on doctors’ conclusions that they did not have severe black lung, only to have autopsies prove — after their deaths — that they had the disease.Casey is among several lawmakers from coal producing states who have voiced concern following the ABC News-CPI report.In an interview for ABC News’ original report, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, called the findings “a total, national disgrace.””The deck is stacked in theory and in practice against coal miners, men and women, and it is tragic,” he said.Casey said the “serious and thought provoking” news reports “helped provide momentum” for the congressional hearing.“There’s still a good deal of legislative work we have to do to make sure we’re putting in place a law, or the elements of a law, so that this kind of fraud can’t be perpetrated again,” he told ABC News in June.One of those scheduled to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety is the Labor Department’s senior attorney, Patricia Smith. She told ABC News in June that the agency is preparing to notify every miner whose benefits were denied based in part on the doctor’s X-ray readings that they should consider reapplying for those benefits.”This sends a signal that the Department of Labor hasn’t sent in a long time,” Casey said. “That they’re not going to tolerate a system that’s rigged.”The Labor Department action came in response to the report by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity that found the head of the Hopkins black lung program, Dr. Paul S. Wheeler, had not reported a single instance of severe black lung in the more than 1,500 claims that the news outlets reviewed going back to the year 2000. Labor department officials said they were unaware of Wheeler’s record until the ABC News report was broadcast.”It was shocking,” Smith said.A Labor Department bulletin sent out to district directors in June instructed them to “(1) take notice of this reporting and (2) not credit Dr. Wheeler’s negative readings… in the absence of persuasive evidence” that challenge the conclusions of the news organizations.”My judgment of his credibility is that unless someone can convince us otherwise, that anyone who has done that many readings and never found black lung isn’t probably credible,” Smith said.In court testimony in 2009, Wheeler said the last time he recalled finding a case of severe black lung, a finding that would automatically qualify a miner for benefits under a special federal program, was in “the 1970′s or the early ’80′s.”Hopkins suspended Wheeler’s black lung unit a few days after the ABC News/CPI report was broadcast and posted online.Hopkins said it would conduct its own internal investigation, which a spokesperson said remains ongoing.”We take these allegations very seriously and are still conducting the investigation into the [black lung] program,” Hopkins spokeswoman Kim Hoppe said in a June email. “While our investigation is ongoing, nobody at Hopkins — including Dr. Wheeler — is performing” black lung X-ray readings.Reached by phone in June, Wheeler said he hopes to be cleared by the internal Hopkins investigation — which he said is being conducted by the Washington, D.C., law firm Patton Boggs.
“The hospital still believes in my approach,” he said.Wheeler told ABC News then he was unmoved by the Labor Department bulletin.
“They’re not doctors,” he said. “If they were from qualified medical institutions, I would be very unhappy.”
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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