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Stephen Collins Denies He’s a Pedophile After Confessing to Sexual Misconduct With 3 Girls

Stephen Collins Denies He’s a Pedophile After Confessing to Sexual Misconduct With 3 Girls

Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  7th Heaven actor Stephen Collins says he is “absolutely not” a pedophile, claiming that the three underage girls he confessed to having sexual misconduct with were isolated incidents.“I'm absolutely not attracted, physically or sexually attracted to children,” Collins told Yahoo Global Anchor Katie Couric in an exclusive interview that will air on ABC News’ 20/20.Watch the full interview on ABC News' 20/20 FRIDAY at 10 p.m. ETCollins also denied that there have been any more victims, saying if more come forward, claiming he had been inappropriate with them, “it would not be the truth.”“I didn’t white-knuckle this... I’m not fighting. It’s not like if I miss therapy next week something’s going to happen,” he added. “I'm a human being. I have faults, and I've done things that I deeply regret.”The 67-year-old actor, best known for his role as Pastor Eric Camden, the family patriarch on the TV show, 7th Heaven, confessed this week to sexual misconduct with three underage girls years ago, a shocking revelation that has made him an entertainment industry pariah.Allegations of Collins’ wrongdoing first surfaced in October when a 2012 audio recording of his confession during a marriage counseling session with his estranged wife, Faye Grant, was released by TMZ. The audio included Collins admitting to the three incidents of sexual misconduct.Collins said Grant had secretly recorded every disturbing word, and he didn’t know his wife was wearing a wire until she told him after one of those sessions.“She took me into a stairwell, and she told me there,” Collins said. “She revealed that--she said, ‘I recorded. I was wearing a wire. I recorded that session.’ … and she said, ‘Here's our settlement. You're going to sign it now. Or … that recording is going to find its way to the media.’”“I've always said this, marriage is absolutely unfathomable,” he added. “You think you understand someone else's marriage, nobody does. Nobody does.”Grant denies being the source of the leak, and in a statement to ABC News Friday, she said, “Stephen's statements about me are false and appear to be an attempt by him to deflect from his conduct. I sincerely hope Stephen gets the help he needs.”But the fallout from the leaked audio recordings was fast for Collins. He was dropped from a recurring role on ABC’s Scandal and fired from the soon-to-be-released movie, Ted 2.In talking with Couric, Collins described an inappropriate encounter with one of the underage girls, saying he knew he had done something “unthinkably wrong” that he couldn't take back.Collins said there were two times in 1973 where he exposed himself to the “young woman.” He was 25 years old at the time, and she was 10.According to Collins, the underage girl had come to visit and stay with him and his first wife, and after his wife had gone to sleep, he and the girl were watching TV together.“And I took her hand and moved it in such a way that she was touching me inappropriately,” he said. “I knew that something unthinkably wrong had just happened that I couldn't take back, And I--I think we both just sat there. We really didn't move a muscle.”“And after about--what I recall was about 45 seconds, I took her hand and moved it back,” Collins continued. “I waited a couple of minutes, because I just didn't know what to do or say. And then I got up and left the room.”Collins also confessed to exposing himself to a 13-year-old girl in 1982, the same year he met Grant on the set of Tales of the Gold Monkey, and to a third girl, a 14-year-old, in 1994. But he said “there was no physical contact of any kind with either of them.”“The look on the one in 1982 was such that it immediately… just stopped everything cold,” he said. “It was clear that she was disoriented and frightened, and that just made me want to stop and cover up, and I did.”“It was not exciting. It was not gratifying. There was no gratification,” he added.For the past 20 years, Collins said he has been in intensive therapy, which has included therapeutic workshops, religious counseling and a 12-step program. In discussing his difficult past, Collins speculated that the reason he committed these acts was because of something he experienced in his own childhood.“The thing that makes the most sense to me, and it's not an excuse, because none of this is an excuse… but I did have someone in my life when I was between the age of about 10 and 15, an older woman, who repeatedly exposed herself to me,” Collins said.Collins said that older woman would appear in “various states of undress, or complete undress” on several occasions.“And I think that that distorted my perception in such a way that some part of me thought--because--I never felt like I was molested. Never occurred to me, that word never crossed my mind as a 10- to 15-year-old boy. It was a very intense experience. But I think somewhere in my brain I got the equation of, ‘well, this isn't so terrible. I mean this person who I trust is doing it,’” he said.“It's not why I did it,” Collins continued. “I’m not blaming her … I'm just saying, I think that's an aspect that went into my own distorted thinking as a young man.”When asked why he did these things, Collins said, “It was a combination of poor impulse control, arrogance, 25-year-old arrogance.”“I think it is about power, but not consciously,” he said. “There is a statement that says ‘figuring it out is the booby prize.’ Now that sounds odd. What that means to a lot of people in recovery is you can figure it out, you can intellectually understand it, but what’s important is what your behavior is. I’m still in regular therapy. I always will be out of respect for those women and it’s just not going to happen again and it hasn’t and I feel very confident that it won’t.”Until now, Collins had kept a low public profile, avoiding questions about the scandal and his nasty divorce to Faye Grant. He said he wanted to do this interview because he hoped it will help him move forward.“The truth [is] painful and it is less painful than the stuff that was flying around the Internet and some of the rumors, and I feel very, very sure that these things are behind me,” he said.But Collins said he is constantly atoning for the harm he caused three young girls years ago.I think of those women--every day,” he said. “And I would say, ‘With all my heart, I am sorry for what I put you through… and I want you to know… that nothing like that will ever happen again.’”

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Sen. Rand Paul Criticizes Marco Rubio’s Stance on Cuba

Sen. Rand Paul Criticizes Marco Rubio’s Stance on Cuba

Credit: US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- In an unusual series of events, a Republican Senator on Friday called out one of his fellow party members online on Friday.Sen. Rand Paul, R-S.C., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have publicly shared differing viewpoints on President Obama's decision to begin normalizing relations with Cuba. Paul has stated his interest in engaging Cuba, while Rubio is staunchly against the decision.On Friday, Paul posted a series of messages on both his Facebook and Twitter pages criticizing Rubio's stance."[Rubio] believes the embargo against Cuba has been ineffective, yet he wants to continue perpetuating failed policies," the Facebook post began. In it, Paul calls himself "a proponent of peace through commerce" and stated his belief that "engaging Cuba can lead to positive change."He went on to call Rubio an "isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat." Paul then sent a series of tweets, mentioning Rubio's handle, asking questions such as "what about the majority of Cuban-Americans who now support normalizing relations between our countries?" and "The United States trades and engages with other communist nations, such as China and Vietnam. So @marcorubio why not Cuba?"

Hey @marcorubio if the embargo doesn't hurt Cuba, why do you want to keep it?

— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 19, 2014

Senator @marcorubio is acting like an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat. I reject this isolationism.

— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 19, 2014

The United States trades and engages with other communist nations, such as China and Vietnam. So @marcorubio why not Cuba?

— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 19, 2014

.@marcorubio what about the majority of Cuban-Americans who now support normalizing relations between our countries? http://t.co/0qhSOeD9Va

— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 19, 2014 Both Paul and Rubio have been mentioned as possible candidates for the 2016 presidential election.

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Patient Exposed to Ebola Released from NIH Facility

Patient Exposed to Ebola Released from NIH Facility

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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."

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

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

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.

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

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

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.”

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Report: Rockets Acquire Corey Brewer

Report: Rockets Acquire Corey Brewer

National Basketball Association(HOUSTON, Tx.) -- The Houston Rockets are adding some much needed depth to their bench.

Corey Brewer has been traded to the Houston Rockets from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Friday, according to Yahoo Sports.

 The Timberwolves will receive guard Troy Daniels as well as two second round draft picks - one via Sacramento.

Houston is currently 18th in scoring offense in the NBA, averaging 99.8 points per game.  Their bench is also last in the NBA with 21.4 points per game.

Brewer will likely improve those numbers as he is averaging 10.5 points per game this season and shooting 41.8% from the field. 

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Scoreboard Roundup – 12/19/14

Scoreboard Roundup – 12/19/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- NBA:  Utah Jazz 101 (8-19) - Orlando Magic 94 (10-19)

Charlotte Hornets 109 (7-19) - Philadelphia 76ers 91 (2-23)

Boston Celtics 114 (10-14) - Minnesota Timberwolves 98 (5-20)

Toronto Raptors 110 (20-6) - Detroit Pistons 100 (5-21)

NHL: New Jersey Devils 3 (11-16-6) - Tampa Bay Lightning 2 (20-10-4)(F/SO)

NCAAM:  Eastern Kentucky 72 (6-4) - (18) Miami Fl 44 (9-2)

(20) St. Johns 53 (6-3) - Saint Mary's 47 (9-1)

 

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Yankees and Marlins Swap Prado and Eovaldi

Yankees and Marlins Swap Prado and Eovaldi

Major League Baseball(NEW YORK) -- The Yankees and Marlins have completed a five-player trade that will send Martin Prado to Miami and Nathan Eovaldi to New York.

Friday, the Yankees sent Prado and relief pitcher David Phelps to Miami, in exchange for the 24-year-old right handed fireballer Eovaldi, utility player Garrett Jones and minor league pitcher Domingo German.

Eovaldi, was 6-14 last season with a 4.37 ERA while also surrendering the most hits in the National League with 223.

The Yankees have made similar moves in the past; buying low on young inconsistent talent.

Last season, the team acquired pitcher Brandon McCarthy in a low risk move.  After a few tweaks to his mechanics and pitching tendencies McCarthy lowered his ERA from 4.53 in 2013 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, to 2.89 over 14 games for the Yankees last season.  McCarthy signed with the Dodgers this offseason for $48 million over four years.

According to Marc Craig of Newsday, the Yankees are also including $6 million in the trade to cover the salary of Prado. 

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US Troops to Deploy to Iraq in January to Train, Advise Iraqi Security Forces

US Troops to Deploy to Iraq in January to Train, Advise Iraqi Security Forces

Marcio Silva/iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- U.S. troops will arrive in Iraq in January in order to begin training and advising Iraqi security forces.At a Friday press briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said that 1,300 Americans will head to Iraq in January. About 1,000 of those troops will come from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, with 300 or so coming from other services.The U.S. plans to establish four main training areas -- in Baghdad, Erbil, Anbar and a fourth near Baghdad -- where American and coalition forces will train 12 Iraqi Army brigades.

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Conjoined Twin Babies Undergo First Step Toward Separation

Conjoined Twin Babies Undergo First Step Toward Separation

XiXinXing/iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Elysse Mata leaned over her 8-month-old conjoined twins, kissing their faces as tears streamed down her face and she whispered "I love you."The babies were about to undergo a skin-stretching surgery, the first step in their eventual separation at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. They share a chest wall, diaphragm, intestines, lungs, lining of the heart and pelvis.Five hours later, it was over.In recovery, the Mata family leaned over groggy Knatalye and Adeline, smoothing their hair back and kissing them in the recovery room."We are so thankful for the support and thoughts and prayers for our girls as they continue to grow, recover and prepare for the next step in their journey," Mata said in a statement.The twins will spend the next six to eight weeks recovering as a team of surgeons spanning six departments plans their separation, which is expected to take place early next year.

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Cost of US Airstrikes Targeting ISIS Surpasses $1 Billion

Cost of US Airstrikes Targeting ISIS Surpasses $1 Billion

pablographix/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The cost of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria has surpassed $1 billion, the Pentagon said Friday.The U.S. has been conducting airstrikes targeting ISIS in Iraq since Aug. 8. Strikes in Syria began in September. The Pentagon said Friday that the total cost of operations has reached $1.02 billion as of Dec. 11. The average daily cost is $8.1 million.

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Wall Street Continues Climb, Labor Department Notes Positive State Unemployment Data

Wall Street Continues Climb, Labor Department Notes Positive State Unemployment Data

tarabird/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Coming off of the strongest two-day trading in over a year, Wall Street closed the week on a positive note Friday.The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 44.02 to 17822.17.The Nasdaq climbed 20.91 to 4769.31, while the S&P 500 closed at 2072.05, up 10.82 from its opening price.On Friday, the Labor Department released data on state unemployment rates for November, noting that 41 states and the District of Columbia saw their unemployment rates decrease from October, while just three states saw increases in unemployment. The largest improvement came in Illinois where the unemployment rate dropped 2.6 points.

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Obama Makes History, Calling Only on Female Reporters

Obama Makes History, Calling Only on Female Reporters

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mark this down as a historic day in White House history.President Obama has just become the first president to field questions from only female reporters at a White House press conference.Former ABC News correspondent Ann Compton, the first woman to report on the White House full time for a network and who covered the beat for 40 years, said that never before has a president only taken questions from women during a solo press conference.On Friday, Obama took questions from eight reporters, all women from print or radio outlets. He fielded no questions from male reporters and none from the television networks.The women-only question session triggered a flood of reactions on social media from members of the White House press corps and around journalism.

With 8th & last question, it's fact: Obama called only on women at press conf. Women long chafed at dominance of front-row male TV reporters

— Jackie Calmes (@calmesnyt) December 19, 2014

While I hope it's not a permanent ban on questions from male reporters, hard to complain about what women reporters have endured for decades

— Jonathan Allen (@jonallendc) December 19, 2014

Premise for Mrs. Doubtfire reboot: male tv reporter dresses as woman in order to land interview with POTUS. Briefing room hijinks ensue.

— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) December 19, 2014

@karentravers @markknoller Bush43 once called on only men. Ari Fleischer defended saying those news orgzs failed to assign women to WH

— Ann Compton (@AnnCompton) December 19, 2014

Asked about the decision to call only on female reporters, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said “The fact is, there are many women from a variety of news organizations who day-in and day-out do the hard work of covering the President of the United States. As the questioner list started to come together, we realized that we had a unique opportunity to highlight that fact at the President’s closely watched, end of the year news conference.”

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Stephen Colbert’s Portrait to Hang Between Bathrooms at the Smithsonian Once Again

Stephen Colbert’s Portrait to Hang Between Bathrooms at the Smithsonian Once Again

Photo Credit: Scott Gries/PictureGroup/Comedy Central(WASHINGTON) -- Following the end of his nine-year run on Comedy Central, and in advance of his move to CBS to take over The Late Show, Stephen Colbert will have a portrait hung in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery for the second time.The comedian's eponymous hit show, The Colbert Report, ran from October 2005 through Thursday, capping off a run over more than 1,400 episodes.

The National Portrait Gallery confirmed the second portrait on its blog on Friday. The new portrait, the gallery says, "shows the shameless self-promoter reflected in a mirror." Outdoing Colbert's 2008 portrait -- which featured a three-deep image of the performer -- the new portrait features six images of Colbert, wearing different ties and holding different props from his show, including a pair of Emmy awards and his best-selling book.The new portrait will grace the same space as Colbert's first -- between the second-floor restrooms.

It will be on display until April 19, 2015.

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Obama to Deliver State of the Union Address on Jan. 20

Obama to Deliver State of the Union Address on Jan. 20

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has accepted House Speaker John Boehner's invitation to report to Congress on the state of the union next month.Boehner, R-Ohio, invited the president to deliver his State of the Union address in a letter Friday."The new year will bring a new American Congress, and with it, the opportunity to continue our work to build a stronger economy and secure a better future for our country," the House speaker said in the letter. "In that spirit, it is my honor to invite you to address a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 so that you may fulfill your duty under the Constitution to report on the state of the union and recommend measures for our consideration.""Your report will inform our efforts to address the people’s priorities," Boehner added.The joint session of Congress to receive Obama's address is slated to take place at 9 p.m. ET on Jan. 20.

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LAFD Says Apartment Complex Fire Was Arson

LAFD Says Apartment Complex Fire Was Arson

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."

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These American Fugitives May Be Hiding Out in Cuba

These American Fugitives May Be Hiding Out in Cuba

FBI(NEW YORK) -- Former prisoner Alan Gross was thrilled to return to America from Cuba earlier this week but there are dozens of other Americans who are in the country for other reasons -- and probably don't plan on leaving.Cuba has been a haven for American fugitives for decades, but now that the two countries are restoring diplomatic relations their hideout might not be an option much longer."We will continue to press for the return of U.S. fugitives in Cuba to pursue justice for the victims of their crimes in our engagement with the Cuban government," the Department of Justice said in a statement emailed to ABC News.There is no official number of Americans who have fled to Cuba, but reports suggest there could be dozens.Federal officials have publicly placed at least one fugitive, Joanne Chesimard, in Cuba. However, they did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation on the whereabouts of the other fugitives named below.Here are some of the most notorious Americans who have been reported as possibly hiding in the island nation just 90 miles off the coast:1. Joanne ChesimardJoanne Chesimard has been living in Cuba under the name Assata Shakur since 1984.She was a member of the Black Liberation Army in 1973 when she shot and killed Trooper Werner Foerster during a traffic stop. She was convicted in 1977 and escaped prison two years later.Chesimard, who became the first woman on the FBI's Most Wanted list last year, hid in a series of safe houses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania before fleeing to Cuba.Anyone who helps bring Chesimard, now 66, into custody stands to get $2 million in rewards, according to the FBI.2. Guillermo MoralesA bomb maker who fought for Puerto Rican independence is one of the American fugitives who has been living in Havana.Guillermo "William" Morales was sentenced to 99 years in prison after being linked to two explosions in New York City -- one in 1975 that killed four and injured 60, and a second in 1977 that killed one, The New York Post reported.Morales escaped from the prison ward of Bellevue Hospital in 1979 and, though he was reportedly held in a Mexican prison for several years in relation to a different crime, he fled to Cuba after his release in 1988."The U.S. press looks at me one way, but the press in Puerto Rico looks at me in a positive way because I’m a person that defends their homeland," he told The Post in 1999.3. Victor Manuel GerenaVictor Manuel Gerena fled custody in the United States following a 1983 robbery in Connecticut.Gerena, now 56, allegedly robbed a security company of $7 million and "took two security employees hostage at gunpoint and then handcuffed, bound and injected them with an unknown substance in order to further disable them," according to the FBI.A representative from the New Haven branch of the FBI confirmed to ABC that Gerena is still considered a fugitive but would not comment on his suspected whereabouts.Published reports suggest that he could be in either Mexico or Cuba.4. Charlie HillLike Chesimard, who was publicly praised by Fidel Castro, not all of the fugitives are trying to hide their whereabouts.Charlie Hill is wanted by New Mexico officials after he allegedly killed a state trooper and hijacked a plane in 1971.Hill, a native of Illinois, spoke to The New York Times in 2007 and discussed what he thought would happen to him if his longtime protector, Castro, died."I don’t think there will be much change if Fidel dies," Hill told The Times in 2007. "There might be, but I think it’s 60-40 that not much will happen. If it does, well, what can I do?"5. Ishmael LaBeetIshmael LaBeet reportedly has been hiding in Cuba, though his troubles stem from a different island.LaBeet and others were charged in the murder of eight people in St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, in 1973.According to The St. Thomas Source, LaBeet was being flown to the mainland U.S. in 1984, got control of one of the armed guards escorting him, and forced the commercial plane -- full of other passengers -- to Cuba.After the plane landed in Cuba, LaBeet reportedly was welcomed to his new country. The plane then was allowed to fly back to the U.S.

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Obama Determined to ‘Chip Away’ at ‘Hermetically Sealed’ Cuba

Obama Determined to ‘Chip Away’ at ‘Hermetically Sealed’ Cuba

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama's decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba will "chip away" at the island's "hermetically sealed society," the president said Friday at what is likely his last press conference of the year."This is still a regime that represses its people," the president acknowledged. "But what I know, deep in my bones, is that if you’ve done the same things for 50 years, you should try something different if you want a different outcome.""Suddenly Cuba is open to the world in way’s that it hasn’t been before," he continued. "Over time, that chips away at this hermetically sealed society and, I believe, offers the best prospect of leading to greater freedom, greater self-determination of the Cuban people."In the wide-ranging press conference, Obama also touted his economic accomplishments this year."Pick any metric you want, America's resurgence is real," President Obama said. "We are better off."“In terms of my own job, I am energized, I’m excited about the prospects for the next couple of years," Obama said, adding he wasn’t going to be “stopping for a minute” in his quest to make life better for all Americans.“My presidency’s entering the fourth quarter,” he said. “Interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter.”The president leaves Washington on a high note, having made progress on several top priorities as he heads into the final two years of his presidency. In recent weeks, the president negotiated an unprecedented climate deal with China, took unilateral actions to reform the nation’s immigration system and announced a historic thawing of relations with Cuba.Despite these successes, the president’s approval rating remains dismally low, hovering around 40 percent.

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