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John Sheridan’s, Wife’s Deaths Lead to Investigation by NJ Attorney General

John Sheridan’s, Wife’s Deaths Lead to Investigation by NJ Attorney General

Credit: Tetra Image/Getty Images(TRENTON, N.J.) -- The New Jersey attorney general's office is launching an investigation into the mysterious deaths of a couple who were close friends with Gov. Chris Christie.Police found the bodies of John Sheridan and his wife Joyce Sherwood inside their home last September when a neighbor called police to report a suspicious fire."I believe my neighbor's house may be the beginnings of a fire," the neighbor told a 911 dispatcher.The deaths were initially deemed a murder-suicide, but a source close to the investigation told ABC News that the Sherdians were stabbed several times with at least three different weapons.Police have only retrieved two of those weapons, according to the source.The investigation by the attorney general's office will be parallel to the police's investigation. The office has sent investigators to provide "additional manpower and expertise" to local police amid concerns over the progress detectives have made, officials said."They sense and know and understand there's a lot of frustration and people feel like we should just know," said family spokesman Tom Wilson. "They understand that this isn't for lack of trying on the part of law enforcement."

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Biden Announces $135 Million in Humanitarian Aid for Syrians Affected by Conflict

Biden Announces $135 Million in Humanitarian Aid for Syrians Affected by Conflict

Official White House Photo by David Lienemann(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden announced on Saturday that the U.S. would pledge an additional $135 million in humanitarian aid to help feed citizens impacted by the conflict in Syria.According to a release from the White House, the latest round of humanitarian assistance brings the total pledged by the U.S. to over $3 billion since the start of the crisis, including $222 million to international humanitarian organizations working with the Turkish government. The White House notes that an estimated 1.6 million refugees from Syria have received aid from Turkey, and 190,000 refugees have left the town of Kobani for Turkey in recent weeks.The breakdown of the aid money includes $133 in regufee food needs -- $63 million for those displaced by the conflict to other parts of Syria and $70 million for those forced to neighboring countries. About $11 million of the $70 million will go towards food assistance for those refugees in Turkey.Biden made the announcement from Istanbul, following a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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Obama Expands Scope of US Mission in Afghanistan

Obama Expands Scope of US Mission in Afghanistan

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. official confirmed to ABC News on Saturday that President Obama signed an executive order expanding the scope of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan beyond what had been initially planned.As part of the order, U.S. troops will be allowed to target Taliban forces that threaten U.S. troops within Afghanistan or that provide support to al-Qaeda. Originally, the 9,800 U.S. troops staying in Afghanistan were expected to be involved in training. The order will also allow American aircraft to provide air support for Afghan troops on combat missions.The ongoing combat mission is slated to end on Dec. 31.According to the New York Times, the new name for the mission in Afghanistan will be Operation Resolute Support.

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Hookah Use Linked to Increased Presence of Chemical Linked to Cancer

Hookah Use Linked to Increased Presence of Chemical Linked to CancerCredit: Image Source/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A study conducted by researchers in San Diego found a link between hookah smoking an a toxin that has been known to cause cancer.According to the study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomar...

At Least Three Protesters Arrested in Ferguson Friday Night, Activist Groups and Local Authorities Aim to Keep Peace

At Least Three Protesters Arrested in Ferguson Friday Night, Activist Groups and Local Authorities Aim to Keep Peace

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- At least three protesters were arrested in Ferguson on Friday night during demonstrations in advance of a possible grand jury decision related to the August shooting of Michael Brown by local police officer Darren Wilson.According to the Saint Louis County Police Department, the three individuals were identified as Kenny Thomas, 55, David Rodriguez, 26, and William Morales, 23. Each of the three faces charges of unlawful assembly after they refused to leave the roadway when officers urged them to do so. The demonstrators, police say, were wearing "Anonymous" masks, and one of the demonstrators was using a bullhorn with a siren on it to shout profanities. On Friday, state and local officials had announced an agreement with activist groups on how police should respond to protesters once they grand jury decision is made on whether or not to indict Wilson. The so-called "rules of engagement" aim to prevent the tensions and violence that boiled over during protests over the shooting earlier this year.

The grand jury will not meet this weekend, however, and will instead reconvene on Monday.A U.S. delegation that reported to the United Nations Committee against Torture last week sent a letter to the U.N. on Friday calling for special rapporteurs to be sent to document possible human rights violations, should protests grow violent again.Also on Friday evening, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it had signed an agreement with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the County of Saint Louis and the City of Ferguson to affirm the rights of protesters to record law enforcement officers, an agreement that the ACLU of Missouri's legal director Tony Rothers called protection of the First Amendment rights of journalists.

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Bulls Forward Taj Gibson Suffers Sprained Ankle

Bulls Forward Taj Gibson Suffers Sprained Ankle

NBA via Chicago Bulls(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- The Chicago Bulls have to deal with another injured player as power forward Taj Gibson is out with a sprained ankle.

Midway through the third quarter of the team's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, and have to be carried off the floor by a pair of teammates.

X-rays wound up coming back negative, which is good news considering Gibson has dealt with issues in that same ankle in the past.

"It's the same lingering injury," Gibson said. "Just keep trying to play through it, trying to be there for my teammates. Just push through. All summer I was trying to rehab the same ankle and it just keeps flaring up. I keep having these little bum ankle turns. And I just took some time off from it and tried to rush back and this thing happened again. I'm just frustrated."

The 29-year-old Gibson is a key reserve for the Bulls. In 12 games this season, he's averaging 12.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

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Bill Cosby, Lawyer React to ‘Innuendos’

Bill Cosby, Lawyer React to ‘Innuendos’

Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images(MELBOURNE, Fla.) -- Bill Cosby briefly addressed the "innuendos" about him before a performance in Melbourne, Florida, on Friday evening, and his lawyer released a statement denouncing what he described as the media's focus on "fantastical stories" in which women have accused the comedian of sexual abuse.Cosby spoke briefly to Florida Today before Friday's show, denouncing an alleged call by a radio station to heckle his performance and explaining his recent silence on the accusations against him."I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn't have to answer to innuendos," he said. “People should fact check. People shouldn't have to go through that and shouldn't answer to innuendos."In addition, Cosby's lawyer, Martin D. Singer, made the following statement to ABC News:“The new, never-before-heard claims from women who have come forward in the past two weeks with unsubstantiated, fantastical stories about things they say occurred 30, 40, or even 50 years ago have escalated far past the point of absurdity.""These brand new claims about alleged decades-old events are becoming increasingly ridiculous, and it is completely illogical that so many people would have said nothing, done nothing, and made no reports to law enforcement or asserted civil claims if they thought they had been assaulted over a span of so many years.""Lawsuits are filed against people in the public eye every day. There has never been a shortage of lawyers willing to represent people with claims against rich, powerful men, so it makes no sense that not one of these new women who just came forward for the first time now ever asserted a legal claim back at the time they allege they had been sexually assaulted.""This situation is an unprecedented example of the media’s breakneck rush to run stories without any corroboration or adherence to traditional journalistic standards. Over and over again, we have refuted these new unsubstantiated stories with documentary evidence, only to have a new uncorroborated story crop up out of the woodwork. When will it end?""It is long past time for this media vilification of Mr. Cosby to stop."

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US Embassy in Mexico Issues Security Warning for Acapulco

US Embassy in Mexico Issues Security Warning for Acapulco

Pedro PARDO/AFP/Getty Images(ACAPULCO, Mexico) -- The U.S. Embassy in Mexico has issued a security warning on Saturday, urging U.S. citizens to avoid Acapulco due to violence and protests.The protests have escalated in recent weeks after the disappearance of 43 Mexican students. U.S. Embassy personnel have been told to put off all non-essential travel to the area by air or land. The embassy also notes that road travel in other areas of Guerrero state is prohibited.The embassy notes a ban in the Mexican Constitution on political activities by foreigners, warning Americans to avoid demonstrations or other activities that could be deemed political by Mexican authorities, as such actions could result in detention or deportation.

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Earthquake Measuring Magnitude 6.2 Strikes in Central Japan

Earthquake Measuring Magnitude 6.2 Strikes in Central Japan

United States Geological Survey(OMACHI, Japan) -- A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck in Japan on Saturday morning.According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the tremor originated from an area about 10 miles northeast of Omachi and just 6.2 miles underground. There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths caused by the quake.The USGS said that the tremor was felt at least as far away as Tokyo, 191 miles away.

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Obama Talks Immigration Reform in Weekly Address

Obama Talks Immigration Reform in Weekly Address

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's address, President Obama discusses immigration reform.

Obama talks about the specific steps he outlined this week.

"We’re providing more resources at the border to help law enforcement personnel stop illegal crossings, and send home those who do cross over," Obama says. "We’ll focus enforcement resources on people who are threats to our security – felons, not families; criminals, not children.  And we’ll bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so they can play by the rules, pay their full share of taxes, pass a criminal background check, and get right with the law."Obama says he will continue to work with Congress on a bipartisan bill that can fix the immigration system.

Read the full transcript of Obama's address:

Hi everybody.  Today, I’m at Del Sol High School, in Las Vegas, to talk with students and families about immigration.  We are a nation of immigrants.  It has always given America a big advantage over other nations.  It keeps our country young, dynamic, and entrepreneurial.  But today, our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it. That’s why, nearly two years ago, I came to this school and laid out principles for immigration reform.  And five months later, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in the Senate came together to pass a commonsense compromise bill.  That bill would have secured our border, while giving undocumented immigrants who already live here a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line.  Independent experts said it would grow our economy, and shrink our deficits. Now, had the House of Representatives allowed a yes-or-no vote on that kind of bill, it would have passed with support from both parties. Today it would be the law. But for a year and a half, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.  Now, I still believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together – both parties – to pass that kind of bipartisan law.  But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President – the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican Presidents before me – that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just. I took those actions this week.  We’re providing more resources at the border to help law enforcement personnel stop illegal crossings, and send home those who do cross over.  We’ll focus enforcement resources on people who are threats to our security – felons, not families; criminals, not children.  And we’ll bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so they can play by the rules, pay their full share of taxes, pass a criminal background check, and get right with the law.  Nothing about this action will benefit anyone who has come to this country recently, or who might try and come to America illegally in the future.  It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive.  And it’s certainly not amnesty, no matter how often the critics say it.  Amnesty is the immigration system we have today – millions of people living here without paying their taxes, or playing by the rules.  And the actions I took this week will finally start fixing that. As you might have heard, there are Members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better.  Well, I have one answer for that:  Pass a bill.  The day I sign it into law, the actions I’ve taken to help solve this problem will no longer be necessary.  In the meantime, we can’t allow a disagreement over a single issue to be a dealbreaker on every issue.  That’s not how our democracy works.  This debate deserves more than politics as usual.  It’s important for our future.  It’s about who we are, and the future we want to build. We are only here because this country welcomed our forebears, and taught them that being American is about more than what we look like or where we come from.  What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal – that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.  That’s the country we inherited, and it’s the one we have to leave for future generations. Thank you, God bless you, and have a great weekend.

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GOP Address: Rep. Bill Cassidy On ‘Fighting for Job-Creating Projects’ Like Keystone XL Pipeline

GOP Address: Rep. Bill Cassidy On ‘Fighting for Job-Creating Projects’ Like Keystone XL Pipeline

Sean Gardner/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's Republican address, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana talks about fighting for job-creating projects.

He specifically cites the Keystone XL Pipeline, which failed in the Senate this week.

Cassidy says the benefits of building the pipeline include boosting the construction industry and creating over 40,000 jobs.  "The case for approving the pipeline is clear and obvious," Cassidy said. "This is a perfect example of what the American people want President Obama and Congress to do. Americans' frustration with the President’s failure to strengthen the economy, create jobs and make America energy secure was evident in the election November 4th. But more than six years after the Keystone application was first submitted, the pipeline has still not been approved. This is six years too long."

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

Hello. I’m Doctor Bill Cassidy.

  “I’ve had the privilege of representing the 6th Congressional District of Louisiana.    “As a doctor, I’ve worked in Louisiana’s public hospital system treating the uninsured and underinsured for 25 years.   “When my patients tell me about their health concerns, they also tell me they are worried about the economy, their jobs, the direction of our country.   “Many families, many Louisiana families, are struggling.   “They need better jobs, better wages, better benefits.   “We have the opportunity to create these jobs. It starts with developing North America's natural resources and securing America’s energy independence now.    “That’s why I’ve been fighting for job-creating projects like the Keystone XL pipeline.   “Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Cassidy Keystone bill which would approve the construction of this pipeline. This is the ninth time the House has voted to build the Keystone pipeline.   “Building Keystone would create more than 40,000 high-paying jobs, putting billions of dollars in workers’ pockets, and give a much needed boost to America’s construction industry.   “Manufacturers and their employees throughout the economy also benefit from the construction of this infrastructure project.   “Refiners in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast benefit from a reliable supply of heavy crude, including American oil from North Dakota, which would be transported through the pipeline.    “More than 60 percent of Americans support building the pipeline.   “The State Department review found that the pipeline would have little or no impact on the environment. And it will also save lives, because when oil is transported by train or truck inevitably there are accidents and workers may die.   “Yet President Obama doesn’t seem to care.   “The case for approving the pipeline is clear and obvious. This is a perfect example of what the American people want President Obama and Congress to do. Americans’ frustration with the President’s failure to strengthen the economy, create jobs and make America energy secure was evident in the election November 4th.   “But more than six years after the Keystone application was first submitted, the pipeline has still not been approved.   “This is six years too long.   “So why hasn’t President Obama approved?   “Why did it take Louisiana’s Senior Senator nearly 3,000 days to do something about it?   “If there was ever legislation that should be easy to get through the United States Senate, it is the Keystone XL pipeline.   “When the House passed the Cassidy Keystone bill, we made it as easy as possible for the Senate to get a bill to the President’s desk.   “The Cassidy bill contained the legislative language proposed by the Senate.   “I worked with colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass this version as quickly as possible. It passed with strong Republican and Democrat support.   “Unfortunately, President Obama and his supporters in the Senate oppose the Keystone jobs.   “It is time for the President to approve these jobs.   “But this isn’t just about Keystone. Keystone has become a symbol for the need to achieve North American energy independence.   “We need to expand access for energy production both on and offshore, and to allow the development of the infrastructure to transport fuel to the American people.     “That’s why Americans spoke loud and clear on November 4th. They want Congress to work together to do what’s right for the American people. They rejected President Obama’s agenda that discourages the creation of manufacturing and construction jobs – the jobs that would be created because of projects like Keystone.   “Americans voted for Republicans. Republicans – we are the party of jobs.   “And on December 6th, it’s the people of Louisiana’s turn to be heard.   “We, the people of Louisiana will decide whether we want someone in the Senate who represents President Obama, or who represents us. Someone who will work hard for jobs in Louisiana all the time, not just when their job is on the line.   “Someone who will repeal and replace Obamacare with patient-centered solutions;   “Who will push back on the EPA’s job-killing regulations;   “Who will fight against President Obama’s executive amnesty;   “Who will defend our second amendment rights;   “And who will push to get the Keystone pipeline and other energy development projects built.   “I’m running for the United States Senate because I am that person. Louisiana needs a Senator who can pass Keystone. Louisiana does not need a Senator who supports President Obama 97 percent of the time; we need a Senator who supports us, the people of Louisiana, 100 percent of the time.   “Representing the people of Louisiana is a great honor. On December 6th, Louisiana will choose our next U.S. Senator. My commitment to you is that if you choose me, Bill Cassidy, I will do my best to live up to that honor.   “Thank you. God bless America, and God bless the great state of Louisiana.”

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Scoreboard Roundup – 11/21/14

Scoreboard Roundup – 11/21/14Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- NBA: Phoenix Suns 122 (8-5) - Philadelphia 76ers 96 (0-12) Orlando Magic 105 (6-8) - Charlotte Hornets 100 (4-9) Atlanta Hawks 99 (5-5) - Detroit Pistons 89 (3-9) Toronto Raptors 124 (10-2) - Milwaukee Bucks 83 (7-6) Me...

Two in Ferguson Charged With Lying on Forms to Buy Guns Ahead of Grand Jury Decision

Two in Ferguson Charged With Lying on Forms to Buy Guns Ahead of Grand Jury Decision

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Federal authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, charged two men with lying on forms to purchase guns ahead of the grand jury decision in the police shooting of Michael Brown.Olajuwon Davis and Brandon Baldwin only faced those charges as of late Friday, but sources told ABC News that authorities were looking into whether they tried to acquire ready-made explosives and other weapons ahead of the decision, which is expected soon.Neither man had a lawyer listed on court documents.The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives played a part in the arrest.The two men are believed to be associated with radical groups and the charges that were filed were intended to "take them out of the rotation," said one source.

The FBI has sent about 100 agents to the St. Louis area to help deal with any problems that could arise from the grand jury decision.St. Louis authorities said earlier Friday that the grand jury was still meeting. The panel will decide whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for shooting Brown, who was unarmed, on Aug. 9.The FBI declined to comment on its operation in Ferguson.Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency earlier this week and activated the Missouri National Guard to help keep order if necessary.Michael Brown Sr., the father of the slain teen, issued a videotaped appeal this week for protester to remain peaceful whatever the verdict.

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Two Men Walk Free After 40 Years in Prison for Crime They Didn’t Commit

Two Men Walk Free After 40 Years in Prison for Crime They Didn’t Commit

iStock/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) -- On May 25, 1975, Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman went to jail for a murder they didn’t commit. Sentenced to death on the testimony of a single juvenile witness, the men continued to protest their innocence through years of incarceration.

On Friday, nearly 40 years later, they walked out of prison as free men after the state’s witness in the case admitted that he concocted his testimony under police intimidation.

A case suffused with emotion culminated in exoneration Friday morning, when Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Richard McMonagle formally dismissed all charges against Jackson after a brief hearing. Bridgeman, whose case was heard separately, was exonerated two hours later by Judge David Matia.

The two joined Bridgeman’s younger brother Ronnie, now known as Kwame Ajamu, who was found guilty of the same crime and eventually paroled in 2003.

The three were originally jailed for the 1975 murder of Harry Franks, a Cleveland businessman, after a 12-year-old witness named Edward Vernon told police that he had seen them attack the victim. No physical evidence linked them to the crime scene. Jackson was just 19 years old when he was sentenced to die, Wiley Bridgeman was 20, and Ronnie Bridgeman was 17.

“The English language doesn’t have words to express how I’m feeling right now,” Jackson, now 58, told reporters.

Wiley Bridgeman, now 60, quietly thanked the judge and attorneys in the courthouse as his case was dismissed. He had once been less than three weeks away from execution, rescued when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Ohio’s previous capital punishment law in 1978.

The case was a major victory for the Ohio Innocence Project, which coordinated much of the investigation into the exonerating evidence and whose staff attorney, Brian Howe, represented Jackson. Terry Gilbert and David Mills, who together represent the brothers Bridgeman and Ajamu, worked with the Innocence Project during the case.

“It’s been years in the making,” Howe told ABC News. “Literally years of work, witness interviews, tracking people down -- all that culminated on Tuesday when the state withdrew its case.”

The first domino on the path to exoneration fell in 2011, when an investigation by reporter Kyle Swenson in The Cleveland Scene, an alternative weekly magazine, cast doubt on the 1975 convictions. Later, the Ohio Innocence Project took Jackson’s case and began investigating.

“Kyle Swenson did some great investigative journalism into the case before anyone had really heard about it, way before Ed Vernon had recanted his testimony,” Howe said. “Kyle’s article was the first thing I read when I took on this case, and that really compelled me to spend those extra nights and weekends digging into it.”

Vernon was sick and in the hospital, wracked with anxiety, when his minister convinced him to come clean. Later, the Innocence Project obtained a signed affidavit in which Vernon forswore the statements he made as a boy.

Last week, Vernon, now a 52-year-old man, took to the stand to give stunning, emotional testimony recanting his childhood statements.

“He was a wreck,” McMonagle, the judge who presided over Jackson’s trial, told ABC News.

“Eddie Vernon broke down on the stand frequently during testimony,” said Gilbert. “He talked about how his life was affected by the stress, the anguish, because for all these years he was afraid that if he came forward with the truth, then he would go to prison.”

Vernon testified that he had been on a school bus when he heard the gunshot that killed Franks. As a 12-year-old, he passed on rumors he had heard to the police incriminating Jackson and the Bridgeman brothers. When he tried to back out of his account at a police lineup, he testified that officers intimidated him into giving false testimony, yelling at him and banging on a table.

“He was a kid,” Gilbert told ABC News. “He hadn’t seen them do it. The police told him that he’d go to jail, that they’d send his mother to jail if he backed out, and he was a scared kid.”

Vernon’s testimony made a powerful impression on the hearing.

Judge McMonagle said, “One of the prosecutors said later that hearing all the evidence and the recanted testimony made her physically sick, that she felt terrible.”

After the hearing, the prosecutors totally conceded, Gilbert told ABC News.

“Everybody’s human," Gilbert said, "and when you hear this story and hear this man testify, it’s like something you can’t believe.”

On Tuesday, the prosecution withdrew its case after Jackson testified before the hearing.

“We’ve had a lot of emotion in this case this week,” Howe told ABC News. “Ricky spoke on Tuesday, talking about being sentenced to death as a teenager, and we could barely get through the testimony.”

By Friday, the case’s dismissal was a formality. By noon, both Jackson and Bridgeman walked away as free men.

In 1975, Judge McMonagle’s father, George, was the judge who presided over the case when it was first tried. At 9 a.m., he dismissed the case first heard by his father almost 40 years ago.

“It means something when I think about it, since he’s been gone for a while,” the younger McMonagle told ABC News of his father, who passed away in 2002. “I’m retiring at the end of the year myself, and this is certainly something I’ll remember.”

Ajamu, previously Ronnie Bridgeman, was released on parole in 2003, but his case will soon be heard for dismissal, as well. Gilbert told ABC News that, although Ajamu's team could apply for the case to be dismissed remotely, Ajamu wanted his day in court.

“Kwame wants to hear it from a judge,” he said. “He wants to hear it from a judge that he’s a free man.”

Ajamu, who has a wife now, will temporarily host his brother Bridgeman and Jackson while they sort out their new lives as free men.

“After all this time, they don’t have a penny to their name except for the money they had in their pockets when they were jailed,” Howe said. “We’re going to help Ricky get a wardrobe, and we’re going to tackle some paperwork to get him a birth certificate, some documentation to get him ready to get a driver’s license.”

Howe added that the Ohio Innocence Project had put together a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe to help Jackson get started on his new life out of prison.

“He’s not bitter or angry,” Howe said. “He’s just really looking forward to getting on with his life. He’s excited about getting a job, driving a car. He’s just processing the facts of being a free man.”

After the hearing, Jackson told reporters that he did not bear any resentment toward Vernon after those years of imprisonment.

“He’s a grown man today,” Jackson said. “He was just a boy back then."

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Top Hillary Clinton Supporters Gather to Plot, Strategize

Top Hillary Clinton Supporters Gather to Plot, Strategize

Feng Li/Getty Images(NEW YORK ) -- Two-hundred prominent Democratic strategists, former Clinton aides and donors, joined forces on Friday for a day-long strategy meeting hosted by the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC Ready for Hillary to coalesce their efforts, plot and plan for when and if Hillary Clinton runs for president.The meeting, held at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, where the Clintons hold their annual Clinton Global Initiative summit, was made up of a series of closed-to-the-media strategizing panels and marked the beginning of the end of Ready for Hillary, which plans to shut down its operations once Clinton announces a run.It also marked a turning point for Clinton’s potential 2016 campaign.Although nobody would flat out say it (hypotheticals like “if” and “hope” preceded all statements about her candidacy), the general sentiment among the panelists and attendees was: She’s running. And when she does, her supporters said, they will be ready.“Hopes run high,” Marty Chavez, the former Albuquerque mayor and a senior adviser for Ready for Hillary, told reporters. “The biggest takeaway I have is … there are a lot of people who have her back if she says yes.”The attendees at the event included Correct the Record’s David Brock and Bruce Strider, who were invited guests to last weekend’s 10th anniversary event for the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, as well as political strategists Harold Ickes, James Carville and Paul Begala. Two people who have been mentioned as possible campaign managers for Clinton, Stephanie Shriock, the head of EMILY’s List, and Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, also were there.Hillary Clinton herself was not at the event. Super PAC rules would not allow her to go.Very little was said about other possible Democratic presidential candidates, such as former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, who just this week became the first candidate to throw his hat in to the ring. The panelists said they saw Hillary Clinton as the most “formidable” candidate and that any concerns were not about a “Hillary Clinton problem,” but rather a problem for the Democratic Party, as a whole.“We have yet to figure out a message on the economy that resonates with working-class voters,” Mitch Stewart, a former Obama adviser and founding partner of 270 Strategies, which partnered with Ready for Hillary, told reporters. “We have not been able to persuade them that your values align with ours. And that, for me, is the biggest concern out there.”The meeting also focused on acknowledging what Ready for Hillary has accomplished since it launched nearly two years ago. In that time, the group has raised $11 million and gained 3 million supporters. Once it shuts down, the group plans to transfer its vast email list of supporters to Clinton’s campaign. It was unclear, however, what would happen to the group’s now-famous bus.Ready for Hillary’s meeting came a day after Hillary Clinton came out in support of President Obama’s executive action on immigration and blamed Congress for inaction on the issue. It was a rare move for Clinton, prompting speculation she might be starting to position herself as a candidate, because she has remained relatively mute on policy matters since she stepped down as Obama’s secretary of state in 2013.Ready for Hillary also hosted a grassroots fundraising event Thursday night at a noisy, haram-themed lounge downtown.The event, with roughly 150 people, cost $20.16 to attend and offered up cocktails thematically linked to Clinton, who might run to become America’s 45th president.“I’ll have one ‘Ceiling Breaker’ and one ’45,’” a young 20-something guy, donning a small Ready for Hillary sticker on his button-down shirt, was heard yelling out to the bartender.Two minutes later, he was handed two ambiguously colored drinks.“No idea,” he shouted out when asked what was in them. But, he said with a smile, “They’re named after her.”Hillary Clinton, who has a lighter-than-usual schedule in the coming month, has said she will likely make a decision on 2016 sometime early next year.

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Ferguson ‘On Edge’ and Worried, Brown Family Lawyer Says

Ferguson ‘On Edge’ and Worried, Brown Family Lawyer Says

Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- The city of Ferguson is "nervous, on edge, scared" as they await the grand jury's decision on the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown, a lawyer for the Brown family and protest leaders said on Friday."The city is really in a panic at this moment," attorney Anthony Gray said in a press conference Friday afternoon.Federal, state and county officials have been ramping up their readiness in case there is a fresh wave of angry and at times violent protests over the jury's decision. Protesters have been demanding that Police Officer Darren Wilson be charged with murder for the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown.Gray said that he has received "numerous calls, emails and text messages expressing concern from members of our community about their safety," including from residents who specifically say they are worried about how they are going to get necessary medication.Many stores have boarded up their windows for fear of destructive protesters. The manager of Beauty Town Plus, a salon on West Florissant Avenue, where much of the protests centered during the summer, told ABC News that they decided to board up because their windows were broken three times following Brown’s death.Law enforcement have taken the threat of violence seriously as well as two federal officials confirmed to ABC News that more than 100 FBI personnel are being sent to the St. Louis area to join those already in the area and opened an intelligence center to head up operations.There were protests in the area both Wednesday and Thursday, though with less than half a dozen arrests at each, they were far smaller than those held this summer.“It’s a dicey situation right now,” Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told ABC News.“We’re preparing for the worst, but we’re really hoping that the leadership… understands the property rights of others and the value of human life,” he said.County Executive Charlie Dooley was more optimistic."I do not expect the worst and I said it then and I say it now. I expect the best in people. I am encouraged by conversations between law enforcement and protest groups," Dooley said.Both Attorney General Eric Holder and Michael Brown Sr., the slain teenager’s father, have released videos urging protesters to remain peaceful when the grand jury’s decision is handed down."It’s hard to sleep when you've got this looming," Jackson said.One business owner, Charles Davis, has remained optimistic about the possible protests and refused to take any extra precautions to fend off looters.Davis, who bought Ferguson Burger Bar & More the day before Brown was killed, said that he has received support from both locals and people across the country who have heard about his decision to stay open through any protests that come with the verdict.“I had a gentleman yesterday who drove from Memphis just to get a burger,” Davis told ABC News.“I’ve heard some things but that one brought me to tears,” he said.Davis said his restaurant will be open on Saturday but closed Sunday, as always.

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WWII Love Letters Reveal 3 Soldiers Vying for Same Woman’s Heart

WWII Love Letters Reveal 3 Soldiers Vying for Same Woman’s Heart

iStock/Thinkstock(RUTHERFORDTON, N.C.) -- They say true love knows no boundaries, and a collection of recently discovered World War II love letters between a soldier and the apple of his eye, a beauty whom he’d never even met, certainly proves that to be true.

“Mama always said that she let him chase her, until she turned around caught him,” Jane Simmons, the wartime lovebirds’ daughter, told ABC News.

Simmons and her brother, Larry Davis, who just recently suffered a fatal stroke, always knew their parents had something extraordinarily special.

They were “very much still in love to the end,” Davis’ wife, Beverly, said of her in-laws’ 55-year marriage.

But what it took to form that bond, however, was something even more extraordinary than their love itself—a story which the soldier’s children are only just now learning.

“That was what was surprising. Mama never said anything about them,” Simmons, 63, of Rutherfordton, North Carolina, explained of the antiqued stack of 18 handwritten love letters she’s just inherited.

The letters were, for the most part, penned from her father, Teal Davis, while he was stationed in Burma in 1945, to her mother, Evangeline Poteat, a 22-year-old factory worker in North Carolina. At the time of their writing, the two had never even met. Despite being separated by oceans, miles and war however, Davis knew Poteat would someday be his bride.

"It rains pennies from heaven,” he wrote of how it feels to receive a letter from Poteat.

“I'll be looking forward to the day when I can meet you in person, but for now a letter will do,” he said in another. “Be good, have fun this summer and write soon.”

The lovestruck couple was initially “introduced” by Poteat’s roommate at Appalachian State Teachers College at the time, Sarah Kate Davis, who suggested she write to her brother, Teal, while he was deployed in Burma.

Poteat did, and the two fell hard and fast.

But apparently Teal, an Army Air Force crew chief, wasn’t the only one who found Poteat irresistible.

“She was a beautiful woman with this auburn hair,” said Beverly. “She was the real deal.”

There were two other soldiers, both young men stationed in California, who were also writing to her—one of whom was even asking for her hand in marriage.

"I know that you think that I am crazy for asking you so many times," he writes from Camp Cooke. "Did you think the ring idea is OK with you, or is it? I love you."

The other soldier, a former beau from high school, separately wrote, “We used to really have a swell time until Uncle Sam nabbed me.”

Unfortunately for them though, Teal was the one who ultimately nabbed her.

All of the men’s love stories are chronicled in a complete stack of 18 love letters that the couple’s children, Simmons and Davis, came to unexpectedly inherit, all thanks to a reporter with the local paper, The Charlotte Observer.

“It’s odd to see that, but it’s wonderful too,” Simmons said of reading the 70-year-old letters from her mother’s other admirers.

Over time, Poteat’s World War II love letters somehow ended up in Oregon and were being sold by a historical collector on Ebay when Gary Schwab, a reporter with the Charlotte Observer found them, outbid everyone to purchase them, and tracked down the relatives to ensure they were safely returned home.

“We were just shocked,” Simmons said of the unexpected discovery. “Mama was good at keeping stuff. I just really don’t know how in the world they got to Oregon.”

“We can’t figure that out,” Beverly, Davis’ wife, added. “We’d really like to know how that happened.”

The family is thrilled to have the letters in their possession now— a treasure they never even knew was missing.

“It’s a keepsake to me that I never knew I had,” said Simmons. “It just means the world to me. I miss my mom and daddy every day. It’s been quite a few years since they passed and this just brought them back.”

Beverly knows her husband felt the same way, and knows his receiving these special letters just weeks before his sudden death was one of the best gifts he could have ever gotten.

And as for their mother’s additional admirers, “She wound up with the one she was supposed to have,” said Simmons.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

President Obama: Don’t Use Ferguson as ‘An Excuse for Violence’

President Obama: Don’t Use Ferguson as ‘An Excuse for Violence’

(LAS VEGAS) -- As a grand jury debates whether or not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, President Barack Obama on Friday — in an exclusive interview with ABC News — urged the residents of the city and all others to “keep protests peaceful.”“Well I think, first and foremost, keep protests peaceful. You know, this is a country that allows everybody to express their views,” Obama told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos during an interview conducted Friday in Las Vegas. “Allows them to peacefully assemble to protest actions that they think are unjust, but using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are.”A grand jury in Missouri is in the midst of determining if Wilson — who fatally shot the unarmed teenager on Aug. 9 — should be charged for the incident. It is not known precisely when a decision by the grand jury will be reached, but it’s expected to be announced soon.On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Brown’s father asked for calm ahead of the decision. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has also declared a state of emergency in preparation, and the FBI is sending approximately 100 of its own to the St. Louis area in anticipation of possible unrest that could mirror the chaos that ensued after Brown was shot earlier this year.

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“The Imitation Game”: A Look at the Life and Legacy of Alan Turing

“The Imitation Game”: A Look at the Life and Legacy of Alan Turing

Weinstein Company(LONDON) -- Sixty years after his death, Alan Turing is back in the public eye.Turing, a British mathematician who helped defeat the Nazis by cracking their codes, is played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the film The Imitation Game, which is set for a Nov. 28 release.Even if this is the first time you've heard Turing's name, chances are you've already experienced his impact.The "Turing Machine" was the first modern computer to logically process information, running on interchangeable software and essentially laying the groundwork for every computing device we have today -- from laptops to smartphones.Turing also predicted that computers would keep getting smarter. In 1950, he devised an artificial intelligence test that asks, "Can machines think?"Known as the "Turing Test," it investigates whether people can detect if they are conversing with a human or a computer. In order to pass, a computer must be mistaken for a human by 30 percent of judges during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations.Earlier this year, an artificially intelligent "teenager" became the first computer to pass the test by successfully duping enough judges into believing they were conversing with a real human, according to the University of Reading, which organizes the annual event.

Despite his tremendous contributions to computer science and his role in the war effort, Turing was arrested and charged under a law that criminalized homosexuality in the United Kingdom.As part of a deal to avoid prison time, Turning agreed to be injected with female sex hormones. He died on June 7, 1954 -- believed to be a suicide by eating an apple poisoned with cyanide.He was posthumously pardoned last year by Queen Elizabeth II.

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Phone Scams: Why People Keep Falling for the Oldest Scam in the Book

Phone Scams: Why People Keep Falling for the Oldest Scam in the Book

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It was 11 o’clock in the morning when Luann and Betty Ann’s world was shattered with a single phone call.

“He says, ‘Do you have a daughter or a son?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I have a daughter,’” Luann said. “And he said, ‘Oh boy, there’s been a terrible accident. Four cars at an intersection. Everyone is unconscious.’”

“He said, ‘What kind of car does she have?’ And I said, ‘It’s a Kia,’” she continued. “And he said, ‘Oh yeah, there’s a Kia here. She’s unconscious.’”

The two women, who asked that their full names not be used, didn’t know who the man on the phone was but, terrified for their daughter’s life, they jumped into their own car and headed out to look for her, staying on the phone with the stranger.

“I am thinking my daughter is laying on a highway somewhere unconscious,” Betty Ann said. “And the scariest part was we didn’t even know where she was. They wouldn’t say exactly where she was.”

But then, the story took an unexpected, and even more frightening, turn.

“I was like, ‘You have to tell me exactly where you are and what the hell is going on now,’” Luann said. “And then his whole demeanor changed and he was like, ‘Now you wait a minute. ... We have her, at gunpoint, and we are going to shoot her if you don’t give me $1,700.’”

But what Luann and Betty Ann didn't know at the time was that they were on the receiving end of a phone scam, where the latest tactic in an otherwise low-tech crime is for con artists to claim to have kidnapped a loved one and are holding them for ransom.

“I never felt terror before in my life,” Luann said. “This was absolute terror, having your child’s life in your hands.”

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that over 25 million Americans lose in excess of $2.5 billion to fraud each year, and phone scams, which account for a big chunk of that, have been surprisingly successful for decades. Past scams have included asking people to invest in an oil company, gas deal or gold coins. Con artists have also been known to pose as lottery officials or IRS agents calling about taxes owed. Whatever the pitch, phone scammers are like top-notch salespeople, and they are extremely effective.

“These are dangerous people you are on the phone with,” said Jimmy, a convicted con artist. “Make no bones about it. I am a dangerous person. On the telephone if I chose to be fraudulent in my practices there is nothing that is going to stop me taking lots of money from people, period.”

Choosing their next victim, what Jimmy called “the crush” or “the kill,” is emotionally driven. “It’s not logic,” he said. “If you apply logic to this concept it's 'No, I am not going to send you my hard earned money. I don’t even know who you are.'”

Doug Shadel, a former fraud investigator and current Senior State Director for AARP in Washington state, has interviewed Jimmy and more than a dozen con artists like him, trying to understand how they are able to pull off a scam most people think they would never fall for. The AARP runs their own Fraud Watch Network where they track the latest scams.

“We always ask them the same question: ‘What is your central strategy for defrauding people?’” Shadel said. “They all say the same thing, ‘get them under the ether.’ ... a heightened emotional state where you are no longer thinking rationally but you are reacting emotionally.”

A heightened emotional state, such as the con artist claiming he has kidnapped someone’s child.

“This explains why so many people who are doctors, lawyers, professors of chemistry have actually fallen for this stuff,” Shadel said. “How could somebody that smart fall for this? It’s not their intellect that’s engaged when they make that decision. It’s the emotion.”

Shadel said he has received piles of recordings from states attorney general investigations into phone scams, many filled with abusive and demeaning language, even threats.

“Whenever I get tired and need some motivation I listen to tapes like this to remind me that there are thousands of people out there who are suffering in silence. They are afraid ... and people comply out of that fear,” Shadel said. “Part of our goal is to give people an opportunity to come forward, shine a light on these things so that law enforcement can do something about it and we can help each other.”

But for law enforcement, tracking down scammers can be challenging. The New York Attorney General’s office is currently taking on the grandparent phone scam, where a grandparent gets a call from a scammer pretending to be a teenage grandchild in trouble.

The Attorney General’s office is reaching out to the supposed victims -- the grandkids -- to try to get them to warn their families about phony phone calls that could come their way. Investigators say they are up against crooks who have no problem tugging at a person’s heartstrings to rip them off.

Looking back on that day, Luann said she didn’t think there was anything she would have done differently.

“When they do that to you they pull right at your emotions and you are raw. You are terrorized, and you will do anything,” she said.

She and Betty Ann say they were lucky to be together when the supposed kidnapping call came in. While Luann was on the phone with the scammer, Betty Ann frantically tried to call their daughter.

“At first I called and there was no answer. I called again and said, ‘Where are you?’” Betty Ann recalled. “And then finally I get back a text, ‘I’m in class. What’s wrong?’”

“And then once I knew it was a scam I hung up,” Luann said.

And they weren’t the only one terrorized that day. Their daughter, Maxine, was also panicked.

“It killed me just to hear -- that’s my mom, I love and care for her, she’s my life. ... To hear her voice like that, I got upset and then I got angry,” she said. “I was like who was doing this to my mother? Who are you to do this to my mother. This is my mother, my family. You don’t do that.”

They filed a police report, but doubt the callers will ever be caught, which is why, in addition to not using their full names, they asked that their location not be revealed either.

“I have heard of scams. I’ve never heard of this,” Betty Ann said. “The way they just got the details and got the info and used it against me, that’s exactly what they did, they got the info they needed and used it against me.”

Investigators warn even if you keep your doors locked and passwords secured, crooks want into your life, and sometimes, they’re just a phone call away.

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