• Wed 97°F / 58°F

ABC Digital

Home » Entries posted by ABC Digital (Page 8)

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

Netflix Shares Rise as It Gains Subscribers

Netflix Shares Rise as It Gains Subscribers

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Investors kicked off a new trading week with mixed results, as investors kept one eye on the tensions between Russia and the West over the downed Malasia Airlines flight in Ukraine and one eye on corporate earnings.
Netflix shares rose despite quarterly earnings that failed to meet analysts estimates. The streaming service added nearly 1.7 million subscribers globally in the second quarter.The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 48 points, closing at 17,051.73. The Nasdaq declined more than 7 points, ending the day at 4,424.70, while the S&P 500 lost more than 4 points, closing at 1,973.63.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Mobile Home Apartment Building Comes to NYC

Mobile Home Apartment Building Comes to NYC

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New York City is getting its first mobile-home apartment building.
Called “The Stack,” this new residential building has 28 apartments formed by 59 modules, creating a collection of individual mobile homes piled on top of each other. 
The seven-story apartment building is on the northern tip of Manhattan and is built out of prefabricated rooms– between 625 and 750 square-feet each.
Like mobile homes nationwide, these came to their destination on the back of a truck and got hoisted into place.Rents start at $1,600 per month for a studio and $3,700 per month for a three-bedroom. 
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Casinos Closing in Atlantic City

Casinos Closing in Atlantic City

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.) — After 36 years of casino gambling in New Jersey, the industry is crashing.
Atlantic City, which once had a monopoly on East Coast gambling, is losing some of its 12 casinos.
The Atlantic Club, Trump Plaza, and the Showboat plan to fold this year, and the Revel could join them.
Despite the quick collapse, Atlantic City is gambling on new nightclubs, malls, concerts, and conventions as part of a five-year turn-around plan.
Analysts say Connecticut, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania may also be at risk because of increasing competition.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Ex-Flight Attendant Reveals Celebrity Gossip in First Class

Ex-Flight Attendant Reveals Celebrity Gossip in First Class

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For many travelers flying in coach, the only glimpse of first class they will ever get is a peek between the curtains dividing each airplane cabin. But now, a former flight attendant is pulling back the drapes with a memoir featuring gasp-worthy in-flight antics and celebrity gossip.
In his new book Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant: True Tales and Gossip from the Galley, Owen Beddall, who worked as a flight attendant for Qantas Airways for 12 years, shares how he was able to cozy up with A-listers on long-haul flights, as well as the less glamorous aspects of hospitality at 40,000 feet.
“People think it’s all flying mattresses and shagging,” Beddall told ABC News. “They don’t realize it’s a really manual job, that you’re pushing 190-pound carts in a tilting plane with screaming babies and screaming people and lactose-intolerant vegans telling you their dietary needs at the last minute. You’re a priest, a security guard, a nurse. There are so many different roles tucked into one.”
Beddall made the transition from flight attendant to author after suffering a work-related spinal injury.
“During a training session, I fell down the stairs of a 747 and broke my back,” he said. “So I went from this carefree lifestyle of a flight attendant traveling all over the world to an office job and taking on a corporation [for compensation]. I joked that the first version of my book should have been called Confessions of the Satanic Verses because it was so dark.”
But eventually, after a few rewrites, Beddall was able to shift focus to some of the more fabulous experiences he had in first class hobnobbing with high rollers.
“I would say the most in-depth conversation I ever had with a celebrity was with Katy Perry,” said Beddall, who was granted permission by her and other stars mentioned in the book to share his anecdotes. “She and Russell Brand came on as a surprise, because usually there is a lot of fanfare, and they were very amorous and lovely together. I remember saying to him, ‘Clearly this is a very physical relationship,’ and he gave me a wry smile.”
Beddall said that after most of the other passengers had fallen asleep, Perry was unable to snooze and asked if he would stay up with her. They chatted at length about music and writing.
“I told her I liked to write in my spare time and she gave me a lot of advice on getting an agent, social media and how to run things as a business — and I thought for someone so young she had her head so squarely on her shoulders,” he said. “Although, I do have to say, at the end of the flight, I said, ‘How long are you going to be in the United Kingdom for?’ And she said, ‘Oh, no, I’m going to London, England.’ So that was very funny.”
Pop artists were par for the course on Qantas flights, according to the memoir.
“Lily Allen was probably my all-time favorite,” said Beddall. “She was actually sitting in business class, but she screamed ‘celebrity’ and, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ So I listened to her music and invited her up to first class. There, she got lashed up on cocktails, we did some facials together and had a very girly chat on the flight.”
Afterward, Beddall admitted to worrying that Allen’s overindulgence might come back to haunt him.
“I gave her all of this Dom [Perignon] and I thought, ‘Oh great, they are taking pictures of her getting off the plane and I’m going to get in trouble.’ But she actually blogged about me and the experience in a travel column not long after and it was very special.”
But while some A-listers like Cate Blanchett, who arrived “with all of these designer gowns” can come across “like royalty,” other famous faces behave strangely, said Beddall.
“There is this famous Aussie supermodel who comes from a very average suburb in Australia,” he said. “She speaks English but will pretend not to and would only speak in French on flights. She would speak to her suitor in French and he would translate to us and then tell her what we said and we knew that she spoke English.”
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Michigan Jail Trades In Orange Jumpsuits for Black and White Stripes

Michigan Jail Trades In Orange Jumpsuits for Black and White Stripes

iStock/Thinkstock(SAGINAW COUNTY, Mich.) — Is black and white the new orange? A prison in Michigan is trading in its orange jumpsuits for black and white stripes.
The change was made in part due to the popularity of the Netflix series Orange is the New Black.
Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel says the change-up is to help tighten security.
“I wanted us to differentiate in a real hard-line manner, so my constituents know when they see an inmate work crew or when they see an inmate out in public, that it’s actually an inmate and not just a citizen who’s wearing colors like our inmates,” Federspiel said. “We really need to tighten that security up because we don’t want one of our in-custody inmates who has to be transported out of a jail, whether on a work detail or medical situation, to blend in with the average citizenry.”
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sony’s Walkman Returns with ZX1

Sony’s Walkman Returns with ZX1

David Becker/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — In 1979, long before the iPod, Sony brought the world portable music in the form of the first Walkman. Now, the Walkman has returned — and it’s called the ZX1.Compared to an iPod, it’s heavy, bulky and no bargain. The new device costs $700 and is aimed at buyers who will pay the price for better sound.
The compression used by the iPod to squeeze thousands of songs on the device sacrifices sound quality.
Sony claims the ZX1 plays ultra high quality audio — as good as listening directly to a CD. The company thinks at least some music fans will pay the price.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

New Toyota Feature Will Help Parents Bark at Kids in Back Seats

New Toyota Feature Will Help Parents Bark at Kids in Back Seats

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Toyota is offering frustrated parents a helping hand in keeping their kids quiet on road trips.A feature available on the automaker’s new Sienna minivan called “Driver Easy Speak” will make it easier for parents to bark at their kids.According to Toyota, “Driver Easy Speak utilizes the vehicle’s built-in microphone to amplify the driver’s voice through the rear speakers” — thus, cutting back on the need to shout at the top of your lungs so passengers in the back can hear you.The feature only works one way, so the voices of passengers in the back seat won’t be amplified — at least not through the microphone.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Colby Lewis Angry After Bunt from Colby Rasmus

Colby Lewis Angry After Bunt from Colby Rasmus

Texas Rangers/MLB (NEW YORK) –  They may share the same first name, but Texas Rangers starting pitcher Colby Lewis and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus have two entirely different opinions on what transpired during the 5th inning of Saturday’s contest between their respective teams.
Lewis and Rasmus exchanged words after Rasmus laid down a bunt single with two outs and the Blue Jays leading 2-0.  The Rangers were playing the shift, but Lewis still wasn’t too pleased with Rasmus’ decision to bunt.
“I told [Rasmus] I didn’t appreciate it,” Lewis told MLB.com. “You’re up by two runs with two outs and you lay down a bunt. I don’t think that’s the way the game should be played.”
After the contest, Rasmus said he was not sure why Lewis would take offense to his decision to lay down a bunt.
“I’m just trying to help my team and he didn’t like it — so sorry about it,” Rasmus said to MLB.com. “I’m not here to try to please the other side, I’m here to help my team, and I had an opportunity where I could, and I took advantage of it.”
Lewis took the loss for the Rangers Sunday and fell to 6-7 on the year.  Rasmus is hitting just .223 for the Blue Jays this season.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama Demands ‘Full Access’ to Malaysia Airlines Crash Site

Obama Demands ‘Full Access’ to Malaysia Airlines Crash Site

The White House(WASHINGTON) — Issuing a stern call for “immediate and full access” to the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, President Obama on Monday said the behavior of the Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine begs the question, “what exactly are they trying to hide?”“They have repeatedly prevented international investigators from gaining full access to the wreckage,” the president said. “These Russian-backed separatists are removing bodies from the crash site, oftentimes without the care that we would normally expect from a tragedy like this. And this is an insult to those who’ve lost loved ones. It’s the kind of behavior that has no place in the community of nations.”“Our immediate focus is on recovering those who were lost, investigating exactly what happened and putting forward the facts. We have to make sure that the truth is out and that accountability exists,” Obama told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House.  Delivering his strongest statement yet on the crash and investigation, the president said the burden is on Russia, and particularly President Vladimir Putin, to compel the separatists to cooperate with the investigation. “President Putin says that he supports a full and fair investigation. And I appreciate those words, but they have to be supported by actions,” Obama said. “The burden now is on Russia to insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence, grant investigators who are already on the ground immediate, full and unimpeded access to the crash site. The separatists and their Russian sponsors are responsible for the safety of the investigators doing their work.”“Now is the time for President Putin and Russia to pivot away from the strategy that they’ve been taking and get serious about trying to resolve hostilities within Ukraine in a way that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and respects the right of the Ukrainian people to make their own decisions about their own lives.  And time is of the essence,” he said.  Obama reiterated that he still prefers to find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine. “I believe that can still happen. That is my preference today. And it will continue to be my preference,” he said. But Obama also warned Russia that if Moscow continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and back the separatists, “then Russia will only further isolate itself from the international community and the costs for Russia’s behavior will only continue to increase.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

RJ Reynolds to Appeal Verdict to Pay $23B to Cancer Victim’s Widow

RJ Reynolds to Appeal Verdict to Pay $23B to Cancer Victim’s Widow

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — R.J. Reynolds Tobacco is fighting back against an order to pay billions to a widow of a former smoker who passed away 18 years ago from lung cancer.The country’s second-largest cigarette maker says it will appeal last Friday’s jury verdict ordering the company to pay $23.6 billion in punitive damages.The verdict came just days after Reynolds’ parent company, Reynolds American Inc., announced it was purchasing Lorillard, the maker of Newport cigarettes, for $27.4 billion.A lawyer for the plaintiff stated that big tobacco “cannot continue to lie to the American people” with regard to the addictiveness of cigarettes. J. Jeffrey Raborn, an executive for Reynolds, called the verdict “grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law.”
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Reserve Cop Who Posted Offensive Cyclist Rant Resigns

Reserve Cop Who Posted Offensive Cyclist Rant Resigns

iStock/Thinkstock(SANTA PAULA, Calif.) — A volunteer reserve police officer in California has resigned after a video that she posted in which she jokes about running over cyclists went viral.Laura Weintraub of the Santa Paula Police Department posted to her Facebook on Saturday apologizing for the “mistake” and asking for forgiveness. The same day, the police department updated its Facebook saying that the volunteer who made the video had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.Then on Sunday, Police Chief Steven Mclean reported on the Facebook page that he had accepted Weintraub’s resignation, effective that day.“It’s a black eye and it’s embarrassing,” Mclean told ABC News Monday. “The whole police department is completely horrified. I’m just beside itself.”After receiving multiple death threats, Weintraub said she knew it was best for both herself and the department to resign, Mclean said.Another volunteer who tried to make light of the situation by posting sarcastic comments on Weintraub’s video has also issued an apology taking responsibility for his comments. That volunteer has been suspended pending an investigation, Mclean said.The video has since ignited a firestorm of debate on the department’s Facebook page. Thousands of users have flocked to the page, many of whom are unsatisfied with Weintraub’s “dignified” departure.
One comment that has garnered nearly 300 likes demands that Weintraub be charged with violating California Penal Code Section 422, aimed at any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime that results in a death.“That video was posted in L.A. County, on her own time, and doesn’t reflect any of our views here. If someone thinks she did something criminal, they can do something about it,” Mclean said.Others, however, appear more sympathetic. Many who say they know Weintraub personally have changed their profile pictures to a screenshot of the video that reads, “I support Laura Weintraub. Share this if you know her for the person she is. Not who the media has made her into.”In the video, Weintraub filmed herself from her car commenting on bikers’ spandex and claiming, “I hate bicyclists — every single one of them.”At one point she asks her husband who was driving the car, “How much would I have to pay you to run one of these over?” The video was part of her Web series Cup Holder Commentary.Weintraub, who is a personal trainer, was not on duty while filming the video nor did she state that she worked at the police department.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Why “Pawn Stars” Star Corey Harrison Lost 192 Pounds

Why “Pawn Stars” Star Corey Harrison Lost 192 Pounds

ABC News(NEW YORK) — At 210 pounds, Corey Harrison is looking and feeling better than ever.The Pawn Stars star, once nicknamed “Big Hoss,” dropped nearly 200 pounds after learning that he was pre-diabetic three years ago.”Literally, I’m driving home from the doctor’s office kind of freaked out about it and I see the place where they do lap band [surgeries] and I just pulled in and said, ‘What does it take to have the surgery?’” he told ABC’s Good Morning America. “I didn’t have much money at the time. I pulled out four credit cards and put it on that and there you go!”At the time, the History Channel star, now 31, weighed about 400 pounds. However, after having his surgery, he also changed his exercise and eating habits.”I can only have four to five ounces of food in my stomach,” he noted. “When you only have that much space in there, you don’t want to fill it up with crap.”Harrison also has a support system in his co-stars, including Austin “Chumlee” Russell. Inspired by Harrison’s slim down, he began losing weight too, and is now down 100 pounds.”Chum kind of thought we were gonna be fat guys together forever or something,” joked Harrison. “I’m proud of him. He did it all with diet and exercise…[but] he’s the sidekick! Let’s not forget that.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama to Honor Army Staff Sgt. with Medal of Honor

Obama to Honor Army Staff Sgt. with Medal of Honor

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Badly injured, alone, and surrounded by Taliban fighters, Ryan Pitts had resigned himself to dying.“The other guys had died fighting; I owed it to them to do the same,” the former U.S. Army staff sergeant, who will be awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House on Monday, told ABC News.Pitts is credited with maintaining an observation post and preventing the bodies of fallen soldiers from falling into enemy hands during a 2008 battle in Afghanistan that claimed the lives of nine Americans.Pitts and his platoon were establishing a new U.S. outpost outside the small village of Wanat, when a force of 200 Taliban fighters surrounded the outpost in the early morning hours of July 13, 2008 and launched a surprise assault.“There was a burst of machine gun fire from the north and then it just erupted with RPGs and fire from pretty much 360 degrees — every location,” Pitts recalled.Pitts was at an observation post about 300 feet away from the main outpost when the attack erupted. He remembers being wounded almost immediately.“I took shrapnel to my right leg, pretty much all the way around up until my lower back and then left leg somewhat, left arm and a little bit on my forehead,” Pitts said.After then-Spc. Jason Bogar applied a tourniquet to the worst injury on Pitts’ right leg, Pitts began fighting again.“I crawled to the northern fighting position where we had some of our hand grenades and started to throw them along the northern edge of our perimeter,” he said.But soon came a terrifying moment: Pitts realized he was completely alone.“It didn’t sound like there was any fire coming out of the OP from any of the fighting positions,” he said. “So, I crawled around and saw that everybody was either dead or gone.”Pitts picked up his radio and called for backup only to be told that there was no one to send.“I said, ‘OK, then this position is going to fall,’ and I just got off the radio after that,” Pitts said.He was scared only momentarily.“Then, when I thought about it,” he said. “I wasn’t going to let them take me alive, and so I wasn’t as scared anymore.”Pitts resolved to fight to the end.“[I] shot a grenade launcher … straight up in the air, so I could drop it directly on where I thought the enemy was,” he said. “[I] called down to our first squad where they were and asked anybody that could see the OP to shoot over the tops of the sandbags … [so that the enemy] wouldn’t be able to crest the top of the sandbags.”Pitts managed to independently maintain his position until backup support arrived. But despite his leading in the battle, Pitts insists that the actions of his fellow squad mates were of equal importance to his in pulling the team through the battle.“I think it was ‘our’ actions that maintained that position,” Pitts said. “[Sgt. Brian] Hissong, at 1st squad, he was the one shooting over the tops of the sandbags. That helped. All the guys fighting as hard as they did, guys like Cpl. Jonathan Ayers, who took a round to the helmet and kept shooting his machine gun — eventually, he was killed doing that. Everybody contributed; it wasn’t just me.”And as he prepares to receive the nation’s highest award for military valor from President Obama, Pitts said it will be on behalf of his entire squad — and especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.“There were 48 of us and approximately 200 enemies that basically had everything they should’ve had to be victorious,” Pitts said. “They had us outnumbered, the high ground, [the] element of surprise … and we fought and held our ground.”Members of his platoon, as well as his wife and 1-year-old son, will join Pitts at Monday’s White House ceremony.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Can Any Animal Be a Therapy Animal?

Can Any Animal Be a Therapy Animal?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Dogs once cornered the market on being therapy pets, but now bunnies, pigs — even llamas — are making their way into the laps and hearts of people with a range of conditions. But experts say some animals are more therapeutic than others.“While we know that a wide variety of animals can be wonderful companions or pets, not every animal is suited to therapy work,” said Glen Miller, a spokesman for Pet Partners, a national nonprofit organization that trains and registers therapy animals.Therapy pets can include “dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, rats, miniature pigs, llamas, alpacas, horses, donkeys and mini-horses,” as long as they’re at least a year old and have lived with their owner for six months, according to Pet Partners. Though the organization registers “birds,” it does not register ducks, Miller said.Pet Partners does not allow exotic or wild animals, either.“We know many people have wonderful experiences with these animals as pets, but without research documenting their behavior over time, we cannot evaluate their predictability and reaction to stress,” the organization’s website reads.Unlike service animals, therapy animals don’t help their owners perform tasks and are therefore not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Though there are no national requirements to register therapy animals, most hospitals only allow ones that have been trained, aren’t easily stressed and are covered by an insurance policy.Read about some traditional and not-so-traditional bedside creatures below:DucksDarin Welker’s village in Ohio banned residents from keeping fowl in 2010, but the former member of the National Guard insists that his 14 ducks are therapy animals. They motivate him to get out of the house to take care of them, he said.”They’re quite a relaxing animal, and they help comfort me in different situations,” Welker told the Conshohocken Tribune, holding one of the ducks like a baby. “[Watching them] keeps you entertained for hours at a time.”Welker served in Iraq in 2005 and returned home with a back injury that required surgery as well as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, according to the Tribune. He’s had the ducks in his fenced-in yard since March and will argue his case for keeping them Wednesday or face a $150 fine. BunniesNutmeg and Clovis are the 4-and-a-half-year-old therapy bunnies that live on the 13th floor of NYU Langone Medical Center.“We’ve seen patients that literally had no affect smile,” said Gwenn Fried, manager of horticultural therapy services at NYU Langone. “Their whole demeanor changes.”Sometimes doctors recommend the rabbits, and sometimes, the patients ask to see them, Fried said. LlamasThere’s nothing like a “kiss” — basically a soft, furry lip bump — from a 300-pound llama to brighten your mood.Lori Gregory volunteers her llama, Rojo, through MTN Peaks Therapy Llamas and Alpacas, taking him to visit hospice patients and children who have mental and emotional problems.“He has eyes the size of golf balls,” said Gregory, 57, of Vancouver, Washington. “People just stand there and look into their eyes. It’s pretty wonderful to be able to do that with a large animal that doesn’t ask anything.”Though she can’t personally detect a change in the patients Rojo meets, she said nurses often tell her their most introverted patients become animated around the llamas. DogsDogs are the only type of therapy animal allowed to see patients at the Mayo Clinic, according to the Rochester, Minnesota hospital’s animal therapy coordinator, Jessica Borg. She said dogs attend group sessions and sometimes meet one-on-one with patients.“Having the dog there almost takes the tension out of the room,” she said. “It’s pretty common that patients will tear up because they’re so excited, so thankful for getting five or 25 minutes of time just snuggling, hanging out with the pet.”Borg said some patients who are unwilling to get out of bed for physical therapy jump up when she’s walking by with a dog, eager for a cuddle.“Seeing the dog and being with the dog can change their spirits within five seconds of contact time,” she said.Five golden retrievers were a big help after the Boston Marathon bombings last year, when they visited victims in nearby hospitals as well as shaken residents on the streets. The pups were part of Lutheran Church Charities’ K-9 Comfort Dogs, which has 60 dogs that travel the country to help patients in need. HorsesFormer Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Lyndon Ortiz helped start a veteran’s program Heavenly Hooves, a volunteer group that provides equine-assisted therapy.Ortiz, who suffered from PTSD after being hit with an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2005, started as a volunteer for the group and encouraged fellow veterans to join him. He said it helped him get back to civilian life as he wanted to live it.“I’ve seen hope in some of the guys,” Ortiz said. “Some of them were stuck at home not doing anything just stuck in those four walls and now they look forward for Tuesdays when they’re riding horses.”
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

After Bitter Senate Runoff, Georgia Republicans Will Pick Candidate

After Bitter Senate Runoff, Georgia Republicans Will Pick Candidate

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Two months of Republican-on-Republican badmouthing will finally come to an end in Georgia on Tuesday.Either Rep. Jack Kingston or former Dollar General CEO David Perdue will become the GOP candidate for the state’s open Senate seat, to be vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss, kicking off what’s expected to be one of the most hotly contested elections in the country.The top two finishers in a seven-way May 20 primary, Perdue (30.6 percent in that vote) and Kingston (25.8 percent) have run an intensely negative race against each other ever since.Each candidate has sought to be regarded as the more conservative.Perdue, the cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, has aired a string of TV ads assailing Kingston as a big spender who will continue Washington’s current ways.
In his own series of negative ads, Kingston has relentlessly questioned Perdue’s business record, pointing to layoffs, offshoring and a bailout by a government agency at companies with which Perdue was involved. Kingston has also hit Perdue for failing to vote in previous GOP primaries and has accused him of backing the Common Core education plan, which Perdue has said numerous times he does not.
Prompted by none of the seven initial-round primary candidates surpassing 50 percent of the vote in May, the runoff has bought time for Democrat Michelle Nunn, a candidate who has raised Democratic hopes of taking a Senate seat in a deep-red GOP stronghold.The daughter of former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn and the former CEO of President George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation, Nunn has faced questions about her stance on Obamacare (she supports modifications to it, won’t say whether she would have voted for it and has opposed repeal), but Nunn has largely avoided direct attacks from the Republican candidates running against each other.Polling has shown a real possibility of Nunn winning in November: In early May, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution survey showed her beating Perdue by one percentage point (statistically even) and topping Kingston by 10 in prospective matchups.Despite an electorate comprised of 41 percent minorities among active registered voters, no Democrat has won a statewide election in Georgia since Sen. Zell Miller in 2000, and no Democratic presidential candidate has come within 5 percentage points of winning Georgia since Bill Clinton carried it in 1992, eking out a win from George H.W. Bush by fewer than 1 percentage point.After the runoff, the winner can be expected to ramp up attacks on Nunn. A conservative group, the Ending Spending PAC, reportedly bought air time last week to attack her with a round of ads.“After the Republican primary run off, the joyride for Michelle Nunn will come to an abrupt end,” Georgia GOP spokesman Ryan Mahoney said.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes Are Biting into Summer Fun

Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes Are Biting into Summer Fun

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — You’ve probably heard of the West Nile virus — a rare but deadly infection transmitted by mosquitoes. But what about chikungunya and eastern equine encephalitis?All three mosquito-borne diseases are here in the U.S., and depending on where you live, you might be at risk.Read on to learn more about the viruses and find out whether mosquitoes in your state are carrying them:
West Nile VirusWhat It Looks LikeMost people who contract the virus show no symptoms at all, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But one in five people infected will develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash, and one in 100 will experience brain swelling or meningitis, which can be deadly. Symptoms can take up to two weeks to appear and last “for weeks or months,” according to the CDC.Where It IsFourteen states have reported West Nile infections so far this year — Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. Another 13 have mosquitoes, birds and other animals carrying the virus, including Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming.Chikungunya VirusWhat It Looks LikeMost people who contract the virus develop symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle and joint pain or a rash within a week of the offending mosquito bite, according to the CDC. They usually feel better in a week, but joint pain can persist for months, the agency said, adding that the infection is rarely fatal but sometimes disabling.Where It IsThirty states plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have reported chikungunya infections so far this year, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. However, only two cases in the continental U.S. — both in Florida — were acquired locally. The rest were acquired outside the country, according to the CDC.Eastern Equine Encephalitis VirusWhat It Looks LikeThe virus, dubbed EEE, causes fever, chills and body aches within a week after the offending mosquito bite. Some people recover after two weeks, while others go on to develop an encephalitic form of the disease, which can cause headache, irritability, convulsions and even coma, according to the CDC. Roughly a third of those infected die, the agency said, and many who survive are left with brain damage, personality disorders, seizures and paralysis.Where It IsMosquitoes carrying EEE were recently detected in Massachusetts, according to the state’s Department of Health. No human cases have been reported in 2014, but six Massachusetts residents died from the infection between 2004 and 2006, according to state data.In the last 50 years, EEE infections have also been reported in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin, according to the CDC.How to Protect YourselfSince there are no vaccines or antiviral treatments for West Nile, chikungunya or EEE, the CDC recommends the following tips to prevent infections:

Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin or IR3535. Some oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol products also provide protection.

Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors and avoid outdoor activities between dusk and dawn — peak mosquito biting hours.

Mosquito-proof your home with screens and regularly remove standing water from birdbaths, gutters, pool covers and pet water dishes.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Florida Cop Fired for KKK Ties Was Undercover, Ex-Wife Claims

Florida Cop Fired for KKK Ties Was Undercover, Ex-Wife Claims

iStock/Thinkstock(FRUITLAND PARK, Fla.) — The wife of a Florida police officer fired for allegedly secretly belonging to the Ku Klux Klan is claiming that she and her husband were ordered to infiltrate the white supremacist group.The woman’s allegations come with a description of the Klan’s initiation ceremony that included kneeling with pillow cases over their heads.The departures from the Fruitland Park Police Department earlier this month of Deputy Chief David Borst and Officer George Hunnewell have revived emotions of Fruitland’s past. The department had already dismissed an officer in 2009 for being affiliated with the KKK and the overwhelmingly white former citrus town turned retirement community has had a history of racial violence in the past.Since the initial news of the investigation broke, the release of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s report has revealed more details about the explanation that Hunnewell’s ex-wife gave to attempt to support his claims of innocence.The FDLE report states that Ann Hunnewell told investigators that she was working as a secretary for the Fruitland Park Police Department in 2008 when she and her then-husband George were assigned to an undercover mission by then-chief James Isom.”Ann Hunnewell said in 2008 through 2009, she and her ex-husband successfully infiltrated the [United Northern and Southern Knights] chapter of the KKK in an undercover capacity,” the report states.It goes on to say that she claimed Isom “received allegations” that an officer in the department, James Elkins, was involved in the supremacist group and she said Isom “assigned George and Ann Hunnewell to follow up with the matter.”Ann Hunnewell told investigators that they befriended Elkins and his wife and began exercising and dining with them before James Elkins reportedly asked her husband to join the KKK.”Ann Hunnewell stated her ex-husband did not share the KKK ideology, but agreed to join in the spirit of the undercover investigation,” the report states.The former police chief has denied he ordered any such investigation.”At no time did I ever instruct, or have anybody working undercover or infiltrating a Klan organization while I was the chief of police,” Isom said in sworn statement he gave to his successor, current Fruitland Park police chief Terry Isaacs, which was shared with ABC News. According to Isom’s statement, the men also denied any involvement in the KKK when Elkins was fired in 2009.Isom reportedly resigned in 2010 after signing a plea deal following a misconduct investigation.A photo surfaced of Elkins being sworn into the group while surrounded by other members in their infamous white hoods. He was fired on the same grounds that Hunnewell was dismissed five years later — for belonging to a subversive group, which is not illegal but is against the police department’s code of conduct.Ann Hunnewell described for the FDLE what she said was the KKK’s initiation rite.”Once in the room, a pillow case was placed over their heads,” Ann Hunnewell said of the induction at the Elkins’ home alongside six to eight others. “As the ceremony began, they were led into the living room and told to kneel. After a reading, their pillow cases were removed from their heads and the ceremony was complete.”Isaacs told ABC News that when he confronted George Hunnewell about the accusations, Hunnewell said “none of that is true about me.”ABC News was unable to contact either George or Ann Hunnewell in spite of numerous inquiries.
ABC News | ABC Sports NewsHunnewell was described by Isaacs as a “marginal” officer who had five letters of counseling due to poor work performance and one demotion to his name last year.Borst, however, was considered a leader in the police department.”Borst served as my fire chief,” Isaacs said of his former deputy. “He was in a position that had a lot of prestige and a lot of responsibility.”There is less evidence in the case against Borst.The FDLE report was sparked by a broader FBI investigation and portions were redacted for that reason. Of the readable portions, there are inconsistencies between two of their sources about Borst’s alleged involvement in the KKK. One source said that Borst knew about Hunnewell’s membership and did nothing, while another point in the report suggests that it is unclear if Borst was a sworn member of the group, the report states.Isaacs said that Borst “became very emotional” when confronted with the accusations and denied everything, but offered his resignation.”He said it is an absolute lie but…because of his family and the public outcry, he said he simply wanted to resign,” Isaacs said. Borst could not be reached by ABC News.Questions about racism in the area first sprung up in 2009 with Elkins’ dismissal.”Florida in general has a fairly large number of hate groups,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that monitors and tracks hate groups. “Once upon a time this was absolutely common. Right up through the 1960s there were very large numbers of police officers who were members of the Klan or largely sympathetic.”Fruitland Park, a community of nearly 5,000 people that is almost 90 percent white, lies about 50 miles north of Orlando and is home to a large number of retirees.The city’s website calls itself “The Friendly City,” but there is a history of racial violence, specifically within the citrus industry in the 1940s and 1950s.ABC News’ calls to the Ku Klux Klan and the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan went unreturned.Elkins spoke to the SPLC after news of Hunnewell and Borst’s alleged KKK membership broke and he said that when he was on the force, “probably 10 out of the 12 full time officers” were either members or sympathetic to the group.Isaacs said that since he joined the department in 2011, he has not had any incidents relating to racism or other officers being members of subversive organizations, but that much of the police force he inherited has left for various other reasons.”Ten out of the 13 officers who were here [when he joined]- for one reason or another, they’re gone and that shows you that I disagree with the mindset that was here and I’ve worked hard with programs to weed out the mentality of that culture,” Isaacs said. “I never dreamed it would be that officers of the law were members of the Klan. I just prayed to God that was behind us.”Neither Borst nor Hunnewell face criminal charges for their alleged actions and the county rules allow them 10 days to appeal any dismissal. Isaacs said he has not heard from either of them about plans to file an appeal.
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama Has ‘Serious Concerns’ About Middle East Death Toll

Obama Has ‘Serious Concerns’ About Middle East Death Toll

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Monday warned that the United States has “serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives.”Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, the president said “it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians, both in Gaza and in Israel.”Obama noted that Secretary of State John Kerry has departed for the Middle East, where he has instructed Kerry to push for an immediate cease-fire. “Obviously, there are enormous passions involved in this and some very difficult strategic issues involved. Nevertheless, I’ve asked John to do everything he can to help facilitate a cessation of hostilities. We don’t want to see anymore civilians getting killed,” Obama said.Once again, the president reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself and said “as a result of its operations, Israel has already done significant damage to Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.”
Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Advertise With Us

Would you like to advertise on East Idaho News? Fill out this form to contact a representative.
  • Full and Last
  • The name of your company, business or brand.