Headlines http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines The latest Headlines, news and blog posts from ABC News contributors and bloggers. Thu, 02 Oct 2014 15:02:11 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 “GMA” is #1 For Premiere Week, Bests “Today” by 1.252 Million Total Viewers http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/10/gma-is-1-for-premiere-week-bests-today-by-1-252-million-total-viewers/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/10/gma-is-1-for-premiere-week-bests-today-by-1-252-million-total-viewers/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 15:02:11 +0000 ABCNewsPR http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=525555 “GMA” is #1 for Premiere Week Across All Key Target Demos:

Outperforming NBC’s “Today” by 1.252 Million Total Viewers, 437,000 Adults 25-54 and 125,000 Adults 18-49

 

 ”GMA” Delivers Largest Premiere Week Margins Over “Today”

in More Than 23 Years

 

“GMA” Wins Premiere Week for 3rd Consecutive Year in Total Viewers and Demo

 

“GMA” Grows Across All Key Target Demos Compared to Premiere Week 2013

 

 

 ABC News’ “Good Morning America” won the opening week of the 2014-15 season across all key target demos: Total Viewers (5.677 million), Adults 25-54 (2.168 million) and Adults 18-49 (1.523 million) for the week of September 22, 2014, based on Live +Same Day Data from Nielsen Media Research.  This marks the 3rd straight year for “GMA” to win premiere week in Total Viewers and Adults 25-54 and the 2nd time in the last 3 years in Adults 18-49.

 

  “GMA” towered over the No. 2-ranked “Today” (4.425 million, 1.731 million and 1.398 million, respectively) by 1.252 million Total Viewers, by 437,000 Adults 25-54 and by 125,000 Adults 18-49.  In fact, “GMA” scored its largest margins over victory over the NBC program in both overall viewers and in the key adult news demo in more than 20 years - since w/o 5/16/94.

 

“GMA” has won the last 31 weeks in both overall viewers and the key adult news demo since the end of the 2014 Winter Olympics.  In Total Viewers,  “GMA” has ranked No. 1 in 113 of the last 117 weeks (since w/o 6/25/12), finishing behind “Today” only during the two weeks of the 2012 Summer Olympics and the two weeks of the 2014 Winter Olympics.  

 

“GMA” built on the previous week (5.467 million, 2.104 million and 1.493 million, respectively, on w/o 9/15/14) for the 5th week in a row in Total Viewers (+4%), Adults 25-54 (+3%) and Adults 18-49 (+2%).  In fact, the ABC morning newscast drew its largest overall and news demo audience since April and best Adults 18-49 number since May – since w/o 4/28/14, w/o 4/21/14 and w/0 5/19/14, respectively.   

 

“GMA” significantly increased its year-to-year premiere week advantages over NBC’s “Today” in both Total Viewers (1.252 million vs. 795,000) and Adults 25-54 (437,000 vs. 56,000) to deliver its largest premiere week margins over “Today” in more than 23 years - since at least the 1991-92 season (Nielsen’s electronic database started on September of 1991).

 

“GMA” improved on the year-ago premiere week (5.547 million, 2.067 million and 1.437 million, respectively, on w/o 9/23/13) in Total Viewers (+2%), Adults 25-54 (+5%) and Adults 18-49 (+6%).   “GMA” turned in its best opening week performance in Total Viewers in more than 23 years, in Adults 25-54 in 9 years and in Adults 18-49 in 7 years - since before the 1991-92 season, the 2005-06 season and the 2007-08 season, respectively.  In addition, “GMA” is also up the most year to year in Adults 25-54 and Adults 18-49 compared to “CBS This Morning” (+1%/+1%) and NBC’s “Today” (-14%/-11%).

 

During the week, “GMA” beat “CBS This Morning” in Total Viewers (+90%), Adults 25-54 (+120%) and Adults 18-49 (+126%).

 

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WATCH: Crash Raises Questions About Need for Seat Belts on Public Buses http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/10/watch-crash-raises-questions-about-need-for-seat-belts-on-public-buses/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/10/watch-crash-raises-questions-about-need-for-seat-belts-on-public-buses/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 22:37:37 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=525540

New chilling video, which caught a crash involving a transit authority bus and a car in Spokane, Washington, in which passengers were sent flying, is raising questions about whether seat belts should be used in public transportation.

Multiple cameras on the bus captured the moment, this weekend, when a Subaru vehicle blew through a red light as the bus crossed the intersection.

“We were coming down and this green car pulled in front of the bus and we T-boned it,” bus passenger Theresa Taylor told ABC News affiliate KXLY-TV.

One passenger identified as Sandy was thrown from her wheelchair.

“Sandy fell down and she went to the hospital already,” passenger Kathy Miller told the station. “She’s got stomach problems. … And she had a bruise under her arm.”

Authorities said the driver of the car remained at the scene and was ticketed.

While the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended seat belts for long-haul tour buses, there are no requirements for seat belts on school buses or city transit buses.

A person is 28 times safer on a city bus than in a car, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The American Public Transportation Association maintains that it would cost billions of dollars to meet any mandatory seat belt requirements.

Standing passengers would be banned and cities would have to buy more buses and hire more drivers to handle the additional passengers, the association added.

No one was seriously hurt in the accident, KXLY reported.

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Critics Outraged Cop Killer Mumia Abu-Jamal Named College Speaker http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/10/critics-outraged-cop-killer-mumia-abu-jamal-named-college-speaker/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/10/critics-outraged-cop-killer-mumia-abu-jamal-named-college-speaker/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 19:08:46 +0000 Dina Abou Salem http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=525472 gty mumia abu jamal kb 141001 16x9 608 Critics Outraged Cop Killer Mumia Abu Jamal Named College Speaker

Critics are hammering a decision by students from Vermont’s Goddard College to choose convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal as a fall 2014 commencement speaker.

“I am outraged by the decision of the college, and I don’t think he [Abu Jamal] should have the constitutional right to express himself,” Maureen Faulkner, the widow of Abu-Jamal’s victim, told ABCNews.com.

Abu-Jamal was convicted in the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death in 1982.

Senate Dems Join GOP to Block Justice Nominee Who Defended Cop Killer

Watch: 20/20′s 1998 Report on the Mumia Case

Since his imprisonment, he has worked as a journalist and essayist, with a nationally syndicated Prison Radio show that airs on WGDR-WGDH Goddard Community Radio. He received a degree from Goddard College in 1996 while in prison and will have his pre-recorded remarks delivered to students Sunday, the college said.

“Our students chose Abu-Jamal for commencement speaker mainly because he represents the struggle for freedom, of mind, body and spirit,” Samantha Kolber, communications manager at Goddard College told ABCNews.com.

However, Officer Faulkner’s widow and other critics have attacked the college’s decision to allow Abu-Jamal to be honored as a commencement speaker.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, called it “despicable and appalling that a college would want to offer this platform to an unrepentant cop killer” in remarks to a radio show on WPHT that were published on Philly.com today.

“What have we come to when we think that there’s a college in America that thinks this is a guy that should be addressing their student body?” Toomey told the radio station’s Dom Giordano Program, according to the website.

Abu-Jamal does have his supporters well beyond Goddard College. For years, labor unions and human rights advocates expressed concern about the fairness of Abu-Jamal’s trial and called for his release.

In 2011, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decided to vacate Abu-Jamal’s death sentence on the grounds that jury instructions and the verdict form were ambiguous and confusing to members of the jury. Abu-Jamal was then transferred from death row to the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution in Frackville, Pennsylvania, where he now resides.

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National Nursing Shortage Fueled by Lack of Teachers http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/10/national-nursing-shortage-fueled-by-lack-of-teachers/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/10/national-nursing-shortage-fueled-by-lack-of-teachers/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 14:37:45 +0000 Freda Kahen-Kashi http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=525517 GTY ebola hospital kab 140819 16x9 608 National Nursing Shortage Fueled by Lack of Teachers

(Sam Edwards/Getty Images)

They’re often the first people you see at the doctor’s office, and the first line of defense in any ER – but America’s nursing population is shrinking fast.

The nursing shortage may not be caused just by lack of interest. In many ways, it’s caused by lack of capacity. Each year, 80,000 applicants are turned away from nursing schools, often because there aren’t enough teachers or resources to accommodate growing student interest.

“Suddenly, we turned around and realized we’re not attracting enough nurses to go into teaching,” said Dr. Kimberly S. Glassman, with patient care services and the chief nursing officer at NYU Langone Medical Center.

“The fear is we will have to shrink the number of nurses we can prepare for the future at a time when we need to prepare more.”

Many of America’s nurses are about to reach retirement age just as the baby boomer population is growing in its health care consumption – compounding the urgency of the situation.

“In addition to not having many student placements, and the retirement issue on the part of the faculty, the slowness at which we can prepare these nurses to serve as teachers has really come together at a time when we really want to increase the numbers, but we find that we are restrained,” said American Nurses Association President Pam Cipriano.

But Glassman is quick to eschew a doomsday scenario, saying, “This is not something you’re going to feel day to day. … This is something that we and other universities are paying attention to.”

The ANA is taking note, as well, working to help fund scholarships and encouraging nursing students, as well as current registered nurses, to take advantage of doctoral and masters programs, providing them with a window to one day move into a faculty position.

“On the one hand, we think that the position is getting better,” said Cipriano. “But on the other hand, we know it can take years before we can change the equation, before we have sufficient numbers of slots for those 80,000 candidates that are being turned away.”

Glassman noted that larger institutions such as NYU Hospital and similar facilities in major cities are not the ones that are suffering the most.  It’s the institutions in smaller, more rural areas that will see a more rapid change in a shorter amount of time.

To that end, the ANA will be canvassing the halls of Congress this January in an effort to double down on funding efforts for schools and scholarship programs.

In the meantime, Cipriano said, she’s focused on one basic question: “How can we redesign care? What are the care methods that will allow us to use the nurses we have in the most effective manner?”

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Russia Pulls Out of US Funded Student Exchange Program http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/09/russia-pulls-of-out-us-funded-student-exchange-program/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/09/russia-pulls-of-out-us-funded-student-exchange-program/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 17:46:44 +0000 Kirit Radia http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=525467 MOSCOW – Amid political tensions with the West, Russia is pulling out of a popular high school exchange program funded by the U.S. government, according to the U.S. embassy in Moscow.

“We deeply regret this decision by the Russian government to end a program that for 21 years has built deep and strong connections between the people of Russia and the United States,” Ambassador John Tefft said in a statement.

The Future Leaders Exchange program, known as FLEX, places students from former Soviet countries in year-long exchanges at high schools around the United States where they live with an American family.

According to the U.S. Embassy, more than 8,000 Russian high school students have participated in the program since it launched 21 years ago. The goal was to help foster closer ties and understanding between the former Soviet world and the West after the Cold War.

One of those students was Elena Chernenko, now a correspondent for the Russian newspaper Kommersant. From 1999-2000 she attended high school in Arlington, Texas, and forged lifelong friendships.

“It was a great experience, both for me, as a participant of this program and for my host family and the friends that I met there. I think this program is very important,” she said, in a phone interview, using the English she perfected in the U.S.

Chernenko said the program helped break down stereotypes she held of Americans and she was able to teach her classmates about Russia.

“I was the only foreigner there. And my friends were asking, like, do you have television? Do you have electricity?” she recalled with a chuckle.

“I do not understand really why our government would shut down a program like this,” she lamented. “I’m very sad. I don’t think that this is something that should be done. Cultural exchanges, student exchanges, scientific exchanges, they should stay whatever the political situation is.”

She also left an impact on her host family, inspiring her “younger brother” to study Russian in college.

Chernenko said the program taught her as much about herself as it did about the United States, and she left determined to go back and work in Russia.

Russian authorities have yet to explain the decision to suspend cooperation with FLEX, but Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government has taken a confrontational stance towards the United States in recent years. In 2012, Russia kicked out the US Agency for International Development and has targeted non-governmental organizations that receive foreign funding, branding them “foreign agents.”

Those tensions boiled over this year after Russia seized Crimea and fomented tensions in Ukraine, leading to several rounds of American and European sanctions.

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“WORLD NEWS TONIGHT” WINS SEPTEMBER IN ADULTS 25-54 DEMO FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 7 YEARS WITH DAVID MUIR AS ANCHOR http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/09/world-news-tonight-wins-september-in-adults-25-54-demo-for-the-first-time-in-7-years/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/09/world-news-tonight-wins-september-in-adults-25-54-demo-for-the-first-time-in-7-years/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:40:56 +0000 Van Scott http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=525462 For the Month, “World News Tonight” Grows the Most in the Demo (+10%) Compared to September 2013; “NBC Nightly News” Down by -4%

“World News Tonight” Ranks #1 for the Week Among Adults 25-54 with the Strongest Year-to-Year Growth (+9%)

“World News Tonight” Wins Demo for 8 Consecutive Weeks

In Total Viewers, “World News Tonight” Increases the Most for the Week (+11%) from Last Year

ABC‘s “World News Tonight with David Muir” ranked No. 1 among Adults 25-54 during September 2014 (2.085 million) for the first time in 7 years (since September 2007), based on Most Current Data from Nielsen Media Research. “World News Tonight” grew the most (+10%) from September 2013 compared to “NBC Nightly News” (-4%) and “CBS Evening News” (+8%). The ABC broadcast saw its best Adults 25-54 performance for the month in 6 years – since September 2008.

ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” won the opening week of the 2014-15 season in Adults 25-54 (2.002 million) for the week of September 22, 2014, based on Live +Same Day Data from Nielsen Media Research. The ABC evening newscast outdelivered “NBC Nightly News” (1.811 million) by 191,000 news demo viewers to rank No. 1 during premiere week for the first time in 7 years – since w/o 9/24/07 of the 2007-08 season. In addition, ABC took the top spot in Adults 25-54 for the 8th straight week with its largest news demo advantage in 4 weeks – w/o 8/25/14.

“World News Tonight” improved on the year-ago week (7.234 million, 1.832 million and 1.257 million, respectively, on w/o 9/23/13) in Total Viewers (+11%), Adults 25-54 (+9%) and Adults 18-49 (+4%). ABC drew its strongest premiere week, overall viewer audience in 9 years and best in the news demo in 5 years – since the opening weeks of the 2005-06 and 2009-10 seasons. “World News Tonight” grew the most in both Total Viewers and Adults 25-54 compared to “CBS Evening News” (+3%/+4%) and “NBC Nightly News” (+2%/-7%).

In Total Viewers, “World News Tonight” slashed its year-to-year margin with “Nightly News” by more than three-quarters (-80% – 158,000 vs. 788,000).

World News Tonight” was up over the previous week (7.872 million for w/o 9/15/14) in Total Viewers (+2%), growing the most week to week compared to “CBS Evening News” (+1%) and “NBC Nightly News” (-1%).

“World News Tonight” claimed the week’s No. 1 Adults 25-54 telecast with its Tuesday airing (2.221 million on 9/23/14). In addition, on Friday (9/26/14), “World News” beat “NBC Nightly News” by its largest-single-day lead in both Adults 25-54 (+608,000 – 1.906 million vs. 1.298 million) in nearly 7 years – since 10/1/07, based on regular telecasts.

For the week, “World News Tonight” led the “CBS Evening News” by 1.685 million Total Viewers, by 495,000 Adults 25-54 and by 266,000 Adults 18-49.

NOTE: “CBS Evening News” was retitled to “CBS Evening Nws” on Thursday (9/25/14) for NFL and was excluded from the averages. CBS’ weekly averages are based on 4 days (Mon-Wed and Fri).

ABC “World News Tonight with David Muir” airs at 6:30 p.m., ET on the ABC Television Network. Almin Karamehmedovic is the executive producer of the broadcast. Follow David Muir and the “World News Tonight” team online: @DavidMuir; @WNTonight; facebook.com/DavidMuirABC; facebook.com/WorldNewsTonight.

EVENING NEWS (Week of September 22, 2014)

TOTAL VIEWERS ADULTS 25-54 ADULTS 18-49 HOUSEHOLDS
ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT 8,029,000 1.7/7; 2,002,000 1.0/5; 1,301,000 5.4/11
NBC NIGHTLY NEWS 8,187,000 1.5/7; 1,811,000 1.1/5; 1,343,000 5.6/12
CBS EVENING NEWS 6,344,000 1.3/5; 1,507,000 0.8/4; 1,035,000 4.2/ 9

EVENING NEWS (September 2014)

TOTAL VIEWERS ADULTS 25-54 ADULTS 18-49 HOUSEHOLDS
ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT 8,168,000 1.7/8; 2,085,000   1.1/5; 1,361,000 5.4/11
NBC NIGHTLY NEWS 8,366,000 1.6/7; 1,932,000 1.1/6; 1,443,000 5.6/12
CBS EVENING NEWS 6,349,000 1.3/6; 1,579,000 0.4/4; 1,095,000 4.2/9

Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 and Adults 18-49 Live + SD weeks of 9/22/14, 9/15/14 and 9/23/13. Most Current – September 2014 (9/21 – 9/28/14) and September 2013 (8/26 – 9/29/13). Averages based on regular telecasts.

– ABC –

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CEO Indicted for Spyware App That Records Calls, Nearby Conversations http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/09/ceo-indicted-for-spyware-app-that-records-calls-nearby-conversations/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/09/ceo-indicted-for-spyware-app-that-records-calls-nearby-conversations/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 22:25:16 +0000 Lee Ferran http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=525454 For the first time criminal charges have been brought against a suspect for allegedly advertising and selling spyware for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry – software that’s purportedly capable of intercepting phone calls, text messages and emails, and even eavesdropping on offline conversations happening within a few yards of the smartphone carrier.

The Department of Justice announced today the indictment of Pakistani national Hammad Akbar, CEO of InvoCode Pvt Ltd, the U.K.-based company that sells StealthGenie software online, in part marketing it to suspicious spouses and lovers. Akbar was arrested in Los Angeles Saturday.

“This application allegedly equips potential stalkers and criminals with a means to invade an individual’s confidential communications,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Andrew McCabe said in a DOJ release. “They do this not by breaking into their homes or offices, but by physically installing spyware on unwitting victim’s phones and illegally tracking an individual’s every move. As technology continues to evolve, the FBI will investigate and bring to justice those who use illegal means to monitor and track individuals without their knowledge.”

The FBI says a potential user would need to be alone with a target device for “only a few minutes” to install the software and then could monitor the phone without physical contact again – using software that is “undetectable by most users and was advertised as being untraceable.”

In addition to monitoring basically all communications on the target smartphone, the StealthGenie user could “call the phone and activate it any time to monitor all surrounding conversations within a 15-foot radius,” the FBI said.

The DOJ release said that part of StealthGenie’s marketing plan was to sell to customers who suspect their significant others are cheating on them.

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Tiny Oxygen Masks Credited With Big Hamster Rescue http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/09/tiny-oxygen-masks-credited-with-big-hamster-rescue/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/09/tiny-oxygen-masks-credited-with-big-hamster-rescue/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:22:51 +0000 Matthew Foster http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=525432

Firefighters are often typecast as the heroic rescuers of cats in trees, but one unit in Washington state put its “Pet Emergency Pocket Guide” to much smaller use.

Lacey, Washington, first responders arrived on scene Friday to discover five hamsters threatened by a mobile home fire.

They quickly extinguished the flames but spotted the pets inside, according to ABC affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Using their pocket guide and specially designed animal first aid equipment, crews treated the family of hamsters with oxygen masks. The Lacey Fire Department put photos of the rescue on their Twitter page shortly after the incident.

 

ht fire dept saves hamsters 05 mt 140929 16x9 608 Tiny Oxygen Masks Credited With Big Hamster Rescue

                              (Photo Credit: @LaceyFireDist3/Twitter) 

The two adult hamsters were named “Oreo” and “Madonna,” according to the fire department’s Twitter page. The other three were babies.

The fire department has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

Twitter users were delighted to see the rescue, with one tweeting, “Thank you for rescuing & providing emergency treatment for animals injured in fires. You rock!”

The fire department also tweeted, citing clothes in a dryer as the preliminary cause of the fire. Officials also shared the sad news that one of the baby hamsters didn’t survive.

ht fire dept saves hamsters 01 mt 140929 16x9 608 Tiny Oxygen Masks Credited With Big Hamster Rescue

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Why Hong Kong Residents Are Taking to the Streets http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/09/why-are-hong-kong-residents-taking-to-the-streets/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/09/why-are-hong-kong-residents-taking-to-the-streets/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:46:52 +0000 Karson Yiu http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=525405

Hong Kong police on Sunday night fired tear gas into a rowdy but largely peaceful crowd of pro-democracy protesters, which seemingly ballooned and spread across the city only after the moment the tear gas was released from its shell.

 

AP hong kong democracy protests 2 sk 140929 16x9 608 Why Hong Kong Residents Are Taking to the Streets

Riot police launch tear gas into the crowd as thousands of protesters surround the government headquarters in Hong Kong, Sept. 28, 2014. (Wally Santana/AP Photo)

The crowds – for which there were no official numbers for the crowds, although activist groups were estimating them to be in the tens of thousands - effectively brought parts the international financial hub to virtual standstill for the second straight day Monday.

 

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Pro-democracy protesters gather in the Admiralty region of Hong Kong, Sept. 29, 2014. (Aaron Tam/AFP/Getty Images)

The student protests and the Occupy Central movement were initially about electoral reforms. Beijing said in August that it would allow Hong Kong to elect its own leader if the candidates were pre-screened and friendly to Beijing. That did not sit well with some of the electorate.

 

AP hong kong democracy protests 1 sk 140929 16x9 608 Why Hong Kong Residents Are Taking to the Streets

Thousands of people block a main road in Hong Kong, Sept. 28, 2014. (Vincent Yu/AP Photo)

When the Hong Kong government and its police force decided to respond to protesters with force, some locals who did not initially support the week-long student protest or the plan to disrupt Hong Kong’s financial district seemed to galvanize behind the two movements. A new movement and hashtag arose from the tear gas: the #UmbrellaRevolution, named after the accessory of choice the protesters chose to defend themselves.

 

AP hong kong democracy protests 5 sk 140929 16x9 608 Why Hong Kong Residents Are Taking to the Streets

A protester raises a placard that reads "Occupy Central" between riot policemen and protesters outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, Sept. 27, 2014. (Vincent Yu/AP Photo)

More Photos: Hong Kong Democracy Protests vs. Tear Gas

In the brief, unexpected violence, moderate Hong Kong residents may see a future that resembled any other mainland Chinese city, where dissent is removed by a show of force.

‘Hong Kong Exceptionalism’

Hong Kong, a self-governed southern Chinese territory, prides itself on its freedom of speech and assembly – a freedom its cousins in mainland China do not share.

There lies the heart of the issue: Call it “Hong Kong exceptionalism,” or, at least, the perception of it – because, after all, Hong Kong is part of China. It was this “Hong Kong identity” that people seemed to be flooding into the streets to defend.

Related: Hong Kong Nationals Protest Beijing in Annual March

Related: Protesters Take to Hong Kong Streets in Support of NSA Leaker Edward Snowden

Related: Hong Kong’s Pink Dolphins Dwindle to Just Dozens

When Hong Kong was handed back over to China from British colonial hands in 1997, the former colony was promised eventual “full democracy” under a “one country, two systems”-type of governance. Authorities also guaranteed the Hong Kong way of life would be preserved until at least 2047.

Despite its freedoms,  full democracy and universal suffrage was something that Hong Kong never enjoyed as a British crown colony and something no Chinese citizen had on the mainland.

Seventeen years on, pro-democracy activists believe China is reneging on its promise.

Public opinion in Hong Kong is divided. Many residents remain politically conservative and opt for stability above all else.

Cantonese Worry About Mandarin-ization

Despite that, relations between Hong Kong and the mainland are at their frostiest since the 1997. Hong Kong has flourished as an international financial hub since the handover but the mostly Cantonese-speaking population is also going through an identity crisis. Their idea of “Hong Kong exceptionalism” is under threat.

Some Hong Kong residents are feeling squeezed out of opportunities by what they believe is a “Mandarin-ization” of the Hong Kong economy, where the highest wages are going to Mandarin-speakers with extensive mainland Chinese connections, creating an increasing wealth gap. They also believe wealthy business elites are pandering to the Chinese government in order to access the mainland market at the expense of everyday Hong Kong residents.

Changing Demographics

In 1984, when it was decided Hong Kong would return to China, the city of Shenzhen, which sits on Hong Kong’s border with the mainland, had roughly 200,000 residents. Shenzhen is now dwarfs Hong Kong’s 7.2 million residents as megacity of 15 million people.

The influx of mainland Chinese investors and tourists into Hong Kong have also raised property prices and a strain on some consumer goods.

When the Hong Kong police, held up as heroes in local films and on TV, fired tear gas at its own people, some may not have recognized the city they called home.

 

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Riot policemen take position opposite demonstrators during a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong, Sept. 28, 2014. (Xaume Olleros/AFP/Getty Images)

The New York Times quoted a recent university graduate Steve Lee in the thick of the tear gas saying, “Hong Kong has gone crazy. It is no longer the Hong Kong I know, or the world knows.”

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WW2 Vet Thanks Those Who Saved Him 70 Years Ago http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/09/ww2-vet-thanks-those-who-saved-him-70-years-ago/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/09/ww2-vet-thanks-those-who-saved-him-70-years-ago/#comments Sun, 28 Sep 2014 21:14:48 +0000 Kirit Radia http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=525397 HT leroy williamson red army moscow jt 140928 16x9 608 WW2 Vet Thanks Those Who Saved Him 70 Years Ago

(Credit: Stefan Mizha/U.S. Embassy Moscow)

MOSCOW — There was a moment, shortly after he was liberated from a Nazi prisoner of war camp by Soviet soldiers, that remains etched in Leroy Williamson’s mind.

The Texan came across a group of Russians singing and dancing for joy. They soon brought over a pair of cows for them to eat, his first taste of fresh meat in over a year. They also brought in a donut machine, Williamson recalled with a smile.

This week, nearly 70 years later, Williamson traveled here to salute the Russian soldiers who fought to save him.

“I’m here is to just say thank you to the veterans,” he said. He was pleasantly surprised to find that the gratitude is mutual.

Easing into an armchair, Williamson smiled and recounted the Russian general who invited him to lunch the day before, the aging Soviet war veterans who embraced him, and the Kremlin honor guard that escorted his visit to lay a wreath at Moscow’s memorial to the Great Patriotic War, as World War Two is called in Russia. Ordinary Russians have welcomed him with open arms once they find out his story.

“It’s been wonderful,” he gushed. “I am so pleased with the attitude of the people here.”

He had planned to meet with a surviving member of the Red Army’s 44th Infantry Division, which liberated his camp, but the night before that man fell sick and had to be hospitalized.

Instead, Williamson was able to present a Purple Heart, awarded to those injured in battle, to a Soviet soldier who fought alongside American troops during the war. The man was overcome with emotion.

“He really gave me the bear hug,” he chuckled.

At 93 years strong, Leroy Williamson retains an easy laugh and firm handshake. His voice only dips as he recalls his time in the Nazi camp.

Williamson did not even speak about his time as a prisoner of war until just a few years ago. Now he casually mentions daring anecdotes about smuggled radios and digging escape tunnels in passing as if talking about the weather.

During a bombing mission over Germany in April 1944, Williamson, then a 23-year-old 2nd lieutenant, was shot down. His memory of the day is as clear today as ever, yet he hesitates to describe what that it was like.

“When you can say you’ve survived that’s the good part,” he said before a long pause. “Naturally, the people (on the ground) didn’t look at us very kindly.”

Williamson spent several days in interrogation before being transferred to a prisoner of war camp on the Baltic Sea. During the winter, a cold wind roared off the water, just a few blocks away. At night, Allied bombs landed nearby.

He would remain there for 14 grueling months until May 1, 1945, just a week before Allied victory was declared, when Soviet troops pushed from the east “like gangbusters” and liberated his camp.

“They not only liberated us from prison camp, they did so many other good things for us,” he said.

Those were heady times. The Americans and the Soviets had both fought against Nazi Germany and Williamson recalled the outpouring of support from the Soviets after President Franklin Roosevelt died.

That camaraderie, of course, would not last.

As the Cold War set in, Williamson would soon find himself on the other side of the Soviets as he flew supply runs as part of the Berlin Airlift when the city was cut off from West Germany. Soviet fighter jets would scramble to meet them.

“A Russian MIG would come, drop its flaps and wheels, stay with us a few minutes,” he recalled. “I’d give a salute back and that was it.”

Williamson was reticent when asked about the latest tensions between the United States and Russia, but offered a stern warning from a man who has witnessed the best and worst of US-Russian relations.

“We have to get along,” he insisted. “We don’t need a patriotic war or a World War 3.”

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