Headlines » Nation http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines The latest Headlines, news and blog posts from ABC News contributors and bloggers. Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:25:12 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 New Happiest State in the US May Surprise You http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/02/new-happiest-state-in-the-us-may-surprise-you/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/02/new-happiest-state-in-the-us-may-surprise-you/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 22:53:50 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527748

Alaska, home to moose and the Palins, can finally claim that it is the happiest state in the US.

Known as the Last Frontier, Alaska scored the No. 1 spot in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for 2014, unseating North Dakota, which took the honor for 2013.  The annual ratings were released today.

North Dakota is happier than Hawaii.

Hawaii tops well-being list for fourth consecutive year.

Alaska had appeared thrice in the Top 10 since 2008, when the index started, but had never taken the top crown until now.

Hawaii came in second — after falling to eighth place in 2013 — while West Virginia took No. 50 for the sixth straight year.


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Anchorage, Alaska - Getty Images

States were measured on six subindexes, including individual life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors and access to basic necessities.

The data was based on more than 176,000 interviews conducted last year with adults across all 50 states.

Check out the complete rankings here.




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Starving Sea Lions Overwhelm California Rescue Centers http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/02/starving-sea-lions-overwhelm-california-rescue-centers/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/02/starving-sea-lions-overwhelm-california-rescue-centers/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 23:37:21 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527734

A record-setting number of starving sea lion pups are packing marine care centers in California.

An average of more than 200 sea lions are typically found stranded statewide from January to April. This year, however, more than 900 sea lions have been rescued — and that number was expected to rise.

The marine care centers said today they’ve gotten so full that they now can handle just three rescues a day. The rest of the pups have to be turned away.

GTY sea lion pups sk 150218 16x9 608 Starving Sea Lions Overwhelm California Rescue Centers

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“The reality of the situation is many of these animals are going to be left on the beach for observation. We’re going to be working closely with the rescue agencies to bring in the animals that we feel have the best chance of survival and do our best to treat as many of them as we can,” said David Bard, the operations director of the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, California. “We won’t be able to save all of them.”

Bard said resources behind rescuing the animals and then caring for them in care centers were “fairly taxed.”

Sea lion hitches ride on family’s kayak.

Watch: Sea lion’s hilarious visit to an oceanside resort.

The pups, thin and desperate for food and clinging to life, have been winding up alone on beaches and even in apartment complexes along the coastline.

Last week, a young sea lion likely looking for food was found on a major San Francisco roadway, more than 1,000 feet from the ocean.

Peter Wallerstein, director of Los Angeles County’s Marine Animal Rescue project, spent today responding to call after call about stranded sea lions. He said rescuers’ hands were tied.

“[Centers are] just so overwhelmed with sea lion pups,” Wallerstein said.  “It’s like a paramedic without a hospital to take a patient. It’s tough for us.”

Experts said they believed the warmer-than-average ocean temperatures might be affecting the animals’ food supply.

“Most of these animals need to have several more pounds on them than what we are seeing,” Bard said.

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Winery Reacts to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Impromptu Endorsement http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/02/winery-reacts-to-ruth-bader-ginsburgs-impromptu-endorsement/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/02/winery-reacts-to-ruth-bader-ginsburgs-impromptu-endorsement/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 19:54:56 +0000 Jonah Lustig http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527716 ap ruther bader ginsburg lb 150213 16x9 608 Winery Reacts to Ruth Bader Ginsburgs Impromptu Endorsement

Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is interviewed at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., Feb. 6, 2015. (AP Photo)

A California winery is responding to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s claim that she was “not quite sober” after drinking a bottle of its wine before President Obama’s State of the Union address this year.

Christopher Barefoot, vice president of public relations at Opus One Winery in Oakville, Calif., said the winery’s staff was overjoyed to hear Ginsburg enjoyed their wine.

“We were delighted to learn we were included in such an important meal. It’s a great feeling,” he said.

‘Notorious’ Ruth Bader Ginsburg ‘Wasn’t 100 Percent Sober’ at State of the Union

Justice Ginsburg Earns Her ‘Notorious’ Nickname With Black Gloves

“Before we went to the State of the Union, Justice Kennedy brought in … it was an Opus something or other, very fine California wine, and I vowed this year, just sparkling water, stay away from the wine,” Ginsburg reportedly said Thursday night during a talk hosted by the Smithsonian Associates in D.C. ”But in the end, the dinner was so delicious, it needed wine.”

Barefoot declined to comment on speculation that Ginsburg, 81, was nodding off during the president’s address, but he did note it appeared obvious she had appreciated the wine.

“It seems like she enjoyed the wine, and we’re glad she liked,” he said.

Despite the renewed attention being given to the winery, Barefoot noted that Opus One has a long history of being served at important occasions. He said he doubted that Ginsberg is the first person of fame/notoriety to consume his company’s wine.

“I’m sure we’ve been served at many, many, many, many prominent dinners,” he said.


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After Video Surfaces, Philly Cops Charged in Man’s Beating Case http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/02/after-video-surfaces-philly-cops-charged-in-mans-beating-case/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/02/after-video-surfaces-philly-cops-charged-in-mans-beating-case/#comments Sat, 07 Feb 2015 03:27:50 +0000 Enjoli Francis http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527685

A surveillance video was critical in helping authorities file assault charges recently against two Philadelphia police officers accused of brutally beating a city man and then falsifying their arrest reports.

“What they did was totally inappropriate, totally improper [and] totally in violation of any policy, any training, anything,” Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said during a news conference Thursday.

Two New Mexico officers face charges in death of homeless man.

Daughter of police chief charged in gay couple’s beating.

What is excessive force?

In May 2013, according to authorities, Najee Rivera, 23, was pulled over by Officers Sean McKnight and Kevin Robinson around 10 p.m. for not stopping at a stop sign.

When Rivera tried to drive off, authorities said, the officers allegedly knocked him off the motor scooter he was riding.

In their reports, McKnight and Robinson said Rivera had resisted arrest and tried to remove one of the officers’ batons. Rivera suffered a fractured orbital bone and lacerations to his head.

Rivera’s girlfriend Dina Scannapieco said she searched the neighborhood for evidence after the arrest, hoping to find a business that may have caught the incident on tape.

Leon Flynn, Rivera’s lawyer, said Scannapieco had shown “teeth and aggression” when seeking out a video.

“I think she believes in (Rivera),” Flynn said. “She’s a supporter. She loves this young guy.”

Scannapieco eventually found a surveillance tape.

“The video undermined every aspect of the officers’ account of the incident,” said District Attorney Seth Williams during a news conference Thursday. “They hit him in the head. He fell off his scooter. He was writhing in pain and they started beating him. End of story.”

McKnight and Robinson now face multiple charges of assault and filing false reports. They were suspended from the police force and are pleading not guilty to the assault charges.

Lawyers for the officers said today that they were just doing their job.

“It’s unfortunate that these two young men, the police officers, have lost their jobs [and] been charged with crimes for simply doing their jobs,” Fortunato Perri said today.

“We’re looking to see to it that each of these officers are acquitted,” Brian McMonagle said today. “These are young men who have no history of doing anything but the right thing.”

Charges against Rivera were eventually dropped and he settled a lawsuit against the city for $200,000.

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Courtesy Rivera family

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Kerry Cancels Plan to Visit Putin in Moscow http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/01/kerry-cancels-plan-to-visit-putin-in-moscow/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/01/kerry-cancels-plan-to-visit-putin-in-moscow/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:06:07 +0000 Kirit Radia http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527618 MOSCOW – Secretary of State John Kerry has canceled unannounced plans to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next week, a U.S. official told ABC News.

The two were expected to discuss the crisis in Ukraine, where the United States blames Russia for arming and funding the separatist forces. The U.S. has also accused Russia of sending its troops across the border to bolster the rebels. Russia has denied the accusations.

The decision to cancel the visit came just days after an alleged Russian spy ring was broken up in New York, and after last weekend’s offensive by Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine. This week, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew suggested the United States could expand sanctions on Russia as the fighting in Ukraine continues.

Kerry is still expected to attend next week’s Munich Security Conference, and the possibility remains he may meet his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, there.

On the same trip, Kerry will stop in Kiev, where he will meet with Ukrainian leaders, including President Petro Poroshenko. In a statement, Kerry’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said the visit aimed to demonstrate “the United States’ steadfast support for Ukraine and its people.”

Secretary Kerry would have been the first cabinet-level U.S. official to visit Russia since the Ukraine crisis began last year. Kerry’s last trip to Russia came in May 2013, shortly before former NSA contractor Edward Snowden arrived in Moscow, harming U.S.-Russia relations.

President Obama visited St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G-20 summit in September 2013, but canceled plans for a summit with Putin in Moscow during the same trip after Snowden received asylum in Russia.

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Jockey Accused of Zapping Horse Near Finish Line http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/01/jockey-accused-of-zapping-horse-near-finish-line/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/01/jockey-accused-of-zapping-horse-near-finish-line/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 00:41:43 +0000 Enjoli Francis http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527599

Jockey Roman Chapa is facing a felony charge of unlawful influence on racing based largely on a photograph taken during a race earlier this month.

When Chapa won the Jan. 17  race riding Quiet Acceleration at the Sam Houston Race Park in Texas, a snapshot of the photo finish circulated. He reportedly asked that the image be taken down, raising suspicions.

Horse race scam foiled by a quirk of fate.

Horse trainer pleads guilty to animal abuse.

Members of Congress tackle horse “torture.”

Prosecutors now allege that the photo showed Chapa, 43, holding a buzzer in his left hand. Buzzers are used to send an electrical shock to the horse.

Barry Abrams of ESPN’s “In the Gate” said the alleged device was intended to startle the horse and make him run faster.

“It doesn’t really hurt the horse,” Abrams said. “It more gets his attention. … It’s just meant to kind of startle him.”

Investigators said the jockey told them that the picture was photoshopped by someone trying to frame him.

Abrams said incidents like this were not common.

“Just about all the tracks these days have stewards positioned all over the rack track — both with their own eyes and with cameras everywhere — so it’s very difficult nowadays to execute such a thing effectively,” he said.

ap chapa lb 150129 16x9 608 Jockey Accused of Zapping Horse Near Finish Line


Chapa’s track record is questionable.  In 2007, he was suspended for using an electrical device on a horse. And in 1994, he was suspended for using a nail to make a horse run faster.

Chapa did not respond to requests for comment by ABC News.

Andrea Young, president of the Sam Houston Race Park, said in a statement that the park was “pleased” with how fast the investigation had moved.

“These sorts of actions have no place in horse racing, and are a disservice to the tens of thousands of people involved in our sport who play by the rules every day. We will continue to support this investigation in every way possible,” Young said.

If he is convicted, Chapa faces up to 10 years in prison.

ABC News’ Ryan Owens, Matt German and Shahriar Rahmanzadeh contributed to this story.

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Seattle Seahawks Gnome Travels to the Super Bowl http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/01/seattle-seahawks-gnome-travels-to-the-super-bowl/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/01/seattle-seahawks-gnome-travels-to-the-super-bowl/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 22:38:16 +0000 Enjoli Francis http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527597

Branden and Dana Smith are hoping their famous traveling gnome will bring them luck in the form of Super Bowl XLIX tickets.

“The gnome has to work his magic,” Dana Smith said. “We are going to that game.”

See, their gnome is not the average garden variety. It’s a legend in its own right.

“Oh my goodness, Washington, Oregon, down to the Golden Gate Bridge, Yellowstone National Park. He’s been all over,” Dana Smith said. “I’m pretty sure he’s already been to Arizona so this is his second trip. Our gnome is more well-traveled than we are.”

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Super Bowl XLIX: Facts and Figures Ahead of the Big Game

Weeks after the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory in 2014, the Smiths of Tumwater, Washington, received the gnome bearing the Seattle Seahawks logo as a gift from Branden Smith’s mother.

KOMO traveling gnome 06 jc 140912 16x9 608 Seattle Seahawks Gnome Travels to the Super Bowl

The garden gnome owned by Branden and Dana Smith of Tumwater, Wash. went missing for six months and was returned with a calendar full of photos showing him in various locations. KOMO photo.

The seven-year season ticket holders promptly put it on their front lawn. In March, though, three days later, it disappeared.

Six months later, in September and on the first day of the NFL season, the gnome was returned. But it didn’t come empty-handed. With the gnome came a calendar including photos of its travels around the western US.

“They took him on a little vacation,” Dana Smith said. “They fed him, gave him beer.”

On Wednesday, the couple left their home to make the 22-hour trip to Phoenix, Arizona, with the gnome.

The Smiths said they brought the gnome to Phoenix to take pictures, meet Seahawks players and hopefully score tickets to the big game.

“It’s the Super Bowl!” Branden Smith said. “With everything that happened, we knew we were going down here. We weren’t going to leave him at home.”

ABC News’ Cecilia Vega and Brinda Adhikari contributed to this story.

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Watch Dramatic Helmetcam Rescue of 3 Children From Apartment Fire http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/01/watch-dramatic-rescue-of-3-children-from-fresno-apartment-fire/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/01/watch-dramatic-rescue-of-3-children-from-fresno-apartment-fire/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 23:00:59 +0000 Jonah Lustig http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527560

The Fresno Fire Department released dramatic helmetcam video from an apartment fire in which three children left home unattended were rescued by firefighters.

The video shows firefighters in the California city battle through flames and smoke as they attempt to locate the children, whose ages range from 1 to 4 years.  According to a statement from the department, firefighters were able to locate and remove the kids within four minutes of arrival on the scene.

“The firefighters would say it’s just their job. But to get a rescue of this magnitude is something we really don’t come across every day,” said Agapito Martinez, public information officer for the department.

Martinez says the video contains helmet camera footage from two different firefighters. The rescue came as a surprise to officials, as firefighters were originally called to the scene for reports of smoke in a building, according to Martinez.

The three children were taken to a nearby hospital with critical injuries due to smoke inhalation, according to the statement. No firefighters were injured in the rescue. The Fresno Police Department is investigating why the children were  left home without supervision.

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Viral Video Captures Dog Stumbling Across Ice In Slow Motion http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/01/viral-video-captures-dog-stumbling-across-ice-in-slow-motion-3/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/01/viral-video-captures-dog-stumbling-across-ice-in-slow-motion-3/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:35:22 +0000 Jonah Lustig http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527544 ht quinn the dog kb 150127 16x9 608 Viral Video Captures Dog Stumbling Across Ice In Slow Motion

Quinn, a 5-month-old Bernese Mountain Dog, was captured in slow motion sprinting across a patch of ice. (Courtesy TJ Parker)

A video of a dog attempting to run over a patch of ice in slow motion is taking the Internet by storm.

The video was shot by TJ Parker of his dog Quinn, a 5-month old Bernese Mountain Dog, at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire.  In the video, Quinn sprints across a patch of ice and loses his footing as Parker captures the moment in slow motion.

“She went from freaking out in shock to pure bliss,” said Parker, who told ABC News it was Quinn’s first time seeing snow and ice on the ground.

@QuinnTheBerner learning all about ice

A video posted by TJ Parker (@tjparker) on

Parker says Quinn repeated the run several more times through the day. More photos and video of Quinn can be found at the dog’s official Instagram page, @QuinnTheBerner.

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No Charges Against Teen Who Pretended to Be Florida Doctor, Police Say http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/01/no-charges-against-teen-who-pretended-to-be-florida-doctor-police-say/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/01/no-charges-against-teen-who-pretended-to-be-florida-doctor-police-say/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 23:27:34 +0000 Enjoli Francis http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527418

Hospital staff and police have opted not to pursue charges against a teenager who, they say, masqueraded as a doctor for a month at a West Palm Beach, Florida, facility before being found out.

According to police documents, authorities were called to St. Mary’s Medical Center Tuesday by the staff after a patient reported that “a child was dressed as a doctor.”

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The patient said the 17-year-old was dressed in a white lab coat with a St. Mary’s logo and the word “anesthesiology” embroidered on the front.

The report said the young man, whose name was not released, was wearing a “stethoscope around his neck and a face mask.”

 No Charges Against Teen Who Pretended to Be Florida Doctor, Police Say

(Uri Schanker/WireImage/Getty Images)

Dr. Sebastian Kent, an ob-gyn, said he encountered the teen as he tended to a patient that the teen had called “his wife.”

“He was wearing a lab coat, a white coat very similar to a doctor’s coat,” Kent told ABC News today. “Initially and certainly looking back retrospectively, I thought you know this person looks so young. … And I just [thought]: ‘Boy, they’re getting out of med school really quickly now.”

Kent said that they did not talk medicine and that at no point did he see the teen administer to any patients.

An hour later, he said the teen left him a Post-It note asking that the ob-gyn give him a call. Kent said that when he did reach him over the phone, the teen asked to follow him as an “intern” in the office and hospital.

When Kent sought details about the teen’s schooling, he said the teen was ambiguous.

“Every minute there was a different school. He was from one place, then he was from someplace else,” Kent said. “The story started to get a little more vague. … He did remind me of the kids that I tutor in high school. Just the kind of language he used. … Just his way of expressing himself.”

Kent said he did not call the police but a while after that conversation, he saw the teen outside surrounded by three or four police officers.

The police report said the teen said that he’d been a doctor for “years” and that his family knew about it.

In a statement, the hospital said: “On January 13, an individual was detained by security at St. Mary’s Medical Center after falsely presenting himself as a physician.  The individual never had contact with any hospital patients and did not gain access to any patient care areas of the hospital at any time.  The hospital immediately notified local authorities, who took the individual into custody, and we are cooperating with their ongoing investigation.  The safety and security of patients is our highest priority.”

The child was released into the custody of his mother, who told police that the child was under the care of a doctor but refused to take medication.

ABC News’ Matt Gutman and Rachel Humphries contributed to this story.

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