Headlines » Nation http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines The latest Headlines, news and blog posts from ABC News contributors and bloggers. Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:01:27 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Arizona Woman on Death Row for Two Decades Speaks Out After Exoneration http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/03/arizona-woman-on-death-row-for-two-decades-speaks-out-after-exoneration/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/03/arizona-woman-on-death-row-for-two-decades-speaks-out-after-exoneration/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 20:14:19 +0000 Dina Abou Salem http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527993

An Arizona woman who spent two decades on death row after being charged in the death of her 4-year-old son spoke out today — the first public comments since a judge dismissed her case on Monday.

Debra Milke, 51, was convicted of murder in 1990 in the killing of her son Christopher in December 1989. However, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal overturned Milke’s conviction in 2013, ruling that prosecutors withheld a detective’s history of misconduct while her conviction was based entirely on an alleged confession she gave to him.

Multiple court rulings in other cases said that the detective, Armando Saldate, either lied under oath or violated suspects’ rights during interrogations.

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Debra Milke looks around the court room during a hearing, March 23, 2015, in Marcopa County Superior Court in Phoenix. (Mark Henle/Arizona Republic/AP Photo)

Milke and her lawyers shared their observations at a news conference today as they recounted their experiences over the years.

“I had absolutely nothing to do with the brutal murder of my son and I did not give a confession,” Milke said today. “The only thing equally worse [than losing a child] is to be falsely accused of the death of your child.”

Mike Kimerer, Milke’s attorney who took over her case 15 years ago, said that he took over her case because he believed she was innocent, since the only evidence available was a confession coming from what he described as a discredited cop.

“It started in December 1989 when she was arrested and ultimately falsely convicted to have conspired to kill her son,” Kimerer said. “She spent 22 years on death row. …  She can now have the life which she was deprived of for 24 years.”

Kimerer gave credit to his co-counsel on the case, Lori Voepel, whom he said was instrumental in finding more evidence against the detective.

In a brief hearing on Monday, Judge Rosa Mroz not only dismissed the case and exonerated her, but also allowed Milke, who has been free on bond since 2013, to have her electronic-monitoring ankle bracelet removed.


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Dallas Police Announce Arrest in Murder of Iraqi Man Taking Snow Photos http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/03/dallas-police-announce-arrest-in-murder-of-iraqi-man-taking-snow-photos/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/03/dallas-police-announce-arrest-in-murder-of-iraqi-man-taking-snow-photos/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 15:03:26 +0000 Jonah Lustig http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527937

Dallas police have announced an arrest in the murder of an Iraqi man shot dead while taking pictures of the fist snowfall he had ever seen.

In a news conference this morning, police said 17-year-old Nykerion Nealon has been charged with the March 5 shooting death of Al-Jumaili in a parking lot in Dallas.

“The gang units and the metro units of the Dallas Police Department have worked tirelessly over the past week to bring someone to justice,” said agent Jeff Cotner.

According to Cotner, Nealon and a group of two others may have been seeking revenge for an alleged earlier shooting at an apartment belonging to Nealon’s girlfriend. That shooting remains under investigation.

Police do not believe Nealon and Al-Jumaili knew each other prior to the shooting, but Cotner says Nealon shot directly at Al-Jumaili.

“When he saw Mr. Al-Jumaili and his family, he targeted them. He tracked them,” Cotner said.

According to a fundraising page set up by friends of his, Al-Jumaili had recently moved to the United States after securing finances for he and his wife, who was already living in Dallas.

Alia Salem, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council of Islamic-American Relations, thanked police for bringing awareness to the shooting in an attempt to identify a suspect.

“There was pressure on the community to turn out these criminals,” she said at the press conference. “We are humbled by the community outpouring.”

Cotner says police will continue to investigate the incident. They say there is a history of conflicts between Nealon and his partners, and there may be a gang element to the violence.


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US Airways: Passengers Evacuate Flight in Denver as Smoke Fills Cabin http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/03/us-airways-passengers-evacuate-flight-in-denver-as-smoke-fills-cabin/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/03/us-airways-passengers-evacuate-flight-in-denver-as-smoke-fills-cabin/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 21:20:47 +0000 Dina Abou Salem http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527835

Passengers on US Airways Flight 445 from Charlotte were told to evacuate the plane as soon as it landed at Denver International Airport today, authorities said.

“The flight did have a smoke smell in cockpit. Evacuation slides deployed as plane was on the ground. Passengers were evacuated and bussed safely to concourse,” said Stacey Stegman, a spokeswoman for Denver International Airport, told ABC News.

“While three passengers were checked by paramedics on the scene for minor injuries, no one was transported to the hospital,” Laura Coale, another airport spokeswoman, told ABC News.

Delta Plane Makes Emergency Landing After Pilot Locked Out of Cockpit

Brooks Robinson, of Atlanta, who was on the flight, described to ABC News the scene.

“The jet stopped abruptly on the taxiway and then passengers saw and smelled smoke,” he said.

“All of a sudden the captain comes over the intercom and goes, ‘ladies and gentlemen evacuate, evacuate, evacuate!’ And you could tell he was a little … disturbed and a little shaken up,” he added.

“It got pretty smoky. I mean me I’m not one to really panic over minor stuff, but it was enough where I wanted to put my shirt over my face because it was kind of a foul smell and awkward odor,” said Robinson.

Robinson and many passengers took to social media where they posted videos and pictures of the incident.

“Fire department ruled out fire as the cause of the smoke,” Stegman said.

She also said NTSB continue to investigate the cause.

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Goodbye, Cheap Gas: Prices Continuing to Rise http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/03/goodbye-cheap-gas-prices-continuing-to-rise/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/03/goodbye-cheap-gas-prices-continuing-to-rise/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 14:28:09 +0000 Rebecca Jarvis http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527817 AP gas prices jef 150227 16x9 608 Goodbye, Cheap Gas: Prices Continuing to Rise

Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo

The days of gas prices being lower than $2 are firmly in the US drivers’ rear-view mirrors.

The national average price for a gallon of gas is now $2.38 — 10 cents more than a week ago.

And GasBuddy expects those prices to keep climbing — seven cents to 10 cents — during the weekend.

Gas price increases 8 cents.

Why low gas prices don’t mean cheaper airline tickets.

Gas prices fall again, with no floor in sight.

No state in the country today has pump prices lower than $2.

One state, however, is experiencing the biggest single-day jump in prices ever. That’s California.

In Los Angeles, prices were up 20 cents in just 24 hours, according to GasBuddy.

Driving the spike is an ExxonMobil oil refinery fire Feb. 18 in Torrance, California.

California refineries also have been switching over to their spring gasoline blend, which is why the state’s drivers see prices start to increase during this time of year.

The spring gasoline blend gets cars better mileage — and reduces pollution — but is more expensive.

The good news: Even with the recent spike, prices are still more than $1 less than they were last year.


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ABC News Announces Cecilia Vega & Tom Llamas as “World News Tonight” Weekend Anchors http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/03/abc-news-announces-cecilia-vega-tom-llamas-as-world-news-tonight-weekend-anchors/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2015/03/abc-news-announces-cecilia-vega-tom-llamas-as-world-news-tonight-weekend-anchors/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 14:13:45 +0000 Van Scott http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/?p=527821 ABC News President James Goldston announced Cecilia Vega and Tom Llamas as “World News Tonight” Weekend Anchors. See below for Goldston’s note to staff:


I have exciting news to share about our “World News Tonight” weekend broadcasts and our 2016 political team.

Cecilia Vega and Tom Llamas will become anchors of “World News Tonight” Saturday and Sunday respectively beginning this weekend, making official the posts they’ve filled with great success since last fall when David Muir became anchor of “World News Tonight.”

Since joining ABC News in 2011, Cecilia has done fantastic work, deftly covering everything from the Olympics and papal conclave to the Occupy Wall Street protests and the election of President Barack Obama. Most recently, she has reported on the 2014 midterm elections, Ebola cases in the United States, the Sony computer hacking and fallout, and allegations against Bill Cosby. Prior to joining ABC News, Cecilia was an Emmy Award-winning journalist for KGO in San Francisco and award-winning print reporter. We’re very grateful that she’ll be making the jump from the West Coast to New York City for this new role as anchor and senior national correspondent.

In less than five months at ABC News, Tom has made a tremendous mark reporting from Dallas on the Ebola outbreak in the U.S., including a revealing interview with a nurse who treated Nina Pham at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. His coverage of the tragic death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland and the shooting deaths of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina showcased his impactful and compassionate style of reporting. Before joining ABC, Tom served as the co-anchor of the 5 p.m. newscast for NBC 4 in New York and also as a contributing correspondent for NBC News. He won a Murrow Award for his contributions to WNBC’s breaking news coverage of Superstorm Sandy and an Emmy for “Best Anchor.” He’s reported from some of the most important breaking news events in recent history, including Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake and the Boston Marathon bombing.

Finally, as the 2016 presidential election begins to heat up, I’m proud to announce Cecilia and Tom will join our powerhouse political team, led by Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos. They will join Anchor Diane Sawyer, “World News Tonight” Anchor David Muir, Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz, Senior National Correspondent Jim Avila, Political Analyst Cokie Roberts, Political Director Rick Klein, Lead Analyst Matthew Dowd, along with Donna Brazile and Bill Kristol and an all-star group of ABC News contributors. From the battleground states, the primaries, the conventions, the debates and all the way to election night, our team will deliver the whole picture in new and distinctive ways across all of our platforms on the candidates, public policy and issues in an historic election year.

Please join me in congratulating Cecilia and Tom on their new roles joining the great team at “World News Tonight” and kicking off 617 days of exceptional political journalism.


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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.

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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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