National News National News en-us Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Fri, 31 Oct 2014 21:10:54 GMT Synapse CMS 10 144 25 Witness: Virgin's SpaceShipTwo Explodes in Desert National News Fri, 31 Oct 2014 3:29:42 PM Witness: Virgin's SpaceShipTwo Explodes in Desert

MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) - A Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket exploded Friday during a test flight, killing a pilot aboard and seriously injuring another while scattering wreckage in Southern California's Mojave Desert, witnesses and officials said.

The company founded by British billionaire Richard Branson would not say what happened other than that it was working with authorities to determine the cause of the "accident."

"During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo," Virgin Galactic tweeted.

Ken Brown, a photographer who witnessed the crash, told The Associated Press that SpaceShipTwo exploded after a plane designed to take it to high altitude released it and the craft ignited its rocket motor.

Brown said the wreckage fell in the desert north of Mojave Air and Space Port, where the test flight originated. The area is about 120 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

There is one fatality and one major injury, California Highway Patrol Officer Jesse Borne said. One person parachuted out, he said.

SpaceShipTwo, which is typically flown by two pilots, was designed to provide a suborbital thrill ride into space before it returns to Earth as a glider.

Friday's flight marked the 55th for the spaceship, which was intended to be the first of a line of craft that would open space to paying civilians. At 60 feet long, SpaceShipTwo features two large windows for each of up to six passengers, one on the side and one overhead.

Virgin Galactic - owned by Branson's Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS of Abu Dhabi - sells seats on each prospective journey for $250,000, with full payment due at the time of booking. The company says that "future astronauts," as it calls customers, have visited Branson's Caribbean home, Necker Island, and gone through G-force training.

Stephen Hawking, Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher and Russell Brand are among the celebrities to sign up for flights. Virgin Galactic reports taking deposits totaling more than $80 million from about 700 people.

A related venture, The Spaceship Co., is responsible for building Virgin Galactic's space vehicles.

During testing for the development of a rocket motor for SpaceShipTwo in July 2007, an explosion at the Mojave spaceport killed three workers and critically injured three others. A California Division of Occupational Safety and Health report said the blast occurred three seconds after the start of a cold-flow test of nitrous oxide - commonly known as laughing gas - which is used in the propulsion system of SpaceShipTwo. The engine was not firing during that test.

Friday's accident was the second space-related explosion this week.

On Tuesday, an unmanned commercial supply rocket bound for the International Space Station exploded moments after liftoff from a launch site in Virginia. No injuries were reported that accident, which drew criticism over NASA's growing reliance on private U.S. companies in this post-shuttle era

Virgin Galactic planned to launch space tourism flights from the quarter-billion-dollar Spaceport America in southern New Mexico once it finishes developing its rocket ship.

Christine Anderson, executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, did not want to comment on the events unfolding Friday in the California desert or what effect they might have on Spaceport America and the future of commercial space travel.

Virgin Galactic is in line to be the main tenant at the spaceport that was built specifically to launch paying customers into space, a dream of Branson's. His company has repeated pushed back the timetable for when the $250,000 flights were to begin, pointing to delays in development and testing of the rocket ship.

Taxpayers footed the bill to build the state-of-the-art hangar and runway in a remote stretch of desert in southern New Mexico as part of a plan devised by Branson and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. Critics have long challenged the state's investment, questioning whether flights would ever get off the ground.

SpaceShipTwo is based on aerospace design maverick Burt Rutan's award-winning SpaceShipOne prototype, which became the first privately financed manned rocket to reach space in 2004.

Commercial development has been slower than expected. When Virgin Group licensed the technology from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who funded about $26 million for SpaceShipOne, Branson envisioned operating flights by 2007.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Permalink| Comments

Maine Asks Court to Isolate Quarantined Nurse National News Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:48:25 AM Maine Asks Court to Isolate Quarantined Nurse

FORT KENT, Maine (AP) - Maine health officials have asked a court to limit the movements of nurse Kaci Hickox, who defied a voluntary quarantine for medical workers who have treated Ebola patients.

Officials filed documents Thursday, following through with a threat to try to isolate her.

A judge signed a temporary order Thursday limiting Hickox's movement until a further court order expected Friday. For now, police are monitoring Hickox and her public interactions but cannot detain her.

Hickox, who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, says confinement violates her rights. She says that she has no symptoms and poses no risk to the public.

The state is seeking to limit her travel, keep her out of public places, and require a 3-foot buffer if she comes into contact with people.

Permalink| Comments

Man Wanted for Pennsylvania Trooper Ambush Captured National News Thu, 30 Oct 2014 5:56:51 PM Associated Press Man Wanted for Pennsylvania Trooper Ambush Captured

DUNMORE, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania State Police, sending a seven-week manhunt, have captured a man accused of ambushing two troopers, leaving one dead and seriously injuring the other.

Eric Frein, 31, was taken into custody Thursday, state police said. They released no details of his capture.

Frein is charged with opening fire outside the Blooming Grove barracks on Sept. 12, killing Cpl. Bryon Dickson and seriously wounding another trooper.

Police linked him to the ambush after a man walking his dog discovered the suspect's partly submerged SUV three days later in a swamp a few miles from the shooting scene. Inside, investigators found shell casings matching those found at barracks as well as Frein's driver's license, camouflage face paint, two empty rifle cases and military gear.

Saying Frein was armed and extremely dangerous, officials had closed schools and urged residents to be alert and cautious. Using dogs, thermal imaging technology and other tools, law enforcement officials combed miles of forest as they hunted for the suspect, whom they called an experienced survivalist at home in the woods.

They pursued countless tips, and closed in on an area around Frein's parents' home in Canadensis after he used his cellphone to try contacting them, and the signal was traced to a location about three miles away. At times police ordered nearby residents to stay inside or prevented them from returning home.

Trackers found items they believe Frein hid or abandoned in the woods - including soiled diapers, empty packs of Serbian cigarettes, an AK-47-style assault rifle and ammunition, and two pipe bombs that were functional and capable of causing significant damage. They also discovered a journal, allegedly kept by Frein and found in a bag of trash at a hastily abandoned campsite, that offered a chilling account of the ambush and his subsequent escape into the woods. The journal's author described Dickson as falling "still and quiet" after being shot twice.

Police spotted a man they believed to be Frein himself at several points during the manhunt, but it was always from a distance, with the rugged terrain allowing him to keep them at bay. Police said he appeared to be treating the manhunt as a game.

Frein allegedly held anti-law enforcement views for many years and expressed them both online and to people who knew him. But the source of his alleged vendetta remains unclear. His criminal record appears limited to a decade-old misdemeanor case involving items stolen from a World War II re-enactors event in upstate New York, for which he spent 109 days in jail.

Police found a U.S. Army manual called "Sniper Training and Employment" in the suspect's bedroom at his parents' house, and his father, a retired Army major, told authorities that his son is an excellent marksman who "doesn't miss," according to a police affidavit. Authorities believe he had been planning a confrontation with police for years, citing information they found on a computer used by Frein.

Frein belonged to a military re-enactor's group, playing the part of a Serbian solder. He had a small role in a 2007 movie about a concentration camp survivor and helped with props and historical references on a documentary about World War I.

The FBI named him to its 10 most wanted list.

His 18-year-old sister, Tiffany Frein, earlier acknowledged that her brother "did something messed up" but told NBC News that he is "not a psycho."

Frein is charged with first-degree murder and various other offenses, including two counts of possession of weapons of mass destruction filed after police discovered the pipe bombs.

At his funeral, Dickson was called a devoted husband and father and "impeccable" ex-Marine who took his work seriously but also enjoyed making wooden toys for his young sons and finding humor in everyday situations. Trooper Alex Douglass was shot in the pelvis and critically injured in the ambush, which took place during a late-night shift change.

Douglass remained hospitalized until Oct. 16, when he was discharged to a rehabilitation facility.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Permalink| Comments

Maine Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride National News Thu, 30 Oct 2014 1:20:53 PM Associated Press Maine Nurse Defies Ebola Quarantine With Bike Ride

FORT KENT, Maine (AP) - Practically daring Maine health authorities to go to court to have her confined, nurse Kaci Hickox went out on a bike ride Thursday in defiance of the state's voluntary quarantine for medical workers who have treated Ebola patients.

It was the second time in two days that she left her home in remote northern Maine, along the Canadian border. On Wednesday evening, Hickox came out and briefly spoke to reporters, even shaking a hand that was offered to her.

State officials planned to go to court Thursday to have her confined to her home against her will in what is shaping up as the nation's biggest test case yet in the struggle to balance public health and fear of Ebola against personal freedom.

Hickox, 33, told reporters that she hoped for a compromise with health officials, but her actions indicated she had no intention of remaining in isolation for the remainder of the 21-day incubation period for Ebola that ends on Nov. 10.

"I really hope that we can work things out amicably and continue to negotiate," she said as she and her boyfriend rode on a dirt path in this town of 4,300 people.

An unmarked state police cruiser followed Hickox on her hour-long bike ride, but police could not take action to detain her without a court order signed by a judge.

Hickox has said that quarantine is a violation of her rights and that she is no threat to others because she has no symptoms.

Around midday, Gov. Paul LePage said the state was willing to agree to arrangements that would have allowed Hickox to go for walks, runs and bicycle rides while preventing her from going into public places or coming within 3 feet of others.

But LePage said negotiations with Hickox and her lawyers broke down, and he announced that he intended to exercise his full authority to address threats to the public health.

Hickox stepped into the media glare when she returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone to become subject to a mandatory quarantine in New Jersey. After being released from a hospital there, she returned to this small town, where she was placed under what Maine authorities called a voluntary quarantine.

She said she is following the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation of daily monitoring for fever and other signs of the disease.

"I'm not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it's not science-based," she said Wednesday evening.

States have broad authority under long-established law to quarantine people to prevent the spread of disease. But legal experts said there are differences here that could work in Hickox's favor in court: People infected with Ebola are not contagious until they have symptoms, and the virus is not spread through casual contact.

In Hickox's case, she has tested negative for Ebola so far. But it can take days for the virus to reach detectable levels.

In other developments:

- Ebola fears infected a medical conference on the subject. Louisiana state health officials told thousands of doctors planning to attend a tropical-diseases meeting this weekend in New Orleans to stay away if they have been to certain African countries or have had contact with an Ebola patient in the last 21 days.

- Liberia is making some progress in containing the outbreak, while Sierra Leone is "in a crisis situation which is going to get worse," the top anti-Ebola officials in the two countries said.

- The World Bank announced it will give an additional $100 million to help bring in more foreign health workers. That raises the money it has given to the fight to $500 million.

Some states like Maine are going above and beyond the CDC guidelines to require quarantines. So is the U.S military.

President Barack Obama, the nation's top infectious-disease expert and humanitarian groups have warned that overly restrictive measures could cripple the fight against the disease at its source by discouraging volunteers like Hickox from going to West Africa, where the outbreak has sickened more than 13,000 people and killed nearly 5,000 of them.

"These kinds of restrictions could dissuade hundreds, if not thousands, of skilled volunteers from helping stop Ebola's spread, which is in the national interest of every one of our countries," Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Thursday in Brussels.

She added: "The volunteers are heroes to the people they help, and they are heroes to our own countries. They should be treated like heroes when they return."

In Maine, state law allows a judge to confine someone if health officials demonstrate "a clear and immediate public health threat."

If a judge grants the request, Hickox will appeal on constitutional grounds, said Norman Siegel, one of her attorneys.

Siegel said the nurse hopes her fight against the quarantine will help bring an end to misinformation about how Ebola is spread.

"She wants to have her voice in the debate about how America handles the Ebola crisis. She has an important voice and perspective," he said.

Word spread quickly around the town about Hickox.

Priscilla Staples said that some are fearful of Hickox's presence, but Hickox "has done nothing wrong, and she has every right in the world to go for a bike ride."


Associated Press writer Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine, contributed to this story.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Permalink| Comments

Plane Crashes at Kansas Airport, Killing 4 National News Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:06:02 PM Associated Press Plane Crashes at Kansas Airport, Killing 4

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A small plane lost power after takeoff and crashed into a flight-training building while trying to return to a Kansas airport Thursday, killing four people, injuring five others and igniting a fire that sent up towering plumes of black smoke that could be seen for miles around Wichita.

Three of the dead were inside a flight simulator in the building when the plane crashed into it at the city's Mid-Continent Airport, and the fourth was found on the roof and is believed to be the pilot, Wichita Fire Chief Ronald Blackwell said.

Five others were injured in the crash, and one of those was in serious condition at a hospital, Blackwell said. Officials said only one person was on board the plane and that everyone who was in the building had been accounted for. Identities of the victims were not immediately released.

"We understand that this is a very difficult time, especially for folks who have family members who are working out here and they don't know," Wichita Fire Marshal Brad Crisp said.

The plane, identified as a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air, crashed into a building that FlightSafety International uses to train pilots to fly Cessna planes, company spokesman Steve Phillips said. The FAA said it crashed after losing engine power and trying to return to the airport.

It appeared to strike the top of the building and ignite what Blackwell described as a "horrific" fire.

The crash was "not an intentional act," Wichita Police Deputy Chief John Speer said. "We are comfortable in saying this is an aviation accident."

The crash caused so much structural damage to the building that rescuers were unable pull victims' remains from the wreckage. It wasn't clear Thursday when that would happen, and heavy equipment was being brought to the scene to assist the effort.

Jeff Papacek, 39, of Wichita, said he saw a "giant fireball" as he was heading to his engineering job at Learjet, which has a testing facility at the airport. He said he didn't see the crash because there were too many buildings in the way, but he said the plane caught his attention beforehand.

"We are used to planes flying straight with the runway, and this plane just didn't look like it was lined up and was way too low for the direction it was going," Papacek said, adding that he drove to the crash site to see what was happening and saw the building fire raging.

The crash did not significantly disrupt passenger traffic at the airport.

The aircraft, which was manufactured in 2000, was headed to Mena, Arkansas, for painting and interior refurbishing work with Rose Aircraft Services Inc., according to that company's CEO, Keith Rose.

"Our prayers go out to the families of the victims and those owning and operating the aircraft and facilities," Rose said. "No further information is available at this time out of respect for those involved in this tragic loss."

A tail number provided by the National Transportation Safety Board showed the plane is registered to Beechcraft Corp. Beechcraft spokeswoman Nicole Alexander confirmed in an email that the aircraft was registered to the company but said it was recently sold. She said she couldn't comment further and referred additional questions to the NTSB.

Located several miles west of downtown Wichita, a longtime aircraft manufacturing hub, Wichita Mid-Continent is used by private aircraft and served by several airlines and their regional affiliates, including American, Southwest, Delta, United and Allegiant. It saw more than 13,000 departures and about 1.4 million passengers last year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The crash is the latest in a string of incidents at the airport. In December, an avionics technician was arrested after a months-long undercover sting when he allegedly tried to drive a van filled with inert explosives onto the tarmac in a plot prosecutors say was intended to kill as many people as possible. Then in January, an Oklahoma man rammed his pickup truck through a security gate at the airport. In September, the airport conducted a large-scale disaster exercise featuring the mock crash of a 737 aircraft.

One patient remains in serious condition at Via Christi Hospital St. Francis and four others have been treated and released, hospital spokesman Roz Hutchinson said.


Reporters Heather Hollingsworth, Margaret Stafford and Greg Moore in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this story.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Permalink| Comments

Giants Fans Celebration Turns Violent National News Thu, 30 Oct 2014 4:30:50 AM Giants Fans Celebration Turns Violent

SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco police reported sporadic violence in the city as fans celebrated another World Series victory.

Shortly after the Giant's game 7 victory over the Kansas City Royals, an unidentified victim suffered a gun shot wound to the arm, according to San Francisco police.

The victim was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Police had not located a suspect.

Officers also reported bonfires were set at a few locations before being extinguished by police & firefighters.

Several arrests were also made during the celebrations.


Permalink| Comments

Family of 5 Likely Killed by Poison National News Thu, 30 Oct 2014 3:58:08 AM Family of 5 Likely Killed by Poison

SALT LAKE CTIY (AP) - A Utah couple and their three children found dead in their home last month were likely poisoned, their bodies found together in a locked room with cups next to each of them, and empty bottles of methadone and nighttime cold medicine in a trash can.

Police in Springville aren't saying who killed the family or whether one of the parents might have been involved. Toxicology results have not determined an exact cause of death, but search warrants obtained Wednesday say the family was likely poisoned.

Benjamin and Kristi Strack were in bed, with children ages 11 through 14 lying around them, tucked in bedding up to their necks, according to the search warrants. Kristi Strack had a red liquid coming out of her mouth.

Some of the bodies looked to have been positioned after they died Sept. 27. They were found by the couple's older son and Kristi Strack's mother, who said she couldn't believe "she" would do this to the kids but wouldn't elaborate, police wrote.

Investigators found empty methadone bottles, 10 empty boxes of nighttime cold medicine and two boxes of allergy medicine in their garbage, along with a red liquid substance in Pepsi cups. They also found a pitcher of red juice, a purple bucket with yellow liquid, a bag of marijuana and other medications, including sleeping pills.

Springville police Lt. Dave Caron said Wednesday he couldn't comment on the search warrant or speculate about the cause of death until results of a toxicology test come back. That's expected in late November, he said.

"Until I get those, I really don't have anything," he said. "I could come up with all sorts of theories, but it's not helpful."

The search warrant says it wasn't normal for the children to be in their parents' room because they have their own rooms.

Kristi Strack was last seen alive at 6 a.m. by the older son's girlfriend, who also lives in the home. The girlfriend went back to sleep after talking with Kristi Strack, and the house was quiet when the older son and his girlfriend left the house that afternoon.

When they returned at 7 p.m. and saw the house was still quiet even though all the cars were in the driveway, they knocked on the master bedroom door. When no one answered, the couple called Kristi Strack's mother and her friend, who helped them force it open.

Authorities have previously said the five did not die violently.

The five were identified as Benjamin Strack, 37, his wife, Kristi, 36, and three of their children: Benson, 14, Emery, 12, and Zion, 11.

Little is known about the family. A family spokesman has declined to reveal much and, at a vigil, family members declined comment.

Benjamin Strack's former boss said he worked off-and-on for six to seven years at AK Masonry, a bricklaying company, and had borrowed money in the past. Court records show Benjamin and Kristi Strack pleaded guilty to misdemeanor forgery charges in 2008 and disorderly conduct the following year.

Springville is a city of about 30,000 near Provo, about 45 miles south of Salt Lake City.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Permalink| Comments

NFL Seeks to Dismiss Ex-players' Painkillers Suit National News Thu, 30 Oct 2014 3:51:41 AM NFL Seeks to Dismiss Ex-players' Painkillers Suit

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The National Football League on Thursday is expected to ask a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former players who say team officials gave them powerful painkillers and other drugs to keep them on the field without regard for their long-term health.

NFL lawyers in court papers deny the allegations and argue that the former players waited too long to file the lawsuit.

The NFL says that a two-year statute of limitations claiming personal injury has expired. The former players filed the lawsuit in May. Several prominent former players have publicly joined the lawsuit, including Marcellus Wiley, Jim McMahon, Richard Dent, Keith Van Horne and Jeremy Newberry.

The lawsuit represents players who played as far back as 1968. It says the former players didn't realize the health hazards they faced until recently.

The former players say that NFL physicians and trainers routinely provided narcotics and other controlled substances on game days to mask the pain. The lawsuit says many of the drugs were dispensed without prescriptions.

The former players argue that they were never warned about the dangers of the drugs they were given and only recently discovered the potential harm they face from ingesting so many painkillers. Among the drugs said to have been handed out were the painkillers Percodan, Percocet and Vicodin, anti-inflammatories such as Toradol, and sleep aids such as Ambien.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined comment.

In court papers, the NFL lawyers say the lawsuit doesn't specify what damage the former players have suffered and who exactly dispensed the painkillers at the heart of the complaint.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday morning in San Francisco's federal court.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Permalink| Comments

Fed Keep Rate at Record Low, Ends Bond Buying National News Wed, 29 Oct 2014 1:50:27 PM Fed Keep Rate at Record Low, Ends Bond Buying

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Reserve plans to keep a key interest rate at a record low to support a U.S. job market that's improving but still isn't fully healthy and help lift inflation from unusually low levels. As expected, it's also ending a bond purchase program that was intended to keep long-term rates low.

The Fed on Wednesday reiterated its plan to maintain its benchmark short-term rate near zero "for a considerable time." Most economists predict that the Fed won't raise that rate before mid-2015. The Fed's benchmark rate affects the rates on many consumer and business loans.

In a statement ending a policy meeting, the Fed suggested that the job market, though still not back to normal, is strengthening. The statement drops a previous reference to "significant" in referring to an "underutilization" of available workers. Instead, the Fed said that the underutilization of labor resources is "gradually diminishing." The Fed also said that labor market conditions had improved further with "solid job gains and a lower unemployment rate."

The change indicates that the Fed believes the labor market, while not completely restored following the Great Recession, is at least in better shape. One of the Fed's major goals is to achieve maximum employment, which it currently defines as an unemployment rate between 5.2 percent and 5.5 percent. The unemployment rate in September fell to 5.9 percent.

The decision was approved with a 9-1 vote. The one dissent came from Narayana Kocherlakota, the president of the Fed's regional bank in Minneapolis. He objected, contending that the Fed should have changed its rate hike guidance to link it to inflation expectations rising to the Fed's 2 percent target. He also argued that in light of the recent slide in the market's expectations for future inflation, the Fed should also have continued its bond purchase program at the current level of $15 billion.

Kocherlakota is considered one of the Fed's leading "doves," Fed officials who are more concerned about unemployment than the risk that low interest rates could trigger inflation. At the last meeting in September two "hawks," Fed officials who are more concerned about inflation threats, Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser and Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, had dissented.

The U.S. economy has been benefiting from solid consumer and business spending, manufacturing growth and a surge in hiring that's reduced the unemployment rate to a six-year low of 5.9 percent. Still, the housing industry is still struggling, and global weakness poses a potential threat to U.S. growth.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen has stressed that while the unemployment rate is close to a historically normal level, other gauges of the job market remain a concern. These include stagnant pay; many part-time workers who can't find full-time jobs; and a historically high number of people who have given up looking for a job and are no longer counted as unemployed.

What's more, inflation remains so low it isn't even reaching the Fed's long-term target rate of 2 percent. When inflation is excessively low, people sometimes delay purchases - a trend that slows consumer spending, the economy's main fuel. The low short-term rates the Fed has engineered are intended, in part, to lift inflation.

Investors are expected to remain on high alert for the first hint that rates are set to move higher. Most economists have said they think the Fed will start raising rates by mid-2015. But global economic weakness, market turmoil and falling inflation forecasts have led some to suggest that the Fed might now wait longer.

The Fed's decision to end its third round of bond buying had been expected. It has gradually pared the purchases from $85 billion in Treasury and mortgage bonds each month to $15 billion. And the Fed had said it would likely end the program after its October meeting if the economy continued to improve.

Even with the end of new purchases, the Fed's investment holdings stand at $4.5 trillion - more than $3 trillion higher than when the bond purchases were launched in 2008 at the height of the financial crisis. The Fed has said it won't begin selling its holdings until after it starts raising short-term rates.

Most economists have predicted that the Fed's first rate hike won't occur until next summer. Some foresee no increase until fall, in part because of fears that the global economy is weakening and could threaten the U.S. economy.

The bond buying program the Fed is now ending was intended to lower long-term borrowing rates to encourage spending and spur economic growth. The Fed began the purchases after it had cut its main policy tool, the federal funds rate, as low as it could go. The Fed's benchmark short-term rate has been at zero since December 2008.

Supporters have said the bond buying helped invigorate the economy and reduce the unemployment rate, which peaked at 10 percent during 2009, to the current 5.9 percent.

Critics contend that the Fed will find it hard to sell its massive holdings without jolting financial markets. They also worry that all the money it has pumped into the economy will eventually ignite inflation and cause dangerous bubbles in assets like stocks or housing.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Permalink| Comments

Preventing Strokes A Global Priority National News Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:29:46 AM Miranda Leah - @MirandaLeahTV Preventing Strokes A Global Priority

CORPUS CHRISTI - Today is World Stroke Day, and because 90% of first-time strokes are caused by risk factors that can be changed, the American Heart Association is updating their prevention guidelines.

The new recommendations include eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and cutting out most red meats and dairy.

They also recommend you get daily exercise and don't smoke.

Doctors said parents should learn the signs of a stroke, and teach them to their family as well, because it can mean the difference between life and death.

"We always say time is brain," said Spohn Shoreline Stroke Coordinator Amber Blimline. "Because every minute, over one-million brain cells are being killed during a stroke, and that is why it's so important to get help."

Click here for more information on recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke.


Permalink| Comments

Nurse Says She Plans to End Voluntary Quarantine National News Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:06:08 AM Associated Press Nurse Says She Plans to End Voluntary Quarantine

FORT KENT, Maine (AP) - A nurse who treated Ebola patients in West Africa said Wednesday that she plans to end her voluntary isolation in Maine, leading to a potential showdown with state officials who have vowed to enforce a mandatory quarantine.

Gov. Paul LePage said state police are monitoring the Fort Kent home where nurse Kaci Hickox is staying to ensure her protection as well as the safety of the community, he said.

Hickox told NBC's "Today" show and ABC's "Good Morning America" that she has so far abided by the state's voluntary quarantine. She said she had no contact with anyone Tuesday and will have no human contact again Wednesday. But she said she will take action if the policy isn't changed by Thursday.

"I don't plan on sticking to the guidelines," Hickox said on "Today." ''I remain appalled by these home quarantine policies that have been forced upon me even though I am in perfectly good health."

Her lawyer told The Associated Press that Hickox isn't willing to cooperate further unless the state lifts "all or most of the restrictions," which LePage said was disappointing.

"We hoped that the healthcare worker would voluntarily comply with these protocols, but this individual has stated publicly she will not abide by the protocols," LePage said in a statement. "We are very concerned about her safety and health and that of the community."

Hickox, who volunteered in Africa with Doctors Without Borders, was the first person forced into New Jersey's mandatory quarantine for people arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport from three West African countries.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo were sharply criticized for ordering mandatory quarantines for health care workers like Hickox who've shown no symptoms of Ebola. Now in Maine, Hickox arrived Tuesday night at the off-campus home of her boyfriend, who's a senior nursing student at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.

"I am not going to sit around and be bullied by politicians and forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public," she said.

Norman Siegel, one of her lawyers, said he remains hopeful the state will ease its restrictions. If not, then the state would have to go to court, and Siegel would challenge the state's action, he said.

"Our position is very simple. There's no justification for the state of Maine to quarantine her. She has no symptoms and therefore she's not contagious. And she's not at a risk to the public or the health and welfare of people in the state of Maine," he said.

LePage said he commended all health care workers who have volunteered in Africa to treat Ebola patients. He said he had hoped Hickox would voluntarily comply with Maine's restrictions, which go beyond Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that recommend only monitoring for health care workers who have treated Ebola patients but show now symptoms.

"While we certainly respect the rights of one individual, we must be vigilant in protecting 1.3 million Mainers, as well as anyone who visits our great state," he said.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Permalink| Comments

Commercial Supply Rocket Explodes at Liftoff National News Tue, 28 Oct 2014 5:46:55 PM Commercial Supply Rocket Explodes at Liftoff

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - An unmanned commercial supply ship bound for the International Space Station exploded moments after liftoff Tuesday evening, with debris falling in flames over the launch site.

No injuries were reported following the first catastrophic launch in NASA's commercial spaceflight effort.

Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket blew up over the launch complex at Wallops Island, Virginia, just six seconds after liftoff. The company said everyone at the launch site had been accounted for, and the damage appeared to be limited to the facilities.

Flames could be seen shooting into the sky as the sun set.

"Maintain your consoles," Orbital Sciences' Mission Control informed the roomful of engineers and technicians. All data were being collected for use in the ensuing investigation.

The Cygnus cargo ship was loaded with 5,000 pounds of experiments and equipment for the six people living on the space station. It was the fourth Cygnus bound for the orbiting lab; the first flew just over a year ago.

NASA spokesman Rob Navias said there was nothing urgently needed by the space station crew on that flight. In fact, the Russian Space Agency was proceeding with its own supply run on Wednesday.

NASA is paying the Virginia-based Orbital Sciences and the California-based SpaceX company to keep the space station stocked in the post-shuttle era.

Until Tuesday, all of the companies' missions had been near-flawless and the accident was sure to draw criticism in Washington. The commercial spaceflight program has been championed by President Barack Obama.

NASA said the six residents of the orbiting lab were informed of the accident.




Orbital Sciences: Orbital Sciences

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)



Permalink| Comments

3 Family Members Dead in Shooting, 1 Child Survives National News Tue, 28 Oct 2014 5:26:01 AM 3 Family Members Dead in Shooting, 1 Child Survives

SEATTLE (AP) - A man fatally shot his adult daughter and a teenage granddaughter on Monday night at a south Seattle home, then killed himself, Seattle police said. An unharmed 10-year-old boy was able to call 911 and report the shooting.

The boy called for help shortly after 8 p.m., saying his grandfather had waved a handgun at the two victims before shooting them, police said. The boy said his grandfather then turned the gun on himself.

Police described the gunman as in his 60s. None of the victims was immediately identified.

Police officials and Mayor Ed Murray rushed to the scene on South Fountain Street.

The boy was "shaken up" but unhurt, Assistant Police Chief Nick Metz told reporters at the scene. The child was placed in the care of his extended family. It appeared there were just four people in the house, Metz said.

The motive for the shooting wasn't immediately known, Metz said. Medics pronounced all three people dead at the scene.

The mayor said the shooting appears to be "a family tragedy."

"One thing I would say is the neighborhood itself is safe," Murray added.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Permalink| Comments

Officer Finds $125K in the Street National News Tue, 28 Oct 2014 4:11:29 AM Officer Finds $125K in the Street

CALIFORNIA - What would you do if you found bags containing thousands of dollars in cash?

If you're a police officer in California, you do the right thing and return the money to its rightful owner.

More than $125,000 worth, in two bank deposit bags, in the middle of the street.

"It was a weird, heart pounding, what's happening kind of feeling," said the officer.

She immediately took the $125 grand to Concord Police.

"Originally they thought it was from a bank robbery," said the officer.

The officer did not want her identity disclosed because she says this story's not about her.

"People do the right thing. When given the choice of doing what's wrong or what's right most people do what's right," said the officer.

Her children wanted to know why she gave back what could have been their college fund.

"And I asked them what integrity is and they said, "doing the right thing even when no one is looking" and I said exactly," said the officer.

The money has been claimed by a man who says it is his life savings. What it was doing in the street, that's not clear.

The officer says she hasn't been offered a reward.

But no big deal - after all, this story is not about her.

The California Highway Patrol plans to honor her soon.


Permalink| Comments

Flight Scare: WIFI Name Cause Disruption National News Tue, 28 Oct 2014 4:01:57 AM Flight Scare: WIFI Name Cause Disruption

CALIFORNIA - An American Airlines flight from Los Angeles International Airport to London was delayed Sunday after concerns over the name of a WiFi hotspot.

A passenger saw the WiFi connection, named "Al-Quida Free Terror Network," and expressed concern to a flight attendant.

The plane was held at a remote part of the airport for three hours and passengers were told to turn off their electronic devices. Passengers said they were initially told that it was a maintenance issue.

Passenger Elliot Del Pra says that after an hour the captain said there was a security threat and that we didn't have clearance to take off.

Flight 136 was eventually taken back to the gate and was delayed until 1 p.m. Monday, American Airlines officials said.

On Monday the airport released a statement saying: "After further investigation, it was determined that no crime was committed and no further action will be taken.


Permalink| Comments

Deer Goes Shopping National News Mon, 27 Oct 2014 7:09:02 AM Deer Goes Shopping

IOWA - A buck crashed through the window of an Iowa furniture store over the weekend and sprinted through the business.

Simpsons Furniture in Cedar Falls had just opened Saturday morning when the deer decided to do a little "window shopping."

After quickly bypassing some accent chairs, the deer raced through the mattress section.

After making it to the back of the store, he apparently didn't see anything he liked.

So he used his antlers to let himself out the back door.

No one was hurt.


Permalink| Comments

Girl Wounded in Washington School Shooting Dies National News Mon, 27 Oct 2014 3:31:12 AM Girl Wounded in Washington School Shooting Dies

MARYSVILLE, Wash. (AP) - A 14-year-old girl who was wounded when a student opened fire inside a Washington state high school has died, raising the death toll in the shooting to three.

Gia Soriano died Sunday night, more than two days after she was shot, officials at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett said.

"We are devastated by this senseless tragedy," her family said in a statement, read at a news conference by Dr. Joanne Roberts. "Gia is our beautiful daughter, and words cannot express how much we will miss her."

Roberts said Gia's family was donating her organs for transplant.

Another girl was killed Friday when a popular freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck High School north of Seattle opened fire.

The shooter, Jaylen Fryberg, died at the scene of a self-inflicted wound.

Three other students remain hospitalized, two in critical condition and one in serious condition.

Earlier Sunday, parents and students gathered in a gymnasium at the school for a community meeting, with speakers urging support and prayers and tribal members playing drums and singing songs. Fryberg was from a prominent Tulalip Indian tribes family.

Young people hugged each other and cried and speakers urged people to come together during the gathering Sunday.

"We just have to reach for that human spirit right now," said Deborah Parker, a member of the Tulalip Indian tribes.

"Our legs are still wobbly," said Tony Hatch, a cousin of one of the injured students. "We're really damaged right now."

Of the wounded students, only 14-year-old Nate Hatch showed improvement, though he remained in serious condition in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Fifteen-year-old Andrew Fryberg also remained in critical condition in intensive care. Both are cousins of Jaylen Fryberg.

Meanwhile, 14-year-old Shaylee Chuckulnaskit remained in critical condition in intensive care at Providence Regional Medical Center.

The girl killed Friday hasn't been officially identified.

Fryberg died in the attack, after a first-year teacher intervened. It's unclear if he intentionally killed himself or if the gun went off in a struggle with a teacher.

The makeshift memorial on a chain link fence by the school, which will be closed this week, kept growing Sunday. Balloons honoring the victims and the shooter adorn the fence along with flowers, stuffed toys and signs.

The close-knit community, meanwhile, on the nearby Tulalip Indian reservation struggled with the news that the shooter was a popular teenager from one of their more well-known families.

A tribal guidance counselor said no one knows what motivated Fryberg.

"We can't answer that question," said Matt Remle, who has an office at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, which is 30 miles north of Seattle. "But we try to make sense of the senselessness."

In the nearby community of Oso, where a mudslide this spring killed dozens, people planned to gather to write condolence letters and cards.

Remele said he knew Fryberg and the other students well.

"My office has been a comfort space for Native students," he said. "Many will come by and have lunch there, including the kids involved in the shooting."

They all were "really happy, smiling kids," Remle said. "They were a polite group. A lot of the kids from the freshman class were close-knit. Loving.

"These were not kids who were isolated," he said. "They had some amazing families, and have amazing families."

These factors make the shooting that much more difficult to deal with, "Maybe it would be easier if we knew the answer," Remle said. "But we may never know."

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Permalink| Comments

Governors Back Home Discussing Quarantine for Ebola Workers National News Mon, 27 Oct 2014 3:29:19 AM Governors Back Home Discussing Quarantine for Ebola Workers

NEW YORK (AP) - The governors of New York and New Jersey are at odds with scientists over Ebola as they back 21-day quarantines for medical workers returning from West Africa.

The two governors late Sunday night emphasized separately that their policies permit home confinement for medical workers who've had contact with Ebola patients if the workers show no symptoms. They'll receive twice-daily monitoring from health officials.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, warns that such restrictions are unnecessary and could discourage medical volunteers.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says the best way to protect Americans is to stop the epidemic in Africa and that health care workers are needed there.

Cuomo says he's willing to be criticized for being cautious.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Permalink| Comments

Few Details Offered on Quarantines Over Ebola National News Sat, 25 Oct 2014 2:15:49 PM Few Details Offered on Quarantines Over Ebola

NEW YORK (AP) - Officials in three states have enacted 21-day quarantines for any travelers arriving back in the United States after having contact with Ebola patients in West Africa. But they've said little about exactly how they'll enforce such strict rules.

In Illinois, health officials say such travelers are subject to a mandatory home quarantine. In New York and New Jersey, the three-week quarantine is also in effect because that's the incubation period of the deadly virus.

All three states announced the quarantine requirements on Friday. But no health officials from those states responded to requests Saturday about how such a quarantine will work.

A nurse who worked in Sierra Leone tested negative for Ebola at a New Jersey hospital after being the first traveler subject to quarantine there. But hospital officials won't say if she'll be allowed to leave.

Permalink| Comments

New Jersey Health Care Worker Tests Negative for Ebola National News Sat, 25 Oct 2014 1:54:22 PM NBC News New Jersey Health Care Worker Tests Negative for Ebola

A healthcare worker who treated Ebola patients in West Africa and was placed in isolation in New Jersey after developing a fever has tested negative for the virus but will remain in quarantine for 21 days, health officials said Saturday. The worker, a staffer for Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, was placed into quarantine Friday upon arrival at New Jersey's Newark International Airport, a day after a New York City doctor who also worked with the group overseas tested positive for the deadly disease. "Physicians at University Hospital continue to monitor the patient and consult with the Department of Health and the CDC on patient evaluation and any potential need for additional testing," the New Jersey Department of Health said in a statement.

Medecins Sans Frontieres confirmed the worker is one of its staffers. The worker initially had no symptoms when placed in quarantine, but developed a fever Friday night and was placed in isolation at University Hospital in Newark, the New Jersey Department of Health said in a statement. The potential new case comes after Dr. Craig Spencer became ill Thursday in New York City and later tested positive for the deadly disease, which has killed more than 4,800 people worldwide, mostly in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.


Permalink| Comments