KRISTV.com http://www.kristv.com/ KRISTV.com National News National News en-us Copyright 2014, KRISTV.com. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:12:05 GMT Synapse CMS 10 KRISTV.com http://www.kristv.com/ 144 25 Young Boy Found Dead Near Home http://www.kristv.com/news/young-boy-found-dead-near-home/ http://www.kristv.com/news/young-boy-found-dead-near-home/ National News Fri, 19 Dec 2014 7:14:00 AM Miranda Leah - @MirandaLeahTV Young Boy Found Dead Near Home

NEW YORK - A tragic end to an amber alert issued in New York where a 5-year-old boy has just been found dead.

Police say a K-9 unit found the body's body near a trailer where he was reported missing.

They received a call about the boy being abducted from his home by two men in ski masks.

Police have not released details yet on how he died exactly, and they do not have any suspects at this time.

Detectives are investigative the scene right now where that body was found.

 


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Neighboring States Challenge Colorado Marijuana Legalization http://www.kristv.com/news/neighboring-states-challenge-colorado-marijuana-legalization/ http://www.kristv.com/news/neighboring-states-challenge-colorado-marijuana-legalization/ National News Thu, 18 Dec 2014 5:52:08 PM Associated Press Neighboring States Challenge Colorado Marijuana Legalization

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska and Oklahoma on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare Colorado's legalization of marijuana unconstitutional, saying the drug is being brought from Colorado into the neighboring states.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said the states filed a lawsuit seeking a court order to prevent Colorado from enforcing the measure known as Amendment 64, which was approved by voters in 2012. The complaint says the measure runs afoul of federal law and therefore violates the Constitution's supremacy clause, which says federal laws trump state laws.

"This contraband has been heavily trafficked into our state," Bruning said at a news conference in Lincoln. "While Colorado reaps millions from the sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost."

In a policy statement last year, the U.S. Justice Department noted it doesn't have the resources to police all violations of federal marijuana law. It laid out eight federal law enforcement priorities that states need to protect if they want to authorize "marijuana-related conduct." They include keeping marijuana in-state - something Oklahoma and Nebraska says Colorado has failed to do.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said Colorado's decision has hindered his state's efforts to enforce its anti-marijuana laws.

"As the state's chief legal officer, the attorney general's office is taking this step to protect the health and safety of Oklahomans," Pruitt said in a statement.

Washington state also has legalized marijuana, but Bruning said Washington wasn't included in the lawsuit because it doesn't share a border with Nebraska or Oklahoma.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the lawsuit was without merit but that he was not totally surprised by it because neighboring states have expressed concerns about Colorado marijuana crossing the border.

"However, it appears the plaintiffs' primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana, as opposed to choices made by the voters of Colorado," Suthers said in a statement in which he said Colorado would vigorously defend its law.

Bruning, a Republican, blamed U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for failing to enforce the federal law's ban on drugs in Colorado.

Legal scholars say it's too early to know how the Supreme Court might handle the case or if it will even accept it.

"Right now, these regulations exist in legal no-man's-land," said Sam Kamin, a University of Denver law professor. "It's incredibly unusual for a state to be suing another state. (The lawsuit) certainly was a surprise to me given the movement at the federal level, which seems to be in favor of allowing states to experiment."

Brian Vicente, a Colorado attorney and legalization advocate who wrote Amendment 64, said the challenge is "political grandstanding" without merit. He said 23 states have enacted medical marijuana laws, and none have been overturned because of federal law.

"I think it shows they are on the wrong side of history," Vicente said. "Colorado voters passed this measure, and more and more states are passing these laws. If the attorney general has a problem with how federal laws are being enforced he should bring that up with the U.S. attorney."

But some law enforcement agencies in western Nebraska, along the Colorado border, say combating marijuana that's coming in from the neighboring state is a drain on their resources.

Scotts Bluff County Sheriff Mark Overman, in western Nebraska, said Colorado marijuana is extra potent, making it worth more in his region and giving sellers a greater financial incentive to do business there.

"I think this is overdue, and I think other states should jump on board," Overman said. "I'm very frustrated. I take an oath of office, as does every other police officer in this country. I don't just get to pick and choose which laws I enforce."

There's no way to know exactly how much legal pot is leaving Colorado. But the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area wrote in a recent report that the amount of Colorado pot seized on highways increased from an annual average of 2,763 pounds between 2005 and 2008 to a yearly average of 3,690 pounds from 2009 to 2013. The weed was headed for at least 40 different states.

The report surveyed law enforcement agencies in Colorado and neighboring ones.

___

Associated Press reporter Sadie Gurman reported from Denver.

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

(Image License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

 


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Panel Recommends Changes for Secret Service http://www.kristv.com/news/panel-recommends-changes-for-secret-service/ http://www.kristv.com/news/panel-recommends-changes-for-secret-service/ National News Thu, 18 Dec 2014 3:58:51 PM Associated Press Panel Recommends Changes for Secret Service

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Secret Service is an "insular" agency that needs a new director hired from the outside, according to former government officials tasked with examining the embattled agency after a man with a knife stormed the White House.

An executive summary of the review released Thursday by the Homeland Security Department also concluded that the Secret Service needs more uniformed officers and plain clothes agents, better fencing at the White House and more training for officers.

"The next director will have to make difficult choices, identifying clear priorities for the organization and holding management accountable for any failure to achieve those priorities," the group wrote after interviewing 50 Secret Service employees. "Only a director from outside the (Secret) Service, removed from organizational traditions and personal relationships, will be able to do the honest top-to-bottom reassessment this will require."

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement that the recommendations are "astute, thorough and fair."

Many of the proposed changes have been recommended before, including some that date to the Warren Commission Report, which detailed the government investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Johnson said Thursday the recommendations can't fall by the wayside this time.

The panelists were former Obama administration Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli; former Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip, who served during Bush's term; Danielle Gray, a former assistant to the president for President Barack Obama; and Joe Hagin, deputy chief of staff for operations during the Bush administration.

This was the second critical report of the agency and its operations in as many months following the Sept. 19 incident, in which a Texas Army veteran armed with a small knife was able to climb over a White House fence and run deep into the executive mansion before being subdued. In November, an internal review concluded that training, poor staffing and a series of missteps contributed to the breach.

Among the mistakes made were that officers had believed that thick shrubbery would stop the intruder from making into the building.

Julia Pierson was forced to resign as director a day after testifying about the White House breach. Retired Secret Service Agent Joseph Clancy has been acting director since shortly after Pierson's ouster.

The independent panel also concluded that training and lack of staffing was also a serious problem for presidential security. The panel recommended hiring at least 85 agents and 200 uniformed officers. They also recommended that uniformed officers should spend at least 10 percent of their time training. Current staffing levels only allowed for about 25 minutes of training in 2013, the panel said.

The panel also suggested replacing the 7 ½-foot fence around the 18-acre White House complex, although they declined "to say precisely what the optimal new fence should look like."

The panel made more than recommendations, though many of those directly related to security were deemed classified and not included in the summary.

___

Follow Alicia A. Caldwell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/acaldwellap

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

 


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What's Next for Cuba-US Relations? http://www.kristv.com/news/what-s-next-for-cuba-us-relations-/ http://www.kristv.com/news/what-s-next-for-cuba-us-relations-/ National News Thu, 18 Dec 2014 3:19:30 PM NBC News What's Next for Cuba-US Relations?

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC News) - In Cuba, poor and underdeveloped after 50 years of communism and U.S. sanctions, 

word of the diplomatic breakthrough with the United States is raising hope.

"It is great news for the end of the year, the country's economy is going to grow, relations are going to improve," says Havana resident Padre Perez.

The prospect of legal tourism to Cuba has American companies excited, but a former U.S. Commerce Secretary is warning them not to "plunk down" money.

"The idea that they're going to turn over control to U.S. companies, and they're going to open things up, I am very skeptical," says Carlos Gutierrez.

U.S. companies cannot invest and U.S. tourists can't go to Cuba until congress lifts the embargo,
and Republicans opposed to normalizing relations say that won't happen.

Read more: http://nbcnews.to/1JaKNCI

 


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Caught on Camera: Accidental Shot Hits Neighbor http://www.kristv.com/news/caught-on-camera-accidental-shot-hits-neighbor/ http://www.kristv.com/news/caught-on-camera-accidental-shot-hits-neighbor/ National News Thu, 18 Dec 2014 3:11:37 PM KOB Caught on Camera: Accidental Shot Hits Neighbor

NEW MEXICO (KOB) - An Albuquerque, New Mexico woman's home turned into a nightmare Sunday when a bullet came through the floor above, hitting her brother.

The gunshot came from an Albuquerque police officer. The department calls the shooting an accident.

Alicia Armendariz says her brother, Ramiro Armendariz, was visiting her when he got shot. He was severely wounded, but expected to survive.

The officer that fired the shot was attempting to search the upstairs apartment after making a burglary arrest. Investigators said the officer was climbing through a broken window when the shooting happened.

"You're making entry into an apartment when you don't know who is on the other side. That officer would have his gun not in the holster. Unfortunately, this was an accidental discharge when that gun went off accidentally. There was no purpose on firing that firearm," says APD Officer Simon Drobik.

Read more: http://bit.ly/1wndQxM

 


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Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect in Court http://www.kristv.com/news/boston-marathon-bombing-suspect-in-court/ http://www.kristv.com/news/boston-marathon-bombing-suspect-in-court/ National News Thu, 18 Dec 2014 2:56:56 PM NBC News Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect in Court

BOSTON (NBC News) - Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was in court Thursday, the first time he's been seen in public since his arraignment in July 2013.

Tsarnaev strutted into the court room wearing a black sweater, his hands cuffed behind his back.

He was sporting a new beard and a large goatee.

Tsarnaev had no visible signs, markings or injuries that would have been sustained during the infamous shootout that led to his capture.

When asked by the judge if his defense was adequately representing him he said "They are".

Read more: http://nbcnews.to/1C3wzBR

 


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Digital Dilemma: How Will US Respond to Sony Hack? http://www.kristv.com/news/digital-dilemma-how-will-us-respond-to-sony-hack-/ http://www.kristv.com/news/digital-dilemma-how-will-us-respond-to-sony-hack-/ National News Thu, 18 Dec 2014 2:12:22 PM Associated Press Digital Dilemma: How Will US Respond to Sony Hack?

WASHINGTON (AP) - The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle clues in the hacking tools left behind and the involvement of at least one computer in Bolivia previously traced to other attacks blamed on the North Koreans.

Experts cautioned that hackers notoriously employ disinformation to throw investigators off their tracks, using borrowed tools, tampering with logs and inserting false references to language or nationality.

The hackers are believed to have been inside the network at Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. since at least the spring, based on computer forensic evidence and traffic analysis, a person with knowledge of the investigation told the AP.

If the hackers hadn't made their presence known by making demands and destroying files, they probably would still be inside because there was no indication their presence was about to be detected, the person said. This person, who described the evidence as circumstantial, spoke only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk openly about the case.

Still, the evidence has been considered conclusive enough that a U.S. official told the AP that federal investigators have now connected the Sony hacking to North Korea.

In public, White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Thursday declined to blame North Korea, saying he didn't want to get ahead of investigations by the Justice Department and the FBI. Earnest said evidence shows the hacking was carried out by a "sophisticated actor" with "malicious intent."

All this has led to a dilemma for the Obama administration: How and whether to respond?

An earlier formal statement by the White House National Security Council also did not name North Korea but noted that "criminals and foreign countries regularly seek to gain access to government and private sector networks" and promised that, "we are considering a range of options in weighing a potential response. " The U.S. official who cited North Korea spoke on condition of anonymity because that official was not authorized to openly discuss an ongoing criminal case.

U.S. options against North Korea are limited. The U.S. already has a trade embargo in place, and there is no appetite for military action. Even if investigators could identify and prosecute the individual hackers believed to be responsible, there's no guarantee any one of them who is overseas would ever face trial in a U.S. courtroom. Hacking back at North Korean targets by U.S. government experts could escalate the cyberconflict by encouraging further attacks against vulnerable American targets.

"We don't sell them anything, we don't buy anything from them and we don't have diplomatic relations," said William Reinsch, a former senior U.S. Commerce Department official who was responsible for enforcing international sanctions against North Korea and other countries. "There aren't a lot of public options left."

Sony abruptly canceled the Dec. 25 release of its comedy, "The Interview," which the hackers had demanded partly because it included a scene depicting the assassination of North Korea's leader. Sony cited the hackers' threats of violence at movie theaters that planned to show the movie, although the Homeland Security Department said there was no credible intelligence of active plots. The hackers had been releasing onto the Internet huge amounts of highly sensitive - and sometimes embarrassing - confidential files they stole from inside Sony's computer network.

North Korea has publicly denied it was involved, though it has described the hack as a "righteous deed."

The episode is sure to cost Sony many millions of dollars, though the eventual damage is still anyone's guess. In addition to lost box-office revenue from the movie, the studio faces lawsuits by former employees angry over leaked Social Security numbers and other personal information. And there could be damage beyond the one company.

Sony's decision to pull the film has raised concerns that capitulating to criminals will encourage more hacking.

"By effectively yielding to aggressive acts of cyberterrorism by North Korea, that decision sets a troubling precedent that will only empower and embolden bad actors to use cyber as an offensive weapon even more aggressively in the future," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who will soon become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

McCain said the Obama administration had failed to control the use of cyber weapons by foreign governments, and he called the Sony case "the latest in a long and troubling list of attempts by malign actors to use cyber to undermine our economic and national security interests."

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on MSNBC that the Obama administration wasn't ready to name the attacker but was "actively considering a range of options that we'll take in response to this attack."

Evidence pinning specific crimes on specific hackers is nearly always imprecise, and the Sony case is no exception.

Sony hired FireEye Inc.'s Mandiant forensics unit, which last year published a landmark report with evidence accusing a Chinese Army organization, Unit 61398, of hacking into more than 140 companies over the years. In the current investigation, security professionals examined blueprints for the hacking tools discovered in Sony's network, the Korean language setting and time zone, and then traced other computers around the world used to help coordinate the break-in, according to the person with knowledge about the investigation.

Those computers were located in Singapore and Thailand, but a third in Bolivia had previously been traced to other attacks blamed on North Korea, the person told the AP. The tools in the Sony case included components to break into the company's network and subsequently erase all fingerprints by rendering the hard drive useless.

"The Internet's a complicated place," said Adam Meyers, vice president of intelligence at CrowdStrike Inc., a security company that has investigated past attacks linked to North Korea. "We're talking about organizations that understand how to hide themselves, how to appear if they're coming from other places. To that end, they know that people are going to come looking for them. They throw things in the way to limit what you can do attribution on."

Another agreed. "If you have a thousand bad pieces of circumstantial evidence, that doesn't mean your case is strong," said Jeffrey Carr, chief executive of Taia Global Inc., which provides threat intelligence to companies and government agencies.

An FBI "flash" bulletin sent to some companies with details of the hacking software described it as "destructive malware, a disk wiper with network beacon capabilities." The FBI bulletin included instructions for companies to listen for telltale network traffic that would suggest they had been infected.

Other movie studios aren't taken chances. Warner Bros. executives earlier this week ordered a company-wide password reset and sent a five-point security checklist to employees advising them to purge their computers of any unnecessary data, in an email seen by The Associated Press.

"Keep only what you need for business purposes," the message said.

___

Abdollah reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers Raphael Satter in London and Ted Bridis in Washington contributed to this story.

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

 


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Sony Cyberattack may be the Costliest Ever http://www.kristv.com/news/sony-cyberattack-may-be-the-costliest-ever/ http://www.kristv.com/news/sony-cyberattack-may-be-the-costliest-ever/ National News Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:57:16 AM Associated Press Sony Cyberattack may be the Costliest Ever

NEW YORK (AP) - The unprecedented hack of Sony Pictures which a U.S. official says is linked to North Korea may be the most damaging cyberattack ever inflicted on an American business.

The fallout from the hack that exposed a trove of sensitive documents, and this week escalated to threats of terrorism, forced Sony to cancel release of the North Korean spoof movie "The Interview." The studio's reputation is in tatters as embarrassing revelations spill from tens of thousands of leaked emails and other company materials.

Federal investigators believe there is a connection between the Sony hack and the isolated communist nation, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official was not authorized to openly discuss an ongoing criminal case.

North Korea has denounced the "The Interview" but earlier this month said the hack might have been carried out by sympathizers. The movie features a pair of journalists played by James Franco and Seth Rogen who are asked by the CIA to assassinate North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.

The attack is possibly the costliest ever for a U.S. company, said Avivah Litan, a cybersecurity analyst at research firm Gartner. "This attack went to the heart and core of Sony's business and succeeded," she said. "We haven't seen any attack like this in the annals of U.S. breach history."

A besieged Sony on Wednesday cancelled the Christmas Day release of the film, citing threats of violence by the hackers and decisions by the largest multiplex chains in North America to pull screenings. The hackers, who call themselves Guardians of Peace, had made threats of violence reminiscent of September 11th, 2001 if movie theatres showed the film.

Sony later said it has "no further release plans for the film."

"We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie," Sony Pictures said in a statement.

National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the U.S. government had no involvement in Sony's decision. She said artists and entertainers have the right to produce and distribute whatever content they want in the U.S.

John McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona, called Sony's decision to cancel the movie a "troubling precedent that will only empower and embolden bad actors to use cyber as an offensive weapon even more aggressively in the future."

How much the cyberattack will ultimately cost Sony is unclear. Sony faces trouble on several fronts after nearly four weeks since the hackers first crippled its computer systems and started dumping thousands of emails and private documents online.

In addition to vanishing box-office revenue from "The Interview," leaked documents could muck up production schedules, experts say. There will be the cost of defending the studio against lawsuits by ex-employees angry over leaked Social Security numbers and other personal information. And then there are actors who might decide to work at another studio.

Beyond the financial blow, some say the attack and Sony's capitulation has raised troubling questions about self-censorship and whether other studios and U.S. companies are now also vulnerable.

"Artistic freedom is at risk," said Efraim Levy, a senior financial analyst at research firm S&P Capital IQ. "Are we not going to put out movies that offend some constituencies?"

A breakdown of areas where Sony may suffer damage:

BOX OFFICE LOSSES

With a modest budget of about $40 million, "The Interview" had been predicted to gross around $30 million in its opening weekend. Doug Stone, president of film industry newsletter Box Office Analyst, forecast that Sony could have grossed $120 million in U.S. and foreign box office revenue from the film. It has already spent tens of millions on marketing.

But Stone said the losses represent a single movie flop, than a spreading corporate disaster. Revenue from Sony Corp.'s "pictures" business totaled 830 billion yen ($7 billion) last fiscal year.

"Disney wrote down $200 million on the "Lone Ranger" and didn't bat an eye," he said of the rival studio. "So while it would be a significant hit, it certainly wouldn't cause a financial collapse."

STIRRED OR SHAKEN?

A leaked script of the Sony's upcoming James Bond film "Spectre" led to an online frenzy of articles warning readers of "major spoilers."

Seth Shapiro, a professor at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, thinks the potential damage from a hit to the blockbuster franchise is big.

"How can they proceed if everyone in the audience has already read the script?" he said. "You basically need to start over and see how much you can salvage."

Others disagreed, noting that people flooded to movies like "Titanic" though everyone knew the ending. And they question how many people would pore through details of the script anyway.

"Most people don't read scripts," said veteran publicist Howard Bragman. "The Bond movie is going to do just fine."

FLEEING TALENT?

It's not yet clear if the leaks of sensitive emails will cause agents and top actors to think twice about working with Sony.

In the short term, some think it may hurt, not only because of the insults directed at stars such as Angelina Jolie, but because the massive leak hurts prestige and indicates Sony is not being run as well as it should, said Shapiro.

"Is Sony going to be the place of first resort for Hollywood A-List? No. Not tomorrow."

Others say business interests will trump ego.

"Studio people are always saying negative things about talent," said Gene Del Vecchio, a marketing professor at University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business. "Ultimately it's about business," he said. "That will outweigh the insults."

But all bets are off if Sony decides to reshuffle the top executives at the studio. Some have speculated that co-chair Amy Pascal's job might be in jeopardy due to the insensitive nature of some of her remarks in emails.

In an industry based on relationships, major changes at the top can affect projects for years, said Larry Gerbrandt, a principal at entertainment consulting firm Media Valuation Partners.

"If the fallout leads to large scale changes at the senior executive level it will have a ripple effect for several years since it brings to halt most movies currently under development."

Projects have to be written off, replacement executives hired - who will have their own ideas of what movies should be made - and the costs could easily get into the hundreds of millions of dollars, he said.

LEGAL WOES

Earlier this week, four former employees sued Sony for not protecting their private information from hackers. The lawsuits seek class-action status on behalf of the nearly 50,000 Sony Pictures employees whose Social Security numbers and other private data was exposed.

Legal experts said the cases are likely just two of many that will be filed over the data breach. A review of 32,000 emails from the inbox of Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton that were dumped by the hackers on Monday showed the studio suffered significant technology outages it blamed on software flaws and incompetent technical staffers. Hackers targeted executives to trick them into revealing their online credentials.

The files expose lax Internet security practices inside Sony such as pasting passwords into emails, using easy-to-guess passwords and failing to encrypt especially sensitive materials such as salary and revenue figures, strategic plans and medical information about some employees. Experts say such haphazard practices are common across corporate America.

Sony potentially faces tens of millions of dollars in damages from a class-action lawsuit, said Jonathan Handel, an entertainment law professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.

"This doesn't look good for Sony, which after all is a technology company," Handel said.

___

Tucker and AP Writer Ted Bridis reported from Washington, D.C. Condon, Anderson and Film Writer Jake Coyle and Business Writer Joseph Pisani contributed from New York. AP Writer Anthony McCartney contributed from Los Angeles.

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

 


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Police: 1 dead, Several Hurt in California Crash http://www.kristv.com/news/police-1-dead-several-hurt-in-california-crash-395596/ http://www.kristv.com/news/police-1-dead-several-hurt-in-california-crash-395596/ National News Thu, 18 Dec 2014 5:19:56 AM Police: 1 dead, Several Hurt in California Crash

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. (AP) - A female motorist hit a group of pedestrians outside a California church as a Christmas service ended, killing one person and leaving up to 11 others injured, police said.

Some of the pedestrians were rushed to hospitals with critical injuries, Redondo Beach police Lt. Joe Hoffman said. One adult died at a hospital, and the injured included at least two children.

Wednesday night's crash along the Pacific Coast Highway left as many as a dozen people injured among the pedestrians and two cars that were involved, but the exact number wasn't immediately clear, police said.

The woman was driving a white sedan northbound when she ran a red light, ran into the pedestrians and hit another vehicle after.

"The crosswalk was full and the light was red," witness Marco Zonno told KNBC-TV. "Someone ran the red light and bodies started flying. It was pretty horrible."

The woman was taken in police custody to a hospital, where she was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, authorities said. They were investigating whether she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The California Highway Patrol was assisting Redondo Beach police in the investigation.

The crash comes three days after another driver now charged with drunken driving injured 11 people who were parked and looking at a holiday light display in the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra.

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

 


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Indictments in West Virginia Chemical Spill Case http://www.kristv.com/news/indictments-in-west-virginia-chemical-spill-case/ http://www.kristv.com/news/indictments-in-west-virginia-chemical-spill-case/ National News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 4:21:46 PM Associated Press Indictments in West Virginia Chemical Spill Case

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Four former chemical company executives and two lower-level employees have been charged in a January spill that contaminated a river and left 300,000 residents around West Virginia's capital without usable water for drinking and bathing for days.

A federal indictment unsealed Wednesday charged ex-Freedom Industries presidents Gary Southern and Dennis P. Farrell and two others with failing to ensure that the company operated in a reasonable and environmentally sound manner the steel tank that leaked the coal-cleaning chemical.

Southern also faces federal fraud charges related to the company's bankruptcy case. Freedom filed for the protection eight days after the Jan. 9 leak into the Elk River in Charleston. West Virginia American Water uses the river for its water supply less than 2 miles downstream.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that the tank conditions at Freedom Industries "were not only grievously unacceptable, but unlawful. They put an entire population needlessly at risk. As these actions make clear, such conduct cannot, and will not, be tolerated."

The others charged are William E. Tis and Charles E. Herzing, who along with Farrell owned Freedom until December 2013. They sold it to Pennsylvania-based Chemstream Holdings for $20 million, after which Southern became president.

Farrell, 58, was Freedom's president from October 2001 until the sale, after which he continued to work at the terminal in a management role. Herzing, 63, also was Freedom's vice president and Tis, 60, was secretary. All four are accused of violating the federal Clean Water Act.

In addition, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said the company, Freedom environmental consultant Robert J. Reynolds and tank farm plant manager Michael E. Burdette were charged in federal informations with Clean Water Act violations. A federal information typically signals a defendant's willingness to cooperate in the investigation.

"It's hard to overstate the disruption that results when 300,000 people suddenly lose clean water," Goodwin said at a news conference. "This is exactly the kind of scenario that the Clean Water Act is designed to prevent.

"This spill was completely preventable. And this spill happened to take place in my district, but it could have happened anywhere. If we don't want it to happen again, then we have to make it crystal clear that those who will commit violations like this are held accountable."

During their time as Freedom corporate officers, Farrell, Tis, Herzing and Southern "approved funding only for those projects that would result in increased business revenue for Freedom or that were necessary to make immediate repairs to equipment that was broken or about to break," the indictment said.

The men ignored or failed to fund other projects to repair, maintain and improve equipment and systems needed for compliance with environmental regulations, including addressing drainage problems in the containment area.

Southern's attorney, Robert Allen, said Wednesday that his client plans to plead not guilty and "vigorously fight the charges."

Steve Jory, an attorney for Tis and Herzing, said the indictment is "an example of faulty legal conclusions" and the charges against his clients are "baseless."

Farrell referred questions to his attorney, who didn't immediately return a telephone message.

More than a dozen aboveground storage tanks at the facility were removed. The World War II-era tank that leaked had two holes, just a few millimeters each, and had subpar last-resort containment walls.

According to health officials, after the spill, more than 400 people were treated at hospitals for symptoms that patients said came from exposure to the chemical, known as MCHM. Despite lifting the ban on drinking tap water days later, people still said they could smell the slightly sweet, slightly bitter odor of the chemical.

"It's hard not to have hard feelings against these people," Rebecca McComas of Marmet said as she shopped at a mall a few blocks from the water plant's intake.

Southern, 53, was arrested last week, accused in a criminal complaint of lying about his role with the company in bankruptcy court hearings and meetings to protect his personal wealth of nearly $8 million from lawsuits. Goodwin said those charges of bankruptcy fraud, wire fraud and lying under oath were included in the indictment.

If convicted of all charges, Southern faces up to 68 years in prison, Farrell, Herzing and Tis face up to three years apiece and Burdette and Reynolds would face up to a year each. Freedom could face unspecified fines if convicted.

"We're sending a strong message here that if you cut corners at the expense of the health of American communities, you will be held accountable," said Cynthia Giles, the EPA's assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance.

___

Associated Press writers Pam Ramsey and Jonathan Mattise contributed to this report.

___

Follow John Raby on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jraby_ap

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

 


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Sony Cancels 'The Interview' Premiere After Hacker Threat http://www.kristv.com/news/sony-cancels-the-interview-premiere-after-hacker-threat/ http://www.kristv.com/news/sony-cancels-the-interview-premiere-after-hacker-threat/ National News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 4:20:04 PM Associated Press Sony Cancels 'The Interview' Premiere After Hacker Threat

NEW YORK (AP) - Under the threat of terrorist attacks from hackers and with the nation's largest multiplex chains pulling the film from its screens, Sony Pictures Entertainment took the unprecedented step of canceling the Dec. 25 release of the "The Interview."

The cancellation, announced Wednesday, was a startling blow to the Hollywood studio that has been shaken by hacker leaks and intimidations over the last several weeks by an anonymous group calling itself Guardians of Peace.

A U.S. official said Wednesday that federal investigators have now connected the Sony hacking to North Korea and are expected to make an announcement in the near future. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to openly discuss an ongoing criminal case.

Sony said it was cancelling "The Interview" release "in light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film." The studio said it respected and shared in the exhibitors' concerns.

"We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public," read the statement. "We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome."

Earlier Wednesday, Regal Cinemas, AMC Entertainment and Cinemark Theatres - the three top theater chains in North America - announced that they were postponing any showings of "The Interview," a comedy about a TV host (James Franco) and producer (Seth Rogen) tasked by the CIA to assassinate North Korea leader Kim Jung-un (played by Randall Park).

Regal said in a statement that it was delaying "The Interview" ''due to wavering support of the film 'The Interview' by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats." AMC noted "the overall confusion and uncertainty" surrounding the film.

Sony had offered theaters the option of bowing out, and when so many of them did (other chains included ArcLight Cinemas, Cineplex Entertainment and Carmike Cinemas), it left Sony little choice for the release of "The Interview."

On Tuesday, the hacking group threatened violence at theaters showing "The Interview." The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday there was "no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters," but noted it was still analyzing messages from the group. The warning did prompt law enforcement in New York and Los Angeles to address measures to ramp up security.

"This attack went to the heart and core of Sony's business - and succeeded," said Avivah Litan, a cybersecurity analyst at research firm Gartner. "We haven't seen any attack like this in the annals of U.S. breach history."

Sony did not say what its plans for "The Interview" now are, or whether the film's release could potentially happen at a later date. Conjecture has centered on the possibility of an unprecedented on-demand release that would distribute the film without risk to theater operators. No wide-release studio film has ever been first released on VOD, out of protection of the theater business.

With a modest budget of about $40 million, "The Interview" was predicted to earn around $30 million in its opening weekend before Tuesday's threats and the cancellation of its release. Should the film not be released theatrically, Sony would also lose tens of millions in marketing costs already incurred.

Sony was also under pressure from other studios whose Christmas films could have been concern over movie going safety. Christmas is one of the most important box office weekends of the year. Releases include Universal's "Unbroken," Paramount's "The Gambler," and Disney's "Into the Woods." Sony's musical "Annie," also expected to be a big earner, debuts Friday.

Doug Stone, president of film industry newsletter Box Office Analyst, had predicted that "The Interview" could have made $75 to $100 million. With Sony taking about 55 percent of domestic revenues, that could mean a $41 to $55 million revenue loss, according to Stone.

A video on demand release might be the best option, according to Bock. "This is the right time to do that," he said. "People want to see this film."

Sony's announcement was met with widespread distress across Hollywood and throughout many other realms watching the attack on Sony unfold. A former senior national security official in the George W. Bush administration said Sony made the wrong decision.

"When you are confronted with a bully the idea is not to cave but to punch him in the nose," Fran Townsend, Bush's homeland security adviser, said Wednesday during a previously scheduled appearance in Washington. "This is a horrible, I think, horrible precedent."

___

Eric Tucker and Darlene Superville in Washington; Lindsey Bahr in Los Angeles; and Mae Anderson in New York contributed to this report.

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

 


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American Freed by Cuba Returns Home http://www.kristv.com/news/american-freed-by-cuba-returns-home/ http://www.kristv.com/news/american-freed-by-cuba-returns-home/ National News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 1:19:03 PM NBC News American Freed by Cuba Returns Home

FLORIDA (NBC News) - American Alan Gross is back on U.S. soil following five years in a Cuban prison.

His release and return are part of the first step of major changes in relations between the United States and Cuba.

"I believe we can do more to support Cuban people and promote our values through engagement," President Obama said after the release. "Afterall these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked its time for new approach."

Pope Francis urged the change and secretly helped broker the deal.

Still, some on Capitol Hill are vowing to stop what they see as a bad deal for Cubans.

"All they've done here today is make it easier for the Castro regime and their system of government to now become permanent forever on the island of Cuba," said Florida Senator Marco Rubio. "This president has to be the worst negotiator we've ever had."

Read more: http://nbcnews.to/1ApekTn

 


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Obama: US Ending Outdated Approach with Cuba http://www.kristv.com/news/obama-us-ending-outdated-approach-with-cuba/ http://www.kristv.com/news/obama-us-ending-outdated-approach-with-cuba/ National News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:20:21 AM Associated Press Obama: US Ending Outdated Approach with Cuba

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba on Wednesday and declared an end to America's "outdated approach" to the communist island in a historic shift aimed at ending a half-century of Cold War enmity.

"These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked," Obama said in remarks from the White House. "It's time for a new approach."

As Obama spoke to Americans, Cuban President Raul Castro addressed his own nation from Havana, saying that while the two countries still have profound differences in areas such as human rights and foreign policy, they must learn to live together "in a civilized manner."

Wednesday's announcement followed more than a year of secret talks between the U.S. and Cuba, including clandestine meetings in Canada and the Vatican and personal involvement from Pope Francis. Setting the stage for the diplomatic breakthrough, Cuba released American Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned for five years, and a Cuban who had spied for the U.S. In exchange, three Cubans jailed in Florida were released by the U.S.

Gross spoke with Obama from the plane carrying him home, then met with Secretary of State John Kerry on the ground and later appeared before Washington reporters.

"This is game changing," Gross declared in brief, emotional remarks. He flashed a broad grin with missing teeth - lost during his imprisonment - after taking an admiring glance at the American flags posted behind him and taking note that his release came on the first day of Hanukkah.

In Cuba, bells pealed and school children interrupted lessons to mark the historic news.

"This is like a shot of oxygen, a wish come true, because with this, we have overcome our differences," said Carlos Gonzalez, a 32-year-old information technology specialist in Havana. "It is an advance that will open the road to a better future for the two countries."

Obama's plans are sweeping: He aims to expand economic ties with Cuba, open an embassy in Havana, send high-ranking U.S. officials to visit and review Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. The U.S. also is easing restrictions on travel to Cuba, including for family visits, official U.S. government business and educational activities. But tourist travel remains banned.

Obama's action marked an abrupt use of U.S. executive authority. However, he cannot unilaterally end the longstanding U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, which was passed by Congress and would require action from lawmakers to overturn.

In a statement, the Vatican said Pope Francis "wishes to express his warm congratulations" for the efforts taken by Cuba and the U.S. "with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the news and thanked the U.S. and Cuban presidents "for taking this very important step."

Obama said Gross' imprisonment had been a major obstacle in normalizing relations. Gross arrived at an American military base just outside Washington Wednesday morning, accompanied by his wife and a handful of U.S. lawmakers. He went immediately into a meeting with Kerry, who said he looked forward to becoming the first U.S. secretary of state in 60 years to visit Cuba.

Licensed American travelers to Cuba will now be able to return to the U.S. with $400 in Cuban goods, including tobacco and alcohol products worth less than $100 combined. This means the long-standing ban on importing Cuban cigars is over, although there are still limits.

The U.S. is also increasing the amount of money Americans can send to Cubans from $500 to $2,000 every three months. Early in his presidency, Obama allowed unlimited family visits by Cuban-Americans and removed a $1,200 annual cap on remittances. Kerry is also launching a review of Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terror.

Obama said he continued to have serious concerns about Cuba's human rights record but did not believe the current American policy toward the island was advancing efforts to change the government's behavior.

"I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result," he said.

Some on Capitol Hill disagreed with his move.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the new U.S. policy would do nothing to address the issues of Cuba's political system and human rights record.

"But it potentially goes a long way in providing the economic lift that the Castro regime needs to become permanent fixtures in Cuba for generations to come," Rubio said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that while he remains concerned about human rights and political freedom inside Cuba, "I support moving forward toward a new path with Cuba."

U.S. officials said Cuba was taking some steps as part of the agreement to address its human rights issues, including freeing 53 political prisoners.

Cuba also released a non-American U.S. intelligence 'asset' along with Gross. Officials said the spy had been held for nearly 20 years and was responsible for some of the most important counterintelligence prosecutions that the United States has pursed in recent decades. That includes convicted Cuban spies Ana Belen Montes, Walter Kendall Myers and Gwendolyn Myers and a group known as the Cuban Five.

The three Cubans released in exchange for the spy are part of the Cuban Five - a group of men who were part of the "Wasp Network" sent by Cuba's then-President Fidel Castro to spy in South Florida. The men, who are hailed as heroes in Cuba, were convicted in 2001 in Miami on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents in the U.S.

Two of the five were previously released after finishing their sentences.

Gross was detained in December 2009 while working to set up Internet access as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, which does work promoting democracy in the communist country. It was his fifth trip to Cuba to work with Jewish communities on setting up Internet access that bypassed local censorship.

Cuba considers USAID's programs illegal attempts by the U.S. to undermine its government, and Gross was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Gross' family has said he was in ailing health. His wife, Judy, said in a statement earlier this month that he had lost more than 100 pounds, could barely walk due to chronic pain and had lost much of the sight in his right eye. He walked without assistance after he arrived back in the United States.

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

 


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Cuba Releasing Spy for US in Move to Restore Ties http://www.kristv.com/news/cuba-releasing-spy-for-us-in-move-to-restore-ties/ http://www.kristv.com/news/cuba-releasing-spy-for-us-in-move-to-restore-ties/ National News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 10:40:37 AM Associated Press Cuba Releasing Spy for US in Move to Restore Ties

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) - Alan Gross has called himself a "trusting fool" for going to Cuba in the first place. Family and friends described him with other words: gregarious and outgoing, with a talent for picking up and playing any musical instrument.

Gross, 65, was freed from prison Wednesday as part of an agreement that included the release of three Cubans jailed in the United States, officials said.

His wife, Judy Gross, has called him a humanitarian and an idealist, someone who was "probably naïve" and did not realize the risks of going to Cuba as a subcontractor for the federal government's U.S. Agency for International Development.

Gross was arrested in 2009 while working in the Communist-run country to set up Internet access for the island's small Jewish community, access that bypassed local restrictions and monitoring. Cuba considers USAID's programs illegal attempts by the U.S. to undermine its government. Gross was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

In court in Cuba, Gross called himself a "trusting fool" who never meant any harm to the Cuban government. But reports he wrote about his work showed he knew it was dangerous.

"This is very risky business in no uncertain terms," he wrote in one report. A 2012 investigation by The Associated Press found he was using sensitive technology typically available only to governments.

During the five years he was imprisoned, family members said, Gross never grew angry at the Cuban people. He watched Cuban baseball and even jammed with his jailors on a stringed instrument they gave him. He kept in touch with family through weekly phone calls and passed the time reading books and magazines sent by his wife. The Economist, The Atlantic and Washingtonian were favorites.

On Friday nights, Gross, who is Jewish, would take out a picture of a group of friends celebrating the Jewish sabbath, and he would say the prayers they would say together.

But prison was tough on Gross. While in Cuban custody, he lost more than 100 pounds, developed problems with his hips and lost most of the vision in his right eye. In April 2014, after an AP story revealed that USAID secretly created a "Cuban Twitter" communications network to stir unrest on the island shortly after Gross was arrested, he went on a hunger strike for more than a week.

His mother, who was in her 90s, convinced him to start eating again. But she died in June 2014. Despite pleas from his family, Gross was not allowed to return to the United States for her funeral. After her death, he became withdrawn.

His wife and youngest of two daughters visited him in prison earlier in the year and he said goodbye.

"Life in prison is not a life worth living," he told his lawyer, Scott Gilbert.

He vowed that his 65th birthday, which took place in May, would be the last one he celebrated in Havana, "one way or the other."

Earlier, he had dreamed of getting out and planned what he would do.

His older sister, Bonnie Rubinstein, said in 2012 that he wanted to watch a Cuban baseball game as a free man. He also wanted to eat ribs and drink scotch when he got out of prison.

His brother-in-law, Rubinstein's husband, even purchased a 12-year-old single-malt scotch he planned to save until his brother-in-law got home.

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the family said Gross and his wife walked hand-in-hand onto a military plane for the trip home. Onboard were bowls of popcorn, another thing he had missed, and a corned beef sandwich on rye. When the pilot announced they were leaving Cuban airspace, Gross stood up and took a deep breath.

His first telephone calls were two his two daughters.

"I'm free," he told them.#mce_temp_url#

___

Follow Jessica Gresko at http://twitter.com/jessicagresko .

__

Previous versions of this story incorrectly spelled the name of Gross' sister. Her name is Bonnie Rubinstein, not Rubenstein.

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

 


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Hundreds Of Families Evacuated In California Storm Emergency http://www.kristv.com/news/hundreds-of-families-evacuated-in-california-storm-emergency/ http://www.kristv.com/news/hundreds-of-families-evacuated-in-california-storm-emergency/ National News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 7:40:32 AM Miranda Leah - @MirandaLeahTV Hundreds Of Families Evacuated In California Storm Emergency

CALIFORNIA - Hundreds of families are being forced out of their homes in California this morning because of a scary weather situation.

Police are ordering mandatory evacuations for over 120 homes so far in southern California.

This part of the state has already been on emergency alert dealing with major storms that have been pounding the area all night.

Right now, authorities are saying they're concerned about the threat of a potential mud slide.

 


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Oregon Man Throws Bombs Into Neighborhoods, On The Loose http://www.kristv.com/news/oregon-man-throws-bombs-into-neighborhoods-on-the-loose/ http://www.kristv.com/news/oregon-man-throws-bombs-into-neighborhoods-on-the-loose/ National News Wed, 17 Dec 2014 7:30:47 AM Miranda Leah - @MirandaLeahTV Oregon Man Throws Bombs Into Neighborhoods, On The Loose

OREGON - Families in Oregon received a scary wake up call this morning, a man throwing homemade bombs out of his car.

Police tweeted that they suspect a man who's been on the run for a couple days now.

Witnesses say the man threw four bombs out of his vehicle into a neighborhood in Portland and then just took off.

Thankfully, those bombs did not explode when they landed. However, police are saying by the look of them, it really is remarkable that they didn't.

Police are currently evacuating homes near the area just as a precaution.

 


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Ex-Marine Wanted in 6 Killings is Found Dead http://www.kristv.com/news/ex-marine-wanted-in-6-killings-is-found-dead/ http://www.kristv.com/news/ex-marine-wanted-in-6-killings-is-found-dead/ National News Tue, 16 Dec 2014 1:45:01 PM Associated Press Ex-Marine Wanted in 6 Killings is Found Dead

PENNSBURG, Pa. (AP) - An Iraq War veteran suspected of killing his ex-wife and five of her relatives was found dead in the woods near his suburban Philadelphia home Tuesday after a day-and-a-half manhunt that closed schools and left people on edge.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said on her official Facebook page that police found Bradley William Stone's body. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Stone, a 35-year-old former Marine sergeant locked in a custody dispute so bitter that his ex-wife feared for her life, went on a 90-minute shooting rampage before daybreak Monday at three homes a few miles apart, authorities said.

The killings set off the second major manhunt to transfix Pennsylvania in the past few months. Eric Frein spent 48 days at large in the Poconos after the September ambush slaying of a state trooper.

As the manhunt dragged on - with SWAT teams making their way through neighborhoods and the Philadelphia police sending in a heat-sensing helicopter - at least five schools within a few miles of Stone's Pennsburg home closed, and others were locked down. Veterans' hospitals and other places tightened security.

Ashley Tessier, of Pennsburg, took her sick 7-month-old son to the pediatrician in a stroller Tuesday as SWAT teams knocked on doors along her route. She said she felt she had no choice, since she postponed Monday's doctor visit because residents were told to take cover.

"Seeing all this is really terrifying - the dogs, the guns, the SWAT team," she said.

The rampage unfolded in the towns of Harleysville, Lansdale and Souderton.

Stone's former wife, 33-year-old Nicole Stone, was found dead in her apartment after a neighbor saw Stone fleeing around 5 a.m. with their two young daughters, authorities said. The girls were later found safe with Stone's neighbors.

Police went to two other homes and discovered five more people dead: Nicole Stone's mother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law and 14-year-old niece. A 17-year-old nephew was wounded in the head, and Ferman said he was in "very serious" condition.

Stone and his ex-wife had fighting over their children's custody since she filed for divorce in 2009. He filed an emergency motion this month, although the resulting Dec. 9 ruling remained sealed in court files.

Neighbors said Nicole Stone lived in such fear of her ex-husband that she would sometimes ask her apartment complex's maintenance staff to go in and check her place first because she was afraid he might be lying in wait.

"He would call and just harass her and threaten her," said neighbor Michele Brewster. "She shouldn't have had to live in terror."

"She would tell anybody who would listen that he was going to kill her and that she was really afraid for her life," said Evan Weron, another neighbor in Harleysville.

Stone was probably wearing military fatigues and may have shaved off his facial hair, the district attorney said. She added that he sometimes used a cane or walker.

Stone was in the Marines from 2002 to 2008. His specialty was listed as "artillery meteorological man." Stone told a 2011 child support hearing that Veterans Affairs deemed him permanently disabled and that he was collecting benefits from the agency, according to court documents.

The VA had no comment Tuesday. A longtime friend, Matthew Schafte, said he was not aware of any injuries Stone may have suffered as a Marine.

Stone had faced several driving-under-the-influence charges, one of which was handled in veterans' court and led to a three- to 23-month sentence.

He remarried last year, according to his Facebook page and court records, and has an infant son. Neither his wife nor the son was injured. Nicole Stone became engaged over the summer, neighbors said.

___

Dale reported from Harleysville. Associated Press writer Kathy Matheson contributed from Souderton and Harleysville.

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

 


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Insurers Ease 'Obamacare' Deadline http://www.kristv.com/news/insurers-ease-obamacare-deadline/ http://www.kristv.com/news/insurers-ease-obamacare-deadline/ National News Tue, 16 Dec 2014 1:34:15 PM Associated Press Insurers Ease 'Obamacare' Deadline

WASHINGTON (AP) - Trying to head off a new round of consumer headaches with President Barack Obama's health care law, the insurance industry said Tuesday it will give customers more time to pay their premiums for January.

America's Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group, says the voluntary steps include a commitment to promptly refund any overpayments by consumers who switched plans and may have gotten double-billed by mistake.

Though the HealthCare.gov website is working far better this year, the industry announcement highlights behind-the-scenes technical issues between the government and insurers that have proven difficult to resolve. Last year's enrollment files were riddled with errors, and fixing those has been a painstaking process. As a result, renewing millions of current customers is not as easy as it might seem.

The industry "wants to do everything we can to make sure consumers have greater peace of mind about their health care coverage and support them throughout the open enrollment process," Karen Ignagni, head of the trade group, said in a statement.

The health care law offers subsidized private insurance to people who don't have a health plan on the job. Renewing coverage each year is standard operating procedure for the industry, but 2015 is the first renewal year for the health law. The process involves a massive electronic data transfer from the government to insurers, happening right around the holidays. Insurers then have to use that data to generate new cards for their customers.

Normally, premiums for January would be due by Dec. 31. The industry's grace period for 2015 could vary among different carriers, so consumers should check with their plan. Insurers say they also plan to help customers who have problems filling prescriptions or getting medical care at the start of the year.

Midnight Monday, Pacific time, was the deadline for new customers in most states to pick a health plan to take effect Jan. 1. It was also the deadline for current enrollees to make changes that could reduce premium increases before the new year. The administration announced a last-minute extension for some people unable to get through to the jammed federal call center.

Making matters more confusing, open enrollment actually runs for another two months, until Feb. 15. People enrolling by that date will get coverage starting March 1. Current customers can still make plan changes through Feb. 15.

Based on early numbers, it's looking like the majority of the roughly 6.7 million current customers have opted to stay with the plans they have now and be automatically renewed Jan. 1.

Assuring that happens as smoothly as it's been advertised is the administration's next major challenge. The insurance industry announcement provides a safety valve for the administration. It mirrors similar steps the industry took last year to soften the consequences of the botched rollout of health insurance markets around the country.

The favorite political scapegoat of the White House during the battle to pass the health care law, insurers keen on signing up millions of new taxpayer-subsidized customers have turned into indispensable allies.

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

 


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Sony Hackers Make Threats in First Phase of New Leaks http://www.kristv.com/news/sony-hackers-make-threats-in-first-phase-of-new-leaks/ http://www.kristv.com/news/sony-hackers-make-threats-in-first-phase-of-new-leaks/ National News Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:50:55 PM Associated Press Sony Hackers Make Threats in First Phase of New Leaks

NEW YORK (AP) - Hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace made ominous threats Tuesday against movie theaters showing Sony Pictures' film "The Interview" that referred to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The group also released a trove of data files including about 8,000 emails from the inbox of Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton.

The data dump was what the hackers called the beginning of a "Christmas gift." But GOP, as the group is known, included a message warning that people should stay away from places where "The Interview" will be shown, including an upcoming premiere. Invoking 9/11, it urged people to leave their homes if located near theaters showing the film.

The Department of Homeland Security said there was "no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters," but noted it was still analyzing the GOP messages. The warning did prompt law enforcement in New York and Los Angeles to address measures to ramp up security.

"The Interview" is a comedy in which Seth Rogen and James Franco star as television journalists involved in a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Its New York premiere is scheduled for Thursday at Manhattan's Landmark Sunshine, and is expected to hit theaters nationwide on Christmas Day. It premiered in Los Angeles last week.

Rogen and Franco pulled out of all media appearances Tuesday, canceling a Buzzfeed Q&A and Rogen's planned guest spot Thursday on "Late Night With Seth Meyers." The two stars had just appeared Monday on "Good Morning America" and Rogen guested on "The Colbert Report." A representative for Rogen said he had no comment. A spokeswoman for Franco didn't respond to queries Tuesday.

The thousands of documents leaked Tuesday included banal emails about public appearances, dinner invitations and business introductions. But they also included information about casting decisions for upcoming films and sensitive corporate financial records, such as royalties from iTunes, Spotify and Pandora music services.

The FBI said it is aware of the threats and "continues to work collaboratively with our partners to investigate this matter." It declined to comment on whether North Korea or another country was behind the attack. Speculation about a North Korean link to the Sony hacking has centered on that country's angry denunciation of the film. Over the summer, North Korea warned that the film's release would be an "act of war that we will never tolerate." It said the U.S. will face "merciless" retaliation.

The New York Police Department, after coordinating with the FBI and Sony, plans to beef up security at the Manhattan premiere, said John Miller, the NYPD's top counterterrorism official.

"Having read through the threat material myself, it's actually not crystal clear whether it's a cyber response that they are threatening or whether it's a physical attack," Miller said. "That's why we're continuing to evaluate the language of it, and also the source of it. I think our primary posture is going to be is going to have a police presence and a response capability that will reassure people who may have heard about this and have concerns."

Following a commission meeting earlier Tuesday, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said his department takes the hackers' threats "very seriously" and will be taking extra precautions during the holidays at theaters. Patrick Corcoran, spokesman for the National Association of Theater Owners, wouldn't comment on the threats.

In their warning Tuesday, the hackers suggested Sony employees make contact via several disposable email addresses ending in yopmail.com. Frenchman Frederic Leroy, who started up the yopmail site in 2004, was surprised to learn the Sony hackers were using yopmail addresses. He said there was no way he could identify the users.

"I cannot see the identities of people using the address ... there is no name, no first name," he said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. He said yopmail is used around the world but there are "hundreds and hundreds" of other disposable email sites.

Leroy, who lives in Barr, outside Strasbourg in eastern France, said he heard about the Sony hackers yesterday on the radio but knows nothing more. He said he has not been contacted by any authorities.

Since Sony Pictures was hacked by GOP late last month in one of the largest data breaches ever against an American company, everything from financial figures to salacious emails between top Sony executives has been dumped online.

Separately Tuesday, two former Sony film production workers sued Sony Pictures Entertainment over the data breach. They alleged the Culver City, California company waited too long to notify employees that data such as Social Security numbers, salaries and medical records had been stolen.

The filing comes one day after two other former Sony employees filed a suit accusing the company of negligence in not bolstering its defenses against hackers before the attack. It claims emails and other information leaked by the hackers show that Sony's information-technology department and its top lawyer believed its security system was vulnerable to attack, but that company did not act on those warnings.

Both cases seek class-action status to represent current and former Sony employees whose private data was posted online.

Sony has not responded to phone calls for comments about the hacker threat and the suit.

___

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington, D.C., Lindsey Bahr in Los Angeles, Jake Coyle and Tom Hays in New York and Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this report.

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

 


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US Slaps Sanctions on Russia, Provides Aid to Ukraine http://www.kristv.com/news/us-slaps-sanctions-on-russia-provides-aid-to-ukraine/ http://www.kristv.com/news/us-slaps-sanctions-on-russia-provides-aid-to-ukraine/ National News Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:15:14 PM Associated Press US Slaps Sanctions on Russia, Provides Aid to Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama will sign legislation slapping new sanctions on Russia and providing weapons and other aid to Ukraine despite White House concerns that military assistance will further escalate the conflict, the White House said Tuesday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama continues to have misgivings about the bill, which cleared Congress with overwhelming support, but believes the legislation still gives him the flexibility he needs.

"The bite on the Russian economy is only becoming stronger," Earnest said.

Word that Obama would sign the measure comes as Russia grapples with a currency crisis driven both by the impact of previous sanctions and a drop in the price of oil.

Republicans and Democrats, including House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had called on Obama to sign the measure immediately.

The bill would require the president to impose penalties on state-owned arms dealer Rosoboronexport and other Russian defense companies tied to unrest in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Syria. The sanctions would be extended to individuals and entities that help the companies.

"We do have concerns about that legislation because while it preserves flexibility it does send a confusing message to our allies because it includes some sanctions language that does not reflect the consultations that are ongoing," Earnest said.

The bill would give the president the authority to provide lethal and nonlethal military assistance to Ukraine. This includes anti-tank weapons, counter-artillery radar and tactical surveillance drones. The bill authorizes $350 million over two years to cover the cost.

Russia annexed Crimea earlier this year and has given support to pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, angering Western nations.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., a member of the Armed Services Committee, said the question is whether Obama stands with the people of Ukraine "in the face of blatant Russian aggression."

"A continued tepid response to Putin's invasion of Ukraine will only invite additional aggression from the Kremlin, with even more serious consequences for the United States and our allies," Ayotte said in a statement.

The bill on sanctions and military aid was a rare example of unanimity in a divided Congress as the measure passed the House and Senate by voice vote.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said, "The territorial integrity of Ukraine must be restored and President Putin must understand that his destabilizing actions have serious and profound consequences for his country."

Speaking in London on Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said everyone has watched the plunge of the ruble in recent days and that the U.S.-European sanctions are intended to make clear to Russia the costs for annexing Crimea and supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine.

"I don't think that what is happening is just related to the sanctions," Kerry said. "I think it is much broader, more complicated than that. It has to do with other issues with respect to the Russian economy, and oil prices, obviously, have also played a significant role in this. So there are a lot of combined factors."

Kerry, who met Monday with Russia's foreign minister in Rome, said U.S. sanctions were designed to lead Putin into making different choices.

"These sanctions could have been lifted months ago. These sanctions could be lifted in a matter of weeks or days, depending on the choices that President Putin takes," he told reporters.

Russia, Kerry said, has made "constructive" moves in recent days, citing the withdrawal of some personnel.

"Our hope is that in the days ahead we can get a clear, defined path by all parties, where everybody understands what each is doing and living up to agreements and in moving to de-escalate this situation," he said. "That has always been our goal. And I'm confident that as rapidly as that can happen, you will see Europe and the United States respond with respect to the sanctions that are in place today."

Kerry did not address the legislation.

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AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace in Washington and AP writer Bradley Klapper in London contributed to this report.

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

 


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