Recently in National News Category

Two charged in Coast Guard officer's death

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By Sarah Barchus

Two Mexicans men were charged Monday in the Sunday death of a Coast Guard officer who was fatally injured after confronting suspected smugglers off the coast of California, the United States attorney's office said, the New York Times reported.

Jose Meija-Leyva and Manuel Beltran-Higuera were arrested from a panga boat that rammed into Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III's vessel, knocking him into the water where he hit his head on the propeller. Horne was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital, the Cable News Network reported.

The men were held without bail and made their first appearance in court on Monday, the New York Times reported. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 17 and the arraignment will be on Dec. 21, CNN reported.

Early Sunday, a Coast Guard patrol saw a panga, a 25 to 45-foot-long engine powered work boat, off Santa Cruz Island and alerted the Cutter Halibut, an 87-foot-long patrol boat. The Halibut crew approached the panga in a smaller boat after they saw that it was "operating with no lights," CCN reported.

The panga rammed into the smaller boat, knocking Horne and another into the water, and fled. Both men were recovered by their fellow crewmembers and taken to the hospital where Horne was pronounced dead and the other was treated for minor injuries, CNN reported.

After three attempts and the release of pepper spray, the Coast Guard arrested the two men on the panga who said they were transporting gasoline, CNN reported.

According to the criminal complaint, the two men illegally entered the United States from Mexico, CNN reported.

Native Americans to receive $3.4 billion settlement

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By Sarah Barchus

Thousands of Native Americans will begin to receive payments from the government as part of a $3.4 billion settlement, the Pioneer Press reported.

The solution to the long-time dispute over government handling of Native American land accounts was first outlined in 2009, then approved by Congress in 2010, then went through a two year appeal process. The plan was finalized Saturday and was announced by government officials Monday, the Cable News Network reported.

The settlement began with a lawsuit filed by Blackfeet leader Elouise Cobell of Browning, Mont. in 1996 when she noticed that those leasing Indian land made profit while the American Indians who entrusted the land to the government saw nothing, the Pioneer Press reported.

Cobell died last year from cancer, but her long-term legal fight ended in victory with the $3.4 billion Cobell settlement, which will pay $1,000 checks to 350,000 beneficiaries by Christmas, the plaintiffs' attorneys said, the Pioneer Press reported.

Additionally, 1.9 billion will be used to buy fractions of land from willing Native American sellers, which will be given as allotments to the tribe. The settlement will also be used to create an Indian education scholarship, the Pioneer Press reported.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he hopes the settlement will allow the government and the American Indians to move forward from the issue, CNN reported.

"With the settlement now final, we can put years of discord behind us and start a new chapter in our nation-to-nation relationship," he said, CNN reported.

By Sarah Barchus

Police are investigating how sensative documents were used as confetti last week in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, the Pioneer Press reported.

Saul Finkelstein, a Manhattan attorney, was watching the parade with his 18-year-old son when they saw what looked to be a Social Security number on a piece of confetti, the Cable News Network reported.

"There were shredded papers all over the place, like snowball size, all over the ground," Finkelstein said. "There were whole sentences, license plate numbers and police reports," CNN reported.

Finkelstein realized that the documents were from the Nassau County Police Department on Long Island, the Pioneer Press reported.

Finkelstein brought about 30 pieces of confetti home with him and on Sunday Nassau detectives picked up the material, the Pioneer Press reported.

The pieces of paper were found to have Nassau county police officers's and detectives's names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, banking information, and other personal information, CNN reported from its affiliate WPIX.

"The Nassau County Police Department is very concerned about this situation. We will be conducting an investigation into this matter as well as reviewing our procedures for the disposing of sensitive documents," Inspector Kenneth W. Lack. said, CNN reported.

Orlando Veras, a spokesman for Macy's, said the company didn't know how the documents ended up in the parade because Macy's uses multi-colored, manufactured confetti. However, he said that it is common for spectators to bring their own confetti to the parade, CNN reported.

NATO commander connected to Petraeus Investigation

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By Sarah Barchus

A top military agent is under investigation for allegedly sending inappropriate emails to a woman who is thought to be linked to the affair scandal surrounding CIA Director David Petraeus, the Cable News Network reported.

Gen. John Allen, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, is the subject of an investigation involving 20,000 to 30,000 pages of documents, many of them emails, that were sent to Jill Kelly, a married woman with children, who was seen as a rival for Petraues's attentions by the woman he had an affair with, Paula Broadwell, a defense official said, The New York Times reported.

Allen will remain commander in Afghanistan during the investigation, but Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asked President Obama to delay Allen's nomination to Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, CNN reported.

Kelly went to the FBI last summer after she received harassing emails from who turned out to be Broadwell. Those emails led the FBI to review Broadwell's email account, where evidence of her affair with Petraeus was discovered. Apparently, Broadwell's saw Kelly as competition for Petraeus's attention, which prompted her to send the emails, The New York Times reported.

The defense official said Panetta was informed Sunday that the FBI had emails between Allen and Kelly. The Pentagon is currently reviewing the messages, The New York Times reported.

It was not clear Tuesday how Allen may be connected to the Petraeus investigation, CNN reported.

By Sarah Barchus

The hearing for the American soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians on a shooting spree began Monday, the Cable News Network reported.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 39, is at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state for an Article 32 hearing, which will determine if there is enough evidence to take the case to a full-court martial, the New York Times reported.

Bales is charged with six counts of premeditated murder, six counts of attempted murder and seven counts of assault, as well as illicit use of alcohol and steroids, CNN reported. In one of the worst criminal cases in decades, if Bales is convicted, he could face the death penalty, the New York Times reported.

One of the first witnesses, Cpl. David Godwin, said that he drank a few beers with Bales and another soldier while watching "Man on Fire," the night of the killings, the New York Times reported. Godwin said they drank moderately and didn't get drunk, CNN reported.

Another witness, Sgt. McLaughlin, said Bales woke him up at 2 a.m. and said that he had "shot some people up in a nearby village," CNN reported. McLaughlin said he didn't believe Bales and told him to go back to bed. Bales said he would be back at 5 a.m.

Lt. Col. Joseph Morse, the Army prosecutor, said that when Bales returned to the Army post in Kandahar Province in blood-soaked clothes, "he was lucid, coherent and responsive," the New York Times reported.

Bales was taken into custody when he reappeared at 4:30 a.m., CNN reported.

One of Bales's attorneys, John Henry Browne, said that Bales suffered from post-traumatic stress after three deployments in Iraq and four in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported.

The hearing is expected to last up to two weeks. Witnesses from Afghanistan will be testify through teleconference, CNN reported.


Disney to buy Lucasfilm for $4 billion

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By Sarah Barchus

The Walt Disney Company announced Tuesday that it would buy Lucasfilm for $4 billion, the Cable News Network reported.

Disney will pay for the film company's rights with $2 billion in cash and 40 million shares of Disney's stock, making George Lucas a significant shareholder, CNN reported.

Disney will own the rights to the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" franchises and Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound production companies, the Star Tribune reported.

The acquisition expands Disney's media property, which includes Pixar, the Muppets, Marvel, ESPN and ABC, the Star Tribune reported.

Disney CEO Bob Iger said the deal is the result of the Lucas's transition plan that he started about a year and a half ago when Lucas "began contemplating a form of retirement," CNN reported.
"It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers," CNN reported George Lucas said in a written statement. "I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime."

Disney plans on continuing the Star Wars franchise through a new trilogy, the first film, Star Wars Episode 7, to premier in 2015, the Star Tribune reported. After the trilogy Disney plans to release a new Star Wars movie based on fringe characters every one or two years and is considering creating a television series, CNN reported.

Fans theorized about the new movies on Twitter, causing topics like "Star Wars," "LucasArts" and "Disney" to trend, the Star Tribune reported.

Current co-chairman of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy will become the Lucasfilm's president and report to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn, CNN reported. As the new Star Wars movies's executive producer, Kennedy said Lucas will continue to have a key advisory role, the Star Tribune reported.

"My Yoda has to be there," she said, the Star Tribune reported.

Lucas said he looked forward to the transition, the Star Tribune reported. "I get to be a fan now," he said. "It's a lot more fun actually, than actually having to go out into the mud and snow."

Sandy claims 38, leaves millions without power

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By Sarah Barchus

Hurricane Sandy claimed the lives of at least 38 people and left millions on the East Coast without electricity as it drove ashore Monday night, the Star Tribune reported.

Sandy's 80 mph winds and record 14-foot-high water walls thrashed lower Manthatan, flooding the World Trade Center construction zone and forcing the New York Stock Exchange to remain closed for a second day, the first time since the Blizzard of 1888, the Star Tribune reported.

Sandy also flooded NYU Langone Medical Center's basement, displacing 260 patients as well as sick newborns that nurses had to carry down nine flights of stairs due to power outages. Babies on respirators had to receive air from manual pumps during transport, the Cable News Network reported.

In addition to the wind and water, fire menaced Queen's Breezy point neighborhood, burning over 80 homes to the ground, CNN reported.

Sandy also caused blizzard-like conditions in Appalachian states with more than 2 feet of snow expected in some areas, the Star Tribune reported.

New York, was closed to cars, trains, and airplanes, the Star Tribune reported. Although people's travel was restricted, Sandy 's winds reached beyond state borders and caused Lake Michigan's waves to climb to 20.3 feet, tying the record high, the Star Tribune reported.

The government predicted Sandy's wind damage alone could result in more than $7 billion in economic loss. The full damages remain to be seen, CNN reported.
"The path of destruction that she left in her wake is going to be felt for quite some time," New York City Michael Bloomberg said.

By Sarah Barchus

The International Cycling Union announced Monday that it will not appeal the United States Anti-Doping Agency's decision to prohibit Lance Armstrong's participation in future Olympic games, The New York Times reported.

The ICU's decision formally stripped Armstrong of the Tour titles he won form 1999-2005, The New York Times reported. Armstrong's name will also be removed from the Tour de France record books.

Christian Prudhomme, the race director of the Tour, said the Tours that Armstrong won will not have an official winner because many of the other cyclists were also linked to doping, The New York Times reported.

The U.S. Anti-Doping agency found "overwhelming" evidence that Armstrong participated in "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program," the Cable News Network reported.

Pat McQuaid, the president of the cycling union, said "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling," CNN reported. McQuaid said "We've come too far in the fight against doping to go back to the past," The New York Times reported.

Armstrong was accused in June of doping and encouraging teammates to take performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong denied the charges, but in August he dropped out of the legal battle for his family's sake, The New York Times reported Armstrong said.

As a result of the accusations, Armstrong lost major supporters like Nike, and he stepped down as chairman of his cancer charity, The Lance Armstrong Foundation, The New York Times reported.

The French Cycling Association repeated its request that Armstrong repay the nearly $4 million he received for winning the Tours, CNN reported.

The International Olympic Committee is considering taking away the bronze metal that Armstrong won at the 2009 Sydney Olympics, The New York Times reported.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has 21 days to decide if it wants to appeal the U.S. Agency's decision. If it doesn't appeal, Armstrong's case will be closed, The New York Times reported.


Daredevil's jump shatters sound barrier and breaks record

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By Sarah Barchus

An Austrian daredevil shattered the sound barrier Sunday, setting the record for the highest and fastest jump in history, The New York Times reported.

"Fearless" Felix Baumgartner rode a helium balloon to the edge of space--and then he jumped. After breaking the sound barrier, descending at speeds of up to 830 mph during a four-minute free-fall and traveling 24 miles, Baumgartner landed safely in New Mexico, his heart and fists pumping, the Cable News Network reported.

Via YouTube over 8 million people watched the historical jump live, CNN reported.

They weren't the only ones watching. Retired Air Force colonel and former jump record holder Joe Kittinger was with Baumgartner from the start. He and a 300 person NASA-style mission control operation worked on the project, called Red Bull Stratos after the sponsoring drink company, for five years, The New York Times reported.

During his journey, Baumgartner wore a pressurized helmet and flight suit with sensors to measure and record everything from his speed to his heart rate, CNN reported.

Even with special equipment, Baumgartner encountered challenges. Three minutes into the free fall, a foggy visor clouded his vision and he experienced "flat spins," CNN reported. These spins cause blood to rush away from the center of the body and can result in death, The New York Times reported.

Baumgartner also struggled with claustrophobia while he was in the suit. However, with his team's help and Kittinger's reassurance, Baumgartner was able to remain in control, The New York Times reported.

"All right, step up on the exterior step. Start the cameras. And our guardian angel will take care of you now," Kittinger said right before the jump, The New York Times reported.

"This is way bigger than I had anticipated," Baumgartner said, CNN reported.

And it was. Red Bull Stratos medical director Dr. Jonathan Clark said they were "testing new spacesuits, escape concepts and treatment protocols for pressure loss at extreme altitudes," The New York Times reported.

"Future astronauts will wear the spacesuit that Felix test-jumped today," Kittinger said, The New York Times reported.

Convicted Sandusky to be sentenced

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By Sarah Barchus

Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach, will be sentenced Tuesday after he was convicted of using his connections with the program and his Second Mile charity to abuse 10 young boys from disadvantaged homes, The New York Times reported.

Sandusky, 68, will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison, The New York Times reported. Three and a half months after Sandusky was found guiltily of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, Judge John Cleland from the Pennsylvanian Centre County Court will deliver the sentence.

In a statement aired Monday by Penn State University's ComRadio, Sandusky addressed his impending sentencing. Sandusky said he is innocent and that the victims and lawyers conspired against him, the Cable News Network reported.

"They could take away my life, they could make me out as a monster, they could treat me as a monster, but they can't take away my heart," the former coach at Penn State says. "In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts," CNN reported.

"Pedophiles often believe they did not do anything wrong. In their twisted universe, they helped their victims and loved them," said Marci Hamilton, an attorney for Travis Weaver, who filed a civil suit against Sandusky, CNN reported.

CNN legal contributor Paul Callan said Sandusky's statement was a mistake and that the judge will not receive it well, CNN reported. Callan said Sandusky should have stayed silent before his sentencing, and then plead his case to the public.

Sandusky will give a 5 to ten minute statement at the sentencing. Two victims will also speak and attorneys will read a third victim's statement, CNN reported.

Sandusky's attorneys will have seven days to appeal after the sentencing, CNN reported.

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