Headline News

  • Former Florida mayor sentenced to prison for secret consulting job

    MIAMI (Reuters) – A south Florida mayor was sentenced to 22 months in prison on Friday after being found guilty of corruption tied to his lobbying work for a secret consulting job while in office. Steven Bateman, 59, had sought a more lenient sentence following his conviction for illegally lobbying for a construction deal while he was the mayor of Homestead, a Miami suburb, between 2009 and 2013. He had been seeking a sentence of no more than six months in prison, spread out over two years, from Florida Circuit Judge Robert Luck, according to his attorney. Batemen was allowed to remain free on bond pending appeal. In September, a jury found him guilty of two felony counts of illegal compensation, one of which was later overturned by the judge due to insufficient evidence, said Michael Davis, one of the attorneys representing Bateman. The former mayor also was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of …

    December 19, 2014 5:29 pm


  • Obama: Keystone benefits for U.S. consumers, workers nominal

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday that construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast would only nominally benefit American consumers and workers in perhaps his strongest comments on the Canada-to-U.S. pipeline to date. “There is very little impact – nominal impact – on U.S. gas prices, what the average American consumer cares about,” Obama told reporters during an end-of-year press conference. Obama picked apart some of the most common arguments of its proponents: that it would create jobs, lower domestic gasoline prices and bolster the U.S. economy. “There has been this tendency to really hype this thing as some magic formula to what ails the U.S. economy,” Obama said. His comments come as Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said his party’s first act in the new Republican-controlled Senate would be to pass a bill fast-tracking approval of the $8 billion project, …

    December 19, 2014 3:49 pm


  • Chrysler expands recall to 3.3 million vehicles

    Under pressure from regulators, the company will replace airbags in affected vehicles worldwide. Under pressure from federal regulators, Chrysler will expand a recall of cars and trucks equipped with Takata airbags. It will now replace driver’s-side airbags in 3.3 million older-model vehicles worldwide, including 2.9 million in the U.S. Chrysler previously limited its recall to autos in areas with high humidity, including Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the airbags are believed to be more prone to rupturing. Ten automakers, including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU), have recalled cars and trucks with Tataka airbags because of fears the airbags can explode and send shrapnel into drivers and passengers. Chrysler emphasized that it is not aware of any problems with the driver-side airbags in the expanded region — even after conducting 1,000 laboratory tests. But it will nevertheless replace the parts. Related: Takata has struggled with airbag problems since late 1990s On Thursday, …

    December 19, 2014 4:49 pm


  • Jerry Sandusky’s pension appeal denied but lawyer vows to keep fighting

    HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) – Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach sentenced to decades in prison for sexually molesting boys, has lost his first appeal of a decision to strip him of his $4,900 monthly pension, but his lawyer says the fight is not over. Charles J. Benjamin Jr. told Reuters on Friday he would appeal a decision by the State Employees Retirement System (SERS) to deny Sandusky’s motion to have his pension restored. In doing so, the governing board of SERS disregarded an official’s earlier recommendation to restore the pension. Sandusky has 30 days to appeal Thursday’s SERS ruling to the state’s Commonwealth Court. In a case that rocked the world of big-time college sports, Sandusky was found guilty in 2012 of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years, using his position in the prestigious football program to gain access to youth. The former coach, now 70, was sentenced to 30 to …

    December 19, 2014 5:30 pm

World News

  • Cairns children’s mother arrested

    19 December 2014 Last updated at 22:32 Forensics teams stayed at the home into the night The mother of seven of eight children found dead in a home in Cairns, Australia, has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Police said the woman, aged 37, was lucid and talking to investigators. She has not been charged. She was found at the property, suffering stab wounds, alongside the bodies of the eight children. They were aged 18 months to 15 years. Police have not said how they died. The eighth child was her niece. Confirming the arrest, Cairns Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said: “The 37-year-old mother of several of the children involved in this incident has been arrested for murder overnight and is currently under police guard at the Cairns Base Hospital.” “At this stage we’re not looking for anybody else – we’re comfortable that the community at large is safe,” he added. ‘Unspeakable crime’ A coroner …

    December 19, 2014 5:29 pm


  • Ebay joins Google and others in dumping Alec over climate stance

    Ebay announced on Thursday it’s severing ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council because of the lobbying group’s views on climate change. The online marketplace is the latest technology firm to part ways with the right-wing organization over environmental concerns. “After our annual review of eBay Inc’s memberships in trade associations and third-party organizations, we’ve decided not to renew our membership with Alec,” an eBay spokesperson said. In September, Eric Schmidt announced Google would be leaving Alec because “they’re just literally lying” about climate change. This prompted a wave of departures from other tech companies, including Facebook and Yelp, over similar concerns. Microsoft had previously left Alec in July. The current mass exodus from Alec marks a change from a previous round of departures, in which companies left Alec over concerns about its stance on “stand your ground” legislation. Environmental activists welcomed eBay’s move. “This is a major victory for those of us who have …

    December 19, 2014 12:07 pm


  • A clear, molecular view of how human color vision evolved

    Many genetic mutations in visual pigments, spread over millions of years, were required for humans to evolve from a primitive mammal with a dim, shadowy view of the world into a greater ape able to see all the colors in a rainbow. Now, after more than two decades of painstaking research, scientists have finished a detailed and complete picture of the evolution of human color vision. PLOS Genetics published the final pieces of this picture: The process for how humans switched from ultraviolet (UV) vision to violet vision, or the ability to see blue light. “We have now traced all of the evolutionary pathways, going back 90 million years, that led to human color vision,” says lead author Shozo Yokoyama, a biologist at Emory University. “We’ve clarified these molecular pathways at the chemical level, the genetic level and the functional level.” Co-authors of the PLOS Genetics paper include Emory biologists Jinyi Xing, Yang Liu and …

    December 19, 2014 4:10 pm


  • Cigarette smoking costs weigh heavily on the healthcare system

    (Reuters) – Of every $10 spent on healthcare in the U.S., almost 90 cents is due to smoking, a new analysis says. Using recent health and medical spending surveys, researchers calculated that 8.7 percent of all healthcare spending, or $170 billion a year, is for illness caused by tobacco smoke, and public programs like Medicare and Medicaid paid for most of these costs. “Fifty years after the first Surgeon General’s report, tobacco use remains the nation’s leading preventable cause of death and disease, despite declines in adult cigarette smoking prevalence,” said Xin Xu from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who led the study. Over 18 percent of U.S. adults smoke cigarettes and about one in five deaths are caused by smoking, according to the CDC. Xu and colleagues linked data on healthcare use and costs from the 2006-2010 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to the 2004-2009 National Health Interview Survey for a nationally-representative …

    December 19, 2014 4:09 pm


  • Taylor Swift Is Picture Perfect In Plaid

    Posted on Fri Dec 19th, 2014 3:11pm PDT       By X17 Staff Taylor Swift is forever plaid in her adorable ensemble! Smiling as she returned to her New York City apartment, the “Shake It Off” singer looks like she’s enjoying her first week of being 25. Wearing a plaid jacket, knit cap and warm stockings, the lanky star some good at looking oh-so-cool while keeping warm! This happy-go-lucky scene is a far cry from from Tay’s wild birthday bash last Friday, featuring Jay Z, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Haim and Selena Gomez, crying in the corner about her failed relationship with Justin Bieber.   SEE THE GALLERY Taylor Swift Is Adorable In Plaid Stories from around the Web

    December 19, 2014 5:49 pm


  • Immigration: Fight against Obama’s lawlessness just beginning

    When it comes to confronting President Obama’s lawless immigration actions, we’ve only just begun to fight. Earlier this month, I testified before the House Judiciary Committee, spelling out exactly how President Obama’s immigration actions violated the Constitution. ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENT Public testimony plays a critical role in educating members of Congress and educating the public, but testimony alone can’t stop President Obama. Stopping the president requires legal and legislative action. Let’s reform our immigration system, but let’s do it according to a constitutional process. President Obama claims he’s acting because Congress has “failed” to act. But what he really means is that he’s acting because Congress has failed to give him exactly what he wants. That’s why my colleagues and I at the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) Tuesday joined with 27 members of Congress and more than 60,000 Americans to file an amicus brief in the leading lawsuit against President Obama’s immigration actions. …

    December 19, 2014 12:07 pm

Odd News

  • Canadian driver jailed for deaths caused by stopping for ducks

    OTTAWA (Reuters) – A Canadian woman was sentenced to 90 days in jail on Thursday for causing two deaths in 2010 when she stopped her car on a Quebec highway to help a group of ducklings crossing the road. Emma Czornobaj had been convicted in June of two counts each of criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death. According to media reports on Thursday, Czornobaj stopped her car abruptly in the passing lane of a highway south of Montreal when she saw the ducklings. The motorcycle behind Czornobaj’s car then crashed into her vehicle, killing the 50-year-old man driving the motorcycle and his 16-year-old daughter. “I just wanted to pick all these ducklings up and put them in my car,” Czornobaj had testified during her trial. “I know it was a mistake.” The jail time will be served on the weekends. Czornobaj was also sentenced to 240 hours of community service, probation and banned from …

    December 18, 2014 3:58 pm