December 24th, 2013
02:32 AM ET

Pharmacy agrees to $100M settlement

A compounding pharmacy at the center of a fungal meningitis outbreak last year has agreed to a preliminary settlement that would create a $100 million fund for victims.

The fund will also be used to pay off creditors of the bankrupt New England Compounding Center, attorneys in the case said. A judge will have to approve the plan before it goes into effect.

The nationwide meningitis outbreak was linked to steroid injections distributed by the Massachusetts-based pharmacy.

More than 700 illnesses and 64 deaths in 20 states were blamed on the injections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. But the CDC noted the deaths are from "all causes among persons who meet the case definition and may not be directly attributed to a fungal infection."

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Filed under: Health • U.S.
Astronauts to make Christmas Eve spacewalk
December 24th, 2013
12:49 AM ET

Astronauts to make Christmas Eve spacewalk

While many people may spend Christmas Eve doing last-minute gift shopping, two American astronauts have a more challenging matter to attend to Tuesday.
In orbit more than 200 miles above the planet, Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins are set to embark on a spacewalk to repair part of the International Space Station's cooling system.
It will be the second Christmas Eve spacewalk in history, according to NASA.
The two engineers will be carrying out the second in a series of expeditions needed to replace a malfunctioning pump, which circulates ammonia through loops outside the station to keep equipment cool.

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Filed under: U.S.
December 23rd, 2013
05:12 AM ET

American gets 1-year sentence for video

Shezanne Cassim, the American jailed in the United Arab Emirates and accused of threatening national security for a video parody, was sentenced Monday to one year in prison and a 10,000 UAE Dirham fine (approximately $2,700).
The young American living in the United Arab Emirates has been imprisoned since April, his family says, for posting what was intended to be a funny video on the Internet.

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Filed under: U.S. • World
Obama addresses successes, shortcomings for 2013
President Barack Obama addresses reporters during his year-end news conference Friday.
December 20th, 2013
03:16 PM ET

Obama addresses successes, shortcomings for 2013

Correction: We hate to admit it, but in the heat of live-blogging President Barack Obama’s year-end news conference, we misquoted him as saying he “screwed the duck” with the Obamacare rollout. What he actually said was: “We screwed it up.” And in this case, so did we. We regret the error, and we thank our audience for the feedback.

[Updated at 3:16 p.m. ET] Obama hailed what he said was the first rollback in Iran's nuclear capabilities in a decade. Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons has long posed a challenge to U.S. national security, and the U.S. now has a structure under which Iran can "get right with the international community in a verifiable fashion" and prove that any peaceful nuclear program will not be weaponized and that it won't threaten the U.S. and its allies in the region, including Israel.

If Iran reverts to its old ways, Obama said he would put more pressure on Iran, but that isn't necessary right now. Existing sanctions remain in place, costing Iran billions of dollars each month in oil sales, along with banking sanctions, he said. There is no need to leave a club hanging over Iran's head, Obama said, because there's no doubt among Iranians that Congress will pass more sanctions if necessary.

[Updated at 3:10 p.m. ET] Asked about the implications of nominating Sen. Max Baucus as ambassador to China when Baucus offered the best hope of overturning the tax code, Obama called for "swift confirmation" of Baucus as ambassador and said that if Democrats and Republicans are "serious about tax reform, then it's not going to depend on one guy."

[Updated at 3:04 p.m. ET] Despite the negative publicity surrounding his health care initiative, 2 million people or more have signed up, Obama said, saying the program is "working."

"The demand is there, and as I've said before, the product is good," he said.

[Updated at 3:00 p.m. ET] Obama declined to comment specifically about Edward Snowden, saying he would let the courts and attorney general comment on his case, but he said that Snowden's leaks have "done unnecessary damage to U.S. intelligence capabilities and U.S. diplomacy."

He further said the United States is a country that "abides by the rule of law, that cares deeply about privacy, that cares about civil liberties, that cares about our Constitution," where countries with less concern for civil liberties have been able to sit on the sideline and cast aspersions as a result of the leaks.

However, he called the debate that was sparked by the Snowden incident an "important" one.

[Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET] Asked what his New Year's resolution would be, Obama responded, "To be nicer to the White House press corps," earning some laughter and light applause.

[Updated at 2:54 p.m. ET] Obama cites "comprehensive immigration reform" as an example where there's largely bipartisan support on an issue. He expressed hope that despite a "few disagreements," Congress could pass reform that would boost the economy and allow the country to attract more high-skilled workers.

[Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET] Asked to name his worst mistake of the year, Obama said, "since I'm in charge, obviously we screwed it up" on the health care roll-out. Despite meeting every three weeks with officials to ensure that consumers had a pleasant experience with the roll-out, "the fact is it didn't happen in the first month, in the first six weeks, in a way that was at all acceptable."

[Updated at 2:46 p.m. ET] While insisting that the NSA has committed no abuses in performing its surveillance duties, "there may be another way of skinning the cat" to alleviate Americans' concerns, Obama says.

[Updated at 2:42 p.m. ET] "This is only going to work if the American people have confidence and trust," Obama says of the NSA surveillance program, while conceding that American trust in the process has "diminished."

[Updated at 2:36 p.m. ET] Obama says there is a review of NSA surveillance under way to determine if current programs balance the need to keep the country secure while "taking seriously the rule of law and our concerns about privacy and civil liberties."

As for the controversial collection of metadata, Obama says there have been no alleged instances of the NSA acting inappropriately in the use of the data. The president says he has confidence that the NSA is "not engaging in domestic surveillance or snooping around."

[Updated at 2:31 p.m. ET] Asked if 2013 was the worst year of his presidency, Obama chuckled and said that despite Congress failing to act on his legislative initiatives, there have been many successes. Among those are an increase in wireless capacities in classrooms, a manufacturing hub in Youngstown, Ohio, that will "build on the renaissance we're seeing in manufacturing" and the fact that the U.S. is "producing more oil and natural gas in this country than we're importing."

[Updated at 2:26 p.m. ET] Obama says providing more opportunities for the middle-class and those hoping to join the middle class will be a top priority for 2014, and he'd like to see the country add more jobs, especially those with "wages and benefits that allow families to build a little bit of financial security."

"I think 2014 needs to be a year of action," he says

[Updated at 2:24 p.m. ET] As businesses are positioned to add new jobs amid more growth, Obama predicts 2014 will be "a breakthrough year for America," but much remains to be done, Obama says.

[Updated at 2:21 p.m. ET] So far in 2013, the United States added 2 million jobs as unemployment has fallen to the lowest point in five years, Obama says.

[Updated at 2:19 p.m. ET] Obama's year-end news conference has begun.

[Original story posted at 1:57 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama's year-end news conference is expected to begin at 2 p.m. ET.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics • U.S.
Vigil for teen who died in police custody turns violent
Protesters allege foul play in the death of Jesus Huerta, 17, who died of a gunshot wound while in police custody.
December 20th, 2013
01:26 PM ET

Vigil for teen who died in police custody turns violent

A vigil for a teen who died in police custody turned violent in Durham, North Carolina, with riot police using tear gas and batons to disperse the crowd.

At least six people were arrested at the Thursday night march to protest the death of 17-year-old Jesus Huerta, according to police.

"I could not be more proud of the restraint and professionalism demonstrated by our officers," Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said in a statement to the media, adding that injuries to those marching were minimized because of his officers' actions.

"There was a march. The peaceful intent did not exist. We used the best practices in law enforcement," he said at a news conference Friday.

Protesters threw bottles and rocks at police officers and vandalized police property, Lopez said, defending his officers' reaction to the vigil.

The Durham Police Department says Huerta died on November 19 from a self-inflicted gunshot while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser. The teen was being taken to the police station by Officer Samuel Duncan about 3 a.m. for a second-degree trespassing violation.

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Filed under: North Carolina • Protest • Race • U.S.
SeaWorld takes out ads to defend itself against whale mistreatment accusations
SeaWorld is firing back against allegations that it mistreats killer whales.
December 20th, 2013
01:18 PM ET

SeaWorld takes out ads to defend itself against whale mistreatment accusations

Faced with a growing backlash from entertainers and others responding to a documentary film claiming mistreatment of whales, SeaWorld bought full-page ads in newspapers nationwide Friday to call the accounts inaccurate and paint its employees as "true animal advocates."

"The truth about SeaWorld is right here in our parks and people," the company said in the ad, which appeared in The New York Times and other papers.

SeaWorld has been battered in recent weeks since the television premiere of the documentary "Blackfish" on CNN.

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Filed under: Animals • U.S. • Whales
December 20th, 2013
02:19 AM ET

California high school to be tested for TB

All 1,800 students and staff at a southern California high school will be screened for tuberculosis Friday after 45 students tested positive for possible exposure, authorities said.

The Riverside County Department of Public Health and state officials have determined there is a possibility of exposure to other Indio High School students, though "the risk of transmission appears to be moderately low," according to a letter to parents on the school's website.

Students will have to return to school in Indio, California, on Monday to have the test results evaluated, the letter says. Without verification of a current TB testing and results, students won't be allowed to return to school after the holiday break, on January 6, the school said.

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Filed under: U.S.
December 19th, 2013
04:14 AM ET

'Duck Dynasty' star suspended

Is this man simply expressing his beliefs or spewing bigotry?

Either way, Phil Robertson, the patriarch in A&E's "Duck Dynasty," won't be duck calling on air anytime soon. The network suspended him after slamming gays in a magazine interview.

In the January issue of GQ, Robertson said homosexuality is a sin and puts it in the same category as bestiality and promiscuity.

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Filed under: U.S.
December 18th, 2013
03:57 AM ET

George Zimmerman's artwork tops $100,000

George Zimmerman can now add "painter" to his resume after the former neighborhood watchman purportedly listed an original painting on eBay.

The 18-by-24-inch canvas features a blue, waving American flag with the words, "God, one nation, with liberty and justice for all" emblazoned across it.

The auction was posted Monday at a starting bid of 99 cents and is scheduled to end Saturday. As of Tuesday night, 108 bids were logged for the painting, ratcheting the price up to $110,100. The next bid would top $110,200.

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Filed under: U.S.
December 18th, 2013
03:49 AM ET

Did you win $636 million lottery jackpot?

This holiday season just got a lot merrier for two insanely lucky people.

Two tickets matched the winning numbers in Tuesday night's $636 million Mega Millions jackpot.

One winning ticket was sold in Atlanta, and the other was sold in San Jose, California, lottery officials said.

The winning numbers were 8, 14, 17, 20 and 39, with a Megaball of 7. Twenty ticket holders will win $1 million after matching all the numbers except for the Megaball.

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Filed under: U.S.
December 17th, 2013
07:31 PM ET

One person, gunman dead in Reno medical building shooting

A gunman and another person were killed during a shooting Tuesday at a medical building at Renown Regional Medical Center, said Tom Robinson of the Reno, Nevada, Police Department.

Two other people were injured and were being treated at a hospital, Robinson said.

The shooter, who carried one weapon, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

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Filed under: Crime • Nevada
December 17th, 2013
03:11 AM ET

You won the big one, now what?

Somebody might wake up Wednesday a whole lot richer. Heck, some of are going to stay up to see if we're the lucky one or two who hits the Mega Millions.

People who play the lottery love to dream about the things they'd do if they won the big one. Telling the boss off might top your list (not mine, oh no, not mine). Maybe a new mansion and a fancy car and a gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater (Right, Steve Martin?).

But let's think about it. There are a few important things you should do before you go out and blow your winnings.

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Filed under: U.S.
December 17th, 2013
03:06 AM ET

Beatles bootlegs out on iTunes

A collection of often-bootlegged Beatles songs went on sale via iTunes early Tuesday, but the recordings were online only briefly in several countries.

The tracks - expected to be mostly recordings of BBC performances from 1963, along with demos and studio outtakes - appeared at midnight in Britain, only to be pulled down shortly afterward. The digital music giant's sites in Australia and New Zealand no longer featured the collection by Tuesday morning.

A spokesperson for Universal Music Group confirmed the release of "The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963" for Tuesday, but provided no additional information.

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Filed under: Music • U.S. • World
Flakes sprinkle Northeast winter wonderland
December 16th, 2013
04:01 AM ET

Flakes sprinkle Northeast winter wonderland

The storm that whipped the Northeast over the weekend with six to 16 inches of snow has blown off to Canada, but more snow is on its way - maybe just enough to bring out some of that holiday spirit.
The flakes sweeping across the Midwest and Northeast on Monday and Tuesday aren't expected have the heft of the fast-moving storm that preceded them but are predicted to add a couple of inches to the wintry landscape.

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Filed under: Christmas • Connecticut • Delaware • District of Columbia • Holidays • Illinois • Indiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • New Hampshire • New Jersey • New York • Pennsylvania • Rhode Island • U.S. • Vermont • Virginia • Weather • West Virginia • Winter weather
December 13th, 2013
08:06 PM ET

Dead Colorado school shooter wanted to confront faculty member, sheriff says

A student opened fire Friday inside a suburban Denver high school, injuring three people before turning the gun on himself, authorities said.

The shooting began after the student entered Arapahoe High School in Centennial with the intention of confronting a specific faculty member, Sheriff Grayson Robinson told reporters.

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Filed under: Crime • U.S.
December 13th, 2013
02:32 AM ET

Judge says giant cross must be removed

A giant cross that has stood on a Southern California mountain for decades must be removed because it violates the constitutional separation of church and state, a judge ordered this week.

The order Thursday by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns continues a long legal battle about the 43-foot cross atop Mt. Soledad in San Diego.

Burns ordered that the cross would have to be removed within 90 days. But the cross may be able to stay if the case is appealed, the judge ordered.

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Filed under: Politics • U.S.
December 13th, 2013
02:31 AM ET

Guard arrested for stealing Lakers rings

A security guard was arrested this week and is accused of stealing two Los Angeles Lakers championship rings and $20,000 in gift cards, police said.

Eddie Monterroso, 23, who worked at a Lakers training facility, was arrested Tuesday outside the facility, the El Segundo Police Department said.

The two championship rings were from the 2009 and 2010 seasons, police said.

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Filed under: Crime • Sports • U.S.
Bride cops to pushing husband off cliff
December 12th, 2013
03:49 PM ET

Bride cops to pushing husband off cliff

In a plea deal reached between the prosecution and defense, newlywed Jordan Linn Graham, accused of pushing her husband over a Montana cliff, has agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for waiving a first-degree murder charge and a lying to investigators charge, the prosecutor said Thursday.

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Filed under: Crime • Justice • U.S.
December 12th, 2013
03:00 AM ET

School drops sexual harassment claim against 6-year-old who kissed girl

Amid a tidal wave of negative publicity, a Colorado school system has let a 6-year-old boy return to school and said it won't classify his kissing a girl on the hand as sexual harassment.

The story of first-grader Hunter Yelton made national news and spurred outrage this week after word spread that his school near Colorado Springs suspended him for the kiss and accused him of sexually harassing the girl.

On Wednesday night, CNN affiliate KRDO reported that Canon City Schools Superintendent Robin Gooldy met with Hunter's parents. The superintendent then changed Hunter's disciplinary offense from "sexual harassment" to "misconduct."

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Filed under: Crime • U.S.
December 12th, 2013
01:16 AM ET

IKEA recalls children's wall lamps

IKEA has recalled eight of its children's wall-mounted lamps after one toddler died and another was injured, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday.

In each case, the lamp cord was pulled into the crib by the infant, creating the strangulation hazard. Both incidents took place in Europe.

There are eight different models involved in the recall: a blue star, a yellow moon, a pink flower, a white flower, a red heart, green bug, a blue seashell and an orange seahorse.

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Filed under: U.S. • World
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