The Daily Astorian | http://www.dailyastorian.com The Daily Astorian Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:02:40 -0500 en http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/staticimage/images/rss-logo.jpg The Daily Astorian | http://www.dailyastorian.com US stocks gain as energy sector extends rebound http://www.dailyastorian.com/us-stocks-gain-as-energy-sector-extends-rebound-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world8114034528904d09bf7f0e541ec91d06 http://www.dailyastorian.com/us-stocks-gain-as-energy-sector-extends-rebound-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world8114034528904d09bf7f0e541ec91d06#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:00:29 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189878 NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks opened higher as the energy sector continued to rebound along with the price of oil. Oracle surged after reporting strong earnings.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 25 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,038 as of 9:47 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 222 points, or 1.3 percent, to 17,579. The Nasdaq composite rose 61 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,706.

FED SPARK: Stocks are building on a rally that was driven by steadying oil prices and comments from the Federal Reserve Wednesday after its last policy meeting of the year.

Stocks surged after the Fed said that while it was edging closer to raising interest rates from close to zero, it will be "patient" in deciding when to do so. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said she foresaw no rate hike in the first quarter of 2015.

Stocks were also bouncing back from a slump caused by plunging oil prices.

OIL STEADIES: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 66 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $57.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil has plunged since June when it peaked at $107 a barrel. Overproduction and weak demand are behind the fall in global oil prices. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil, jumped $2.15, or 3.4 percent, to $62.21 a barrel.

EARNINGS BEAT: Oracle Corp. posted better-than-expected results late Wednesday in its first quarterly report since co-founder Larry Ellison gave up the helm of the business software maker. The company reported that its software and cloud revenue grew 5 percent. The stock rose $2.94, or 7.2 percent, to $44.15.

DUBAI STOCKS RISE: Gulf stocks gain after midweek drop with Dubai's main index closing 13 percent higher.

EUROPE'S DAY: France's CAC 40 jumped 3.3 percent and Germany's DAX surged 2.5 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 added 1.7 percent.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES. U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year government Treasury note, which rises as prices fall, climbed to 2.21 percent from 2.14 percent a day earlier.

In currency trading, the euro fell to $1.2314 from the previous day's closing level of $1.2329. The dollar rose to 119.25 yen from 118.83 yen.

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AP Top News At 10 a.m. EST http://www.dailyastorian.com/ap-top-news-at-10-am-est-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-worldc45d99c06c214d2880ed743c88238499 http://www.dailyastorian.com/ap-top-news-at-10-am-est-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-worldc45d99c06c214d2880ed743c88238499#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:00:31 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189901 10 Things to Know for TodayAP IMPACT: Abused kids die as authorities fail to protectN Korea-linked Sony hack may be costliest everSony film took aim at North Korea's biggest tabooFeds sue NYC over Rikers Island jail violencePutin: West is trying to 'defang' the Russian bearQ&A: Drones might help explain how tornadoes formSelf-defense fails in Montana man's murder trial]]> Ex-billionaire due before judge for contempt hearing http://www.dailyastorian.com/ex-billionaire-due-before-judge-for-contempt-hearing-da-ap-webfeeds-news-northwest3ab047a3d6744db6a145131770ad3f73 http://www.dailyastorian.com/ex-billionaire-due-before-judge-for-contempt-hearing-da-ap-webfeeds-news-northwest3ab047a3d6744db6a145131770ad3f73#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:00:24 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189882 BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — One-time billionaire Tim Blixseth is due in federal court to explain why failed to comply with an order to pay $13.8 million to the creditors of ultra-luxury Montana resort.

U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon ordered the Yellowstone Club founder to appear in person for Thursday's hearing in Butte.

Haddon last year found Blixseth in contempt for selling a property in Mexico in defiance of another judge's instructions.

Blixseth delayed potential court sanctions with an unsuccessful appeal to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Blixseth, who resides in Washington state, is blamed in the 2008 bankruptcy of the Yellowstone Club, a private ski and golf resort near Big Sky. The club's creditors want him incarcerated for not abiding the payment order.

Blixseth says he doesn't have the money.

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No obvious cause of death for Bend jail inmate http://www.dailyastorian.com/no-obvious-cause-of-death-for-bend-jail-inmate-da-ap-webfeeds-news-northwestdb23f6657bf5492abf6a8dd51c11f730 http://www.dailyastorian.com/no-obvious-cause-of-death-for-bend-jail-inmate-da-ap-webfeeds-news-northwestdb23f6657bf5492abf6a8dd51c11f730#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:00:25 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189881 BEND, Ore. (AP) — The autopsy on a Deschutes County Jail inmate who died hours after his arrest showed no obvious physical cause of death.

KTVZ reports (http://bit.ly/1xkXNlC ) officials are awaiting the results of toxicology tests, which take about a month.

The 31-year-old transient, Edwin Burl Mays, was a passenger in a car that tried to flee police.

He was arrested Sunday on charges of interfering with a police officer, menacing, giving false information, heroin possession and a parole violation.

Mays was being booked into the jail in Bend when he showed signs of medical distress. Fire department medics responded but couldn't save him.

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Information from: KTVZ-TV, http://www.ktvz.com/

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Obama reignites political debate over Cuba http://www.dailyastorian.com/obama-reignites-political-debate-over-cuba-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world224b5c2826024538bfb81fe723259452 http://www.dailyastorian.com/obama-reignites-political-debate-over-cuba-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world224b5c2826024538bfb81fe723259452#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:00:39 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189877 WASHINGTON (AP) — The surprising move by President Barack Obama to restore U.S. ties with Cuba reignited long-simmering political passions over the fate of the island nation, reinforcing yet another difference between Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and several Republicans eyeing bids for the White House.

Yet even in Florida, the nation's most essential swing state, those distinctions may not matter as much as they once did amid an increasingly diverse electorate of Hispanic voters and younger Cuban-Americans, many of whom do not share the same fervor to depose Cuba's Castro brothers as their parents and grandparents.

"If you're a third-generation Cuban, in your mid-30s, went to college here ... things that define your worldview are not Cuban embargo politics," said Steve Schale, a Florida-based Democratic strategist who led Obama's state effort in 2012.

Among potential Republican presidential candidates, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio led the attack Wednesday on Obama's plans to ease of economic and travel restrictions on Cuba, to open an embassy in Havana and to review the communist nation's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. Rubio and others called the decision an appeasement of the Castro regime and criticized the release of Cuban spies as part of the deal.

"When America is unwilling to advocate for individual liberty and freedom of political expression 90 miles from our shores, it represents a terrible setback for the hopes of all oppressed people around the globe," said Rubio, the son of Cuban exiles.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who announced plans this week to "actively explore" running for president and recently reaffirmed his support for the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, said Obama's decision undermined efforts to create a free and Democratic Cuba. He accused Obama of effectively rewarding dictators "with a disastrous human rights record."

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Cuba had not made enough internal changes to warrant the U.S. policy shift, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said the Obama administration was "being played by brutal dictators whose only goal is maintaining power."

Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the GOP's presidential nominee in 2008 and a possible candidate in 2016, respectively, suggested Obama's actions could affect relations with Iran and were a harbinger of a more "damaging chapter to America's national security" to come.

Such strident opposition to any deal with the Castro regime fits with decades of Republican politics and efforts to build a loyal following among Cuban exiles in South Florida. But there were some breaks with the hard line taken by most in the party.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an important lobby that usually backs Republican candidates for office, said the steps would help "free enterprise to flourish." The American Farm Bureau Federation, another loyal GOP group, also supported Obama's actions.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who flew from Cuba with Alan Gross, an American held in Cuba for five years who was released Wednesday, said, "The policy we've had in the last 50 years has done more to keep the Castros in power."

Support for that policy helped Ronald Reagan during the 1980s and propelled George H.W. Bush to victories in Florida in 1988 and 1992. In 2000, George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in Florida following a 36-day recount in a race that pivoted in part on outrage over the Elian Gonzalez custody battle.

But Obama won Florida in both of his campaigns, helped in part by shifting demographics in the state and an influx of Puerto Ricans in central Florida. The president also made inroads with Cuban-Americans, with exit polls in 2012 showing Obama winning nearly half of the Cuban-American vote, the most by any Democratic presidential candidate.

A Pew Research Center analysis of 2013 survey data found that less than half of registered Cuban-American voters lean Republican, compared with 64 percent a decade ago. During the same time period, the share of Cubans who support Democrats has doubled from 22 percent to 44 percent.

Clinton, the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination should she run again, backed Obama's policy in a statement late Wednesday, saying that "despite good intentions, our decades-long policy of isolation has only strengthened the Castro regime's grip on power." She said the best way to change Cuba "is to expose its people to the values, information and material comforts of the outside world."

Clinton had previously called the embargo a failure, writing in her most recent memoir it gives the Castro regime "a foil to blame for Cuba's economic woes."

A potential Democratic presidential rival, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, echoed those views, saying via Twitter on Wednesday it was "time to reset our Cuba policy."

Despite the changes in Florida, it is still home to about 70 percent of the nation's 2 million Cuban-Americans. Former Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, who fled Cuba as a teenager and became the nation's first Cuban-American senator, predicted the issue would energize the Cuban-American community — even the more recent generations who grew up in Florida.

"She better hope that they execute this properly," Martinez said of Clinton, "or she'll be sorry that she took that position."

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Associated Press writer Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, contributed to this report.

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Follow Ken Thomas and Steve Peoples on Twitter at https://twitter.com/KThomasDC and https://twitter.com/sppeoples

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New dark blue uniforms for Seattle police http://www.dailyastorian.com/new-dark-blue-uniforms-for-seattle-police-da-ap-webfeeds-news-northwest19ee1b49925540c28f2caa92ba7faba6 http://www.dailyastorian.com/new-dark-blue-uniforms-for-seattle-police-da-ap-webfeeds-news-northwest19ee1b49925540c28f2caa92ba7faba6#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:00:26 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189880 SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle police will soon have new uniforms.

The two-tone light and dark blue uniform will be replaced with a solid dark blue outfit.

KIRO reports (http://bit.ly/1z81V9f ) Chief Kathleen O'Toole spoke to officers about the change Wednesday at a Seattle Police Guild meeting. There's a proposal to give each officer $300 to pay for the new uniforms. That's in addition to their annual $550, which also pays for holsters, boots and jackets.

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Information from: KIRO-TV, htthttp://www.kirotv.com/index.html

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More reports of flu-like illnesses in Washington http://www.dailyastorian.com/more-reports-of-flu-like-illnesses-in-washington-da-ap-webfeeds-news-northwestb2145dc35c1f4cb98f466267b3138df6 http://www.dailyastorian.com/more-reports-of-flu-like-illnesses-in-washington-da-ap-webfeeds-news-northwestb2145dc35c1f4cb98f466267b3138df6#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:00:26 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189879 SEATTLE (AP) — The state Health Department says the number of flu-like illnesses in Washington is slightly higher than at this time last year.

Health Department educator Michelle Harper says there have been no laboratory-confirmed flu deaths. Last flu season there were 79 flu-related deaths in Washington.

KOMO reports (http://bit.ly/1z80Bmw) an outbreak of flu-like illness on Wednesday prompted Eastside Preparatory School in Kirkland to close school early for the holiday break.

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AP Top U.S. News At 9 a.m. EST http://www.dailyastorian.com/ap-top-us-news-at-9-am-est-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world6d0c6858ea784e84b53690f0ead2937b http://www.dailyastorian.com/ap-top-us-news-at-9-am-est-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world6d0c6858ea784e84b53690f0ead2937b#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:00:23 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189939 Q&A: Drones might help show how tornados formPolice: 3 killed as car hits people leaving church14 charged in meningitis outbreak that killed 64N Korea-linked Sony hack may be costliest everSony cancels 'The Interview' amid terror hack threatsUS, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accordReformers target traffic courts in FergusonMarathon bombing suspect due in court Thursday]]> Cleaning begins for famed Houston Astrodome http://www.dailyastorian.com/cleaning-begins-for-famed-houston-astrodome-da-ap-webfeeds-news-pro-sports5e5cc00f53a845e09a70b9460e621928 http://www.dailyastorian.com/cleaning-begins-for-famed-houston-astrodome-da-ap-webfeeds-news-pro-sports5e5cc00f53a845e09a70b9460e621928#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:03:17 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189884 HOUSTON (AP) — Work has begun to clean the exterior of Houston's famed Astrodome.

Crews are expected to finish their power-wash cleaning of the vacant venue by January. Workers on Wednesday used platforms or hung from lines to spray cleaning fluids on the the Astrodome.

The Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation last month voted to wash the exterior of the Astrodome, which formerly hosted sports teams and concerts. The cost is estimated at nearly $64,000. The work will be paid for by proceeds from two Astrodome memorabilia sales.

The stadium opened in 1965 but hasn't housed a sports team since the Astros moved to Minute Maid Park after the 1999 season.

The Astrodome is next to NRG Stadium, which is home to the NFL's Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

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Wet, breezy weekend forecast for Washington http://www.dailyastorian.com/wet-breezy-weekend-forecast-for-washington-da-ap-webfeeds-news-northwest0b0c1f3ef5a54040a69496587762b04a http://www.dailyastorian.com/wet-breezy-weekend-forecast-for-washington-da-ap-webfeeds-news-northwest0b0c1f3ef5a54040a69496587762b04a#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:00:19 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189891 SEATTLE (AP) — Forecasters say it will be a breezy, rainy weekend across most of Washington.

A strong, moist wet flow from the Pacific is expected to bring heavy rain to the coast and mountains in Western Washington.

The Weather Service says the snow level remains high in the Cascades, but highway passes could be slick.

Light mountain snow and valley rain also is forecast for most of Eastern Washington into next week.

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10 Things to Know for Today http://www.dailyastorian.com/10-things-to-know-for-today-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-worldef2b8360a57e486184f3ee3f32c2dbca http://www.dailyastorian.com/10-things-to-know-for-today-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-worldef2b8360a57e486184f3ee3f32c2dbca#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:00:49 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189906 Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

1. WHAT DROVE OBAMA'S DECISION ON NORMALIZING WITH CUBA

The president was driven in part by realizing that the policy toward Cuba was isolating the U.S. from the rest of the world.

2. JUBILATION IN HAVANA, MUTED REACTION IN MIAMI

Bells tolled and school children applauded on the island when they heard Raul Castro deliver the news. Outrage among Cuban-Americans in their Florida hub was understated, showing vast change in recent years.

3. HACKING COULD UNDERSCORE NORTH KOREA'S CAPABILITIES

In a country where most people have never used the internet, Pyongyang has amassed a small army of computer coders who may have unleashed an attack against Sony.

4. AP INVESTIGATION: HUNDREDS OF CHILD DEATHS COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED

Nearly 800 kids died of abuse or neglect in the U.S. even though protection agencies knew they were in danger.

5. WHO HAS FAITH IN THE RUBLE

Putin says Moscow has enough foreign reserves and expresses confidence that his country's embattled currency will recover.

6. BOSTON MARATHON SUSPECT TO APPEAR IN COURT

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will make his first public appearance in a year and a half as he faces 30 federal charges.

7. MITCH MCCONNELL TAKES AIM AT OBAMA'S GREEN 'CRUSADE'

The incoming Senate majority leader tells the AP that he'll do everything he can to stop stricter limits on emissions from coal-burning power plants.

8. WHERE FRACKING WILL BE BANNED

The decision by New York state is cheered by environmentalists, while the industry and its supporters express outrage.

9. STUDY: ALCATRAZ INMATES COULD HAVE SURVIVED FAMED ESCAPE IN 1962

Dutch scientists, studying the tides and currents, conclude the three men might have made it to land.

10. WHICH 'SMART' PRODUCTS TO GIFT THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

A toothbrush with Bluetooth connectivity, a Mr. Coffee machine you can start remotely with your phone, and a scale that tracks your weight loss (or gain) are among this year's best offerings.

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Police: 3 killed as car hits people leaving church http://www.dailyastorian.com/police-3-killed-as-car-hits-people-leaving-church-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world421c6f17b6864341bf2e96673133b758 http://www.dailyastorian.com/police-3-killed-as-car-hits-people-leaving-church-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world421c6f17b6864341bf2e96673133b758#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:02:14 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189919 REDONDO BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A driver hit a group of pedestrians outside a Southern California church as a Christmas service ended, killing three people — including two women in their 80s — and leaving up to nine others injured, police said.

Ambulances rushed some of the pedestrians to hospitals, and others were able to drive themselves, Redondo Beach police Lt. Shawn Freeman said Thursday. The nature of their injuries was not immediately known, but officials said at least one child was among those hurt.

Police identified the women killed as Mary Anne Wilson, 81, and Saeko Matsumura, 87, both of Torrance. The third person who died has not been identified pending notification of family.

Wednesday night's crash along the Pacific Coast Highway left as many as nine people injured, but the exact number wasn't immediately clear, police said.

A woman was driving a white sedan north when she ran a red light, plowed into the pedestrians and then hit another vehicle.

"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."

Police took the woman to a hospital, where she was treated for injuries sustained in the crash and arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and driving under the influence. Authorities were investigating whether she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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.

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Yellowstone solicits saddle, pack trip contracts http://www.dailyastorian.com/yellowstone-solicits-saddle-pack-trip-contracts-da-ap-webfeeds-news-northwest2001b530b09d4b91b43716e2ac34facb http://www.dailyastorian.com/yellowstone-solicits-saddle-pack-trip-contracts-da-ap-webfeeds-news-northwest2001b530b09d4b91b43716e2ac34facb#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:00:20 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189890 YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — The National Park Service is soliciting proposals from businesses interested in providing guided saddle and pack stock trips in Yellowstone National Park.

The Park Service plans to award up to 42 new concession contracts.

Proposals are due on March 17 next year.

The Park Service anticipates awarding the 10-year contacts in fall 2015 with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2016.

A recent environmental study found no significant impact from issuing new contracts for commercial saddle and pack stock use in Yellowstone.

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NFL Calendar http://www.dailyastorian.com/nfl-calendar-da-ap-webfeeds-news-pro-sportsff5ec85aff2d98556a73daa620e1e0ff http://www.dailyastorian.com/nfl-calendar-da-ap-webfeeds-news-pro-sportsff5ec85aff2d98556a73daa620e1e0ff#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:03:20 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189883 Dec. 28 — Regular season ends.

Jan. 3-4, 2015 — Wild-card playoffs.

Jan. 10-11 — Divisional playoffs.

Jan. 18 — Conference championships.

Jan. 25 — Pro Bowl, Glendale, Ariz.

Feb. 1 — Super Bowl, Glendale, Ariz.

Feb. 16 — First day for teams to designate franchise or transition players.

Feb. 17-23 — NFL combine, Indianapolis.

March 2 — Final day to designate franchise or transition players.

March 10 — All teams must be under the 2015 salary cap; all 2014 player contracts expire; free agency begins.

March 19 — Trading period for 2015 begins.

March 22-25 — Annual league meeting, Phoenix.

April 6 — Teams with new head coach can begin offseason workouts.

April 20 — Teams with returning head coach can begin offseason workouts.

April 30-May 2 — NFL draft, Chicago.

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Marathon bombing suspect due in court Thursday http://www.dailyastorian.com/marathon-bombing-suspect-due-in-court-thursday-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-worldd76ad573242a4cc9b57ac4cb4e99cf42 http://www.dailyastorian.com/marathon-bombing-suspect-due-in-court-thursday-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-worldd76ad573242a4cc9b57ac4cb4e99cf42#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:03:16 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189885 BOSTON (AP) — Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has not been seen in public since he was arraigned on 30 federal charges in July 2013, when he still bore signs of the bloody standoff with police that led to his capture and the death of his older brother, Tamerlan.

On Thursday, he's due to show his face again in court.

Dzhokhar, 21, still had visible injuries at the appearance 1 1/2 years ago from a shootout with police several days after the April 15, 2013, bombings. His left arm was in a cast and his face was swollen. He appeared to have a jaw injury.

Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon. Tsarnaev, who has pleaded not guilty, faces the possibility of the death penalty if he is convicted.

Security will be tight in and around the federal courthouse in Boston for Thursday's final pretrial conference, which his lawyers said he would attend. It is the last scheduled court hearing before jury selection begins on Jan. 5. The trial is expected to last several months. Seating a jury alone could take several weeks to a month.

On Thursday, prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to discuss the jury selection process with the judge. Both sides have submitted questions they want the judge to ask potential jurors, who will be selected from a pool of at least 1,200 people.

A defense motion to move the trial out of Boston also is still pending.

Earlier this month, Tsarnaev's lawyers argued anew that "emotionally charged" media coverage and the widespread impact of the attacks have made it impossible for him to get a fair trial in Massachusetts.

U.S. District Judge George O'Toole Jr. rejected Tsarnaev's first request in September to move the trial, ruling that Tsarnaev's lawyers had failed to show that extensive pretrial media coverage of the bombings had prejudiced the jury pool to the point that an impartial jury could not be chosen in Boston.

Tsarnaev's lawyers previously said the trial should be moved to Washington, D.C.

O'Toole also rejected a defense request that prosecutors turn over evidence about his older brother's possible participation in a 2011 triple killing in suburban Waltham.

Three friends of Tsarnaev were convicted this year of hampering the investigation by removing evidence from his dorm room or lying to the FBI.

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev were convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice for removing a backpack containing fireworks and other potential evidence while authorities were still looking for the suspected bombers. Another friend, Robel Phillipos, was convicted of lying to federal agents about being in the room. All three are awaiting sentencing.

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Associated Press writer William J. Kole contributed to this report.

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Cubans hope for better future with US-Havana deal http://www.dailyastorian.com/cubans-hope-for-better-future-with-us-havana-deal-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world86a34f0059ee456989a06d1efe4264ce http://www.dailyastorian.com/cubans-hope-for-better-future-with-us-havana-deal-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world86a34f0059ee456989a06d1efe4264ce#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 07:00:45 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189923 HAVANA (AP) — Cubans cheered the surprise announcement that their country will restore relations with the United States, hopeful they'll soon see expanded trade and new economic vibrancy even though the 53-year-old economic embargo remains in place for the time being.

"This opens a better future for us," said Milagros Diaz, 34. "We have really needed something like this because the situation has been bad and the people very discouraged."

Bells tolled in celebration and teachers halted lessons midday as President Raul Castro told his country Wednesday that Cuba would renew relations with Washington after more than a half-century of hostility.

Wearing his military uniform with its five-star insignia, the 83-year-old leader said the two countries would work to resolve their differences "without renouncing a single one of our principles."

Havana residents gathered around television sets in homes, schools and businesses to hear the historic national broadcast, which coincided with a statement by U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington. Uniformed schoolchildren burst into applause at the news.

At the University of San Geronimo in the capital's historic center, the announcement drew ringing from the bell tower. Throughout the capital, there was a sense of euphoria as word spread.

"For the Cuban people, I think 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 IT specialist. "It is an advance that will open the road to a better future for the two countries."

Fidel and Raul Castro led the 1959 rebellion that toppled the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The U.S. initially recognized the new government but broke relations in 1961 after Cuba veered sharply to the left and nationalized U.S.-owned businesses.

As Cuba turned toward the Soviet Union, the U.S. imposed a trade embargo in 1962. Particularly since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Cubans have confronted severe shortages of oil, food and consumer goods, forcing them to ration everything from beans to powdered milk.

The Cuban government blames most of its economic travails on the embargo, while Washington has traditionally blamed Cuba's Communist economic policies.

In his address, Castro called on Washington to end its trade embargo which, he said, "has caused enormous human and economic damage."

Ramon Roman, 62, said he hoped to see Cuba welcome more tourists. "It would be a tremendous economic injection, both in terms of money and in new energy and would be a boost for average people who need it," he said.

Victoria Serrano, a lab worker, said she hoped to see an influx of new goods because life in Cuba has been "really very difficult."

"In particular," she said, "I hope we'll see an improvement in food — that there is trade in this with the United States, which is so close. Right now, even an onion has become a luxury."

Around the cathedral in Old Havana, people gathered in doorways and on sidewalks, gesturing excitedly as they discussed the news.

Guillermo Delgado, a 72-year-old retiree, welcomed the announcement as "a victory for Cuba because it was achieved without conceding basic principles."

Yoani Sanchez, a renowned Cuban blogger critical of the government, noted the development came with a price. Castro, she said, could now claim a triumph and that he had made a "bargaining chip" of Alan Gross, the U.S. aid worker who was released from prison Wednesday while the U.S. freed three Cubans held as spies.

"In this way, the Castro regime has managed to get its way," she wrote in a blog post. "It has managed to exchange a peaceful man, embarked on the humanitarian adventure of providing Internet connectivity to a group of Cubans, for intelligence agents that caused significant damage and sorrow with their actions."

Some dissidents expressed their displeasure at not being consulted by the U.S. government about the historic move.

Dissident Guillermo Farinas considered the move a "betrayal" by Obama who, he said, had promised that they would be consulted. Another activist, Antonio Rodiles, said the measure "sends a bad message."

Others, meanwhile, were cautious, saying they'll wait and see what it all means.

"It's not enough since it doesn't lift the blockade," said Pedro Duran, 28. "We'll see if it's true, if it's not like everything here: one step forward and three steps back. For now, I don't think there will be any immediate improvement after we've been living like this for 50 years."

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AP IMPACT: Abused kids die as authorities fail to protect http://www.dailyastorian.com/ap-impact-abused-kids-die-as-authorities-fail-to-protect-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world1014e8fcc2b5432685111e567c403262 http://www.dailyastorian.com/ap-impact-abused-kids-die-as-authorities-fail-to-protect-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world1014e8fcc2b5432685111e567c403262#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:01:57 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189889 BUTTE, Montana (AP) — At least 786 children died of abuse or neglect in the U.S. in a six-year span in plain view of child protection authorities — many of them beaten, starved or left alone to drown while agencies had good reason to know they were in danger, The Associated Press has found.

To determine that number, the AP canvassed the 50 states, the District of Columbia and all branches of the military — circumventing a system that does a terrible job of accounting for child deaths. Many states struggled to provide numbers. Secrecy often prevailed.

Most of the 786 children whose cases were compiled by the AP were under the age of 4. They lost their lives even as authorities were investigating their families or providing some form of protective services because of previous instances of neglect, violence or other troubles in the home.

Take Mattisyn Blaz, a 2-month-old from Montana who died when her father spiked her "like a football," in the words of a prosecutor.

Matthew Blaz was well-known to child services personnel and police. Just two weeks after Mattisyn was born on June 25, 2013, he came home drunk, grabbed his wife by her hair and threw her to the kitchen floor while she clung to the newborn. He snatched the baby from her arms, giving her back only when Jennifer Blaz called police.

Jennifer Blaz said a child protective services worker visited the day after her husband's attack, spoke with her briefly and left. Her husband pleaded guilty to assault and was ordered by a judge to take anger management classes and stay away from his wife.

She said the next official contact between the family and Montana child services came more than six weeks later — the day of Mattisyn's funeral.

The system also failed Ethan Henderson, who was only 10 weeks old but already had been treated for a broken arm when his father hurled him into a recliner so hard that it caused a fatal brain injury.

Maine hotline workers had received at least 13 calls warning that Ethan or his siblings were suffering abuse — including assertions that an older sister had been found covered in bruises, was possibly being sexually abused and had been burned by a stove because she was left unsupervised.

Ethan himself had arrived at daycare with deep red bruises dappling his arm.

Still, the caseworker who inspected the family's cramped trailer six days before Ethan died on May 8, 2012, wrote that the baby appeared "well cared for and safe in the care of his parents."

___

LACK OF GOVERNMENT DATA

Because no single, complete set of data exists for the deaths of children who already were being overseen by child protective services workers, the information compiled over the course of AP's eight-month investigation represents the most comprehensive statistics publicly available.

The AP reviewed thousands of pages of official reports, child fatality records and police documents for the period in question, which ran from fiscal year 2008 through 2013.

And, even then, the number of abuse and neglect fatalities where a prior open case existed at the time of death is undoubtedly much higher than the tally of 760.

Seven states reported a total of 230 open-case child deaths over the six-year period, but those were not included in the AP count because the states could not make a distinction between investigations started due to the incident that ultimately led to a child's death and cases that already were open when the child received the fatal injury.

Some states did not provide data for all six years, not all branches of the military provided complete information, and no count of open-case deaths of any type was obtained from the Bureau of Indian Affairs or FBI, which investigate allegations of abuse on reservations.

The lack of comprehensive data makes it difficult to measure how well those responsible for keeping children safe are protecting their most vulnerable charges.

The data collection system on child deaths is so flawed that no one can even say with accuracy how many children overall die from abuse or neglect every year. The federal government estimates an average of about 1,650 deaths annually in recent years; many believe the actual number is twice as high.

Even more lacking is comprehensive, publicly available data about the number of children dying while the subject of an open case or while receiving assistance from the agencies that exist to keep them safe — the focus of AP's reporting.

When asked to explain why so many children with open cases have died at the hands of their caretakers, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the nation's major child abuse prevention programs, said the agency had no immediate response.

But spokeswoman Laura Goulding said colleagues wanted to know more about how the AP derived its figures. "Are you willing to share your source for that?" she wrote in an email.

States submit information on child abuse deaths to the federal government on a voluntary basis — some of it comprehensive, some of it inaccurate.

For instance, a significant number of deaths were not reported to the South Carolina team reviewing child deaths in the state, said Perry Simpson, director of the South Carolina Legislative Audit Council. That meant the data the review team provided the federal government was wrong.

And a judge in Kentucky issued a scathing order last year against the state's Cabinet for Health and Family Services for willfully circumventing open records laws and failing to release full records on child abuse deaths, fining the agency $765,000.

"There can be no effective prevention when there is no public examination of the underlying facts," Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said.

In some cases, states withhold information about child deaths in violation of the terms of federal grants they receive.

HHS says all states receiving grants under a prevention and treatment program must "allow the public to access information when child abuse or neglect results in a child fatality," unless those details would put children, their families or those who report child abuse at risk, or jeopardize an investigation.

In addition, grants issued under a section of the Social Security Act are tied to a requirement that states describe how they calculate data on child maltreatment deaths submitted to the federal government.

Still, no state has ever been found to be in violation of disclosure requirements and federal grants have never been withheld, according to Catherine Nolan, who directs the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, a sub-agency of HHS.

"Obviously, the overarching goal is always keeping the children safe from harm. It's a matter of how the states have decided they want to do it," Nolan said.

The information that states provide to the federal government through the voluntary system also is severely lacking. A 2013 report showed that 17 states did not provide the federal government with a key measure of performance: how many children had died of child abuse after being removed from their homes and then reunited with their families within a five- year period.

Withholding information about such fatalities allows child protective agencies to shroud their activities — and their failures. It also leaves a major void for researchers and policy makers looking for ways to identify and protect the children in risky situations.

"We all agree that we cannot solve a problem this complex until we agree it exists," said David Sanders, chairman of the federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, whose members have been traveling the country studying child deaths under a congressional mandate.

"If, for example, you want to fix something like fatalities due to children being left alone, it seems that it would be important to know how often that is happening and what it looks like to come up with a solution," he said.

The child welfare system is fragmented, with hundreds of different agencies — from state governments to county offices, tribes and the military — operating by their own set of standards.

Some states, like New York and Ohio, have county-administered systems, with data collection and retention scattered. In others, a state agency provides child welfare services. And still others, such as Florida, have privatized some child welfare operations.

And because there is no single definition of what constitutes abuse or neglect, what is counted as maltreatment in one locality may not be in another.

___

MONTANA SECRETS

Nowhere was the AP's challenge steeper than Montana, where the state's confidentiality law allows the child protective services agency to operate with impunity. The AP discovered the Department of Public Health and Human Services' involvement in Mattisyn Blaz's short life, and her death, only by examining hundreds of pages of court files from the criminal trial of her father.

The state makes public only the number of children who died from maltreatment in a given year. Officials said state law prohibits them from releasing details on the number of children who died after having a prior history with child protective services.

Department spokesman Jon Ebelt acknowledged Montana law conflicts with federal disclosure requirements and said officials would seek a change in state law to allow for the disclosure of more information.

As part of the blanket secrecy, it is not clear what, if anything, child welfare authorities did to help Mattisyn Blaz.

Based on information obtained from the court file, it is clear that Matthew Blaz's violent streak was known to authorities. His former girlfriend had accused him of assaulting her while she cradled their 9-week-old son in 2011. He attacked his wife, Jennifer, at least twice in 2012, on one occasion dragging her around the house by her hair. She told authorities he regularly threatened to kill her.

Mattisyn's older half-sister— 10 at the time — cowered under a bed after Blaz threatened to come after her and was so afraid she began sleeping with a knife nearby, the children's grandmother said.

The protective order issued in July 2013 should have prevented Matthew Blaz from remaining in the home, but soon he was back with the family. "I honestly thought after I bailed him out and we talked, and with the no alcohol, you know, and him going to AA, I really thought things were going to change," his wife said.

When Jennifer Blaz went to work on Aug. 16, 2013, she left her husband to care for the girls. For reasons still unknown, he became enraged and threw the baby, fracturing her skull and causing other devastating injuries, according to prosecutor Samm Cox.

Later that day, he loaded the children into his car and drove across town to pick up a chain saw that had been repaired and then stopped for some sandwiches. He dropped one off to his wife at work, but never mentioned anything was wrong with the baby.

When Matthew picked his wife up that afternoon, he calmly told her that a 12-year-old neighborhood boy had dropped Mattisyn earlier in the day. Jennifer noticed the baby didn't look right and called for an ambulance.

By then, it was too late for little Mattisyn.

Last month, Matthew Blaz was sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole.

___

A SYSTEM STILL FAILING

When President Richard Nixon signed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act into law in 1974, it was seen as a sign of federal commitment to preventing child abuse through state-level monitoring.

But in 1995, a board reviewing the progress that had been made issued a scathing report headlined "A Nation's Shame: Fatal Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States."

The report called for better information and transparency, and flagged "serious gaps in data collection." ''Until we develop more comprehensive and sophisticated data, our efforts to understand and prevent child maltreatment-related deaths will be severely handicapped," it said.

Nearly 20 years later, the AP found that many such problems persist.

Michael Petit, who was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, said meetings have been fruitful but will bring no substantive change unless Congress requires states to do more.

"The child safety net in this country is not equal to the size of the problem that's coming at it," said Petit, the former head of Maine's child protective services agency and founder of the advocacy group Every Child Matters. "The system overall is in crisis."

That system is plagued with worker shortages and a serious overload of cases. For instance, a caseworker in Texas who investigated abuse reports about a 2-year-old who eventually died in the care of his mother was juggling 37 cases a few weeks before he died.

In addition:

— Budgets are tight, and some experts say funding shortages lead to more deaths. Conditions improved when Alabama spent more money on child welfare as part of a 15-year federal consent decree. But since 2007, when the decree ended, funding has shrunk nearly every year — and the number of open-case deaths has started to climb, from one in 2009 to five in 2013.

— Insufficient training for those who answer child abuse hotlines leads to reports being misclassified, sometimes with deadly consequences. In Arizona, a June 2013 call about an 8-month-old with a suspicious broken arm was logged incorrectly and not investigated. The girl died of a brain injury about a month later, after being burned on the face with a cigarette lighter and shaken violently.

— The lack of a comprehensive national child welfare database that would allow caseworkers to keep track of individual cases, child by child, means some abusive caregivers known to authorities can slip through the cracks by crossing state lines.

— A policy that promotes keeping families intact plays a major role in the number of deaths, because children remain in abusive situations. According to Vermont police, 2-year-old Dezirae Sheldon was left in her home even after suffering two broken legs under suspicious circumstances. Caseworkers said they'd felt "an overwhelming push" to keep the family together, based on their general training. Dezirae died in February from blunt force trauma to the head; her stepfather is charged with second-degree murder. A police detective wrote: "This focus on reunification very often puts the needs of the parents often above the needs and interest of the child or victim."

— Worst of all, nearly 40 percent of the 3 million child abuse and neglect complaints made annually to child protective services hotlines in the U.S. are "screened out" and never investigated.

___

FAILURE AT ITS EXTREME

The case of 10-week-old Ethan Henderson — whose family in Arundel, Maine, had been the subject of at least 13 calls to child protective services — presents a particularly telling example of a repeated systemic failure.

Only two of those calls were investigated — one involving Ethan and his twin brother, and the other, their sister. In addition, more than a half-dozen physicians, nurses and other caregivers failed to report signs that the blue-eyed boy with wispy blond hair was being terribly hurt. Some have escaped scrutiny and punishment to this day.

Maine child welfare officials said the state's confidentiality law prohibited them from discussing details about their involvement in Ethan's case. Records obtained by AP, however, suggest the state missed numerous opportunities to properly assess the safety of Ethan and his siblings, neglecting to follow up promptly even after identifying warning signs.

According to evidence produced as part of the criminal case against Ethan's father, Gordon Collins-Faunce, the police made two of those calls but hotline workers decided that neither merited a response.

Ethan's grandmother, Jan Collins, said she called the hotline just before the twins were born because she feared her son and another man who frequented the family's mobile home could hurt the children.

"I said I thought Gordon was delusional. They just dismissed that," she said. "I kept thinking that tomorrow I will find out that the state has gotten involved."

The twins were born a few weeks premature on Feb. 21, 2012 — and just four weeks later, Ethan's mother took him to a nearby hospital with a broken left arm. She told his pediatrician that Ethan's father had accidentally twisted it lifting the baby from his crib. The doctor never reported the injury, even though Maine law requires physicians to immediately report possible child abuse.

About a month later, Ethan arrived at daycare unable to move his neck and with dark bruises on his right arm. Workers took photos of the bruises, but never reported them, said Maine Police Det. Lauren Edstrom, who investigated Ethan's death. The next week, Ethan arrived at daycare with such a high fever that workers called his mother to take him to the hospital, evidence shows.

When Ethan was nearly 10 weeks old, a family friend finally called the hotline to report bruises on the twins and a white, blistering burn on their sister's hand. Edstrom said the friend decided to tell hotline workers she was a daycare volunteer so that they would take the report seriously. That represented the second report worthy of investigation.

Melissa Guillerault, the child welfare agency worker dispatched to the gray double-wide trailer on May 2, called ahead to let the family know she was coming. Still, she found Collins-Faunce and his wife had five bags of trash on the porch.

Though the state later acknowledged Guillerault learned of Ethan's earlier broken arm during that visit, records show she found the couple to be "cooperative and engaging." She said the children "appeared clean, healthy and comfortable," although she didn't inspect them for bruises. In a section of her report designated for the listing of "signs of danger," the worker wrote: "None at this time."

Three days later, according to Collins-Faunce's confession to police, he grew so frustrated by Ethan's cries that he picked up his son by the head and threw him into a chair, causing severe brain damage. Before calling 911, evidence shows he went outside to smoke and play the video game "Police Pursuit."

Ethan died three days later, on May 8, 2012. His father was convicted of manslaughter last year; his siblings were placed in foster care and adopted.

Virginia McNamara, a pediatric nurse who visited Ethan at his home and never reported the signs of possible abuse, lost her license to practice in Maine. Ethan's pediatrician, Dr. Lisa Gouldsbrough, was never disciplined, although she received a letter of guidance from the Maine board that licenses osteopathic doctors aimed at helping her "in avoiding complaints of this nature in the future." Guillerault was promoted to a supervisory role within the department, a position she still holds.

None of them responded to AP's requests for comment, and neither did the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

The records that spell out the state's involvement with the family remain secret.

___

The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at investigate@ap.org

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FIFA meets amid crisis over Garcia's resignation http://www.dailyastorian.com/fifa-meets-amid-crisis-over-garcias-resignation-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world4a8cccf9d9824090850c2ce3fba124a9 http://www.dailyastorian.com/fifa-meets-amid-crisis-over-garcias-resignation-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world4a8cccf9d9824090850c2ce3fba124a9#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:00:21 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189893 MARRAKECH, Morocco (AP) — Amid another crisis at FIFA, President Sepp Blatter will lead an executive committee meeting on Thursday with the sudden resignation of ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia now on the agenda.

Garcia quit Wednesday in protest over the handling of his World Cup bid investigation. His decision could increase the pressure on FIFA to publish the American lawyer's two-year, 430-page report on the votes that awarded the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

The 27 members of the executive committee are split over releasing all or part of Garcia's report, which has led to three of them facing unethical conduct charges.

Relaxing strict FIFA secrecy rules could potentially hurt those being investigated by the former U.S. Attorney and former Interpol vice president, whose previous work as a prosecutor included the 1993 World Trade Center bombers and a Russian arms dealer.

Only a very small circle within FIFA has seen the Garcia report. Continuing to sit on it will deepen suspicions that the body is woefully short on transparency and good governance, and prefers to suppress wrongdoing rather than correct it.

Garcia's resignation statement on Wednesday was critical of FIFA's slow, tentative steps toward greater accountability, much ballyhooed by Blatter since his unopposed re-election in 2011.

"No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organization," Garcia wrote.

The fallout over Garcia's resignation will overshadow other important items on the agenda.

The executive committee is to hear an update on World Cup preparations in Russia. The staggering fall in the value of the Russian ruble raises questions about how the Kremlin and Russian firms will continue to fund a massive program of works to host the tournament.

On Thursday, Putin said the World Cup was an "expensive thing," but "if it is provides extra grounds to develop Russia then we don't mind spending money on it."

FIFA executives will also be updated on the inevitable disruption of the soccer calendar if they decide to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to cooler months.

But it is the collapse of Garcia's effort to answer questions about the legitimacy of FIFA's selection of Russia and Qatar that will be the focus of the two-day meeting and Blatter's traditional post-meeting news conference on Friday.

The executive committee will discuss publishing Garcia's dossier, and could finally see it for themselves.

So far, FIFA has released only a 42-page summary of Garcia's report, which concluded that any corruption or rule-breaking was limited and did not influence the December 2010 vote.

Garcia objected to that, saying the summary misrepresented his findings. That set off a conflict that eventually led to his resignation and his damning criticism of "the lack of leadership on these issues within FIFA."

Prosecutions launched by Garcia against five senior football officials for wrongdoing in the World Cup campaigns will continue. Those cases can be led by his ethics investigation deputy, Zurich-based former public prosecutor Cornel Borbely.

Former Germany great Franz Beckenbauer, a voting member of the FIFA executive committee in 2010, is the highest profile of the five accused men.

Three current board members — FIFA vice president Angel Maria Villar of Spain, Michel D'Hooghe of Belgium and Worawi Makudi of Thailand — also face sanctions for their actions during contests marred by claims of bribery, collusion and favor-seeking.

___

AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.

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Gov. Inslee announcing his 2-year budget plan http://www.dailyastorian.com/gov-inslee-announcing-his-2-year-budget-plan-da-ap-webfeeds-news-northwest9a4f373f9d7e44df9ab1febe72dc4a58 http://www.dailyastorian.com/gov-inslee-announcing-his-2-year-budget-plan-da-ap-webfeeds-news-northwest9a4f373f9d7e44df9ab1febe72dc4a58#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:00:16 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189894 OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is announcing his overall budget plan for the next two years.

Thursday's announcement caps a series of news conferences this week in which the governor set his priorities for education, transportation and the environment. State lawmakers will take up the issues in the legislative session that begins next month in Olympia.

Inslee's office says he also has plans for revenue enhancements. State officials have already said they'll be seeking more than $1 billion in tax hikes.

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FIFA meets amid crisis over Garcia's resignation http://www.dailyastorian.com/fifa-meets-amid-crisis-over-garcias-resignation-da-ap-webfeeds-news-pro-sports4a8cccf9d9824090850c2ce3fba124a9 http://www.dailyastorian.com/fifa-meets-amid-crisis-over-garcias-resignation-da-ap-webfeeds-news-pro-sports4a8cccf9d9824090850c2ce3fba124a9#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:00:52 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189896 MARRAKECH, Morocco (AP) — Amid another crisis at FIFA, President Sepp Blatter will lead an executive committee meeting on Thursday with the sudden resignation of ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia now on the agenda.

Garcia quit Wednesday in protest over the handling of his World Cup bid investigation. His decision could increase the pressure on FIFA to publish the American lawyer's two-year, 430-page report on the votes that awarded the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

The 27 members of the executive committee are split over releasing all or part of Garcia's report, which has led to three of them facing unethical conduct charges.

Relaxing strict FIFA secrecy rules could potentially hurt those being investigated by the former U.S. Attorney and former Interpol vice president, whose previous work as a prosecutor included the 1993 World Trade Center bombers and a Russian arms dealer.

Only a very small circle within FIFA has seen the Garcia report. Continuing to sit on it will deepen suspicions that the body is woefully short on transparency and good governance, and prefers to suppress wrongdoing rather than correct it.

Garcia's resignation statement on Wednesday was critical of FIFA's slow, tentative steps toward greater accountability, much ballyhooed by Blatter since his unopposed re-election in 2011.

"No independent governance committee, investigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture of an organization," Garcia wrote.

The fallout over Garcia's resignation will overshadow other important items on the agenda.

The executive committee is to hear an update on World Cup preparations in Russia. The staggering fall in the value of the Russian ruble raises questions about how the Kremlin and Russian firms will continue to fund a massive program of works to host the tournament.

On Thursday, Putin said the World Cup was an "expensive thing," but "if it is provides extra grounds to develop Russia then we don't mind spending money on it."

FIFA executives will also be updated on the inevitable disruption of the soccer calendar if they decide to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to cooler months.

But it is the collapse of Garcia's effort to answer questions about the legitimacy of FIFA's selection of Russia and Qatar that will be the focus of the two-day meeting and Blatter's traditional post-meeting news conference on Friday.

The executive committee will discuss publishing Garcia's dossier, and could finally see it for themselves.

So far, FIFA has released only a 42-page summary of Garcia's report, which concluded that any corruption or rule-breaking was limited and did not influence the December 2010 vote.

Garcia objected to that, saying the summary misrepresented his findings. That set off a conflict that eventually led to his resignation and his damning criticism of "the lack of leadership on these issues within FIFA."

Prosecutions launched by Garcia against five senior football officials for wrongdoing in the World Cup campaigns will continue. Those cases can be led by his ethics investigation deputy, Zurich-based former public prosecutor Cornel Borbely.

Former Germany great Franz Beckenbauer, a voting member of the FIFA executive committee in 2010, is the highest profile of the five accused men.

Three current board members — FIFA vice president Angel Maria Villar of Spain, Michel D'Hooghe of Belgium and Worawi Makudi of Thailand — also face sanctions for their actions during contests marred by claims of bribery, collusion and favor-seeking.

___

AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.

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AP Top Sports News At 8 a.m. EST http://www.dailyastorian.com/ap-top-sports-news-at-8-am-est-da-ap-webfeeds-news-pro-sportsd4c1a8691d6f45a5957a857fc4425c82 http://www.dailyastorian.com/ap-top-sports-news-at-8-am-est-da-ap-webfeeds-news-pro-sportsd4c1a8691d6f45a5957a857fc4425c82#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:00:25 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189915 Qatar: Building team to spring surprise in 2022FIFA meets amid crisis over Garcia's resignationTwo-speed labor system in Qatar for 2022 World CupPainkillers lawsuit against NFL dismissed; may be appealedWisconsin brings Pitt's Chryst home as coachFor MLB, changes in Cuba will take time to sort outMack leads surging Hawks to blowout in ClevelandPelini ripped Neb's AD in last talk with players]]> Gulf stocks gain with Dubai closing 13 percent up http://www.dailyastorian.com/gulf-stocks-gain-with-dubai-closing-13-percent-up-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-worldc28cf38c827344e49d24da1c53e1ebe3 http://www.dailyastorian.com/gulf-stocks-gain-with-dubai-closing-13-percent-up-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-worldc28cf38c827344e49d24da1c53e1ebe3#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:00:24 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189892 DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai's main stock market has gained 13 percent after closing at its lowest point of the year earlier in the week.

Abu Dhabi's stock market also closed 6.7 percent higher on Thursday while the Saudi index closed 8.9 percent higher.

Analysts say investor concerns that Arab governments could cut spending on the backs of sliding oil prices were alleviated Wednesday when Saudi Arabia's finance minister suggested the government would continue spending on development projects as part of the 2015 budget — a sentiment reiterated by officials across the energy-rich Gulf.

The upswing in Gulf equities comes on the back of a rise in the price of benchmark U.S. crude, which closed 54 cents higher at $56.47 on Wednesday. Brent crude gained $1.17 to close at $61.18.

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'Stand your ground' defense fails in Montana murder trial http://www.dailyastorian.com/stand-your-ground-defense-fails-in-montana-murder-trial-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-worldbefb9ad2d2414cecb2a25e13ef689cd7 http://www.dailyastorian.com/stand-your-ground-defense-fails-in-montana-murder-trial-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-worldbefb9ad2d2414cecb2a25e13ef689cd7#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:02:08 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312179856 MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Just days before he shot to death a 17-year-old German exchange student, Markus Kaarma told hair stylists he had been waiting up to shoot some kids who were burglarizing homes.

He told them they would see it on the news.

Kaarma hoped to bait an intruder by leaving his garage door partially open and placing a purse inside, prosecutors said. And when he did, a motion detector alerted him early April 27. Kaarma took a shotgun outside and almost immediately fired four blasts into the garage. Diren Dede, unarmed, was hit twice. He died after the final shot hit him in the head.

For those reasons, Kaarma's "castle doctrine" defense, which allows people to use deadly force to protect their home and family, failed him Wednesday. A Missoula jury convicted him of deliberate homicide.

Cheers erupted in the packed Missoula courtroom when the verdict was read. Dede's parents, from Hamburg, Germany, hugged and cried.

"It is very good," Dede's father, Celal Dede, said with tears in his eyes. "Long live justice."

Kaarma faces a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 11. His lawyers plan to appeal.

On Thursday, Dede's parents will give statements to the judge to consider at sentencing. Prosecutors asked for the hearing so the couple won't have to return to Missoula in February.

Kaarma's case was the latest in a series in which the shooter had invoked the castle doctrine, testing the boundaries of self-defense law.

In May, a 65-year-old Minnesota man was convicted of murder after lying in wait in his basement for two teenagers and killing them during a break-in. In July, an 89-year-old North Carolina man shot and killed a 47-year-old tenant who angrily demanded the landlord fix his air conditioning. Prosecutors declined to file charges.

Last year in Florida, a jury acquitted security guard George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman followed the teenager, contended the boy attacked him, and was acquitted of murder even though he was not at his home at the time of the shooting.

More than 30 U.S. states, including Montana, have laws expanding the right of people to use deadly force to protect their homes or themselves, some of them known as "stand your ground" laws. The self-defense principle known as the castle doctrine is a centuries-old premise that a person has the right to defend their home against attack. The name evokes the old saying, "my home is my castle."

University of Montana law professor Andrew King-Ries noted state law does allow homeowners to use deadly force to protect their property, but it requires them to act reasonably.

"What the jury's saying here is, you have a right to defend yourself, but this isn't reasonable," King-Ries said. "Lots of people have guns here, and lots of people feel very strongly that comes with a responsibility to handle your weapon appropriately."

Kaarma's attorneys argued at trial that he feared for his life, didn't know if the intruder was armed, and was on edge because his garage was burglarized at least once in the weeks before the shooting. They said Kaarma feared for his family's safety.

But jurors heard neighbors testify that Kaarma's girlfriend, Janelle Pflager, told them the couple planned to bait and catch a burglar themselves because they believed police weren't responding.

They also heard hair stylist Tanya Colby, who testified that Kaarma told her during a haircut: "I've been up three nights with a shotgun waiting to kill some kids." She said he later told her, "I'm not kidding, you're seriously going to see this on the news."

One of Kaarma's neighbors, Terry Klise, called the verdict a "huge weight lifted."

"The man was a threat to our neighborhood," Klise said of Kaarma.

The German government followed the case closely. Hamburg prosecutor Carsten Rinio said this week his office had been investigating the Dede case, as required under German law.

"We are really grateful to everybody involved and particularly impressed by the outpouring of sympathy that Diren's parents experienced here in Missoula," Julia Reinhardt, with the German consulate in San Francisco, said Wednesday.

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Associated Press writers David Rising in Berlin and Nicholas Riccardi in Denver contributed to this report.

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Q&A: Drones might help show how tornados form http://www.dailyastorian.com/qa-drones-might-help-show-how-tornados-form-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world8c33169f0e8244a3b4735845ae606665 http://www.dailyastorian.com/qa-drones-might-help-show-how-tornados-form-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-world8c33169f0e8244a3b4735845ae606665#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:02:13 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189888 DENVER (AP) — Researchers say they've collected promising weather data by flying instrument-laden drones into big Western and Midwestern storms. Now they want to expand the project in hopes of learning more about how tornados form.

Drones can penetrate parts of weather systems that other instruments can't reach, and they can do it at less cost and with less danger than piloted planes, the scientists say.

The University of Colorado and University of Nebraska announced this week they have formed the Unmanned Aircraft System and Severe Storms Research Group to develop the program.

Here are some key questions and answers about the research:

WHY USE DRONES?

Scientists have no other way to get instruments deep inside a storm. Drones can take measurements at any altitude up to about 2,500 feet — higher than measurements by ground stations and storm-chasing vehicles, said Adam Houston of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, co-director of the research group. They can also measure wind below 300 feet, lower than radar can reach. Drones can cover more territory than a ground-based storm chaser, and they don't need an airport to take off or land. A drone can fly into the strong winds, downdrafts, rain and hail of a powerful storm without putting a human pilot in danger.

DON'T THEY CRASH?

So far, none of the drones have crashed during storm research, but if the scientists launch a more intensive program with more flights, crashes become more likely, said Eric Frew, director of the University of Colorado's Research & Engineering Center for Unmanned Vehicles and a member of the Severe Storms Research Group.

WHAT KIND OF DRONES?

The aircraft are about 5 feet long and have a wingspan of about 10½ feet. They carry instruments to measure temperature, moisture and wind direction and speed, transmitting data to researchers on the ground via Wi-Fi and also storing it onboard. Including instruments, autopilot and communications gear, they cost $30,000 to $50,000 each. Making them storm-worthy increases the cost above other research drones, but piloted aircraft would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, the researchers said.

WHAT DO RESEARCHERS LEARN?

Researchers try to fly the drones into supercell thunderstorms, which create tornados, but not into tornadoes themselves. The measurements taken inside a storm provide a "fingerprint" that can tell where the air inside a storm came from and what forced it there, Houston said. If that air becomes part of a tornado, the fingerprint can help researchers learn how the twister formed. The researchers also want to know if that information could help forecasters predict tornados.

WHAT HAVE THEY ALREADY DONE?

Colorado and Nebraska researchers have flown drones into about 10 storms, including six supercell thunderstorms, since 2009. "Funding agencies didn't believe we could do it," Frew said. "We demonstrated that we could do it." The temperature and moisture data from those flights were good, but the wind measurements proved trickier, Houston said, and researchers are working on ways to improve them.

WHAT'S NEXT?

The team is looking for a government research grant of $1 million to $1.5 million for a two- or three-year project. They would make multiple trips into storm country during the May-June tornado season and then analyze the data.

WHERE WOULD THE DRONES FLY?

The scientists currently have Federal Aviation Administration clearance to fly in 47,000 square miles over parts of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming, Frew said. They're seeking FAA authorization for parts of Oklahoma and Texas, which would add about 47,000 square miles more.

HOW ARE DRONES USED IN OTHER RESEARCH?

More scientists are utilizing using drones to gather data, Frew said. University of Colorado drones have been used to measure atmospheric temperatures and cloud chemical composition in the Arctic. The university will also use drones to measure turbulence, temperature and other data in the wake of wind turbines. Other researchers use them to check crop health and soil moisture on farms.

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Unmanned Aircraft System and Severe Storms Research Group: http://ussrg.unl.edu/

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Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP

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Reformers target traffic courts in Ferguson http://www.dailyastorian.com/reformers-target-traffic-courts-in-ferguson-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-worldd21212cf2f604ab6abae2e00525b23d6 http://www.dailyastorian.com/reformers-target-traffic-courts-in-ferguson-da-ap-webfeeds-news-nation-worldd21212cf2f604ab6abae2e00525b23d6#Comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:03:14 -0500 http://www.dailyastorian.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014312189886 ST. LOUIS (AP) — In the aftermath of Michael Brown's death, legal activists suggested that some of the raw anger that erupted in suburban St. Louis had its roots in an unlikely place — traffic court.

It was there, they said, that low-income drivers sometimes saw their lives upended by minor infractions that led to larger problems. If left unpaid, a $75 ticket for driving with expired tags could eventually bring an arrest warrant and even jail time.

So courts began an experimental amnesty program designed to give offenders a second chance by waiving those warrants. But the effort is attracting relatively few participants, despite a renewed emphasis on municipal court reform after Brown's death last summer in Ferguson.

St. Louis County's jumble of more than 80 municipal courts has been targeted by some public-interest lawyers who say the courts are virtual debtor's prisons, extracting fines and fees from poor drivers and using the money to fund local governments, which in some cases serve just a few hundred residents.

"They make people poor, and they keep people poor," said Thomas Harvey of the nonprofit legal clinic ArchCity Defenders, which is suing Ferguson and six other small cities, alleging they collect illegal municipal court fees.

Missouri's auditor is reviewing the finances of several such courts statewide, including Ferguson, and some legislators want to limit the amount of money small cities can collect from traffic violations.

Critics of the traffic courts describe prolonged legal nightmares that can begin with tickets for driving with a suspended license or without proof of required inspections, what Harvey called "crimes of poverty."

Defendants unable to pay those fines or hire an attorney to negotiate a plea deal may then miss their court dates or fail to sign up for installment-payment plans. Judges issue failure-to-appear warrants, which can lead to larger fines and court costs and even jail time on top of the original penalties, not to mention time missed from work or school.

Robert Lamont Douglas, 39, was recently issued five citations in the village of Bel-Ridge for traffic violations that included driving without insurance and failing to register his car.

"The main question was, 'Am I wanted or do I have drugs in the car,'" Douglas said. "I was singled out because I was black. The assumption is I must have warrants, drugs or guns."

A 2013 report by the Missouri attorney general's office found that Ferguson police stopped and arrested black drivers nearly twice as frequently as white motorists but were also less likely to find contraband among black drivers.

The amnesty program in the city of St. Louis allows defendants who face arrest for failing to appear in municipal court to reschedule those hearings without penalty. But it has attracted fewer than 4,000 participants out of 75,000 who are eligible, despite an aggressive outreach campaign.

The story is similar in St. Louis County, where just a few hundred people have opted for an amnesty program that requires a $100 payment to wipe out traffic-court arrest warrants. Both efforts continue through the end of the year.

In Ferguson, the city no longer issues failure-to-appear warrants and is dismissing the charge in pending cases. Elected officials in September voted to cap municipal court revenues at 15 percent of revenue, eliminated a fee for towing cars and forgave warrants for nearly 600 defendants.

Municipal courts in St. Louis and St. Louis County collected nearly half of the $132 million in fines and fees paid statewide, despite the area being home to fewer than 1 in 4 Missourians, according to an October study by the nonprofit group Better Together.

More than $45 million — or 34 percent — of that amount came from the county's municipal courts, even though their combined population represents just 11 percent of the statewide total.

Fourteen of those cities — including Vinita Terrace, population 277, and Bellerive, population 188 — depend on traffic-court fees and fines as their largest source of revenue, eclipsing sales and property taxes. Each lies in the predominantly black inner suburbs known as North County.

In Calverton Park, a seven-officer police force helped generate $484,000 in fines in the 2013-2014 fiscal year. That's almost 65 percent of the annual revenue for a city with fewer than 1,300 residents, some 40 percent of whom are black.

Without revenue from fines and fees, the communities could not afford to operate, the study concluded. "The municipal courts in many areas of St Louis have lost the faith of their communities," it said.

Among the recommended changes to Missouri's municipal courts is a rule that would limit them to providing 10 percent of the revenue for local government, compared with the current limit of 30 percent — a threshold that is rarely enforced. The Missouri Municipal League says such a limit would bankrupt many of its smaller members.

Vestiges of a court system unaccustomed to outside scrutiny persist.

On Monday, court officials and St. Louis marshals ordered an Associated Press reporter to leave the municipal courthouse during an open court docket, despite state laws that generally allow for public access to legal proceedings with limited exceptions.

Slay spokeswoman Maggie Crane later said the exclusion was a mistake

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Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at http://twitter.com/azagier

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