About the author  ⁄ 

instagram/Vitoria Londero (NEW YORK) — A banner that read “Refugees Welcome” was unfurled atop the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty on Tuesday.

According to U.S. Park Police, the banner, 20 feet by 3 feet, was illegally affixed to the wall of the public observation deck at the statue’s base by nylon rope.

When rangers were alerted to the banner’s presence, they immediately moved to its location and assessed how it was attached to the monument, police said. Rangers began removing the banner after it was determined it could be done without damaging the pedestal.

An investigation is underway to identify suspects.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The position of National Security Adviser does not require Senate confirmation, but when three-star generals like Trump’s pick for the position, H.R. McMaster, change jobs within the service they do need the approval.

The rule has nothing to do with the White House, but rather the military: all three and four-star generals must receive Senate confirmation whenever they seek to change jobs.

What does this mean for McMaster?

If McMaster wanted to keep his lieutenant general status, President Donald Trump would need to reappoint him and then wait for him to get a confirmation vote on the Senate floor, according to a Senate Armed Services Committee aide.

This happened to Gen. Colin Powell when he served as President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser. The Armed Services committee held a hearing on him, then referred his nomination to the Senate, and then the full Senate voted on him.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean McMaster has to go through the confirmation gauntlet.

There are two options that would allow him to serve as national security adviser without needing to be confirmed, according to the committee aide: he could either revert to two-star major general status to lead Trump’s National Security Council, or he could simply retire from active military duty.

Those were the options Powell faced. In the end, as he wrote in his memoir, “My American Journey,” he chose to keep his higher ranking and go through confirmation.

“The post of National Security Advisor did not require Senate confirmation. But as a three-star general, I would have to be confirmed for any job in order to hold on to my rank. If I dropped back to two stars, I could be appointed without Senate confirmation. But I was not eager to be demoted in the Army so that I could be promoted in a civilian post,” he wrote.

It’s not clear how many committee hoops McMaster would have to jump through if he decides to stay a lieutenant general. Committee aides would not yet comment on whether they would require a hearing, if McMaster chooses to remain a three-star general, given that the position does not otherwise require one.

At the end of Tuesday’s White House briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer said McMaster would not require Senate confirmation, but did not explain further. He was not asked specifically about the rules governing three and four-star generals.

The White House has not yet returned ABC News’ request for more information.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A bull that led police on a wild goose chase through New York City earlier Tuesday has died just hours after it was captured, according to a New York Police Department source briefed on the incident.

The bull was originally spotted roaming the streets of the city’s Jamaica, Queens, neighborhood late this morning after escaping from a slaughterhouse, according to ABC’s New York station WABC-TV.

A local named Jimmy King told WABC-TV he was nearly mauled by the animal.

“[If] I didn’t move to the left like this, he would have got me,” King said. “Thank God I’m alive.”

At one point, the bull began grazing on someone’s lawn. But once police officers closed in on it, the bull got spooked and trotted off again, according to video recorded by WABC-TV.

Several times during the chase, the bull squeezed through and narrowly avoided cop cars that tried to pin it down.

Police officers were eventually able to corral the animal and shoot it with several darts containing tranquilizers, WABC-TV reported.

Once the bull was sedated, it was loaded onto a vehicle for transport to a local animal shelter — but it didn’t survive for long.

Animal Care Centers of NYC said the bull was dead on arrival when it arrived at the Brooklyn facility, according to WABC-TV.

The police source told ABC News that while the NYPD is good at many things, the department has proved deficient in bull wrangling.

“We’re really not good at it,” the source said. “They don’t train us for that in the academy.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images(BOSTON) — Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jersey, which went missing from his locker after the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl 51 victory, has an estimated value of $500,000, according to a complaint filed with the Houston Police Department.

Police have classified the case as a possible first-degree felony.

“On 2/05/17, the City of Houston hosted Super Bowl LI in the NRG Stadium. Shortly after winning the game, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady noticed his game jersey missing from his locker in the Patriots designated locker room,” according to the police report detailing the Feb. 5 incident at NRG Stadium.

News of the missing jersey first surfaced when Brady told team owner Robert Kraft in an on-camera locker room conversation after the game that he was unable to locate the jersey he wore as he led the team to the 34-28 overtime win on Feb. 5

“Someone stole my game jersey,” Brady said after kissing Kraft on the cheek.

“You better look online,” Kraft responded. The NFL, which captured the exchange, shared it on Twitter, posting the video with the caption: “Hey can someone give Tom Brady his jersey back? #SB51.”

Brady, listed as the complainant in the Feb. 6 police report, told reporters the day after the game that, “I put it in the bag, and then I came out and it wasn’t there anymore. So it’s unfortunate because that’s a nice piece of memorabilia. “So if it shows up on eBay somewhere, someone let me know.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Rich Arden / ESPN Images(LOS ANGELES) — Hall of Famer Magic Johnson is now the Lakers’ president of basketball operations after general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss were fired.

As the Lakers work to rebuild from a 19-39 record, the third-worst in the NBA, president and co-owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement she believed Tuesday’s actions “will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect.”

“Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me,” Buss, Jim Buss’ sister, said. “Our search for a new General Manager to work with Earvin and Coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new General Manager in short order. Together, Earvin, Luke and our new General Manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.”

Johnson said it is “a dream come true to return to the Lakers as president of basketball operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family.”

“Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization,” he said in a statement. “I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Netflix(PARIS) — George Clooney is opening up about becoming a first-time dad.

Speaking to the French publication Paris Match, the 55-year-old actor says expecting twins with wife Amal Clooney is both exciting and nerve-wracking.

“How could I not be anxious when facing this huge responsibility? Having a baby… And actually two!” he says. “We are very happy, very excited, but also a bit nervous. It’s normal.”

He also comments on reports about the gender of the twins, saying they’re actually keeping that a surprise.

“There are rumors that we are going to have a boy and a girl; I don’t know where this is coming from,” he says. “We don’t know yet and we don’t want to know.”

Clooney also appeared on the French TV program Recontres de Cinema, where he called impending fatherhood “an adventure” that he’s embracing “with arms wide open.”

He says after he informed his friends — who all have grown children — that Amal was expecting twins, they teased him a bit.

“[It] got really quiet, and they all just started making baby crying noises,” he says. “And the whole table just busted up laughing.”

George is receiving an honorary award at the Cesar Awards, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, on February 24.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

ABC News(MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C.) — A security camera recently captured the hair-raising moment a coyote stealthily followed a doctor into his office in South Carolina.

The doctor — Steven Poletti, an orthopedic surgeon — said the harrowing incident happened early in the morning on Feb. 15 while he was walking into work at the Southeastern Spine Institute in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Poletti had no idea a coyote was behind him until they were both inside the building, he told ABC News Tuesday.

“I felt something brush my leg and then turned around,” he said. “At first glance, I thought it was a dog.”

But Poletti quickly realized the animal was a coyote when he caught sight of its “bared teeth and big, bushy tail with a black tip.”

“We were enclosed in this small 10-by-10-foot stairwell area, and I didn’t want it to run into the operating room or into the office,” Poletti said. “I just shook my keys out of fear, and the coyote took a step back and looked like he was frightened. Then, I just made a run for it.”

The coyote chased the doctor outside for about 10 feet until a squirrel distracted it and it ran off, Poletti said.

“It all happened very quickly,” he said. “I was just shocked because the office isn’t in a rural or forest area, and there are a lot of homes and commercial properties nearby.”

Poletti noted, though, that coyotes are abundant on Sullivan Island in South Carolina — the beach island town where he lives and which is about three miles from his office.

“We hear them howling on a nightly basis,” he said. “There are definitely a lot of coyote reports in the surrounding areas, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a coyote enter a building like this before.”

Poletti said he called the Mount Pleasant Police Department and reported the incident.

The doctor said that initially, animal control officers from the police department told him he could hire a private trapper. However, a few days later, the police department offered to have its animal control officers set up a trap to try and capture the coyote, Poletti said.

The Mount Pleasant Police Department did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment on the incident.

Mount Pleasant Mayor Linda Page confirmed that the town generally refers residents to trappers when they report coyote sightings, according to local newspaper The Post and Courier.

Page declined to provide further comment on the town’s response to the incident until she could talk with her staff about it, the newspaper reported.

She did say, however, that if “there’s any kind of danger to human life, we’re going to take it seriously,” The Post and Courier added.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The naming of Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster to be President Trump’s new National Security Adviser has raised some questions about how an active duty officer can serve in the job.

But, it has been done before. McMaster will be the fourth active duty military officer to serve in the role as National Security Adviser.

There are some challenges that an Army three star general could face in the role, while remaining on active duty.

ABC News looks at some of the potential issue facing McMaster.

The National Security Council

The job of the National Security Adviser evolved in the 1950’s from the 1947 National Security Act that created the National Security Council. The Adviser oversees the Council, which coordinates policy between the Pentagon, the State Department, the intelligence services and other government agencies involved in national security. The Adviser is typically one of the President’s closest aides and the position does not require Senate confirmation.

Originally a small staff, over the last few decades the National Security Council has ballooned in size to several hundred employees.

Its staffers are typically detailed from the military or relevant agencies to work in their field of expertise.

National Security Advisers have typically been civilians, though three military officers have served in the role.

In late 1975, when Brent Scrowcroft was named to be Gerald Ford’s National Security Adviser, he was an active duty Air Force Lieutenant General who was serving as the Deputy National Security Adviser. But a month after being named to the top job, Scrowcroft retired from the Air Force because he felt the job should be held by a civilian. He continued in the post through the end of the Ford administration as a civilian.

Navy Vice Admiral John Poindexter and Army Lieutenant General Colin Powell both remained on active duty when each served as National Security Adviser for Ronald Reagan.

Though Senate confirmation is not required for the post, Powell did have a confirmation hearing so he could retain his three star rank.

The White House has said that McMaster will remain on active duty during his tenure. But if he is asked to serve in the role as a three star general a Senate Armed Services Committee aide told ABC News Tuesday “the law requires that General McMaster would have to be reappointed by the president and reconfirmed by the Senate in that grade for his new position.”

Otherwise, to avoid Senate confirmation the aide said McMaster “could serve as National Security Adviser in his permanent rank of major general [2-star], or retire. Neither of those require any Senate action.”

What Will McMaster’s Role Be?

Judging by the service of his active duty predecessors, McMaster’s rank will not be an impediment in dealing with officers of superior rank.

McMaster’s main task will be to coordinate the Trump administration’s foreign policy and national security decisions amongst the relevant agencies of the federal government.

McMaster’s active duty rank will not affect their relationship to the National Security Adviser, who reports directly to the President. That level of access will allow McMaster to voice his opinions freely and directly to the commander in chief, which should not be a stretch for McMaster, who is known as an independent thinker willing to speak his mind.

Currently, he is known as a noted military strategist and pioneer in the counterinsurgency doctrine that helped turn the tide in Iraq.

McMaster’s military advancement had once seemed to have stalled — namely after his 1997 book “Dereliction of Duty” that criticized military officers for not challenging political decisions during the early years of the Vietnam War was published.

His career path regained an upward trajectory after success in stabilizing the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar and developing counterinsurgency strategy.

In his new role, McMaster will probably demonstrate some of his candor with respect to Russia, whose military moves in recent years he has viewed warily.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump denounced anti-Semitism Tuesday after facing criticism that he has not come out strongly enough against recent threats directed at U.S. Jewish centers.

“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” Trump remarked after touring the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

“This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms,” Trump said from a podium set up at the museum.

The executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect found fault with Trump’s statement, arguing Trump’s “too little, too late acknowledgement of anti-Semitism” is “not enough.”

“The president’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism [sic] that has infected his own administration,” Steven Goldstein said in a statement posted to Facebook.

Goldstein accused the Trump administration of committing “grotesque acts and omissions reflecting anti-Semitism.”

“It was only yesterday, Presidents Day, that Jewish Community Centers across the nation received bomb threats, and the president said absolutely nothing,” Goldstein argued.

The FBI announced it would investigate, along with the Justice Department, the bomb threats made at Jewish centers across the country.

In a press conference last week, Trump was asked by a Jewish reporter about the recent wave of threats.

“I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or — anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. However, what we are concerned about, and what we haven’t really heard being addressed, is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it,” Jake Turx of Ami Magazine began.

Trump cut Turx off and dismissed the question as unfair and “very insulting.”

“Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person,” Trump said, interpreting the question as a personal attack.

“I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question,” Trump said.

Trump was also criticized last month for a statement he released on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust,” Trump said in the statement. “In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good.”

The statement received backlash for not mentioning Jews or anti-Semitism.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended the statement in a press briefing a few days later, saying it was “written with the help of an individual who is both Jewish and the descendants of Holocaust survivors.”

“To suggest that remembering the Holocaust and acknowledging all of the people — Jewish, gypsies, priests, disabled, gays and lesbians — it is pathetic that people are picking on a statement,” Spicer said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) — What one Texas woman thought was just her boyfriend dancing in the streets at a Mardi Gras celebration turned into a flash mob marriage proposal.

Wendy Hernandez, 23, of Houston, Texas, was celebrating Mardi Gras in Galveston Saturday afternoon with her family and friends, including her boyfriend, John Galloway.

Just before the island city’s Mardi Gras parade was about to begin, Galloway, 26, began dancing in the street. He was soon joined by nearly a dozen of his closest friends in a choreographed dance routine to Bruno Mars’ hit songs “Uptown Funk” and “Marry You.”

Galloway didn’t even have an idea of what a flash mob was until last December when he asked his friends’ advice for how to propose and they immediately said, “Flash mob,” he said.

“I just went to YouTube and we went from there to choreograph it,” Galloway told ABC News. “It wasn’t pretty at first.”

Galloway knew that dancing was the way to the heart of Hernandez, a college student who is also a Zumba teacher and a former professional dancer.

“My original plan was to hire professional dancers,” Galloway said. “But that would take the fun out of it and I wanted something that would take more effort and show more emotion.”

Galloway recruited around 25 of his friends to help. Those that wanted to dance rehearsed with him weekly from December until this weekend. Those friends with what Galloway described as “less rhythm” worked as self-named security guards on Saturday to make sure no one interrupted the surprise proposal.

“I did not catch on at all,” said Hernandez, who watched on the street alongside her family and friends who traveled from Houston. “He’s pretty silly and I thought he was just dancing and thought it was pretty cool.”

As a large crowd gathered to watch, Galloway danced his way to the back of his friends and then walked through an aisle they created to get down on one knee in front of Hernandez with the ring.

“In the video, you can see my shoulders are shaking for how much I’m crying,” Hernandez said of her shocked reaction.

Friends posted videos of the proposal on Facebook, and family made sure they had engagement T-shirts and a cake on hand to celebrate.

“There were tons of people involved,” Galloway said. “There was no way I could have done it on my own.”

The newly-engaged couple has yet to set a date for their nuptials but they are already planning their first dance at their wedding reception.

“I want to do a full-on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ salsa dance,” said Galloway, to which Hernandez replied, “And of course I’m all in.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →