Review Category : National News

California Snowstorm Leaves Drivers Trapped in Their Vehicles

Hemera/Thinkstock(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) — More than 100 drivers were trapped in their vehicles overnight due to a snowstorm in southern California.

Dozens of stranded drivers were trapped on State Route 38 in the San Bernardino Mountains, said San Bernardino County Fire Department spokesman Ryan Beckers. Rescue crews worked to remove people from their vehicles and take them to a nearby church, Beckers said.

Others were trapped on Mount Baldy — some near the ski lifts, others near Baldy Village, with those people provided shelter for the time being, Beckers said.

The road I live on in Crestline. #ABC7Eyewitness

— Llama (@rypeskater12112) December 31, 2014

Two highways were shut down due to the conditions — the Ortega Highway connecting Riverside and Orange counties, as well as southbound lanes of the 15 Freeway, authorities told ABC station KABC.

Isabel Castellanos said it was difficult to drive in the wintry conditions.

“It’s really foggy, you can’t see much, which I’m used to the fog because I’m from Fresno, but it’s just a little different, haven’t driven it in a while,” she told KABC.

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Texas Capital Postpones New Year’s Celebration

shakzu/iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) — The city of Austin, Texas, postponed its New Year celebration due to the anticipation of near-freezing temperatures.

“City staff has been monitoring weather conditions and a wintry weather mix is forecast to roll in to Central Texas during New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day,” a statement on the city’s website read. The decision to cancel the celebration — including the use of fireworks — was postponed due to the cold temperatures, the potential high winds and expected precipitation.

“The decision was made for the safety and comfort of the entire Austin community,” William Manno, the city’s Corporate Special Events Manager, said. City officials are expected to select an alternative date for the celebration.

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Harvard Law School Failed to Appropriately Respond to Student Sexual Assault Claims, Department of Education Says

janniswerner/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Department of Education announced on Tuesday that Harvard University Law School were found in violation of Title IX for its handling of student sexual assault complaints.

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights found that the school “failed to comply with Title IX’s requirements for prompt and equitable response to complaints of sexual harassment and sexual assault.” Harvard, the DOE said, “did not appropriately respond to two student complaints of sexual assault.”

In one instance, the Law School took more than one year to make a determination, and the student who leveled the allegation was not allowed to participate in the appeal process. That process ultimately reversed the initial decision to dismiss the accused student.

The DOE’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon said Tuesday that Harvard had agreed to “immediately implement steps to provide a safe learning environment for its students.”

As part of the agreement between the DOE and Harvard University, the school will revise its sexual harassment policies, improve training for staff and provide information for students on policies and procedures applicable to complaints, increase the sharing of information between the university and the Harvard University Police Department, and conduct annual climate assessment to judge the effectiveness of the changes being made, among other action.

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FBI Seeks to Hire Cyber Special Agents

Raghu_Ramaswamy/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(QUANTICO, Va.) — The FBI is seeking to recruit a new class of cyber sleuths.

With cyber crime more prevalent than ever, the FBI is seeking to hire a new class of technologically savvy special agents to lead the charge.

Here’s the catch: Not only do the tech geniuses have to be cyber savvy, but they also need to be fit.

Candidates will have to pass a fitness test, medical exam, polygraph and a rigorous background check.

“Cyber agents will be integrated into all the different violations that we work. So whether it’s a counterterrorism or counterintelligence investigation, they could be the lead agent in the case,” Robert Anderson, Jr., executive assistant director for the FBI’s cyber crimes branch, said in a video.

Among the cyber crimes the agents will investigate are website hacks, intrusions, data theft, botnets, and denial of service attacks, which took down Sony’s PlayStation and the XBOX networks over Christmas.

Once chosen, it’s then off to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia where new recruits will spend their first 19 weeks on the job going through intense training before being transferred to the office where they’re most needed.

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Texas A&M Student Coach: ‘Heat of the Moment’ Led to Shoving Players

David Lee/iStock/Thinkstock(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) — The Texas A&M student assistant football coach who was seen pushing and shoving two different players on the opposing team at Monday’s Liberty Bowl game has apologized via Twitter.

Michael Richardson posted a lengthy message Tuesday afternoon, saying that “something like this was never my intention.”

Richardson was seen physically hitting two different West Virginia University players during the course of Monday’s football game, and when a recording of the incidents was posted online, it prompted an immediate social media backlash.

“In the heat of the moment of yesterday’s game I did lose myself with everything going on,” he wrote in a picture of a text attached to the tweet.

“To the players involved I do apologies [sic] for the ignorance I displayed and there was nothing personal with the actions I made on that sideline yesterday. To the school, fans, and friends of WVU my actions were uncalled for and it was very disrespectful to y’all and the game I love so dearly. And for every Aggie I let down I know that is not how an Aggie acts no if ands or buts about it [sic],” the post read.

Something like this was never my intention.

— MikeLowery#CoachRich (@AggswaggCEO) December 30, 2014

Brad Marquardt, the associate director for the team’s media relations, told ESPN that when head coach Kevin Sumlin “was made aware” of the incidents before the game had ended, Richardson “was told to remain in the locker room for the remainder of the game.”

The Texas A&M ‘Aggies’ ended up winning the game, 45-37.

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Photos Show Spill at Morton Salt Factory

Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — A spill at the Morton Salt facility in Chicago caused a partial wall collapse and an outpouring of salt into an Acura dealership next door.

The building rooftop reads, “Morton Salt, When it rains, it pours.”

Fortunately, no one was injured.

Denise Lauer, Morton Salt Inc. director of communications, said in a statement, “A side wall of our storage facility on Elston Avenue in Chicago collapsed this afternoon, spilling road salt outside of the facility and onto a neighboring property. We are working with local authorities to review and respond to the situation. There are no reported injuries. We will provide additional details as appropriate.”

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‘Die In’ Activists Urged Not to Traumatize Kids at Boston’s First Night

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(BOSTON) — Activists planning a “Die In” demonstration at Boston’s historic First Night festivities will be allowed to protest, but public safety officials urged them not to disrupt the family event that draws hundreds of small children for New Year’s Eve.

“We’re going to accommodate the protesters if they choose to do so. But we will not let it disrupt the events,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said at a City Hall news conference Tuesday, where he was flanked by officials, including Mayor Martin Walsh and Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn.

“I can only appeal that if people are going to demonstrate, just realize there are a lot of young kids out there, a lot of families,” he added.

“We’re going to protect their right to demonstrate and, hopefully, we can both make this event a successful event,” Evans said. “First Night is a long tradition in the city. I hate to see anything spoil what is usual a great family fun night in the City of Boston.”

According to the activist group’s First Night Against Police Violence Facebook page, demonstrators plan to meet at the Boston Public Library and to eventually join the Grand Processions Parade of floats and marching bands that will take over Boylston Street Wednesday at 5 p.m., one of multiple events planned for what Boston officials insist is the country’s oldest New Year’s Eve celebration. The activists have not responded to ABC News’ requests for comment through their Facebook page.

The “Die In” activists plan to fall to the ground along the route as if lifeless to honor Eric Garner, who died during an arrest by the New York Police Department, and Michael Brown, shot and killed during an altercation with a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The officers involved in those killings were investigated but not criminally charged.

Evans urged activists to remember that young children and toddlers will be in attendance at the family event. Seeing people pretending to die could be traumatic for them, Evans added, and urged protesters to be mindful with a public plea, “please don’t upset these young kids’ night.”

Much of the First Night party, which includes ice sculptures, musical acts and fireworks, will be held on the same street where two bombs were detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Many of the police officers expected to patrol the First Night festivities were among the emergency responders who raced to the blasts and saved lives, Walsh reminded the public.

“I ask everyone who comes out tomorrow respect our police officers, respect their roles as keepers of peace in our city, and not distract them from their responsibility of keeping our families and our city safe,” Walsh said.

Boston City Councilor Sal Lamattina urged First Night attendees to “wear something blue” as a show of support for police officers.

Boston city officials Monday night attended a prayer service for Garner, Brown and two NYPD officers ambushed and executed by a career criminal who then took his own life. Walsh said the prayer service at Roxbury’s 12th Baptist Church was part of his ongoing effort to reach out to anyone who feels disaffected with police.

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Surveillance Footage Shows Missing Pittsburgh Nurse Paul Kochu

Pittsburgh Police Dept(PITTSBURGH) — Authorities are hopeful that newly discovered surveillance footage will offer clues into the Dec. 16 disappearance of a Pittsburgh nurse.

Paul Kochu, 22, vanished after a night out drinking with his roommates. When Kochu had too much to drink, he went home without them, his roommates said.

“He cut himself on broken glass or something, so we came home, helped clean that up,” Ben Monito said. “At the time, he was really emotional.”

The roommates, who are not suspected in Kochu’s disappearance, say they left to get food. When they returned, Kochu was gone, taking his wallet, keys and cellphone. His car was still parked outside.

Newly uncovered video footage captured that night by a neighbor’s surveillance camera shows Kochu stumbling through the streets with a white towel wrapped around his injured hand. Police said the video has resulted in some tips and insight.

“He does appear alone in that video, so at least during those 42 seconds, there is no foul play shown,” Pittsburgh police Public Information Officer Sonya Toler said.

But questions still linger about Kochu’s disappearance, which was followed by a desperate search and tearful vigil. Kochu had recently become a nurse in the intensive care unit at Allegheny General Hospital after six years of studying. He planned to spend the holidays at home with his parents.

Kochu’s parents are offering a $20,000 reward leading to information on his whereabouts.

“It’s very difficult when there are very few answers and thousands of questions,” his father, Jack Kochu, said.

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New Year’s Eve in Times Square Was Once a Real Blast

ABC / Lou Rocco(NEW YORK) — Before there was a New Year’s ball drop at Times Square in New York City, there were fireworks. Real ones, according to USA Today.

It all started in 1904 when The New York Times opened its new building at the intersection of 7th Avenue, Broadway and 42nd Street. And yes, Times Square is named after the newspaper.

The fireworks were actually lit by Times editor Adolph Ochs to the oohs and ahhs of those gathered to see in 1905 but alas, the tradition was short-lived as the city banned firework displays in the middle of Manhattan two years later.

However, this led to tradition of the ball drop with the first ball constructed of 700 pounds of iron and wood.

Today, the Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball is the star attraction, 12 feet in diameter and weighing 11,875 pounds. The ball is also covered with a total of 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles, according to the non-profit Times Square Alliance.

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Utah Boy Safe After Being Kidnapped Outside His Home

KTVX(PARK CITY, Utah) — An 11-year-old boy is thankful to be home after he was snatched while walking from his Utah apartment, thrown into his family’s car and taken for a frightening ride.

Fernando Rubio was walking to his family’s car early Friday morning outside their home in Summit County.

“I was coming out of the house to get my mom’s cell phone, and when I locked the doors, these two guys came up behind me,” he said.

Police say the two men — identified as Anthony Morales, 28, and Gustavo Vazquez-Nava, 19 — asked Fernando for money. He didn’t have any. So the men allegedly took the car and Fernando.

“They took the keys and the two phones and they just put me in the back seat with my head down,” he said.

Fernando’s family soon realized he was gone and called police.

Summit County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Justin Martinez said the men threatened the boy.

“They told him ‘If you say or do anything stupid, we will kill you,’ so they had threatened him,” Martinez said.

Police later spotted the car and Fernando in Park City, about 75 miles away. The suspects made a break for it, police said, but were taken into custody.

Morales and Vazquez-Nava are charged with kidnapping and assault, among other charges. They have not yet entered a plea.

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