Review Category : National News

British Man Sentenced In Trump Assassination Plot

iStock/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) — A British man who attempted to grab a gun from a police officer during an attempt to kill Donald Trump has been sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison.

Michael Sandford, 20, pleaded guilty in September to a number of charges, according to BBC, including being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm, and disrupting an official function.

Sandford faced up to a possible 10 years in prison for his actions, which took place at a Trump campaign rally in Las Vegas. After he was arrested, he told officers that he had planned to shoot the candidate. However, the court was told, he failed to pull the weapon from the officer’s holster.

Sandford teared up as he apologized to the court for his attempted attack, saying he felt “terrible” about it. His lawyers told the court that he is autistic, and suffers from seizures and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The judge, James Mahan, appeared to take Sandford’s conditions into account.

“You have a medical problem,” he told the accused, saying that it was nothing to be ashamed of. “I don’t see you as evil or a sociopath.”

Sandford could be eligible for release after four months, at which point he will be deported back to the United Kingdom.

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Energy Department Denies Trump Team Request to Name Employees on Climate Policy

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Energy said it won’t comply with a request from the Trump transition team to provide names of employees who worked on the Obama administration’s climate policy efforts.

“The Department of Energy received significant feedback from our workforce throughout the department, including the National Labs, following the release of the transition team’s questions. Some of the questions asked left many in our workforce unsettled,” Eben Burnham-Snyder, director of public affairs at the Energy Department said. “Our career workforce, including our contractors and employees at our labs, comprise the backbone of DOE and the important work our department does to benefit the American people. We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department.”

“We will be forthcoming with all publicly available information with the transition team,” he said. “We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team.”

Last week, sources at the Energy Department said the agency received a 74-point memo, which was obtained by ABC News, from the Trump transition team.

The questionnaire asked for information on several Department of Energy programs and asks twice for lists of the names of staff members who worked on specific projects. One line item asked for names of any staff or contractors who attended international meetings on climate change run through the United Nations, such as the summit that produced the landmark Paris Agreement last year, signed by 116 countries to cut carbon pollution.

A second question in the memo asks for names of personnel who attended domestic interagency meetings focused on the “social cost of carbon.” Those working groups generated metrics and recommendations for the Obama administration to craft new regulations.

Other questions listed included: “Which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan?” and “Who ‘owns’ the work on international Clean Energy Ministerial and ‘Mission Innovation’ [a multinational effort to develop clean technology]?”

The White House defended the Energy Department’s decision to withhold the requested information.

“There were reports about what certainly could have been an attempt to target civil servants, career federal government employees,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

“Their work transcends the term of any one president, that’s by design,” he continued, saying that it would undermine effective policy-making at the Department of Energy to replace the entire staff with each administration.

The Trump transition team did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump is expected to name former Texas Governor Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy, senior Trump transition officials told ABC News.

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‘Pizzagate’ Shooting Suspect Faces Federal Charge

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The North Carolina man who is accused of firing an assault rifle inside a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant while “self-investigating” a fake news story is now facing a federal charge as new court documents reveal what happened leading up to and during the incident last week.

Local charges have been dismissed against Edgar Maddison Welch and his case has been moved to federal court where the 28-year-old is now charged with interstate transportation of a firearm with intent to commit a felony, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and potential financial penalties.

Welch traveled from North Carolina to Washington, D.C. and on Dec. 4 allegedly fired an AR-15 inside the restaurant Comet Ping Pong, according to police and prosecutors. The restaurant is a popular pizza place in the nation’s capital and also the subject of “Pizzagate,” the fake news conspiracy theory circulated online that alleges Comet Ping Pong and the Hillary Clinton campaign were involved in child sex-trafficking.

According to federal documents filed Monday, Welch told police he was searching for evidence of hidden rooms or tunnels, or the alleged crimes involved in “Pizzagate.” He found a locked door and unsuccessfully tried to force it open with a butter knife and then by shooting the lock, the court documents said. When that proved to be unsuccessful, the documents said he climbed over furniture to look into the room and saw it was empty.

Welch also encountered a Comet Ping Pong employee who entered from the rear of the restaurant, according to the court documents, but he denied pointing his rifle at the worker.

There were no injuries reported in the shooting, police and prosecutors said, and Welch was arrested without incident. He surrendered to police when he said he “found no evidence of child sex-trafficking,” the documents said.

In their investigation, police discovered cell phone evidence that Welch was contemplating a “violent confrontation” at least three days before he went to Comet Ping Pong, the court documents said. In a text on Dec. 1, Welch told his girlfriend he was researching “Pizzagate” and it was making him “sick,” the documents stated.

According to the documents, he texted a friend on Dec. 2 and wrote: “Raiding a pedo ring, possibly sacrificing the lives of a few for the lives of many. Standing up against a corrupt system that kidnaps, tortures and rapes babies and children in our own backyard…”

His phone also had a video recording from about 11 a.m. on Dec. 4, the day of the incident, where he told family members he loved them and hoped that he had “showed it” and that if he wasn’t able to tell them again, “don’t ever forget,” the court documents said.

Welch is scheduled for a preliminary and detention hearing on Friday.

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Two Arraigned in NYC Stabbing Death, No One Charged With Murder Yet

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Two men arrested in connection with the stabbing death of 26-year-old Joseph Comunale on New York City’s Upper East Side were arraigned Tuesday, though neither man has been charged with murder.

James Rackover of New York, New York, and Lawrence Dilione of Jersey City, New Jersey, were arraigned Tuesday on charges of concealing a corpse, tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution. Each pleaded not guilty.

Additional charges could be filed in the future.

Comunale’s father was in court Tuesday and appeared red-faced and upset during the proceedings. He and other family members were escorted out of the courtroom by officers.

Comunale was last seen alive at Rackover’s Upper East Side apartment on the night of Nov. 12.

Comunale was stabbed 15 times and his body was found buried in the coastal New Jersey town of Oceanport, where Dilione previously lived.

Rackover’s case was adjourned to Jan. 24, while Dilione will return Jan. 31.

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Cause of Oakland Warehouse Fire Still Unknown

Monkey Business/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) — The cause of the Oakland, California, warehouse fire is still unknown, 11 days after the deadly blaze that claimed 36 lives, Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed said Tuesday.

The electrical system is part of the ongoing analysis, though no final determination has been made, Jill Snyder of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives added at the news conference Tuesday.

Reed called the Dec. 2 blaze a “tragic event” and said “our thoughts and prayers” are with the families.

The office of Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley is leading the criminal investigation. She said her office is working closely with Oakland Fire Department as investigators pore over the evidence.

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Video Shows Police Dragging Woman Off Delta Flight in Detroit

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) — A video has surfaced showing an airport police officer dragging a passenger by her wrists to the front of the plane, as her back drags along the carpeted aisle. The video then shows a second officer grabbing the passenger by the ankles to lift her towards the exit together with the other officer.

The passenger was removed from the flight departing from Detroit for failing to comply “with boarding and baggage check procedures,” Delta Air Lines said Tuesday.

The video has gone viral after first appearing on YouTube, and was posted by a user account owned by Rene deLambert, who also runs a travel blog.

The flight was scheduled to depart Detroit for San Diego on Monday morning, according to the airline. The woman in the video has not yet been identified.

One passenger can be overheard on the video saying “oh my god” as the passenger is dragged away.

Trebor Banstetter, a spokesperson for Delta, told ABC News that the passenger had failed to comply with boarding and baggage check procedures prior to boarding.

Following that, Delta contacted airport police who dragged the woman out, said Banstetter, who also forwarded the following company statement.

“Delta flight 2083 DTW to SAN incurred a slight departure delay due to a passenger not complying with boarding and baggage check procedures. The passenger was removed by local law enforcement and the flight was able to continue without further incident,” the statement said.

Banstetter referred ABC News to airport police regarding questions about how the incident was handled. Airport police did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

It is unclear at this time what charges the woman might face regarding the incident.

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Arctic Assault this Week with Possible Record-Breaking Cold

ABC News(NEW YORK) — This week, the displacement of a polar vortex will bring the coldest air this early in the season in more than a decade to a wide swath of the country, from Chicago to New York City.

If Chicago stays in the single digits for highs on Thursday, this will be the coldest late fall weather since 1995.

The forecast is for New York City to bottom out in the mid-teens Thursday night, which would be the coldest reading this early in the season since 2005.

The term “polar vortex” became popular two years ago during a record-breaking cold winter season. Although the arctic blast this week is not forecast to be record breaking, similar atmospheric conditions will come into play.

The polar vortex has been known and studied by the meteorological community for decades. It is an almost always present upper-level circulation that hangs out around both the North and South Poles. Its circulation is strongest during the winter months. It is not at the surface, nor is it an actual storm system. It is also not related to every push of cold air.

The polar jet stream is like a fence keeping the air influenced by the polar vortex in place. In the last week, the polar jet stream was kinked enough to build a large ridge in the Pacific Ocean, allowing a lobe of the polar vortex to slip southward into Canada, greatly influencing the air in the Midwest and the Northeast.

The core of the coldest air will move into the Midwest and the Great Lakes on Thursday morning when wind chills will be as low as 35 below zero. The National Weather Service is warning the public that readings this low could produce frost bite to exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes.

By Friday, the coldest wind chills will spread into the Northeast where even major cities like Philadelphia, New York City and Boston could feel like it is below zero.

Later this week, a new storm system could bring more snow for the Midwest and the Northeast starting Friday into Sunday.

There is some good news looking out two weeks around Christmas: Some milder air will try to work its way into the northern states.

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Illinois Woman and Her Dog Rescued After Falling into Frozen Pond

MITSUHIRO OUCHI/Thinkstock(AURORA, Ill.) — An 8-year-old boy has been credited with saving his mother and his dog’s life after he called 911 when the two fell into an icy pond in Illinois this past weekend.

Cathy Medernach, 48, told ABC News that she and her son Caden, 8, were taking their Labrador retriever, Bailey, out for a walk behind their home in Aurora, Illinois, on Sunday when the dog saw ducks on the other side of a frozen pond and darted toward them.

Madernach said the dog fell through thin ice and she immediately started to panic.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Medernach told ABC News, “So I ran back to the house grabbed the canoe, the only thing I could think of, I couldn’t find an oar, so I grabbed a broom to paddle.”

She said that when she got to the pond with the boat, she asked her son to push her out, and then told him to run back to the house and call her husband, Eric.

“So he called my husband and from what my husband says, he said, ‘Dad, you should probably come home soon, Mom and Bailey are in the lake and I don’t know how to get them out,'” Madernach said.

She added that her husband immediately told Caden to hang up and dial 911.

Madernach said that when she took the canoe out, the boat quickly hit ice, which forced it to tip over and caused her to fall into the ice-cold water.

“So now I’m in the water, I couldn’t pull myself up,” Madernach said. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do, I can’t die this way, I’m not going to die this way.'”

She said she was eventually able to garner enough strength to swing her legs around and get back onto the canoe.

“I sat up and started screaming bloody murder, I said ‘Help, help,'” Madernach said, “I was trying to talk to my dog at the same time.”

Madernach said eventually rescue workers came, answering her son’s 911 call.

“So the policeman showed up first, and then they threw this rope and I said, ‘No, please save my dog’ and they said, ‘Ma’am, we are saving you first.’”

Madernach said she was taken to the ambulance and then inside her house to change out of her wet clothes and be checked for hypothermia, and as she was inside, she saw a fireman walk by with the dog in his arms. She said her husband took the dog to the emergency vet, and after the dog was checked out, the pet was able to come home that same day.

Madernach said when she fell into the water, “It sucked about all the energy I had in me out, but then I looked over and I saw her [the dog] and I thought ‘Oh my gosh.'”

Madernach said she then thought about her family, “I didn’t really see my life pass in front of me, I just thought, ‘What is my family going to do without me?'”

She said she was only in the water for a few minutes before she was able to lift herself back onto the canoe, but that the dog was in the water for about 30 minutes.

“I’m calling him my hero,” Madernach said of her son Caden, adding that she is “thankful that he did what he did, and that we’re alive to tell our story.”

An Aurora Fire Department Water Rescue Team member was able to rescue the dog, who was stranded approximately 50 yards from the shore, by going into the pond in a cold-water rescue suit, the fire department said in a statement.

The department added that Madernach was stranded approximately 25 yards from the shore, and they were able to rescue her by throwing a rope bag to her.

“Both the dog and woman are doing fine,” the AFD said in a statement.

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Suspect Arrested After Two Officers Shot During Traffic Stop in Georgia

iStock/Thinkstock(LAVONIA, Ga.) — Two police officers were shot during a traffic stop in Georgia on Monday night, the third time in less than two weeks that police officers in that state have been shot in the line of duty.

Two officers from the Lavonia Police Department conducted the stop off I-85 on Monday night, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

During the stop a person in the vehicle fired on two officers, the GBI said. Both suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were hospitalized.

The GBI identified the shooter as Khari Anthony Dashaun Gordon, 22, of Greenville, South Carolina. The GBI says Gordon fired the shots that wounded both of the officers.

Gordon has been arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, two counts of criminal attempt to commit murder, and one count of possession of a weapon during the commission of a felony.

Last week, two officers were killed while responding to a domestic call near Georgia Southwestern State University.

Early Monday morning, a man shot and wounded two Georgia police officers in Crawford County who were executing a search warrant, prompting officers to return fire, killing him.

Additional charges are pending, the GBI said.

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Lufthansa Flight Diverted to New York After Threat: Officials

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A Lufthansa flight from Texas to Germany was diverted after a threat was phoned in, officials said.

Flight 441, en route from Houston to Frankfurt, was sent to JFK Airport in New York after a threat was received by phone, the Port Authority said.

The plane was taken to a remote area of the airport and passengers were in the process of getting off the plane.

The aircraft was set to be searched.

Authorities checking threat to Lufthansa plane at JFK Airport. No other flights or terminals impacted.

— Port Authority NY&NJ (@PANYNJ) December 13, 2016

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