Review Category : National News

Congress Passes Bill to Make Bison First ‘National Mammal’

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree on one thing — the American bison will become the country’s first national mammal.

The House and Senate acted quickly this week to send The National Bison Legacy Act to the president’s desk. The bill would designate the bison, the largest land mammal in America, a national icon beside the bald eagle.

The House approved the measure Wednesday and the Senate moved Thursday to concur on the proposal.

Millions of bison grazed across North America before westward expansion decimated the population. Advocates believe formally recognizing the bison will help protect its place in American cultural and natural history.

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Suspicious White Powder Sent to Donald Trump Not Hazardous: Officials

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A suspicious white powder was discovered at Trump Tower in Manhattan Thursday night, prompting the New York Fire Department, the New York Police Department and EMS workers to investigate — but the powder was deemed not hazardous, according to the NYPD.

Samples were taken, however, from the scene for further testing.

According to the NYFD, the first responders were called to the Fifth Avenue hi-rise around 8:15 p.m.

The suspicious white powder was discovered on the 5th floor, according to the NYFD.

ABC-owned WABC in New York reported that the powder was found in the mailroom, in an envelope with a letter addressed to GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

The letter was opened by one of Trump’s staffers, according to WABC.

Three people were isolated and evaluated.

A Trump campaign source tells ABC News the 5th floor offices were evacuated, but most of the staff had left for the day.

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Decorated Green Beret Won’t Be Forced out of Army for Assault of Afghan Officer

U.S. Army(NEW YORK) — The Army has decided it will not dismiss a decorated Army Green Beret sergeant who attacked an Afghan police commander, who he said repeatedly raped a village boy, in 2011.

While deployed in 2011, Sgt. First Class Charles Martland admitted that he and his team leader had roughed up the local Afghan police commander, who he said raped the young boy for days. His team leader, Captain Dan Quinn, was removed from command and later left the Army.

Martland was reprimanded for his role in the incident, which occurred after he and Quinn decided they could no longer ignore the abuse they said the commander committed. The Army began the process to separate him from active duty after a negative evaluation of that incident was placed on his permanent record.

The process, known as the Army’s Qualitative Management Program (QMP), removes non-commissioned officers from service when their actions do not meet Army standards.

Some members of Congress have voiced support for Martland and criticized the Army for trying to force out a decorated solder who had confronted a child molester.

As a last step, Martland challenged the Army’s process by appealing to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records.

In a statement released Thursday evening, the Army announced that Martland’s evaluation record had been amended, an action that would stop the process of his removal via the QMP.

“The Army Board for Correction of Military Records determination modified a portion of one of SFC Martland’s evaluation reports and removed him from the QMP list, which will allow him to remain in the Army,” the statement said.

“The Army Board for Correction of Military Records considers each case on its own merit when determining to grant or deny an applicant’s request,” said the statement. “It is incumbent upon the applicant to provide evidence, argument and relevant documents in support of demonstrating an alleged error or injustice. In addition to information provided by the applicant, boards also consider information in available personnel, medical and staff agency records and information provided by subject matter experts.”

An Army official told ABC News that Martland has been permanently removed from the current QMP list and the modified evaluation has been added to his official records.

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FBI Arrest Oregon Man Who Threatened President, Find Pipe Bombs

iStock/Thinkstock(MEDFORD, Ore.) — FBI Agents and police arrested a man in Medford, Oregon after, charging him with “Threatening the President of the United States” and use of an interstate facility to transmit threats, according to a statement from the FBI sent to ABC News.

The police and FBI found what appeared to be several pipe bombs in the apartment when they took John Martin Roos, 61, into custody, the statement said.

The Oregon State Police Explosives Unit confirmed that they have, “rendered the devices safe.”

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Police, Firefighters Investigate White Powder at NYC Trump Tower

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A suspicious white powder was discovered at Trump Tower in Manhattan Thursday night, prompting the New York Fire Department, the New York Police Department and EMS workers to investigate.

According to the NYFD, the first responders were called to the Fifth Avenue hi-rise around 8:15 p.m.

The suspicious white powder was discovered on the 5th floor, according to the NYFD. ABC-owned WABC in New York reported the powder was found in the mailroom on that floor.

One police officer and five people were being evaluated as a precaution, according to the FDNY.

A Trump campaign source tells ABC News the 5th floor offices were evacuated, but most of the staff had left for the day.

An active investigation remains ongoing.

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United Airlines Flight Makes Emergency Landing Due to ‘Engine Issue’

iStock/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) — A United Airlines aircraft bound for Omaha, Nebraska, made an emergency landing in Cleveland Thursday less than two hours after departing from Newark, New Jersey, due to an undisclosed engine issue, the airline confirmed.

United Airlines flight 38, a Boeing 737, departed Newark Liberty International Airport at 3:41 p.m., and was scheduled to arrive in Omaha at 5:46 p.m. Central Standard Time, according to the airline’s website.

But after the pilot declared an emergency, the flight landed at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport at 5:36 p.m. Eastern Time, according to United’s website.

According to a United spokesperson, the flight — which had 114 passengers and 5 crew members on board — declared an emergency following an “engine issue.” It landed without incident.

The spokesperson said the plane was being inspected.

The FAA also confirmed the incident, releasing this statement: “A United B737 flying from Newark to Omaha diverted and landed in Cleveland for a reported engine issue. The aircraft landed without incident. The FAA will begin an investigation.”

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Whitey Bulger’s Girlfriend Sentenced to Additional 21 Months in Jail

Michele McPhee/ABC News(NEW YORK) — A South Boston woman who spent 16 years on the run with one of Boston’s most notorious gangsters, James “Whitey” Bulger, was sentenced to spend another 21 months behind bars by a federal judge who called her longtime companion “a monster” not worthy of her “love and affection.”

Catherine Greig, 65, is currently serving an eight-year sentence for her role in helping Bulger escape and evade capture after he was tipped to a pending federal indictment by his rogue FBI handler in 1995. She wore a black sweater in court Thursday, her white hair cut short, and smiled at her twin sister Margaret, who was in the courtroom, sitting across from the relatives of two Bulger murder victims.

The couple was captured in June 2011 living in a rent-controlled apartment near the Santa Monica Pier using the monikers Charles and Carol Gasko. Investigators found 30 high-powered weapons in the walls along with a stash of $822,000 in cash. Their bedroom was lined with bookshelves stocked with Bulger’s favorite mob books. Many featured him.

Thursday’s sentencing dealt with new federal criminal contempt charges stemming from what prosecutors called Greig’s “consistent, dogged and tireless” refusal to cooperate with a grand jury that continues to investigate who, if anyone, helped Bulger while he hid from authorities.

“The public has a right to know who else had a hand,” Assistant United States Attorney Mary Murrane argued. The government wanted the U.S. District Court Justice Dennis Saylor to sentence Greig for 37 months.

Greig’s defense attorney, Kevin Reddington, argued that the only crime his client was truly guilty of was falling in love with the wrong man and said the government was overzealously seeking to punish Bulger’s paramour because she refused to give up “her friends and family.”

“It is obvious that she is a kind, gentle woman who has literally done nothing bad in her life except fall in love with James Bulger and live with him for 16 years until his arrest,” Reddington told the court.

The judge was unmoved.

“Bulger is a monster,” the judge said. “Ms. Greig is not remorseful. She is not apologetic. She is not trying to distance herself from Bulger. She is not inclined to change her behavior. She’s an adult she knows the rules. She brought this entirely upon herself.”

As for “her only crime here is being loyal to Whitey Bulger, and that she loves him,” the judge added, “I hardly know what to say to that. It’s hard to imagine a less worthy object of love and affection.”

The judge did say he was swayed by Reddington’s argument that the government cut sweetheart deals with Bulger compatriots, including John Martorano, who confessed to killing 20 people but spent just 12 years behind bars.

In addition, a Defendant’s Sentencing Memorandum filed with the court “suggests that the ‘cross reference’ to Bulger’s crimes including murder and RICO violations is a gross due process violation. Greig has pled guilty to a crime of contempt; a non-violent offense.”

The memo also argues that “although the court may consider a virtually unlimited array of facts in determining a fair sentencing, it may not impose a sentence that exceeds the ‘substantively reasonable’ threshold.”

Bulger, 86, is serving a life sentence at a maximum-security prison after a 2013 conviction for 11 murders, racketeering and other federal charges.

Meanwhile, federal officials will hold a public auction in June at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to sell Bulger’s belongings seized from the Santa Monica hideout where the couple lived for more than a decade, part of a way to recoup some of the $25.2 million forfeiture judgment that came with Bulger’s conviction.

Profits from the weekend auction, which will include a coffee mug shaped like a rat, along with the $822,000 in cash found secreted in the walls of the hideout, will be divided among the families of 20 people killed by the gangster or his associates and among several people he extorted, according to court filings. The guns will not be sold at the event, slated to be held from June 24 to June 26, according to court records.

Those victims will also divide Bulger’s Social Security payments and any cash seized from safe deposit boxes and bank accounts uncovered in England and Ireland connected to Bulger.

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Family Pleads for Return of Deceased Son’s Memorial Bench

Courtesy Shauna Green-Smith(BELDING, Mich.) — A Michigan family is reeling yet again after a bench built to honor their late son was stolen right out of their backyard.

Shauna Green-Smith of Belding, Michigan, is pleading for the return of the bench.

“It was there Tuesday evening, gone Wednesday morning,” Smith told ABC News. “Only message I have is that I’d like it back, no questions asked if it just reappears.”

The wooden bench has the boy’s name – Devon Morrison – inscribed on it. He was 10 years old when he drowned in 2013, Smith said. She is hoping a Facebook post she wrote about the missing bench will be shared with as many people as possible.

“It’s just wood to you, but to me it’s memories,” Smith wrote on Facebook. “Memories of how loved my little boy was.”

Belding Police Chief Dale Nelson told ABC News that the department “put out a plea out on social media in hopes of having the bench returned.”

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Missouri Cops Rescued From Elevator With ‘Severely Injured’ Egos

iStock/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) — A dozen Kansas City police officers were rescued Wednesday afternoon after getting stuck in an elevator, officials said.

The Missouri cops were training at the police academy when an elevator apparently stopped because of their combined weight.

Academy staff had to make an “embarrassing” call to the fire department for a rescue team, officials said.

“They had some good-natured fun,” Kansas City Fire Department spokesman James Garrett said. “It’s always a treat when you’re in the helping business and you get to help fellow brothers out.”

Tim Duplin of the fire department said, “They thought it was funny. It’s a good, fun rivalry that we have. We do charitable events, and softball tournaments together, but this was an unexpected encounter.”

A photo of the rescue quickly trended on social media with more than 7,000 shares on Facebook and 500 retweets on Twitter. The Kansas City Police Department posted the photo to its Facebook page Wednesday, saying, “Well, this is embarrassing.”

None of the twelve officers was injured.

“Everyone was physically safe,” the police department said, “but egos were severely injured.”

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Bottle Washes Ashore With Child’s Letter to Deceased Best Friend

iStock/Thinkstock(INDIALANTIC, Fla.) — A Florida beachgoer is sharing an emotional letter he said he found washed ashore in a bottle.

The letter appears to have been written by a child, and is directed to his best friend, who died, Steve Mershon said.

The letter consists of the following:

““Dear Daniel, I’m relly [sic] sorry that you pass away,” the letter reads, according to Mershon, “and if you were alive Me and you would be playing football, soccer and basketball and be playing with Mattew [sic] and Oscar and Brandon. I am in the fifth grade and you were my best freind [sic] and our favorite song was Austin Moon and I hope you fun with Jesus. From your best freind [sic]: Jonothon Torres.”

Mershon, who lives along the Florida coast in Indialantic, less than two hours southeast of Orlando, is hoping to find the writer.

“Bless his little heart,” Mershon, who has not responded to ABC News’ requests for comment, wrote on Facebook. “I’d love to find him and let him know Daniel is having fun with Jesus. Perhaps with enough shares, he can get this message.”

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