Review Category : National News

Repeat Stowaway Sentenced to 177 Days in Jail

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — The woman accused of repeatedly attempting to stow away on flights in the state of California was sentenced to 177 days in jail on Wednesday.

Marilyn Hartman was arrested earlier this month after she successfully snuck onto a flight from San Jose to Los Angeles. She had been arrested and given probation just the day before her latest arrest.

Hartman has been arrested as many as seven times in the last six months for attempting to sneak onto planes.

Hartman had been caught repeatedly trying to board flights at San Francisco’s international airport without a ticket — but airport staff has been able to quickly pick her out when she is spotted making her way from the food court to security screenings, authorities said.

Prosecutors described her at a May court hearing as having a major mental illness, though no official diagnosis has been publicly released.

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Repeat Stowaway Sentenced to 177 Days in Jail

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — The woman accused of repeatedly attempting to stow away on flights in the state of California was sentenced to 177 days in jail on Wednesday.

Marilyn Hartman was arrested earlier this month after she successfully snuck onto a flight from San Jose to Los Angeles. She had been arrested and given probation just the day before her latest arrest.

Hartman has been arrested as many as seven times in the last six months for attempting to sneak onto planes.

Hartman had been caught repeatedly trying to board flights at San Francisco’s international airport without a ticket — but airport staff has been able to quickly pick her out when she is spotted making her way from the food court to security screenings, authorities said.

Prosecutors described her at a May court hearing as having a major mental illness, though no official diagnosis has been publicly released.

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Ferguson Police Use Tear Gas During Latest Clashes with Protesters

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Police and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, clashed again Wednesday night, as police used smoke bombs and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Unrest has roiled the city of Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer Saturday afternoon.

Two reporters said they were detained Wednesday night while working at a McDonald’s in the area, and witnesses told ABC News that officers appeared to be trying to clear the streets at all costs.

The police department has been criticized for its heavily-armed response to protesters, some of whom looted and vandalized stores on Sunday night.

Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson earlier Wednesday defended his department’s use of rubber bullets and tear gas to quell protesters.

“There are complaints about the response from some people, but to me, nobody got hurt seriously, and I’m happy about that. I’m happy that nobody got hurt,” Jackson said at a press conference. Earlier he told ABC News the police had only used tear gas and rubber bullets when protests had turned violent on recent nights.

Jackson also defended the use of riot gear being used by the officers as necessary to protect police from what he said was a trend around the country of increasingly dangerous street weapons.

“None of that was military equipment. All the SWAT teams have big vans with that. People are using bombs now, pipe bombs and so forth,” he said before Wednesday night’s clashes.

Earlier Wednesday, Jackson asked protesters to remain peaceful during their gatherings and to disperse before nightfall, but said there was no curfew in place.

“We ask that any residents wishing to assemble in prayer or in protest do so only during daylight hours in an organized and respectful manner,” a statement from the police department said. “We further ask that all those wishing to demonstrate or assemble to disperse well before the evening hours to ensure the safety of the participants.”

Despite the chief’s urging that gatherings disperse before sundown, another vigil was held for Brown’s supporters. Before that, Jackson planned to march with civil rights leaders as a show of support to them.

The shooting death of Brown has angered the town, with many residents demanding a full, transparent investigation into why an officer fired multiple shots at an unarmed teenager. Brown’s family, the NAACP, and the Rev. Al Sharpton have all demanded the police identify the officer involved.

Jackson was adamant, however, that he would not release the name of the officer who shot Brown due to concerns for the officer’s safety. Even if Brown’s family began to take legal steps to have the name made public, “there’s the appeal process,” Jackson told ABC.

Brown’s parents’ attorney, Benjamin Crump, told ABC News Wednesday that the family was still deciding whether to sue the department to force the release of the officer’s name.

Jackson said Wednesday that the name of a different officer had been circulated on social media as the identity of the shooter, and Jackson had to move that officer and his family out of Ferguson to protect them. Jackson himself has received death threats, including a “nice young woman’s voice” telling him “I want you to die.”

The FBI is investigating Brown’s death. The shooting happened following a fight with the officer, police said. Witnesses say the officer shot after Brown raised his hands.

The officer who shot Brown has been placed on administrative leave.

Jackson said Wednesday that St. Louis County police were waiting until they had spoken to all of the witnesses of the incident before releasing any details about the shooting, the number of bullets fired and where on the body they hit.

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Ferguson Police Use Tear Gas During Latest Clashes with Protesters

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Police and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, clashed again Wednesday night, as police used smoke bombs and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Unrest has roiled the city of Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer Saturday afternoon.

Two reporters said they were detained Wednesday night while working at a McDonald’s in the area, and witnesses told ABC News that officers appeared to be trying to clear the streets at all costs.

The police department has been criticized for its heavily-armed response to protesters, some of whom looted and vandalized stores on Sunday night.

Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson earlier Wednesday defended his department’s use of rubber bullets and tear gas to quell protesters.

“There are complaints about the response from some people, but to me, nobody got hurt seriously, and I’m happy about that. I’m happy that nobody got hurt,” Jackson said at a press conference. Earlier he told ABC News the police had only used tear gas and rubber bullets when protests had turned violent on recent nights.

Jackson also defended the use of riot gear being used by the officers as necessary to protect police from what he said was a trend around the country of increasingly dangerous street weapons.

“None of that was military equipment. All the SWAT teams have big vans with that. People are using bombs now, pipe bombs and so forth,” he said before Wednesday night’s clashes.

Earlier Wednesday, Jackson asked protesters to remain peaceful during their gatherings and to disperse before nightfall, but said there was no curfew in place.

“We ask that any residents wishing to assemble in prayer or in protest do so only during daylight hours in an organized and respectful manner,” a statement from the police department said. “We further ask that all those wishing to demonstrate or assemble to disperse well before the evening hours to ensure the safety of the participants.”

Despite the chief’s urging that gatherings disperse before sundown, another vigil was held for Brown’s supporters. Before that, Jackson planned to march with civil rights leaders as a show of support to them.

The shooting death of Brown has angered the town, with many residents demanding a full, transparent investigation into why an officer fired multiple shots at an unarmed teenager. Brown’s family, the NAACP, and the Rev. Al Sharpton have all demanded the police identify the officer involved.

Jackson was adamant, however, that he would not release the name of the officer who shot Brown due to concerns for the officer’s safety. Even if Brown’s family began to take legal steps to have the name made public, “there’s the appeal process,” Jackson told ABC.

Brown’s parents’ attorney, Benjamin Crump, told ABC News Wednesday that the family was still deciding whether to sue the department to force the release of the officer’s name.

Jackson said Wednesday that the name of a different officer had been circulated on social media as the identity of the shooter, and Jackson had to move that officer and his family out of Ferguson to protect them. Jackson himself has received death threats, including a “nice young woman’s voice” telling him “I want you to die.”

The FBI is investigating Brown’s death. The shooting happened following a fight with the officer, police said. Witnesses say the officer shot after Brown raised his hands.

The officer who shot Brown has been placed on administrative leave.

Jackson said Wednesday that St. Louis County police were waiting until they had spoken to all of the witnesses of the incident before releasing any details about the shooting, the number of bullets fired and where on the body they hit.

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Runaway Boy, 14, Lived in Walmart for Two Days

Walmart(CORSICANA, Texas) — A Texas runaway hid out in a Walmart store for more than two days, burrowing into a stack of paper towels and toilet paper with a second hideout among baby products and strollers, according to authorities and video evidence.

The 14-year-old boy, who has not been identified, was reported missing on July 28. He was staying with his aunt in Corsicana, Texas, while his parents were out of town, Corsicana Police Chief Randy Bratton said Wednesday in a statement. The family told police he has a history of running away, the statement said.

Two days later, at around 11 p.m., police were called to an around-the-clock Walmart, where employees had found the boy.

The runaway was brought to the police station after he was found and was in “fine condition” physically, the chief said.

Police did not notify Child Protective Services as there were no indications the boy was living in a dangerous environment or was the victim of abuse or neglect, according to the release.

The county’s Juvenile Probation Office is now handling the case.

A spokesman for Walmart told ABC News Wednesday the company is “looking into the situation.”

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Law Students Sue After Bar Exam Malfunctions

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The worst people to make mad? A group of future lawyers.

A Florida software company learned that the hard way when its computer program through which law students submit their bar exams online malfunctioned, seeming to threaten their chances of passing the test.

Although the software company apologized for the snafu and said deadlines in all states had been extended, students say stress over whether their exams uploaded wasn’t fair.

“You spend two months preparing for the exam, it’s grueling,” Catherine Booher, one of five students suing the company, ExamSoft Worldwide Inc., told ABC News. “You re-learn everything you learn in law school.”

ExamSoft is a program exam-takers must purchase and download if they want to submit their exams online, rather than in writing, she explained.

Booher, who recently graduated from Wake Forest University School of Law, is one of many exam-takers who struggled to upload the essay portion of the bar exam during the test on July 29, according to the lawsuit, filed on August 5 in Washington state.

“The files wouldn’t upload,” she said. “I kept trying and trying and trying, and every time you try, you get an email after you get the yellow screen of death. I had about 13 emails saying the files didn’t upload.”

The problem even triggered two hashtags on social media: #Barmageddon and #Bargazhi.

The North Carolina Board of Law Examiners confirmed to ABC News that everyone who took the exam in North Carolina, like Booher, successfully uploaded their answers, but Booher and other plaintiffs also want compensation for their stress and anxiety, her attorney, Gretchen Freeman Cappio, said.

It’s not clear how many exam-takers were affected by the malfunction. ExamSoft did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment, but apologized on its website.

“The delay in processing did not relate to, or impact, answer content, and we are therefore very confident in the integrity of your state submissions,” the statement reads. “To accommodate for the delays, we worked with state jurisdictions to extend your upload deadlines as needed and tried our best to communicate those extensions.”

But Booher, 25, says the apology isn’t enough.

“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that they’re not issuing refunds,” she told ABC News, noting the software cost her $125.

The company has not responded to the lawsuit.

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Ferguson Police Chief Defends Use of Force, Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets

iStock/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Ferguson, Missouri police chief Tom Jackson on Wednesday defended his department’s use of rubber bullets and tear gas to quell protesters in the city over the past three nights.

Unrest has roiled the city of Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer Saturday afternoon.

The police department has been criticized for its heavily-armed response to protesters, some of whom looted and vandalized stores on Sunday night.

“There are complaints about the response from some people, but to me, nobody got hurt seriously, and I’m happy about that. I’m happy that nobody got hurt,” Jackson said at a press conference Wednesday.

Earlier, he told ABC News the police had only used tear gas and rubber bullets when protests had turned violent on recent nights.

Jackson also defended the use of riot gear being used by the officers as necessary to protect police from what he said was a trend around the country of increasingly dangerous street weapons.

“None of that was military equipment. All the SWAT teams have big vans with that. People are using bombs now, pipe bombs and so forth,” he said. No bombs have been used in Ferguson.

Earlier Wednesday, Jackson asked protesters to remain peaceful during their gatherings and to disperse before nightfall, but said there was no curfew in place.

“We ask that any residents wishing to assemble in prayer or in protest do so only during daylight hours in an organized and respectful manner,” a statement from the police department said. “We further ask that all those wishing to demonstrate or assemble to disperse well before the evening hours to ensure the safety of the participants.”

Despite the chief’s urging that gatherings disperse before sundown, another vigil will be held for Brown’s supporters Wednesday at 7 p.m. Before that, Jackson said he plans to march with civil rights leaders as a show of support to them.

The shooting death of Brown has angered the town, with many residents demanding a full, transparent investigation into why an officer fired multiple shots at an unarmed teenager. Brown’s family, the NAACP, and the Rev. Al Sharpton have all demanded the police identify the officer involved.

Jackson was adamant, however, that he would not release the name of the officer who shot Brown due to concerns for the officer’s safety. Even if Brown’s family began to take legal steps to have the name made public, “there’s the appeal process,” Jackson told ABC.

Brown’s parents’ attorney, Benjamin Crump, told ABC News Wednesday that the family was still deciding whether to sue the department to force the release of the officer’s name.

Jackson said Wednesday that the name of a different officer had been circulated on social media as the identity of the shooter, and Jackson had to move that officer and his family out of Ferguson to protect them. Jackson himself has received death threats, including a “nice young woman’s voice” telling him “I want you to die.”

The FBI is investigating Brown’s death. The shooting happened following a fight with the officer, police said. Witnesses say the officer shot after Brown raised his hands.

The officer who shot Brown has been placed on administrative leave.

Jackson said Wednesday that St. Louis Count police were waiting until they had spoken to all of the witnesses of the incident before releasing any details about the shooting, the number of bullets fired and where on the body they hit.

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Defense Denies Accused Killer Asked Siri for Help

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) — A defense lawyer challenged the suggestion that an accused murderer asked the iPhone application Siri for help in hiding the victim’s body.

Pedro Bravo, 20, is accused in a Gainesville, Florida, courtroom of killing his friend Christian Aguilar in 2012 in a jealous rage allegedly because Aguilar was dating Bravo’s ex-girlfriend from high school, Erika Friman.

The prosecution on Tuesday displayed for the jury a grab from Bravo’s iPhone that asked Siri, “I need to hide my roommate.” The grab showed a supposed response from Siri that replied, “What kind of place are you looking for?” and listed swamps, reservoirs, metal foundries and dumps.

Under cross examination, however, Detective Matt Goeckel conceded that Bravo had an iPhone 4 which did not have Siri capability and there was no proof that Bravo had asked Siri for suggestions on disposing of a body. The detective said the image on Bravo’s phone was a “cached photo.”

The defense also pointed out that Bravo and Aguilar were not roommates.

Several news outlets, including ABC News, initially reported that the prosecution contended that Bravo had asked Siri for help in deciding where to hide a body. The Gainesville Police Department tweeted Wednesday that “GPD Det. Goeckel certainly did not testify to that.”

Aguilar’s body was found in a forest.

During Tuesday’s testimony, medical examiner Martha Burt told the court about fragments of duct tape found on the victim’s body.

“The tape appeared to be looped around both wrists,” Burt said.

The jury heard the accused killer Monday, when his interrogation tapes were played in court. In that interrogation, Bravo admitted to police that he met Aguilar on the night of his death.

“He got out of the car and I fought him and after that, I remember going in the car and I remember seeing him in my rearview mirror while I was driving away,” Bravo said during the interrogation.

Prosecutors agree that Bravo drove away, but they allege that he did so with Aguilar’s body in the back of his SUV, later stashing it in a remote field.

Aguilar’s body was discovered 22 days after he went missing.

Bravo, who has pleaded not guilty, sat stone-faced during Tuesday’s testimony.

Prosecutors last week revealed a photograph in court of the belt they say Bravo used to kill Aguilar. Authorities have also focused on a sketch pad they say Bravo filled with hate-filled messages.

“No one will stop me,” he wrote in one passage, prosecutors allege. “I will get out of Miami and into Gainesville by January 2013 and I will get her back.”

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German Artists Claim Responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New York police believe that the German artists who claimed responsibility for switching out the flags on the Brooklyn Bridge are likely the perpetrators.

Investigators think they have a photo of one of them exiting the subway at the Brooklyn Bridge stop about 3 a.m. the morning it happened.

Mischa Leinkauf and Mattias Wermke said Tuesday that the Brooklyn Bridge stunt was their latest work, and was intended as a celebration of public art and not as any political statement. On Wednesday, a law enforcement source told ABC News that the New York Police Department is starting to believe the artists’ description of the intricate flag.

The Berlin-based duo said that the flags that they put on top of the bridge were not bleached white but were made of white material and then hand-stitched so that it was done in Old Glory style with white stars and stripes. They said that they followed U.S. Flag Code in their handling of the American flags that they took down and promised to return them, but did not say where they are currently being stored or when they plan to give them back.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that the police are still looking over their video surveillance tapes and they will have the final decision whether or not to prosecute.

“I am going to leave it to the NYPD to answer in specific. If they have violated the law, of course they should be prosecuted,” de Blasio said.

The artists have a history of daring performance art that has shown them scaling buildings and bridges across the globe and if the Brooklyn Bridge stunt is true, it’s not their first “performance” on the Brooklyn Bridge. The duo has pictures on their website showing balloons that they “installed” on the cables of the bridge in 2007.

In a statement, the artists said that their inspiration to change the flags was in tribute to the bridge’s creator, John August Roebling.

“He was a pioneer in the field of suspension bridges and his creations have become landmarks and unique architectural pieces of American history,” they wrote in the statement.

They claim they used the anniversary of his death — July 21, 1926 after an on-site accident — as the justification for their timing this year and paid tribute to Roebling’s own inspiration before the stunt by visiting a church in Germany, the design of which reportedly influenced his creation of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The artists told ABC News that they would not be able to immediately respond due to the large number of media requests at this time, though they did share photos of a selection of their prior works.

Their website includes slideshows of their work, which shows that the pair regularly scales buildings and landmarks in the name of art, including not only a number of landmarks in their hometown of Berlin but also smokestacks in Prague and a skyscraper in Tokyo.

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Massive Red Tide Off the Coast of Florida

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Southwestern Florida residents are being alerted to a massive red tide that is blooming and continuing to grow near the coastline.

Researchers are saying that it stretches 60 miles wide and 90 miles long in the Gulf of Mexico, and is the largest since 2005.

A red tide is a natural occurrence, and this particular type happens when a microscopic algae multiplies. This algae is called Karenia brevis (K. brevis for short) and produces toxins that can attack the central nervous system of fish and birds.

The red tide is still about 20 miles away from the coast, but if it reaches within 1 mile, that’s when it can affect humans. This could be a possibility by the end of the month if weather systems do not interfere.

The force of the waves at the shoreline can actually break up the K. brevis molecules and release these toxins into the air. These toxins are not deadly, but can be irritating to people with asthma and allergies, causing upper respiratory problems and a skin rash.

Red tides are part of the natural system in the Gulf and have been observed in Florida since the 1700s. Trying to alter or stop the bloom is difficult considering it can affect the well-being of other marine life and animals.

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