Review Category : National News

Buffalo, NY Braces for Floods from Melting Snow

John Normile/Getty Images(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — The worst is over for the Buffalo, New York, area as far as the snow is concerned.

Now comes the danger of epic floods with temperatures rising and the threat of rain with some suburbs still covered in seven or eight feet of snow.

At a news briefing Sunday, Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters, “Flooding in my opinion is worse than dealing with snow. It’s not water, it’s a toxic brew…It has all sorts of sewage in it.”

The chief worry in Buffalo-area towns like Hamburg or the city of Lackawanna is that rapid melting will turn basements and living rooms into swimming pools even as some homes had their roofs collapse under the weight of unprecedented autumn snowfall.

To that end, a frantic snow clean-up continues with the governor calling on trucks and equipment from other parts of the state, including Albany and New York City.

Meanwhile, emergency shelters have been set up by the Red Cross for possible evacuations should residents have to get out of their homes quickly. Cuomo ordered over 50 boats and “swift-water” rescue teams to be at the ready for calls as waters rise.

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Pennsylvania Residents Complain About “Ugly” Christmas Tree

File photo. (The Image Bank/Getty Images)(READING, Pa.) — The Christmas tree in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania, wasn’t exactly bringing holiday cheer.

According to WFMZ.com, many residents complained that the 50-foot Norway Spruce was “ugly” and “pathetic,” and now it’s being replaced. “I think it does look a little pitiful,” resident Teresa Rodriguez said of the scraggly spruce. “I think they picked the wrong tree.”

Another resident who works near the tree, Martin McNeil, added, “It was a waste of time for them to even come out here and put this tree up. Honestly, they might as well put nothing out here.”

In response to the bah-humbugs, the city has decided to replace the tree with one that’s fuller and greener. The new tree is expected to be in place Monday or Tuesday. It will be decorated Friday and lit on Saturday. As for the poor old tree, it was adopted by a local business.

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Pennsylvania Residents Complain About “Ugly” Christmas Tree

File photo. (The Image Bank/Getty Images)(READING, Pa.) — The Christmas tree in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania, wasn’t exactly bringing holiday cheer.

According to WFMZ.com, many residents complained that the 50-foot Norway Spruce was “ugly” and “pathetic,” and now it’s being replaced. “I think it does look a little pitiful,” resident Teresa Rodriguez said of the scraggly spruce. “I think they picked the wrong tree.”

Another resident who works near the tree, Martin McNeil, added, “It was a waste of time for them to even come out here and put this tree up. Honestly, they might as well put nothing out here.”

In response to the bah-humbugs, the city has decided to replace the tree with one that’s fuller and greener. The new tree is expected to be in place Monday or Tuesday. It will be decorated Friday and lit on Saturday. As for the poor old tree, it was adopted by a local business.

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Pennsylvania Residents Complain About “Ugly” Christmas Tree

File photo. (The Image Bank/Getty Images)(READING, Pa.) — The Christmas tree in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania, wasn’t exactly bringing holiday cheer.

According to WFMZ.com, many residents complained that the 50-foot Norway Spruce was “ugly” and “pathetic,” and now it’s being replaced. “I think it does look a little pitiful,” resident Teresa Rodriguez said of the scraggly spruce. “I think they picked the wrong tree.”

Another resident who works near the tree, Martin McNeil, added, “It was a waste of time for them to even come out here and put this tree up. Honestly, they might as well put nothing out here.”

In response to the bah-humbugs, the city has decided to replace the tree with one that’s fuller and greener. The new tree is expected to be in place Monday or Tuesday. It will be decorated Friday and lit on Saturday. As for the poor old tree, it was adopted by a local business.

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Obama and Holder Plea for Calm Ahead of Ferguson Decision

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — With a grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting death not expected until Monday at the earliest, both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have issued pleas for a calm and measured response to the verdict.

The grand jury, which convenes again Monday, will determine what charges, if any, to bring against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Last August 9, Wilson shot Brown, who was unarmed, six times following an altercation.

The racially-charged incident touched off confrontations between the African-American community and law enforcement officers and many fear the civil unrest will be even more violent if Wilson is exonerated.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, President Obama urged residents to “keep protests peaceful,” saying, “You know, this is a country that allows everybody to express their views, allows them to peacefully assemble to protest actions that they think are unjust, but using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are.”

Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video released by the Justice Department, “History has…shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence,” a sentiment similarly expressed by Michael Brown Sr., who released his own video appealing for calm.

Holder also stated that “long-simmering tensions will not be cooled overnight,” and he touted the “importance” of police forces engaging with communities long before times of crisis.

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Obama and Holder Plea for Calm Ahead of Ferguson Decision

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — With a grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting death not expected until Monday at the earliest, both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have issued pleas for a calm and measured response to the verdict.

The grand jury, which convenes again Monday, will determine what charges, if any, to bring against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Last August 9, Wilson shot Brown, who was unarmed, six times following an altercation.

The racially-charged incident touched off confrontations between the African-American community and law enforcement officers and many fear the civil unrest will be even more violent if Wilson is exonerated.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, President Obama urged residents to “keep protests peaceful,” saying, “You know, this is a country that allows everybody to express their views, allows them to peacefully assemble to protest actions that they think are unjust, but using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are.”

Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video released by the Justice Department, “History has…shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence,” a sentiment similarly expressed by Michael Brown Sr., who released his own video appealing for calm.

Holder also stated that “long-simmering tensions will not be cooled overnight,” and he touted the “importance” of police forces engaging with communities long before times of crisis.

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Obama and Holder Plea for Calm Ahead of Ferguson Decision

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — With a grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting death not expected until Monday at the earliest, both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have issued pleas for a calm and measured response to the verdict.

The grand jury, which convenes again Monday, will determine what charges, if any, to bring against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Last August 9, Wilson shot Brown, who was unarmed, six times following an altercation.

The racially-charged incident touched off confrontations between the African-American community and law enforcement officers and many fear the civil unrest will be even more violent if Wilson is exonerated.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, President Obama urged residents to “keep protests peaceful,” saying, “You know, this is a country that allows everybody to express their views, allows them to peacefully assemble to protest actions that they think are unjust, but using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are.”

Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video released by the Justice Department, “History has…shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence,” a sentiment similarly expressed by Michael Brown Sr., who released his own video appealing for calm.

Holder also stated that “long-simmering tensions will not be cooled overnight,” and he touted the “importance” of police forces engaging with communities long before times of crisis.

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Ferguson Grand Jury ‘Unfair,’ Michael Brown Family Lawyer Says

Credit: Frances Twitty/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) — A lawyer for the family of the black 18-year-old fatally shot by a white police officer said Sunday the grand jury process playing out in Missouri is unlike anything he’s seen before and is unfair.

The St. Louis County prosecuting attorney, Robert McCulloch, has said that, unlike with a typical grand jury, he would present to this grand jury all the evidence gathered in the police investigation and offer the jurors the opportunity to hear from any witness with relevant information.

The target of the investigation, Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, was among those who testified.

A spokesman for McCulloch has indicated that the prosecutor’s office will not likely make a specific recommendation about charges, but would give the grand jurors a range of charges to consider, from involuntary manslaughter up to first-degree murder.

The grand jury investigating the killing of Michael Brown by Wilson is not meeting this weekend and will reconvene Monday, sources told ABC News.

“When you think about it, if this prosecutor is saying we’re just going to be fair, we’re not going to recommend any charges, that’s different from anything he’s done in his past 28 years with grand juries,” attorney Benjamin Crump said Sunday on This Week.

“So, now are we going to say he was unfair to all those people and he’s going to be extra fair, get a police extra rights?” said Crump, who also represented the family of Trayvon Martin. ” Why can’t it be equal justice?”

ABC News chief legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams said there is precedent for prosecutors presenting cases to grand juries without recommending charges, particularly high profile, controversial cases.

“I’m not going to dispute with you on the facts, but let’s talk about the process and the law, which is that there are a lot of high profile cases, and I’ve seen them, where prosecutors say, ‘You know what, I’m going to hand this one to the grand jury. I want the political cover on this one. I want to let them decide so I’m not the one who takes the heat on this decision,'” he said.

“So it is not sort of out of left field that in a high profile case a prosecutor hands it off to a grand jury to make that decision,” he said.

Speculation that a decision on whether to indict Wilson in the shooting was coming soon has increased tensions in a town that already was on edge.

Federal, state and county officials have been ramping up their readiness in case there is a fresh wave of angry and, at times, violent protests over the jury’s decision. Protesters have been demanding that Wilson be charged with murder for the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown.

The Saint Louis County Police Department switched their officers to 12-hour shifts on Saturday.

Metal and concrete barricades have been erected in areas around the St Louis County government buildings in Clayton, where the grand jury has been meeting. The justice center there also houses the prosecutor’s office, the St. Louis County Police Department headquarters and the circuit courts.

Preparations are being made there for specific areas for anticipated protests.

There also appeared to be some minor increase in activity behind the strip mall in Jennings, the town next to Ferguson, where the Unified Command will be operating once they are notified a decision has been reached.

Many stores have boarded up their windows for fear of destructive protesters. The manager of Beauty Town Plus, a salon on West Florissant Avenue where much of the protests centered during the summer, told ABC News that they decided to board up because their windows were broken three times following Brown’s death.

Law enforcement have taken the threat of violence seriously as well as two federal officials confirmed to ABC News that more than 100 FBI personnel are being sent to the St. Louis area to join those already in the area and opened an intelligence center to head up operations.

On Friday, federal authorities in Missouri charged two men with lying on forms to purchase guns ahead of the grand jury decision.

Olajuwon Davis and Brandon Baldwin faced only those charges as of late Friday, but sources told ABC News that authorities were looking into whether they tried to acquire ready-made explosives and other weapons ahead of the decision, which is expected soon.

The two men are suspected of being associated with the New Black Panther party, said sources briefed on the arrests. The charges that were filed were intended to “take them out of the rotation,” according to one source.

Both Attorney General Eric Holder and Michael Brown Sr., the slain teenager’s father, have released videos urging protesters to remain peaceful when the grand jury’s decision is handed up.

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Ferguson Grand Jury ‘Unfair,’ Michael Brown Family Lawyer Says

Credit: Frances Twitty/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) — A lawyer for the family of the black 18-year-old fatally shot by a white police officer said Sunday the grand jury process playing out in Missouri is unlike anything he’s seen before and is unfair.

The St. Louis County prosecuting attorney, Robert McCulloch, has said that, unlike with a typical grand jury, he would present to this grand jury all the evidence gathered in the police investigation and offer the jurors the opportunity to hear from any witness with relevant information.

The target of the investigation, Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, was among those who testified.

A spokesman for McCulloch has indicated that the prosecutor’s office will not likely make a specific recommendation about charges, but would give the grand jurors a range of charges to consider, from involuntary manslaughter up to first-degree murder.

The grand jury investigating the killing of Michael Brown by Wilson is not meeting this weekend and will reconvene Monday, sources told ABC News.

“When you think about it, if this prosecutor is saying we’re just going to be fair, we’re not going to recommend any charges, that’s different from anything he’s done in his past 28 years with grand juries,” attorney Benjamin Crump said Sunday on This Week.

“So, now are we going to say he was unfair to all those people and he’s going to be extra fair, get a police extra rights?” said Crump, who also represented the family of Trayvon Martin. ” Why can’t it be equal justice?”

ABC News chief legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams said there is precedent for prosecutors presenting cases to grand juries without recommending charges, particularly high profile, controversial cases.

“I’m not going to dispute with you on the facts, but let’s talk about the process and the law, which is that there are a lot of high profile cases, and I’ve seen them, where prosecutors say, ‘You know what, I’m going to hand this one to the grand jury. I want the political cover on this one. I want to let them decide so I’m not the one who takes the heat on this decision,'” he said.

“So it is not sort of out of left field that in a high profile case a prosecutor hands it off to a grand jury to make that decision,” he said.

Speculation that a decision on whether to indict Wilson in the shooting was coming soon has increased tensions in a town that already was on edge.

Federal, state and county officials have been ramping up their readiness in case there is a fresh wave of angry and, at times, violent protests over the jury’s decision. Protesters have been demanding that Wilson be charged with murder for the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown.

The Saint Louis County Police Department switched their officers to 12-hour shifts on Saturday.

Metal and concrete barricades have been erected in areas around the St Louis County government buildings in Clayton, where the grand jury has been meeting. The justice center there also houses the prosecutor’s office, the St. Louis County Police Department headquarters and the circuit courts.

Preparations are being made there for specific areas for anticipated protests.

There also appeared to be some minor increase in activity behind the strip mall in Jennings, the town next to Ferguson, where the Unified Command will be operating once they are notified a decision has been reached.

Many stores have boarded up their windows for fear of destructive protesters. The manager of Beauty Town Plus, a salon on West Florissant Avenue where much of the protests centered during the summer, told ABC News that they decided to board up because their windows were broken three times following Brown’s death.

Law enforcement have taken the threat of violence seriously as well as two federal officials confirmed to ABC News that more than 100 FBI personnel are being sent to the St. Louis area to join those already in the area and opened an intelligence center to head up operations.

On Friday, federal authorities in Missouri charged two men with lying on forms to purchase guns ahead of the grand jury decision.

Olajuwon Davis and Brandon Baldwin faced only those charges as of late Friday, but sources told ABC News that authorities were looking into whether they tried to acquire ready-made explosives and other weapons ahead of the decision, which is expected soon.

The two men are suspected of being associated with the New Black Panther party, said sources briefed on the arrests. The charges that were filed were intended to “take them out of the rotation,” according to one source.

Both Attorney General Eric Holder and Michael Brown Sr., the slain teenager’s father, have released videos urging protesters to remain peaceful when the grand jury’s decision is handed up.

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Boy Shot by Cleveland Police Dies

Credit: Adam Kazmierski/Getty Images(CLEVELAND) — A 12-year-old boy who was shot by Cleveland police officers while carrying a replica gun in a park playground has died, hospital officials said Sunday.

The boy, who hasn’t been identified, died at MetroHealth Medical Center after he was taken there for surgery Saturday afternoon.

Officers were called to the Cudell Recreation Center after receiving reports of the boy waving a gun and pointing it at people, the Cleveland Division of Police said in a statement.

Two officers found the boy in the playground and ordered him to raise his hands, but he instead reached for what the officers thought was a gun in his waistband, police said.

The officers fired twice, hitting the boy in the torso.

Officers learned the gun was fake after the shooting, police said. Made to resemble a semi-automatic pistol, the orange safety indicator had been removed from the “airsoft” replica gun the boy was holding.

“We are not rushing to judgment,” said Timothy Kurcharski, an attorney for the boy’s mother. “The police are investigating the matter and we are waiting for the result of that investigation.”

The two officers involved in the shooting have been put on administrative leave, which is standard protocol.

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