Review Category : National News

General Expects to Submit His Report on Bergdahl Next Month

Courtesy Eugene Fidell(WASHINGTON) — The two star general tasked with investigating Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance from an U.S. Army outpost in Afghanistan has completed his interviews with Bowe Bergdahl, the Department of Defense confirmed on Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl “is in the process of completing his report” and expects to submit it for review next month, the DOD said in a statement.

While Dahl is wrapping up his report, the DOD said “it is possible that he will have to follow up on issues that may require additional witness interviews.”

Dahl’s report is meant to uncover the facts surrounding the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance from an Afghan outpost and his capture by the Taliban in 2009 that will be presented to the director of the Army staff. If the report reveals findings that could require disciplinary action, it will be up to Bergdahl’s current command to follow through with those actions.

Bergdahl, 28, recently completed a lengthy reintegration process with the Army. He has been assigned a desk job at the headquarters of U.S. Army North at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

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Meet North America’s Oldest Hippo on His 58th Birthday

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) — Bertie has been around longer than any of his fellow tenants. He moved in on Dec. 16, 1958, back when The Donna Reed Show was on TV and Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House. He’s fathered 29 offspring, despite having only two mates. And oh yeah, Bertie is a hippopotamus at the Denver Zoo.

This week — Thursday, to be exact — the zoo will celebrate his 58th birthday.

“He’s a star,” says zoo veterinarian Diana Boon. “A lot of people come here just to visit him.”

In January, Bertie unwittingly became the oldest hippopotamus in North America — and maybe the world — after a hippo named Blackie was euthanized at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Blackie was believed to be 59.

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In the wild, hippos can live to be about 30 to 40 years old. In captivity, they generally live another 10 years. Bertie has so far defied those numbers, though his keepers say he’s moving a bit slower these days.

“We see geriatric problems, some arthritis in the legs, some stiffness getting up and moving around. He’s also got some dental issues,” says Boon. “But for his age, he’s surprisingly doing very well.”

Bertie gets regular medication for his aching joints. He spends a lot of time in the water, which his keepers say helps alleviate the pressure of carrying around a roughly 5,000-pound frame.

Zookeeper Lisa Parrish helps with a daily regimen to clean out the clumps of hay that get stuck in Bertie’s mouth, where they could cause sores and lead to infection.

“Open Bertie,” Parrish instructs with a hand motion.

Bertie patiently exposes his giant teeth while resting his head at the edge of his outdoor pool, as Parrish uses giant forceps to do the job.

“You don’t necessarily want to stick your hands in a hippo’s mouth,” Parrish says.

When she’s done, Parrish grabs a container filled with grain mixed with medicine, tossing the contents into Bertie’s mouth.

“You’re a good boy Bert,” Parrish tells him. “We always wonder if this is going to be his last birthday, but luckily he’s been doing really good.”

Bertie was a 1,200 pound 2-year-old living at New York’s Central Park Zoo in 1958. That year, Denver zoo supporters Arthur and Helen Johnson bought him at an auction for $2,450 plus tax, and arranged to have him shipped to Denver.

One of Bertie’s 29 hippo offspring, Mahali, also lives at the Denver Zoo. Parrish says father and his 11-year-old son have to be kept in separate enclosures.

“They do not get along,” says Parrish. “Hippos are very territorial.”

In the wild, the hippopotamus population has declined about 20 percent in the last decade to around 125,000 to 150,000 individuals, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. There has been an especially drastic drop in numbers — around 95 percent by WCS estimates — in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to civil war and poaching of ivory teeth and tusks.

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Meet North America’s Oldest Hippo on His 58th Birthday

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) — Bertie has been around longer than any of his fellow tenants. He moved in on Dec. 16, 1958, back when The Donna Reed Show was on TV and Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House. He’s fathered 29 offspring, despite having only two mates. And oh yeah, Bertie is a hippopotamus at the Denver Zoo.

This week — Thursday, to be exact — the zoo will celebrate his 58th birthday.

“He’s a star,” says zoo veterinarian Diana Boon. “A lot of people come here just to visit him.”

In January, Bertie unwittingly became the oldest hippopotamus in North America — and maybe the world — after a hippo named Blackie was euthanized at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Blackie was believed to be 59.

Watch more news videos | Latest from the US

In the wild, hippos can live to be about 30 to 40 years old. In captivity, they generally live another 10 years. Bertie has so far defied those numbers, though his keepers say he’s moving a bit slower these days.

“We see geriatric problems, some arthritis in the legs, some stiffness getting up and moving around. He’s also got some dental issues,” says Boon. “But for his age, he’s surprisingly doing very well.”

Bertie gets regular medication for his aching joints. He spends a lot of time in the water, which his keepers say helps alleviate the pressure of carrying around a roughly 5,000-pound frame.

Zookeeper Lisa Parrish helps with a daily regimen to clean out the clumps of hay that get stuck in Bertie’s mouth, where they could cause sores and lead to infection.

“Open Bertie,” Parrish instructs with a hand motion.

Bertie patiently exposes his giant teeth while resting his head at the edge of his outdoor pool, as Parrish uses giant forceps to do the job.

“You don’t necessarily want to stick your hands in a hippo’s mouth,” Parrish says.

When she’s done, Parrish grabs a container filled with grain mixed with medicine, tossing the contents into Bertie’s mouth.

“You’re a good boy Bert,” Parrish tells him. “We always wonder if this is going to be his last birthday, but luckily he’s been doing really good.”

Bertie was a 1,200 pound 2-year-old living at New York’s Central Park Zoo in 1958. That year, Denver zoo supporters Arthur and Helen Johnson bought him at an auction for $2,450 plus tax, and arranged to have him shipped to Denver.

One of Bertie’s 29 hippo offspring, Mahali, also lives at the Denver Zoo. Parrish says father and his 11-year-old son have to be kept in separate enclosures.

“They do not get along,” says Parrish. “Hippos are very territorial.”

In the wild, the hippopotamus population has declined about 20 percent in the last decade to around 125,000 to 150,000 individuals, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. There has been an especially drastic drop in numbers — around 95 percent by WCS estimates — in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to civil war and poaching of ivory teeth and tusks.

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Customs Officers May Not Look Too Closely at Passport Photos

iStock/Thinkstock(YORK, England) — Customs officers are not always infallible when matching faces to photos in passports, a new study has concluded.

Co-authors Mike Burton from the University of Aberdeen and University of York psychology researcher Rob Jenkins said that 27 Australian customs officers incorrectly accepted a person with a different photo than was on the passport 14 percent of the time.

Meanwhile, they rejected people whose faces correctly matched the photo six percent of the time.

In a separate test, the officers were asked to match a current photo with one taken two years earlier. They were wrong one out of five times in this experiment.

Jenkins said this high rate of failure suggests that thousands of passengers with fake passports could be getting through London’s Heathrow Airport each year.

He and Burton said that training is basically useless when it comes to getting faces and photos right all the time. They said people should be hired who are innately better at identifying faces.

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Customs Officers May Not Look Too Closely at Passport Photos

iStock/Thinkstock(YORK, England) — Customs officers are not always infallible when matching faces to photos in passports, a new study has concluded.

Co-authors Mike Burton from the University of Aberdeen and University of York psychology researcher Rob Jenkins said that 27 Australian customs officers incorrectly accepted a person with a different photo than was on the passport 14 percent of the time.

Meanwhile, they rejected people whose faces correctly matched the photo six percent of the time.

In a separate test, the officers were asked to match a current photo with one taken two years earlier. They were wrong one out of five times in this experiment.

Jenkins said this high rate of failure suggests that thousands of passengers with fake passports could be getting through London’s Heathrow Airport each year.

He and Burton said that training is basically useless when it comes to getting faces and photos right all the time. They said people should be hired who are innately better at identifying faces.

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California Wildfire Prompts Evacuation of Over 3,000 Residents

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OAKHURST, Calif.) — A wildfire north of Fresno, California has burned 600 acres and prompted the evacuation of at least 13,000 people on Monday.

The fire burned 600 acres of land by Monday evening, Cal Fire says. According to the Oakhurst Fire Department, the blaze currently places at least 300 structures at risk. Because of the ongoing threat, 13,000 people or more have already been placed under mandatory evacuations, with at least 2,500 more under evacuation warnings — meaning that they must be prepared to leave their homes immediately if ordered.

Authorities have not yet determined the cause of the fire, but Erica Stuart, the Public Information Officer for the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, told ABC News that an officer owned by Suburban Propane caught fire in the blaze. It was not clear, however, whether there was propane in the building, or whether any propane was ignited. Stuart also made clear that the fire was not sparked at that location.

Several hundred firefighters remain at the scene battling the flames.

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Cost of Raising a Child Tops $245K, Report Finds

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The cost of raising a kid is now more than $245,000, a new report out Monday finds.

From the time a child is born until he or she turns 18, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that little bundle of joy, born in 2013, will cost parents $245,340 to raise. That amounts to roughly $13,600 a year.

The annual government report finds that raising a child in the urban Northeast costs more than the national average — $282,480 — while families in the South and rural regions of the U.S. can expect to pay less — $230,610 and $193,590, respectively.

All these figures will increase with inflation. Compared to the USDA’s “Expenditures on Children and Families” report in 2012, the national average is up 1.8 percent.

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DOT Endorses Technology that Allows Cars to Talk to Each Other

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Transportation says cars that talk to each other could prevent more than half a million car crashes a year.

It’s called vehicle to vehicle communication technology — or V2V — and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says it could move the focus from helping people survive crashes to helping them avoid crashes altogether.

A new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposes a new rule, issued in 2016, that would require new cars to come equipped with two types of V2V.

The report says those advance warning systems could prevent up to 592,000 crashes and save 1,083 lives every year.

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Exclusive: Michael Brown’s Mother Sees ‘Justice’ Restoring Peace in Ferguson

ABC News(FERGUSON, Missouri) — The mother of Michael Brown says the officer who shot and killed her son needs to be held responsible in order for peace to return in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Arresting this man and making him accountable for his actions; that’s justice,” Lesley McSpadden said in an exclusive interview with ABC News.

The St. Louis suburb has been wracked by clashes and violence since Brown’s Aug. 9 death. Brown, 18, was unarmed when he was shot by a Ferguson police officer, identified by the department as Darren Wilson.

McSpadden said she spoke Sunday with Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson.

“He had a heartfelt message for me, and it was that that could have been his son, and he was sorry, and he’s, like everybody else, supporting and hoping and praying that this doesn’t happen again,” McSpadden said, holding back tears.

A private autopsy performed Sunday at the request of Brown’s family showed that the teen was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, said Shawn Parcells, the medical investigator who performed the autopsy with Dr. Michael Baden.

It’s unclear whether Brown’s arms were raised when he was shot, but he was not shot in the back, despite witnesses’ claims, Parcells told ABC News.

Family attorney Benjamin Crump said the autopsy results are troubling.

“It confirms our worst fears that the witnesses were telling the truth, that her son was shot multiple times,” Crump said. “The most troubling was the head shot, you know, it’s just not justified in any way, fashion or form to execute this child like this in broad daylight.”

Crump said the family wanted an independent autopsy in order to find out the truth about Brown’s death. The St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s office previously conducted an autopsy, concluding that Brown died of gunshot wounds but releasing no details.

Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered a federal medical examiner to perform a separate autopsy because of the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

The shooting death of Brown has sparked riots and protests in the St. Louis suburb, a situation that intensified after Ferguson police released video Friday they say shows Brown robbing a convenience store before the fatal shooting.

McSpadden said she was surprised by the video’s release, and that it doesn’t help to explain the shooting that followed.

“I feel like it has nothing to do with what he did to my child. Nothing,” McSpadden said.

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Texas Man on Trial for Allegedly Slaying Driver Who Killed His Sons

Brazoria County Sheriff’s Department(ALVIN, Texas) — The murder trial begins Monday for a Texas father charged with gunning down a suspected drunken driver who struck and killed his two sons.

David Barajas, 32, is accused of taking the law into his own hands, executing the driver who authorities say killed his sons, ages 12 and 11, in a December 2012 crash.

The accident happened near Alvin, about 30 miles southeast of Houston. Barajas’ truck had run out of gas, and he and the boys were pushing the truck down a rural road when Jose Banda, who investigators say was intoxicated, slammed into their truck and killed David Jr. and Caleb.

Prosecutors say the enraged father ran home, grabbed a gun and shot the 20-year-old in the head.

Cindy Barajas, mourning the loss of her two sons, is worried that she could lose her husband, too. “Half of my life is gone. There’s no bringing that back,” she said, speaking exclusively to ABC News.

Cindy Barajas said her husband is innocent.

“The fact that they’re sitting there trying to say that he did something he didn’t do … He was sitting there trying to revive my sons,” she said.

David Barajas has pleaded not guilty and says he didn’t shoot anybody. The case features many complexities. Police never found the gun. The defense says there were no witnesses to the shooting.

Barajas has lots of support in the community: There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to freeing him.

“While there appears to be evidence beyond all doubt of motive, what’s lacking is credible evidence to prove that he’s the one who pulled the trigger,” Mark Eiglarsh, a Miami-based criminal defense attorney and legal analyst with no connection to the case, said.

Banda’s family also set up a Facebook page, demanding his killer go to prison. Banda’s fate should have been handled by the legal system, they argue.

“Whoever did it is getting away with murdering my nephew. He deserves justice,” said Janie Tellez, Banda’s aunt.

If convicted of murder, Barajas faces up to life in prison. Cindy Barajas remains adamant in her husband’s innocence.

“Trying to take my husband away from me after my kids are gone, accusing him of something he didn’t do…I just don’t think it’s right,” she said.

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