Review Category : Top Stories

Mars Buys Most of Procter & Gamble’s Pet Food Business

iStock/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) — Procter & Gamble is getting out of the pet food business.

While it’s still the world’s biggest consumer products maker, the company will shed pet food brands Iams, Eukanuba and Natura — all being sold to Mars Inc. for about $3 billion.

Mars is known for candy bars and gum, but it also owns Pedigree and Whiskas pet food brands.

The sale comes on the heels of P&G selling Pringles to Kellogg in 2012, and several other food brands, like Folgers Coffee and Jif peanut butter, to the Smucker company in 2008.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Royal Couple Makes Statement Down Under

Chris Jackson/Getty Images(BLENHEIM, New Zealand) — With the sun finally peeking out of overcast skies, this tiny town of 28,000 residents will host the royal couple’s first walkabout. Children and adults have been lining up since early Thursday morning to catch a glimpse of the couple. Officials expect nearly a third of the town to give a rousing Kiwi welcome to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Prince William likely will see Blenheim’s tribute to his mother. The Princess of Wales Memorial Bench is located centrally in Seymour Square.

“One of the things that William and Kate want to do on this tour is to meet as many members of the public as possible. Many ordinary members of the public. They don’t want to be stuck in grand houses wearing fancy outfits. Wearing tiaras. They want to mingle with the ordinary New Zealand and Australian people,” royal biographer Victoria Murphy told ABC News.

Prince William and Princess Kate will also get a personalized tour of the Omaka Heritage Aviation Center and its collection of World War I planes on the centennial anniversary of the war by New Zealand’s most famous son, Hobbit director Peter Jackson.

“There’s always a huge interest in William and Kate as a couple,” Murphy said. “People are fascinated by them. People are fascinated by Kate, she’s glamorous, she’s gorgeous. She has the story. She’s come from a middle-class family to become the future queen of England.”

William and Kate head back to a state reception Thursday night with the prime minister at Government House. The duchess will surely be looking stunning and likely adorned with jewels on loan from grandmother-in-law Queen Elizabeth II. Prince William will give a short speech before unveiling a portrait of his grandmother.

The duke and duchess have arranged the tour with stops from three principal destinations so they can spend as much time with their growing son as possible.

William admitted Tuesday that he relishes daddy duty, something normal fathers do all around the world but not necessarily future kings. He prepares Prince George’s nightly bottle and puts him to sleep.

“William and Kate are trying as much as possible to give Prince George a normal upbringing,” ABC News royal contributor and Daily Mirror editor Victoria Murphy said.

William and Kate Tuesday chose to expose baby George on the royal crawlabout to other children his own age for his first official engagement, something unthinkable 30 years ago when William was there as a baby. But times have changed. And so too has the monarchy, especially with this young couple.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Top US Official: US Has Low Expectations for Russia and Ukraine Talks

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland said the United States doesn’t have “high expectations” for upcoming talks between leaders from the U.S. and European Union as well as Ukraine and Russia. But, she added, it’s still important to keep that diplomatic channel open.

Nuland made those remarks during testimony before the bipartisan, bicameral Helsinki Commission, charged with ensuring compliance with the Helsinki Accords governing cooperation among European countries and the United States.

She also reiterated the belief of the U.S. government that mobs in eastern Ukrainian cities over the past two days were coordinated by the Russians.

“The evidence is overwhelming that this was a very carefully orchestrated, well-planned, well-targeted, well-coordinated effort to take over buildings in four cities within the same 24-hour period with identical tactics,” Nuland said.

She also noted some “absolutely wild stories” like those of the mob in Kharkiv, which started taking over the opera house instead of their target, the local interior ministry.

“These were not boys from Kharkiv,” she said.

Rep. Steve Cohen also suggested that Ukrainian opposition leader Vitali Klitschko, a boxing champion, face off against Russian president Vladimir Putin. Nuland jokingly seemed receptive to the idea.

The Helsinki Commission hearing is ongoing.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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US Stocks Close Higher

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Stocks moved sharply higher Wednesday on encouraging news about interest rates and as corporate earnings got off to a good start.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 181 points at 16,437.18. The Nasdaq Composite rose 71 points to end the day at 4,183.90. The S&P 500 added 20 points for the session, closing at 1,872.18.

It was the Dow’s best point gain since March 17, and the best for the Nasdaq and the S&P since March 4.

Alcoa led a rally in companies that make what’s known as “basic materials.” The aluminum giant rose 4 percent after its earnings came in better than expected. “Basic materials” are raw material or feedstock from which goods and finished products are manufactured or made.

Investors Wednesday were also reassured by the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting. The Central Bank says it has no plans to increase interest rates in the near future.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Death, Mayhem in Central African Republic as UN Plans Next Move

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images(BANGUI, Central African Republic) — What has been unleashed here in the Central African Republic is terrifying.

Since December, about 4 million people have made war on each other across religious lines, Muslims attacking Christians, Christians responding with unspeakable ferocity.

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, visited Wednesday for the second time in an attempt to mobilize the world to prevent a genocide.

“I think it’s our job to, we hope, to raise the resources that we need to help the people facing this kind of peril,” she said.

The images are startling: a boy chasing a man with a machete, a woman weeping over the coffin containing a child, a man raising a club to beat an unseen victim.

No one knows the death toll because the killing is too frenzied and too widespread to count. In the heart of Africa, CAR is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Up to 700,000 people — almost 20 percent of the total population — have been driven from their homes by warring militias, and nearly 100,000 innocent people have gathered at the main airport.

Conditions are deplorable. Families need food and water. People are sick and are stuck under the broiling sun. They have been forgotten by much of the world.

Across a barbed-wire fence — put there for their safety, officials say — people told ABC News, in French, how they fled for their lives the night the killers came, brandishing machetes and knives with glee.

There are several thousand international peacekeepers but they are overwhelmed, as 25 of them have been killed and others have allegedly joined in the mass killings.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote Thursday on expanding the African mission in the country into a U.N. peacekeeping operation.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Get Ready for a Change in Facebook Ads

Facebook(NEW YORK) — Facebook ads in the right-hand column — the Siberia of advertising compared to the prime real estate in the news feed — are getting a makeover.

“In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out a new design for ads in the right-hand column,” Facebook said in a blog post Wednesday.

“This updated look will make right-hand column ads more visually consistent with the ads that appear in News Feed. They will use the same proportions as desktop News Feed ads, they will be larger in size, and there will be fewer of them.”

The company said that early tests of the revamped right-rail ads showed up to three times more engagement.

Since the proportions of the new right-rail ads are similar to the news feed, Facebook said advertisers will only need to upload one file that could be used in both places.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Prince George’s First Royal Playdate

James Whatling-Pool/Getty Images(WELLINGTON, New Zealand) — Prince George crawled and played his way to a series of firsts Wednesday, his first major royal engagement on his first overseas trip with his parents, Prince William and Kate Middleton, in New Zealand.

The young prince, just eight-months-old, held court, literally, at a playgroup held in his honor in Wellington, New Zealand, the first stop on the Royal family’s three and a half week tour of Australia and New Zealand.

The playgroup, held at Wellington’s Government House, was organized by the non-profit childcare group Plunket and included a diverse mix of first-time parents and babies around George’s age, all specially selected to show New Zealand’s diverse society. The group of first-time parents included two gay dads.

“He is a lovely little boy, very intrepid,” one of the dads said of George.

George, wearing “sailboat smocked dungarees” by the British designer Rachel Riley over a white collared shirt, was accompanied to his playgroup by his mom, Kate, wearing a Tory Burch dress, and his dad, Prince William.

The young royal drew comparisons to William, who himself traveled Down Under 31 years ago as a 9-month-old with his own parents, Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana.

“He owned the place basically,” one parent attendee said of George. “He went into the middle of the circle of toys. He hunted for the biggest toy [and] propped himself up.”

George will reportedly remain in Wellington under the care of his nanny, Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, as his parents make day trips around the country in the coming days.

On Thursday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend a wreath laying ceremony at a war memorial in Blenheim and later tour one of the world’s largest collections of World War One aircraft and rare memorabilia.

Kate and William will get a chance for a date night out later that evening at a State Reception in their honor at Wellington’s a Government House, where William will also unveil a portrait his grandmother, the Queen.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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What Prince George Wore to His Royal Playdate

Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images(WELLINGTON, New Zealand) — Want to dress your baby like Prince George? You’re in luck!

The jumper that the 8-month-old boy wore to a play date at the Government House in Wellington, New Zealand, is available to anybody who wants it.

Designed by European designer Rachel Riley, the jumper is for sale on her website for $129.

“Rachel’s design philosophy is rooted in her traditional rural lifestyle, one that reflects her love of country life: rambling country homes; homegrown vegetables, fruit and freshly cut flowers; chickens; and pony rides in the local village with her children,” her site reads. “Traditionally inspired, each collection is made for modern living, using classic techniques and gorgeous fabrics to create fabulous pieces, you will want to treasure forever.”

This is not the first time that his mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, has relied on an easily-accessible designer for a big appearance. In December, Middleton, 32, wore a Zara necklace worth $35.90 to a red carpet.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Pope Stops for Cross Made from Migrant Shipwrecks

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(ROME) — Pope Francis stopped his open popemobile Wednesday as he entered St. Peter’s square to bless a large cross built from bits of wooden boats that shipwrecked while carrying migrants off the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Italy’s tiny and most southernmost island, closer to the shores of Africa than mainland Italy, is often the first place migrants land after their difficult sea-crossings.

The large cross was made by Franco Tuccio, a carpenter on the island, who also made one of the crosses Pope Francis used on his July 8 visit to the rugged island last year.

Pope Francis chose the island for his first trip outside Rome as pontiff to focus attention on the fate of migrants seeking asylum in Europe who often die attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Francis called news reports about these deaths of desperate people trying to reach a better life “a thorn in the heart.”

The cross, which was blessed on Wednesday, is over 9 feet high, just under 5 feet wide and weighs over 130 pounds. It will now be taken on a “pilgrimage” throughout Italy as a message of solidarity and peace among communities, parishes and faiths and will finally be housed, at the end of its journey, in Saint Stephen’s church in Milan.

Tuccio has taken the migrants’ cause to heart since April 9, 2009 when he abandoned work for the day and helped fellow islanders recover bodies from a shipwrecked boat carrying Somali migrants. A hundred corpses were pulled out of the water that day. Since that day, Tuccio has been making crosses out of the different boat parts he finds on the shores of Lampedusa.

Tens of thousands of migrants arrive in Italy from North Africa every year, and many others die attempting the crossing. Four hundred migrants died in two boat disasters off the coast of Lampedusa in October 2013. Following a public outcry, the Italian government set up a rescue operation which, according to Italian Foreign Ministry reports Tuesday, has saved the lives of some 12,000 migrants so far.

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said on Wednesday that Italian vessels rescued over 4,000 African migrants in the waters off Sicily in the past 48 hours. Alfano said that a total of 15,000 migrants have landed on Italy’s coasts since the beginning of this year and an estimated 300 to 600 migrants are waiting to depart in boats from Libya.

At the end of the audience, the pope renewed his appeal for peace in war-torn Syria and remembered “with deep sorrow” the Jesuit priest who was murdered in the city of Homs on Monday.

“To Syrian authorities and the international community: weapons must be silenced in Syria, the violence needs to end. No more war. No more destruction,” the pope said.

He said the murder of his fellow-Jesuit, who was respected by Christians and Muslims alike in the city, “made me think about all those still suffering and dying in that slaughtered country, my beloved Syria.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Army Corps Says Flood Studies Won’t Be Done For “18-24 Months”

4/9/14 – 11:48 A.M.

Suffice it to say, no one is happy with the Army Corps of Engineers timeline for finishing the study of the Blanchard River. They Corps held a press conference today to say it would take 18 to 24 months to finish the flood study. That’s a great deal longer than the anticipated first quarter of 2015 timeline.

Hancock County Commissioner Phil Riegle, Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik, Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, and Congressman Bob Latta have all condemned the timeline, calling it “unacceptable.”

The meeting itself is a point of contention. Corps members were in Findlay yesterday to meet with elected officials. It was only then that they were told there would be a press conference. WFIN and the Courier were not notified about the press conference.

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