Review Category : Top Stories

Willie Nelson to Launch Cannabis Brand, Willie’s Reserve

Jason Kempin/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Willie Nelson has never been bashful about how much he enjoys smoking marijuana. Now that states are legalizing it, he’s branching out into the pot business.

Nelson’s new cannabis brand, dubbed Willie’s Reserve, seeks to provide customers with a regulated, natural and high-quality marijuana product in U.S. legal markets.

“I am looking forward to working with the best growers in Colorado and Washington to make sure our product is the best on the market,” Nelson says.

The Country Music Hall of Fame member has long been a supporter of cannabis for personal use and industrial hemp production. He details his long-time use of marijuana, as well as his run-ins with the law for possession, in his new book, It’s a Long Story: My Life, due out May 5.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Norway Plans to Ditch FM Radio

iStock/Thinkstock(OSLO, Norway) — The FM radio dial will soon join the ranks of obsolete technology alongside the floppy disk, answering machines and VCRs — well at least in Norway.

The Scandinavian country’s Ministry of Culture said in a statement that FM radio will be switched off in 2017 with digital radio taking its place.

Norwegians won’t lose their favorite radio programming and can instead expect higher quality and more choices, according to Thorhild Widvey, Norway’s minister of culture, who said the move was first discussed in 2011.

“Listeners will have access to more diverse and pluralistic radio content, and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality,” Widvey said in a statement. “Digitization will also greatly improve the emergency preparedness system, facilitate increased competition and offer new opportunities for innovation and development.”

Norway’s digital audio broadcasting network (DAB) already includes 22 national channels with room for plenty more, whereas the country’s FM radio station hosts five.

When the FM dial dies, broadcasters will be able to decide whether to take their stations to DAB or the more cutting edge DAB+. The Ministry of Culture also said it expects the majority of future radio programming in Norway to be on DAB+.

The move may be a win for everyone. According to the Ministry of Culture, the cost of transmitting FM radio is eight times higher than going digital.

It’s expected the switch could provide as much as $25 million USD in savings per year for national channels, allowing more money to be invested in programming.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Five Years Later

Chris Graythen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Five years after the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 people and triggered the greatest oil spill in U.S. history, the company is waiting for a federal court to decide just how much it will have to pay in fines for violating the Clear Water Act.

After months of litigation, the final ruling is expected out this summer. It will set a penalty for the company ranging from $1,100 to $4,300 per barrel — for each of the nearly four million barrels spilled during the 87 days before the well was capped.

Last September, in the first phase of the Clean Water Act trial, the U.S. District Court for Eastern Louisiana charged BP with “gross negligence,” in regards to equipment and safety precautions.

“BP was reckless,” the ruling stated.

If the gross negligence charge stands, BP could the face the maximum penalty per barrel of oil spilled.

In a second phase of the litigation related to the cleanup, the judge did not find the company grossly negligent and refrained from ruling on a lesser charge of “negligence.”

“We have argued that not only were our actions that night not grossly negligent, but that there are several mitigating factors that need to be taken into account when we are ultimately determining the penalty,” BP’s spokesperson, Geoff Morrell, told ABC News’ Matt Gutman in a one-on-one interview this week.

Such factors include the fact that the company committed $1 billion to early restoration projects, which BP argues should be taken into account when determining the penalty. To date, BP has paid nearly $30 billion for clean-up, initial settlements and environmental studies.

But many on the ground believe that money only covers the first mile in a marathon race for restoration of the Gulf.

“Clean-up isn’t restoration,” argued Alisha Renfro, a staff scientist for the National Wildlife Federation’s Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign. “You don’t get a cookie for doing what you are required to do by law. Clean-up is absolutely essential and it is the first step, but this continues and will continue to be a problem for years to come.”

While some of the worst fears from the spill years ago were never realized, scientists like Renfro point to issues like erosion, which has been a problem in the Gulf from years, but found by some studies to be dramatically hastened in the months following the spill. According to scientists from the University of Florida, the spill more than doubled the rate of erosion for 18 months along the edge of marshlands after the oil killed grasses and roots that hold the sediment together.

The science is ongoing.

“We are looking at it. The federal government and state governments are looking at whether or not the exposure to oil in any way hastened the erosion of barrier islands or marshes,” Morrell said.

The official report on the long-term environmental impacts of the spill is still confidential and not expected to be released for another year or so. Still, it is indirect consequences of what happened five years ago that could influence the court’s final decision.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Summer Airfares to Domestic, European Destinations Drop

iStock/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) — If you’re flying somewhere this summer, you might be able to save a few bucks.

According to a new survey out Monday, the average cost of a domestic flight between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays is $453.87, down $2.01, or 0.4 percent, from last year.

If you’re traveling to Europe, you’ll save even more, Airlines Reporting Corp.’s survey finds. The average airfare to European destinations is $1,618.64 compared to $1,669.36 in 2014, a 3 percent drop.

“We’re seeing fares fall to Europe from the U.S. this summer chiefly because there’s been a 6 percent rise in available seats, and airlines are competing to fill those additional seats,” Chuck Thackston, the managing director of enterprise information management at ARC, said in a statement. “When you add the dollar’s strength versus the Euro, airlines want to capture this additional demand with lower overall fares.”

Domestically, airfare to Kona, Hawaii saw the biggest drop from 2014, falling 12.7 percent. In Europe, flights to Belgrade, Serbia experienced the greatest plunge, tumbling 24.3 percent.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

What Prince George’s Childhood Will Be Like with His Younger Sibling

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge/PA Wire via Getty Images(LONDON) — With the second royal baby due any day now, Britain’s Prince George of Cambridge is about to become a big brother for the first time.

“Prince George and his little brother or sister will be incredibly close in age, and they will grow up side by side,” said Daily Mirror royal correspondent and ABC News’ royal contributor Victoria Murphy. “But of course, there’s one huge difference, and that’s that George is destined to be king and this baby is not.”

The obvious question is whether Prince George, who will turn 2 in July, will have a little brother or sister to watch over. Royal sources tell ABC News that George’s parents, Duchess Kate and Prince William, do not know the baby’s gender.

Whether the baby is a boy or a girl, the two children will be third and fourth in line to the British throne. That means they likely will have a close bond fostered by sharing something completely unique, as did their father and his younger brother, Prince Harry, before them.

It remains unclear whether the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will bring George to meet the new prince or princess at St. Mary’s Hospital in London, where Kate is due to deliver sometime this month, ABC News has learned. Royal sources tell ABC News that William and Kate will make that decision on whether to bring George to the hospital after George’s baby brother or sister is born.

But who can forget William’s visit to the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital 30 years ago to visit Prince Harry for the first time after Princess Diana gave birth? It is hard to imagine that George’s parents won’t want to do the same with this new baby.

One thing is for sure, William, 32, is determined to give his children a normal life.

“I think that just like Kate, William is very keen for his children to have the upbringing that she had,” Murphy said. “She had a very happy childhood. She’s very close to both of her parents, who are still together and still very much in love.”

“It’s a very secure family unit,” she said of Duchess Kate’s family, which also includes two more Middleton children, Pippa and James. “And I think that’s what she and William want to give their children.”

From Prince George’s very first photo op while with his parents on an official trip in New Zealand in April of last year, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have tried to ensure George has some semblance of life as a normal child.

In that first photo op, George was introduced to the world at a playgroup with other children his age. Months later, like Princess Diana did for her sons 30 years ago, Duchess Kate brought Prince George to see Santa and he waited in line just like every other child, with no special treatment.

“Kate takes him to parks. She takes him to the beach. She takes him to the farm. She wants him to enjoy all of that, like any other child would,” Murphy told ABC News. “She takes him to carol services at Christmas to mix with other children.”

ABC News has also learned that, like many young children, George loves to splash about in the pool and his parents are teaching him to swim.

William and Kate currently rely on one nanny, Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, to help with George. Royal sources told ABC News the couple, for the moment, does not plan to hire an additional nanny or other staff after the baby’s birth.

Like many other young families, George and his sibling will also enjoy the company of their family’s beloved dog, Lupo, a wedding gift to William and Kate from Kate’s brother, James Middleton.

“Of course, this baby will be their second child, but in some ways this baby is their third child because you’ve got to remember they also have Lupo, who was there long before Prince George,” Murphy said. “And Lupo is their absolute, beloved pet dog, who they treat exactly like one of the family.”

“And as well as having a great relationship with William and Kate, Lupo and George also get on really well,” she said.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Google’s ‘Project Loon’ Internet Balloons Almost Ready to Take Flight

Google(NEW YORK) — Google is edging closer to its dream of sending its fleet of Internet beaming balloons into the sky.

A new video released by Google shows how the search giant is now capable of creating a balloon in a matter of hour.

“We’re getting close to the point where we can roll out thousands of balloons,” Google’s Project Loon leader, Mike Cassidy, said in a new video released over the weekend to show off the progress.

Automated cranes are used to launch dozens of balloons a day into the stratosphere.

The Project Loon balloons can float through the sky for more than one hundred days as they cross the globe and beam Internet down to the billions of people in the world who are not yet online.

A control center will help guide each balloon to an area to ensure Google’s fleet is providing the best coverage where Internet is needed, while an operations team will be dispatched to collect the balloons when they land.

Google hasn’t said when Project Loon could make its official debut. Facebook showed off its high profile and high flying Internet project last month.

Mark Zuckerberg revealed last month Facebook has completed its first test of an unmanned aircraft that could be used to bring Internet connectivity to the most remote parts of the world.

Running on solar power, Zuckerberg said it’s expected the Internet drone could fly at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet for months at a time.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Boston Marathon Bombing Amputee Returns to Cross the Finish Line

ABC News(BOSTON) — For one participant in Monday’s Boston Marathon, crossing the finish line will mean more than a 26.2-mile trek; it will be a vindication of her ability to bounce back from a 2013 event that ultimately cost her a leg.

Rebekah Gregory was at the finish line of the Boston Marathon when a bomb exploded in April of 2013. In a 2014 tribute run, she crossed the same finish line in a wheelchair. She was one of 16 marathon victims to lose a limb. After undergoing several operations, she ultimately had her left leg amputated and replaced with a prosthetic one.

But that didn’t stop her from training for this year’s Boston Marathon.

“This time I won’t be laying on the ground in pieces, or having to be assisted because I can’t do things on my own,” Gregory wrote on her Facebook page in a post that received over 4,000 “likes” in less than 24 hours. “This time…the only thing hitting the ground will be my running shoe, as I show myself and the rest of the world that I am back, stronger than ever. …and there is NO stopping me now.”

Gregory wrote in an email to ABC News that she started strength training one week before her leg was amputated last November. Since her surgery, she has tried to train five days a week for at least an hour, focusing on both strength and endurance.

“Running has been a huge release to me with all of the craziness going on,” she wrote.

Gregory has chronicled her journey since the marathon on social media. Before she underwent surgery in November to have her leg amputated, she posted a breakup letter to her limb on her Facebook page, writing, “go get yourself one last pedicure on me and enjoy it because tomorrow…I will be cutting you out of my life for good.”

She then provided frequent Facebook and Instagram posts about adjusting to a prosthetic leg and her training routine as she prepared for this year’s race.

Gregory posted on her Facebook page Feb. 2: “2 laps around a basketball court is still pretty far from a marathon. But do you know where else it’s far from? Where I was a week ago.”

“Seeing progress every day and I’m only getting stronger from here,” she added.

Running with a prosthetic leg has been challenging, she wrote to ABC News, because she can’t feel it hitting the pavement. She likened it to an “elbow grinding against a hard surface all day.”

Gregory was also among the witnesses who testified at the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was found guilty this month on all 30 counts relating to the 2013 bombing. She told ABC News’ Brian Ross that testifying helped her overcome her fear of Tsarnaev, whom she called a “coward.”

“I didn’t realize I was so fearful, but I truly was and until yesterday, I had this sense of insecurity because of how much I had lost at the finish line that day and I took so much of that back,” she told Ross in a March interview.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Boston Marathon Bombing Amputee Returns to Cross the Finish Line

ABC News(BOSTON) — For one participant in Monday’s Boston Marathon, crossing the finish line will mean more than a 26.2-mile trek; it will be a vindication of her ability to bounce back from a 2013 event that ultimately cost her a leg.

Rebekah Gregory was at the finish line of the Boston Marathon when a bomb exploded in April of 2013. In a 2014 tribute run, she crossed the same finish line in a wheelchair. She was one of 16 marathon victims to lose a limb. After undergoing several operations, she ultimately had her left leg amputated and replaced with a prosthetic one.

But that didn’t stop her from training for this year’s Boston Marathon.

“This time I won’t be laying on the ground in pieces, or having to be assisted because I can’t do things on my own,” Gregory wrote on her Facebook page in a post that received over 4,000 “likes” in less than 24 hours. “This time…the only thing hitting the ground will be my running shoe, as I show myself and the rest of the world that I am back, stronger than ever. …and there is NO stopping me now.”

Gregory wrote in an email to ABC News that she started strength training one week before her leg was amputated last November. Since her surgery, she has tried to train five days a week for at least an hour, focusing on both strength and endurance.

“Running has been a huge release to me with all of the craziness going on,” she wrote.

Gregory has chronicled her journey since the marathon on social media. Before she underwent surgery in November to have her leg amputated, she posted a breakup letter to her limb on her Facebook page, writing, “go get yourself one last pedicure on me and enjoy it because tomorrow…I will be cutting you out of my life for good.”

She then provided frequent Facebook and Instagram posts about adjusting to a prosthetic leg and her training routine as she prepared for this year’s race.

Gregory posted on her Facebook page Feb. 2: “2 laps around a basketball court is still pretty far from a marathon. But do you know where else it’s far from? Where I was a week ago.”

“Seeing progress every day and I’m only getting stronger from here,” she added.

Running with a prosthetic leg has been challenging, she wrote to ABC News, because she can’t feel it hitting the pavement. She likened it to an “elbow grinding against a hard surface all day.”

Gregory was also among the witnesses who testified at the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was found guilty this month on all 30 counts relating to the 2013 bombing. She told ABC News’ Brian Ross that testifying helped her overcome her fear of Tsarnaev, whom she called a “coward.”

“I didn’t realize I was so fearful, but I truly was and until yesterday, I had this sense of insecurity because of how much I had lost at the finish line that day and I took so much of that back,” she told Ross in a March interview.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Monday Interview: West Ohio Food Bank Competing for Grant Money

04/20/15     5:45 a.m.

Now through May 3rd, the West Ohio Food Bank is competing in Wal-Mart’s Fight Hunger, Spark Change campaign to raise money for food bank initiatives. One of the ways to get involved is to post a picture of six people to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the #wesparkchange, saying you’re committed to fighting hunger.

Audio: Tom Swickrath

WOFB Food Procurement Specialist Tom Swickrath said there are two ways to donate at Wal-Mart stores. One is to buy items from the Campbell’s, ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Kraft and Unilever brands. One item equals one meal. Or you can donate at the register when checking out.

Audio: Tom Swickrath

For each picture posted Wal-Mart will donate $10. And for the WOFB, $10 would provide 80 meals.

 Details on the grant challenge

Read More →

New Royal Baby’s Security Likely to Be a Redux

Chris Jackson/Getty Images(LONDON) — Arranging security for Kate Middleton and the new royal baby should be a little easier the second time around.

That’s because the Duchess is expected to give birth at the same hospital where George was born, St. Mary’s in London.

Notices have already been posted outside the hospital, forbidding any parking 24 hours a day April 15-30. Middleton is expected to give birth during that time.

St. Mary’s is also where Middleton’s husband, Prince William, and his brother, Prince Harry, were born.

The hospital is well-equipped to handle the privacy and security needs of the royal family. Its private Lindo wing, where Middleton gave birth last time, offers birthing suites and doctors with experience caring for “complex pregnancies,” according to the hospital website.

Like last time, there’s not expected to be a “massive change in police presence” during and after the birth, as ABC News royal correspondent Victoria Arbiter outlined in 2013 before the birth of George. But police presence is expected to be “stepped up a notch.”

And just like before, Middleton will likely want to leave the hospital as soon as possible.

After a photo op outside the hospital — hopefully with young George in tow — the family will head immediately to Kensington Palace, where Arbiter said they have a “secure, fortified” place that “gives them privacy and security without added worries.”

But their stay at Kensington is likely to be a brief couple days, royal commentator Victoria Murphy told ABC News recently.

“After that the intention is for them to leave and to go to their country home of Anmer Hall,” Murphy said of their estate in Norfolk, England. “And really that is where they consider to be their home now, where they feel most comfortable and where they will spend the next few weeks.”

Roya Nikkhah, a royal family commentator and writer, explained that the country home has everything the family of four needs in one secure place.

“There’s a huge amount of private space there,” Nikkhah told ABC News recently. “There’s an enormous garden. There’s tennis, there’s swimming but all in one place. They don’t have to get protection officers to take them from one bit to the other as they do in London.”

Added Nikkhah, “It’s a kind of completely enclosed childhood for Prince George and his new brother or sister that’s about to arrive. And I think that’s what William and Kate, particularly William, wants for his children. He wants to have that incredibly normal life that’s completely private, that’s away from the spotlight.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →