Review Category : Top Stories

Weak Barbie Sales Lead to First Quarter Loss for Mattel

David McNew/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The corporate earnings season is still young, but the latest reports are already revealing some striking trends. Troubles in toyland are among them.

Mattel’s report reveals that weak Barbie sales are one reason for its unexpected first-quarter loss. Toymakers are facing problems globally, largely because of fierce competition from tablets and other electronic gadgets.

Mattel, the largest U.S. toymaker, says it lost $11.2 million in the first quarter of this year. Sales dropped 5 percent.

Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels cars and Disney Princess dolls are among the best known of hundreds of Mattel toy brands.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

Security Scare for Prince William and Duchess Kate

Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage(KATOOMBA, Australia) — The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge‘s otherwise picture-perfect tour Down Under was marred Thursday by two men who were detained for allegedly acting aggressively as the royals paid a visit to the Blue Mountains in Australia.

The two men, ages 21 and 37, were stopped and searched by police after they were allegedly harassing fellow royal-gawkers in the village of Winmalee as they awaited William and Kate’s arrival, according to Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

The men were later released and not charged but moved from the area where William and Kate’s motorcade was set to arrive, the Daily Telegraph reports.

William, 31, and Kate, 32, arrived to the Blue Mountains range by helicopter Thursday, which is day two of their visit to Australia. The range, west of Sydney, is one of the country’s most scenic sites and was nearly destroyed by bushfires a few months ago.

The royal couple met with first-responders and fire survivors, planted a tree and did their own bit of sightseeing, which included William’s giving his wife, and all those watching, a scare.

The prince, a former Royal Air Force helicopter pilot, peered dangerously over the edge of a steep cliff as the couple stood atop the mountains’ Narrow Neck Lookout.

“He took a bit of a lunge and a few people held their breath, gasped and readied their hands to grab him,” Damien Cooper, manager of the Blue Mountains Youth Service, told the Daily Telegraph. “He was fine, of course. He knew what he was doing. I think his military background prepared him well for it.”

Not on hand for his dad’s perilous glimpse over the cliff was the couple’s son, 8-month-old Prince George.

The young prince, who has been a star of the family’s first official overseas trip together, may make an appearance this weekend at the Sydney Zoo.

His mother, Kate, however, reportedly told one young girl Thursday that Prince George is very cute but very loud and likely to scare the animals at the zoo.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

Putin ‘Hopes’ He Won’t Have to Send Troops into Eastern Ukraine

ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images(MOSCOW) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he hopes Russia will not have to use force in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking during a marathon question and answer show on live television, Putin reminded viewers that Russia’s upper house of parliament had authorized the use of force in Ukraine.

“I very much hope I will not have to use this right,” he said.

Putin denied Western claims that Russian troops are already operating inside Ukraine and that the unrest there has been orchestrated by the Kremlin. He warned that if the situation continues, Russia will not recognize the results of next month’s Ukrainian presidential election.

Putin slammed the new government in Kiev for sending troops to quell the unrest in the east. He blamed them for failing to engage the Russian-speaking population there to calm concerns that the new pro-Western government was not out to get them.

“They are sending tanks, armored personnel carriers and cannons there. Who are they sending these tanks against? Are they out of their minds?” he said.

After the show, journalists asked Putin what might cause Russia to send troops into Ukraine. He declined to say, explaining that it might affect the situation on the ground, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

For the first time, however, Putin acknowledged that the heavily armed troops with no insignia on their uniforms who suddenly appeared on the streets of Crimea ahead of last month’s referendum to join Russia were Russian troops. Those troops, he said, were necessary to prevent exactly the type of chaos that is taking place in eastern Ukraine now.

Western and Ukrainian authorities say Russia fabricated reports of threats to Russian speakers in the region in Crimea to scare the population into voting to leave Ukraine. Putin, however, said Thursday that those threats were “real and palpable.”

He insisted Russia’s annexation of Crimea was not planned in advance, but was rather a response to the overwhelming results of the referendum.

“It was highly important for me to see the results of this expression of the people’s will,” he said.

He appeared to dismiss former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who until he was ousted in February, was a Kremlin ally. But said Yanukovich told him that while he thought about ordering the use of force against the protesters who forced him from office, he could not bring himself to do it.

The wide-ranging call-in show lasted nearly four hours as Putin fielded questions from a studio audience of prominent Russians, questions that had been submitted in advance, and questions from Russians appearing live from select cities. In a change from previous years, most of the questions were about Ukraine and Russia’s standing in the world, though some villagers across this vast country inquired about the rising costs of bread and compensation for natural disasters.

A 6-year-old girl wrote in to ask Putin if he thought President Obama would save him if he were drowning. Putin replied that, while he did not have a close relationship with Obama, he considered him a good man and thought that Obama would save him.

Asked if he had plans to annex Alaska next, Putin asked rhetorically “What would you need Alaska for?” Russia, he said, already has enough cold territory.

Earlier in the show, Putin said the U.S.-Russian relationship lacks trust. He blamed the United States, claiming it employs a double standard by intervening in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan while criticizing Russia for, in his words, protecting its own interests.

The head of Russia’s new state-owned media company Russia Today, a man dubbed the Kremlin’s new propaganda chief, told Putin he felt suffocated by NATO expansion into eastern Europe and asked where the red line will be drawn.

Putin said there is no need to be afraid, but said that geopolitics could force Russia to act. He insisted NATO’s plans for a missile defense shield in eastern Europe, which the United States says is aimed at defending against Iran, was instead aimed at Russia. He warned the system’s deployment could spark an arms race.

He seemed to confirm suspicions that his takeover of Crimea was due in part to fears that Ukraine could become part of NATO and would limit Russia’s influence in the Black Sea, where it has a substantial naval presence.

“If NATO troops go there and deploy their assault weapons, then it will have a geopolitical significance for us and Russia will be practically forced out from the Black Sea region,” he said.

The Russian leader brushed aside suggestions that Europe might soon wean itself off its dependence on Russian gas, suggesting it would harm their economies and devalue the U.S. dollar. He warned Ukraine that, unless it repays the billions of dollars it owes for past gas deliveries within a month, Russia will begin demanding payment up front and only ship what has been paid for in advance. That may be an enormous challenge for the fledgling government in Kiev, which is struggling to pay its bills and is begging the international community for a bailout.

In a surprise move, NSA leaker Edward Snowden also submitted a question via video, asking Putin whether Russia employed mass surveillance systems similar to ones used by the U.S. National Security Agency.

The ex-KGB agent (who earlier in the show said that job taught him to be “absolutely loyal”) began his response by telling Snowden he was speaking as one spy to another. Putin denied Russia had a mass surveillance program and said any electronic surveillance was used only for law enforcement purposes. Experts on Russian surveillance, however, said Putin was vastly understating the scope of Russia’s surveillance program.

Snowden has been hiding at an undisclosed location in Russia after receiving asylum last year while on the run after leaking classified information about American spying.

Asked when Russia might have a new first lady, the newly divorced Putin responded wryly that he’ll have to help his ex-wife get re-married first.

The marathon call-in show has become a regular feature in the nearly decade and a half since Putin first became president.

Asked if he planned to remain president for life, Putin briskly responded “No” and moved on.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

QVC Host Lives in Fear of Stalkers, Reports Say

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — For so many of QVC’s viewers, Lisa Robertson is the host with the most.

Robertson, 48, is one of the shopping channel’s most popular personalities. Every week, the former Miss Tennessee sells the latest in beauty and fashion, drawing an estimated 20 million viewers a week.

That prominence has brought her a lot of attention, some of it unwanted.

In court documents obtained by the Daily Local News of Chester County, Pa., Robertson, who lives in Chester County, alleges that she has secretly lived in constant fear of one of a number of men who have reportedly been obsessed with her during her time with the network.

In a recent victim’s impact statement, Robertson reportedly wrote: “I lock myself in my house every day. I check my alarm constantly…I watch my rearview mirror when I go home at night…if there is a sound at night, I lay awake wondering.”

In December, 50-year-old Peter Ferriera was sentenced to 7 years’ probation for violating a court order from a previous stalking conviction. He is appealing.

Ferriera was first arrested for stalking Robertson 10 years ago. He allegedly went to Robertson’s home and followed her to a movie theater, where he was, according to a police affidavit, “close enough to Robertson that he could smell the popcorn she was eating.”

In that case, he pleaded guilty to stalking, and served 132 days in jail.

Robertson’s tenure at QVC was marked by more terror, as other men were also obsessed with her. In one case, according to the Los Angeles Times, one of those men reportedly traveled to the home of another QVC host, hoping to meet Robertson there. Police reportedly said that strapped to the man’s chest were engagement and wedding rings.

In a statement to ABC News, Robertson said, in part: “…We enjoy the connection we have with our audience from being open and sharing our personal stories. Unfortunately, one of the downsides to this is that people can take these connections too far and cross personal boundaries.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

Oscar Pistorius’ Own Expert Witness Contradicts Him

THEMBA HADEBE/AFP/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) — Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial was adjourned Thursday for two weeks after one of the Blade Runner’s own expert witnesses contradicted his testimony.

The expert defense witness, Roger Dixon, told the court under cross examination that after Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door, the model fell on to a magazine rack next to the toilet.

Pistorius has claimed that evidence from the police was unreliable because investigators had moved things around, including the magazine rack.

Dixon, who was hired to support the defense’s version of events, said his reconstruction of the shooting concluded that the first bullet fired by Pistorius struck her in the hip as she was likely reaching for the door knob, forcing her to fall on the magazine rack.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel quickly noted that Pistorius has claimed the magazine was not in that position when he used a cricket bat to bash a hole in the locked door and get to the mortally wounded Steenkamp.

“Whatever the accused is saying, you say he’s wrong?” Nel asked Dixon. “My lady,” Dixon replied, addressing his answer to the female judge. “I’m giving testimony on what I observe and interpret. I’m not saying anyone is right or wrong.”

When pressed, Dixon added, “My lady, when the deceased fell, the magazine rack was there. I do not know what happened to it afterwards. It wasn’t there when Mr. Pistorius went in. That is his version of the events.”

Pistorius, 27, is charged with the premeditated murder of his model girlfriend before dawn on Valentine’s Day 2013. Pistorius, a legless sprinter, insists he heard a noise in the bathroom and mistook Steenkamp for an intruder. He could face at least 25 years in prison if convicted.

During his three days on the stand, Dixon testified that Pistorius’ bedroom was so dark during the night with the balcony curtain drawn that he could not see across the room, allowing that Pistorius may not have seen Steenkamp go into the bathroom. He told the court that Steenkamp was leaning forward on her right side as if reaching for the doorknob when she was shot, instead of the prosecution’s version that she was standing and facing the door and likely arguing with Pistorius when she was shot.

Nel hammered Dixon so relentlessly on the methods he used and his qualifications to be an expert witness that Dixon took to Facebook on Thursday to complain.

“Third day in court today. Let’s see how much of my credibility, integrity and professional reputation is destroyed. It is difficult to get belief in those who will not listen because it is not what they want to hear,” Dixon wrote.

Pistorius sat with his head down and hands against his ears barely listening to Thursday’s testimony.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

Weekly Jobless Claims Rise but Stay at Near Seven-Year Low

glegorly/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Jobless claims climbed slightly last week but still remained at a near seven-year low, the Labor Department reported Thursday morning.

For the week ending April 12, the number of people filing for benefits rose by 2,000 to 304,000.

“This is the lowest level for this average since October 6, 2007 when it was 302,000,” the Labor Department said in a press release.

The previous week, claims stood at 302,000 — an upward revision of 2,000.

The four-week average, meanwhile, went down, decreasing by 4,750 to 312,000.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

Oil Slick Not Tied to Flight 370, Preliminary Analysis Shows

(PERTH, Australia) — The oil slick that Australian vessel Ocean Shield detected Sunday evening during its search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is not connected to the missing jetliner.

A preliminary analysis of the sample “has confirmed that it is not aircraft engine oil or hydraulic fluid,” Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Center (JACC), which is leading the search for the Boeing 777, said in a statement Thursday.

The search for Flight 370, which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board, continued on Thursday, with up to a dozen aircraft and 11 ships joining in on the effort.

The underwater search of the Indian Ocean also continued. The JACC said the U.S. Navy’s Bluefin-21 completed a full mission overnight and the data the robotic submarine obtained is being analyzed. The sub is being prepped to go back in the water; so far it has searched approximately 90 square kilometers.

The JACC on Thursday also cleared up some misconceptions about the Bluefin-21.

“Some media reports today state that it would take Bluefin-21 anywhere from six weeks to two months to scan the entire underwater search area. This is incorrect,” the organization said in its statement.

It continued, “Since the US Navy provided comment some days ago, the underwater search has been significantly narrowed through detailed acoustic analysis conducted on the four signal detections made by the Towed Pinger Locator on ADV Ocean Shield.”

“This analysis has allowed the definition of a reduced and more focused underwater search area,” the JACC added.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

Captain of Doomed Ferry Under Investigation as Relatives Grieve

Park Young-Chul-Donga Daily via Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) — The captain of a ferry that sank off the coast of South Korea Wednesday, leaving nearly 300 people missing, is under investigation as a criminal and was one of the first people to escape the doomed vessel, Coast Guard officials said.

Lee Joon-seok, 69, left the ferry on a lifeboat 32 minutes after reporting an accident, officials said.

The captain appeared on Korean television Thursday, his face covered by a gray hoodie.

“I am really sorry and deeply ashamed,” he said, as he was being questioned at the Mokpo Coast Guard Office.

About 290 people remain missing following the accident, with nine fatalities confirmed and the death toll expected to rise.

Hundreds of Navy and Coast Guard divers are battling murky conditions on Thursday, searching for survivors. But as the hours pass, relatives of the missing passengers are losing hope.

So far, 179 people been rescued.

Text messages sent by passengers to loved ones offer a glimpse into the desperate situation inside the crippled vessel.

“Dad, don’t worry. I’ve got a life vest on and we’re huddled together,” one student, identified only by her last name, Shin, texted her father, according to MBC News, a Korean news station.

The father replied: “I know the rescue is underway but make your way out if you can.”

“Dad, I can’t walk out,” she replied. “The corridor is full of kids, and it’s too tilted.”

The student was among the missing passengers, many of them high schoolers at Danwon High School in Ansan. The students were on a class trip.

Thursday’s rescue efforts have been marked by rain, strong wind, currents and fog — as well as a lack of organization. Coast guard crews tried to inject air into the boat, but that endeavor was unsuccessful due to the poor weather conditions.

Additionally, the rescue operation center had difficulty communicating with search crews at the sinking site, which is about an hour’s boat ride from Jindo Island.

Relatives of passengers yelled at authorities, demanding answers and seeking miracles at Jindo Island. Some family members visited the location where the passengers are believed to have been trapped.

Other parents gathered at Danwon High School, holding a candlelight vigil.

The only hope is that maybe, somehow the passengers are alive, saved by a pocket of air.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

Captain of Doomed Ferry Under Investigation as Relatives Grieve

Park Young-Chul-Donga Daily via Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) — The captain of a ferry that sank off the coast of South Korea Wednesday, leaving nearly 300 people missing, is under investigation as a criminal and was one of the first people to escape the doomed vessel, Coast Guard officials said.

Lee Joon-seok, 69, left the ferry on a lifeboat 32 minutes after reporting an accident, officials said.

The captain appeared on Korean television Thursday, his face covered by a gray hoodie.

“I am really sorry and deeply ashamed,” he said, as he was being questioned at the Mokpo Coast Guard Office.

About 290 people remain missing following the accident, with nine fatalities confirmed and the death toll expected to rise.

Hundreds of Navy and Coast Guard divers are battling murky conditions on Thursday, searching for survivors. But as the hours pass, relatives of the missing passengers are losing hope.

So far, 179 people been rescued.

Text messages sent by passengers to loved ones offer a glimpse into the desperate situation inside the crippled vessel.

“Dad, don’t worry. I’ve got a life vest on and we’re huddled together,” one student, identified only by her last name, Shin, texted her father, according to MBC News, a Korean news station.

The father replied: “I know the rescue is underway but make your way out if you can.”

“Dad, I can’t walk out,” she replied. “The corridor is full of kids, and it’s too tilted.”

The student was among the missing passengers, many of them high schoolers at Danwon High School in Ansan. The students were on a class trip.

Thursday’s rescue efforts have been marked by rain, strong wind, currents and fog — as well as a lack of organization. Coast guard crews tried to inject air into the boat, but that endeavor was unsuccessful due to the poor weather conditions.

Additionally, the rescue operation center had difficulty communicating with search crews at the sinking site, which is about an hour’s boat ride from Jindo Island.

Relatives of passengers yelled at authorities, demanding answers and seeking miracles at Jindo Island. Some family members visited the location where the passengers are believed to have been trapped.

Other parents gathered at Danwon High School, holding a candlelight vigil.

The only hope is that maybe, somehow the passengers are alive, saved by a pocket of air.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →

Search Continues for Sunken South Korea Ferry’s Missing Passengers

Park Young-Chul-Donga Daily via Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) — The search resumed Thursday for 287 people still missing after a ferry sank off the coast of South Korea the day before. Nine passengers are confirmed dead with 179 having been rescued.

Many of those unaccounted for are teenagers who were on a school trip.

Volunteers from all over the country, including scuba divers and ex-Marines, are joining in on the search. But rescue efforts are being hampered by poor weather conditions, strong underwater currents and a total lack of organization.

Investigators still don’t know what caused the ferry with 475 on board to suddenly tilt to one side Wednesday and go down although speculation is that the vessel might have hit a reef. Some experts say the captain may have tried a sudden turn, causing cargo to lean to one side.

The ferry, identified as the Sewol, was sailing to the southern island of Jeju when it sent a distress call as it began leaning.

Three cranes that will be used to lift the ship are expected to arrive on Friday.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Read More →