Review Category : Top Stories

Costa Concordia Being Towed to Final Destination

Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images(ROME) — The Costa Concordia set sail for its final voyage on Wednesday.

With the help of more than a dozen tugboats, the cruise ship that crashed off the coast of Tuscany on Jan. 13, 2012 — killing 32 people — is heading up the Italian coast to the port city of Genoa, where it will be scrapped.

Franco Gabrielli, the head of Italy’s Civil Protection agency, called the send off “a moment of great satisfaction.”

The $2 billion salvage operation has been the most costly and complex in history.

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Peaches Geldof Died of Heroin Overdose, Coroner Rules

Ian Gavan/Getty Images(LONDON) — A coroner has ruled that Peaches Geldof died of a heroin overdose, according to the BBC, which attended the inquest in Britain Wednesday.

The TV presenter and daughter of musician Bob Geldof had been a heroin addict and was taking the substitute drug methadone for two-and-a-half years before her death, but had apparently begun using heroin again.

The 25-year-old was found by her husband, Tom Cohen, slumped in a spare room of the home they shared in Wrotham, Kent, on April 7. He had been away with the older of their two sons, Astala, leaving Peaches Geldof at home with their 11-month old son, Phaedra.

Geldof was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police later found 6.9 grams of heroin in the house. A syringe containing the fatal dose was discovered hidden in a box of candy next to the bed.

Cohen told the inquest looking into Geldof’s death that his wife had begun using the drug again earlier this year in February, according to the BBC.

He said he witnessed her flushing drugs down the toilet but was unaware of other drugs in the house until they were found by police.

Cohen added that his wife had taken weekly drug tests since seeking treatment for her addiction two years ago, but he now believes that she lied about the tests being negative.

According to the BBC, pathologist Peter Jerreat said the levels of heroin in Geldof’s body were in a “fatal range.” Traces of codeine, methadone and morphine were also found in her blood. The pathologist also noted that puncture wounds were found on Geldof’s body on her elbows, wrists and thumbs.

“It’s said that the death of Peaches Geldof-Cohen is history repeating itself but this not entirely so,” coroner Roger Hatch said at the inquest, according to the BBC.

Geldof’s mother, Paula Yates, died of a heroin overdose at the age of 41 when Peaches was 11 years old.

“By November last year, she had ceased to take heroin as a result of the considerable treatment and counseling that she had received,” Hatch said. “This was a significant achievement for her but, for reasons we will never know, prior to her death she returned to taking heroin.”

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Two Ukrainian Jets Shot Down, Defense Ministry Says

iStock/Thinkstock(KIEV, Ukraine) — Two Ukrainian military jets were shot down Wednesay according to Ukrainian defense officials who charged that they were downed by missiles fired from the Russian side of the border.

The planes, identified as Sukhoi SU-25 fighter jets, were hit in the Donetsk region of the country not far from where the Malaysian Airlines flight 17 was knocked out of the sky last week. It is also where Ukrainian forces are battling separatist rebels outside the city of Donetsk, one of the last separatist strongholds.

The fate of the planes’ pilots was not immediately known.

It happened at 12:30 p.m. Ukraine time (5:30 a.m. ET) while the planes were flying at roughly 6,000 feet, said a spokesperson for the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council.

The spokesman said missiles were fired from Russian territory and repeated himself saying, “from across the border” in Russia.

The Ukrainian rebels are ethnic Russians and the U.S. and other Western countries have accused Russia of fomenting instability in Ukraine and aiding the rebels by supplying weaponry and volunteers.

The Sukhoi SU-25 are single seat combat fighter jets. That same type of jet was shot down by a missile July 16.

The shoot-down of the jets over the town of Saur Mogila came in the same rebellious eastern part of the country where MH17 was shot down, killing 298 people on board. The MH17 flight was believed to have been shot down by a BUK anti-aircraft missile system.

Shortly before word of Wednesday’s shoot-down came, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt told ABC News that he’s very concerned Russia has not stopped the flow of heavy weapons into eastern Ukraine where ethnic Russians are trying to break away from Ukraine.

Fighting is currently taking place on the outskirts of Donetsk, one of the separatists last strongholds.

“We are very concerned that Russia has not pulled back on the flow of heavy weapons,” Pyatt said. “What needs to happen is Russia needs to stop sending weapons and fighters across the border.”

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GM to Add Jobs, Invest $800M in Michigan

General Motors(DETROIT) — General Motors is planning to add up to 1,750 jobs and invest $800 million in Michigan over the next several years, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

“GM’s prospects are bright, and we want Michigan to play an important part in the company’s growth,” the automaker said in a statement. “We are pleased with the state of Michigan’s action which makes a strong business case for potential future jobs and investment at GM facilities across Michigan.”

It’s unclear where the jobs will be made available but GM said it planned to add locations throughout the state. Most of the jobs are expected to be offered at its technical center in Warren.

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Taiwan Plane Crash in Typhoon’s Tail Kills 47

iStock/Thinkstock(BEIJING) — A passenger plane trying to land at a Taiwan airport in stormy weather in the tail end of a typhoon crashed and killed 47 people, authorities said.

The TransAsia Airways turboprop plane crashed and caught fire in the Penghu Islands, an archipelago off the western coast of Taiwan.

Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration says the TransAsia plane was carrying 54 passengers and four crew.

Taiwan had been battered by Typhoon Matmo. The center of the storm had moved on to China, but the Central Weather Bureau was advising heavy rain to fall through the evening for Taiwan.

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What to Expect from Amazon’s Fire Phone

Amazon.com, Inc.(NEW YORK) — Amazon’s Fire phone has ignited interest and imaginations since it was announced last month — and starting later this week, consumers will be able to get their hands on the 3-D devices.

The Fire phone is available to customers in the United States through AT&T and starts at around $200 with a contract.

Customers who purchase the phone can also take advantage of a limited time introductory offer, snagging them one free year of Prime, Amazon’s subscription service that gives members free two-day shipping on music, movies and TV shows, among other perks.

Firefly

While the smartphone boasts plenty of features that make it stand out from products from Apple and Samsung, there’s nothing more telling about Amazon’s hopes for the phone than a button that CEO Jeff Bezos introduced as “Firefly.”

The new feature, which is similar to Google Glass, will allow users to identify almost any product — from a book to a game or a container of kosher salt. The Fire phone will then be able to direct users to Amazon to make purchases, making impulse buys even easier.

In a nutshell: Amazon has created a pocket shopping machine that happens to also operate as a phone.

Dynamic Perspective

The Fire phone is also different from its competitors because it offers “dynamic perspective,” a sensor system that recognizes where a user’s head is relative to the Fire phone. This allows the person using the phone to auto-scroll through a book or long webpage without ever having to touch the screen or to take on a character’s viewpoint in a game, creating what Amazon describes as an immersive experience.

Apps and Games

Developers have been creating apps and games at a frenetic pace for the phone since it was announced in June. Submissions have more than doubled since the Fire phone was unveiled, according to Amazon.

For the Fandango app, users can look up movie times, but can easily tilt their phones to scope out movie reviews.

Gamers may like the phone because they can also use their gestures to play. In Magmic’s Rubik’s Cube, players can tilt their device to rotate the Rubik’s Cube and use their head to peek at other sides of the cube.

Photography

Photography fanatics will also be interested in the Fire phone’s high-end camera specs, which include optical image stabilization and tiny motors that can adjust for natural hand tremors as a way to decrease the blurriness of photos.

The Fire phone also boasts front- and rear-facing cameras that can record 1080p high-definition videos.

The phone’s shutter also excels at low-light photography. When Bezos showed off the phone last month, he noted that the lens stays open four times longer to capture more light.

Bezos also described how the team at Amazon “obsessed over outdoor viewing” and created a device that can easily be read, even in bright outdoor light.

Durability

The Fire phone is built with Gorilla Glass 3, aluminum buttons and has a rubberized grip area to bolster its durability.

Previous Amazon device customers may recognize some of the other features it will come equipped with, such as a Mayday button for tech support, X-Ray, which allows users to get more from their media, and ASAP, which predicts what movies and television shows a person will want to watch before they even hit play.

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Courts Issue Conflicting Rulings on Health Care Law

ABC News (WASHINGTON) — After a brief hiatus, the hot debate over the Affordable Care Act was renewed once again Tuesday because of two opposite verdicts on subsidies.

In the first decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the federal government cannot subsidize policies through federally run insurance exchanges.

Later, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia said that subsidies set up in dozens of states that didn’t set up marketplaces under the ACA are indeed legal.

While the conflicting decisions put the future of the health care law, called “Obamacare” by its detractors, into question, the 4.5 million people who qualified for subsidies are still eligible for benefits while the White House appeals the D.C. court ruling.

More than eight million Americans signed up for the ACA. Those who did so through state exchanges won’t be affected by either ruling.

Meanwhile, the law’s opponents seized on the first court’s decision as proof that the ACA will ultimately fail. House Speaker John Boehner said, “Today’s ruling is also further proof that President Obama’s health care law is completely unworkable. It cannot be fixed.”

However, proponents like Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center, says the second ruling got it right, adding, “The available tax credits are essential to filling the Affordable Care Act’s primary goals of assuring widespread coverage in the health care market and that Congress was fully aware of this when drafting the bill.”

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Video Could Hold Clues in Brooklyn Bridge White Flag Mystery

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Police are looking for five people seen on surveillance video before bleached-white American flags were added to the poles atop the Brooklyn Bridge.

The group was seen walking on the bridge after 3 a.m. Tuesday. At around 3:30 a.m., the lights that illuminate the U.S. flags on either side of the bridge could be seen flickering and then going out completely. At 5:30 a.m., construction workers noticed that the seemingly-white flags had replaced the American flags, police said.

Officers later made their way up the bridge’s main cables, finding aluminum pans — secured with zip ties — covering the lights. The bleached flags were removed, and the traditional American flags were returned.

Police admitted they don’t know who committed the security breach or how they accomplished it.

“I’m not particularly happy about the event,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said Tuesday.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller, who also oversees intelligence and counter terrorism, said tests were being conducted on the two flags.

“At this time, there is no sign of any particular nexus to terrorism or even politics,” Miller said. “It could be someone’s art project or a statement, but it’s not clear what that statement is.”

The perpetrators may have had some experience climbing in construction or bridgework, or have previously been up to the bridge’s flag platforms, Miller said.

Either way, authorities said, whoever pulled off the breach was able to scale 276 feet, somehow making it past the locked gates that sit atop the bridge’s steel cables.

Eric Adams, Brooklyn’s borough president, is offering $5,000 for information leading to an arrest.

“This is the Brooklyn Bridge, and the only person who should surrender at this time is the person responsible for the desecration of this flag,” Adams said.

The famed bridge, one of the country’s oldest suspension bridges, was completed in 1883 and connects Brooklyn and Manhattan over the East River.

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Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen Steps Down Due to Alzheimer’s Disease

Scott Boehm/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen announced on Wednesday that he has stepped down from his post as he is battling Alzheimer’s disease.

“In recent years, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has taken a reduced role with his team while courageously and privately battling Alzheimer’s disease,” the team said in a statement.

“The Broncos are very saddened that Mr. Bowlen is no longer able to be part of the team’s daily operations due to his condition. We continue to offer our full support, compassion and respect to ‘Mr. B,’ who has faced Alzheimer’s disease with such dignity and strength.”

Bowlen has been the owner of the team since 1984 and has seen his team go to six Super Bowls, winning back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998. The Broncos have a .604 win percentage under Bowlen’s tenure and are worth $1.1-billion according to Forbes.

Team president Joe Ellis will take over control of the Broncos.

“This is a sad day for the NFL,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement to The Denver Post. “Pat Bowlen’s leadership has been critical to the success of the Broncos and the entire NFL. From building a championship team that is a pillar of the community to his important work for the league on television and labor matters, Pat’s love of the game drove him and we have all benefited from his passion and wisdom. But the time has come for Pat to focus on his health and we fully support him. Joe Ellis has been a trusted executive for Pat for many years after working with us at the league office. Joe’s deep experience ensures that the Broncos will continue to have strong leadership.”

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The Slow, Sad Journey Home for Victims of Malaysia Airlines Tragedy

(EINDHOVEN, The Netherlands) — The bodies of victims from last week’s Malaysia Airlines crash are headed home, being flown to the Netherlands as the Dutch government declared a day of national mourning.

Meanwhile, the black boxes from MH17 were delivered to the U.K.’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) headquarters at Farnborough, a spokesman told ABC News. Investigators expect to be able to download the info from the recorders within 24 hours. There is no significant damage to them.

Ukraine prepared a departure ceremony at the airport in Kharkiv for the passengers and crew of Flight17, which was shot down Thursday with 298 people on board, most of them Dutch citizens.

Sixteen bodies left aboard a Dutch C130, with an Australian C130 carrying an additional 24 bodies, authorities said.

The people of the Netherlands await the arrival of the bodies at Eindhoven Airport, the second-largest airport in the Netherlands. Church bells will ring across the country, five minutes before the two military planes touch down. Then a trumpet will sound, signaling the arrival of the planes. There to meet the planes will be the relatives of the victims and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as well as King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.

Following the arrival of the victims’ remains will be a minute of silence. A motorcade will carry the bodies to a military facility where authorities will work to identify the bodies, a process that could take months to complete.

Transport of the remains will continue for at least three days.

Wreckage from the aircraft fell on territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists who have been battling the Kiev government since April.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials presented evidence Tuesday that they say shows the plane was shot down by a Russian-made SA-11 missile, and that Russia “created the conditions” behind the shoot-down.

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton, in Australia for the International AIDS Conference, said that the people who shot the plane down are just as responsible even if they didn’t intend to shoot down a civilian flight.

“The people who did it and the people who made it possible for them to do it by giving them this weaponry, which could only have been used in an illegal way, do not in any way diminish their responsibility because the people they killed were different from the people they thought they were killing,” Clinton said.

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