iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DONETSK, Ukraine) — Recent Russian activity in eastern Ukraine is concerning to the U.S. State Department, spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.

Psaki mentioned the presence of Russian troops pushing into Ukraine, recent reports of shelling towns near the border and heavy fighting near the Donetsk Airport during Wednesday’s briefing. “These incursion — incursions — indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely under way in Donetsk and Luhansk. Clearly, that is of deep concern to us,” Psaki said.

The U.S. is also worried that Russia is “sending its young men into Ukraine,” according to Psaki, “but…are not telling them where they’re going or telling their parents what they’re doing.”

“These are not steps that, certainly, you take when you are operating in a transparent manner,” Psaki said of the Russian activity.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After consecutive days of gains and milestones, Wall Street was a bit of a mixed bag on Wednesday, with two of the major indices posting small gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial finished at 17,122.01, up 15.31 from Tuesday’s finish.

The Nasdaq dropped 1.02 to 4,569.62, while the S&P managed — barely — to close above 2,000 again, finishing the day at 2,000.10, up 0.08. That is the second consecutive day — and the second close ever — above 2,000 for the S&P 500.

Also on Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office indicated that a slow first quarter may indicate lower-than-expected growth for the economy in 2014. The updated GDP growth estimate is just 1.5 percent for the 2014 fiscal year. Still, the CBO expects 3.5-percent growth in 2015 and 2016.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Two dozen suspected Ebola cases have emerged hundreds of miles from West Africa in what health officials are calling a second “unrelated” outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The virus has already killed more than 1,427 people in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization.

In fact, nearly half of all Ebola deaths recorded since the virus’s discovery in 1976 have occurred in the last five months, according to WHO data.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Two dozen suspected Ebola cases have emerged hundreds of miles from West Africa in what health officials are calling a second “unrelated” outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The virus has already killed more than 1,427 people in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization.

In fact, nearly half of all Ebola deaths recorded since the virus’s discovery in 1976 have occurred in the last five months, according to WHO data.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

John Birkett, Longwood Services Pest Control(LONDON) — A home in the U.K. was invaded by a monstrous colony of wasps, and the infestation was like a scene out of a 1960s Hitchcock movie, a local pest controller said.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” John Birkett, an employee at Longwood Services Pest Control, told ABC News on Wednesday, referring to the nest of an estimated 5,000 wasps. “It was like the horror film Birds but [with] wasps.”

Birkett said he got a call from the homeowner’s son on Sunday about a nest that had taken over a bed in a spare bedroom in the home in Worchester, Hampshire. The colony was devouring the bedding.

In more than 40 years of working in the pest control business, Birkett said this was the largest nest he had ever seen.

“I got dressed up looking like Batman and Robin and went into the little tiny bedroom. I was spraying them left right and center,” Birkett said.

After two hours of swatting and spraying, Birkett said he was able to get rid of the wasps and even salvage the crocheted blanket they were nesting on.

The nest had grown so large because the family rarely uses the room on the second floor of their five-bedroom home, he said.

The wasps snuck in through an open window and used the bed as their home for nearly three months, chewing through eight inches of the mattress and two pillows, according to Birkett.

The family most likely didn’t hear the wasps accumulating because they are silent while nesting, he said.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — In ISIS controlled territory, Friday is the day for public beheadings and amputations for people who violate its strict Islamic rule, and whippings for women if their clothing offends ISIS’ sense of propriety.

In some areas under ISIS rule, children as young as 10 are being recruited and trained as fighters for the group.

The grim picture of life under the Islamic group was described by a United Nations report that accused the group as well as other fighters in Syria of carrying out war crimes. While the Syrian regime and other militias were also suspected of violations, the U.N. report singled out ISIS for its alarming and at times ghoulish policies.

“In areas of Syria under ISIS control, particularly in the north and northeast of the country, Fridays are regularly marked by executions, amputations and lashings in public squares,” the report said.

The punishments are carried out in a manner to maximize the psychological impact.

“Civilians, including children, are urged to watch. Bodies of those killed are placed on display for several days, terrorizing the local population,” according to the U.N. report.

Women and children are particularly vulnerable to ISIS enforcers.

“Women have been lashed for not abiding by ISIS’s dress code. In Ar-Raqqah, children as young as 10 are being recruited and trained at ISIS camps,” the report states. It also found that journalists and other media workers are targeted.

“Members of ISIS have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity … including acts of torture, murder, enforced disappearances and forcible displacement,” the report states.

ISIS has galvanized international opposition with its brutal threats to Kurds, Christians and Yazidis, ordering them to convert or be killed, and the U.N. said it “poses a clear and present danger to civilians, and particularly minorities, under its control in Syria and in the region.”

The report was based on 480 interviews as well as documentary material. Combining the brutality of ISIS with that of Syrian government and other militias in the Syrian civil war, the U.N. report said it “chronicles the unimaginable brutality and human cost of the Syrian conflict.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. economy has grown just 1.5 percent in the 2014 fiscal year — far slower than White House projections — while more than $500 billion of deficit spending was added to the national debt, according to projections released Wednesday by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

Just last month the Obama administration forecast 2.6 percent GDP growth in 2014.

The CBO had some good economic news, predicting that the GDP will rebound and expand by 3.4 percent over the next two years due to increased demand for goods and services, businesses investments in new structures and equipment, improved consumer spending and improving on the housing front.

In its report released Wednesday, the CBO said growth was stymied partly by “bad weather” during the cold months of spring.

The report said that $506 billion was added to the national debt this year, but that was almost $170 billion less than last year. The CBO also estimated the annual deficit will shrink to $459 billion in 2015 if taxes and spending law remains the same. But the deficit would rapidly grow in years to follow, hitting a ceiling of $960 billion by 2024 unless Congress enacts changes to alter the trajectory.

In total, CBO says current law would create $7.2 trillion in unfunded liabilities over the next 10 years.

CBO’s latest data also predicts the national unemployment rate will average 5.6 percent from 2018 through 2024.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — It’s not yet Labor Day, but the time to buy Thanksgiving weekend flights is right now.

Travel web site Hipmunk has the data to back up the claim that waiting past this week to book for Thanksgiving will mean paying more. Those who buy before Labor Day will save $140 on average as compared to those who wait until the last minute.

Average flight price for Thanksgiving travel booked this week is $424. Those who wait a few weeks and book the last week in September will pay 5 percent more. Won’t be sure of your plans until late October? Prepare to pay a 17 percent markup.

If you wait until the last minute hoping to score a deal, you’ll pay big: $561 on average, or a 32 percent increase over what you would pay for the same flight booked this week.

Skyscanner, a global travel search engine, concurs. Its data suggests that flight prices for Thanksgiving have dropped 8.3 percent this week and are at the lowest right now.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Burger King is facing a grilling from critics of U.S. companies that move overseas to cut their tax bills.

“I’ve eaten my last Whopper,” is among the many comments on Burger King’s Facebook page.

The company announced on Tuesday that it would buy the popular Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons for more than $11 billion. The corporate headquarters of the combined firm will be in Canada — a move that stands to help lower Burger King’s corporate taxes.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is calling for U.S. consumers to boycott Burger King, while Democrats have been calling for legislation to limit these so-called tax inversions.

But the CEO of the merged company insists the deal is not about taxes. And there appear to be strong business reasons for the firm to move. While Burger King has many more franchises, Tim Hortons has much larger profits than the U.S. firm. The deal will create the world’s third largest fast-food chain.

Burger King’s move has re-ignited the debate over the U.S. corporate tax system. This is not merely about tax rates but also the global system of taxation.

“The U.S., unlike most developed-world governments, insists on taxing the global income of its citizens and corporations that have U.S. headquarters,” writes Megan McArdle of Bloomberg Businessweek. “Because the U.S. has some of the highest tax rates in the world, especially on corporate income, this amounts to demanding that everyone who got their start here owes us taxes, forever, on anything they earn abroad.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →

Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Burger King is facing a grilling from critics of U.S. companies that move overseas to cut their tax bills.

“I’ve eaten my last Whopper,” is among the many comments on Burger King’s Facebook page.

The company announced on Tuesday that it would buy the popular Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons for more than $11 billion. The corporate headquarters of the combined firm will be in Canada — a move that stands to help lower Burger King’s corporate taxes.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is calling for U.S. consumers to boycott Burger King, while Democrats have been calling for legislation to limit these so-called tax inversions.

But the CEO of the merged company insists the deal is not about taxes. And there appear to be strong business reasons for the firm to move. While Burger King has many more franchises, Tim Hortons has much larger profits than the U.S. firm. The deal will create the world’s third largest fast-food chain.

Burger King’s move has re-ignited the debate over the U.S. corporate tax system. This is not merely about tax rates but also the global system of taxation.

“The U.S., unlike most developed-world governments, insists on taxing the global income of its citizens and corporations that have U.S. headquarters,” writes Megan McArdle of Bloomberg Businessweek. “Because the U.S. has some of the highest tax rates in the world, especially on corporate income, this amounts to demanding that everyone who got their start here owes us taxes, forever, on anything they earn abroad.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather Read More →