Only in America

Only in America: The ill-advised rifle raffle

January 17, 2014

In honor of Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln's birthdays, an Oregon GOP group is raffling off an AR-15 rifle. Despite the fact that both men were killed by guns, Multomah County GOP Chairman Jeff Reynolds says the raffle will "reaffirm our strong defense of the Second Amendment and the right to personal protection."


Fidel Castro: 'I don't trust the politics of the United States'

12:04am ET
Handout/Getty Images

In a statement sent to a student federation at the University of Havana, Fidel Castro spoke out for the first time since the U.S. and Cuba announced plans to restore full diplomatic relations. "I don't trust the politics of the United Sates, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts," wrote the 88-year-old former president of Cuba. He continued:

Any peaceful or negotiated solution to the problems between the United States and the peoples or any people of Latina America that doesn't imply force or the use of force should be treated in accordance with international norms and principles. We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the peoples of the world, among them our political adversaries. [Castro]

Castro's remarks also appeared in the Communist Party newspaper, Granma.


Deflategate: Louis CK is sure the Patriots cheated, and he thinks that's great

January 26, 2015

Louis CK is from Boston, so naturally he's a Patriots fan. And like a lot of Patriots fans, he isn't too worked up about NFL allegations that the team illicitly deflated its footballs. In fact, he's positive that quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick cheated, "because they want to win real bad," and "I have no problem with it — I think it's hilarious," he told David Letterman on Monday night's Late Show. "And why not? It's a stupid football game. I mean, just deflate the balls, poke a guy in the eye, or whatever — it's football!" He has a point. And there's more in the video below. —Peter Weber

lest we forget

Elderly survivors return to Auschwitz for liberation anniversary

January 26, 2015
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For Marcel Tuchman, the best revenge against the Nazis was living well. After surviving four concentration campus, Tuchman, now 93, moved to the United States, became a doctor, and taught at NYU School of Medicine.

He returned to Auschwitz this week along with 200 other survivors to mark the 70th anniversary of the camp's liberation by the Soviets on Jan. 25, 1945. Tuchman says he had to be there to speak for those who didn't make it out alive. "Their voices have been silenced by gas chambers and crematoria, so we the survivors have the duty to honor their memory and speak the best we can for them, and tell this unprecedented story of destruction of millions of people," he told NBC News.

It's been a hard trip, both emotionally and physically, for the elderly survivors. Many brought along their children and grandchildren, who say they will keep their stories alive. That's important for Tuchman: "The reason why I am here, I am going to stress and request that this would be repeated and repeated and repeated, 'Lest we forget.'"

it's the law

In Seattle, residents who throw away food will be fined

January 26, 2015

In Seattle, a new city law makes it illegal to put food in trash cans, and violators will have to soon start paying up for their transgressions.

If a garbage bin is filled with more than 10 percent food, a red tag will be placed on it for public shaming. The goal is to keep food out of landfills while helping Seattle increase its recycling and composting rate to 60 percent of all its waste, NPR reports, and Seattle is the first city in the U.S. to fine people for not sorting their trash properly.

Seattle Public Utilities estimates that each family in the city tosses out about 400 pounds of food annually. To keep food out of landfills, households receive a bin for food and yard scraps so they can compost it themselves (or, for a fee, the city will do it). Right now, offenders of the sorting law are just being warned, but starting in July, they will have to pay $1 per violation at a house and $50 at an apartment, condominium, or commercial building.

See you in court

Melissa Rivers sues clinic over the death of her mother Joan

January 26, 2015
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Melissa Rivers has filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the doctors and clinic where her mother, comedian Joan Rivers, suffered a medical emergency that led to her death.

In late August, Rivers was at the Yorkville Endoscopy Center so doctors could check her esophagus in an attempt to see why her voice was changing, the New York Daily News reports. Court papers say that after the endoscopy started, Rivers' blood pressure, pulse, heart rate, and oxygen levels plummeted and doctors did not cut her trachea in order to restore oxygen flow to her brain. Rivers died seven days later at the age of 81.

"The level of medical mismanagement, incompetency, disrespect, and outrageous behavior is shocking and frankly almost incomprehensible," Melissa Rivers said in a statement. "Not only did my mother deserve better, every patient deserves better."

oh technology

Sheriffs speak out against popular app that tracks police

January 26, 2015

Citing safety concerns, sheriffs from across the United States are asking Google Inc. to turn off a feature in its Waze app that warns users where police officers are located.

The app — which Google bought in 2013 for $966 million — has 50 million users in 200 countries, and provides real time traffic conditions as well as notifications of car accidents, traffic cameras, and construction zones; the locations of officers are marked with a police icon. Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, Virginia, said this feature is a "police stalker," and Google needs to "act like the responsible corporate citizen they have always been and remove this feature from the application."

Nuala O'Connor, head of the Center for Democracy and Technology, told The Associated Press she doesn't think it's a legitimate request to disable this part of the app, and privacy advocates are actually more concerned over how much information Waze, which monitors the locations of its users as long as the app is open, gives to law enforcement about customers.

Around the world

Argentine president calls for intelligence service reform following prosecutor death

January 26, 2015
John Moore/Getty Images

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is calling on the nation's Congress to dissolve and reform intelligence services, The Associated Press reports.

Her comments come after the mysterious Jan. 18 death of a federal prosecutor. Alberto Nisman accused Fernandez of working with Iranian officials to cover up details of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires.

Earlier this week, Fernandez suggested Nisman's death was potentially an intelligence-services initiated plot against the government. She said reforming intelligence services is "a national debt" the country has had since 1983.

This just in

Keystone bill stalls in Senate

January 26, 2015
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The first successful filibuster of the new Congress was bound to happen eventually. The victim? Keystone XL.

The Senate voted 53-39 on the procedural vote, Politico reports. That's seven shy of the number needed to proceed to the bill's final passage, which would approve the construction of the oil pipeline running from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Earlier this month, the House passed a similar Keystone bill, but it's expected Democrats could have enough votes to prevent Congress from overriding a presidential veto, should President Obama reject a bill that reaches his desk.


Crash at Spanish air base kills 10, injures 21

January 26, 2015

At least 10 people are dead after a Greek F-16 fighter jet participating in a NATO training exercise crashed at Spain's Los Llanos base.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that eight of the dead were French and two were Greek, The Associated Press reports, and 21 people were injured. The jet lost thrust as it was taking off, and crashed into an area where other aircraft taking part in the exercise were parked. The Spanish Defense Military said at least five jets and "numerous" helicopters were damaged.

In a statement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the incident "a tragedy that affects the whole NATO family."

Watch this

Watch the domestic violence PSA the NFL will air during the Super Bowl

January 26, 2015

As Super Bowl XLIX approaches, you might recall the NFL hasn't had the best track record on domestic violence this season. Ray Rice was caught on video hitting his then-fiancee (now-wife) in an elevator. Adrian Peterson was indicted on charges of child abuse.

So it's not surprising the league is trying to change its image.

Check out this public service announcement for No More, an organization combating domestic violence and sexual assault. It was made by the NFL's own ad firm, and will air during the big game Sunday night. —Julie Kliegman

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