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    • 10 defining moments of the Sochi Olympics
      It promises to be another memorable occasion — but will it beat Winters Games gone past? The 17-day sporting extravaganza is being dubbed as the most expensive Olympics ever, with the Russians having spent $50 billion on turning the faded Black Sea resort into a rejuvenated host venue. Thousands of athletes from over 80 different […]
    • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
      With former Port Authority official David Wildstein’s new claim that  “evidence exists” showing Christie knew about the politically motivated lane closings on the George Washington Bridge back in September, several Jersey State politicians are already floating the dreaded “I” word: impeachment. It wasn’t so long ago that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was a
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    • US shares close at record levels October 31, 2014
      The Dow and S&P 500 close at record levels, helped by a surprise move by the Bank of Japan to boost its stimulus measures.
    • FTSE up on bank news and Japan move October 31, 2014
      The FTSE 100 rises more than 1% as investors breathed a sigh of relief over Bank of England plans for capital reserves and welcomed news of a stimulus boost from the Bank of Japan.
    • VIDEO: 'I don't know what my destiny is' October 31, 2014
      A day in the life of Ismael Diabate, an economic migrant stranded in the Moroccan capital of Rabat.
    • VIDEO: Morocco's offshore oil dispute October 31, 2014
      US oil company Kosmos Energy is to begin drilling off the coast of Western Sahara - a disputed territory claimed by both the Moroccan government and separatists from the indigenous Saharawi people.
    • Banks may be forced to boost reserves October 31, 2014
      British banks may have to hold more funds to guard against the risk of a future economic downturn, the Bank of England has proposed.
    • RBS reserves £400m for currency probe October 31, 2014
      Royal Bank of Scotland sets aside £400m to cover potential costs from an investigation into possible manipulation of the foreign exchange market.
    • Government to 'retire' some WW1 debt October 31, 2014
      The UK Government has said that it will 'retire' £218m of the UK's £2bn First World War debt by refinancing bonds originally issued by Winston Churchill.
    • VIDEO: Can Indian consumers shop for less? October 31, 2014
      The BBC's Yogita Limaye asks if ordinary people are witnessing a real change in the cost of living due to slowing inflation.
    • VIDEO: Is data the next frontier in Africa? October 31, 2014
      With the vast majority of people choosing mobile phones over fixed lines, is data the next logical focus for Africa's telecommunications business?
    • VIDEO: Zimbabwe's crocodile farms October 31, 2014
      Crocodile farming in Zimbabwe is an expensive, niche business, as the BBC's Brian Hungwe finds out.

North Korea rocket breaks up soon after launch

North Korea’s long-range rocket failed early Friday, U.S. officials said.

The rocket broke up soon after taking off.

“All indications are that it failed,” one official said but went on to say that they are still looking into it.

The White House said it would issue a statement, NBC News reported.

The launch, which North Korea’s neighbors and the West say is a disguised ballistic missile test, was to take a three-stage rocket over a sea separating the Korean peninsula from China before releasing a weather satellite into orbit when the third stage fires over waters near the Philippines.

Regional powers also worried it could be the prelude to another nuclear test, such as one the hermit state conducted in 2009.

The South Korean Defense Ministry announced that North Korea fired the long range rocket Friday morning around 7:38 a.m. The ministry later also said the rocket broke into several pieces in the air a few minutes after launch, based on joint intelligence from South Korea and the United States.

North Korea had announced it was planning the launch of an observation satellite to celebrate Sunday’s centennial of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country’s late founder.

“There is not a lot of information being disseminated at this point,” said Richard Engel, NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent, who is in North Korea. “But we did hear just a short while ago after the launch took place, after it was confirmed internationally, some martial music playing in the street, some fighter jets flying overhead. This is a national celebration time in North Korea and this rocket launch and this satellite launch, as the government describes it, is seen as a source of pride.”

The Japanese Defense Minister said early Friday that the North Korea rocket test had no effect on Japanese territory.

The U.S. earlier canceled food aid when North Korea announced the rocket test, despite Pyongyang’s February agreement to suspend all tests in exchange for food, NBC News reported.

Earlier Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after meeting with G8 foreign ministers that the U.S. would be going to the UN Security Council to seek action. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice is the rotating President of the Security Council and controls when to call a meeting.

North Korea launches long-range missile

North Korea launched a long-range rocket early Friday, U.S. officials confirmed.

The White House said it would issue a statement, NBC News reported.

The launch, which North Korea’s neighbors and the West say is a disguised ballistic missile test, will take a three-stage rocket over a sea separating the Korean peninsula from China before releasing a weather satellite into orbit when the third stage fires over waters near the Philippines.

Regional powers also worry it could be the prelude to another nuclear test, a pattern the hermit state set in 2009.

The South Korean Defense Ministry announced that North Korea fired the long range rocket around Friday morning around 7:38 a.m. and the success of the launch was being tracked by the joint military of South Korea and United States.

North Korea begins to fuel rockets

North Korea said on Wednesday it was injecting fuel into a long-range rocket “as we speak” ahead of a launch condemned by its neighbors and the West.

The launch is set to take place between Thursday and next Monday and has prompted neighbors such as the Philippines to re-route their air traffic just in case.

Japan said it would shoot down the rocket if it crossed its airspace.

The launch of the Unha-3 rocket, which North Korea says will merely put a weather satellite into space, breaches U.N. sanctions imposed to prevent Pyongyang from developing a missile that could carry a nuclear warhead.

 

“This launch will give credence to the view that North Korean leaders see improved relations with the outside world as a threat to their system,” Clinton told cadets at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

“And recent history strongly suggests that additional provocations may follow.”

She also called on China to do more to ensure regional stability.

China, impoverished North Korea’s only major ally, on Tuesday reiterated its pleas for calm and said it had “repeatedly expressed its concern and anxiety about the developments”, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a press briefing in Beijing.

No grand jury for Travyon Martin case states Prosecutor

A special prosecutor has decided not to use a grand jury in the Trayvon Martin case.

State Attorney Angela Corey’s decision is not to be considered a factor in whether charges are eventually brought against George Zimmerman, Corey’s office said in a statement.

The grand jury, which was previously scheduled by the prosecutor, was set to convene on Tuesday.

Martin, a 17-year-old from Miami Gardens, was shot to death by Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, at a gated community in Sanford on Feb. 26.

Mega Millions Update – Winning tickets sold in 3 states

Winning tickets for the record-breaking $640 million Mega Millions jackpot were sold in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland, according to the Massachusetts State Lottery and The Associated Press.

The winning Illinois ticket — a quick pick sold at the Moto Mart in Red Bud, Illinois — is worth $213.3 million, according to the Illinois lottery.

The winning Maryland ticket was sold in Baltimore County, the Maryland Lottery said Saturday.

The winning numbers were 2, 4, 23, 38, 46 with a Mega Ball of 23.

California Lottery Commission spokesman Alex Traverso said 29 tickets sold in that state matched five of the six winning numbers. He said the payout will be about $125,000 to $130,000.

The multistate jackpot caused long lines at convenience stores, with many dreaming of creative ways to quit their jobs if they get the lucky numbers.

Sales skyrocketed at Manhattan Tobacco, a New York convenience store, cashier Alex Shanahe said. He said the store has proved to be lucky before, having sold winning tickets of $3 million and $5 million.

“The sales have tripled. Everybody wants to win the Mega Millions,” Shanahe said before the drawing.

A single winner could claim yearly payments or a one-time cash option of $462 million, Mega Millions spokeswoman Kelly Cripe said.

Official: Winning lottery ticket sold in Maryland

Maryland lottery officials have announced early Saturday their state sold what could become the world’s largest lottery payout of all-time, but it was unclear if that ticket holder would get sole possession of the $640 million jackpot.

Carole Everett, director of communications for the Maryland Lottery, told the AP the winning Mega Millions ticket was purchased at a Baltimore County store. She said it’s too early to know any other information about the lucky ticket-holder or whether others were sold elsewhere in the nation.

The winning numbers for the Mega Millions prize were 46, 23, 38, 4, 2; mega ball was 23, lottery officials said late Friday.

Video of Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin case raises questions

 

 

Forensic experts say newly released video by police of the man who shot Trayvon Martin raises more questions than it answers — but that’s not stopping droves of amateur sleuths on TV, Twitter and Facebook from scrutinizing it anyway.

“I think the public should not draw any conclusions from this at all,” said Grant Fredericks, who once headed the forensic video unit for the Vancouver (British Columbia) Police Department.

The video should be just a fraction of the evidence available to police as they investigate George Zimmerman’s claim that he shot and killed Trayvon, 17, after the teenager allegedly punched the neighborhood watch volunteer in the nose and slammed his head against the ground, Fredericks said.

The Feb. 26 shooting in Sanford, Fla., has brought national attention because Trayvon’s family claims Zimmerman killed the unarmed youth after racially stereotyping him. Trayvon was black. Police say Zimmerman is white; his family says he is Hispanic.

Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., told CNN Thursday that reports his brother was chasing the teen are “absolutely false” and that he “was not patrolling the neighborhood. He was going to a store, Target.”

Robert Zimmerman said the voice heard screaming on 911 tapes is that of his brother, who acted to save his own life. He said George Zimmerman “was very disappointed that none of the neighbors had come out” to help him. He said his brother would have been dead “if he had not acted decisively and instantaneously.”

The police security camera video shows Zimmerman exiting a patrol car and entering the Sanford Police Department about 35 minutes after the shooting. Images of Zimmerman’s head and face reveal no obvious cuts or gashes, but at one point, a police officer inspects the back of his head. Zimmerman’s lawyer, Craig Sonner, told NBC’s Today the video supports his client’s story because the officer may have been looking at an injury.

The public weighed in on social media sites. Many expressed disbelief at Zimmerman’s claim that he fired in self-defense, and pointed to the grainy video as proof.

Trayvon’s family and supporters say Zimmerman’s lack of apparent injury in the video shows he lied about the teen attacking him.

Forensic video expert David Notowitz, founder of the National Center for Audio and Video Forensics, says much work remains before investigators can draw evidence from the video. “Right now, people are jumping to frantic conclusions,” he said.

 

Mega Millions jackpot swells to $640 million

Lottery ticket lines swelled as the record Mega Millions jackpot grew to $640 million, thanks greatly to players who opened their wallets despite long odds of success. Officials estimated ticket-buyers will have spent more than $1.46 billion on the jackpot by the time Friday night’s numbers are drawn.

A cafe worker in Arizona reported selling $2,600 worth of tickets to one buyer, while a retired soldier in Wisconsin doubled his regular weekly ticket spending to $55. But each would have to put down millions more to guarantee winning what could be the biggest single lotto payout in the world.

“I feel like a fool throwing that kind of money away,” said Jesse Carter, who spent the $55 and donated the last two tickets he bought at a Milwaukee store Friday to a charity. “But it’s a chance you take in life, with anything you do.”

The jackpot, if taken as a $462 million lump sum and after federal tax withholding, works out to about $347 million. With the jackpot odds at 1 in 176 million, it would cost $176 million to buy up every combination. Under that scenario, the strategy would win $171 million less if your state also withholds taxes.

Laura Horsley, who does communications and marketing for a trade association, bought $20 worth of Quick Pick tickets at a downtown Washington, D.C., liquor store Friday. But Horsley, who said she won’t buy a lottery ticket unless the jackpot tops $100 million, remained realistic.

“I don’t actually think I’m going to win, and I don’t believe in superstitions or numbers or anything like that,” she said. “I just figured it’s right around the corner. I’d be crazy not at least to give it a shot.”

Thousands of players — who converged on convenience stores in 42 states and Washington, D.C., where Mega Millions tickets are sold — agreed.

Kelly Cripe, a spokeswoman for the Texas Lottery Commission, said that as of Tuesday, nationwide sales for the Mega Millions drawing totaled more than $839 million. Officials projected an additional $618.5 million in sales ahead of Friday’s drawing, however, for a projected total sales figure of more than $1.46 billion.

Trayvon Martin case ‘not as conclusive as people think’, says legal expert

Defense attorney explains how lack of forensic evidence would complicate potential prosecution of George Zimmerman

Florida prosecutors face significant hurdles building a case against the man who killed Trayvon Martin, a legal expert has told the Guardian.

Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University and a defense attorney, said the case had several “murky” elements which are likely to prove difficult for the prosecution, including within the 911 tape which appears to suggest Zimmerman was the one in pursuit of Martin.

Turley said the evidence was not nearly as conclusive of guilt as many people have assumed. “Some parts of the 911 tape would work to the disadvantage of Zimmerman, others to his advantage,” he said. “It would be a very difficult case for the prosecution without more evidence.”

It has him ignoring requests not to follow Martin but it includes a portion where he is saying that Martin is approaching him. We have heard reports that Zimmerman was bleeding as the result of a struggle. Zimmerman was a big individual and was armed. It’s difficult to believe because of his size and the fact that he was armed that he felt in imminent threat of death. But lawyers could point to the tape showing that Zimmerman believed Martin might be armed. That Martin was moving towards him and checking him out. All of that is likely to be playing to a jury with the question of intend and whether he had a reasonable fear of serious injury or death.

At one point in the tape, Zimmerman refers to Martin’s hand in his waistband.

Turley believes that the case is going to turn on classic criminal defense elements under common law, where an individual is allowed to use lethal force if they fear injury or death.

“You lose that defense if you are the aggressor or if you do not have a reasonable basis for fear or serious harm or death. Even if he is not the aggressor there will remain the question of escalation or confrontation.”

The key difficulty, said Turley, is the “maddening gap” of evidence at the critical time of confrontation.

“At what point does a physical struggle justify the use of lethal force? If I was the defense counsel in the case, the first thing I would do is the trajectory of the bullet, how close it was to Martin, where it was fired.”

Turley said the racial element is unclear. In the 911 tape, Zimmerman says “He looks black” and then says “he’s a black male”.

“The Zimmerman family have denied any racial element. On the tape he initially appears not to know the race, but then later does. All of these elements are murky.”

Nevertheless, Turley believes there was enough evidence to arrest Zimmerman and to secure an indictment.

“Police would have been on solid grounds to arrest him. You have an unarmed teenager and someone who does not comply with a request that he not follow Martin.

“That doesn’t mean there’s enough evidence to secure a conviction.”

Even under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, Turley said, Zimmerman, if indicted, would still have to demonstrate he had a reasonable fear of death or serious injury.

Witness Heard Cries Before Trayvon Martin Was Shot

As the Sanford, Florida police continue to “investigate” the shooting of 17-year old Trayvon Martin, more witness are coming forward with their own testimonies.

Mary Cutcher, a resident of the Retreat at Twin Lakes community where the shooting happened tells the Miami Herald she heard crying before the shots rang out.

“I heard someone crying — not boo-hoo crying, but scared or terrified or hurt maybe,” she says. “To me, it was a child.”

So far the only official statement surrounding the incident is the one made by police, saying that they believe Neighborhood Watch member George Zimmerman’s self-defense story where he admits to trailing Martin when he spotted him in the neighborhood, approaching him, getting assaulted by him and then shooting him to protect his own life. Martin was unarmed.

“This was not self-defense,” Cutcher says. “We heard no fighting, no wrestling, no punching. We heard a boy crying. As soon as the shot went off, it stopped, which tells me it was the child crying. If it had been Zimmerman crying, it wouldn’t have stopped. If you’re hurting, you’re hurting.”

Cutcher was sitting beside an open window with her friend Selma Mora Lamilla, who says she also heard the cries, and ran outside to see Zimmerman standing over Martin’s body.

“I asked him, ‘What’s happening here? What’s going on?’ ” she tells the paper. “The third time, I was indignant, and he said, ‘just call the police.’ Then I saw him with his hands over his head in the universal sign of: ‘Oh man, I messed up.’ ”

She continues, “I know what I heard. I heard a cry and a shot. If there was a fight, it did not happen here where the boy was shot. I would have heard it, as this all happened right outside my open window.”

An eighth-grader who was walking his dog around the same time also says he heard crying.

“I saw someone lying on the ground, and I heard screaming,” says the 13-year old named “Austin” (his last name has not been published). “I don’t know that it was the person on the [ground] who was screaming, but to me it sounded like a kid who was crying. It was a yell for help, and I think it was Trayvon.”

In an interview with the Miami Herald, where Trayvon is from, his mother Sybrina Fulton says that it was not in his character to get into altercations with people, let alone adults.

“I think he felt like he was in a strange position,” she says. “He did not know who this guy was, this guy did not identify himself as a police officer or security guard. I feel like he wanted to get away from the situation and Zimmerman prevented him from doing that.”

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