Sanders tax returns show both income and tax rate jumped after presidential campaign, revealing millionaire status

Political News Sanders tax returns show both income and tax rate jumped after presidential campaign, revealing millionaire status

Mark Makela/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a senator famous for his campaign against the unjust power of the richest 1%, released years of tax returns on Monday that showed he is now a millionaire himself.

Sanders reported an adjusted gross income of nearly $561,293 and paid $145,840, a 26% effective rate, in 2018, the documents show. In 2016 and 2017, Sanders reported earning $1.06 million and $1.13 million in adjusted gross income and paid at a 35% and 30% effective rate, respectively.

The effective rates and income both represent substantial increases from 2014, which was the last year of tax returns publicly released by the candidate, when he earned $205,617 and paid a 13.4% effective rate. Sanders has said in interviews that his recent increase in income is due to the success of his books: 2016’s “Our Revolution,” which came out after Trump took the presidency and earned a spot on the Times’ bestseller list and 2018’s “Where We Go from Here: Two Years in the Resistance.”

Sanders reported earning over $850,000 as an author in 2017 and nearly $800,000 as an author in 2016.

His millionaire status, paired with decades of avid criticism of the millionaire and billionaire class, sets him up for scrutiny in a crowded field of Democrats running for the 2020 nomination.

“Bernie Sanders has been filing detailed financial disclosures for almost 30 years, and he is proud to voluntarily make these tax returns available many months before the election, “ said campaign manager Faiz Shakir. “Senator Sanders believes it is a privilege to live in the United States and he believes it is patriotic to pay the taxes that support our country. As a strong proponent of transparency, the senator hopes President Trump and all Democratic primary candidates will disclose their tax returns.”

Though Sanders is not the only millionaire in the group — Sen. Kamala Harris of California reported an income of $1.9 million between her and her husband, who is an attorney — he is most well-known for having made his career by railing against the economic inequalities caused by America’s richest, a system he criticizes for leaving the bottom 99% with less money than the top 1%.

In a recent op-ed, he outlined his now-familiar promise to take on the “powerful special interests” stemming from “the greed of Wall Street, the power of gigantic multinational corporations and the influence of the global billionaire class.”

In 2016, a major attraction for his strong cohort of young voters was his promise of free tuition at all public colleges and universities, paid for with a new tax on Wall Street trades.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has also made anti-corruption a key focus of her campaign, reported the next highest income out of the six Democrats who have released at least a decade of returns, showing an adjusted gross income between her and her husband of over $846,000.

Warren released 10 years of her tax returns last year and followed with an 11th year of released returns last week.

Other Democratic hopefuls Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee have also released returns dating back to 2007. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota released 12 years of tax returns through 2017 earlier this month.

Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said the 2020 Democratic primary candidates have set a new standard for financial transparency for future White House bids.

“We’re seeing more returns, and sooner, than ever before,” Rosenthal told ABC News. “I think we’ll see every serious candidate on the Democratic side of the ledger release their tax returns.”

The wait for Sanders’ tax returns lasted well over a month following his promise in a CNN town hall in February that they would be coming “soon.”

Sanders released a portion of his 2014 tax returns last presidential election cycle, followed by his full 2014 tax returns in the face of pressure. But his efforts at transparency paled in comparison to his opponent for the Democratic nomination Hillary Clinton, who released eight years of her tax returns.

President Donald Trump did not release any of his tax returns during the campaign and has yet to show any signs he will do so ahead of the 2020 election.

Up against criticism that, like Trump, Sanders was not being transparent, the senator said he was going to release them on Tax Day and urged the president to do the same.

In an interview with the New York Times, he said his tax returns would be “more boring” because he’s not a billionaire with investments in Saudi Arabia or “wherever he has investments, all over the world.”

Sanders also defended his new millionaire status.

“I wrote a best-selling book,” he said in the interview. “If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”

It’s tradition for presidential candidates, and most candidates for federal office, to release their tax returns. Trump has repeatedly said he will not because he’s under audit, though Democrats have not retreated from the issue.

Democrats in the House renewed efforts again in early April to force the president’s hand in delivering at least six years of personal and business returns.

On the Senate side, Warren recently introduced a bill that would force candidates to release their tax returns by law.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Apr 2019

Everything you need to know about the measles outbreak

Manjurul/iStock(NEW YORK) — The number of measles cases in the U.S. so far in 2019 is now more than 460, compared to 374 cases confirmed in all of 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Michigan has 39 cases of measles on record so far this year, the highest number of measles in the state since 1991, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

New York’s Rockland County issued an unprecedented state of emergency last month, banning unvaccinated minors from public places, as 153 cases of measles have been confirmed there as of late March.

While measles is in the headlines, many questions remain about what the virus is, the dangers it brings and how it can be prevented.

ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton appeared on “Good Morning America” Monday to break down what you need to know about what she describes as “the single most infectious virus in the world.”

What is the big deal about measles?

These stats from the CDC show how serious measles really is.

– More than 100,000 people worldwide died of measles in 2017.

– Of children who are infected with measles, 1 in 10 will develop an ear infection that could lead to deafness.

– 1 in 20 children with measles will develop pneumonia that could require support in the intensive care unit.

– 1 in 1,000 cases of measles will cause brain swelling, which could be deadly.

– 1 to 2 out of 1,000 children with measles will die of the disease.

How does measles spread?

Measles is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing, according to the CDC.

Early symptoms of measles include fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat. Those symptoms are then followed by a rash of small, red spots that spread over the body.

Why am I hearing more about measles this year?

The CDC attributes the growth of measles cases in the U.S. in recent years to two factors:

1) “More measles cases than usual in some countries to which Americans often travel (such as England, France, Germany, India, the Philippines and Vietnam) and therefore more measles cases coming into the US,” according to the CDC.

2) “More spreading of measles in U.S. communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.”

How do I know if I’m protected against measles?

The CDC says that written documentation showing at least one of the following means you are protected from measles:

1) You received two doses of measles-containing vaccine, and you are a school-aged child (grades K-12) or adult who will be in a setting that poses a high risk for measles transmission.

2) You received one dose of measles-containing vaccine, and you are a preschool-aged child or adult who will not be in a high-risk setting for measles transmission.

3) A laboratory confirmed that you had measles at some point in your life.

4) A laboratory confirmed that you are immune to measles.

5) You were born before 1957 (In which case are presumed to have been naturally exposed to measles.)

According to the CDC, information about your vaccination history can be found by checking with your parents or other caregivers for records of your childhood immunizations; checking with previous employers and school health services for dates of immunizations; checking with your doctor or public health clinic; contacting your state’s health department if your state maintains a registry.

Keep in mind that schools, employers and doctors are only required to maintain patients’ records for a limited number of years.

What is the measles vaccine?

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, as well as mumps and rubella.

The CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months, and the second dose at 4 to 6.

Two doses of the vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles, while one dose is about 93% effective, according to the CDC.

Do I need an updated vaccine if I’ve already been vaccinated?

In short, no.

If you received two doses of measles vaccine as children according to the U.S. vaccination schedule, you are protected for life, according to CDC guidelines.

Adults like college students, healthcare personnel and international travelers who are going to be in a setting that “poses a high risk for measles transmission” need to make sure they have had two doses of the measles vaccine separated by at least 28 days, according to the CDC.

Should I get a blood test to see if I’m protected against measles?

No, according to Ashton.

“The [blood] test was designed to see if you have been naturally exposed,” she said. “That’s different than vaccine protection.”

A blood test would detect antibodies to the measles virus. People who have written documentation of two doses of the measles vaccine do not need to get their antibody levels checked.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Texas authorities identify 2 victims in decades-old ‘Killing Fields’ murders using genetic genealogy

U.S. NEWS Texas authorities identify 2 victims in decades-old 'Killing Fields' murders using genetic genealogy

KTRK-TV(LEAGUE CITY, Texas) — Investigators in Texas have identified the remains of two women in a decades-long cold case by using genetic genealogy .

The murders of the women, named Jane Doe and Janet Doe, were part of a larger murder mystery known locally as the “The Calder Road Murders” or “The Killing Fields,” involving four women in total, according to authorities.

The first body was found on April 6, 1984, when the family dog of Heidi Fi brought her skeletal remains to her home on Ervin Street in League City, Texas, League City Police Chief Gary Ratliff told reporters at a news conference Monday. Fi had been reported missing on Oct. 10, 1983, when she was 25 years old. The rest of her remains were located in a wooded area near the home, Ratliff said.

The second body was found on Feb. 2, 1986, by two juveniles who were riding bikes in the same area where Fi’s body was discovered on Calder Road, Ratliff said. As investigators processed the scene, another body was found in close proximity but they were in “vastly different stages of decomposition,” Ratliff said.

The second body was unable to be identified, so the medical examiner named the remains Jane Doe, Ratliff said. Officials were able to identify the other body as Laura Miller, who was reported missing on Sept. 24, 1984, when she was 16 years old. Officials used dental records to identity her remains.

Sometime after 1986, an area nearby was leased for recreational horse riding, Ratliff said. Two people riding horses in the area in September 1991 found the fourth body, which was given the name Janet Doe by the medical examiner, Ratliff said.

A connection between all four murders has not been determined yet, other than the location of where their remains were found, said League City Police Lt. Michael Bluffington.

Authorities are now seeking the public’s assistance to find out more information about the women before the time of their deaths. Several persons of interests have been identified but authorities currently do not have enough to officially name anyone as a suspect, Bluffington said.

“We want to compete the investigation,” Bluffington said. “At this time, we really just want to focus on these girls, who they were, the people that knew them and that’s kind of where we wanna steer this today.”

Jane Doe identified as Audrey Lee Cook

Audrey Lee Cook was born on Nov. 25, 1955, in Memphis, Tennessee, and lived in Houston and Channelview, Texas, between 1976 and 1985, Ratliff said. She was estimated to be about 30 years old at the time of her death.

Cook moved to the Houston area with her girlfriend at the time to establish “a new life,” Bluffington said. She regularly communicated with her parents via letters and phone calls and when they hadn’t heard from her in a while, they traveled to Houston to search for her, Bluffington said.

In 1979, she was working as a mechanic for a golf cart company in Houston, later getting a job at the Harrison Equipment Corporation, a construction equipment company, Ratliff said.

At some point she started working for National Rent-A-Car but the dates of her employment are unknown, Ratliff said.

Associates of Cook also reported to authorities that she possibly sold and used cocaine, Ratliff said. She and her girlfriend had broken up at the time of her disappearance, Bluffington said.

Janet Doe identified as Donna Prudhomme

Donna Prudhomme was born on April 23, 1957, in Port Arthur, Texas, and was estimated to be about 34 years old at the time of her death, Ratliff said. Between 1982 to 1985 she lived in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area, moving to Austin in 1986, Ratliff said.

In 1988, she moved to the Seabrook, Texas, area, where she lived in several apartment complexes. She also lived in Nassau Bay, Texas, in 1991, Ratliff said. She was last seen in July 1991.

Authorities currently do not have any information about Prudhomme’s employment, Bluffington said, adding that she was a “frequent patron” of several of the local bars in the Seabrook and Nassau Bay areas.

Prudhomme “just kind of fell out of contact with her family,” Bluffington said. Her sister knew she was living in the Seabrook area and the two had communicated a few times by mail. But “they just kind of lived different lives,” Bluffington said.

The purpose of one of Prudhomme’s moves was to escape an abusive relationship and she arranged for her two sons live with their grandparents, Bluffington said.

Only one of her sons is still living. When investigators spoke to him, he told them he “kind of thought his mom just moved on.”

How they were identified

League City Police detectives “worked diligently” since the bodies were discovered to identify Jane Doe and Janet Doe, Ratliff said.

In 2016, the department learned of Parabon NanoLabs, a Virginia-based company that provides DNA phenotyping for law enforcement, Ratliff said. The skulls of the unidentified victims were taken to Texas State University, where 3D composites were printed.

After the phenotyping was completed, investigators began working with GenMatch to use genetic genealogy to compose family trees for both of the victims.

Once the family trees were completed, authorities were able to locate the son and sister of Janet Doe and coordinate DNA collections for family members of Jane Doe that were out of state.

After the DNA comparisons were conducted from family members, positive matches were made, Ratliff said. The medical examiner agreed with the results and is now in the process of amending the death certificates, Ratliff said.

The families are now undergoing a “formal grieving process” now that they know “that their loved one is actually deceased, not just missing or living a new life somewhere,” Bluffington said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Apr 2019

Fake blood, Coffee Mate & paper snow: “Game of Thrones” by the numbers

Entertainment News  Fake blood, Coffee Mate & paper snow: "Game of Thrones" by the numbers


HBO/Helen Sloan(LOS ANGELES) — While the numbers are still being tallied for the ratings for Sunday night’s eighth season premiere of Game of Thrones, here are some other interesting figures that HBO has already tallied about its Emmy winning juggernaut:

1.4 million – Number of on-set shots taken by HBO photographer Helen Sloan

68,143 – Hotel rooms booked; 19,722 travel documents have been issued for cast and crew

4,000 – Gallons of fake blood used

12,137 – Number of wigs and hairpieces made and worn on the show

1.5 tons – How much metal has been used to make arms and armor 

20,907 –  How many candles used

3,000 – The number of pyrotechnic effects over eight seasons

1,102 pounds – how much Coffee Mate was used to bulk up on-set explosions

52,000 – Number of bags of paper snow used to make Winter arrive

132 – How many Emmy nominations the show received, with 47 wins

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Apr 2019

Suspected arsonist facing hate crime charges over Louisiana black church fires

U.S. NEWS Suspected arsonist facing hate crime charges over Louisiana black church fires

Chalabala/iStock(NEW YORK) — The man who was arrested after a string of fires left historically black churches gravely burned is now facing hate crime charges.

Holden Matthews was arrested Wednesday after investigators tied him to three church fires that spanned a 10-day period in Louisiana’s St. Landry Parrish.

Matthews, the 21-year-old son of a sheriff’s deputy, appeared in court in Opelousas on Monday. He entered a not guilty plea via his court-appointed lawyer.

Matthews was denied bond on Monday, which law enforcement officials pushed for because they view him as a continued threat.

“In my mind, I felt another fire was imminent,” Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning siad in court on Monday.

Browning made similar sentiments shortly after apprehending Matthews. During a news conference on Thursday, Browning said officials were still working to determine his motives, but added they found that Matthews had ties to “black metal and its association and history with church burnings in other parts of the world.”

Black metal, a distant genre of devil-worshipping death metal music, has roots in the Norwegian heavy metal scene that reportedly was the inspiration for several church burnings in the country in the early 1990s.

Matthews’ father, who works for the local sheriff’s department, was present at Monday’s hearing.

The three fires investigators tied Matthews to were all near the town of Opelousas, and no one was hurt as no one was inside any of the structures at the time of the blazes.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Apr 2019

Suspect in Mar-a-Lago security incident pleads not guilty, ordered held

Political News Suspect in Mar-a-Lago security incident pleads not guilty, ordered held

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Chinese woman at the center of a recent security breach at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago country club was denied bond Monday after she pleaded not guilty in federal court in Florida.

Yujing Zhang, 33, is accused of lying her way through two security checkpoints at the “Winter White House” in late March before she was identified by a receptionist as not being on the club’s access list.

A criminal complaint filed against her called attention to the electronics Zhang had on her, including four cell phones and a thumb drive that the Secret Service said had malware on it, based on a preliminary analysis.

In previous testimony, a Secret Service agent painted the supposed malware as invasive and claimed that an analyst had to shut down his computer after plugging the thumb drive in to “halt any further corruption.”

But on Monday Assistant U.S. Attorney Rolando Garcia revealed that the identification of the malware may have been a “false positive” and that additional analysis had been unable to replicate the drive’s actions that had caused concern.

Still, U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman indicated the court remained suspicious of Zhang’s defense after a host of other electronic devices allegedly was found in her hotel room, including another cell phone, several SIM cards and a device designed to detect hidden cameras.

“It does appear to the court that Ms. Zhang was up to something nefarious,” Matthewman said.

Matthewman ordered that Zhang remain in custody ahead of trial, saying that if released, the court feared she would “flee” to China.

Zhang, who previously told the court she was a consultant to a Chinese investment firm, was charged in an indictment Friday with lying to federal agents and entering a restricted area.

A public defender for Zhang argued Monday that it was all a “genuine misunderstanding” and that Zhang had been accidentally allowed in the club because she had the same last name – a very common one in China – as a club member.

In a previous detention hearing, Zhang’s attorney suggested she had gone to the club for an event that evening that had been canceled. But Monday, prosecutors presented evidence they called communications between Zhang and a man who was promoting the event. They said they showed that Zhang was aware two days before she left China for the U.S. that the event had been canceled.

On Monday, Zhang’s attorneys told the court Zhang wanted a jury trial and that she “wants her name cleared so she can continue her career in finance and business.”

Zhang is not charged with any espionage-related crimes, but prosecutors said last week that possibility was still under investigation. On Monday, prosecutors said the analysis of Zhang’s electronics remains ongoing and that there could be additional charges.

Some experts have told ABC News they’re skeptical of what they said would be “terrible tradecraft” for a professional spy.

“There are aspects of this that don’t make her seem like such a high-tech spy, at least in terms of what we’ve seen so far,” said Marcus Christian, a former executive assistant U.S. attorney in Florida’s Southern District where the case is playing out. “But it remains to be seen what other evidence might emerge in this case.”

The breach raised concerns about the security apparatus at Mar-a-Lago, and Democratic lawmakers asked the FBI to assess the situation.

“Mar-a-Lago presents a different protective environment because it’s almost like you have a private residence with a public space,” Don Mihalek, a former senior Secret Service agent and ABC News contributor, said after the incident. “Other presidential residences, they’re pure residences. … Mar-a-Lago is both a private residence and a private club that allows members in.”

President Trump wasn’t at the club at the time of the incident, instead visiting a nearby golf course.

In February 2019, the GAO determined the Secret Service had put in place sufficient security measures to protect the president, but described a burdensome and expensive process in doing so.

After a briefing by the Secret Service days after the incident, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., told reporters he was satisfied that the Secret Service “has done a pretty good job” and said he was “confident” in the president’s security.

Zhang has been in custody since her arrest March 30.

The Chinese government has not commented on the case except to say that Zhang has been provided with consular assistance, generally a routine matter when foreign nationals are involved in the U.S. legal system.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Apr 2019

Notre Dame: The national and architectural significance of the historic cathedral

WORLD NEWS Notre Dame: The national and architectural significance of the historic cathedral

Alexandra D. Urban/iStock(PARIS) — There are few monuments that are more distinctly French or more woven into the history of France than Notre Dame Cathedral.

As images of the fire ravaging through the historic church sparked outcries around the globe, people from all walks of life are mourning.

Its place in Catholicism is undisputed, as is its role in French history. It was the site of some of the most notable coronations, including that of Emperor Napoleon.

Beyond the Catholics who attend mass there and the tourists who go to look for a glimpse of Quasimodo, the cathedral represents a landmark in Parisian life that is now likely permanently scarred, if not disfigured or ruined.

“Notre Dame Cathedral is the very soul of Paris but so much more — it is a touchstone for all that is the best about the world, and a monument to the highest aspirations of artistic achievement that transcends religion and time,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art said in a statement.

“It has survived so much — from the French Revolution to Nazi occupation—to watch its devastation is excruciating,” the statement continued.

Edward Berenson, a history professor who specializes in French history at New York University, said Notre Dame is “one of the most sacred places, maybe the most sacred place, not only in France but in all of Catholicism. There aren’t that many places that are that old and that connected to the history of the church.”

He went on, “Notre Dame has evolved into a place where every French person can feel belongs to them, whether they’re religious or not, and I think that’s the really key point: it has national meaning. It’s one of the things that’s associated with France even more so than the Eiffel Tower just because it’s so much older than the Eiffel Tower.”

Beyond its religious significance, Notre Dame was the site of many French coronations.

Notre Dame was built over the course of a century, starting in 1160 and ending in 1260, centuries before any country in North America, South America, or Africa was formally founded. The Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889.

The cathedral is located at the center of Ile de la Cite, which is the small island in the middle of the Seine River, which Berenson notes “is the original Paris.”

“Even before Roman times, [that’s] where the first settlements were,” he said of Ile de la Cite.

The cathedral is 130 meters long, which is a little longer than a football field, and 48 meters wide. One of the most distinctive aspects of the cathedral is its height, coming in at 35 meters high, according to the cathedral’s website.

“Architecturally, it was significant at the time it was built because it was built in the Gothic tradition,” said Krupali Krusche, the associate dean of the school of architecture at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, who pointed to the lightness of the walls and the flying buttress support system as two key factors in that style.

She said that the “very thin shell [of the building] and the light buttresses on the shell allow it to reach greater heights than any catholic church previously built.”

Another iconic part of Notre Dame is the stained glass rose windows, which are more than 32 feet in diameter. When asked to name some of the most significant and historic aspects of the cathedral, Berenson immediately cited the windows, calling them “priceless.”

“You would have to think that they would be unbelievably vulnerable to high heat,” Berenson said.

Krusche noted that beyond their beauty, the rose windows “are some of the largest rose windows that you will see around the world” and were unique at the time of their creation.

“Gothic architecture allowed the buildings to be lighter and to go higher, reaching out to the heavens, and then the light allowed it to be having a sense of being able to connect to new knowledge,” Krusche said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Apr 2019

Flames cause ‘colossal damages’ to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, officials say

WORLD NEWS Flames cause 'colossal damages' to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, officials say

FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) — A fire has broken out at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, one of the city’s most iconic sights.

The fire began at 6:50 p.m. local time Monday, the Paris fire department said, and continued to burn more than two hours later.

A spokesperson for the cathedral described the damage to French media as “colossal.”

“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” the spokesperson said.

First responders are currently trying to salvage priceless art stored inside the cathedral, said Paris Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire.

Images on social media show smoke and flames shooting from the top of Notre Dame as massive plumes of smoke billow into the sky above.

One video shows a spire toppling over as a result of the flames.

The fire may be connected to the recent restoration of the church, officials said.

The roof has completely collapsed, witness John Dickas, an American professor living in Paris, told ABC News.

Large crowds have begun to gather around the scene. Some members of the crowd began to sing hymns as the cathedral burned.

The cathedral was built around 1260 AD and towered over the city of Paris for centuries. Much of the facade and interior are true to their original designs.

 French President Emmanuel Macron expressed sadness at the sight of the historic building’s demise, saying it captures the “emotion of an entire nation.”

“Thinking of all the Catholics and all the French people,” Macron wrote. “Like all of our countrymen, I am sad tonight to see part of us burning.”

Monday is the start of Holy Week, the busiest and most important period of the liturgical year. Easter is on Sunday.

 American Kelly Weymouth, who is currently studying abroad in Paris, said she was taking a sunset cruise on the Seine river with her mother when the fire broke out.

At one point, the traffic on the river was stopped, and Weymouth and about 40 fellow passengers from all over the world watched in horror for about 45 minutes as the fire destroyed the cathedral, she said.

The Frenchmen who were on the boat began to sob and embrace each other, Weymouth said, describing the moment as “very intense.”

3:45 p.m. ET:

The Vatican press office issued a statement expressing shock and sadness at the loss of the cathedral, which it described as a “symbol of Christianity in France and in the world.”

“We express our closeness to French Catholics and the Parisians and assure them of our prayers for the firefighters and all those that are doing everything possible to fight this dramatic situation,” the statement read.

3:50 p.m. ET:

UNESCO released a statement saying it is “standing by France’s side to safeguard and restore this invaluable heritage.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Apr 2019

US gave verbal pledge of no death penalty for Assange: Sources

WORLD NEWS US gave verbal pledge of no death penalty for Assange: Sources

pabradyphoto/iStock(LONDON) — After nearly seven years essentially trapped inside Ecuador’s embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had become an expensive bother to his hosts – they wanted him out.

“They were over him, he was a big nuisance,” one senior U.S. official told ABC News. “They were saying ‘This is too much. How do we get him out?’”

But revoking his diplomatic asylum at a time when he was wanted by the United States for his alleged role in hacking and publicizing some of the nation’s most sensitive government secrets would come only after covert, back-channel negotiations, ABC News has learned.

The process of moving Assange out of the Ecuadorian Embassy started a year ago, on March 7, 2018, when the Ecuadorians made their first request to the U.K.: a letter asking for written assurances that the U.K. would not extradite Assange to a country where he could face the death penalty, according to the Ecuadorian Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo.

Ecuador’s direct outreach to the U.S. came six months later, through the country’s ambassador to Germany, Manuel Mejia Dalmau, according to U.S. and Ecuadorian officials. Dalmau sought a private “emergency meeting” in Berlin with the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, viewed as one of President Donald Trump’s closest envoys in Europe, the officials said.

At the time, Dalmau said Ecuador was spending between $30,000 and $35,000 per month to house Assange because of his need for extra security and his demands for extra space within the embassy, according to a senior U.S. official, who was not authorized to discuss the issue on the record.

The Latin American country said it has spent $10 million on Assange, including medical expenses, legal counsel, food and laundry since 2012 when Assange first sought asylum from Sweden where he was the subject of a rape investigation – an inquiry he has claimed was politically motivated. Prosecutors in Sweden on Thursday announced they intended to re-open the investigation.

Assange’s presence was also creating a squeeze on the Ecuador’s London facilities, forcing officials there to rent additional offices for an expanding diplomatic staff because Assange took up so much space.

The challenge the Ecuadorans faced in turning him over to British officials, though, was the prospect of Assange facing the death penalty, which Ecuador strongly opposes. Dalmau was blunt in his request, according to U.S. and Ecuadorian officials.

During one meeting, Dalmau asked whether the U.S. would commit to not putting Assange to death, according to a senior US. official.

Grenell then contacted the U.S Justice Department to see if he could provide assurances that the U.S. government would not seek the death penalty. According to the senior U.S. official, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein consented. That enabled Grenell to make the pledge. The agreement between the U.S. and Ecuador was a verbal one, according to a source in the Ecuadoran government.

The State Department declined to comment on this story.

U.S. Justice Department officials would not confirm that the U.S. agreed to take any sentence off the table. But they pointedly noted that the charge the U.S unsealed against Assange does not represent a capital offense and carries a maximum of five years in prison.

The Justice Department has 60 days from the time of the request for extradition to add any charges and would not comment on future charges.

There are only 41 U.S. federal offenses punishable by the death penalty. Nearly all of them have to do with murder or death resulting from some other crime or action. Two notable exceptions are treason and espionage. It is unclear if the U.S. ever contemplated an espionage charge, or if one would have been applicable for the conduct described in the indictment filed under seal in March 2018 in the Eastern District of Virginia. The indictment alleges that Assange in 2010 “agreed to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on United States Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network, a United States government network used for classified documents and communications.”

These government materials included diplomatic cables and disturbing videos of U.S. military forces in Iraq.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 15 Apr 2019

Daniel Romanchuk becomes youngest to win men’s wheelchair division of Boston Marathon

Sports News Daniel Romanchuk becomes youngest to win men's wheelchair division of Boston Marathon

John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(BOSTON) — Daniel Romanchuk became the youngest person ever and the first American in 26 years to win the men’s wheelchair division of the Boston Marathon Monday.

The 20-year-old finished the 26.2-mile race in one hour, 21 minutes and 36 seconds, according to WBZ, a local CBS affiliate, beating Japan’s Masazumi Soejima by nearly three minutes. The last time an American won in this division was 1993.

“Daniel is on fire,” Disabled Sports USA communications manager Shuan Butcher told ABC News. “Being the youngest athlete to win the wheelchair race in Boston can only mean great things ahead.”

Romanchuk was the one to watch in the Boston Marathon, having become the first American man to win the men’s wheelchair division at the New York Marathon in November, according to Runner’s World. He also won the men’s wheelchair division at the Chicago Marathon in October.

In 2018, Romanchuk placed third in the Boston Marathon, completing the race in one hour, 50 minutes and 39 seconds, with a pace of four minutes and 14 seconds.

Romanchuk is also a student at Parkland College in Illinois and trains at the University of Illinois. In a statement to ABC News, Parkland College spokesperson Stephanie Stuart congratulated Romanchuk on his victory.

“His accomplishment is an inspiration to our campus community and is a testament to the limitless potential of community college students across the country. We look forward to celebrating with him when he returns home,” Stuart said.

Romanchuk began participating in adaptive sports at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, a Disabled Sports USA chapter in Baltimore, Maryland, when he was 2 years old, according to the organization, after he was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that affects the spinal cord.

He competed at the Paralympic level World Championships in 2015 and 2017 and at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Manuela Schär of Switzerland won in the women’s wheelchair division in Boston at one hour, 34 minutes and 19 seconds, per Runner’s World. This is her second win in Boston.

“At last year’s Boston Marathon, I was so cold and wet that I had absolutely no idea what position I was when I crossed the finish line. I was just glad to get inside!” Romanchuk wrote in a Facebook post in December. “Excited for 2019, proud to represent the USA, and hoping for dry skies and a tailwind!”

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Posted On 15 Apr 2019