Architectural competition to determine fate of Hitler’s birthplace, Austria’s top court rules

WORLD NEWS Architectural competition to determine fate of Hitler's birthplace, Austria's top court rules

Marilyn Nieves/iStock(BERLIN) — After more than 70 years, the question of what to do with the house in which Adolf Hitler was born is significantly closer to being answered.

On Monday, Austria’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the national government, which had been locked in a legal battle with the owner of the house in Braunau am Inn, a small town near the German border.

The building, currently empty and a magnet for neo-Nazis, will be the subject of an architectural competition to determine its future use.

The Ministry of the Interior of Austria trumpeted the end of a lengthy legal battle with Gerlinde Pommer-Angloher, who owns the disputed property and claims it’s worth much more than what the government paid her for it in 2016. She had been forced to sell it to the government for $910,000 but attempted to argue that it was worth almost $1.7 million.

“After the binding court decision in the compensation case, the legally necessary re-use of the Hitler birthplace can now be initiated in order to prevent any form of re-activation and National Socialist activities,” Wolfgang Peschorn, Austria’s interior minister, said in a statement released by the government Monday.

Hitler was born in the three-story, 17th century house in 1889. It was purchased and used by the Nazis who came to power in Austria in 1938. It was later transferred back to the original owners, Pommer-Angloher’s family, and was used as a government-funded care center for people with disabilities.

However, the government ended that project in 2011, when Pommer-Angloher refused to renovate the building. Since then, she reportedly had rejected several offers from the government to purchase it, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Then, in 2016, the Austrian parliament voted to seize the house and drastically renovate it in order to stop neo-Nazis from visiting the site, which they had been doing since it became unoccupied in 2011.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 Aug 2019

Identical twins get near-identical breast cancer diagnoses just weeks apart

Metta Siebert(NEW YORK) — Hanna Thompson and Metta Siebert are 35-year-old identical twins who attended college together and now talk daily, even though they live thousands of miles apart.

Earlier this year, the sisters were each diagnosed with breast cancer. Their diagnoses came within just weeks of each other.

“It was a one two punch to say the least,” Siebert told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “I remember it was a Friday night [when I heard] and I was in my kitchen and I just kind of slumped on the floor and stayed there for 30 minutes.”

“You only have so much in your mental reservoir and that day it got pretty depleted,” she said.

Siebert, a nurse practitioner in Kansas, was diagnosed first, in June. She felt a lump on her left breast while she was in the shower and went to the doctor.

“The entire process from feeling the lump to starting chemotherapy was about one month,” she said.

Siebert’s diagnosis got Thompson, an attorney in California, thinking more about a lump she felt in her right breast while breastfeeding her now-15-month-old son prior to Metta’s diagnosis.

“I thought it was a clogged duct and wasn’t too concerned, but after Metta was diagnosed I saw my doctor and they sent me to get a mammogram and then a biopsy on the same day,” she said. “About a month later I had my first chemo.”

Both sisters have Stage 2A breast cancer. They are both currently undergoing chemotherapy, although different types.

Both sisters also plan to have a double mastectomy after finishing chemotherapy. They both found out after their diagnoses that they carry the BRCA2 gene, which greatly increases their risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

“Now with the BRCA2 gene [our diagnoses] make more sense but at the time it was very much surprising and debilitating,” said Siebert, mother of a 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.

Siebert’s and Thompson’s doctors both say the fact that they both got breast cancer is not unusual because they carry the BRCA2 gene. The sisters also have a family history of breast cancer.

What is more unusual, though, is the fact that they were diagnosed so close together.

“It is quite extraordinary I think for them to be diagnosed within weeks of each other,” said Dr. Michelle Melisko, an oncologist at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, who is treating Thompson. “But being identical twins, they share the BRCA gene and that gene is what’s really responsible for them developing this pre-menopausal breast cancer.”

Siebert’s oncologist, Dr. Gregory Crane of the University of Kansas Cancer Center, also described the timing of the sisters’ diagnoses as “a bit atypical.”

He, like Melisko, pointed out though that Thompson and Siebert followed a similar pattern for lots of families that have multiple people with cancer, where one person’s diagnosis motivates other family members to get cancer screenings.

“I’ve treated moms and daughters with breast cancer, usually where a mom is diagnosed and then a daughter goes and gets screened and is diagnosed,” Crane said.

Siebert and Thompson said their already-close bond was forged even stronger by cancer. Though they texted daily before breast cancer, they now talk and text multiple times a day to share support and tips on everything from treatment plans to the best techniques to use to shave their heads.

“We’re talking all the time,” said Thompson. “Metta is being hit hard by her chemo so I’m there to discuss it and offer options from my doctors and just commiserate.”

“I think that it just bonds you in a whole other way that you didn’t think you were going to be bonded in or ever wanted to be bonded in,” said Siebert. “If there’s one shimmer of light in this terribleness it’s that at least I have my sister with me.”

The sisters have started a GoFundMe account to help cover the costs of treatment and missed work, especially as they prepare for their double mastectomies ahead.

Siebert and Thompson said they have learned that “cancer does not discriminate,” as they were both in great health and led healthy lives before their diagnoses. Thompson won a silver medal in fencing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

They also want people to learn from their experience and get screened for the BRCA gene mutation if they have a strong family history of breast cancer.

“It can save your life,” said Siebert.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Trump campaign defends thousands of ads warning of migrant ‘invasion’

Political News Trump campaign defends thousands of ads warning of migrant 'invasion'

Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump’s reelection team is defending the campaign’s posting of thousands of Facebook ads since March about immigration that highlight the word “invasion” as Trump himself has often done.

“The Trump campaign has run hundreds of thousands of Facebook ads on many topics, including illegal immigration,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtough told ABC News when asked about the ads. “By objecting to an accurate description of the situation, Democrats and the media are trying to make it impossible to oppose illegal immigration without being called racist.”

The wording of the ads has drawn scrutiny in the wake of a gunman who killed 22 people in a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, with the goal — according to law enforcement — of killing as many Mexicans as possible, and amid critics pointing to the president’s divisive immigration rhetoric as partly to blame.

In a white nationalist screed posted online before the El Paso shooting, which authorities suspect was written by the alleged gunman, the author decried an ongoing “invasion” of Texas by Hispanic people and predicted the planned attack would scare migrants into returning to their countries of origin.

Since January 2019, the Trump campaign has posted over 2,000, now inactive, Facebook ads centered around immigration that featured the word “invasion” as part of the reelection team’s vast and high-dollar digital ad strategy, as first reported by The New York Times.

Since March, the Trump campaign alone spent an estimated $1.25 million on Facebook on the topic of immigration, according to data from Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic political and brand communications firm that aggregates data from Facebook and Google’s political ad transparency reports.

“We have an INVASION! So we are BUILDING THE WALL to STOP IT. Dems will sue us. But we want a SAFE COUNTRY!” reads one ad posted in February. “It’s CRITICAL that we STOP THE INVASION. Nancy Pelosi and Democrats have not negotiated in good faith to fund a wall at our Southern Border, proving that OBSTRUCTION is far more important to them than YOUR SAFETY.”

“The crisis at the Southern Border is even worse than most understand. I have taken MULTIPLE trips to the border to show the true invasion happening but the Democrats and the Fake News Media just won’t listen,” reads another ad from January.

The more than 2,000 ads featuring the word “invasion” represents a small number of the overall nearly 240,000 ads posted by the Trump re-election campaign on Facebook since May 2018, according to Facebook’s searchable political ad archive. As was the case during the 2016 election, digital ads is a core competent of the president’s reelection campaign. The Trump campaign has spent $9.2 million on Facebook ads and $5.3 million on Google ads from Dec. 30 to Aug. 3, according to Bully Pulpit Interactive.

The author of the manifesto posted before the massacre wrote that his anti-immigration and racist views “predate” Trump, and there is no evidence that the Trump campaign’s thousands of Facebook ads inspired the manifesto directly.

And in the wake of the pair of mass shootings from over the weekend, Trump said Monday that the U.S. was “overcome with shock, horror and sorrow” and urged the nation to condemn “racism and white supremacy.”

However, Trump, since announcing his 2016 presidential campaign and throughout his first few years in the White House, has often deployed divisive language when discussing immigration issues. The president has described migrants from Central and South America, many of whom are seeking asylum from violence in their home countries, as criminals, gang members and rapists. And as in his campaign ads, the president often labels immigrants seeking entrance into the United States at the southern border as an “invasion.”

In numerous tweets to his more than 60 million Twitter followers, the president has decried an “invasion” at the southern border, tweeting in January: “I just got back [from the southern border] and it is a far worse situation than almost anyone would understand, an invasion!”

And in another tweet later in January, he said, “More troops being sent to the Southern Border to stop the attempted invasion of Illegals, through large Caravans, into our Country.”

One 2020 Democrat is facing their own backlash over what Republicans and the Trump campaign is calling a “incitement to harassment” or worse.

Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro, the brother of Julian Castro and chairman of his 2020 campaign, posted publicly available names and employers of 44 Trump donors, information required to be disclosed by the Federal Election Commission, on Tuesday — a move critics say is an attempt the threaten Trump supporters.

Trump campaign staffers, Republicans and even members of the press took to Twitter condemning Rep. Castro’s tweet. And the Trump campaign told ABC News that they’ve reported the tweet to Twitter based on the platform’s abuse and harassment provision.

In response to the backlash, Joaquin Castro wrote on Twitter that “no one was targeted or harassed in my post,” adding that he will “stop mentioning Trump’s public campaign donors” if the president “stops using their money for ads that fuel hate.”

Castro’s 2020 campaign declined to comment further. While the information is available through FEC filings, it’s unusual for a campaign to share a list of names and employers of donors to a political rival, and it could be seen as a threat to those donating to the Trump campaign — especially given the current political climate, which some critics argue is in part the result of the president’s persistent divisive rhetoric.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 Aug 2019

Want to take a rest on Rome’s iconic Spanish Steps? It’s going to cost you

WORLD NEWS Want to take a rest on Rome's iconic Spanish Steps? It's going to cost you

Blueplace/iStock(ROME) — People who stop to rest, roll a suitcase or otherwise loiter on Rome’s 18th-century Spanish Steps could now face fines of up to $448.

Police have been patrolling the iconic World Heritage site, and blowing their whistles at anyone who takes a seat, since Tuesday, local media reported. According to the Guardian newspaper, the new penalties are part of a larger crackdown announced earlier this summer that also includes bans on jumping into fountains, appearing bare-chested and “messy eating” in the vicinity of historic sites.

The 136-step marble staircase spans an iconic fountain at its base and the Trinita dei Monti church at the top, and is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and among Rome’s most popular tourist sites.

During the summer and especially at sunset, the Spanish Steps are often crowded with people taking a rest from the heat, and the site has undergone several refurbishments to tackle wear from its heavy foot traffic. In 2016 a $1.68 million restoration was funded by luxury Italian jeweler Bvlgari.

The new rules come as Italy, along with much of Europe, has been been in the throes of a summer heat wave.

Like many historic cities, Rome must contend with both the vast number of visitors and the pressure that the tourism industry brings to its ancient and iconic sites.

Some 94 million tourists travel to Italy per year, according to recent figures. Venice, another popular destination for visitors to Italy, has also sought to push back against over-tourism: in 2016, residents staged a protest and blocked cruise ships from docking at its port.

Last November, Rome’s mayor introduced restrictions on public behavior, including fines for bathing in public fountains, camping, dropping litter or consuming beverages at certain hours at historic sites.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 Aug 2019

Billionaire Tom Steyer dwarfs other 2020 contenders in ad spending

Political News Billionaire Tom Steyer dwarfs other 2020 contenders in ad spending

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Since lacing up his running shoes for the 2020 race less than a month ago, billionaire, liberal activist Tom Steyer has outpaced every single other candidate in his campaign ad blitz — scrambling to make up for lost time as he competes with rivals who are months ahead of him.

The California hedge fund mogul believes his populist message, and perhaps more importantly $100 million of his own money, could pave his way to Pennsylvania Avenue, as most of the candidates in the crowded Democratic primary pivot towards grassroots support.

Steyer has been blanketing airways and social media platforms in key states with advertisements targeting President Donald Trump and introducing himself to the American people. He’s spent more than $6.6 million on television and online ads in the first four weeks of his campaign, according to television and online ad data.

He has to — the deadline to qualify for the third democratic debate in September is swiftly approaching and there’s a high threshold for unique donors to qualify and candidates have to hit 2% in at least four recognized polls.

That means grabbing the attention and imagination of a huge swath of voters in a short period, if he wants his own podium on the stage. And Steyer has not been coy about his needs — in most of his online ads, Steyer is expressly asking donors to contribute $1 so that he can meet the donor count requirement and make it to the upcoming debate.

With his massive, self-funded war chest, Steyer has been topping every other 2020 White House hopefuls’ weekly social media ad spending — even President Donald Trump — since launching his campaign last month. And in those four weeks, he’s nearly spent as much as Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have spent in online ads in the past half year.

With a focus on the digital space this year, few of the top 2020 candidates have spent on television ads, so far. But Steyer has already spent millions to get his message out on the airwaves, dwarfing two of his Democratic contenders who have been spending the most aggressively since earlier this year: former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is the only other candidate to run ads, but they were limited to a handful of commercials on cable last month.

In just one week — around the second Democratic debate and leading up to the Iowa State Fair — Steyer spent more than $1 million on television ads and another $1 million on Facebook ads. He’s especially pooled those hefty sums in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — along with national cable time on MSNBC and CNN. His latest ad titled, “Trump is a Fraud” was specifically timed to air in between CNN’s Democratic debate in Detroit, campaign spokesman Alberto Lammers told ABC News.

And in the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Steyer — in one of his latest television ads — has called for Congress to cancel its August recess and hold oversight hearings. In the ad, he accuses the president of dividing the country with his immigration policies and racially charged comments.

“The ad calling on Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi to cancel the congressional recess is performing really well — people are really responding to that — and that really reflects on Congress,” Lammers told ABC News.

While Trump and the Republican Party’s massive fundraising advantage looms over the 2020 Democratic field, Steyer has positioned himself as the man to beat the president.

Before tossing his hat in the ring, he poured hundreds of millions of his own money into electing Democrats garnering support for Trump’s impeachment. In 2018, through his two political organizations, Need to Impeach and NextGen America, he spent $74 million in the midterm elections with the goal of electing progressive candidates across the country.

The liberal megadonor has stepped down from his outside political ventures since declaring his candidacy last month, but has pledged to still commit to the $50 million he promised for Need to Impeach this year. And the super PAC has continued to be active on social media, diligently promoting Steyer’s message calling for the impeachment of Trump in a host of Facebook ads — as recently as last week — featuring special counsel Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony from last month.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 Aug 2019

Fossils of world’s largest parrot discovered

WORLD NEWS Fossils of world's largest parrot discovered

Graphic showing the Heracles inexpectatus silhouette next to an average height woman and common magpie. (Canterbury Museum)(NEW YORK) — The fossils of a parrot that was the size of a small child and with an appetite so voracious it may have eaten other parrots have been discovered.

The bird, named Heracles inexpectatus, stood at 3 feet tall and weighed around 15.4 pounds when it roamed the Earth some 19 million years ago, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal Biology Letters.

It is believed to be the world’s largest parrot.

Its fossils were found near the town of St Bathans in Central Otago, New Zealand, in an area known for its diverse collection of fossil birds.

“New Zealand is well known for its giant birds. Not only moa dominated avifaunas, but giant geese and adzebills shared the forest floor, while a giant eagle ruled the skies,” Trevor Worthy, co-author of the study and a professor at Australia’s Flinders University, said in a statement.

“But until now, no one has ever found an extinct giant parrot – anywhere,” he said.

Due to its size, paleontologists believe it would have had a “massive parrot beak that could crack open anything it fancied” and “may well have dined on more than conventional parrot foods, perhaps even other parrots.”

The Heracles is twice the size of the critically endangered flightless New Zealand kakapo, previously the largest known parrot. It is comparable in size to a giant “dogo” pigeon from the Mascarenes Islands.

The parrot was most likely part of an ancient group of parrots in New Zealand that did not survive the affect climate cooling had on subtropical forests and vegetation, according to a press release from Flinders University on the discovery.

The fossils of the animal showed that it lived in a diverse fauna with crocodiles, turtles, bats, other mammals and over 40 bird species.

Researchers noted they have been excavating fossils for 20 years and more surprising discoveries are likely.

“While Heracles is one of the most spectacular birds we have found, no doubt there are many more unexpected species yet to be discovered in this most interesting deposit,” Worthy said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 08 Aug 2019