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Politics

Donald Trump Flip-Flops on Canada-Born Ted Cruz’s Eligibility to Run

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has reversed his position on Ted Cruz’s eligibility to run for president, now saying his Canadian birthplace shouldn’t disqualify him.

“I hear it was checked out by every attorney and every which way and I understand Ted is in fine shape,” Trump told ABC News just before speaking at a Capitol Hill rally blasting the Iran nuclear deal.

That stands in stark contrast to what Trump said about Cruz in December, when he told ABC News that Cruz’s Canadian birth could prevent him from running.

“I think he’s a really nice guy, I’ve gotten to know him a little bit, but I think if he’s born in Canada it’s a problem no question about it,” he said during an interview at Washington’s iconic Old Post Office, which Trump recently acquired and is transforming into a luxury hotel.

But there seems to be no love lost between the two presidential contenders, with Trump also joking that there is a “little bit of a romance” between him and the junior Texas senator.

Cruz also embraced their partnership, telling ABC News he’s unabashed about the fact that Trump’s presence at any event benefits Cruz.

“Everywhere Donald goes, he brings a hundred television cameras with him,” Cruz said, blatantly acknowledging that he’s trying to win Trump’s supporters, as he is for every one of his GOP rivals.

“I don’t believe Donald is going to be the nominee. We are running to win this nomination,” he said. “And I am hoping to win every one of Donald Trump’s supporters.”

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Politics

Joe Biden’s No. 1 Advisor: Why Jill Biden May Be Key to His 2016 Decision

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In 1975, Frank Biden encouraged his brother Joe, a first-term Delaware senator, to call an aspiring teacher and part-time local model named Jill Jacobs to ask her out on a date.

“You’ll like her Joe. … She doesn’t like politics,” Frank told Biden, according to the vice president’s 2007 memoir, “Promises to Keep.”

Forty years and two unsuccessful presidential campaigns later, Jill Jacobs is now Dr. Jill Biden, the Second Lady of the United States, a full-time community college professor and on the cusp of her husband potentially launching a third run for the White House. Vice President Joe Biden’s 2016 decision could ultimately hinge on how his wife feels about another campaign, especially as the family grapples with the death of their son Beau.

“If Jill were not happy — it sounds like a stupid thing — but I’m not happy,” the vice president said about his upcoming decision in a 2014 New Yorker interview.

“In the end it will be Joe and Jill deciding of course what they want,” Valerie Biden Owens, the vice president’s sister, said in the same article.

At an Atlanta synagogue last week, the vice president said, “I just don’t know” whether he and his family are ready for a presidential campaign, and Dr. Biden reportedly shares that hesitancy and concern for their family as they grieve Beau.

But Biden’s wife has also been his strongest supporter and confidant since the early days of their marriage, despite her initial aversion to politics. The vice president credits his wife for reviving his life and political career following the death of his first wife Neilia and daughter Naomi in a car accident.

“She gave me back my life; she made me start to think my family might be whole again,” Biden wrote in his 2007 memoir.

Dr. Biden has been alongside the vice president as he weighed his previous presidential runs. She was skeptical of his 1988 campaign and the “personal price” it would have on their family, the vice president wrote. But ahead of the 2008 race, she pushed him to launch a campaign.

“I want you to run this time,” she told her husband, according to Biden’s memoir. “It’s up to you, but we’ll support it.” When he asked her why he should run, she said, “We think you can unite the country.”

She was also the one who urged him to reconsider Barack Obama’s request to vet him as a vice presidential candidate after he initially declined the offer — which ultimately landed Biden on the 2008 Democratic ticket.

Dr. Biden, who holds two masters degrees and a Ph.D., is the only known second lady to maintain a full-time job while also performing official duties as the wife of the vice president.

An English professor at Northern Virginia Community College, Dr. Biden has elevated issues close to her personally at the White House, including expanding access to community colleges and advocating for military families, a topic of significant importance to her given Beau’s service in the Delaware Army National Guard.

On Wednesday, …read more […]

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World News

Russian Agent Pleads Guilty in High-Tech Smuggling Scheme

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A Russian secret agent pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges related to his role in sneaking “cutting edge” U.S.-made electronics illegally back to the motherland, including to Russia’s spy agency, according to federal officials.

Alexander Fishenko was arrested in October 2012 and accused of being at the center of a Russian “military procurement ring” that for years used a Texas-based front company in a scheme to, in part, trick U.S. customs agents into believing his company was shipping harmless goods — like traffic light parts — to Russia, when the ring was actually sending advanced microelectronics that could be used in military applications including radar and weapons guidance systems.

American investigators uncovered, for instance, a letter from a “specialized electronics laboratory of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB),” which is the successor to the infamous KGB, to Fishenko’s company that discussed electronics the company had procured for the Russian spy agency. The spy agency was miffed the electronics were apparently faulty, according to the Department of Justice.

“Fishenko lined his pockets at the expense of our national security,” Acting United States Attorney Kelly Currie said in a press release.

Ten other individuals were caught up in the 2012 dragnet and so far five, including Fishenko, have pleaded guilty. Three others are slated to begin their trials later this month.

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National News

Passenger Films Inside British Airways Jet on Fire at Las Vegas Airport

Jeremie Pontin(LAS VEGAS) — When a plane burst into flames during takeoff at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport Tuesday, a passenger caught the terrifying moment on video.

The dramatic video, taken from inside the plane, shows smoke and flames billowing outside the small airplane window.

“Please remain seated,” a flight attendant says.

The British Airways Boeing 777, carrying 170 passengers and crew, may have experienced a mechanical failure that tore apart the engine, spitting flames and segments of hot metal into the fuselage, located just under the cabin, experts said.

The airline called the problem a “technical issue.”

“The safety of our customers and crew is always our priority and we are looking after those who were on board,” British Airways said in a statement. “The aircraft, a 777-200, experienced a technical issue as it was preparing for take-off. … Our crew evacuated the aircraft safely and the fire was quickly extinguished by the emergency services at the airport.”

ABC News aviation consultant Col. Steve Ganyard said, “The engine really just exploded. After they put the fire out, you could see how clearly that fire came to almost penetrating into the cabin.”

The jet was traveling at just under 90 mph when the flames burst forth, according to FlightRadar24.

The pilot immediately declared a “mayday” and crews evacuated the passengers via the plane’s inflatable slides as thick smoke engulfed the jet. Several passengers were hospitalized.

The fire was out just five minutes after the pilot’s distress call, the airport said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

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Entertainment

Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and Sofia Vergara Top Highest-Paid TV Actress “Forbes” List

ABC/Randy Holmes(NEW YORK) — TV has been good to Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and Sofia Vergara. The two actresses topped Forbes list of highest-paid television actresses.

Cuoco-Sweeting and Vergara who star in The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family, respectively, earned their millions from their salaries and endorsement deals. The list accounts for pre-tax income banked between June 1, 2014 and June 1, 2015.

“The list measures earnings before subtracting management fees and taxes,” reads an explanation on the Forbes website. “Figures are based on data from Nielson, IMDB and other sources, as well as on interviews with agents, managers, lawyers, industry insiders and the stars themselves.”

Here’s the full Forbes list of the highest-paid TV actresses:

1. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting: $28.5 million (tie)
1. Sofia Vergara: $28.5 million (tie)
3. Julie Bowen, Modern Family: $12 million
4. Ellen Pompeo, Grey’s Anatomy: $11.5 million
5. Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: $11 million
6. Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife: $10.5 million (tie)
6. Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation: $10.5 million (tie)
8. Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project: $9 million
9. Kerry Washington, Scandal: $7 million
10. Patricia Heaton, The Middle: $6.5 million (tie)
10. Tina Fey, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: $6.5 million (tie)
10. Emily Deschanel, Bones: $6.5 million (tie)
13. Pauley Perrette, NCIS: $6 million
14. Robin Wright, House of Cards: $5.5 million
15. Zooey Deschanel, New Girl: $5 million

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Sports

Tennis Star Mistakenly Detained by Police in New York City

Noam Galai/WireImage(NEW YORK) — Former tennis star James Blake was mistakenly detained by police in New York on Wednesday.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) was conducting an investigation into credit card fraud and in the process there was a controlled delivery of cell phones to determine who was behind the fraud.

The delivery man pointed out two people on the street in front of the Grand Hyatt in midtown Manhattan to whom he said he delivered similar packages to a day prior. One of the men turned out to be James Blake.

A retired NYPD detective told police the man they had cuffed was Blake. Blake was immediately released.

A statement from the NYPD indicates internal affairs will investigate what happened. “Today James Blake was detained by police in midtown Manhattan in regards to an ongoing investigation into fraudulently purchased cell phones, after being misidentified by a cooperating witness. Once Blake was properly identified and found to have no connection to the investigation, he was released from police custody immediately.In regards to the alleged improper use of force, the Police Commissioner directed the internal affairs bureau to investigate.”

The NYPD is looking into the makeup of the officers involved but pushes back on the notion that this was racial profiling.

Police believed they had probable cause to detain Blake because he was identified to police by someone involved in their investigation. Once his identity was confirmed he was released.

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National News

Freed Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis Plans to Return to Work Monday, Lawyers Say

Ty Wright/Getty Images(GRAYSON, Ky.) — Kentucky clerk Kim Davis will return to work in Rowan County on Monday, her lawyers said Wednesday.

Davis was jailed in Grayson, Kentucky, for nearly one week after she refused a judge’s order to issue marriage licenses, including to same-sex couples. She was released from jail Tuesday and has spent Wednesday going through the hundreds of letters sent to her during her six days in jail, according to a statement from Liberty Counsel, which represents Davis.

“I am deeply moved by all those who prayed for me. All I can say is that I am amazed and very grateful,” Davis said from her home Wednesday, according to the Liberty Counsel. “I am enjoying spending time with my husband, my family, and my three dogs. I have also been spending time reading boxes of letters expressing support and prayers from people around the country.”

Davis said, “I love God, love people, and love my work. I hope we will continue to respect these values and that America remains a place where all three can live in harmony.”

Davis was taken into custody last Thursday after she refused to comply with U.S. District Judge David Bunning’s order to resume issuing marriage licenses in Rowan County. Same-sex couples who came to the courthouse Friday were issued marriage licenses after most of the deputy clerks there agreed to do so.

An order issued Tuesday by Bunning said: “After remanding Defendant Davis to the custody of the U.S. Marshal, five of her six deputy clerks stated under oath that they would comply with the Court’s Order and issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.”

“On September 8, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a Status Report at the Court’s behest. According to the Report, Plaintiffs have obtained marriage licenses from the Rowan County Clerk’s Office,” the order noted. “The Court is therefore satisfied that the clerk’s office is fulfilling its obligation to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.”

Over the weekend, Liberty Counsel, which represents Davis, filed an appeal of Bunning’s contempt order with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Tuesday, Liberty Counsel filed an emergency motion to have Davis released from jail.

“She can never recover the past six days of her life spent in an isolated jail cell, where she was incarcerated like a common criminal because of her conscience and religious convictions,” Davis’ attorney Mat Staver said in a statement Tuesday. “She is now free to return to her family, her coworkers and the office where she has faithfully served for the past 27 years. We will continue to assist Kim and pursue the multiple appeals she has filed.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Sports

Former Tennis Star Mistakenly Detained by Police in New York City

Noam Galai/WireImage(NEW YORK) — Former tennis star James Blake was mistakenly detained by police in New York on Wednesday.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) was conducting an investigation into credit card fraud and in the process there was a controlled delivery of cell phones to determine who was behind the fraud.

The delivery man pointed out two people on the street in front of the Grand Hyatt in midtown Manhattan to whom he said he delivered similar packages to a day prior. One of the men turned out to be James Blake.

A retired NYPD detective told police the man they had cuffed was Blake. Blake was immediately released.

A statement from the NYPD indicates internal affairs will investigate what happened. “Today James Blake was detained by police in midtown Manhattan in regards to an ongoing investigation into fraudulently purchased cell phones, after being misidentified by a cooperating witness. Once Blake was properly identified and found to have no connection to the investigation, he was released from police custody immediately.In regards to the alleged improper use of force, the Police Commissioner directed the internal affairs bureau to investigate.”

The NYPD is looking into the makeup of the officers involved but pushes back on the notion that this was racial profiling.

Police believed they had probable cause to detain Blake because he was identified to police by someone involved in their investigation. Once his identity was confirmed he was released.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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World News

Refugee Crisis: US Proposes Taking in 5,000 More Refugees Next Year

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In a private meeting with members of Congress Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry proposed that the United States admit an additional 5,000 refugees from across the globe next year, a senior State Department official confirmed to ABC News.

That proposal, part of an annual discussion about refugee policy in the United States, would increase the total number of refugees allowed in the country to 75,000 in 2016 from 70,000 this year. Congress ultimately determines the total number, and the discussion comes as North Africa and the Middle East are experiencing a major refugee crisis related in large part to the war in Syria.

The United States has admitted 1,500 Syrian refugees since the start of the four-year conflict and hopes to get to 1,800 by the end of the fiscal year. About 1,300 of those refugees have come since January of this year alone.

“We are committed to increasing the number of refugees that we take and we are looking hard at the number that we can specifically manage with respect to the crisis in Syria and Europe,” Kerry told reporters after meeting with lawmakers Wednesday. “That’s being vetted right now and at the appropriate time we’ll have the exact number.”

Lawmakers and State Department officials alike have noted the security concerns that come with admitting refugees from Syria.

The numbers of those fleeing the conflict are staggering. This year alone, over 322,000 refugees arrived in Europe by sea. Nearly 20,000 arrived in Munich this weekend.

In recent years, the United States has taken in as many as 80,000 refugees from different parts of the world. Many of those refugees were fleeing the Iraq war, a conflict zone in which the United States was more heavily involved than it is in Syria.

Unlike migrants, refugees are recognized by the international community as people who are fleeing armed conflict or persecution.

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