Oakland Protests Over Police Shooting Sentence

Photo Courtesy - KGO-TV San Francisco(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- Protests erupted in Oakland Friday night after the former Bay-area transit officer convicted of fatally shooting an unarmed man was sentenced in a Los Angeles courtroom to two years in prison.

The sentence by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry was significantly less than the possible 14-year maximum term for Johannes Mehserle.  Perry had wide discretion when sentencing the 28-year-old Mehserle.  Mehserle was given 292 days' credit for time served.

Mehserle was convicted of fatally shooting Oscar Grant, 22, early New Year's Day in 2009 at a train station in Oakland. The incident was captured on video. Mehserle claimed that he meant to grab his Taser while trying to subdue Grant, but mistakenly grabbed his gun.

The case was moved to L.A. because of unrest over the shooting. Violent protests erupted in Oakland after Mehserle's verdict of guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Grant's relatives and others said they were disappointed, saying Grant's shooting was murder.

In Oakland Friday, the anger forced businesses to scramble to cover up their windows with boards.  There was a heavy police presence throughout downtown Oakland Friday evening.

As night fell in Oakland, a sanctioned march grew unruly as some protesters smashed business windows, damaged cars and pulled down a fence surrounding a construction site. More than 100 protesters were arrested, though the atmosphere was calmer than the previous protest in July.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Deadly, Aged Tires Still on Shelves, ABC News Uncovers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Dangerous, aged tires are still being sold across the country, even as a major rubber supplier recently urged the U.S. government to beef up labeling standards for tire safety, an ABC News investigation has found.

ABC News visited tire shops outside of New York City and San Francisco this week. Of the five locations in New York, ABC News found that two shops had a pair of tires from 2006. At one location, a tire from 1996 was on display for sale. In San Francisco, ABC News went to four tire sellers. The last one visited had an entire set of tires made in 2005 and one tire that was 10 years old.

Aged tires can present a hidden danger even if their treads are unworn and they haven't been driven a mile. According to consumer and industry sources, as tires age the rubber can deteriorate and become brittle, leading to a possible tread separation.

In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association issued a consumer advisory warning motorists that outdated tires, even if they appear to be brand new, can lead to "catastrophic failure." Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Group have advocated that tires more than 6 years old should not be used, and this week major rubber supplier Lanxess Corp. urged the U.S. government to beef up labeling standards for tire safety.

Currently there are no federal standards setting an "expiration" date for tires. Tire industry trade groups have come out strongly against such a measure, arguing that factors such as excessive use, and poor maintenance and storage are more important in determining whether or not a tire will fail.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Petit Jurors Split on Executing Convicted Triple Murderer Steven Hayes

Photo Courtesy - Connecticut State Police(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Jurors were split over whether to send Steven Hayes to death row or sentence him to life in prison for the grisly murder of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, according to jury notes released by the court Friday.

"What does it mean to unanimously find the existence of a statutory mitigating factor?" the jury's note to Judge Jon Blue asked. After meeting with the judge and resuming deliberations, a second note sought additional clarification on mitigating factors, specifically on mental capacity and "conforming to law."

Mitigating circumstances would allow the jurors to sentence Hayes to life in prison rather than to be executed.

Blue summoned the jurors into the courtroom and told them to keep in mind that it's early in their deliberations and to keep working towards a consensus. They were sent home and will resume deliberations Saturday.

In order for the state to get its death penalty ruling, the jury must find Hayes guilty of several aggravating factors beyond just committing the crime, according to the state. Those aggravating factors included committing the murders during the commission of third-degree burglary as well as committing the offenses in a "heinous manner, extreme physical or psychological pain above and beyond that which was necessary" and with "grave risk."

Prosecutors have argued that Hayes and his accused accomplice, Joshua Komisarjevsky, broke into the Petits' home and battered the husband, Dr. William Petit, with a bat. Petit escaped to a neighbor's house to call for help.

Hayes is convicted of raping and choking Jennifer Hawke-Petit to death, while Komisarjevsky is accused of sexually assaulting 11-year-old Michaela Petit. Michaela and her older sister Hayley, 17, were tied to their beds and the house was set on fire.

Komisarjevsky, 30, is scheduled to stand trial early next year.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Nielsen: TV Viewers See Highest Output of Political Ads Ever Before 2010 Elections

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While the 2008 presidential election exposed American TV viewers to 1.41 million political ads, the 2010 mid-term election proved that Americans viewed more political TV ads than ever before.  At almost 1.48 million political ads aired, October 2010 saw the "largest political ad output on record," according to The Nielsen Company which released a report Friday.

The report provided analysis on the last full month of political TV advertising before Election Day.  The report also included a 128-market ranking of the most and least "politically saturated" TV markets during the month of October.

Of the top 128 U.S. markets analyzed in October, Nielsen found that Cleveland, Ohio stations had aired the "highest proportion of political and issue advertising."

However in Jackson, Miss., TV viewers saw the lowest number of political ads with only one percent of paid TV ads being dedicated to politicals campaigns or issues.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Murdoch: Bloomberg Called Obama Most 'Arrogant' Man He Ever Met

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and News Corp (NEW YORK) -- You may recall that during President Obama’s vacation at Martha’s Vineyard on August 27, he took in a round of golf at the Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown.  His partners? New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Democratic lawyer, business man and éminence grise Vernon Jordan; and White House trip director (and former golf pro) Marvin Nicholson.

The pool report at the time said that "We are told Bloomberg and Obama talked in the clubhouse for about 15 mins about the economy. They then went to the driving range.”

Apparently -- at least from a second-hand report -- the Obama-Bloomberg conversation could have gone better.

In an interview with The Australian Financial Review, conservative media magnate Rupert Murdoch says ''Bloomberg said it was a pleasant day. In conversation he put a few ideas … He said it was like verbal ping pong.”

Bloomberg, according to Murdoch, “came back and said 'I never met in my life such an arrogant man'."

A spokesman for Bloomberg did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Murdoch is CEO of News Corporation, which, earlier this year, gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association as well as $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  Both RGA and the Chamber of Commerce largely worked to elect Republicans in the 2010 midterm elections.

It's worth pointing out that Bloomberg and Murdoch have been friends and allies for years.

Bloomberg also chatted with his longtime friend (Murdoch) before he made public his plans to change New York City’s term-limits laws and run for a third term; he’d need the New York Post, which Murdoch owns, on board.

In September of this year the two joined forces to testify in favor of immigration reform.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Boehner and Pelosi Trade Jabs on Jobs Report

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  The next likely Speaker of the House, John Boehner, reacted to this morning’s Department of Labor jobs report by once again calling for an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, although the House Republican Leader believes the 151,000 net job gain is “a positive sign.”

“Any job growth is a positive sign, but stagnant and stubbornly high unemployment makes clear why permanently stopping all the looming tax hikes should top Washington’s to-do list this month,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “Stopping these tax hikes – and cutting spending to pre-‘stimulus,’ pre-bailout levels – would help eliminate the uncertainty gripping small businesses and show Americans asking ‘where are the jobs?’ that Washington is finally on the job.”

Throughout the campaign, Republicans blasted House Democrats who voted for the stimulus, which the Obama Administration had projected would keep the unemployment rate below eight percent. While the latest jobs report showed a net-gain of 151,000 jobs, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.6 percent.

“Our economy will ultimately recover, but it will do so because of hard work and entrepreneurship, not more of the same Washington spending sprees and job-killing policies the American people have repudiated so loudly and clearly,” Boehner stated.

Reacting to the jobs report, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi touted legislation passed by Democrats that she says helped prevent the financial crisis from getting any worse. She also called on Republicans to bring jobs ideas to the table, saying that Democrats will work with Republicans to find common ground on potential solutions to help the stagnant economy.

“With October marking the tenth straight month of private sector job growth, today's news confirms that Democratic actions have helped bring our economy back from the brink and create jobs for the American people,” Pelosi said. “Republicans also must bring their ideas for job creation to the table. And Democrats will strive to find common ground to accomplish our number one priority: putting the American people back to work.”

But with the unemployment rate unchanged at 9.6 percent, Pelosi admitted Congress has not done enough and “must do much more for those struggling in these difficult times and to strengthen America's middle class.”

Earlier this week, President Obama signaled he might be open to a temporary extension of all of the Bush-era tax cuts as long as it ensured that taxes are not increased on the middle class. The president is expected to sit down with Democratic and Republican leaders from the House and Senate on Nov. 18 at the White House to discuss the issue.

“My goal is to make sure that we don't have a huge spike in taxes for middle-class families,” President Obama said. “Not only would that be a terrible burden on families who are already going through tough times, it would be bad for our economy.”

Boehner said he hoped President Obama would make the extension a top priority when he returns next week from his trip to India and South East Asia.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Goes to the Supreme Court

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The political group, Log Cabin Republicans has asked the United States Supreme Court to take on the controversial policy on gays in the military, referred to as "Don't ask, don't tell."  The Log Cabin organization is made up largely of republicans who say they are gay.  They want the court to overule a lower court decision and once again bar the policy.

The Clinton-era policy essentially allows homosexuals to serve in the United States military as long as they don't do so openly.  The Obama administration had vowed to eliminate the policy on his watch, but that is proving to be difficult due to some current laws.  The challenge is to find a new approach that is legally, ethically, politically and operationally viable.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had put the policy back in play while the White House appeals a lower court ruling that found the policy unconstitutional. 

Justice Kennedy will review the issue and can either decide or ask the full court to weigh in.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Kidnapping Trial in Elizabeth Smart Case Cleared to Resume

Courtesy - Getty Images(SALT LAKE CITY) -- The trial of accused kidnapper Brian David Mitchell will resume Monday in Salt Lake City, Utah, after Mitchell's defense failed to convince an appeals court he could not get a fair trial in Utah.  The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a temporary halt in the trial in the case of Elizabeth Smart after the defense claimed there was so much coverage of the 2002 kidnapping in Utah that an impartial jury could not be seated.

The temporary halt came moments after the prosecutor gave opening statements.  The defense claimed the jury had already decided Mitchell was guilty, based on all the coverage of the little girl's nine-month ordeal, during which Mitchell allegedly sexually assaulted her nearly every day.

The court's Friday ruling puts Mitchell back on trial in Salt Lake City Monday.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Suspended: MSNBC Pulls Plug on Keith Olbermann

Photo Courtesy - MSNBC Photo(NEW YORK) -- MSNBC has suspended political commentator Keith Olbermann as a result of donations he made to three Democratic congressional candidates during the midterm elections.

“I became aware of Keith's political contributions late last night,” said MSNBC president Phil Griffin in a statement issued Friday. “Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay.”

The cable network, which falls under the NBC News umbrella, prohibits employees from taking part in behavior that may “jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

The policy specifically prohibits contributions to political campaigns.

Olbermann is the host of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont Friday expressed his opposition to the network's decision to suspend Olbermann.

“It is outrageous that General Electric/MSNBC would suspend Keith Olbermann for exercising his constitutional rights to contribute to a candidate of his choice. This is a real threat to political discourse in America and will have a chilling impact on every commentator for MSNBC," he said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Cheese Warning for Gouda Sold at Costco in Five States

Image Courtesy - Bravo Farms(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- The Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration are warning people not to eat a certain kind of cheese sold at Costco stores in five states.  It may be linked to a small E. coli outbreak that has sickened about two dozen people in five western states.  Costco is working with the federal government to track the possible outbreak.

People in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada have been affected and authorities suspect the Bravo Farms Dutch Style Gouda cheese sold and offered as samples at Costco stores in those states.  It's listed as Costco item 40654 and if you have any of it, you are advised to take it back to the place you bought it or dispose of it in a sealed container.

Most people infected with this strain of E. coli develop diarrhea and abdominal cramps, but some illnesses may last longer and can be more severe. While most people recover within a week, some may develop a severe infection.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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