The Two Way

The Two-Way
6:59 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Militants Launch Deadly Attack On Yemen's Defense Ministry

Smoke rises from the site of a suicide car bombing at the Defense Ministry in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, Thursday.
Mohammed Huwais AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 10:19 am

Attackers used guns and bombs to assault Yemen's Defense Ministry compound Thursday, in a bold daytime attack that was reportedly carried out by gunmen dressed in Yemeni military uniforms. At least 20 people reportedly were killed during the attack in the capital city of Sanaa.

"The attack took place shortly after working hours started at the ministry, when a suicide bomber drove a car into the gate," a Defense Ministry source tells Reuters.

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The Two-Way
12:03 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Report: Threat Of Mandatory Minimums Used To Coerce Guilty Pleas

In August, Attorney General Eric Holder told federal prosecutors to no longer hit low-level drug offenders with charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences. But it's not yet clear how broadly that directive is being interpreted.
Stephen Lam Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 9:44 am

A new report says the Justice Department regularly coerces defendants in federal drug cases to plead guilty by threatening them with steep prison sentences or stacking charges to increase their time behind bars.

And for the first time, the study by Human Rights Watch finds that defendants who take their fate to a judge or jury face prison sentences on average 11 years longer than those who plead guilty.

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The Two-Way
5:55 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

MSNBC's Martin Bashir Steps Down Over Palin Remarks

Martin Bashir attends the Today show's 60th anniversary celebration, in January 2012.
Evan Agostini AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 7:27 pm

MSNBC host Martin Bashir has resigned from the network following controversial remarks he made about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Some three weeks ago, Bashir referred to Palin as a "world-class idiot" for suggesting that U.S. indebtedness to China was akin to slavery. The television host quoted from plantation owner Thomas Thistlewood's diary describing a punishment for slaves that involved having others defecate in their mouths.

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The Two-Way
4:54 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Several Whales Dead, Dozens Stranded Off Florida Everglades

Dozens of pilot whales are stranded in shallow water in a remote area of Florida's Everglades National Park.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 5:22 pm

At least 10 pilot whales are dead and dozens stranded in the shallows off Florida's southwest coast, as wildlife workers struggle to redirect them back out to deep water.

Blair Mase, the marine mammal stranding network coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says four of the whales had to be euthanized on Wednesday, and six others had already died since the stranding was first identified on Tuesday.

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The Two-Way
4:50 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

NSA Collecting 5B Cellphone Locations A Day, News Report Says

The National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 5:59 pm

There's a new report Wednesday on the scale of surveillance by the National Security Agency: The Washington Post reports that the agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.

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The Two-Way
4:00 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Sunken Japanese Supersub From World War II Located Off Hawaii

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 4:25 pm

An aircraft-carrying Japanese supersubmarine built during World War II has been found on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean off Oahu, nearly 60 years after it was hastily scuttled by the U.S. Navy in an effort to keep its technology out of Soviet hands.

Reuters reports:

"The accidental discovery of the 1-400 ... on the rock- and debris-littered ocean floor, some 2,300 feet beneath the surface, has solved the mystery surrounding a ship long thought to be further afield.

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The Two-Way
3:59 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Sandy Hook Elementary 911 Calls Reveal Panic From Inside School

Connecticut State Police walk near the scene of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown.
Douglas Healey Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 5:57 pm

Emergency calls from last year's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting reveal 911 dispatchers who dealt with the situation calmly, urging callers to take cover and inquiring about the welfare of the children.

One caller told dispatchers that a gunman was shooting inside the building and that she could see him. The New Haven Register has put audio of the calls online here. (Warning: some of it might be graphic).

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The Two-Way
3:02 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Accused LAX Gunman Ordered Held Pending Trial

Paul Ciancia, 23, the accused shooter at Los Angeles International Airport, has been ordered held without bond pending trial. The Nov. 1 shooting killed a TSA agent and wounded three other people.
FBI AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 3:53 pm

The man accused of opening fire last month at Los Angeles International Airport, killing a TSA agent, was ordered Wednesday to be held without bond pending his trial.

Judge David Bristow determined that Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, was a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Ciancia's appearance at a San Bernardino County jail facility where's he's being kept in federal custody is his first in public since the Nov. 1 shooting at LAX's Terminal 3. He was shackled at his hands and feet, and wasn't asked to enter a plea. If convicted, Ciancia faces the death penalty.

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The Two-Way
2:05 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Biden Visits Chinese Leader As Flight Zone Dispute Simmers

Vice President Joe Biden speaks after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Wednesday. Biden met with China's president to discuss issues that include China's recent claim of an air defense zone.
Lintao Zhang Getty Images

Vice President Joe Biden met with China's president in Beijing Wednesday, in a trip to Asia that has often touched on growing tensions over China's new air defense identification zone.

Biden's two-day visit to China was planned before the country's defense officials surprised neighboring Japan by declaring a defense zone in an area contested by the two countries. The topic of the air zone likely helped extend a closed-door session that had been scheduled for 45 minutes to its actual length of two hours.

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The Two-Way
1:01 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Income Inequality Is The 'Challenge Of Our Time,' Obama Says

President Obama talks Wednesday about the economy and growing economic inequality in Washington.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 4:46 pm

President Obama tried Wednesday to turn the conversation back to the economy, calling the growing income gap the "defining challenge of our time."

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The Two-Way
12:09 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Norman Rockwell's 'Saying Grace' Sells For $46 Million At Auction

Norman Rockwell's 1951 painting Saying Grace sold for $46 million Wednesday — a record for the artist.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 2:06 pm

Three Norman Rockwell paintings sold for a combined total of nearly $58 million at a Sotheby's auction Wednesday. The three paintings, which had long been displayed in a Massachusetts museum named for the artist, were among 10 Rockwell works sold at auction today.

By far, the star of the bunch was the 1951 masterpiece Saying Grace, which sold for $46 million — a record for Rockwell's art. The price includes a buyer's premium. The AP says the artist's previous record of $15 million had been set by Breaking Home Ties at a 2006 Sotheby's auction.

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The Two-Way
10:54 am
Wed December 4, 2013

European Union Fines Banks Billions For Rigging Interest Rates

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia announces fines against eight large banks, in a scandal over rigging interest rates.
Georges Gobet AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 12:45 pm

European regulators have fined eight large banks a total of more than $2 billion over an illegal cartel scheme to fix interest rates. The fine, the largest ever issued in such a case by the European Union, comes after a two-year investigation into banks' collusion. And the inquiry isn't yet complete.

Two American banks — JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup — are included in the list of financial institutions fined as part of a settlement deal. Several banks that cooperated with investigators saw their fines reduced or eliminated.

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The Two-Way
10:01 am
Wed December 4, 2013

U.S. Job Growth Surged In November, Report Signals

Air Force Staff Sgt. Bri Smith (right) of Atlanta talks with a Mary Kay consultant during a November job fair for veterans.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 12:54 pm

A report from payroll company ADP finds that "the U.S. private sector added 215,000 jobs during November making it the strongest month for job growth in 2013," says the company's president and chief executive, Carlos Rodriguez.

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The Two-Way
8:15 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Stolen Radioactive Material Found In Mexico

A photo released by Mexico's nuclear safety agency shows medical equipment containing radioactive source material. The photo was taken as the equipment was being prepared for loading into a truck, which was later stolen.
CNSNS

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 1:10 pm

Updated at 11:30 p.m. ET: Cobalt-60 Found

Mexican officials say they've recovered the "extremely dangerous" radioactive cobalt-60 that was stolen last week, hours after finding its empty containter.

The Associated Press reports:

"A missing shipment of radioactive cobalt-60 was found Wednesday near where the stolen truck transporting the material was abandoned in central Mexico, the country's nuclear safety director said.

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The Two-Way
7:42 am
Wed December 4, 2013

NTSB Bars Train Union From Crash Inquiry, Citing Confidentiality

A train passes by the scene of repair efforts Tuesday at the site of a train derailment in the Bronx borough of New York.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 1:40 pm

The investigation into the Bronx, N.Y., train crash that killed four people Sunday will continue without the direct involvement of the rail employees union the Association of Commuter Rail Employees. The move was in response to remarks the union's leader made at a Tuesday news conference regarding the train engineer's awareness level moments before a catastrophic derailment.

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The Two-Way
7:22 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Book News: Manil Suri Takes Bad Sex In Fiction Award

Author Manil Suri missed his chance to meet Joan Collins, who presented this year's Bad Sex in Fiction Award at a ceremony in London.
Courtesy of Nina Subin

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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The Two-Way
6:54 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Hezbollah Commander Dies In Attack Outside Beirut Home

Hassan al-Laqis, described as one of Hezbollah's founding members, was killed in an attack outside his home in Beirut. He's seen here in a photo released Wednesday by the Hezbollah Media Relation Office.
AP

Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 8:18 am

A veteran Hezbollah commander with expertise in technology and intelligence was assassinated Wednesday in Beirut — a killing the militant group blamed on Israel.

Israeli officials denied involvement in the death of Hassan al-Laqis, who was reportedly shot in a parking lot outside his home.

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The Two-Way
6:29 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Illinois Approves Rescue Of Its Ailing Pension System

Illinois Sen. Linda Holmes, a Democrat, discusses pension legislation at the state Capitol on Tuesday.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 7:20 pm

Illinois lawmakers have approved a sweeping plan to close a $100 billion shortfall in the state's pension system, which would cut retirees' benefits. But the legislation faces promised legal challenges from public employee unions.

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The Two-Way
5:53 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

'Mastermind' Behind Doritos Locos Tacos Dies At Age 41

Todd Mills and his daughter.
Team Todd

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 10:03 am

He had a great vision. And despite naysayers, he stuck to his guns and eventually saw a hard-shell taco splattered with neon-orange cheese dust become a staple in the country's fast-food scene.

Todd Mills, the inspiration behind Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos, died of cancer Thanksgiving morning.

He was 41.

USA Today brought Mills' story to our attention today. And it's an extraordinary tale. The paper reports:

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The Two-Way
5:36 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Guardian Editor: We've Published 1 Percent Of Snowden Files

Guardian Editor-In-Chief Alan Rusbridger speaks at a debate about the newspaper's NSA coverage, on Sept. 19.
Stephen Lovekin Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 8:44 pm

The editor-in-chief of The Guardian, which has turned leaks from Edward Snowden into a seemingly endless series of exposes concerning U.S. electronic surveillance activities, says the newspaper has published just 1 percent of what it's received from the former NSA contractor.

In testimony before Britain's Parliament, Alan Rusbridger told lawmakers that about 58,000 files obtained from Snowden, or "about 1 percent," had been used by the paper for its stories. However, he added: "I would not expect us to be publishing a huge amount more."

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The Two-Way
5:05 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Seahawks Fans Cause Earthquake, Set Noise Record

A Seattle Seahawks fan at Monday night's game, when he and other helped set a new noise record and made the ground rumble.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 7:23 am

They're louder than a jet on takeoff and they make the earth tremble.

We're talking about fans of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

During the team's home game Monday night against the New Orleans Saints, "Seahawks fans jumping up and down during" a fumble return for a touchdown "registered about a magnitude 1 or 2 earthquake," The Seattle Times' The Today File blog reports.

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The Two-Way
5:03 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Train Engineer 'Nodded At Controls,' Official Says

Monday, as a train on an unaffected track passed by (in the background) work continued on removing the commuter cars that derailed the day before.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 2:30 am

Updated at 2:00 a.m. ET Wednesday:

Federal investigators in New York announced late Tuesday that they had removed the rail employees union, the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, as a participant in the investigation. According to The Associated Press, investigators cited a breach of confidentiality after Anthony Bottalico, leader of the union, spoke to the media concerning comments train engineer William Rockefeller had made about what happened moments before Sunday's derailment.

Update at 8 p.m. ET:

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The Two-Way
4:50 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

WATCH: Amazing Rescue Of Nigerian Man From Sunken Tugboat

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:18 pm

Video has emerged of the dramatic rescue in May of a cook aboard a sunken Nigerian tugboat. The man survived at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for three days by breathing from an ever-dwindling pocket of trapped air and sipping on Coca-Cola.

Divers from a South African team expecting to find only bodies were stunned to locate Harrison Okene alive inside the sunken vessel on May 23. The video of the rescue was posted on YouTube on Monday and has quickly gone viral.

Here it is:

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The Two-Way
4:10 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

French Experts Say There Is No Proof Arafat Was Poisoned

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 2002.
Chris Hondros Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 8:17 am

Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was not poisoned, French investigators have concluded.

After the results of the long-running investigation started to leak, Arafat's wife, Suha Arafat, told reporters in London that French scientists had ruled out the possibility that Arafat was poisoned with polonium-210.

Case settled? Not quite. This piece of news just means that the three teams tasked with the investigation have come to three different conclusions:

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