Letterman announces retirement

By: Kami Rowe

After 21 seasons on The Late Show, David Letterman announces his retirement.

After 21 seasons on The Late Show, David Letterman announces his retirement.

NEW YORK (AP/UTC The Loop) — Jimmy Fallon’s fast start replacing Jay Leno on the “Tonight” show the past two months had a secondary effect: David Letterman suddenly seemed old.

The Top 10 list, the ironic detachment, even the set at the Ed Sullivan Theater. Time doesn’t stop for comedy legends, or superstars of any sort. Letterman, who announced Thursday that he will retire from late-night television sometime in 2015, had to feel it.

CBS now faces the challenge of moving on in a reordered late-night world at a time the two Jimmys — NBC’s Fallon and ABC’s Kimmel — have a significant head start.

When Jay Leno left in February, Letterman lost his foil — the man whose victory in the competition to replace Johnny Carson two decades ago he never let go. Leno was someone who spoke his language, though, a generational compadre, and when he left, Letterman was alone.

Fallon and Kimmel have a different style, more good-natured and less mocking of the entire concept of a talk show.

It’s hard to know what role the new competition played in Letterman’s decision. His last contract extension, signed before Fallon took over, was for one year. In the past, he’s done multi-year extensions.

The first time Leno left late-night, Letterman ascended to the throne. Not this time. Since Fallon began at “Tonight,” his show has averaged 5.2 million viewers, while Letterman has averaged 2.7 million and Kimmel 2.65 million, the Nielsen company said. Last year Letterman averaged 2.9 million and Kimmel 2.5 million, so the direction was clear.

Much of late-night now is about making an impression in social media, or in highlight clips that people can watch on their devices and spread around the next day. Fallon and Kimmel have excelled in spreading their comedy beyond their time slots; Letterman has barely bothered.

Late-night television is a far different world than when Letterman and Leno began their competition. There are more entertainment shows to choose from, with personalities like O’Brien, Arsenio Hall, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Chelsea Handler working every night.

CBS will first have to decide whether or not to continue with an entertainment program in that time slot. It’s not the money-maker it once was, but chances are the network will continue in that direction.

The first in-house candidate would be Craig Ferguson of “The Late Late Show,” which currently airs at 12:35 a.m. on CBS and is produced by Letterman. But Ferguson’s star has dimmed, his show quickly passed by in the ratings by Seth Meyers on NBC, and he is considered an unlikely choice.

A month ago, Kimmel was asked by TV Guide magazine whether he would be interested in succeeding Letterman, and he didn’t shoot down the idea.

“I’d definitely consider it,” Kimmel said. “I am loyal to ABC and grateful to them for giving me a shot. I was a guy from ‘The Man Show’ when they put me on. I’m not looking to flee. But just getting a call from Dave would be big for me. So it’s definitely something I would listen to.’”

Could Leno come back? He’s not the retiring type, but he would hardly be considered a play for the next generation.

Handler has let it be known that she’s ready to end her show on the E! network. A broadcast network gig again would be a step up for O’Brien. Colbert and Stewart both are considered major talents and CBS would be much more high-profile than Comedy Central. John Oliver is about to start a new late-night show on HBO.

The question is whether those personalities would have too narrow an appeal for CBS, which is the broadest of the broadcast networks and would likely be looking for someone with wide appeal. Remember, many in TV considered O’Brien’s “Tonight” show tenure a failure because his appeal was too limited.

Another possibility could be Drew Carey, a hit on CBS daytime with “The Price is Right” who recently traded jobs for a day with Ferguson.

Another possible decision for CBS is whether to move the New York-based “Late Show” to Los Angeles, now that “Tonight” has moved back to New York after decades on the West Coast. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wasted no time on Thursday in firing off an open letter to CBS boss Leslie Moonves, encouraging him to relocate “Late Show” to LA.

Who should replace David Letterman?

Wherever they’re located, Letterman’s replacement will face a real challenge with Fallon and Kimmel, who seem to have set up a bicoastal rivalry for years to come. Fallon is now king of the East Coast, and Kimmel currently rules out West.

“David Letterman announces that he will retire next year,” comic Albert Brooks tweeted on Thursday. “CBS frantically looking for someone named Jimmy.”

Besides the Top Ten lists, the monologue and occasional wild visit from Bill Murray, one facet of Letterman’s show that will be most sorely missed is his ability to do sharp, even hard-hitting interviews with people in the news. His first show after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was memorable for his reaction. It’s hard to think of anyone who has the gravitas or ability to fill the role that Letterman fills.

CBS Corp. and Moonves will have time to think of that over the next year, much of which will be spent celebrating Letterman’s legacy.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Break System Failure in Chicago Causes Train Derailment

By Arielle Henson

 

CHICAGO (AP/UTC The Loop) — A sensor for an automatic braking system was too close to the end of the track to prevent a crash at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, according to a preliminary federal report released Monday.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s one-page analysis of the dramatic March 24 crash at the airport’s underground station said the Chicago Transit Authority train was traveling at 26 mph when it passed a “trip stop” that activated the emergency braking system.

“Due to the train speed, the distance from the fixed trip stop to the track bumper post was too short to stop the train,” according to the report.

More than 30 people were injured when the train slammed into the bumper at the end of the line, hopped onto the platform and scaled an escalator, causing $9.1 million in damage. Authorities have said the timing of the crash, which happened just before 3 a.m., limited the number of injuries because so few people were on the typically busy platform and escalator.

In a statement Monday, the CTA said has taken steps to improve safety, lowering the speed limit for trains entering the O’Hare station to 15 mph. The transit agency also moved the trip stop further back to increase stopping distance.

The driver told NTSB investigators she dozed off in the minutes before the before the crash and had done so on another occasion in February when she overshot another station platform. She had been operating trains for only two months and was an extra-board employee, which means she filled in for other drivers who called in sick or were on vacation.

Her union has said she worked a lot of overtime and was exhausted, a sentiment echoed Monday by the NTSB. The federal agency said the operator had worked nearly 60 hours in the previous week and was working her third-consecutive night shift.

“She told investigators that she had inadequate sleep,” the night before the crash, according to the report.

The CTA fired the operator on Friday.

Transit officials said they don’t believe her work schedule played a role in the crash, but announced a series of changes that the agency said will make its scheduling guidelines some of the most stringent among the nation’s large transit operations.

The investigation into the crash is continuing.

Do you think this crash could have been prevented? Take our poll here

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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UN Workers Killed in Somalian Airport

By: Nick Porter

UN Workers ducking for cover in Somalia

 

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP/UTC The Loop) — Gunmen inside an airport in Somalia shot and killed two consultants working for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the U.N. mission in the country said Monday.

Nicholas Kay, the U.N. representative to Somalia, said the two were working in support of Somalia’s aspiration for a peaceful and stable future.

 

Britain’s Foreign Office said one of the workers was British. The U.N. did not immediately release the nationality of the other consultant.

William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, condemned the killings and called on Somali authorities to urgently investigate the case.

Should the UN prosecute the Somali Pirates?

A U.N. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information hadn’t yet been made public said the two slain workers were working on a counter-piracy program and were looking at the financial flow of money related to Somalia’s pirate attacks.

 Straziuso reported from Nairobi, Kenya.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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UConn, Notre Dame in Women’s NCAA Basketball Final

By Rose Street

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/The Loop) — Women’s basketball came away a winner Sunday night. After a season-long buildup, the NCAA tournament will be decided by the perfect championship game.

The undefeated titans of the sport this season will meet Tuesday night in an historic championship game when UConn plays Notre Dame. It will mark the first time in NCAA basketball history that unbeaten teams will play for a title when the former Big East rivals face each other.

“It is pretty amazing,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw told The Associated Press after her team beat Maryland 87-61. “So many of the media and fans have been looking at this all season long. It’s great that we’ve made it this far.

“Both of us remaining undefeated. See who the best team is.”

Who’s Gonna Win?

Said UConn guard From Moriah Jefferson: “Now we can finally talk about it. That has been the talk of this whole tournament and I guess it is finally here.”

The teams didn’t play during the regular season this year for the first time since 1995 as Notre Dame moved to the ACC. That helped set up the championship showdown that will put the sport in the spotlight.

“It looked to me like as the season went on it almost looked like it was inevitable to happen,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “It was supposed to happen. Our sport doesn’t have enough significant moments. … To have the spotlight on Tuesday on two teams that one is going to lose for the first time this year, it’s pretty remarkable when you think how hard it’s to do for one team much less two.”

Notre Dame (37-0) is one of the rare teams that has had success against the Huskies in recent history, winning seven of the past nine meetings, including beating UConn twice in the national semifinals. McGraw drew attention to that fact during the tournament selection show.

The Huskies (39-0) won the last one though, topping Notre Dame in the Final Four last season en route to the school’s eighth national championship. A UConn victory Tuesday night will be a record ninth for Auriemma, breaking a tie with Pat Summitt for most all-time in the women’s game. It will also cap the fifth perfect season for the Huskies and make them only the second team ever to go 40-0, joining Baylor which did it two seasons ago.

Auriemma has never lost a championship game.

Notre Dame will be trying for its second national championship. The Irish have had chances lately to winwin their first title since 2001, advancing to the national semifinals in four straight seasons. They lost in the championship game twice during that span.

They advanced to Tuesday night’s game with a convincing 87-61 victory over Maryland behind 28 points from senior All-American Kayla McBride.

Notre Dame played without senior Natalie Achonwa, who suffered a torn ACL in the regional final victory over Baylor.

Even without their star forward, the Irish dominated the Terrapins on the boards, outrebounding them in record fashion. Notre Dame had a 50-21 rebounding advantage, including a 19-4 mark on the offensive end. It was the widest rebounding margin ever in a Final Four game, shattering the previous mark of 19 set by Louisiana Tech in 1989. Maryland broke the national semifinals record for fewest rebounds in a game of 25 set by Minnesota in 2004.

They’ll need a similar effort against UConn and its imposing front line of Breanna Stewart and Stefanie Dolson.

The Huskies got off to a sluggish start against Stanford before taking control in the second half in a 75-56 victory. They probably can’t afford the same thing to happen for a fourth straight game if they hope to winwin that record title.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Two Children Left in Car for a Mother’s Job Interview

pnitayloruseBy: Megan Montgomery

PHOENIX (AP/The Loop) — A Phoenix woman who left her two young children in her vehicle during a job interview has pleaded not guilty at her arraignment.

Shanesha Taylor’s case has attracted attention with her tearful police mugshot and people rallying to her defense online to raise money for the 35-year-old mother. She faces two counts of child abuse.

Court documents say Scottsdale firefighters found hot air coming into the car and both children sweating profusely.

The baby was described as wearing a short-sleeve shirt over a long-sleeve shirt, as well as a blanket. The documents say Taylor arrived back at the car more than an hour after her interview time.

County Attorney Bill Montgomery says it’s too soon to determine if Taylor will receive a prison term or face losing custody of her children.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Like any busy mother, Shanesha Taylor was trying to do it all.

The 35-year-old Phoenix woman, who relies on food stamps, left her two children in her car last month during a job interview in Scottsdale.

That decision has led to Taylor being scheduled for arraignment Monday morning on two charges of child abuse.

But Taylor’s booking mugshot, where tears are streaming down both her cheeks, has also won her supporters and donations.

A New Jersey woman set up a fundraising website for Taylor which has now collected nearly $90,000.

According to court documents, a witness on March 20 reported to police that Taylor’s 2-year-old son and 6-month-old baby were unattended in the car.

Scottsdale firefighters say they found both children sweating profusely and hot air coming into the vehicle.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

If you were the Phoenix mother would you have risked leaving your children unattended to interview for a job to provide for them?

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Rolling in the Dough

downloadBy: Charnele L. Box

LOS ANGELES (AP/UTC The Loop) — Disney and Marvel could be one of the finest teams around.

Continuing the success of their superhero franchise, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” has set a record as the biggest domestic April release ever. The Disney sequel debuted with $96.2 million, topping the previous record-holder, 2011′s “Fast Five,” which opened with $86.2 million.

“The Winter Soldier,” which stars Chris Evans as the shield-wielding superhero and Scarlett Johansson (whose sci-fi film “Under the Skin” also debuted this weekend with $140,000) as Black Widow, commanded 32 international markets last weekend.

Expanding to Russia, Australia and China in its second week, the Marvel comic adaptation, boasting a budget of over $170 million, earned $107.1 million internationally this weekend, bringing its overall worldwide haul to more than $303 million.

Also a touchstone for Imax, “The Winter Soldier” received $9.6 million of its U.S. haul on 346 screens showing the film in the enhanced resolution format. Internationally, it showed on 278 Imax screens, bringing in $6.5 million, $4 million of which was delivered from China.

“Captain America: The First Avenger,” which had a budget of around $140 million, debuted in July 2011 with $65 million. Overall, it earned $371 million worldwide.

Why the shift to an April release rather than remaining a summer launch?

“We looked at the possibility of creating separation from the other summer tentpoles,” said Dave Hollis, head of worldwide theatrical distribution for Disney. “There was an opportunity. We have the second Marvel film coming at the end of the summer in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’ We wanted to start and end the summer and take advantage of this holiday. In the next month or so we’ll have the benefit of spring break.”

“The Avengers effect,” as Hollis calls it, set the stage for the continuation of Marvel’s massive box office presence, which includes the “Iron Man” and “Thor” franchises. With the release of the films’ sequels, both have seen earning jumps of over 35 percent.

“There are very few movie brands that are this consistent,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak, said of the Disney-Marvel team. “For ‘The Winter Soldier’ to push on $100 million in April shows that you can release a big movie any time of the year. Every studio is going to be looking at this date to plant their flag in the future.”

Meanwhile, Paramount’s biblical saga “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson, took a drastic dip in its second weekend, earning $17 million after debuting with $44 million. Still, it sailed into second place, crossing the $70 million mark domestically, while pushing Lionsgate’s young adult science-fiction thriller “Divergent,” led by Shailene Woodley, to third with $13 million in its third week. Its stateside total is now $114 million.

Freestyle Releasing’s surprise hit “God’s Not Dead” took the No. 4 slot with $7.7 million in its third weekend.

Despite the decrease in the “Noah” box office performance, the outcome of film’s debut, its overall haul, and the success of both “Son of God” and “God’s Not Dead” bodes well for other biblical-themed films coming this year, including “Heaven is for Real,” starring Greg Kinnear and “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” starring Christian Bale.

Coming in at No. 5, Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” collected $6.3 million, bringing its domestic total to $33 million. Fox Searchlight expanded its stylish comedy to 1,263 locations, and the studio plans to add even more in the coming weeks. This is Anderson’s second widest expansion following 2009′s “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

“As this movie is expanding it is just building an audience,” Dergarabedian said. A total of “$33 million compared to something like ‘Captain America’ doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a huge number for a film like ‘Grand Budapest’ that is so indie-minded and original.”

The weekend’s other releases included Codeblack Films’ “Frankie and Alice,” starring Halle Berry as a dancer with multiple personality disorder. Playing in 171 locations, it earned $350,000.

And Fox Searchlight’s dark comedy “Dom Hemingway,” starring Jude Law and “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke, had a domestic gross of $32,000 after showing in only four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Next week the film will expand to nearly 40 locations.

Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted,” which landed at No. 6 with $6.3 million in its third weekend, and Fox’s “Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” coming in at No. 7 with $5.3 million in its fifth weekend, were the top kiddie films. But Fox’s animated “Rio 2″ stands to knock them down a few notches when it opens in the U.S. next weekend.

Will you go see “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”?

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released on Monday.

1.”Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” $96.2 million ($107.1 million international).

2.”Noah,” $17 million ($46 million international).

3.”Divergent,” $13 million ($11.1 million international).

4.”God’s Not Dead,” $7.7 million.

5.”The Grand Budapest Hotel,” $6.3 million ($5.5 million international).

6.”Muppets Most Wanted,” $6.3 million ($1.9 million international).

7.”Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” $5.3 million ($11.2 million international).

8.”Sabotage,” $1.9 million.

9.”Need for Speed,” $1.84 million ($4.7 million international).

10.”Non-Stop,” $1.83 million ($2.5 million international).

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada) for films distributed overseas by Hollywood studios, according to Rentrak:

1. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” $107.1 million.

2. “Noah,” $46 million.

3. “Rio 2,” $22.2 million.

4. “Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” $11.2 million.

5. “Divergent,” $11.1 million.

6. “Frozen,” $8.2 million.

7. “The Lego Movie,” $7.3 million.

8. “Ocho apellidos vascos,” $7.2 million.

9. “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” $5.5 million.

10. “Need for Speed,” $4.7 million.

___

Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.

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“Blade Runner” trial marches on

By Taylor Ellis

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee/PRETORIA, South Africa (The Loop/AP) — Stifling sobs, Oscar Pistorius took the witness stand Monday in his murder trial and apologized to the family of the girlfriend he shot dead, describing himself as traumatized and now on antidepressant medication, and sometimes waking from nightmares to the “smell of blood.”

Pistorius’ voice quavered so much and was so low at the start of his testimony that Judge Thokozile Masipa asked him to speak up as, standing and addressing a packed courtroom, he talked of his remorse for having killed Reeva Steenkamp on Feb. 14, 2013.

Pistorius said he mistook her for an intruder when he fired four times through a locked toilet stall door in his home. Prosecutors said the double-amputee Olympian shot his lover as she screamed in terror after they had an argument in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day.

PIstorius and ex-girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

PIstorius and ex-girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

“There hasn’t been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven’t thought about your family,” the star athlete said as Steenkamp’s mother, June, looked straight at him in the courtroom, stone-faced.

“I wake up every morning and you’re the first people I think of, the first people I pray for … I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved,” Pistorius said after asking for permission to make the apology at the start of his testimony.

Prosecutors allege Pistorius, 27, murdered the 29-year-old model with premeditation by shooting her in the head, arm and hip after an argument and have sought to paint him as a hothead with an inflated sense of entitlement and an obsession with firearms.

Attempting to counter that, defense lawyer Barry Roux led Pistorius through an account of his life, with Pistorius describing some of the hardships he faced after having his lower legs amputated as a baby, the positive role of his mother, Sheila, and his grief when she died when Pistorius was a teenager. Pistorius also spoke about the sacrifices he had made for his athletics achievements, his work with charity and how religion was important to him.

The accounts contrasted with that of prosecutors who, through witness testimony, have painted a dramatically different picture of Pistorius, a man they say was often angry, who cheated on a former girlfriend and who shot a gun out of a moving car in 2012 after an altercation with police and then laughed about it.

Pistorius said he has been taking medication since the week after he killed Steenkamp and has trouble sleeping. He described one night when he went to hide in a closet after waking up in “a panic.”

“I climbed into a cupboard and I phoned my sister to come and sit by me, which she did for a while,” Pistorius said.

PIstorius during his trial

PIstorius during his trial

His testimony on day 17 of his trial in Pretoria came on the same day his defense opened its case. Legal experts said it was crucial to his case that he testify to explain why he shot Steenkamp. Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder for Steenkamp’s killing.

His voice broke again and he struggled to speak when he described how Steenkamp was “a blessing” in his life. Yet in cellphone messages revealed by the prosecution, Steenkamp had once said that Pistorius scared her.

Apart from his emotional apology at the start, Pistorius didn’t directly address the killing of Steenkamp. He will return Tuesday to continue testifying after the judge granted an adjournment because she said Pistorius looked “exhausted.” Pistorius said he hadn’t slept the night before.

“I’m just very tired at the moment …. I think it’s a lot of things going through my mind,” Pistorius said. “The weight of this is extremely overbearing.”

Pistorius’ testimony also addressed previous instances of crime that affected the runner and how he felt vulnerable because of them, an attempt to explain his claim that he reacted to what he thought was a dangerous intruder in his bathroom by shooting his 9 mm pistol.

He described how his family had “security concerns” when he was young and his mother slept with a gun under a pillow on her bed.

Pistorius said his family had been targeted by criminals over the years, citing incidents of house break-ins and carjackings, and said he had sometimes been followed by unidentified people while driving home. Pistorius also referred to an incident in which he was allegedly assaulted at a social function in late 2012 and had to have stitches on the back of his head.

At the start, Pistorius spoke in a soft, shaky voice while making his apology and describing what he said was his fragile state. Later, he grew more settled and confident as Roux led him through the questions about his childhood, his family, his track career and how he overcame his disability to run at top track meets.

Pistorius’s life story is one that impressed many people around the world, before he killed Steenkamp.

He was also asked by Roux to talk about a 2009 boat crash when he suffered serious facial injuries. He said the accident had a “massive impact,” and that it made him become fearful, withdrawn, more vigilant about personal safety and more focused on his running.

Prosecutors have provided a contrasting picture of Pistorius, with evidence indicating that he had been reckless with firearms in public and asked a friend to take the blame for him when a gun fired under a table in a busy restaurant while he was handling it weeks before he killed Steenkamp.

Is Pistorius guilty?

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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9/11 Museum Coming in May

By Rose Street, Jake Chapman, Arielle Henson

NEW YORK (AP/UTC The Loop) — A long-awaited museum dedicated to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will open to the public at the World Trade Center site on May 21, officials announced Monday.
 

The opening will follow a May 15 ceremony and a six-day dedication period during which the museum will be open around the clock for 9/11 family members, rescue and recovery workers and others directly affected by the 2001 attacks, said Joe Daniels, president of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

“We want to make sure that our doors are open for them to see it before the public does,” Daniels said.

The museum includes two core exhibitions at the foundation of the trade center complex.

One of them, called “In Memoriam,” pays tribute to the 2,983 people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as well as the six people killed in a truck bombing at the trade center on February 26, 1993. The other, a three-part historical exhibition, tells the story of Sept. 11 and explores what led to the terrorist strikes.

The museum’s regular hours will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

“This is a major milestone,” Daniels said. “It’s just a very real marker of the rebirth of the World Trade Center.”

Planners had originally hoped that the museum could open in 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Construction delays were made worse by flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy and by a funding dispute with the site’s owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, stopping all work for nearly a year.

The planned ticket price of $24 has angered some Sept. 11 family members.

Retired Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches and Sally Regenhard, each of whom lost firefighter sons in the attacks, complained earlier this year that the museum “was never intended to be a revenue-generating tourist attraction with a prohibitive budget and entrance fee.” Museum officials defend the planned ticket price, saying the museum’s operations are privately funded.

Daniels said there will be no admission charge for relatives of Sept. 11 victims or for rescue and recovery workers. Children age 6 and younger will get in free, and admission will be free for everyone on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

There will continue to be no charge to enter the World Trade Center memorial plaza, which is already open. About 5.3 million people visited the plaza last year to see the two huge fountains that sit in the original footprints of the twin towers.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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THE SEARCH CONTINUES FOR LOST MALAYSIAN PLANE

By: Kelli Findlay and Alex Givens

Chattanooga, TN (UTC/TheLoop) — The search continues for the missing Malaysian plane, as FBI gain new information.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian investigators – with the help of the FBI – are trying to restore files deleted last month from the home flight simulator of the pilot aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines plane to see if they shed any light on the disappearance, officials said Wednesday.

Files containing records of simulations carried out on the program were deleted Feb. 3 from the device found in the home of the Malaysia Airlines pilot, Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu said.

Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference that Zaharie is considered innocent until proven guilty of any wrongdoing, and that members of his family are cooperating in the investigation.

It was not immediately clear whether investigators thought that deleting the files was unusual. They will want to check those files for any signs of unusual flight paths that could help explain where the missing plane went.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation by name, said the FBI has been provided electronic data to analyze.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said U.S. investigators are prepared to help any way they can.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 239 people aboard disappeared March 8 on a night flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Malaysian authorities have not ruled out any possible explanations, but have said the evidence so far suggests the flight was deliberately turned back across Malaysia to the Strait of Malacca, with its communications systems disabled. They are unsure what happened next and why.

Investigators have identified two giant arcs of territory spanning the possible positions of the plane about 7 1/2 hours after takeoff, based on its last faint signal to a satellite – an hourly “handshake” signal that continues even when communications are switched off. The arcs stretch up as far as Kazakhstan in central Asia and down deep into the southern Indian Ocean.

Police are considering the possibility of hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or anyone else on board, and have asked for background checks from abroad on all foreign passengers.

Hishammuddin said such checks have been received for all the foreigners except those from Ukraine and Russia – which account for three passengers. “So far, no information of significance on any passengers has been found,” he said.

The 53-year-old pilot joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and had more than 18,000 hours of flight experience. People who knew Zaharie from his involvement in opposition political circles in Malaysia and other areas of his life have described him as sociable, humble, caring and dedicated to his job.

The crisis has exposed the lack of a failsafe way of tracking modern passenger planes on which data transmission systems and transponders – which make them visible to civilian radar – have been severed. At enormous cost, 26 countries are helping Malaysia look for the plane.

Relatives of passengers on the missing airliner – two-thirds of them from China – have grown increasingly frustrated over the lack of progress in the search. Planes sweeping vast expanses of the Indian Ocean and satellites peering on Central Asia have turned up no new clues.

“It’s really too much. I don’t know why it is taking so long for so many people to find the plane. It’s 12 days,” Subaramaniam Gurusamy, 60, said in an interview from his home on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. His 34-year-old son, Pushpanathan Subramaniam, was on the flight heading to Beijing for a work trip.

“He’s the one son I have,” Subaramaniam said.

 

Before Wednesday’s news briefing at a hotel near the Kuala Lumpur airport, two Chinese relatives of passengers held up a banner saying “Truth” in Chinese and started shouting before security personnel escorted them out.

“I want you to help me to find my son!” one of the two women said.

Hishamuddin said a delegation of Malaysian government officials, diplomats, air force and civil aviation officials will head to Beijing – where many of the passengers’ relatives are gathered – to give briefings to the next of kin on the status of the search.

Aircraft from Australia, the U.S. and New Zealand searched an area stretching across 305,000 square kilometers (117,000 square miles) of the Indian Ocean, about 2,600 kilometers (1,600 miles) southwest of Perth, on Australia’s west coast. Merchant ships were also asked to look for any trace of the plane.

China has said it was reviewing radar data and deployed 21 satellites to search the northern corridor, although it is considered less likely that the plane could have taken that route without being detected by military radar systems of the countries in that region.

Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said Indonesia military radar didn’t pick up any signs of Flight 370 on the day the plane went missing. He said Malaysia had asked Indonesia to intensify the search in its assigned zone in the Indian Ocean west of Sumatra, but said his air force was strained in the task.

“We will do our utmost. We will do our best. But you do have to understand our limitations,” Purnomo said.

Hishammuddin said both the southern and the northern sections of the search area were important, but that “some priority was being given to that (southern) area.” He didn’t elaborate.

Malaysian investigators say the plane departed 12:41 a.m. on March 8 and headed northeast toward Beijing over the Gulf of Thailand, but that it turned back after the final words were heard from the cockpit. Malaysian military radar data places the plane west of Malaysia in the Strait of Malacca at 2:14 a.m.

Thailand divulged new radar data Tuesday that appeared to corroborate Malaysian data showing the plane crossing back across Peninsular Malaysia.

The military in the Maldives, a remote Indian Ocean island nation, confirmed to Malaysia that reports of a sighting of the plane by villagers there were “not true,” the Malaysian defense minister said.

German insurance company Allianz said it has made initial payments in connection with the missing plane. Spokesman Hugo Kidston declined to say how much but said it was in line with contractual obligations when an aircraft is reported as missing.

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington, Rod McGuirk, Satish Cheney and Chris Brummitt in Kuala Lumpur, Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, Australia, contributed to this report.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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Freedom Isn’t Loyal!

By: Charnele L. Box and Robresha Jackson

LOS ANGELES (AP/ UTC The Loop) — With a roll of his eyes and a comment that he was good at using guns and knives, Chris Brown may have cost himself weeks of freedom and his chance to get back to making music anytime soon.

The reasons for Brown’s dismissal from a Malibu rehab facility were detailed in court on Monday, with a judge ordering the Grammy winner to remain in jail until a formal probation violation hearing can be convened on April 23.

The jail stint will be Brown’s longest and comes more than five years after he viciously attacked his then-girlfriend Rihanna in a rented sports car just hours before the Grammy Awards. Superior Court Judge James R. Brandlin said he was most troubled by a comment the singer made during a group therapy session last week.

“I am good at using guns and knives,” the rehab reported Brown said in response to an exercise asking him to reflect on what he was good or excelled at.

Other transgressions cited by rehab workers included the singer ignoring a worker who was waiting to give him a drug test, rubbing elbows with a woman when he had signed an agreement to stay at least two feet away from all female clients and joking telling fellow patients, “I’m going to ask my higher power to take away my troubles.” When asked whether he was serious, Brown said yes while shaking his head no, a report on Brown’s conduct stated.

Outside court, Brown’s attorney described Brown as having a bad day at the facility and said he didn’t think his client should be forced to stay behind bars for another month.

“You know — do you have a bad day? I have bad days sometimes,” Mark Geragos said outside the courthouse. “Do you say things you’d like to take back? I certainly do. So I don’t know that being in a therapeutic session and you’re talking about your reflections and you say one sentence means you go to jail? Seems to me to be counterproductive to therapy.”

Geragos said he planned to petition to have Brown released before the April hearing. The singer has legal woes on the East Coast as well and is due to go on trial in a misdemeanor assault case in Washington, D.C., on April 17.

Geragos said Brown’s incarceration might make it impossible for the trial to start on time, and would be a waste of judicial and jail resources.

Deputy District Attorney Mary Murray however said Brown has had repeated chances to comply with his sentence for the Rihanna attack, which required him to obey all laws and complete six months’ worth of community labor. Brown’s completion of those hours was called into question last year, and Brandlin required the singer to do another 1,000 hours of roadside cleanup and graffiti removal as punishment for a misdemeanor hit-and-run case.

“He has put himself into custody,” Murray said.

Brown appeared in court wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, a sharp contrast from the suits and designer jeans he has worn for other court hearings.

Geragos had requested that Brown be allowed to change into a suit, but Brandlin refused. He did allow the singer’s handcuffs to be removed during the hearing, and ordered photographers not film deputies placing the restraints back on after the hearing.

Brown had been in court-ordered rehab since November and until recently had received good reviews from probation officials and praise from Brandlin.

Since his arrest in February 2009 for assaulting Rihanna, Brown has worked to restore his public image and has released three albums, including 2011′s “F.A.M.E.” that won the Grammy Award for best R&B album.

Brown’s fifth album, “X,” has been delayed several times and a new release date has not been set. He has launched several singles from the album, but while some have reached the Top 40, they haven’t resonated on the charts like his previous tracks.

The Nicki Minaj-assisted “Love More” was the strongest of the singles, peaking at No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, while the current single, “Loyal” with Lil Wayne, broke into the Top 40 last week. Brown is still a popular guest collaborator in the R&B and hip-hop world: He’s featured on rapper Kid Ink’s rising Top 15 hit “Show Me” and singer-songwriter Sevyn Streeter’s R&B hit “It Won’t Stop.”

Associated Press Writer Ryan Pearson and Music Writer Mesfin Fekadu contributed to this report.

Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

 

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