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#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana

#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana

Jefferson Parish deputies asking for help to find this man

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 08:45 PM PST

HARVEY, LA-- The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office is hoping the public can help locate a burglary suspect.

Last November, deputies say a car was burglarized in the 2100 block of Oak Street in Harvey.

Now, deputies are hoping surveillance footage will help solve the case.  The footage shows the suspect.

Deputies say the suspect was recorded while trying to use the victim's stolen property at a local business.  But they are not revealing what the stolen property is or the business where it was used.

If you can help solve the case, call CrimeStoppers.  Remember you don't have to reveal your name or testify in court, and you could earn a cash reward.

So far, more than 363 people have been booked after their cases rolled on the Wheel of Justice.

Wheel of Justice hits 363 arrests

Video shows alligators surviving frigid water by keeping nostrils in the air

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 07:37 PM PST

OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C. — Video posted to YouTube shows alligators surviving frigid North Carolina waters by keeping their nostrils above the surface.

The Shallotte River Park Swamp posted a series of videos to YouTube recently to show how the reptiles survive in such cold temperatures.

The video shows several alligators in the slushy, icy water with their nostrils in the air at the Ocean Isle Beach park.

The temperature at Ocean Isle Beach was in the mid 40s Monday evening, and mild temperatures return to the forecast on Tuesday with a high of around 60 degrees.


Man trying to kill spider sets apartment on fire, tenants forced to move out

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 07:01 PM PST

REDDING, Calif. – A Northern California man determined to exterminate a spider ended up setting fire to his own apartment Sunday, according to the Redding Record Searchlight.

“It was a huge wolf spider,” said Lyndsey Wisegarver, a caregiver to one of the residents of the apartment that caught fire.

Wisegarver told the paper that another resident used a torch-style lighter to try and kill the arachnid after spotting it in an upstairs bedroom.  The flame didn’t kill the spider instantly, however – the burning arachnid reportedly ran onto a mattress, setting it on fire. Wisegarver said the fire also spread to the drapes and a flag collection.

After tenants failed to put out the blaze using a garden hose, Redding firefighters responded and managed to extinguish the fire before it spread to other units. The fire caused an estimated $11,000 in damage.

The residents were forced to evacuate the unit, which is now uninhabitable, according to KRCR.  Authorities continued to investigate the fire Monday.


Louisiana gets another extension for REAL ID enforcement

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 05:58 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS — Louisianans have until October 10, 2018 to replace their old driver’s licenses with REAL IDs.

According to Louisiana State Police, the deadline for states to have REAL IDs in place is Jan. 22 (just a few weeks away), but the federal government has granted Louisiana an extension. Louisiana driver’s licenses will still be an accepted form of identification for boarding airplanes and entering federal courthouses until Oct. 10, 2018.

The federal REAL ID Act was enacted by Congress in 2005 and recommended by the 9/11 Commission. It sets higher security standards for state-issued identification cards and drivers licenses. It’s an effort to crack down on the potential for terrorists and criminals to obtain state-issued IDs.

REAL IDs are available through the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles right now. DMVs across Louisiana started issuing them in September 2016.

Visit the state OMV website for more information.

Why it is the Sheik’s turn

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 04:27 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS -- In the 1980s, the Sheiks were a big deal in the New Orleans music scene, which made the lead singer, Michael "The Sheik" O'Hara, a big deal as well.

O'Hara went on to write and produce music for singers like Anita Baker, Patti LaBelle, Jody Watley, CeCe Peniston, and Robin S. Along the way, he picked up four Grammy nominations and two American Music Award nominations. But, he didn't record an album himself--until now.

O'Hara's first album It's My Turn comes out Wednesday, January 10th. He's celebrating with a CD listening party that night at the Willow at 6:30 p.m.

The Sheik says he waited this long to record his first album because it was never the right time. The music industry had other plans for him.

"I kind of, in a way pushed, my own self--and the industry kind of pushed me--on the side, because they wanted my music and they wanted my productions," says the Sheik. "And, I was honored. And, the money was great and the prestige of all of that. But, inside was this burning spirit to do something for myself."

It's My Turn is something for him.

"It's a collection of work that I wrote, a lot of it, as new," he says. "It's what I would call 'old school new school.'"

The Sheik says at the "tender" age of 63, he's doing what he wants the way he wants to do it.  "I come in saying this is what I am going to do. You either like it or you don't," he says.

And a new generation of fans likes it.

"People still want to hear me. And, now I am developing a new market of 'youngin's' as I call them," says the Sheik. "They come out to the show and think, 'Wow, we can drop it. He can dance. He's fun.'"

O'Hara's CD listening party for the new album is Wednesday, January 10, at 6:30 p.m. at the Willow, 8200 Willow St.

The British did not choose wisely at the Battle of New Orleans

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 04:26 PM PST

CHALMETTE, La. -- Two hundred three years ago, the British faced a choice: attack New Orleans from Lake Pontchartrain, attack by sailing up the river, or attack through the bayous and River Road.

They made the wrong choice -- at least for them. For New Orleans, their choice resulted in a victory for the American forces and meant that the city would certainly remain part of the United States.

January 8th is the anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, fought on Chalmette Battlefield in 1815. It was one of the last major battles of the War of 1812 and part of a larger British campaign to seize the city of New Orleans.

"Louisiana -- and particularly the New Orleans area -- has always been a target for military activity for almost a century where the adversaries were Spain, France, and Great Britain at various times," says UNO Ambrose Professor of History Alan Millett. "Everyone agreed that it was a place that whoever held it was at a very strong negotiating position."

Millett says it was no surprise that the British would try to take New Orleans. The question for American forces was: How?

"Would they go Lake Borgne into Pontchartrain, down the St. John Bayou which was a fairly obvious path," says Millett. "Could they get up the river? That was a little tough. In fact, the British did something that surprised everybody because it was a lot tougher than anyone imagined, which was try to come over land, basically through the bayous."

It was winter in New Orleans. The weather wasn't getting any better. And, the British weren't getting any more troops. So, Millett says the British chose the tougher, but more expedient plan of attack.

"The decision, made actually by a general named Lambert who was the only one on the field at the time was to cut down through the bayous up from where Lake Borgne is to the river," explains Millett, "and then pick up some support from British ships that could get up the river and try to assault the city with a naval force up the river and a land force advancing along the river road, which in some ways wasn't a bad concept -- except for the fact that it didn't work very well in the long run."

Coming up the river road led the British forces directly into Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson and his troops at the present site of the Chalmette Battlefield. It was a clear victory for the Americans. According to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, which oversees the Chalmette Battlefield site, 4,000 Americans troops were waiting for the 7,000 British soldiers. After the fighting was over, fewer than 20 Americans were killed, hurt, or captured compared to more than 2,000 British.

If the British had won and seized New Orleans, the history of the city could have been very different.

"If the Battle of New Orleans had worked out the way the British had wanted it to, New Orleans would probably be a Spanish city, at least for a while," says Millett.

Because Spain and Great Britain were allies, Millett says there is a possibility the British would have given New Orleans to Spain, which also held nearby Florida. So, the Battle of New Orleans was most likely a battle for the American identity of the city.

"It has a great deal to do with the fact that New Orleans was still part of the United States," adds Millett. "And, I think it really did solidify a national culture of sorts--national government, national representatives. Louisiana becomes a state fairly rapidly after the war is over."

The Sheik performs ‘Don’t You Worry About Me’ on the Twist Stage

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 03:51 PM PST

The Sheik is back!

Michael "The Sheik" O'Hara was part of the popular band the Sheiks in the 1980s. He stepped away from his on-stage persona to focus on other aspects of his music--and picked up four Grammy nominations along the way.

He has a new album coming out called It's My Turn. (It's actually the first album of his career.)

O'Hara is celebrating the release with a CD listening party Wednesday, January 10, at 6:30 p.m. at the Willow, 8200 Willow St.

Pope John Paul II statue unveiled in French Quarter

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 03:30 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS — A new statue of Pope John Paul II is up in the French Quarter, standing 6 feet tall in front of the very Cathedral where he officiated Mass in 1987.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans donated the statue for the city’s yearlong Tricentennial celebration.

It’s located in front of St. Louis Cathedral.

Pope John Paul, who served as pope from 1978 until his death in April 2005, is the only sitting pope to ever walk the streets of New Orleans.

The statue was carved in Italy and blessed by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square in November.

Elvis Presley leaves his mark on New Orleans

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 03:30 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS -- People around the world are celebrating the birthday of the late king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley.

He would have been 83 years old day.

Although Elvis spent a lot of time in his Memphis home, Graceland, and out in Hollywood filming his musical movies that we all adore, he also brought his provocative pelvis action right down to Bourbon Street.

In 1958, the movie "King Creole" was released.

A fun fact about this movie is that it was the longest Elvis Presley film ever made lasting one hour and 56 minutes.

It was also his last movie before he was inducted into the U.S. Army.

However, the majority of the film was shot at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood.

Only about 10% was shot in New Orleans.

So we decided to track down one of the special locations -- Hotel Royal on Royal Street.

This is where you will find the balcony that Elvis used in the film for his hit song, "Crawfish."

During his stay, Elvis could be found at the Roosevelt Hotel, where it's said that he and his entourage took up the entire top floor.

So next time you are on Royal Street, look up and you may just find the spirit of Elvis waving to you.

Saints’ Cam Jordan sends Cam Newton a bottle of wine after game

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 02:47 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS — Cam Jordan and Panther’s Quarterback Cam Newton have been going at it all season, trash talking each other on and off the field.

Photo courtesy Cam Jordan- Instagram

After the week 3 game, Jordan made remarks on Newton’s style, and again in week 13, saying he could send him “some sauce.”

Well, after Sunday night’s win over the Panthers, Jordan posted to his social media on Monday that he always follows through on his word.

“You beat the Carolina Panthers three times in a year, I’m gonna have to send this guy a wine bottle,” Jordan said of Newton. “I appreciate him for being that good ol’ quarterback. I’m gonna send him a nice little bottle of Jordan wine. No, it’s not mine, but I have been drinking it for years. So, I’m going to send him some sauce.”

In a photo on his Instagram story, he had a shipping label addressed to Newton at the facility next to a bottle of Jordan, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County.

In the battle of the Cams, Jordan has the last laugh.


Manhunt underway for mom, boyfriend in death of 4-year-old Michigan girl

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 02:43 PM PST

SUMPTER TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Authorities need the public’s help tracking down a man and woman accused in the death of a four-year-old girl found severely burned, according to WNEM.

Police received a 911 call about 10:43 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 1 at a home on Greenmeadow Drive, inside the Rawsonville Woods Mobile Home Community, for reports of a 4-year-old girl who was unresponsive.

When officers arrived, they found family members performing CPR on the child. Police said the girl was suffering from severe burns on her body.

She was taken to Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor by ambulance. The girl was pronounced dead shortly after arriving, officials said.

A medical examiner ruled her death a homicide on Jan. 3. An autopsy found the girl had "multiple traumatic injuries" and "signs of Battered Child Syndrome (multiple injuries, multiple sites, multiple ages)," police said.

The Sumpter Township Police Department said an arrest warrant has been approved by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office charging both the child’s mother, 24-year-old Candice Renea Diaz, and her boyfriend, 28-year-old Brad Edward Fields with felony murder, murder in the second degree, child abuse and torture.

Fields was also charged as a habitual offender, police said.

The couple are believed to be driving a black 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier with the Michigan license plate DTR1854.

Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to contact the U.S. Marshal Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team’s 24hr hotline at (313) 234-5656 or the Sumpter Township Police Department at (734) 461-4833 ext. 305.

Woman dies from flesh-eating bacteria after eating raw oysters

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 02:40 PM PST

Warning: This video contains images that some may find disturbing

LAFAYETTE, La. — A Texas woman who ate raw oysters from a market in Louisiana died after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria, according to KLFY.

Jeannette LeBlanc went crabbing with her friends and family in Louisiana in September and grabbed about two dozen raw oysters at a nearby market. Shortly after eating them, she began to feel sick.

"About 36 hours later she started having extreme respiratory distress, had a rash on her legs and everything," her wife, Vickie Bergquist, told the Acadiana, Louisiana news station.

At first, they assumed that it was just an allergic reaction, friend Karen Bowers said.

Within 48 hours, however, LeBlanc’s condition went from bad to worse.

According to KLFY, doctors told LeBlanc she had vibriosis – a flesh-eating bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states most people who become infected with vibriosis do so by eating raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters. It is also possible to contract vibriosis by exposing an open wound to brackish or salt water.

LeBlanc spent 21 days in the hospital before she died on Oct. 15.

"I can't even imagine going through that for 21 days, much less a day. Most people don't last," said Bowers said.

LeBlanc’s friends and family are now raising awareness about vibriosis.

"If they really knew what could happen to them and they could literally die within 48, 36 hours of eating raw oysters, is it really worth it?"  Bowers asked.

"If we had known that the risk was so high, I think she would've stopped eating oysters," Bergquist said.

The CDC says you can reduce your risk of vibriosis by following these tips:

  • Don't eat raw or undercooked oysters or other shellfish. Cook them before eating.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw shellfish.
  • Avoid contaminating cooked shellfish with raw shellfish and its juices.
  • Stay out of brackish or salt water if you have a wound (including cuts and scrapes), or cover your wound with a waterproof bandage if there's a possibility it could come into contact with brackish or salt water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices. Brackish water is a mixture of fresh and seawater. It is often found where rivers meet the sea.
  • Wash wounds and cuts thoroughly with soap and water if they have been exposed to seawater or raw seafood or its juices.
  • If you develop a skin infection, tell your medical provider if your skin has come into contact with brackish or salt water, raw seafood, or raw seafood juices.


Cyndi Lauper, Michael McDonald and more to headline Family Gras

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 01:51 PM PST

METAIRIE, La. — Grammy award winners Cyndi Lauper, Michael McDonald and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee John Oates will perform at this year's annual Family Gras concert and celebration presented by the Jefferson Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The curtain will rise on the 11th edition of Family Gras on Friday, February 2nd at 5:30 p.m. and continues Saturday, February 3rd.

Because February 4 is Super Bowl Sunday, Family Gras organizers have limited this year's concert festival to two days rather than the usually-scheduled three-days of music. There are no parades planned for Super Bowl Sunday in Jefferson Parish.

Friday is Louisiana night. David Batiste & The Gladiators will kick off Family Gras at 5:30 on Friday, February 2.  The group, formed by David Batiste and his brothers in 1962, is a funk and soul band with an international following.  The band was launched as talent show winners at Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater. David was also the keyboard sensation for the Meters and performed on Saturday Night Live in 1977.   They will be followed by Deacon John and the Ivories. New Orleans legend and favorite Deacon John Moore is an inductee into the Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame.

Saturday begins with The Imagination Movers.They will be followed by Remedy, a group of local teenagers who intermingle original compositions with classic, contemporary and alternative rock covers.

The national headliners begin with John Oates, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and one half of the duo Hall & Oates.

Following Oates will be five-time Grammy winning artist Michael McDonald.  McDonald is an American singer, songwriter, keyboardist and record producer whose career spans more than 45 years.  After perfecting his craft as a studio musician, he became an integral member of Steely Dan before joining the Doobie Brothers.

McDonald sang the lead vocals on some of the band’s best-known songs such as “Takin’ It to the Streets”, “Minute by Minute”, and “What a Fool Believes” which became a No. 1 single in the U.S. and earned him a 1980 Grammy Award for Song of the Year along with co-writer Kenny Loggins.

Closing out Family Gras 2018 on Saturday will be pop culture icon Cyndi Lauper.

"We are thrilled with this year's lineup of amazing artists,” Festival producer Greg Buisson said. “John Oates, Michael McDonald, and Cyndi Lauper each rocked the stages at our famed Jazz Fest in recent years.  They are all chart-topping sensations with impressive catalogs of music. We are excited to once again treat our festival-goers to terrific shows followed by the pageantry of Mardi Gras."

Ibuprofen linked to male infertility, study says

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 01:26 PM PST

Ibuprofen has a negative impact on the testicles of young men, a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found. When taking ibuprofen in doses commonly used by athletes, a small sample of young men developed a hormonal condition that typically begins, if at all, during middle age. This condition is linked to reduced fertility.

Advil and Motrin are two brand names for ibuprofen, an over-the-counter pain reliever. CNN has contacted Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, the makers of both brands, for comment.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade group that represents manufacturers of over-the-counter medications and supplements, “supports and encourages continued research and promotes ongoing consumer education to help ensure safe use of OTC medicines,” said Mike Tringale, a spokesman for the association. “The safety and efficacy of active ingredients in these products has been well documented and supported by decades of scientific study and real-world use.”

The new study is a continuation of research that began with pregnant women, explained Bernard Jégou, co-author and director of the Institute of Research in Environmental and Occupational Health in France.

Jégou and a team of French and Danish researchers had been exploring the health effects when a mother-to-be took any one of three mild pain relievers found in medicine chests around the globe: aspirin, acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol and sold under the brand name Tylenol) and ibuprofen.

Their early experiments, published in several papers, showed that when taken during pregnancy, all three of these mild medicines affected the testicles of male babies.

Testicles and testosterone

Testicles not only produce sperm, they secrete testosterone, the primary male sex hormone.

All three drugs then are “anti-androgenic,” meaning they disrupt male hormones, explained David M. Kristensen, study co-author and a senior scientist in the Department of Neurology at Copenhagen University Hospital.

The three drugs even increased the likelihood that male babies would be born with congenital malformations, Kristensen noted.

Tringale noted that pregnant and nursing women should always ask a health professional before using medicines.

Knowing this, “we wondered what would happen in the adult,” he said. They focused their investigation on ibuprofen, which had the strongest effects.

A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, ibuprofen is often taken by athletes, including Olympians and professional soccer players for example, before an event to prevent pain, Jégou said. Are there health consequences for the athletes who routinely use this NSAID?

The research team recruited 31 male volunteers between the ages of 18 and 35. Of these, 14 were given a daily dosage of ibuprofen that many professional and amateur athletes take: 600 milligrams twice a day, explained Jégou. (This 1200-mg-per-day dose is the maximum limit as directed by the labels of generic ibuprofen products.) The remaining 17 volunteers were given a placebo.

For the men taking ibuprofen, within 14 days, their luteinizing hormones — which are secreted by the pituitary gland and stimulate the testicles to produce testosterone — became coordinated with the level of ibuprofen circulating in their blood. At the same time, the ratio of testosterone to luteinizing hormones decreased, a sign of dysfunctional testicles.

This hormonal imbalance produced compensated hypogonadism, a condition associated with impaired fertility, depression and increased risk for cardiovascular events, including heart failure and stroke.

For the small group of young study participants who used ibuprofen for only a short time, “it is sure that these effects are reversible,” Jégou said. However, it’s unknown whether the health effects of long-term ibuprofen use are reversible, he said.

After this randomized, controlled clinical trial, the research team experimented with “little bits of human testes” provided by organ donors and then conducted test tube experiments on the endocrine cells, called Leydig and Sertoli cells, which produce testosterone, explained Jégou.

The point was to articulate “in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro” — in the living body, outside the living body and in the test tube — that ibuprofen has a direct effect on the testicles and so testosterone.

“We wanted to understand what happened after exposure (to ibuprofen) going from the global human physiology over to the specific organ (the testis) down to the endocrine cells producing testosterone,” Kristensen said.

More than idle curiosity prompted such an extensive investigation.

Questions around male fertility

The World Health Organization estimates that one in every four couples of reproductive age in developing countries experiences childlessness despite five years of attempting pregnancy.

A separate study estimated that more than 45 million couples, or about 15% of all couples worldwide, were infertile in 2010, while another unrelated study suggested that men were solely responsible for up to 30% and contribute up to 50% of cases overall.

Meanwhile, a recent analysis published in the journal Human Reproduction Update found that sperm counts of men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand are plunging. Researchers recorded a 52% decline in sperm concentration and a 59% decline in total sperm count over a nearly 40-year period ending in 2011.

Erma Z. Drobnis, an associate professional practice professor of reproductive medicine and fertility at the University of Missouri, Columbia, noted that most drugs are not evaluated for their effects on human male fertility before marketing. Drobnis, who was not involved in the new study, has done extensive research into sperm biology and fertility.

“There is evidence that some medications are particularly harmful to the male reproductive system, including testosterone, opioids, antidepressants, antipsychotics, immune modulators and even the over-the-counter antacid cimetidine (Tagamet),” she said. “However, prescribing providers rarely mention these adverse effects with patients when prescribing these medications.

She believes the new study, though small, is “important” because ibuprofen is among the most commonly used medications.

Though the new research indicates that ibuprofen disrupts the reproductive hormones in healthy young men, she thinks it’s possible there’s an even greater negative effect in men with low fertility. The other OTC drugs concerning for potential fathers are cimetidine and acetaminophen. She recommends that men who are planning to father a child avoid drugs for several months.

“Larger clinical trials are warranted,” she said. “This is timely work that should raise awareness of medication effects on men and potentially their offspring.”

Jégou agrees that more study is needed to answer many questions, including whether ibuprofen’s effects on male hormones are seen at low doses and whether long-term effects are reversible.

“But the alarm has been raised now,” he said. “if this serves to remind people that we are really dealing with medical drugs — not with things which are not dangerous — this would be a good thing.”

“We need to remember that it is a pharmaceutical compound that helps a lot of people worldwide,” Kristensen said. He noted, though, that of the three mild analgesics examined, ibuprofen had “the broadest endocrine-disturbing properties identified so far in men.”

Why Jimmy Kimmel isn’t writing his Oscar jokes yet

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 01:23 PM PST

With nearly two months to go until the Academy Awards, host Jimmy Kimmel is in no hurry to start writing his material, even when it comes to the industry’s ongoing discussion about sexual misconduct and the women who are leading the charge to create change, which dominated the conversation at Sunday night’s Golden Globes.

“I do thank [Seth Meyers] for being that litmus test,” Kimmel told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour, referencing the Golden Globes host. “As far as how I will handle it, the problem is it’s two months from now. So it’s almost like getting into a hot tub or something; you can’t really know what the temperature is until you get there.”

He added after the panel: “I couldn’t tell you that I have one joke in mind that I know I’ll do.”

Whether sexual harassment will continue to be top of mind remains to be seen, said Kimmel. But he thinks the moment had a noticeable impact on the red carpet.

“I thought the red carpet was really interesting because people were talking about something for once, and I think that was refreshing,” he said. “And at the very least, it was great to see people discussing something of significance. I think, ultimately, how can you argue that any of this is anything but good?”

When it was suggested by one reporter that it was perhaps safe to start writing some jokes about disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, Kimmel disagreed.

“You can but you just don’t know. Who’s to say Harvey Weinstein is going to be alive in two months?” he said, to a smattering of uncomfortable laughter from reporters, one of whom jokingly suggested he not use that punchline on Oscar night.

“It wasn’t a joke,” Kimmel responded.

On ‘President Winfrey’

While the bulk of Seth Meyers’ monologue material focused on Hollywood’s reckoning with gender inequality issues, a few opening jokes touched on Washington politics.

Kimmel agreed with the approach.

“I think he did the right thing,” he told reporters after the panel. “You can’t force things in and what people were talking about [Sunday] night is what he commented on, and I think that’s always the way to go.”

In the aftermath of the Globes ceremony, much of the conversation has revolved around Oprah Winfrey, who gave an electrifying speech while accepting lifetime achievement award that has launched rumors of a possible presidential run in 2020.

Sources close to the media mogul told CNN Winfrey is “actively thinking” about the possibility.

While Kimmel insists he has no plans on “ever” running for office, the talk of Winfrey pursuing politics was “interesting.”

“Given the choice between Oprah and our current president, you know, I’m on the bus with Oprah traveling the country, encouraging people to sign up and vote,” he said, joking that everyone should keep in mind “we would have to call her President Winfrey.”

“We’d really have to start using the word ‘Winfrey’ and I don’t know if we’re prepared for that as a country,” he joked.

Kimmel may not be considering a bid for office, but he hasn’t shied away from politics on his late-night show this year.

His passionate pleas on gun violence and health care drew widespread attention this year, and he was credited by some for helping kill the GOP’s health care bill.

Kimmel said he has no intention of using the Oscars as a platform for that discussion, even if he plans to continue advocating for healthcare personally and on his show as needed.

“Ultimately, you have to remember why you’re there,” he said.

This will be Kimmel’s second time hosting the Oscars. His performance last year was highly praised, especially his handling of the now-famous best picture snafu, during which “La La Land” was accidentally announced as the winner instead of the actual winner, “Moonlight.”

Oscar nominations will be announced January 23.

Mitt Romney treated for prostate cancer over the summer; prognosis is good

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 01:10 PM PST

Watch Video

Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was treated for prostate cancer over the summer, a source close to Romney told CNN Monday.

“He was treated surgically by Dr. Thomas Ahlering at UC Irvine Hospital in California,” the source said. “His prognosis is good; he was successfully treated.” The source did not provide additional details.

A Romney aide added that the cancer was removed surgically and found not to have spread beyond the prostate.

Romney, the 70-year-old former governor of Massachusetts, is being widely encouraged to run for Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s seat this year. Hatch announced last week he would retire from the Senate.

Romney spoke to President Donald Trump over the phone Thursday, a White House official confirmed to CNN. Details of their conversation have not been released.

64 migrants believed dead after boat sinks in Mediterranean

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 01:06 PM PST

Sixty-four migrants are presumed dead after the rubber dinghy they were traveling in sank off the coast of Libya over the weekend, humanitarian groups said on Monday.

Flavio Di Giacomo, an International Organization for Migration spokesman, said on Twitter that there were 150 migrants on the vessel when it went down on Saturday, citing survivor testimony. He added that 86 people were plucked from the waters by the Italian Coast Guard. Di Giacomo said eight bodies were recovered and the remaining 56 are still missing and presumed dead.

This is the first reported Mediterranean shipwreck to claim migrants’ lives in 2018, according to CNN research.

In a statement released on Monday, the Italian coast guard confirmed it had rescued 86 migrants off the Libyan coast but did not go into detail on how many people were still missing. Italian authorities had said Sunday that a boat was spotted the day before by a patrol plane operating as part of a European anti-smuggling operation.

The humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said eight members of a family of 11 are among the presumed dead, along with the mother of a 3-year-old child who survived. MSF is assisting the survivors in the Italian port of Catania, according to a tweet on Monday.

With 3,116 deaths in 2017, the Mediterranean remained the deadliest migrant route in the world last year, despite a sharp fall in attempted crossings, according to the IOM. Of those, 2,832 migrants died on the central Mediterranean route.

Each year, tens of thousands of people pour across Libya’s borders, seeking to be smuggled onwards to European shores.

It has become a hotbed for human traffickers, whose network of smuggling operations have gone widely unchecked because of Libya’s lack of effective central governance.

It is not uncommon for less-than-seaworthy boats to be crammed with desperate migrants fleeing conflict and economic hardship and hoping to start a new life in Europe.

The Libyan coast guard has undertaken a clampdown on illegal sea crossings in recent months, resulting in fewer boats heading out onto open water but leaving smugglers with a surplus of people, some of whom have been sold into forced labor via underground auctions across the country.

Exclusive footage of a slave auction filmed by CNN last October sparked protests and international condemnation.

In November, the United Nations urged Libya to “take urgent action” to end the practice exposed by CNN’s reporting.

A panel of UN experts including Urmila Bhoola, special rapporteur on contemporary slavery, and Felipe Gonzalez Morales, special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said it was “extremely disturbed” by the images.

“It is now clear that slavery is an outrageous reality in Libya. The auctions are reminiscent of one of the darkest chapters in human history, when millions of Africans were uprooted, enslaved, trafficked and auctioned to the highest bidder,” the panel said.

“The government and the international community, particularly the EU, which is the destination of most of the migrants, must take immediate and decisive action to ensure that this crime does not continue. They must also urgently prioritize the release of all those people who have been enslaved. Enslavement is most often an extreme form of racial discrimination.”

The Libyan government established a committee to investigate the slave auctions in November but said more support was needed from the global community to tackle the issue.

South and North Korean negotiators to meet at DMZ for first time since 2015

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 01:04 PM PST

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After more than a year of mounting tensions on the Korean Peninsula, we might finally be seeing something different.

North and South Korean negotiators will sit down together Tuesday for the first time since December 2015, after North Korea picked up a hotline between the two technically-still-at-war nations last week.

The meeting will take place at Peace House in the Joint Security Area, also known as Panmunjom or “truce village,” the only part of the 250 kilometer (160 mile), heavily-fortified demilitarized zone where North and South Korean soldiers stand face-to-face.

This was also the location of a dramatic defection by a North Korean soldier last month, who ran across the DMZ to South Korea while under heavy gunfire from his former colleagues.

Negotiators will discuss North Korean participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics, to begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea early next month, as well as “inter-Korean relationships,” according to Seoul.

North and South Korean negotiators have met multiple times in the past, without any permanent decrease in tensions or hostilities, and analysts advised caution on Tuesday’s talks.

“I think prudence dictates that we be very cautious about these talks,” said Evans Revere, a former US diplomat in South Korea. “We’ve been down this road before … in almost every instance, ultimately we’ve been disappointed.”

Sudden breakthrough

Last year was dominated by growing concern over North Korean missile and nuclear testing, and the angry, saber-rattling rhetoric both were inspiring in Washington.

However, 2018 started off with a rare glimmer of optimism on the Korean Peninsula.

Two employees of South Korea’s Unification Ministry — the sprawling government office which oversees all things North Korea — had been calling an inter-governmental hotline at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. every day since February 2016, when the North Koreans cut off communications.

After almost two years, someone finally picked up, and within days, the two sides had agreed to meet in person.

US President Donald Trump has attempted to claim credit for the breakthrough, saying it would not have happened “if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit out total ‘might’ against the North.”

But Trump added “talks are a good thing,” and said “America supports (South Korean) President Moon 100%.”

As a gesture of good will, South Korea and the US have agreed not to hold joint military drills during the Olympics, which are scheduled for February 9 to 25. The drills have long infuriated North Korea and been a sticking point with Pyongyang.

Trump’s Secretary of Defense James Mattis “reaffirmed the US commitment to defend (South Korea) using the full spectrum of US capabilities” during a call with his South Korean counterpart Song Young-moo Friday.

The defense ministers also discussed the importance of strong international support for diplomatic actions to resolve the North Korean threat, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman.

“It is very much in the US interest that the talks be expanded to include tensions reductions mechanisms and nuclear and missile test freezes, but the Trump team seems hesitant to seize the opportunity,” said Adam Mount, senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists for nuclear and defense policy, adding that “these talks have begun more despite Trump than because of him.”

Seeking concessions

Revere, the former US diplomat, predicted Pyongyang may try to extract concessions from Seoul in exchange for North Korea’s participation in — and non-disruption of — the Winter Olympics.

“Some sort of assistance package, some sort of sanctions relief,” he said.

“Another thing that the North Koreans may be looking at is something more permanent in the area of a reduction of military exercises that South Korea engages in with the US.”

Revere said from experience the first round of negotiations “is very tough.”

“They lay out a position and they make it very clear they’re not going to back away from it, even if perhaps later they do,” he added.

Sue Terry, former CIA analyst and senior fellow for Korea at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, said President Moon Jae-in “will have to give some kind of concession to North Korea, for North Korea to send a delegation to the Olympics.”

This, she added, may involve the reopening of the Kaesong industrial complex, a joint economic venture between the two Koreas that was closed by Moon’s conservative predecessor Park Geun-hye in 2016.

“President Moon might have to cancel, or indefinitely postpone, US-South Korean joint military exercises,” she said.

Cautious optimism

Chad O’Carroll, managing director of a research and consultancy firm called the Korea Risk Group, said the talks were starting off on a positive note, with little of the usual disagreement about whether to hold them on the North or South side of the Joint Security Area.

“It definitely seems like something is in the air and we’ll see what that leads to,” he said. “For the North Koreans, the motivation to take part in these talks is undoubtedly due to the pressure that is building up on the country.”

Sanctions on Pyongyang are at their highest level in history, with both US and United Nations restrictions taking their toll on the country’s economy, raising major concerns for a population that has suffered through multiple famines in the recent past.

“Policy planners in North Korea are going to really start to struggle in the medium to long term in terms of being able to plan effectively and grow the economy with the amount of economic and diplomatic isolation there is right now,” O’Carroll said. “There is one small potential relief valve for Pyongyang, which is South Korea.”

Under previous South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, Seoul advanced the “Sunshine Policy” of greater economic and diplomatic engagement with North Korea, including aid and other relief.

President Moon was a key adviser to Roh, and during the election campaign last year, consistently supported improving ties with Pyongyang, though he has taken a harder line since coming to power.

While some analysts predicted North Korea may attempt to gain tough concessions from South Korea for a peaceful Olympics, O’Carroll said it may be an ideal time for a reinvigorated Sunshine Policy to bear fruit.

“It’s a gamble. It may not work. But it’s better than nothing. And North Korea doesn’t really have any other options right now in terms of reducing (sanctions) pressure,” he said.

Rancher Cliven Bundy released from prison, lawyer says

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 01:01 PM PST

Rancher Cliven Bundy, was released from custody Monday, according to his attorney, Bret Whipple.

In December, US District Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial in the case against Bundy, his sons Ryan and Ammon Bundy, and self-styled Montana militia leader Ryan Payne in a showdown against federal land managers on the open range where Bundy’s cattle grazed and fed.

Bundy would not pay grazing fees, arguing the land belongs to the state and not the government.

“Today was the hearing to determine if the mistrial of the court was with prejudice or without prejudice and Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning that the US Attorney’s Office could not bring the case against Cliven Bundy back,” Whipple said.

Pizza Hut is working on self-driving delivery trucks

Posted: 08 Jan 2018 12:58 PM PST

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Your Pizza Hut delivery could one day arrive via a self-driving Toyota van.

Toyota unveiled a concept vehicle called e-Palette, which could host a mobile store, act as a ride-sharing service or deliver packages. The announcement was unveiled at International CES in Las Vegas on Monday.

The automaker said it is teaming up with a handful of partners, including Pizza Hut, Amazon, Chinese ridesharing giant Didi and Uber.

“Today, you have to travel to the stores,” Toyota president Akio Toyoda said at the event. “In the future with e-Pallete, the store will come to you.”

Although e-Palette is only a concept vehicle for now, he added that the company plans to pilot the technology at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Tests in the U.S. and other areas are envisioned for the early 2020s.

The vehicle will be electric and fully self-driving. It’ll come with a low floor and open interior space, giving it flexibility to serve different purposes. The vehicle can be completely reconfigured in under 24 hours, according to Toyota. The length of the e-Palette will range from 13 to 23 feet, making it big enough to hold small stores.

It’s expected to come in three sizes.

Toyota has committed to an investment of $1 billion in the self-driving technology needed to power the e-Palette. A 2017 Intel study estimated that the autonomous vehicle industry will be worth $7 trillion by 2050.

Although the concept of a driverless Pizza Hut truck may seem farfetched, automaker Ford recently announced a similar initiative with Domino’s Pizza with a specially-equipped Ford Fusion. The companies preliminary testing for the process at Mcity, a simulated city environment on the campus of the University of Michigan.

Pizza delivery companies aren’t alone in embracing innovative delivery methods. Amazon is testing drone delivery, and made its first delivery to a customer in December 2016.