Police identify passenger who fell from plane near Miami

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Police on Friday identified the name of a 42-year-old man who jumped or fell from a small-single engine plane at 2,000 feet as the pilot was approaching a Miami area airport, but authorities have not recovered his body.
 
The victim was identified as Gerardo Nales of Key Biscayne, Fla.
 
The Federal Aviation Administration said the pilot radioed air traffic controllers that a passenger had fallen from an open door of his Piper PA 46 airplane around 1:30 p.m. on Thursday as he was 8 miles southeast of Tamiami Airport.
 
The search, hampered by bad weather Thursday, was initially focused on Biscayne Bay but broadened on Friday because of the currents and weather conditions.
 
The drama was caught on tape as the pilot spoke to air traffic controllers:
 
Pilot: "Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! I have a door ajar and I'm heading toward Tamiami …"
Pilot: "I have a door ajar and a passenger that fell down…."
Air traffic controller: "You said you've got a passenger that fell out of your plane?"
Pilot: "That's correct, sir. He opened the backdoor and he just fell down the plane."
The pilot speaks calmly with a strong Hispanic accent during the ordeal. The website LiveATC.Net recorded the exchange between pilot and air traffic control.
 
Miami-Dade police spokesman Javier Baez said the pilot was very cooperative, but would not release his name. Baez said the authorities have no evidence of foul play.
 
The aircraft is registered to to Wings of Flight out of South Miami-Dade, the Miami Herald reports. It was not immediately clear where the plane departed from en route to Miami.
 
Contributing: Associated Press
 
On Twitter: @dstanglin; @williammwelch
 

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Detroit-area man charged in killing woman on his porch

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DETROIT — A suburban Detroit homeowner who shot a woman on his porch in the middle of the night was charged Friday with second-degree murder in connection with the case, Wayne County prosecutors said.
 
Theodore P. Wafer, 54, of Dearborn Heights, Mich., also is facing charges of manslaughter and possession of a firearm during the attempted commission or commission of a felony in the death of Renisha McBride early Nov. 2, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said.
 
Wafer, who works in maintenance and transportation at Detroit Metro Airport, was arraigned at Friday in Dearborn Heights' 20th District Court, and his bond was set at $250,000. His next court date is Dec. 18.
 
Wafer is accused of fatally shooting McBride, 19, in the face at about 3:40 a.m. ET as she stood on his home's porch. He told police he thought someone was breaking in and accidentally fired his 12-gauge shotgun.
 
The woman's relatives say she was seeking help.
 
Wafer's lawyer, Matt Carpenter, said his "client has a very strong defense." He also said Wafer has no history of substance abuse but does have a couple of drunk-driving arrests from 20 years ago.
 
Worthy said authorities saw no evidence of forced entry on Wafer's home. McBride allegedly was shot after knocking on the locked front screen door.
 
Evidence suggests that Wafer opened the front door before he fired through the closed and locked screen door, she said.
 
Under a 2006 Michigan self-defense law, someone who claims lawful self-defense must have an honest and reasonable belief of eminent death or great bodily harm for themselves or another person, she said.
 
“We do not believe he acted in lawful self-defense.”
— Kym Worthy, Wayne County, Mich., prosecutor
"We do not believe he acted in lawful self-defense," Worthy said of Wafer.
 
Civil rights leaders have called for a thorough investigation of the case, contending that McBride, who was black, was a victim of racial profiling.
 
In charging Wafer, who is white, authorities had not mentioned his race, but Worthy said race did not play a role in the decision to seek charges.
 
"We make our decisions based on the facts and the evidence," she said.
 
McBride had been involved in traffic accident more than two hours before she was shot, according to Detroit police. Just before 1 a.m. Nov. 2, a witness called 911 to say a woman was speeding down a street, hit a parked vehicle, got out of her car and left.
 
She later returned to the scene but left again before police arrived, according to a second 911 call. It is unclear where McBride was for the two hours after she left accident scene.
 
The porch on which she was shot was about six blocks from the scene and about a block over the city boundary into suburban Dearborn Heights.
 
On Thursday, a medical examiner's report noted that McBride's blood-alcohol content was 0.218%, nearly three times the 0.08% legal limit for adult drivers in Michigan. The limit for drivers younger than 21 is 0.02%.
 
"All I know is that she was 19 years old, she was on a porch and she'd be alive today if he'd called 9-1-1," lawyer Gerald Thurswell, who represents McBride's family, said Thursday. He was planning news conference Friday.
 

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U.S. Romney ’embarrassed’ and ‘upset’ by Christie leaks

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Mitt Romney and President Obama apparently share a common trait: Neither is happy when information is leaked to the news media.
 
Romney said Friday he was "very upset" that details of how he selected a running mate — including concerns about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — ended up in Double Down, a book about the 2012 presidential race.
 
"I was very upset that the vetting process that we pursued ended up having a leak in it, than an individual released confidential information that embarrassed my campaign and embarrassed me," he said on CBS' This Morning.
 
Christie was a finalist to be Romney's running mate but reportedly did not get the job because the 2012 GOP presidential nominee's campaign team had concerns about the governor's weight, punctuality, staff and what book authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann described as "garish controversies lurking in the shadows of his record."
 
Romney said in an NBC interview earlier this month there was "nothing new" that came out of his team's vetting that wasn't already public or "hadn't already been dealt with effectively by Chris Christie."
 
Double Down also recounts how Obama once lashed out at his White House staff for leaking to the news media.
 
Romney said Friday he called Christie "and I told him, I'm very sorry, this is not something he expected."
 
"When you provide confidential information to a presidential candidate or nominee, you expect him to keep it private," Romney said on CBS.
 
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U.S. House approves bill to allow people to keep insurance

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. House approved, in a 261-157 vote Friday, a GOP proposal to allow insurers to continue offering health care plans to new and existing customers through next year, even if the plans do not meet new federal requirements.
 
Thirty-nine Democrats supported the measure despite Democratic leaders' opposition and a veto threat from President Obama.
 
"Once again this Republican majority is trying to put insurers back in the drivers seat," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. "This majority has never been interested in fixing our broken (health care) system."
 
Republicans blocked a vote on a Democratic alternative that would allow existing customers to maintain current plans through 2014. It would also require insurers to provide customers with their plan options and would allow the Health and Human Services secretary and state insurance commissioners to take measures to protect consumers from discriminatory rates.
 
While the bill by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., largely mirrors the president's Thursday announcement that insurers can continue to offer plans canceled under the Affordable Care Act, Democrats oppose the GOP legislation because it would allow new customers to purchase those plans. Allowing new customers in would undermine the intent of the ACA, Democrats say.
 
Republicans countered that their legislative fix was a smarter way to address the health care policies that have been canceled despite assurances by the president that people who liked their health care could keep it.
 
"We knew this is a promise he could not keep, and now we know that it is a promise he has broken," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.
 
Insurance companies are warning that the reinstatement of canceled policies by Jan. 1 will disrupt the marketplace and could result in higher prices, but Democrats are under increasing political pressure to allay the public's concerns about implementation of the new law.
 
The troubled health care law rollout has heightened congressional Democrats' anxiety about how it will affect the party in the 2014 elections. Obama apologized Thursday for the toll it has taken on his party.
 
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has five co-sponsors on her bill that would order insurers to continue offering canceled plans and to inform customers in writing of other plans available to them. Senate Democratic leaders so far say that the administration's fix is enough and that a vote in the Senate is unnecessary.
 
Senate Democrats are also wary of re-litigating the health care law on the Senate floor. Congressional Republicans unanimously oppose the law, and the recent problems — including the glitch-plagued HealthCare.gov that has resulted in anemic sign-up figures — have reinvigorated GOP calls for a full repeal.
 
"The only way to fully protect the American people is to scrap this law once and for all. There is no way to fix this," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
 
The canceled policies affect about 5% of Americans in the private market. Most Americans get their health care through their employers.
 
Contributing: Associated Press
 
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U.S. HealthCare.gov handling more volume, Zients says

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WASHINGTON — The HealthCare.gov website, the federal exchange where Americans can shop for health insurance, went through its first week without outages and provided users with faster response times, President Obama's appointee to lead the fixes to the site said Friday.
 
"We had no problems this week," said Jeffrey Zients, whom Obama named to the fix the problems that have plagued the site since it opened Oct. 1. Along with the lack of outages, response time for more users dropped to less than one second, Zients said.
 
"This week, we've driven the error rate down to 1 percent," Zients said.
 
Volume at the site "increased significantly," Zients said, but the site can only handle 20,000 to 25,000 people "comfortably" at the same time.
 
The website must be able to handle tens of thousands prospective insurance customers at the same time if they are to meet the Dec. 15 deadline to buy health insurance that starts on Jan. 1 or by March 31 to meet the deadline to avoid paying a penalty for not having health insurance.
 
On Wednesday, the Obama administration reported that slightly less than 27,000 people selected private insurance on the site between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2.
 
Repair technicians will spend the weekend increasing the site's capacity to enable more people to use it simultaneously, Zients said.
 
"The site has gotten better each week," Zients said. "A lot of people are on the site and using the site and should continue to do so."
 
Problems with the site have slowed the ability of many Americans who received notices that their individual market policies had been canceled to shop for alternatives. On Thursday, Obama said the Health and Human Services Department would allow people to keep those policies for another year if insurance companies and state insurance commissioners approved. The House voted Friday for a bill that would allow people to keep those policies, but Obama has threatened to veto it because it would undermine parts of the Affordable Care Act.
 
Zients said technicians this week completed 60 fixes on the software "punch list" of problems and there are another 50 more on the priority list for the weekend.
 
"In total, we have now crossed more than 200 bug fixes off our punch list," he said. He repeated a promise made by Obama and other White House officials that the site will be "working smoothly for the vast majority of users" by Nov. 30.
 
Julie Bataille, communications director for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said they have also begun contacting states with Medicaid eligibility information for people who have come through the federal site.
 
Bataille also said people who choose to buy an old insurance plan that does not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act would qualify for the requirement to buy health insurance and would not have to pay a penalty.
 

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Toronto council strips Mayor Ford of key powers

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The Toronto City Council voted Friday to strip controversial Mayor Rob Ford of key executive powers.
 
The move came in a series of votes, first to remove his power to appoint committee chairs and then to remove his powers to act during an emergency.
 
Just before the first vote, Ford addressed the chamber and threatened legal action, saying he was concerned about setting a precedent that could affect future mayors.
 
"If someone else steps out of line as I have, it will affect mayors for years to come," he said. "I can't support it. I completely understand where they come from."
 
He also said he regretted the cost to taxpayers of a legal battle over the council's action, but he felt he had no choice.
 
At one point, Ford said taxpayers "are going to have to pay a fortune for this." That drew a shout from the public gallery: "Then resign!"
 
Under the vote, Ford technically remains mayor but no longer maintains key powers delegated to him by the council. He does keep the power to technically lead the council and to preside over official functions.
 
The council does not have the legal authority to remove a mayor from office.
 
The Toronto Star notes that the appointment power is important because most proposals must be passed by committees before they become law. The chairmen, the newspaper points out, have usually followed the mayor's orders for fear of losing their powerful posts. Now, they are free to do as they please.
 
The council is expected to meet Monday to take further action, including freezing the operating budget for the mayor's office.
 
During the morning hearing, Ford frequently stood up from his seat on the council floor and walked around to speak to members, including his brother, council member Doug Ford.
 
Council member John Filion said before the vote that the steps were being taken "reluctantly" and "sadly." He said the council had "reached the point where this is both warranted and necessary" to end a "chaotic situation."
 
"If there is a silver lining in this sad situation, this issue has united members of this council like they haven't been united for a period of this term of office," Filion said.
 
The council — which has already called on Ford to resign — stepped up the pressure after the 44-year-old mayor shocked Canadians on live TV with graphic language that surpassed even his most raunchy offerings.
 
It was only the latest in a series of can-you-top-this incidents involving the combative mayor of Canada's largest city.
 
It stems from a report several months ago of a video that showed Ford smoking crack cocaine. Ford initially denied the report but eventually acknowledged it after Toronto police said they had a copy of the video. Ford said the incident occurred while he was in a drunken stupor.
 
The City Council moved to take stronger action Friday after Ford gave an impromptu morning news conference Thursday in which he denied allegations by some of his former staff members that he had partied with prostitutes, snorted cocaine and used OxyContin.
 
The allegations were contained in a police report released as a court document Wednesday.
 
Ford, in his heated morning statement, railed against his former staffers and their allegations, and threatened to sue them. He was particularly irate about an allegation that he had performed oral sex on one of his female staffers.
 
In graphic remarks, carried live on TV as reporters surrounded him, Ford said: "(The police document) says I wanted to eat her (expletive). I've never said that in my life to her. I would never do that. I'm happily married. I've got more than enough to eat at home."
 
On Thursday afternoon, in a second hastily called news conference, Ford apologized for the obscene remarks he made to reporters earlier in the day and acknowledged for the first time that he is getting professional help for his drinking problem.
 
In a brief statement, with his wife, Renata, by his side, the embattled mayor — who has also already acknowledged buying illegal drugs — said that he has been under "tremendous, tremendous stress" for the past six months. He also said he was getting health care "support."
 
Afterward, the premier of Ontario indicated for the first time that the provincial government might intervene, calling the Ford spectacle "truly disturbing."
 

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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U.S. Sarah Palin apologizes for remarks on Pope Francis

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Sarah Palin apologized for her recent comments about Pope Francis and what she viewed as his "liberal statements."
 
"It was not my intention to be critical of Pope Francis," Palin wrote Thursday on Facebook, in reference to an interview earlier this week on CNN. "I was reminding viewers that we need to do our own homework on news subjects, and I hadn't done mine yet on the Pope's recent comments as reported by the media."
 
Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, said Tuesday on CNN that Pope Francis has made "some statements that to me sound kind of liberal, has taken me aback, has kind of surprised me." She didn't specify her concerns, but she added that "unless I really dig deep into what his messaging is and do my own homework, I'm not going to just trust what I hear in the media."
 
Pope Francis surprised many people when he said the Catholic Church has been "obsessed" with issues such as gay marriage and abortion and sometimes "locked itself up in small things." His comments were made in an interview published in September by several Jesuit magazines.
 
In her Facebook post, Palin said she's been assured by Catholic friends and family that Pope Francis "is as sincere and faithful a shepherd of his church."
 
"I apologize for not being clearer in my response, thus opening the door to critical media that does what it does best in ginning up controversy," she said.
 
Palin has been promoting her new book, Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.
 
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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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U.S. Ethics panel warns lawmakers on disaster relief efforts

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WASHINGTON — A reminder arrives from the House Ethics Committee: Members of Congress cannot use their office or website to raise money for disaster relief in the Philippines.
 
In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the nation last week, the committee has apparently received queries from congressional offices — "What can we do to help?"
 
The answer is, in short, not much.
 
Members of Congress are only allowed to use their offices for official duties in representation of their constituents. That means "charitable solicitations using official resources are not permitted," the committee wrote in a Thursday memo.
 
In addition, "rules of the House prohibit referrals to organizations or links to sites whose primary purpose is the solicitation of goods, funds, or services on behalf of individuals or organizations." That means lawmakers cannot post on their official websites links to organizations that are raising money for disaster relief.
 
The committee notes that several government websites — the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, for example — have posted information about disaster relief efforts, and lawmakers are allowed to link to those sites.
 
And of course, individuals who work in Congress can volunteer to raise funds for disaster relief efforts — but not on work hours and not using the office phones or computers.
 
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U.S. Cancelation reversal causes insurer headaches

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Consumers are flooding their insurance agents with questions about whether and when they can get their canceled insurance polices back, now that President Obama says it's OK.
 
But those agents have few answers. They are still waiting for clarification from insurers, who are awaiting word from their state insurance commissioners and even the White House.
 
The CEOs of major insurers including Cigna, Aetna and Humana, met with President Obama Friday but left without talking to reporters about what will happen to plans that didn't meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, the insurance commissioners for Vermont, Georgia and Washington state were among those saying they won't allow reinstatement of canceled policies.
 
"We've been advising our members to tell clients to sit back and wait as developments unfold over the next few days," says Jessica Waltham, senior vice president of government relations at the National Association of Health Underwriters, which represents insurance agents.
 
State insurance commissioners, the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services will need to provide "details as to how they would move this policy forward," she says.
 
"It's been non-stop since this whole thing started (Thursday)," says John Young, director of sales at Flexible Benefit Service Corp. in Rosemont, Ill. "Everyone wants to know what effect the president's message will have and, at this point, we just don't know until the insurance commissioner advises the carrier about what they'll allow."
 
Young, whose company handles group insurance policies and acts as a broker for about 1,000 insurance agents, was on a conference call Friday with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois that offered few answers.
 
John DeGruttola, senior vice president of marketing and sales for insurer Optima Health, says it changing plans back "is going to be very difficult to administer."
 
"We went forward with the intent that this was the law of the land," says DeGruttola whose company only sells insurance in Va.."Nobody was focused on the existing plans. They were not filed (with the insurance commmissioner) nor were they approved."
 
While many state insurance commissioners had already allowed insurers to extend their plans into 2014 to allow consumers more time to make decisions, the Illinois insurance commissioner did not. Young says many agents have already put consumers into pricier new plans, but it "might be difficult to get a refund from the carrier."
 
"A lot has already been done" to switch people to new plans that comply with the ACA, says Young. Now, "there's incredible confusion" for those consumers about what to do.
 
Among the other details that remain to be worked out: Which insurers and insurance commissioners will OK the old policies now, whether insurers are allowed to raise the prices on the canceled policies and whether there will be additional financial help for insurers now dealing with more potential financial risk.
 
In Pleasant HIll, Calif., broker Colleen Callahan says she had been "steadily preparing comparisons and reviews" that are customized for consumers to help them plan for the new year. It's a "big project and it takes us quite a bit of time to prepare and present, either in person or by email first, followed up by a telephone call or an in person meeting," she says.
 
"The confusion now is that those currently insured are not sure of the next step. Do they have to make a change or can they keep their current plan?," says Callahan. "In some cases the premiums on the existing plans might be better and in some cases the new plan premiums might be better. It is all case-by-case."
 

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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New Jersey man finds furniture for Sandy victims in need

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BERKELEY, N.J. — It started with a five-piece dinette set. Glass-top table and four green padded chairs.
 
Free to anyone who lost their furniture from Superstorm Sandy. No questions asked.
 
One year later, Jim Farmer is still helping families in need find furniture. To date, he estimates he had connected $1.4 million worth of furniture to more than 3,100 families across the tri-state area and counting.
 
Farmer, 43, of Berkeley started a Facebook page for Hurricane Sandy Furniture Donation Community on Nov. 14, 2012, as soon as his electricity was restored.
 
His idea: attract the attention of his friends in New Jersey, both those who needed furniture and those who had items they could donate.
 
But the page went viral throughout the Sandy-affected areas, becoming so large that Farmer needed to set up a second page to match needs with donations in New York.
 
The effort has prompted donations from the owners of Manhattan penthouse apartments, hotel chains and everyday individuals across 22 states.
 
And those goods have gone to those in need, mostly Sandy survivors, but also people generally in need. He asks no questions but listens to people's stories.
 
"We give unconditionally," he said. "We don't qualify people. We don't ask them for their FEMA number."
 
His goal now is to turn the operation into a nationwide disaster relief organization providing furniture and other household goods, from washer and dryers to blenders.
 
As of now, Hurricane Sandy Furniture Donation Community is a one-man operation.
 
Farmer collects all of the donations, all of the requests and posts them on the Facebook pages. From there, he connects those in need with the donors, who then work out transferring the goods.
 
The dedication to the charity has come at a personal cost. Like the Sandy victims he helps, Farmer has had some financial difficulties. He had been laid off for the winter season just before Sandy hit and has not been able to work while also managing the donations. What few dollars he does have go toward the charity.
 
"I've made a lot of sacrifices," he said. "There's a lot of people hanging in there with me. A lot of people are being patient for me."
 
But the mission, he said, has become too large, too important to walk away from it.

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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