Nation roundup for December 17


Potential gunmen get mental help

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI says it has helped to disrupt or prevent nearly 150 shootings and violent attacks this year, in part by steering potential gunmen toward mental health professionals.

It’s an achievement that stands out during a year when President Barack Obama made curbing gun violence a priority, yet has had little success in getting new restrictions enacted.

There have been hundreds of these disruptions since 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder recently told an audience of police chiefs, touting the behind-the-scenes work of a small FBI unit based out of Quantico, Va. In most cases, the FBI has helped potential offenders get access to mental health care.

Preventing mass shootings through threat assessments and treatment is an unusual tactic for an agency known for its crime fighting and not for interventions.

Lottery jackpot reaches $586M

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Mega Millions jackpot inched toward a U.S. lottery record Monday as it soared to $586 million amid a frenzy of ticket purchases, raising the possibility that the prize could pass the once-unthinkable $1 billion mark by Christmas Eve should nobody win before then.

Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery and lead director for Mega Millions, said ticket sales are ahead of projections for today’s drawing, increasing the likelihood it could shatter the current record of $656 million, set in a March 2012 Mega Millions drawing.

That was enough for Drew Gentsch to buy one ticket Monday morning. The attorney from Des Moines never plays, but the ballooning jackpot was too good to pass up.

“I think it’s ridiculous but you have to dream big,” he said. “The odds of winning are so low, there’s no real reason to play. But it’s fun to do so once in a while.”

Beyonce sells 617,000 albums

NEW YORK (AP) — Beyonce’s surprise album has sold surprisingly well: Her fifth solo effort sold more than 600,000 units in its first three days, setting a record for first-week domestic digital sales.

Beyonce’s self-titled album was released early Friday morning exclusively on iTunes unbeknownst to the public.

Apple said Monday that the album sold 617,213 in its U.S. iTunes Store. It sold 828,773 internationally.

“You have to be innovative. The Internet has changed the game. You’ve got to look at how to address the fact that most artists’ albums leak before their release plans,” said Lee Anne Callahan-Longo, the general manager of Beyonce’s production company Parkwood Entertainment, who released the album alongside Columbia Records.

“Look at where your opportunities can lie and that’s kind of how we approached it,” she continued in an interview Monday. “We had a multitude of things we were trying to accomplish, some things we were trying to avoid, and this turned out to be the right perfect plan for us.”

Beyonce surprised fans with the release of the album, which features 14 songs and 17 videos, and social media website exploded with mentions of the singer and her new music. In three hours, it sold 80,000 units, and the build-up continued over the weekend.

“It really wasn’t about making a hit record or chasing what sounds like today’s music for singles,” explained Callahan-Longo, who has worked with Beyonce for seven years

”Beyonce” features collaborations with Jay Z, Drake, Frank Ocean and Justin Timberlake, who co-wrote two songs. The album is being sold by iTunes exclusively for a week at $15.99. It will be sold in retailers and others websites this week.

“It wasn’t easy and we were really careful,” Callahan-Longo said of keeping the album a secret. “It started with a very small core group of people and only grew when necessary in order to make something happen. It got a little dicey there and concerning as we got closer and closer as the circle had to widen.”

”Beyonce” broke the first-week digital sales record for an album in the United States. It also marks the singer’s best first-week numbers. It will debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart this week.

Callahan-Longo said the Jay Z-featured “Drunk In Love” and “XO,” co-produced by Ryan Tedder, will be launched as singles. She said Beyonce came up with the idea to launch a “visual album.”

“She said to me one day, ‘I really want to do a visual album. I want to do all the videos and I want to put them out.’ I looked at her and I said, ‘Whoa, wow, oh my God,’” she recalled. “We all said to her, ‘Wow, you’re crazy, but OK, let’s think about that.’ And we really kind of sat down and figured out how could this actually happen.”

 

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