Nation roundup for January 14


Brooklyn woman is Miss America

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A woman who grew up in Alabama and moved to New York City is the new Miss America, winning the title after tap dancing to a James Brown tune, deftly dealing with a question about guns, and raising the issue of child sexual abuse in her contestant platform.

In addition to dancing to “Get Up Off of That Thing,” 23-year-old Mallory Hagan strutted down the runway during the Las Vegas pageant Saturday night in an asymmetrical white gown and donned a revealing black string bikini.

She won a $50,000 college scholarship and a year as an instant celebrity and role model to many girls as she defeated Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers, who took second, and Miss Oklahoma Alicia Clifton, who finished third.

She said after her win that it was her mother who encouraged her to tackle the issue of child sex abuse in her platform — the issue she will promote during her reign.

She said that sexual abuse had “rippled through” her family, touching her mother, aunt, grandmother and cousins. Her mother had trouble at first convincing others of the trauma she had faced.

“That kind of sent her into a whirlwind of anxiety and depression. So as a teen I lost my mom kind of for a couple years,” she said. “She was dealing with her own issues, and that’s something that now as an adult I understand, but then I certainly did not.”

During an interview backstage, Hagan’s mother Mandy Moore wiped tears away as she spoke.

“It’s very overwhelming,” she said. “It’s all hitting me so fast.”

Hagan said she will work to make child abuse education mandatory in all 50 states.

“It’s something I can hopefully change for the next generation,” she said.

N.Y. storm panel urges flood walls

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A commission formed to examine ways to guard against storms like Sandy released a report Friday that calls for flood walls in subways, water pumps at airports and sea barriers along the coast.

The final report was first obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. The findings were officially released Friday by the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who formed the commission.

The report recommends short- and long-term protections in transportation and with building codes. It suggests improvements in insurance coverage and ways to finance those improvements.

Some of the specific recommendations involve using natural barriers to protect New York Harbor and Long Island. Others include roll-down gates and inflatable barriers to keep floodwaters out of subways.

“I thank the Rockefeller Foundation and the extraordinary members of the Commission for their hard work in developing these preliminary recommendations on a short timeline, and applaud their comprehensiveness and the vision they lay out for the future of New York State,” Cuomo said Friday in a statement. “We will be reviewing them as part of our efforts to harden our critical infrastructure and to make New York State a leader in creating a more resilient, more effective infrastructure.”

The commission recommends floodgates for tunnels, subways and airports, as well as a network of safe havens such as old civil defense shelters.

800 rape cases reviewed in N.Y.

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York City medical examiner’s office confirmed Friday that it is reviewing hundreds of rape cases for possible errors in DNA analysis.

Officials said it appears so far that the testing in the vast majority of the cases was valid. But in one instance, the review uncovered evidence that resulted in an indictment last year accusing a man of raping a minor more than a decade ago in Brooklyn.

Local politicians responded to news of the mishandled sex crimes evidence, first reported in The New York Times, by saying it suggests more victims may have been denied justice. The City Council announced it would hold an oversight hearing later this month.

“We cannot allow these women to wonder if their attacker remains free or to go one more day without knowing justice was served in their case,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement.

The review began after the medical examiner’s office discovered errors by an unidentified laboratory technician, who was hired in 2001 and resigned in 2011, office spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said.

During a training session before her resignation, supervisors learned that her “work wasn’t up to the standards we expect,” Borakove said.

The medical examiner’s office determined that the technician had handled evidence in more than 800 sexual assault cases during her nine-year tenure. The review, which is more than half-way completed, so far has found that she failed to detect existing biological evidence in at least two dozen instances.

Bin Laden movie takes No. 1 spot

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Zero Dark Thirty” hunted down the top spot at the box office — and easily won it.

Sony Pictures’ controversial Osama bin Laden raid drama nabbed first place with $24 million in its first weekend in wide release, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The film, which opened in a limited run last month, earned five Oscar nominations last week, including best picture, original screenplay and actress for Jessica Chastain as a dogged CIA operative.

Open Road Films’ horror parody “A Haunted House” starring Marlon Wayans debuted in second place with a solid $18.8 million.

The Warner Bros. mobster drama “Gangster Squad,” starring Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling as off-the-books police officers battling a mob boss played by Sean Penn, opened below expectations in third place with $16.7 million.

After earning Oscar nominations last week, several Academy Awards contenders benefited at the box office. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences moved up the unveiling of the Oscar nominations to Thursday, three days ahead of Sunday’s Golden Globes.

Hollywood’s second-biggest awards ceremony organized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

“The timing is great because there are a host of these awards contenders still out there,” said Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst at Hollywood.com. “‘Django Unchained,’ ‘Les Miserables,’ ‘Lincoln,’ ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and a few others are still out there. Which movies win tonight at the Golden Globes will definitely receive a boost going forward.”

 

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