Is it possible that the birth of the heir to the British throne could cost less than the delivery of your everyday American Joe or Jane?
It’s not as far-fetched as one would assume. Sure, the Duchess of Cambridge, better known as Kate Middleton, is giving birth in a private wing of one of the top hospitals in London, with a suite that includes a birthing pool, satellite TV, radio, Internet access, daily newspapers, and a private catering staff.
For women without insurance in the United States, or for the 62 percent of women in private insurance plans that lack maternity coverage, the cost of maternity care could range from $4,000 to $45,000.
Comparatively, the cost of delivery at the duchess’s posh birthing suite, the same place where Princes William and Harry were born in the 1980s, reportedly costs up to £10,000, or about $15,300. Of course, that doesn't include the reported pre-delivery yoga classes at Kensington Palace or visits to private birthing coaches, and the cost will increase if the duchess uses extra services during the birth, like a Caesarean section or pain-reducing drugs.
Beyond the royal scale, average births in the US far exceeds the costs in Britain.
In 2012, the average amount paid for a conventional delivery in the US was $9,775 compared with $2,641 across the pond. For Caesarean deliveries, the cost rises to an average $15,041 in the US and $4,435 in Britain.
Those costs, calculated by the International Federation of Health Plans, are for the actual payments agreed to by insurance companies or other payers for services, rather than billed charges, which are higher. The costs include routine prenatal, delivery, and postpartum obstetric care.
The reason American births are so much higher is because the system is structured so services are paid for separately, and health providers have a financial incentive to encourage American women to get as many tests, scans, and services as possible, analysts say.
“It’s not primarily that we get a different bundle of services when we have a baby,” Gerard Anderson, an economist at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health who studies international health costs told The New York Times in June. “It’s that we pay individually for each service and pay more for the services we receive.”
Katy Kozhimannil, a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health who studies the cost of women’s health care, told the Times that it’s the “piecemeal way Americans pay for this life event that encourages overtreatment and overspending.”
The fact that a sizable percentage of American mothers, more than 30 percent, chose to have Caesarean sections or labor induced with drugs also raises costs, the Times reports. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American women have such procedures in higher numbers than those of other developed countries and far above rates the organization considers necessary.
American parents can take solace in one report that shows raising a child may be less expensive in the United States than in Britain. A report by the US Department of Agriculture found that the cost of raising a child born in 2011 through age 18 would run $234,900. A similar report by British insurer LV found that raising a child across the pond totals £169,613 or $256,000, according to the Financial Times.
The protests against the verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial so far been overwhelmingly peaceful – and the rallies in more than 100 cities nationwide Saturday were no exception.
Given that the activism has come during the hottest days of summer – when tempers are more likely to flare, according to research – and has focused on perhaps the most divisive news event in America this year, the lack of violence is noteworthy. And while it is the result of a variety of factors, it is surely a reflection of those who have led the movement.
That list begins with Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, the parents of the unarmed 17-year-old killed by Mr. Zimmerman in 2012. Though they clearly thought the neighborhood watch captain was guilty of racially profiling their son and went well beyond self-defense in shooting him, they have not openly antagonized Zimmerman. And from the beginning, Ms. Fulton and Mr. Martin have steadfastly condemned any violence.
But the Trayvon Martin rallies also cast a spotlight on their organizer: the Rev. Al Sharpton. Criticized for much of his career as a race-baiter and a self-promoter, Mr. Sharpton has begun to carve out a more nuanced image for himself during his advocacy for the Martins.
To be sure, with a radio program and a show on MSNBC, Sharpton still knows where to find the microphone. But the tone of his message has been different – still strident, still emphatic, but now more likely to play to the sentiments than to anger and divide.
His influence in the Trayvon Martin movement cannot be underestimated. He was one of the first to bring attention to the case through his television program, and he has been the leading activist in keeping the case in the public eye. While that dual role evokes concern among the media – where he represents the most extreme case of the blurring line between journalism and advocacy – it also suggests that the character of the Trayvon Martin movement bears the fingerprints of his leadership.
"He's been a voice of calm by addressing a lot of the frustration that people felt with the acquittal of George Zimmerman in wanting to take matters into their own hands," Professor Ogletree said. "He's made it very clear that violence is not an answer."
For example, the rallies on Saturday were for Trayvon and against "stand your ground" laws – not about attacking Zimmerman personally. The tone was combative, and speakers called for Zimmerman to be prosecuted on federal civil rights charges, but they also repeatedly sought common ground.
At the New York rally, which Sharpton attended, Fulton said: "Today it was my son. Tomorrow it might be yours." In Miami, Martin made the same point: "This could be any one of our children," he said. "Our mission now is to make sure that this doesn't happen to your child."
Sharpton, too, spoke without personal animus, but drawing on the comments of the president and his administration, sought to focus the "Justice for Trayvon" movement on the larger issue of laws that, they say, unnecessarily promote deadly violence.
"We are trying to change laws so that this never, ever happens again," said Sharpton.
He will have ample opportunity to spread that message. He often promotes his own rallies on his MSNBC program.
"Perspective in covering the news is one thing, but when it moves from perspective to activism, and you're actually one of the people driving the story you’re covering – that’s a little bit strange," Lucy Dalglish, dean of the University of Maryland’s college of journalism, told The Washington Post. "There have got to be some people at NBC who are very troubled by this. Or there should be."
But MSNBC officials say they knew what they were getting when they hired Sharpton in 2011. MSNBC essentially exempted him the network policy banning commentators from becoming active in political causes. Its rule has been transparency about Sharpton's activities.
"We didn't hire him to be just another news host. I knew who we were hiring," MSNBC's president, Phil Griffin, told the Post. "He brings to our channel a different voice, and a voice who speaks about issues that are not being talked about regularly anywhere else."
It is a measure of Sharpton's evolution that a major news network – even one as left-leaning as MSNBC – would feel comfortable putting him in front of the cameras nightly. For Sharpton, "going mainstream," it seems, has meant a much wider sphere of influence.
The mysterious and sudden death of a man who had waited decades to testify against James “Whitey” Bulger has set Boston buzzing with memories of Mr. Bulger’s heyday and questions over the circumstances of his death.
Stephen Rakes, who claimed he and his then-wife were forced at gunpoint to sell their liquor store to Bulger in 1984, was found in the woods of Lincoln, Mass., on Wednesday, a day after prosecutors removed him from their witness list.
An autopsy revealed no obvious signs of trauma, according to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. Authorities are awaiting the result of toxicology tests, which typically take several weeks to complete, to determine a cause of death.
The circumstances of the death are considered suspicious, an unidentified law enforcement official told New England Cable News, and authorities are considering whether he died elsewhere before being brought to Lincoln, The Boston Globe reports.
Family members denied that Mr. Rakes would take his own life after being removed from the prosecution’s witness list Tuesday.
“I can assure you my ex-husband did not commit suicide,” Rakes’s former wife, Julie Dammers, told the Globe.
“We have more questions than answers,” she said. “We are just in limbo right now. We’re all in complete shock.”
Rakes was a vocal critic of Bulger leading up to the trial and attended the trial every day through Tuesday, when he was last seen there. Though he was a potential witness, the judge had agreed to exempt alleged victims and their families from the usual sequestration order, which keeps all witnesses out of the courtroom before their testimony.
Rakes was eager to get on the witness stand, according to Tommy Donahue, son of alleged Bulger victim Michael Donahue. But prosecutors told the judge Tuesday who their remaining witnesses would be, and Rakes wasn't among them.
"He said he wanted to get up there and tell his side of the story," Mr. Donahue said Thursday.
It’s not yet clear why prosecutors decided not to have Rakes testify, but it’s probably due to the testimony of Kevin Weeks, a self-described former protégé of Bulger who gave a slightly different account of what happened with the liquor store. Prosecutors would be hesitant to bring another witness who could question the credibility of Mr. Weeks, legal analysts say.
Weeks denied that the gang forced Rakes to sell the store, saying Rakes had agreed to an offer from Bulger to buy the store for $100,000.
He said when they arrived at Rakes's house to close the deal, Rakes said his wife didn't want to sell the store and complained about the selling price.
"He was trying to shake us down," Weeks said from the witness stand.
Weeks said he pulled a gun out of his waistband and put it on a table, in front of Rakes's two young daughters, who were in the room. One of the girls was bouncing on Bulger's lap and reached for the gun, and Bulger told Weeks to put it away.
Bulger told Rakes that he couldn't back out of the sale, and they made the deal, according to the testimony.
Rakes was present for the testimony and later disputed the account, saying he was forced to sell the liquor store.
"Kevin continues to lie, as usual, because that's what he has to do," Rakes said that day. "My liquor store was never for sale – never, never, never."
For family members of Bulger’s alleged victims, the news of Rakes’s death was particularly disturbing.
“I hope he wasn’t murdered,” Steve Davis, the brother of a woman Bulger is accused of killing, told The New York Times. “It brings you back to the early ’80s,” he said, referring to the frequent murders by Bulger’s gang.
Bulger, the former leader of South Boston's mostly Irish-American Winter Hill Gang, spent 16 years on the run, becoming one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted before authorities captured him and his girlfriend in California in 2011. He is charged with participating in 19 murders but maintains his innocence.
• Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
“As a company with deep roots in New England and a strong presence in Boston, we believe this is the right decision out of respect for the victims of the attack and their loved ones,” Rhode Island-based CVS pharmacy said in a statement.
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“Music and terrorism don’t mix!” Tedeschi Food Shops posted on its Facebook page Wednesday. The company wrote it “cannot support actions that serve to glorify the evil actions of anyone.”
The magazine’s use of a self-portrait of the 19-year-old with tousled hair in what many see as a rock-star pose for its cover drew a firestorm of criticism and concern after the magazine released a promotional image Tuesday.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino blasted the decision, saying that the cover choice was “ill-conceived, at best" and that the magazine “rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment.”
"The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them,” Mayor Menino wrote to Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, according to The Boston Globe.
Rolling Stone defended itself Wednesday, releasing a statement saying the story “falls within the traditions of journalism” and the magazine's “long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.”
"The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens," the statement said.
Most of the criticism is directed at the magazine’s cover image, rather than the five-page article written by contributing editor Janet Reitman, who spent two months interviewing people close to Mr. Tsarnaev.
While public opinion in New England has largely been against the magazine, some commentators criticized the retailers' decision to pull the issue.
“A long list of local stores have simply refused to carry the issue, as if none of us is strong enough to see it, or to decide for ourselves whether to buy it,” Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham wrote Thursday.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been hard to understand, Ms. Abraham argues, because he appears a more complicated mix of a normal youth and an alleged murderer than his older brother, Tamerlan.
“To see him as that skinny kid on the ground [after he was captured by law enforcement], or on the Rolling Stone cover, is to confront the possibility that good-looking kids who seem totally normal, good students who give off no sign of trouble at all, can become monsters, too," she wrote.
"If we are strong enough to survive these attacks, surely we’re strong enough to talk about how that is humanly possible.”
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Blistering heat across most of the eastern United States is expected to last until the weekend, even as some states post record low temperatures.
New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., are all expecting their hottest temperatures of the year so far, with temperatures hitting the upper 90s and low 100s, and temperatures are soaring in the Plains and Great Lake states.
Chicago recorded its hottest day of the year so far at 92 degrees on Tuesday, and cooling centers are open to the public in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.
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"In this case, it's the longevity of the heat wave that poses the biggest concern, rather than the magnitude of the temperatures, themselves," said Weather.com senior meteorologist Jon Erdman.
"Cooler air should arrive in the Upper Midwest beginning Friday. By this weekend, the Northeast will receive the cooler air with open arms. All this will come at the cost of severe thunderstorms, however," Mr. Erdman said.
More than 400 cooling centers are open in New York, which is experiencing the highest above-normal temperatures in the country.
"It's going to be very hot and humid this week. The weather can be dangerous, especially for those without air conditioning, the elderly, and those with chronic health conditions," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
In the Washington, D.C., metro area, where temperatures are expected to reach high 90s with heat indexes topping 100, emergency repairs on a major water main could leave more than 100,000 Maryland residents without water for as many as five days, according to the Washington Post.
Even while much of the country stockpiles water and seeks air conditioning, some other states have posted surprisingly low temperatures.
On Monday, Texas and Oklahoma recorded their all-time lowest temperatures for July 15. Parts of Alaska were warmer than Texas that day: Alaska’s eastern interior was in the low 80s, while Abeline, Texas, clocked in at a refreshing 68 degrees.
The cooler temperatures in Texas are due to clouds and rain, but there are flood concerns in western Texas and into New Mexico, according to the National Weather Service.
The West Coast experienced its own extremes in June, when a heat wave broiled residents in states from Arizona to Idaho and Washington and the temperature at Death Valley National Park tied the record for the hottest June day anywhere in the country at a stifling 128 degrees.
The hottest summer recorded in US history occurred during the Dust Bowl in 1936 with an average temperature of 73.83 degrees for the season. The past two summers came tortuously close to breaking the record: The summers of 2011 and 2012 tied for the second-hottest summer with an average temperature for the season only one-tenth of a degree cooler than the record.
Material from the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Despite popular perception, the trial of George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin had nothing to do with race, according to the first juror to speak publicly since Mr. Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges on Saturday.
"I think all of us thought race did not play a role," the woman known only as Juror B37 said about the jury's deliberations, during an interview on CNN Monday. "We never had that discussion."
Instead, Juror B37 said the jury of six women spent hours poring over the law and the evidence from the trial before determining that Zimmerman did not meet the standards required for a second-degree murder or manslaughter conviction.
"There was a couple of them in there that wanted to find him guilty of something, and after hours and hours and hours of deliberating over the law, and reading it over and over and over again, we decided there's just no way, other place to go," she said.
Juror B37’s comments point to the degree to which the legal system succeeded in shutting racial considerations out of the courtroom, but have left many Americans wondering how race could be untangled from the case to begin with.
“There’s no justice for black people,” Maxine McCrey, told The New York Times while attending services at Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York. “Profiling and targeting our black men has not stopped.”
According to some analysts, the chasm between public perception and what happened in the courtroom is due in part to narrow laws that govern what is discussed in a courtroom.
“All that really mattered in that courtroom is whether Mr. Zimmerman reasonably believed that his life was in danger when he pulled the trigger. Critics of the verdict might not like the statutes that allowed for this outcome, but the proper response would not have been for the jury to ignore them and convict,” wrote Jason Riley in a Wall Street Journal column.
But other commentators have criticized the idea that race was too broad for the trial.
"The anger felt by so many African-Americans speaks to the simplest of truths: that race and law cannot be cleanly separated. We are tired of hearing that race is a conversation for another day," wrote Ekow Yankah in a New York Times column. "Without an honest jurisprudence that is brave enough to tackle the way race infuses our criminal law, Trayvon Martin’s voice will be silenced again."
Before the trial, Florida Judge Debra Nelson barred prosecutors from using the term “racial profiling” at the request of defense lawyers, who argued the term was inflammatory. They also asked that words such as "vigilante" or "wannabe cop" also be banned on the same grounds, but that request was denied.
Using a term such as "racial profiling" would “infect” a jury, defense attorney Mark O’Mara argued at the time, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Zimmerman and his defense team argued that race was not a factor in Trayvon’s death, but that Zimmerman acted in self-defense as the teenager attacked him.
“This became a focus for a civil rights event, which again is a wonderful event to have,” Mr. O’Mara said after the verdict. “But they decided that George Zimmerman would be the person who they were to blame and sort of use as the creation of a civil rights violation, none of which was borne out by the facts. The facts that night were not borne out that he acted in a racial way,” he said.
Assistant state attorney Bernie de la Rionda, lead prosecutor at the trial, continued his in-court tactic of referring to race subtly rather than overtly in a post-verdict interview with USA Today:
"This is an issue about whether you are going to allow a citizen to take the law into his own hands," Mr. de la Rionda told the newspaper. "I prosecuted this case because you had a man who decided to make assumptions – the assumptions turned out to be wrong and, as a result, a young man – a 17-year-old teenager – was killed."
Defense and prosecution lawyers in a military courtroom Monday battled over whether the most serious charge against Army Pfc. Bradley Manning – aiding the enemy – should be dropped along with several lesser charges, because the government failed to provide sufficient proof.
Aiding the enemy is a crime that can result in the death penalty, but prosecutors have said they will seek life in prison if Private Manning is found guilty.
The 21 contested charges against Manning stem from his giving the WikiLeaks website 700,000 classified files, combat videos, and diplomatic cables while he was serving as a junior intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010. Manning pleaded guilty in February to reduced versions of some additional charges.
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At Monday’s court session at Fort Meade in Maryland, defense and prosecution lawyers began oral arguments on defense motions to acquit the 25-year-old soldier on the aiding-the-enemy charge and six lesser charges, the Associated Press reported.
To prove the aiding-the-enemy charge, prosecutors have to show that Manning knew the information he sent to WikiLeaks would be seen by Al Qaeda forces.
The defense seeks to portray Manning as an idealist, troubled by some of what he saw while in Iraq, and desiring to provoke public discussion. For example, CNN noted that the defense showed a video of a 2007 US Apache helicopter attack that killed 11 people in Baghdad, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver. Manning has said the video troubled him so much that he uploaded the images to WikiLeaks. He has acknowledged leaking documents but says his motive was to expose wrongdoing.
The defense team, which rested its case last week, also argues that some of the information Manning leaked was already publicly available. In its new motion, the defense contends that the prosecution has not presented incriminating evidence on the seven charges, and therefore Manning should be acquitted.
Meanwhile, prosecutors say Manning used military computers to download classified documents and caused them to be published on the Internet where they could be viewed by those seeking to kill US military personnel. Prosecutors say the information Manning leaked fell into the hands of Al Qaeda and its former leader, Osama bin Laden, and thus harmed national security.
During the trial, prosecutors offered evidence that Al Qaeda leaders reveled in the publication of the documents Manning stole and urged members to study the information before seeking ways to attack the US, the AP reported.
The result of the Manning trial could have some impact on a potential prosecution of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked information about the NSA's intelligence-gathering activities within the US. Like Manning, Mr. Snowden has said he was troubled by what he saw and sought to expose it for the good of the country.
"Anybody looking at this [Manning] case is going to have to say, 'We have to throw the book at this guy, or where does it end?' " Eugene Fidell, a former military lawyer who now teaches at Yale Law School, told Reuters
Manning has opted for a trial before a judge instead of a jury-based court-martial. At Monday’s court session, Col. Denise Lind, the judge in the case, said she would rule Thursday on the defense’s aiding-the-enemy motion.
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Asiana Airlines will sue a California TV station for broadcasting incorrect and racially offensive names of the pilots of Asiana Flight 214, a spokesman for the airline confirmed Monday.
Asiana decided to sue KTVU of Oakland, Calif., to "strongly respond to its racially discriminatory report" that disparaged Asians, Asiana spokesman Lee Hyo-min said. The airline will probably file suit in US courts, she said, according to Bloomberg.
An anchor for KTVU read phony names of the Asiana pilots on air during a noon broadcast Friday. A graphic accompanied the report with the fake names, which were listed next to a picture of the burned-out plane that crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, killing three.
The report “seriously damaged” Asiana’s reputation, Ms. Lee said. Although the airline initially said it was considering possible legal action against both KTVU and the National Transportation Safety Board, Lee said Asiana decided not to sue the NTSB because it believes that the TV station report, not the US federal agency, damaged the airline’s reputation.
Both KTVU and the NTSB, which incorrectly confirmed the report, have issued apologies for the mistake.
The NTSB says a summer intern erroneously confirmed the report when KTVU called to verify.
“In response to an inquiry from a media outlet, a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft,” the NTSB said in an apology Saturday.
The KTVU anchor apologized after a commercial break in the newscast Friday. In a formal apology, the TV station said it did not sound out the names before airing the report or adequately fact-check the report.
“We heard this person [the summer intern] verify the information without questioning who they were and then rushed the names on our noon newscast,” the station wrote.
Neither the station nor the NTSB commented on where the names originated, although the NTSB said it was not the intern who produced the fake names, CNN reports.
It is NTSB policy not to release or confirm to the media the names of crew members or people involved in transportation accidents. But the names of the two pilots at the controls during the crash have widely been reported as Lee Kang-kuk (or Lee Gang-guk) and Lee Jeong-min.
There were in all four pilots, who underwent questioning by a joint US and South Korean investigation team while in the US. They returned to South Korea on Saturday, and South Korean officials plan to conduct separate interviews with them, South Korea's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport said.
In the July 6 crash, a Boeing 777 clipped a sea wall on landing in San Francisco, lost its tail, and then skidded on the runway where it caught fire.
The NTSB has been criticized by a pilots union for releasing a voluminous amount of crucial information to the public, instead of disclosing findings over several months as it has in the past. Others have praised its transparency.
“The NTSB says its hand has been forced somewhat by the Internet age, where misinformation and conspiracy theories can spread widely and quickly when official information is not forthcoming. But pilots and some aviation experts have worried that the information is leading the public to jump to wrong conclusions, unnecessarily ramping up pressure on the South Korea-based airline and its pilots,” the Monitor reported Sunday.
• Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
Both the National Transportation Safety Board and KTVU-TV of Oakland, Calif., have apologized for a mistake that led the television station to broadcast incorrect – and racially insensitive – names of the pilots of Asiana Flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco airport July 6, killing three. But the airline is considering legal action against the two organizations, CNN reports.
KTVU on Friday reported what it thought were the names of the Asiana pilots, but the names were clearly fabrications intended as crude phonetic jokes. One of the pilot names reported by KTVU, for instance, was "Wi Tu Lo."
KTVU officials have said that they did not sound out the names before airing the report, nor did they carry out adequate fact-checking. While KTVU called the NTSB to confirm the names, it managed only to reach a summer intern, who falsely affirmed the veracity of the report, both KTVU and the NTSB say. It remains unclear how KTVU got the list of fake names or why the NTSB intern confirmed the names as true.
The report was so offensive that Asiana might have weighed legal action regardless. "The reputation of the four pilots and of the company had been seriously damaged by this report," the airline said in a statement. "The company is reviewing taking legal action against both KTVU-TV and the NTSB."
Yet the controversy also comes amid an investigation that has already angered some in the aviation community. The NTSB, which is typically circumspect in its investigations, releasing information slowly and over months, has provided an unprecedented volume of crucial information to the public in the past week.
The NTSB says its hand has been forced somewhat by the Internet age, where misinformation and conspiracy theories can spread widely and quickly when official information is not forthcoming. But pilots and some aviation experts have worried that the information is leading the public to jump to wrong conclusions, unnecessarily ramping up pressure on the South Korea-based airline and its pilots.
“It is imperative that safety investigators refrain from prematurely releasing the information from on-board recording devices,” said the Air Line Pilots Association in a statement. “We have seen in the past that publicizing this data before all of it can be collected and analyzed leads to erroneous conclusions that can actually interfere with the investigative process.”
The Asiana pilots have already come in for scrutiny after the accident, in which a Boeing 777 clipped a sea wall on landing in San Francisco, lost its tail, and then spun across the runway where it caught fire.
The pilot at the controls during the landing had only 43 hours of experience on 777s, though he had more than 10,000 hours total flight experience, according to an earlier CNN report. While the pilot was legally qualified to fly the plane, he was trying to build up additional hours of 777 cockpit time to "gain comfort at the controls and experience flying the plane under certain conditions," former Department of Transportation Inspector General Mary Schiavo told CNN.
Though the NTSB does not release pilots' names during investigations, the pilot's real name has been reported as Lee Kang-kuk.
Asian-American groups said the prank was deeply troubling. "Words cannot adequately express the outrage we … feel over KTVU's on-air blunder that made a mockery of the Asiana Airlines tragedy," wrote Asian American Journalists Association President Paul Cheung and MediaWatch Chair Bobby Caina Calvan, according to the Los Angeles Times. "We are embarrassed for the anchor, who was as much a victim as KTVU's viewers and KTVU's hard-working staff."
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is resigning to assume the presidency of the University of California system of higher education.
Secretary Napolitano, named to the job when President Obama first assumed office, has guided DHS through challenging times marked by debates over border security and immigration, airport security policies that critics say were too intrusive, and scrutiny of the federal response to natural disasters.
In a statement Friday, Mr. Obama praised Napolitano for “outstanding work on behalf of the American people over the last four years.”
“She’s worked around the clock to respond to natural disasters, from the Joplin tornado to Hurricane Sandy, helping Americans recover and rebuild,” he said. “Since day one, Janet has led my administration’s effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values.”
Many Republicans in Congress disagree.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama said in a statement that her tenure "was defined by a consistent disrespect for the rule of law."
Rep. Michael McCaul (R) of Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called her departure “a substantial addition to the growing list of unfilled key leadership positions within the Department.”
“The many agencies housed within DHS are only as effective as their leadership, and it is crucial that the Administration appoints someone who does not underestimate the threats against us, and who is committed to enforcing the law and creating a unified Department,” Representative McCaul said in a statement. “Ten years after the creation of the Department, it is critical that its mission isn’t undermined by politics or political correctness. The border is not secure, and the threat of terrorism is not diminishing.”
Sen. John McCain (R), from Napolitano's home state of Arizona, was gentler in his response.
"We have had our share of disagreements during her time as Secretary, but I have never doubted her integrity, work ethic or commitment to our nation's security," he said in a statement.
Two current DHS agency heads who maintain particularly good relations with congressional oversight agencies are seen as possible contenders to succeed Napolitano, The Washington Post reports:
“W. Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA], previously worked for two Republican governors in Florida as the state’s emergency management director. Fugate is well liked by the White House and has been credited by governors of both parties for revamping the once-troubled federal agency in the years since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“John S. Pistole, head of the Transportation Security Administration and a former deputy director of the FBI, has built good relations with Congress despite objections over recent proposed changes to screening procedures at airports.”
Napolitano’s career includes several significant firsts: first woman to be reelected governor of Arizona, first woman to head DHS, and first woman to become president of the University of California in the system’s 145-year history.
Forbes ranks her as the world's eighth most powerful woman. In her position as head of DHS, Forbes points out, Napolitano has run the third-largest federal department, overseeing a budget of $48 billion, a staff of 240,000, and 22 agencies, including FEMA, US Customs and Border Protection, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the US Coast Guard, the Secret Service, and cybersecurity operations.
"Secretary Napolitano has advanced the work of her predecessors and made DHS into a stronger, more focused and more effective agency,” says David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, which is based at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“Her greatest achievements, in my view, have been tougher enforcement of the southern border and targeting internal immigration enforcement on illegal immigrants who pose the greatest threat, and away from innocent young people who were brought here by their parents,” said Professor Schanzer in a statement. “Secretary Napolitano, together with FEMA chief R. David Paulson, has led effective federal responses to large-scale natural disasters like super-storm Sandy.”
As head of the University of California – the top tier of the state’s system of public colleges and universities – Napolitano will oversee 10 campuses (including UC Berkeley and UCLA) with more than 220,000 students, more than 170,000 faculty and staff, and a budget of about $24 billion.