Nation & World News Nation & World News from WUFT, NPR and PBS Sat, 28 Feb 2015 04:03:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Putin Critic Boris Nemtsov Shot Dead Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:41:00 +0000 Nemtsov served as a governor and deputy prime minister in the 1990s. He later became an opposition leader and sharp critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was killed on a street in Moscow.]]>

(This post last updated at 10:50 p.m. ET)

Boris Nemtsov, a former Russian deputy prime minister turned prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead today on a street in central Moscow, the Interior Ministry told the Interfax news agency.

The Russian-language news website Meduza reported that Nemtsov was walking with a woman near the Kremlin at the time of the attack. A spokesman told Interfax that at least seven shots were fired at Nemtsov from a passing car.

Police are investigating, Interfax said.

Nemtsov most recently had accused Putin allies of massively profiting from the government’s development efforts ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics, and butted heads with the Kremlin regarding the Ukraine, the Associated Press reports.

“Nemtsov assailed the government’s inefficiency, rampant corruption and the Kremlin’s Ukraine policy, which has strained relations between Russia and the West to a degree unseen since Cold War times.

“In an interview with the Sobesednik newspaper, Nemtsov said earlier this month that his 86-year old mother was afraid that Putin could have him killed for his opposition activities. Asked if he had such fears himself, he responded by saying: ‘If I were afraid I wouldn’t have led an opposition party.’ ”

Nemstov, 55, was the head of the opposition Republican Party of Russia-People’s Freedom Party. He served as governor of the Novgorod region and as deputy prime minister in the 1990s. As NPR reported in 2007, in the 1990s Nemtsov “was an icon of democratic reform, a crusading minister anointed by former President Boris Yeltsin to be his political heir.”

He later became an opposition leader and sharp critic of Putin.

Last year Nemtsov was among opposition leaders who gathered in Moscow to protest the government’s crackdown on independent media and opposition groups. As NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reported at the time Nemtsov likened the mood in Russia to “Germany of the 1930s when Adolf Hitler called anyone who disagreed with him a traitor.”

“It’s honestly like in the Hitler time,” Nemtsov said at the time. “If you are against Putin, you are against Russia. If you are against Putin, you are American spy.

According Reuters, a spokesman for Putin said the president condemn the killing and said it may have been a contract killing. Putin has ordered an investigation.

Update at 7:33 p.m. ET. U.S. Condemns Murder:

In a statement released by the White House, President Obama condemned Nemtsov’s murder and called on the Russians to launch a “prompt, impartial, and transparent investigation.”

“Nemtsov was a tireless advocate for his country, seeking for his fellow Russian citizens the rights to which all people are entitled. I admired Nemtsov’s courageous dedication to the struggle against corruption in Russia and appreciated his willingness to share his candid views with me when we met in Moscow in 2009,” Obama said. “We offer our sincere condolences to Boris Efimovich’s family, and to the Russian people, who have lost one of the most dedicated and eloquent defenders of their rights.”

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A Rival’s Retirement Prompts One-Word Statement From Aussie Politician Fri, 27 Feb 2015 21:53:00 +0000 “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” goes the old saw. Australian politician Anthony Albanese seems to have taken that to heart. Almost.

Upon receiving news that Max Moore-Wilton, the head of the Sydney Airport Corp. was planning to retire in May, Albanese, a member of Parliament from the opposition Labour Party, issued a one-word statement: “Good.”

The Sydney Morning Herald points out that the two men have been feuding over a second airport for Sydney.

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5 Quotes From Earl Lloyd, The First Black Player In The NBA Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:00:00 +0000 Earl Lloyd, who died Thursday, once recalled telling a young man who thanked him for blazing a trail, "Man, you owe me absolutely nothing."]]>

Earl Lloyd, who became the first black player in the NBA nearly 65 years ago, died Thursday at age 86.

Lloyd had a long career that stretched from West Virginia State to basketball’s Hall of Fame. He once told a young man who thanked him for being a pioneer, “Man, you owe me absolutely nothing.”

As a player, the 6-foot-5-inch Lloyd was nicknamed The Big Cat. He was drafted in the same year as other black players, but he was the first to play in the regular season, for the then-Washington Capitols.

In 1955, Lloyd helped the Syracuse Nationals win an NBA title; he later played for the Detroit Pistons.

At the time of his death, Lloyd had been living in Crossville, Tenn., with his wife, Charlita. He was a native of Alexandria, Va., who also lived for many years in Detroit.

Lloyd was a jazz fan. During his playing days, he carried around issues of Downbeat magazine during road trips, to help him find gigs in the cities he visited.

After his playing days, Lloyd had stints as a scout and coach in the NBA. He “is credited with discovering basketball talents Willis Reed, Earl Monroe, Dave Bing, Ray Scott and Wally Jones,” according to a statement from West Virginia State.

Lloyd went on to work at the Dodge division of the Chrysler Corp. and then in job placement for Detroit’s school system.

Lloyd spoke to NPR several times in the past 15 years. We’ve collected some of the most compelling quotes from those conversations here.

From 2000, speaking to NPR’s Linda Wertheimer:

“Here I am, a young black kid — from kindergarten right through graduating from college, I never had a white classmate. And you’re born and raised in the den of segregation, you’ve been treated third-class all your life. So you tend to believe that you’re inferior. And when you walk into a pro training camp … the first thing you ask yourself, very quietly, [is] ‘Do I belong here?’ And at training camp, where it’s on, and you start scrimmaging these guys and playing against them, you know — then the bulb lights up, and tells you that you belong.”

From a 2013 talk with NPR’s Gene Demby:

“My parents used to say it only matters if other people think you’re special. What you think is only as important as a rat’s behind.”

“I always say that if someone had to handpick a place to play their first game as a black player, it would be Rochester, N.Y. In that part of the country in the wintertime, no one hates anyone. You see black folks and white folks pushing each other’s cars through the snow. But the next day we were in St. Louis. That was not a nice place to be in 1950. That was not a nice place to be. But there was no Klansmen [at that first game] and all that, with signs and ropes. It was too cold for all that.”

From a 2010 talk with NPR’s Liane Hansen:

“Jackie made things a lot easier for me. But what happened, if you think about it, Jackie Robinson played first base. The guy playing left field, he can call him all the names he wants to call him and their paths will never cross. But in pro basketball, you stand on a foul line and some guy who might want to call you a name is less apt to — because the proximity is kind of immediate. And there’s a little danger involved in calling a guy a name who’s standing right next to you.”

“One kid said to me, he said, Mr. Lloyd, we really owe you. And I explained to him, man, you owe me absolutely nothing. I said, whatever kind of career I had, it has served me well, but you do owe some people. And the people you owe are the folks who are going to come behind you. It’s incumbent upon each watch — when you play your 10, 11 years and you’re in your group — when you leave, I truly hope that you’ve done all you can possibly do to leave it a better place for the folks who come behind you.”

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Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock On ‘Star Trek,’ Dies At 83 Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:37:00 +0000 The cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, his granddaughter tells NPR.]]>

Updated at 1:16 p.m.

Actor Leonard Nimoy, best known for his role as Mr. Spock, the logical half-Vulcan, half-human in the original Star Trek series and several movies, has died at his home in Los Angeles, his granddaughter, Madeleine, told NPR. Nimoy was 83.

The cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she said.

NPR’s Neda Ulaby, who is reporting on the story, tells our Newscast unit:

“Leonard Nimoy started acting as a teenager at a settlement house theater in Boston where he grew up. His father was a barber, a Jewish refugee from Ukraine. Nimoy felt stifled by Spock at times during his career. He also appeared on Broadway, wrote poetry and plays and directed a few blockbuster movies, including Star Trek 4. He eventually made peace with the character. Spock could have been just pointy ears and punch lines. Leonard Nimoy gave him gravitas.”

Nimoy reprised the role he is most famous for in the J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the franchise. He told NPR’s Guy Raz in 2009: “I know why they wanted me in this last film, which was to create a bridge between the original cast and the new. But that’s been done. So I would suspect that there’s no need for my presence again.”

Actor Zachary Quinto, who took over as Mr. Spock in the reboot and its sequel, told NPR in 2013 that Nimoy “was very supportive from the beginning, and we became incredibly good friends.”

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Bangladeshi-American Blogger Hacked To Death In Dhaka Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:00:00 +0000 Avijit Roy's writings denounced fundamentalist thought and earned him death threats from Islamist groups. His wife, Rafida Ahmed, who was with him during the attack Thursday, was severely wounded.]]>

A Bangladeshi-American blogger, whose writings denounced fundamentalist thought and earned him death threats from Islamist groups, was hacked to death by two attackers in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital. Avijit Roy’s wife, Rafida Ahmed, who was with him during the attack late Thursday, was severely wounded.

Roy and Ahmed, Bangladeshi-born U.S. citizens, were returning from a book fair when they were attacked on a crowded sidewalk in Dhaka. The Dhaka Tribune newspaper reports that Roy died in hospital from excessive bleeding and an internal brain injury. His wife is reportedly in critical but stable condition. The couple was due to return to the U.S. next month.

The Associated Press reports that Ansar Bangla 7, a previously unknown group, claimed responsibility for the attack, citing Roy’s “crime against Islam.” Police are investigating the attack, but no arrests have as yet been made.

NPR’s Julie McCarthy, who is in New Delhi, India, tells our Newscast unit that Roy had received threats on social media from hard-liners angered by his writing. She says:

“Roy founded the website ‘Free Mind,’ a congregation of free thinkers, atheists and humanists of mainly Bengali descent. The clash between secularists and Muslim fundamentalists risks destabilizing Bangladesh, where hard-line Islamist groups demand public executions of writers like Roy, the second blogger to be murdered in Bangladesh in two years.”

In 2013, blogger Rajib Hyder was killed in nearly the same way, the Dhaka Tribune reported.

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9 People Found Dead In Southern Missouri Fri, 27 Feb 2015 14:28:00 +0000 Police say a gunman is among nine people found dead in south-central Missouri, following a series of shootings in multiple locations Thursday night. The man was 36; police say he died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The attacks happened in Texas County, Mo., and the gunman’s body was found in nearby Shannon County. Police say an elderly woman whose body was found in a residence seems to have died from natural causes. Seven other people died of gunshot wounds; one person who was wounded is in the hospital.

“In our job, we see a lot of bad stuff, and this is bad,” Sgt. Jeff Kinder of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said at a news conference Friday morning. He added, “It’s not natural to see that sort of thing.”

Details are still coming in about the violence that struck the small community of Tyrone. The names of the victims have not been released. We’ll add more news as it emerges.

Update at 10:05 a.m. ET: People Found At Five Residences

“We’re currently working six active scenes,” says Sgt. Jeff Kinder of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, adding that the total includes five residences along with the area where the suspect’s car was found.

Update at 9:58 a.m. ET: A Call To Police

From a Missouri State Highway Patrol release:

“On the evening of February 26, 2015, at approximately 10:15 p.m., the Texas County Sheriff’s Department requested assistance with a disturbance involving a weapon at a residence in Tyrone, Missouri. A juvenile female caller indicated she was in the residence and apparently heard gun shots.

“She immediately fled to a neighbor’s house to notify authorities. Responding deputies found two deceased persons at this residence. Further investigation revealed five additional victims who were deceased and one additional victim who was wounded in three additional residences. All three residences were in Tyrone.”

Our original post continues:

From local newspaper the Houston Herald:

“A Missouri State Highway Patrol officer confirmed the death of the alleged shooter. The lawmen said he was found in a parked vehicle in Shannon County. Investigators at about 7:30 a.m. were leaving one of the crime scenes. Two are within a short distance of each other near Highways H and DD.

“A neighbor in the area reported that at 3:45 a.m. authorities came to the door checking for fatalities or injured. Persons in the Highway H residence said they were told to stay in the house and not to open the door to strangers.”

Maps show that Tyrone sits along a two-lane county highway, in an area where the sole buildings seem to be modest houses and a post office.

Police are coordinating their investigation out of a mobile command post.

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Congress Agrees To Maintain Homeland Security Funding — For A Week Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:48:00 +0000 The Senate approved a bill that funded Homeland Security through Sept. 30. The Republican leadership in the House decided to move forward with a more limited bill, but that failed.]]>

(This post was last updated at 9:55 p.m. ET.)

With just hours before the Department of Homeland Security would have run out of funding, the GOP-controlled House voted to approve a week-long funding extension that both sides hope will provide time needed to find a full solution through the end of the fiscal year.

The House immediately adjourned following the 357-60 vote.

The passage capped a day of scrambling that saw a longer three-week stopgap shot down in the House, 203-224, NPR’s Juana Summers reports. More than 50 Republican upset with the deletion of a provision stripping funds from President Obama’s immigration moves joined the chamber’s Democrats, who at that time were still pushing for full funding through Sept. 30.

This battle has been brewing in Congress for months, since President Obama issued a series of executive actions giving legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants.

Democrats have successfully stopped bills that seek to overturn his actions, so to thwart the them, some Republicans have suggested defunding DHS, the home of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But Republicans in the House and Senate have failed to agree on a unified strategy. To avoid a partial shutdown of DHS, the Senate passed a so-called “clean bill” that would fund DHS until Sept. 30; the House leadership went forward with a more limited bill.

Ultimately, even after holding the vote open more than 30 minutes past the originally scheduled 15 minutes to try to flip votes, House Republicans could not cobble together the 217 votes they needed to pass the measure.

Update at 8:27 p.m. ET. Senate Passes One-Week Extension:

Giving the House another option, the Senate has passed a bill that would extend DHS funding for one week.

The Senate has now adjourned until Monday.

Now, the question becomes, what will the House do? At this point they have two choices: Allow funding to lapse, or vote on one of the Senate’s two proposals.

At this point, House Republicans are still meeting behind closed doors.

Update at 5:38 p.m. ET. What Does this Mean?

Here’s how NPR’s Ron Elving sees the situation: “At this point,” he says, “it’s more a matter of persuading.”

Ron says that this is another big test for the leadership of Speaker John Boehner, who will send out his whips to talk to the 51 Republicans who voted against the measure to try to convince them to reconsider.

There is a possibility, Ron said, that Boehner could cobble together enough to Democratic votes to make up for those in his caucus who voted against the measure, but that, too, has implications.

Ron says, at this point, it would difficult to bring another measure to the floor, so the realistic options are: Vote again on the measure that keeps DHS funded until March 19. Or, with the help of Democrats, pass the Senate’s version of the bill.

The latter, Ron says, would be a “total victory for the Democrats and the president.”

Update at 11:22 a.m. ET: Senate Approves Full Funding

The Senate has voted to fund Homeland Security through Sept. 30, providing the agency with full funding. The final tally was 68-31.

The Senate is expected to take up the House’s stopgap measure later Friday, if it passes. That legislation has been moving forward in the House.

Our original post continues:

Just a day before the DHS was set to run out of money (at midnight tonight), Republicans in the Senate had come to terms with the need for a “clean” bill to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security, one that doesn’t require changes to the executive actions President Obama has taken on immigration.

As NPR’s Ailsa Chang reported, they’ve been hoping the House would follow suit.

Ailsa quotes Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who says the burden of the majority is the burden of governing: “As a governing party, we’ve got to fund DHS and say to the House, ‘Here’s a straw, so you can suck it up.’ ”

But on Thursday night, Republican leaders in the House came up with a different idea: to fund DHS for just three weeks to give the two chambers of Congress time to work out a compromise measure.

As The Associated Press reports, some Republicans in the House have said that shutting down DHS would be an acceptable cost of thwarting the executive actions on immigration.

From the AP:

” ‘Shutting down’ the agency known as DHS ‘is a set of words that don’t really have the meaning that people attribute to it,’ said Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama. ‘There was hardly any effect whatsoever on the Department of Homeland Security from the last shutdown, and I would anticipate a similar effect this time.’

“Brooks was referring to the 2013 partial federal government shutdown that Americans blamed mostly on Republicans, and which many GOP leaders have vowed not to repeat.”

House Republicans have noted that many DHS workers, such as transportation security officers, were declared “essential” and went to work as normal during that shutdown. But as Ailsa reported earlier this week, those security officers were left without paychecks until after the shutdown was resolved.

Even if Congress adopts the three-week stopgap measure, the leaders of the two chambers will have to figure out how to resolve their different views — and their different styles.

“You know, the House by nature and by design is a hell of a lot more rambunctious place than the Senate,” House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday.

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More Details On ‘Jihadi John': Early Run-Ins And Radicalization Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:51:00 +0000 There are two narratives about Mohammed Emwazi's past that attempt to explain how the man who grew up in West London became internationally notorious.]]>

More details are emerging about Mohammed Emwazi, the man identified as the militant seen in beheading videos released by the self-styled Islamic State. His name came out Thursday.

Emwazi is a British citizen who was born in Kuwait and grew up in West London. He reportedly graduated from the University of Westminster with a degree in computer programming.

There are two narratives about Emwazi’s past that attempt to explain how the man dubbed by the media as “Jihadi John” became radicalized and internationally notorious.

One scenario has been put forth by a researcher with a Muslim advocacy organization in the U.K. called CAGE. The researcher says that when he met with Emwazi in the fall of 2009, Emwazi was incensed over having been detained by British security services while traveling, NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston reports on Morning Edition.

“The implication has been that Emwazi was radicalized because of this poor treatment,” Dina says on Friday’s Morning Edition.

But another part of the story comes from court papers recently obtained by the BBC. They suggest that Emwazi had radical leanings even before he was detained.

“Those court papers were filed back in 2011, and they say that Emwazi was part of a group known as the North London Boys,” Dina says. “They had links to the Somali-based terrorist group al-Shabab. The London Boys were allegedly funneling money and fighters to the group as far back as 2007.”

A member of that group went to fight in Somalia in 2009 after saying he was traveling to Africa to go on safari — a story that, Dina says, Emwazi also told when he was stopped by authorities months later.

Emwazi moved to Kuwait in 2009 and eventually reached Syria in 2012.

Trying to piece together Emwazi’s past, the British media has descended on a building in London where the man is believed to have lived.

For a look at Emwazi’s life when he graduated from college in 2009, here’s The Guardian:

“By this time, Emwazi was said to be a polite, observant Muslim with a penchant for designer clothes. He was also a member of a loose-knit group of Muslim youths who played five-a-side football together, were educated at the same schools, attended the same mosques, and were all impressed by a particular preacher, Hani al-Sibai.

“Of that group, three are now dead, one is living in Sudan after being stripped of his British citizenship, a fourth cannot leave the UK for fear that he too will be deprived of his citizenship, and several are serving prison sentences.”

Under the headline “Jihadi Junior,” The Sun has printed a class photo that the newspaper says includes Emwazi at age 11. It adds that he was a fan of Manchester United.

U.S. and British authorities have not publicly confirmed Emwazi’s identity, but intelligence officials in both countries have told journalists that they identified Emwazi months ago — and that they wanted to keep their discovery secret because of operational reasons.

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Ahead Of Netanyahu’s Speech To Congress, Hints Of A Thaw Thu, 26 Feb 2015 22:15:00 +0000 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will reportedly meet with Sens. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and Harry Reid, D-Nev., the chamber’s top Democrat, after his March 3 speech to Congress.

The announcement, which was reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which cited a senior Israeli official, came after the American Israel Public Affairs Committee announced that Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser, and Samantha Power, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, will address the organization’s annual conference in Washington. Netanyahu will also address the AIPAC conference.

The news could mark the first de-escalation of rising tensions between the U.S. and Israel.

As we have been reporting, Netanyahu’s speech to Congress has been controversial from almost the moment it was announced by House Speaker John Boehner. Netanyahu says he wants to highlight the dangers posed by Iran, which Israel views as an existential threat. He is opposed to the talks involving the U.S. and its allies and Iran over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.

The Obama administration called the invitation to the Israeli leader, made without consulting the White House or the State Department, a departure from protocol. Obama, citing the proximity of the Israeli elections, said he won’t meet Netanyahu during his visit to Washington; neither will Vice President Joe Biden or Secretary of State John Kerry, who will both be traveling at that time.

As criticism of the announced speech mounted, Netanyahu said he was determined to speak to Congress over what he sees as the threat posed by Iran.

On Wednesday, Kerry intensified the criticism of the Israeli leader, saying his judgment on the issue “may not be correct here.” That followed Rice, the national security adviser, telling PBS’ Charlie Rose that Boehner’s invitation to Israel’s prime minister — and Netanyahu‘s acceptance of it — have “injected a degree of partisanship” that is “destructive to the fabric of the relationship” between Israel and the U.S.

Boehner rejected that assertion Thursday.

“The American people, and both parties in Congress, have always stood with Israel. Nothing and no one should get in the way of that,” he said. “And that’s why it’s so important for the American people to hear what Prime Minister Netanyahu has to say about the grave threats that they’re facing.”

Netanyahu’s speech to Congress would coincide with the final stretch of negotiations the U.S. and its allies are engaged in with Iran. Many members of Congress want to impose further sanctions on the Islamic republic, a move that would likely doom the talks.

But Netanyahu’s speech has also created a divide in Congress, where Democrats, including some of Israel’s strongest allies, have expressed displeasure. Some Democrats have said they will boycott the speech.

The Associated Press reports that sending Rice and Power to AIPAC may ease — or worsen — tensions with Israel. The news agency adds:

“U.S. officials had floated the idea of sending a non-Cabinet level official to the event to show the administration’s deep displeasure with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress next week, in which he will argue against an Iran deal.

“In their as-yet unscheduled appearances at the AIPAC conference that runs from Sunday to Tuesday, Rice and Power will stress the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and the administration’s commitment to Israel’s security, according to American officials.

“But, they will also make the administration’s case for the ongoing negotiations with Iran before an audience of more than 16,000 pro-Israel activists that is likely to be hostile to the talks and deeply concerned by growing animosity between Obama and Netanyahu and their top aides over the prime minister’s speech and his opposition to one of the president’s signature foreign policy goals.”

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In Video: The Great Llama Drama Of 2015 Thu, 26 Feb 2015 21:12:00 +0000 The nation was riveted by a pair of llamas that broke free in Sun City, Ariz. The llamas ran through parking lots and boulevards, until the men with lassos were called.]]>

A pair of llamas on the loose in Sun City, Ariz., riveted the nation this afternoon.

The major cable news networks — CNN, Fox, MSNBC — broke into their news coverage for chopper footage showing a black llama and a white llama running through parking lots and boulevards while being chased by a bunch of guys:

Eventually, more men with lassos joined the chase:

And the black llama was cornered and, much to the dismay of Twitter, was captured:

But the white llama was still holding on to the dream:

The llama escaped a few lasso attempts from men on foot. But then, they brought in the pickup truck and the “Great Llama Drama of 2015″ came to an end:

And everybody thought:

(By the way: Per The Associated Press, this all happened in Maricopa County. There’s no word on whether these llamas were pets.)

Update at 6:27 p.m. ET. Therapy Llamas:

The AP reports that the escaped llamas were working at a retirement home. The wire service adds:

“The fugitive llamas were part of a trio that were making a therapy visit to elderly residents at GenCare SunCity at The Carillons. Executive Director Jill Parsons said it was the first time the facility had hosted the llamas.

“The animals bolted when their handlers took them outside for a bathroom break.

“Parsons declined to name the llamas’ owners, saying that they were somewhat embarrassed by the whole ordeal. Their televised breakout quickly inspired a Twitter account and several hashtags.”

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