Review Category : National News

Total Lunar Eclipse Will Be Shortest in a Century

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Don’t press the snooze button for this one.

The total lunar eclipse set to take over the skies on Saturday will be the shortest in a century, lasting five minutes and turning the moon red, according to NASA.

The sky spectacle will be visible from all parts of the United States, with people in the eastern part of the country seeing the beginning stages of the partial umbral eclipse before sunrise at 6:16 ET.

The total eclipse will be visible to people in the Western United States at 7:58 PT. At this time, the moon will turn a shade of blood red as it skims the outskirts of Earth’s shadow.

The eclipse is the third in a tetrad, a series of four eclipses. The fourth is set for Sept. 28, 2015.

The best part of all for Saturday’s phenomenon: No telescope is needed. If you’re in an area with visibility, all you’ll need to do is step outside to enjoy the view — that is, if you can catch it in time.

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Gary Dahl, Inventor of the Pet Rock, Dead at 78

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(JACKSONVILLE, Ore.) — Gary Dahl, the inventor of the Pet Rock, has died, The New York Times reports. He was 78.

Dahl’s wife, Marguerite Dahl, confirmed that her husband had passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Jacksonville, Oregon, on March 23.

While working as a freelance copywriter in Northern California, Dahl came up with the idea for the Pet Rock, first as a joke. It turned out to be one of the great fads of the 1970s that also happened to make him rich.

Backed by two investors, Dahl bought smooth Mexican beach stones for a penny apiece and then worked up packaging that looked like a carrying case along with instructions on the proper care and feeding of the Pet Rock.

The Pet Rock hit stores around the 1975 Christmas season and within months, Dahl sold 1.5 million of them, eventually earning a whopping $15 million from his venture.

Other inventions he came up with, like the Original Sand Breeding Kit, weren’t as lucrative. While Dahl trademarked the Pet Rock name, it didn’t stop copycats from getting in on the action with their own versions of his idea.

Years later, Dahl returned to copywriting and admitted that things hadn’t exactly turned out the way he planned even though the Pet Rock made him very wealthy.

Dahl is survived by his third wife, Marguerite, several children and seven grandchildren.

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Andrew Getty, Grandson of J. Paul Getty, Found Dead at Home

John Roman/iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Andrew Getty, the grandson of J. Paul Getty and an heir to the family’s oil fortune, died at the age of 47 on Tuesday, a statement from the Getty family confirmed.

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating.

Officers went to the home after a woman called police at around 2:15 p.m. to say that someone had died, he said.

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Parents of Alleged Colorado Theater Shooter James Holmes Speak to California Newspaper

Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images(DEL MAR, Calif.) — The parents of accused Colorado theater shooter James Holmes spoke to a California newspaper for an article published Tuesday about the prayer book published earlier this month that was taken from Holmes’ mother’s journal.

Arlene Holmes began writing in her prayer journal in 2013, after her son was arrested and charged in the shooting that killed 12 people and injured dozens more in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, the Del Mar Times reports. Her new book, When the Focus Shifts, was published earlier this month as a means of “drawing attention to her opposition to the death penalty, especially for the mentally ill, and her advocacy for improved treatment for those with severe mental disorders,” according to the newspaper.

Arlene’s husband, Bob Holmes, told the Times that he felt publishing the book was “very courageous of Arlene. It’s a very personal book for her.”

Opening arguments in the murder trial are expected to begin in late April.

The Times reports that the book contains prayers for the prosecutors handling James Holmes’ case and the victims of the 2012 shooting.

Arlene and Bob Holmes also told the newspaper that they held out hope that the district attorney would accept a defense offer of a guilty plea in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without parole. The prosecutor is seeking the death penalty.

In the interview, Arlene Holmes admits that she and her husband feel some “guilt” for their son’s actions, noting that “we didn’t recognize he was ill and needed treatment.”

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Two Dead After Shooting at Fresno Medical Office Building

iStock/Thinkstock(FRESNO, Calif.) — Two people were killed in a domestic violence-related shooting incident at a Fresno medical office building on Tuesday.

Police say Moua Neng, 43, entered the building and fired multiple shots at close range. The gunshots left a 33-year-old woman, believed to be an estranged wife or girlfriend, dead. Neng then allegedly killed himself.

Fresno Police Department Deputy Chief Pat Farmer said that witnesses said the woman was shot “several times.” After that, “there was a pause and as officers were arriving we heard another shot.”

Farmer noted that there had been a prior domestic violence case — 11 years ago — involving both Neng and the victim. The victim is believed to have been an employee at the facility.

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After Just Six Hours, Defense Rests in Boston Bombing Trial

FBI(BOSTON) — In the Boston Marathon bombing trial the prosecution took 92 witnesses and more than three weeks to present their case, but on Tuesday, the defense for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev rested after just four witnesses and about six hours.

Weeks ago during opening statements defense attorney Judy Clarke admitted to Tsarnaev’s role in the bombing and the violent aftermath, but argued it was Dzhokhar’s older brother Tamerlan who was primarily responsible for the mayhem nearly two years ago, in April 2013. In the six hours she used Tuesday, Clarke focused on evidence that she said showed it was Tamerlan who “led the way.”

One witness, an FBI fingerprint analyst, told jurors that investigators found a fingerprint or fingerprints from Tamerlan Tsarnaev on a pressure cooker bomb lid recovered from Watertown, where the brothers engaged in a firefight with police days after the bombing, and on possible bomb-making supplies including rolls of tape, a caulking gun, a soldering gun, a jar of nails, and a book on DIY wiring all found in the Tsarnaev family home. None of those items, potential bomb components, had Dzhokhar’s fingerprints.

The analyst also testified that 500 items were tested for fingerprints from the marathon bombing scenes, but only two items had recoverable fingerprints. Pieces of cardboard believed to be part of the first bomb contained prints belonging to Tamerlan, none to Dzhokhar. A shredded backpack also located at the scene contained a crumbled piece of paper that had Tamerlan’s palm prints but, again, none belonging to Dzhokhar, the analyst said.

The prosecution fired back, however, saying that just because an item doesn’t contain a fingerprint doesn’t mean someone did not touch it. “They could’ve used gloves,” the government said.

Earlier Tuesday a computer forensic expert, testifying for the defense, said it was on Tamerlan’s laptop that experts found the search terms “Ruger” “gun store” and “fireworks firing system,” but not on Dzhokhar’s laptop. The brothers would use a Ruger 9mm pistol to allegedly murder a police officer three days after the marathon bombing.

That same expert testified that Tamerlan’s computer showed searches for “Boston Marathon,” but Dzhokhar’s laptop didn’t search that term until after the bombings.

The defense showed a digital trail that they said showed Tamerlan downloaded an issue of Inspire magazine to his computer, then transferred it to a thumb drive. That same thumb drive was used to transfer the Inspire copy to Dzhokhar’s computer, the defense said. The magazine included an infamous bomb-making how-to article called “How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”

A majority of searches on Dzhokhar’s computer showed he was mostly on Facebook or a Russian social networking site, the defense said.

Clarke had said during opening remarks that while Tamerlan was “looking and immersed in death and destruction and carnage in the Middle East, Dzhokhar spent most of his time doing what teenagers do: Facebook, cars, girls.”

In another rebuttal, the prosecution argued that it is impossible to know who is using a computer unless there is a camera planted on it showing someone actively operating the device. On at least one occasion, the prosecution said, Dzhokhar did use Tamerlan’s computer to log into his personal email account.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the Watertown shootout three days after two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding 260 others on April 15, 2013. Dzhokhar escaped the shootout but was captured hours later hiding in a dry-docked boat. Bleeding in the boat, he had allegedly scrawled a message implying the marathon bombing was revenge for the death of “innocent Muslims” in the Middle East.

Dzhokhar has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts related to the bombing, and, if convicted, he could face the death penalty.

At the end of Tuesday’s session, the judge announced the trial will take a break for a few days, with closing arguments starting next Monday.

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Alabama Moms Meet After Facebook Apology for Kids’ Behavior Goes Viral

ABC News(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) — Thanks to the “power of social media,” two Alabama moms met on Monday, just days after one of the women posted on Facebook apologizing for her daughters’ “rude and obnoxious” behavior at the movies.

It all started when Birmingham mom Kyesha Smith Wood sent her son, daughter and step-daughter to see Cinderella at the local movie theater.

“There were two girls behind us, they were giggling, kind of talking…kicking my seat,” Rebecca Boyd, of Adger, Alabama, recalled to ABC News.

“I turned around and I said, ‘You know girls, we paid for this movie just like you did. Could you guys keep it down?’ They just laughed,” Boyd said. “After I spoke to them, they seemed to not care. They just laughed in my face.”

Wood said her son told her what happened.

“That broke my heart,” Wood told ABC News. “It really made me feel a lot of shame and I felt embarrassed for the girls’ behavior.”

Wood posted the story on her Facebook page, asking the moviegoer to contact her.

“The woman I’m looking for addressed them and asked them to be quiet and they were disrespectful,” Wood wrote on Facebook. “After the movie she approached my girls and told them that her husband had been laid off and this was the last movie she would be able to take her daughter to for a while and my girls ruined that for her.”

Wood’s post continued, “This rude, disrespectful, and awful behavior is unacceptable and they owe you an apology.”

The local Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office then shared Wood’s post on Facebook. The story went viral, generating over 250,000 likes.

“I live in that community,” Sgt. Jack Self told ABC News. “I just felt like if I could put it for a bigger audience, maybe she could find the lady she was looking for.”

Boyd’s identity was revealed when she left a comment on the sheriff’s office post, and on Monday, the moms finally came together in person.

“I was shocked that the mother supported me,” Boyd told ABC News.

“I believe they’re good girls,” Boyd said. “They just made some mistakes.”

Wood’s daughters will write an apology letter to Boyd, according to Wood’s Facebook post, and also contribute some of their allowance towards the Boyd family’s next trip to the movies.

“Rebecca is really the hero in this,” Wood said. “Initially none of this would have happened if Rebecca had not said something to the girls.”

“I think more parents have to do that,” Wood added.

Wood said, “the intention was never to embarrass or humiliate the girls, but at the same time, I think they kind of understand the power of social media and how quickly the things you do wrong can spread.”

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Former Police Chief Says He Feared FLDS Church Leaders

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A former police chief who served the twin towns that the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints dominates is coming forward for the first time, claiming he lived in fear that Warren Jeffs and other church leaders would take his family away if he didn’t do their bidding.

“This community has always been a theocracy,” Helaman Barlow told ABC News’ Nightline in an exclusive interview.

For years, Barlow said he was the head of the marshals that patrol the twin towns of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah — because the community straddles state lines, they have town marshals. Barlow is now divulging what he says are church secrets to federal investigators, who are suing the local town governments, accusing them of being wholly controlled by the church. It’s a charge local officials in both towns deny.

“To be a police officer in this community and to be hired by the marshal’s office is a calling from the church,” Barlow said. “You had to get permission to go to the police academy from the church.”

Even though Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS Church, is serving a life sentence in prison for marrying and raping two 12-year-old girls, Barlow alleged that Jeffs still controls every aspect of life for most of the roughly 10,000 people who live in the community, from what they believe, to what they own, to who they marry, even what they eat.

But now there is a small but growing movement to wrestle control away from Jeffs, and Barlow is one of the key players in doing that. Since leaving the church, Barlow has grown out his hair and grew a mustache, and now rides a motorcycle, all of which he said is to show he is in defiance of church rules.

“It’s more of statement to show that I’m not with the church, I’m not with the Jeffs. I’m obviously out,” Barlow said. “For me, it was an outright overt act to show everyone I’m done with it. I’m done.”

As the chief marshal, Barlow said his job was to “protect the church.” He joined the force 20 years ago and said he quickly learned that the marshals work hand-in-glove with FLDS Church security, known as “The God Squad,” who keep a close eye on outsiders.

“They have a huge network of cameras in this community,” Barlow said. “They can watch every street.”

Serving under Jeffs, the former chief said he was asked to do things he now regrets, but he isn’t willing to publicly admit all of those things yet because he is still working on an immunity deal with federal investigators.

In a deposition with the U.S. Department of Justice, Barlow stated that the marshals knew of widespread underage marriages in the community and didn’t do anything to stop it. Barlow also said he was asked by a city official to alter police reports.

In addition, when Jeffs was on the run and listed as one of the FBI’s “Most Wanted,” Barlow said he personally audio-taped conversations with law enforcement officials and then made them available to Jeffs.

“I knew it was wrong, but it was a way for me to keep my value up,” Barlow said.

Barlow said he lived in constant fear that the Jeffs could take his wife and kids away from him if he didn’t do what the prophet asked.

“With one phone call, he could call me and say, ‘yeah, you’re out,’ and I would say, ‘I’m not going,’ but then he could call [my wife] and say, ‘he had no priesthood, he has to go, you have to leave him,’” Barlow said.

He and his wife explained that it was the belief of the church that if the prophet told a wife to leave her husband and she refuses, then she has “spiritually murdered” her children.

Barlow said he witnessed the church’s power firsthand in one particular case of a family being “out” — Ron and Ginjer Cooke, two non-church members who moved to the community. They say that for six years they were subject to a relentless campaign of spying, vandalism and the refusal of local governments to give them basic utilities, such as power, water or sewage.

“It’s like being terrorized,” Ginjer Cooke said. “You’re always on edge, ‘What’s going to happen next? What are they going to do?’ …They are really good at driving people away. A lot of people leave.”

But the Cookes didn’t leave, Ginjer said, because they wanted to stand up and fight for their right to live there.

“I can’t let someone abuse my family like that,” she said. “You can’t teach [your kids] that it’s OK to let someone do something like that and get away with it.”

The Cookes recently won a $5.6 million lawsuit against the local government, and they now have water and power. The local government denied the harassment, but now that Barlow is out of the church, he told a different story.

“The Cookes were coming in against the wishes of the church, so if there was an opportunity to do something to either force them to leave or inconvenience them or discourage them, maybe they will go away,” he said. “They would do it, I would do it, at that time in the church, and any church member today would do it.”

Barlow insists he did sometimes use his position to try and prevent persecution against non-members, specifically in the case of Willie Jessop, the former bodyguard and spokesman for Jeffs, who very publicly quit after Jeffs confessed to marrying underage girls.

“Mine was a terrible crisis of faith,” Jessop told Nightline. “I was very passionately defending Mr. Jeffs and the community…but what I never saw coming, the shot that I got hit in the back with, was what he was doing in secrecy.”

Leaving made Jessop a deeply unpopular man within the church. In his deposition with the Department of Justice, Barlow said he prevented his officers from charging Jessop with crimes he didn’t commit.

It wasn’t only the things that he said he felt forced to do as chief, Barlow said, but it was also the increasingly arbitrary and strange rules being imposed by Jeffs that made him and his wife question the church. Rules that included eating only beans for protein, then beans were suddenly forbidden, or only being allowed to turn on the bathroom faucet with the right hand, the “clean hand,” because the left was “dirty.”

The community, the Barlows said, is forbidden from reading newspapers or watching TV. They are only given information over the pulpit, they said.

Finally, after years of doing Jeffs’ bidding, Barlow decided to leave the church.

“I stopped and realized that the religion that I was trying to go to, the church I was trying to attend, was nothing like the church that I was raised in, that I was born into, that I was married in,” Barlow said. “It was entirely different…then I stopped and went, ‘why am I trying to go to a different church than I believe in? I’m done with that.’”

The Barlows and their friends have been out now for about two years, and all agree their lives are much better than they were before when they were under the church’s eye.

There are signs of hope emerging in the community, they say. A new public school, something Jeffs had once banned, has opened and now hundreds of children of former church members are getting a proper education. A new Subway restaurant opened. Property once controlled by the church is now being auctioned off. Jessop purchased one of Jeff’s compounds and turned it into the “America’s Most Wanted” bed and breakfast.

But many allege that the church still maintains control of the local governments, which town officials continue to deny.

Nightline went to a town council meeting to confront the council and ask if it was controlled by the church. There, Hildale City Council Member Carlos Jessop said, “I personally deny that. I would hope you would give us the respect of allowing each person in this room their personal beliefs. …We are here to serve the public.”

In a statement, the attorney for the local governments a denied that town officials are controlled by the church, and with regards to the former chief, Helaman Barlow, the attorney said, “We question his credibility, since he repeatedly lied under oath.”

Barlow admits he has perjured himself while defending the church in the past, but insists what he is saying now is true.

Even though the community is changing, it is still very tense and very much divided. Barlow said he swings between being optimistic that the community will slowly join mainstream America and being darkly pessimistic about worst case scenarios, either through violence erupting from a church unwilling to relinquish control or from followers who feel betrayed.

“When people do wake up like we did, when people realize, ‘hey this is broke and we got tricked, this isn’t real, yet this person or these people caused me to do this much hard to my own family,’ I think you cannot underestimate the kinds of emotions and anger and violence that is possible,” he said.

Watch the full story on Nightline Tuesday night at 12:35 a.m. ET.

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Coast Guard Rescues Nine Crew Members from Tourist Pirate Ship

US Coast Guard/Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell (GLOUCESTER, Mass.) — The Coast Guard endured rough seas and winds to rescue nine crewmen from a disabled tourist pirate ship called Liana’s Ransom that was stranded off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Watchstanders were notified at 12:35 a.m. Monday that the Canadian tall ship’s engines were disabled and its sails were wrapped around the mast, according to a statement from the Coast Guard.

“It was fortunate for the crew of the vessel that the owner reached out to us,” said Jay Woodhead, the command duty officer at Sector Boston’s Command Center.

He added that with wind gusts up to 30 knots, it was unsafe for them to stay aboard.

As the weather “deteriorated” and seas reached nearly 10 feet, two motor lifeboat crews went 58 miles east from the coast to try to tow the vessel back to Gloucester, but once on scene, “rough sea conditions caused the tow line to break,” the Coast Guard said.

Coast Guard members then helped the stranded crew members get into immersion suits and abandon ship along with the assistance of a helicopter crew.

One man suffered a head injury while leaping from Liana’s Ransom and was airlifted by helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital.

The rest of the men were then transferred to lifeboats, which returned to the station.

A locator beacon was left on Liana’s Ransom still at sea for tracking, and it was last reported the Coast Guard was en-route to evaluate towing the ship to port.

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Defense Begins Its Case in Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

FBI(BOSTON) — Tuesday is the first full day of defense testimony at the Boston Marathon bombing trial.

After gory details of an 8-year-old’s death brought jurors to tears Monday, defense attorneys will set out to convince them it was Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, who directed the attack on April 15, 2013.

So far, lawyers have presented cellphone and GPS records that suggest Dzhokhar was elsewhere when Tamerlan bought the pressure cookers and built the bombs.

The defense assumes guilt and will make its strongest arguments when trying to spare Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s life during the penalty phase.

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