Review Category : National News

California Oil Spill Has Deadly Effect on Wildlife

Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) — Two days after a ruptured pipeline leaked an estimated 21,000 gallons of oil off the California shore, wildlife — including pelicans — have been found coated in oil on the beach.

At least one bird was found dead even as teams from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife combed the area looking for injured animals. According to the department at least 272 people are taking part in the clean-up effort.

On Facebook the California Office of Spill Prevention and Response said they have sent at least five pelicans to rehabilitation centers.

The oil leak was first reported around noon on Tuesday in southern California. The pipeline was built in 1991 by Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline, which said it shut down the flow of oil.

“Plains deeply regrets this release has occurred and is making every effort to limit its environmental impact,” the company said in an earlier statement.

A day after the spill, oil could be seen on nearly every rock in Refugio as crews worked to clean up the area. Further south along the coast, one beach was nearly covered with crude oil Wednesday before it apparently was washed to sea before Thursday morning. The pungent crude oil smell lingered in the area as crew members in white suits worked on Rufugio beach to clean the area.

The Refugio state beach is often packed with campers during Memorial Day weekend, but will now be closed indefinitely as crews operate to clean that beach and other coastlines.

Officials said there’s a potential that far more oil leaked into the Pacific ocean through the faulty pipeline with a worst case scenario at 105,000 gallons.

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California Oil Spill Has Deadly Effect on Wildlife

Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) — Two days after a ruptured pipeline leaked an estimated 21,000 gallons of oil off the California shore, wildlife — including pelicans — have been found coated in oil on the beach.

At least one bird was found dead even as teams from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife combed the area looking for injured animals. According to the department at least 272 people are taking part in the clean-up effort.

On Facebook the California Office of Spill Prevention and Response said they have sent at least five pelicans to rehabilitation centers.

The oil leak was first reported around noon on Tuesday in southern California. The pipeline was built in 1991 by Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline, which said it shut down the flow of oil.

“Plains deeply regrets this release has occurred and is making every effort to limit its environmental impact,” the company said in an earlier statement.

A day after the spill, oil could be seen on nearly every rock in Refugio as crews worked to clean up the area. Further south along the coast, one beach was nearly covered with crude oil Wednesday before it apparently was washed to sea before Thursday morning. The pungent crude oil smell lingered in the area as crew members in white suits worked on Rufugio beach to clean the area.

The Refugio state beach is often packed with campers during Memorial Day weekend, but will now be closed indefinitely as crews operate to clean that beach and other coastlines.

Officials said there’s a potential that far more oil leaked into the Pacific ocean through the faulty pipeline with a worst case scenario at 105,000 gallons.

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Sources: DNA on Pizza Crust Aiding Search for DC Murder Suspect

Daron Dylon Wint, 34, seen in this undated police handout, is wanted in connection with a quadruple homicide which occurred May 14, 2015, in northwest Washington. (Metropolitan Police Department)(LANHAM, Md.) — Authorities searched a Maryland home overnight in the investigation of a deadly mansion murder, going through the trash and removing bags of evidence — but in the end it was a piece of pizza crust that could lead to the suspect’s arrest.

Daron Dylon Wint, 34, was identified on Wednesday as the key suspect in the quadruple slaying and arson attack in Northwest, a section of Washington, D.C. A court issued an arrest warrant for Wint with “murder one while armed,” authorities said.

Two sources familiar with the case told ABC News that DNA found on the crust of a Domino’s pizza that had been delivered to the house led authorities to identify Wint as the suspect.

Police visited a home in Lanham, Maryland, and removed three bags of items in relation to the investigation.

Wint’s stepmother, speaking to ABC News, called Wint “hostile.”

“He doesn’t listen,” said the woman, who has not been identified. “You try to tell him and guide him the right way, but he thinks he knows the law … more than anybody else. He was very argumentative. Everywhere he goes there’s an argument … very arrogant.”

Savvas Savopoulos and his wife Amy, their 10-year-old son Phillip and longtime housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa were found dead May 14. According to a source familiar with the case, only the boy was burned to death — the other victims were doused with gasoline and stabbed.

Police reports show that the victims made a flurry of calls the day of the fire. Additionally, Savopoulos’ personal assistant dropped off a package containing $40,000 in cash to the home, the source said.

Bernardo Alfaro, Figuera’s husband, told ABC News in an exclusive interview that he became alarmed when his wife didn’t come home.

“I didn’t hear from her, and every time I call the phone, it just going straight to voicemail,” he said.

After Alfaro couldn’t reach his wife, he drove to the house, knocked on the door and rang the doorbell. But after Savapolous called him saying he’d call back, Alfaro went home, waiting for a call that never came.

The house was engulfed in flames hours later, authorities said.

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Second Marine Dies After Osprey Crash in Hawaii

iStock/Thinkstock(WAIMANALO, Hawaii) — A second Marine has died as a result of injuries he sustained when an Osprey aircraft experienced a hard landing during a training flight in Hawaii, officials said.

Lance Cpl. Matthew J. Determan, 21, of Maricopa, Arizona, died Tuesday, according to a release from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

One other Marine was also killed Sunday, when the aircraft disappeared behind a cloud of red dust as it began to land around 11:40 a.m. at Oahu’s Bellows Air Force Station.

“Lance Cpl. Determan represents the best America has to offer,” said Col Vance L. Cryer, commanding officer, 15th MEU. “Our country and our Corps are poorer for his loss, but his example will continue to inspire us.”

The Osprey was carrying 22 U.S. service members when it crashed. According to the Marines, 21 Marines and one Navy corpsman were on board. Three others remain hospitalized, but in stable condition.

Investigators said on Monday that they were not sure why the aircraft went down in Hawaii but that an investigation was ongoing and that there would be no change in Osprey flights.

“It’s too soon to determine exactly what caused the crash,” the Pentagon’s Warren said. “As of now there have been no safety messages, no adjustments to operations.”

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Washington DC Police Name Suspect in Fatal Mansion Fire

Metropolitan Police Department(WASHINGTON) — Police in Washington, D.C., Wednesday named a suspect in a fatal mansion fire that killed four people last week.

The Metropolitan Police Department said officers were searching for Daron Wint, 34, after a court issued an arrest warrant charging him with “Murder One while Armed.”

Police did not say what led them to Wint.

The fire killed the homeowners — Savvas Savopoulos and his wife, Amy — along with their 10-year-old son Phillip and their longtime housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa.

The Metropolitan Police Department has offered a reward of $25,000 per victim to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

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Freddie Gray Arrest: Cell Phone Video May Shed More Light on Case

Courtesy Murphy, Falcon & Murphy(BALTIMORE) — Shaky cell phone video released on Wednesday may show officers with Freddie Gray during one of the stops made while the Baltimore man was in police custody after his arrest, according to a report.

The Baltimore Sun released the footage taken by an unidentified witness. The video appears to show police officers surrounding Gray, 25, as he is motionless outside a police van.

It is the latest of several videos that have emerged in the case.

Police took Gray into custody in Baltimore on April 12. An officer was heard telling dispatch at 8:40 a.m. that officers had one person in custody in the 1700 block of Presbury Street, two blocks south of North and Mount Streets, police said.

The cell phone footage takes place at the first stop officers made during Gray’s apprehension, at the corner of Mount and Baker streets, according to The Baltimore Sun. Multiple police are seen in the video, though it is not clear which of six officers arrested in the case are involved in this particular moment.

Reached for comment about the video, State Attorney’s Office Director of Communications Rochelle Ritchie said, “We have nothing to add at this point.”

Earlier this month, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said officers put flex cuffs on Gray’s wrists and leg cuffs on his legs before loading him “on his stomach, head first into the wagon.”

They did not secure him with a seat belt, she said, which is “contrary to a [Baltimore Police Department] order.”

The medical examiner’s office ruled Gray’s death was ruled a homicide by severe trauma by earlier this month.

Officers Caesar Goodson Jr., William Porter, Edward Nero and Garrett Miller, Lt. Brian Rice, and Sgt. Alicia Miller were arrested and charged in Gray’s death.

The officers have not yet entered pleas, according to White’s attorney, Ivan Bates, who had no comment on the new video other than saying he did not see White in it.

However, Michael Davey, an attorney hired by one of the officers who spoke on behalf of all six, said after charges were filed, “These officers will be vindicated because they have done nothing wrong.”

He added, “No officer injured Mr. Gray, caused harm to Mr. Gray, and [they] are truly saddened by his death.”

Gray sustained a spinal injury when he was in custody and required medical attention. He went into a coma several days later and died a week after his apprehension.

It remains unclear why Gray was taken into custody, with police only noting he ran away from officers.

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Washington Mansion Fire: Friend of DC Blaze Victim Calls Her ‘Devoted’ Mom

Facebook(WASHINGTON) — A friend of the woman who was murdered in her D.C. mansion after it was set on fire said that she was a devoted and “selfless” mother.

Amy Savopoulus was found dead in her home alongside her husband Savvas, their 10-year-old son Phillip, and their longtime housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa under mysterious circumstances.

Their bodies were only discovered when their house was allegedly set ablaze the same day they are believed to have been killed, authorities said.

“Amy was one of the most devoted loving caring thoughtful mothers friends i have ever known she was incredibly devoted to her children,” her friend Elizabeth Blalack told ABC News. “Every minute of every day, she was thinking about them.”

The Savopoulus’ had three children, but their two teenage daughters were away at boarding school when the family’s Washington D.C. home was burned on Thursday.

“She would call her girls her little pearls because she saw each one as so precious and rare and something to be cherished, and she called Phillip her little prince,” Blalack said.

In the last voicemail Blalack received from her friend, Savopoulus reportedly said that she called just because she missed Blalack’s smiling face. That was just one of many anecdotes Blalack said she can remember showing Savopoulus’ kindness.

“I had a daughter who was very sick when she and Phillip were in kindergarten together and Amy showed up at my door with a gift in had because she didn’t want my daughter to miss out on the fun they had had that day in school,” Blalack said.

“The world lost a really tender soul way too prematurely and that the world would not be as good a place without Amy in it,” she said.

D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department is still investigating the case and a $25,000 reward has been issued to anyone who gives a tip that leads to the arrest and conviction of a suspect.

As of now, police have issued surveillance footage showing a person of interest running from the scene but they have not publicly announced any leads on that individual since the footage was made public Friday.

Blalack said that she hopes “there is justice in the world.”

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Virginia Mom Thanks White State Trooper for Not Stereotyping Her Son

Courtesy Nada Owusu(DANVILLE, Va.) — A Virginia State Trooper’s act of kindness has gotten him a lot of attention from one loving mom.

Dr. Nada Owusu’s son, Joseph, was driving home from an exam at Virginia Tech on May 14 when one of his tires had “blown off his car,” ABC News affiliate WSET-TV reported on Tuesday.

According to a post on Facebook, Dr. Owusu wrote that Virginia State Trooper Matt Okes “got on his knees to replace his tire” and “provided all the needed protection” until 2 a.m.

In the post, Dr. Owusu wrote the trooper never questioned why her son was driving a Mercedes, just showed up and tried to help.

“I wanted to thank him and share it with my Facebook friends about how a police officer helped my son,” she told ABC News on Wednesday. “It was late in the night and he stayed with my son for 4 hours. I was expecting 50 maybe 100 friends to like it. Then it went viral, and I was surprised.”

Dr. Owusu told WSET-TV that Joseph was in a dangerous area because “the road is curvy [and] there are no lights.”

Owusu said she went public with the incident since she was trying to give recognition to the trooper for keeping her son safe because “it was very comforting to me as a mother.”

Now, that recognition has been shared over 22,000 times and widely commented on, including by Montel Williams, who said “Grateful that your son is okay, and also grateful that you shared Trooper Okes’ act of heroic kindness with the world.”

In a statement, Okes said, “The attention the photo has generated on social media has been overwhelming and I certainly wasn’t expecting the photo to receive as much attention as it has. I was simply doing my job as any other Virginia state trooper would. I appreciate the kind comments by Dr. Owusu and am glad Joseph and his parents were able to finally make it home safe. I am honored to be a member of the Virginia state police and am blessed by God to serve and protect.”

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How Taking a Photograph of Old Faithful This Summer Could Land You in Jail

AdamLongSculpture/iStock/Thinkstock(YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo.) — Visitors to Wyoming’s renowned Yellowstone National Park could find themselves thrown in jail for simply taking a photograph without permission, according to critics of a statute signed into law by the Wyoming governor this spring.

While the law is meant to criminalize the act of entering public and private lands in order to collect pollution data, critics argue that the law’s wide-ranging restrictions could ensnare a tourist taking photos in one of the state’s National Parks.

“A Yellowstone tourist who goes for a hike with the intention of photographing the natural resources in Yellowstone is in violation of this law because they are entering into open land for the purpose of collecting what falls under the definition of resource data,” Susan Kraham, a senior attorney for the Environmental Law Clinic at Columbia University, told ABC News.

Kraham noted that to violate the law, a tourist would have to have the intent to submit their photos to a government agency, though that intent could be as benign as wanting to enter the photo into a government-sponsored photography contest.

Proponents of what has been called the “trespassing to collect data” law passed last March, argue that prosecutors would never bring such a case to court, but opponents point out there’s nothing in the law’s language to prevent prosecutors from doing so.

“A promise is wonderful but the law allows for prosecution,” said Linda Burt, a lawyer and former director of the now-closed Wyoming ACLU chapter, which fought the law during legislative proceedings.

Under the law’s broad framework, anyone who enters “open land” defined as “land outside the exterior boundaries of any incorporated city, town, subdivision” with the intent to collect data without explicit permission to do so, could face up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Burt called the law “a very dangerous precedent.”

Opponents have called the law an “ag-gag,” alleging the new regulations are intended to prevent the reporting of pollution on public lands.

“What is unique and highly problematic is that it is clearly intended to apply to public land,” Mark Squillace, a law professor at the University of Colorado who specializes in natural resource law, told ABC News. “It essentially makes a party guilty of trespass if they engage in what would otherwise be lawful activity on federal public land.”

Critics say it’s no coincidence that such a law was passed amid an ongoing dispute between a group of Wyoming ranchers and the Western Watershed Project, a group of “citizen enforcers” who set out to collect data on E. coli contamination in public streams and rivers that they allege is caused by industrial cattle grazing.

“The ag industry didn’t like what I was doing so it passed a law to make it illegal,” said Jonathan Ratner, a researcher with the WWP who has been documenting alleged pollution in Wyoming for more than a decade.

A group of twelve ranchers are currently suing Ratner and the WWP for allegedly trespassing through private land in order to collect pollution data on public streams that the WWP alleges have been contaminated by the ranchers’ cattle. Lawyers for the WWP have asked the suit to be dismissed, calling it “an abuse of the legal process.”

“The idea that people would use common law to destroy an organization that is going out into public lands and revealing legal problems is deeply troubling to me,” Justin Pidot, an environmental law professor at the University of Denver and a lawyer representing the WWP on a pro-bono basis, told ABC News.

“Information about the environment is vital both to the government and the public,” Pidot said.

Supporters of the trespassing to collect data law argue it protects property and privacy rights, two things Wyoming tends to pride itself on.

“We hold the protection of private property in very high regard,” state Sen. Leland Christensen, a Republican lawmaker who chaired the committee that oversaw the bill’s legislative process, told ABC News.

“People that own property, either good or bad actors, deserve to be protected on their private property,” said Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Western Stock Growers Association, a trade association that supported the bill during the legislative process. Magagna said most industrial cattle grazing practices are designed to avoid pollution, and that Wyoming’s trespassing laws needed to be updated.

But opponents argue that Wyoming already has strict trespassing laws in place for private property.

“The Wyoming law is totally unnecessary to criminalize trespass onto private land,” William Funk, a professor of law at the Lewis and Clark University, wrote to ABC News in a statement. Funk also argued that collecting data is a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

According to Ratner, the law will have a chilling effect on his attempts to report pollution.

Kraham, of Columbia University, said: “The really big issue here is that the appropriate response to citizen scientists and resource protection is for the state to step up its enforcement as opposed to silence those who are bringing the issues to the public attention.”

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Biker Attack: 911 Calls Give Glimpse into Terrifying NYC Attack

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The frantic 911 calls placed by a mother who was in the car with her husband and baby when a group of bikers attacked their Range Rover in 2013 were played in a New York City courtroom.

“We have a baby in the car! Stop! Oh my God stop! We have a baby in the car!” Roslyn Ng can be heard screaming at the bikers while on the phone with police.

The video of the moment when a pack of people on motorcycles swarmed a black SUV on Manhattan’s West Side Highway was released shortly after the attack, showing how the car apparently nudged one of the bikers amid the traffic.

That sparked outrage among the bikers, who surrounded car and causing the driver to drive off, running over one of them as he tried to get away.

The bikers then followed the car for three miles, during which Ng and her husband Alex Ng called 911 a total of three times seeking police help.

“There’s like a hundred motorcycles. They’re all attacking us on our car and something’s wrong with our car and we have like a baby in our car,” Roslyn can be heard saying on the first call. “They’re like so scary … could you send police to like help us please. They’re all surrounding us and our car.”

Her husband is heard making the second, calmer call — but the 911 operator directs him to call Manhattan police because the operator deems it a “non-emergency.”

During her testimony at trial, Roslyn Ng recalled how she crawled from the front passenger’s seat to the backseat to check on their then-2-year-old child who was in a car seat after the bikers started hitting — and ultimately shattering — the car’s windshield.

“They somehow get my door open and there were like two or three guys. And they were yanking me out. They couldn’t drag me out of the car because I still had my seatbelt on,” she said Tuesday, according to WABC.

“I’m screaming, ‘We have a baby! We have a baby! Stop! Stop!'”

Ng said that she tried taking a photo of one of the bikers who allegedly smashed their driver’s side mirror. Ng also allegedly saw some of the men making throat-slitting gestures at her.

“I was trying to keep my daughter’s face away from looking at Alex. I just didn’t want to scare her,” she said.

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