A wildfire tearing through a coastal region in Southern California nearly tripled in size as high temperatures fueled the flames, but an expected weekend change in the weather will likely give crews manning the fire lines much-needed assistance. The fire 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles mushroomed to 43 square miles Friday as 900 firefighters used engines, aircraft, bulldozers and other equipment to battle the flames. Forecasters said a weekend of increased humidity should help teams fighting the early-season blaze make gains Saturday. “It’s a total turnaround from what we had,” said Kurt Kaplan, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “It should be a much better day for firefighters tomorrow.” Continue Reading
The murder case against Jodi Arias in the death of her onetime boyfriend has gone to the jury, which is weighing weeks of evidence and the defendant’s ever-changing version of events. After closing arguments, the panel deliberated for just about an hour Friday before concluding for the day. Deliberations resume Monday. Arias says she killed Travis Alexander in self-defense, but prosecutors say it was an act of premeditated first-degree murder that could carry a death sentence or life in prison. The eight men and four women on the jury have the option of finding Arias guilty of second-degree murder, too, if they don’t believe she planned the attack but think it occurred in the heat of the moment. Continue Reading
A suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings died from gunshot wounds and blunt trauma to his head and torso, his death certificate says. Worcester funeral home owner Peter Stefan has 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body and read details from his death certificate on Friday. The certificate cites Tsarnaev’s “gunshot wounds of torso and extremities” and lists the time of his death as 1:35 a.m. on April 19, four days after the deadly bombing, Stefan said. Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with authorities who had launched a massive manhunt for him and his brother, ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago. Police have said he ran out of ammunition before his younger brother dragged his body under a vehicle while fleeing. Continue Reading
A New Jersey priest who attended youth retreats and heard confessions from youngsters in defiance of an agreement with prosecutors not to work with children has resigned. The Rev. Michael Fugee submitted his request and it was promptly accepted by Newark Archbishop John Myers on Thursday evening. Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness says Fugee is still a priest but can no longer say Mass or represent himself as an active member of the clergy. The 52-year-old was convicted in 2003 of fondling a teenage boy. However, that verdict was vacated because of judicial error. Continue Reading
The last person known to see an Oklahoma woman whose body was found last month about 21 years after she went missing says she had nothing to do with her disappearance. Beverly Noe was Wendy Camp’s mother-in-law. Noe says she last saw Camp when she left her and two others at a Wal-Mart rather than taking them home. Noe told The Associated Press on Friday that while she had a testy exchange with Camp two decades ago, she regretted abandoning the three whose bodies were discovered last month. Noe said she found it odd that the bodies were found on Oklahoma property once owned by her brother and mother. Continue Reading
Jurors began deliberations in Jodi Arias’ murder trial on Friday after four months of testimony and closing arguments from both sides that presented far different scenarios of the killing and motivation, leaving the panel to come to grips with the dearth of evidence and Arias’ ever-changing version of events. The panel deliberated for just about an hour Friday before concluding for the day. Deliberations resume Monday. Closing arguments wrapped up with Arias’ lawyer imploring jurors to take an impartial view of his client, even if they don’t like her, and prosecutors describing the defendant as a manipulative liar who meticulously planned the attack and is still lying. “It’s not about whether or not you like Jodi Arias. Continue Reading
Jury deliberations have begun in the trial of Jodi Arias, who is charged in the stabbing and shooting death of her one-time boyfriend in Arizona. Jurors got the case Friday after hearing closing arguments from both sides. Arias is accused of premeditated, first-degree murder in the June 2008 killing of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. Arias initially denied involvement, then blamed the attack on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense. Continue Reading
WASHINGTON (AP) — Customs officials are being ordered “effective immediately” to verify that every foreign student arriving in the U.S. has a valid student visa.
It’s the first security change by the U.S. government directly related to the Boston bombings. According to an internal memorandum obtained by The Associated Press, the Homeland Security Department says every international student holding a non-immigrant student visa must have their status verified before being allowed into the U.S. The order came one day after the Obama administration acknowledged that a student from Kazakhstan accused of hiding evidence for one of the Boston bombing suspects was allowed to return to the U.S. in January without a valid student visa. Azamat Tazhayakov’s terminated visa status was in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, called SEVIS. Continue Reading
WASHINGTON (AP) — State officials say thousands of people with medical problems are in danger of losing coverage as the Obama administration winds down one of the earliest programs in the federal health care overhaul.
At risk is the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, a transition program that has turned into a lifeline for the so-called “uninsurables” — people with serious medical conditions who can’t get coverage elsewhere. The health care law capped spending on the program, and now money is running out. In a letter this week to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, state officials said they were “blindsided” and “disappointed” by a federal proposal they say would shift the risk for cost overruns to states in the waning days of the program. There was no immediate response from HHS. Continue Reading