Israeli officials: airstrike on Syria targeted advanced missiles shipment bound for Hezbollah
WASHINGTON (AP) — An Israeli airstrike against Syria was targeting a shipment of advanced missiles bound for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, Israeli officials confirmed Saturday.
It was the second Israeli strike this year against Syria and the latest salvo in its long-running effort to disrupt Hezbollah's quest to build an arsenal capable of defending against Israel's air force and spreading destruction inside the Jewish state.
The officials said the attack took place early Friday and was aimed at sophisticated "game-changing" weapons, but not chemical arms. One official said the target was a shipment of advanced, long-range ground-to-ground missiles but was not more specific.
It was not immediately clear where the attack took place, or whether the air force carried out the strike from Lebanese or Syrian airspace.
The Israeli officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose information about a secret military operation to the media.
Funeral home: No one wants to bury Boston bombing suspect; he died of gunshots, blunt trauma
BOSTON (AP) — A funeral home director was scrambling to find a cemetery that would bury a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, ignoring protesters gathered outside his business and saying everybody deserves a dignified burial service no matter the circumstances of his or her death.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died from "gunshot wounds of torso and extremities" and blunt trauma to his head and torso, said Worcester funeral home owner Peter Stefan, who has Tsarnaev's body and on Friday read details from his death certificate. The certificate 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.
Tsarnaev's family was making arrangements Friday for his funeral as investigators searched the woods near a college attended by 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was captured less than a day after his brother's death.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body was released by the state medical examiner Thursday. It initially was taken to a North Attleborough funeral home, where it was greeted by about 20 protesters, before being taken to Stefan's Graham Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Parlors, which is familiar with Muslim services.
Southern California wildfire mushrooms, but weather may aid firefight
CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — 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."
Despite its size and speed of growth, the fire that broke out Thursday and quickly moved through the Camarillo Springs area has caused damage to just 15 structures, though it's threatening 2,000 homes.
Incoming NRA President Porter has penchant for bold words sure to enflame gun control debate
HOUSTON (AP) — The incoming leader of the National Rifle Association has a long history with the powerful gun rights lobby and a penchant for bold statements that are sure to enflame an already explosive national debate over gun control.
James Porter, an Alabama attorney and first vice president of the NRA, assumes the presidency on Monday after the group's national convention wraps up in Houston. He didn't wait until then to ignite a new furor over gun control, telling the NRA grass-roots organizers on Friday they are the front line of a "culture war" that goes beyond gun rights.
"(You) here in this room are the fighters for freedom. We are the protectors," Porter said.
Porter, 64, whose father was NRA president from 1959-1961, is part of the small, Birmingham, Ala., law firm of Porter, Porter & Hassinger. The firm's website notes its expertise in defending gun manufacturers in lawsuits.
Porter takes over the organization as the NRA finds itself in a national fight over gun control in Washington, D.C., and state capitols around the country. The NRA had a major victory regarding gun control with the defeat in the U.S. Senate of a bill that would have expanded background checks for gun sales. But it lost ground in some places as several states passed laws expanding background checks and banning large ammunition magazines after December's mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
Obama wraps up Mexico-Costa Rica trip with an eye on Latinos, jobs back home
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — President Barack Obama, concluding a three-day visit to Mexico and Costa Rica, is cheering Mexican economic advances and pressing other Central American leaders to deal with poverty and security while reaching out to a politically powerful Latino audience back home.
Boosted by reassuring jobs numbers, Obama is calling for greater trade and economic cooperation with the U.S.'s southern neighbors, arguing that economic prosperity is the best antidote to drug and gang violence and, by extension, to the illegal immigration that the U.S. is seeking to control.
During the trip Obama has tried to modulate the exercise of U.S. influence. He has refused to insert himself in Mexico's strategy for confronting narcotrafficking, even if it means more limited access by U.S. security officials to Mexican law enforcement. In Costa Rica, he urged Central American leaders to integrate their economies, reduce their high energy costs and confront the violence in the region.
"As governments, our job is to make sure that we're doing everything we can to provide security and opportunity and ladders for success and prosperity for our people," he told the regional leaders at the start of a dinner Friday. "Economic growth that creates jobs, security for people so that they can be safe in their own neighborhoods, and development that allows people to live in dignity."
On Saturday, Obama was scheduled to speak and takes questions at a meeting at a forum in San Jose on economic growth and development.
Jurors start deliberating in Jodi Arias murder trial, panel resumes work Monday
PHOENIX (AP) — 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. If convicted on that charge, she could face up to 25 years in prison. A manslaughter conviction carries a sentence of seven to 21 years.
The final statements 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.
Charlie Sheen supports officials' decision to temporarily take sons from ex-wife's custody
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Charlie Sheen supports a decision by child protective services to remove his twin sons from the custody of his ex-wife and have them live temporarily with another of his exes, actress Denise Richards, his spokesman said Friday.
Larry Solters wrote in a statement that Sheen will participate in court proceedings related to ex-wife Brooke Mueller's custody of their 4-year-old sons. Mueller and Sheen were married in 2008 and divorced in 2011.
"He knows Max and Bob are safe and in a stable, loving environment with Denise and the boys' sisters," Solters wrote. "Charlie will fully cooperate and fully participate in all proceedings."
Celebrity website RadarOnline.com reported Friday that the twins were removed from Mueller's custody by the Department of Children and Family Services.
Mueller has struggled with addiction for years, but it remains unclear what prompted officials to remove her sons from her care. The agency's investigations are confidential, and Mueller and Richards' representatives have declined to comment.
Todd Pletcher trying to become the first trainer since 1952 to win Kentucky Oaks and Derby
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A win in the Kentucky Oaks win on Friday has Todd Pletcher halfway toward a milestone last achieved 51 years ago.
The trainer can accomplish the rare feat by winning the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, completing a quest that has required a lot of hours at Churchill Downs.
Pletcher will saddle a record-tying five entries in the 139th Run for the Roses — including Revolutionary, the early co-favorite at 5-1 with Goldencents after betting opened Friday. Pletcher had four fillies in the Oaks and saw his bid for history begin with 38-1 long shot Princess of Sylmar rallying down the stretch to win the $1 million race.
The trainer now aims to become only the fourth to pull off the Oaks/Derby double and the first since Ben Jones, who won the 1952 Oaks with Real Delight and Derby with Hill Gail. Jones also did it in 1949.
Asked after the Oaks if he's thinking about history, Pletcher said, "we're the only ones with a chance anyways."
After blowing most of 26-point lead, Knicks beat Celtics 88-80 to advance in playoffs
BOSTON (AP) — Twelve years without advancing in the playoffs. Two failed attempts to close out the Boston Celtics. Nineteen consecutive missed 3-pointers.
Carmelo Anthony brought all the slumps to a stop.
Anthony made a pullup jumper and then sank his first 3-pointer in 20 tries to help the New York Knicks turn back Boston's comeback attempt on Friday night, beating the Celtics 88-80 in Game 6 to win a playoff series for the first time since 2000.
"You should never play with any doubt out there on the basketball court," Anthony said. "I can't step onto the court thinking of failure. When you start second-guessing everything, when you start playing with doubt ... I can't afford to play under those circumstances."
Anthony scored 21 points and the Knicks held on after blowing most of a 26-point lead to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers.
5 things to know Saturday at the 139th Kentucky Derby
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Derby is Saturday at Churchill Downs. Here are five things you should know before the 6:24 p.m. post time:
Doug O'Neill is back at Churchill Downs trying to win his second straight Derby. He put unknown Mario Gutierrez on I'll Have Another last year and they won. This time, he's got another relative unknown, black jockey Kevin Krigger, aboard Goldencents. No trainer since Bob Baffert in 1997-98 has won two in a row.