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Boston Marathon Hoax Suspect Held on $100K Bail

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 3:55pm

Suffolk County District Attorney's Office(BOSTON) -- The man accused in a hoax on the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon attacks was ordered held on $100,000 bail when he appeared briefly in court Wednesday.

In a blue V-neck prison smock, 25-year-old Kevin Edson stood while prosecutor Susan Terry told the judge Edson left a backpack containing a rice cooker at the finish line of the marathon Tuesday night.

The device Edson had was not an actual explosive, police said.

A doctor said Edson has a history of psychiatric disturbances and was off his medication, while prosecutors said Edson told police he knew what he was doing.

The two suspicious bags -- only one of which police say they believe the man dropped -- were both exploded Tuesday evening after the suspect had been detained for questioning.

"With the marathon coming, we are taking it serious," Boston Police Officer Randall Halstead said. "Our officers are trained in looking for any kind of suspicious activity, and when it is brought to their attention or they notice it, which was in this case, they act upon it."

The race takes place on April 21, but Tuesday was a day of remembrance in Boston, a year after bombings at the finish line killed three and injured 264.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Ferry Survivors Describe Sliding Bodies, Wall of Water

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 2:13pm

Park Young-Chul-Donga Daily via Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- Survivors of the ferry that sank off the coast of South Korea told harrowing tales of confusion and desperation as people slid along the floor of the sharply listing ship, colliding with one another, or found themselves trapped in cabins by a wall of water.

Rescued passengers said that immediately after they heard a booming noise, the ship began listing and they heard an announcement over the ship’s PA system telling the passengers to stay in place.

“The baggage was falling out, and we were saying ‘What’s going on?’ But the announcement told us to stay where we were, so we did,” one rescued student told MBC News, a Korean news agency.

"The ship began tilting all of a sudden, and then people started skidding down from above," rescued passenger Young-Ja Shin told SBS News. "There was a railing, so I held onto it, but I then got hit by one of the falling people and we got pushed down to the bottom."

"It took about 10 seconds to tilt over, and then I began sliding from end to end," rescued passenger Eun-Bok Jang, 50, told SBS News. "I got hit on my side and then I couldn't breathe."

The vessel tipped over completely on its side, and there was mass confusion inside the ferry as refrigerators and other things fell over, Jang said.

When the water started rushing in, many passengers put on life vests and escaped outside. But by the time that announcements told passengers to make their way out, the ship had already submerged significantly, so there were few exits that could be used for escape, rescued passengers said.

Many passengers were gathered in the entertainment center, restaurants and shops on the third floor of the 5-deck ship, but when the ferry capsized, that third floor was fully submerged, authorities told the Yonhap news agency. There was most likely a power outage immediately after the ship capsized, so confused and frantic passengers probably had a hard time finding their way out in the dark and narrow passage ways.

"When we were making our way out, the wall was almost all water, and it was completely submerged up to the third floor," survivor In-Hwan Kang, 58, told MBC.

So-Hyun Kim, a teacher accompanying the more than 300 students from Danwon High School in Ansan, said she initially stayed in her cabin because of the announcements, but had to attempt an escape when water came rushing in.

"I couldn't go anywhere. I didn't have the strength to climb further up," she told SBS News. "There was an open emergency exit, so another teacher and I decided to just fall and swim our way toward it. I fell and hit a railing, and that's when I was rescued."

Of the 475 passengers on board the ferry, 164 were rescued. Another 295 were listed as missing.

Rescuers were seen boarding the vessel, which had tipped to its side, and combing through the top of the ship for survivors. One man boarded the boat and quickly found what appeared to be a crew member still on it.

Bodies could be seen scattered through the water in another video shot from a helicopter. A yellow raft was tossed out of the chopper and survivors in the water swam toward it before they were pulled to safety.

Others were winched in slings to the safety of hovering helicopters.

As darkness fell, the ferry took on more water and only the rudder of the vessel remained visible before the ship sank about 100 feet below the water. Rescuers stopped searching for the 294 people who are still reported missing at about 7 p.m. due to strong currents and poor visibility, but they resumed their mission around 12:30 a.m. local time, taking advantage of a lull in the strong currents.

One rescued passenger said he believed that many people had been trapped inside the ferry when it sank.

The ferry, identified as the Sewol, was sailing to the southern island of Jeju when it sent a distress call as it began leaning to one side. The passengers include more than 300 students from Danwon High School in Ansan, near Seoul, who were on a school trip.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Washington's Cherry Blossom Trees: The Complicated R...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 3:31pm

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Washington’s cherry blossoms have become an iconic image of springtime in the nation’s capital. And while the trees can be appreciated solely for the ethereal beauty they cast on the shores of the Potomac River, the historical roots of the trees are more complicated.

Ann McClellan, a recognized expert on the trees who has written two books on Washington’s annual festival celebrating the blossoms, told the ABC News/Yahoo! News series Power Players that the first trees given to Washington from Japan in 1910 were a symbol of international friendship.

“When they gave the gift of trees they were really giving something of themselves, because they were grateful to the United States for brokering the treaty of Portsmouth, which ended the Russo-Japanese War,” McClellan said. “It was the first time Japan was treated as a bona fide member of the international community.”

The trees were given in honor of then-first lady Helen Taft, wife of the 27th president William Taft, who had developed an interest in the blossoming trees from her travels to Japan and was working to beautify the park area around today’s tidal basin, which was a swampland at the time.

“Mrs. Taft had seen the trees, not blooming but saw how they were planted and thought Washington, which was just under construction at that time, would be a great place for them, and boy was she right,” McClellan said.

Japan sent thousands of full-grown trees to Washington to beautify the park, but those trees would never be planted on the shores of the Potomac. After the Department of Agriculture inspected the trees, it was determined that the trees had to be destroyed.

“Of course, trees that have been in the ground have bugs, worms and all sorts of pests,” McClellan said. “So the Department of Agriculture inspected them, deemed them impossible, and forced them to be burned.”

The final decision to burn Japan’s gift was made by President Taft himself. But instead of causing a diplomatic crisis, Japan sent 3,000 more trees in 1912 that met the Department of Agriculture’s standards and were the start of the trees that still line the tidal basin today.

The trees, though planted successfully, were planted incorrectly.

“In 1912, when they planted the gift, the gift came with instructions; it was in Japanese, and nobody bothered to read it,” McClellan said. “Instead of planting the trees in groves and alleés as the instructions recommended, we instead planted them close together along the water’s edge of the tidal basin.”

The mistake meant that the growth of the trees was irreversibly stunted, McClellan said: “What that does is it creates this lovely cloudlike effect because the branches intersect but it means that they can't grow to their full height. ...We're all agog, so it's fine, but that is one of the reasons they tend to be a little smaller here.”

Since Mrs. Taft, first ladies have continued to play an instrumental role in maintaining the cherry blossoms.

“The first ladies have been very involved...especially Lady Bird Johnson was involved in them and the Japanese gave a gift of several thousand trees in her honor. Those are planted around the Washington Monument,” McClellan said.

For more about the trees, including McClellan’s cautions about the permanent damage that people cause to the trees by plucking their blossoms, check out this episode of Power Players.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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