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US braces for solar eclipse

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By Brittany Martinez

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — From Oregon to South Carolina, a total solar eclipse on Monday will darken the sky as it arcs across the contiguous United States.

A total solar eclipse is when the moon moves between the sun and Earth, an occurrence that lasts up to three hours from beginning to end. Monday’s total solar eclipse is particularly rare because it’s the first time in 99 years that the path of totality exclusively crosses the continental United States from coast to coast. It’s also the first continent-wide eclipse to be visible only from the United States since 1776.

The last time the contiguous United States saw a total solar eclipse was Feb. 26, 1979, when the path of totality crossed the Pacific Northwest. ABC News’ Frank Reynolds anchored a special report on the celestial phenomenon at the time and pledged that the network would cover the next total solar eclipse in 2017.

“So that’s it — the last solar eclipse to be seen on this continent in this century. And as I said not until Aug. 21, 2017, will another eclipse be visible from North America. That’s 38 years from now. May the shadow of the moon fall on a world in peace. ABC News, of course, will bring you a complete report on that next eclipse 38 years from now,” Reynolds said before signing off.

On Monday, starting at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET, ABC News’ David Muir will lead the network’s live coverage of the astronomical event from within the path of totality.

You must be in the path of totality to witness a total solar eclipse. NASA estimates more than 300 million people in the United States could potentially view the total solar eclipse in its entirety.

However, a partial solar eclipse will be visible in every U.S. state. In fact, everyone in North America, as well as parts of South America, Africa and Europe, will see at least a partial eclipse, according to NASA.

The path of totality for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse is a 70-mile-wide ribbon that will cross the United States from west to east, sweeping over portions of 14 U.S. states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The moon’s shadow will start to eclipse the sun over the West Coast just after 9 a.m. PT. From there, the moon’s shadow will speed across the country and leave the East Coast just after 4 p.m. ET.

The exact times for partial and total phases of Monday’s eclipse vary depending on your location.

With millions of people expected to pour into the select U.S. cities located within the path of totality, law enforcement, emergency personnel and hospitals there are on high alert.

“It’s all hands on deck,” Kentucky’s Madisonville Police Chief Wade Williams told ABC News. “We’re kind of throwing everything at it.”

The state of Oregon alone is anticipating a million visitors Monday, causing some local hospitals to cancel elective surgeries and call in extra help for the emergency rooms. Some cities even preemptively declared a state of disaster, a move that allows them to call in the National Guard to help direct the large crowds if needed.

“If a police department in a certain area is overwhelmed and they need us to help come and set up traffic control check points, we’re ready to do that,” Oregon National Guard spokesperson Leslie Reed told ABC News.

More than than 17,000 cars and SUVs have already been rented for Monday at Oregon’s Portland International Airport, a number it normally hits over an entire week.

In northeast Georgia, the mountain town of Blairsville is expecting to host up to 200 percent more people than the number of residents who live there. The town’s hotels are fully booked and camping sites are sold out.

“There is no reason to panic,” Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce tourism director Tobie Chandler told ABC News. “We are not going to run out of gas, we are not going to run out of groceries. We just need to enjoy this event.”

The American Red Cross has set up resources along the path of totality to help keep people safe during Monday’s rare celestial event.

“One thing is we really encourage folks to have in their cars an emergency go kit and that should include things like water, non-perishable foods, a flashlight with batteries and an envelope with cash,” Josh Lockwood, regional CEO for the American Red Cross Greater New York region, told ABC News.

Authorities warned that people might have to look for landlines in some areas to make emergency phone calls, as some small towns may not be able to handle the large number of cellphone calls.

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University of Texas removes 4 Confederate statues overnight

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By TJH

ABC News(AUSTIN, Texas) — The University of Texas at Austin is removing four Confederate monuments that it says have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism, the school announced on Sunday.

The university said the monuments — which honor four figures tied to the Confederacy — were erected during the period of segregation and “represent the subjugation of African Americans” and therefore should be taken down.

The statues — which depict confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, former U.S. Sen. John Reagan and former Texas Governor James Stephen Hogg — were taken down early Monday morning.

The news comes in the wake of a deadly outbreak of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia — which began in protest of the planned removal of a monument of Confederate General Robert E. Lee — that left one dead and 19 injured after a car-ramming attack. Police arrested James Alex Fields, 20, and charged him with second-degree murder in the incident.

“Last week, the horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation,” University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves said in a statement Sunday. “These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”

Fenves said he spoke with faculty, students and alumni, and reviewed a 2015 task force report before making the decision.

The bronze monuments of Lee, Reagan and Johnston will be relocated to the school’s Briscoe Center for American History for scholarly study, Fenves said. The statues of Hogg, governor of Texas from 1891 to 1895, will be considered for re-installation at another campus site, he added.

“The University of Texas at Austin has a duty to preserve and study history,” Fenves said Sunday. “But our duty also compels us to acknowledge that those parts of our history that run counter to the university’s core values, the values of our state and the enduring values of our nation do not belong on pedestals in the heart of the Forty Acres.”

“We do not choose our history, but we choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus,” he added.

The school removed statues of Jefferson Davis and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson from campus back in 2015 after a deadly mass shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Other Confederate monuments are being removed around the country under pressure from those who consider them symbols of racism and white supremacy.

Four Confederate-era monuments were removed last week in Baltimore, Maryland, and the governors of Virginia and North Carolina requested the removal of Confederate monuments in their states.

President Donald Trump, however, has pushed back against removing the Confederate symbols, calling it “changing history.”

“This week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” Trump said in a press conference last week.

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Chicago slaying of hairdresser was part of sexual fantasy: Prosecutor

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By Kelly Terez

Chicago Police(CHICAGO) — The Northwestern University professor and Oxford University financial officer accused of fatally stabbing the professor’s boyfriend in a Chicago high-rise allegedly committed the crime as part of a sexual fantasy hatched online, prosecutors said on Sunday.

Wyndham Lathem, who was a faculty member at Northwestern’s microbiology-immunology department for 10 years, and a second suspect, University of Oxford employee Andrew Warren, were both taken into custody without incident in Northern California on August 4 after a nationwide manhunt.

Lathem, 43, and Warren spent more than one week on the run after allegedly killing 26-year-old hairstylist Trenton Cornell-Duranleau, who was found stabbed to death at a Chicago apartment registered to Lathem on July 27. At a press conference this afternoon, police described the scene as “savage and grizzly.”

Cornell-Duranleau was Lathem’s boyfriend, Officer Eddie Johnson, Superintendent of Police with the Chicago Police Department said at a press conference on Sunday.

The two suspects in Cornell-Duranleau’s murder met on the internet, Chicago Police Commander Brendan Deenihan said this afternoon, and Warren came to the U.S. to meet Latham.

Deenihan said on Sunday that on July 27, doorman at Lathem’s building received an anonymous call that a crime may have been committed on the premises. Corenell’s body was soon discovered with multiple stab wounds. Two knives, one of which was broken, were found at the scene.

Witnesses say they heard what sounded like a fight at 5 a.m., according to Deenihan.

Latham, who police say was staying in a hotel close to his apartment building, had picked up Warren at Chicago’s O’Hare airport several days before the alleged crime took place. Police said that surveillance footage from the apartment and hotel area at the time captured Lathem in the area with Cornell.

According to police, while Lathem was on the run, he sent a video message to various friends and family members apologizing for his alleged involvement in the killing. Lathem had described the killing as the biggest mistake of his life, according to Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

Guglielmi also said the two suspects donated $1,000 in the victim’s name to the public library in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Police said Sunday that it is unclear why that library location was chosen.

Lathem, who has been a faculty member at Northwestern’s microbiology-immunology department for 10 years, has been banned from entering the school, according to Alan Cubbage, Northwestern University vice president for university relations.

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Cloud cover will vary across the US during Monday's total solar eclipse

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By Kelly Terez

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Monday’s total solar eclipse will come to Americans in varying degrees of visual clarity, according to ABC News meteorologists, who say that the clearest skies are likely to appear in the Northwest in cities like San Francisco, Salem and Seattle.

New York, and parts of the Tennessee Valley, around Nashville, are also more likely to have unobstructed viewing of the phenomenon.

Some cloud cover is expected in parts of the Midwest, according to ABC News meteorologists path of totality — namely states like Kansas, Missouri and Iowa.

The Southeast coast of the U.S. — from North Carolina to Georgia — is among the areas in danger of enduring cloud cover during the eclipse.

NASA has published an interactive map that shows the times for the partial and total eclipse anywhere in world. The path of totality crosses over portions of many major cities.

What happens during a total solar eclipse?

During a total solar eclipse, the lunar shadow will darken the sky and temperatures will drop, while bright stars and planets will appear at a time that is normally broad daylight.

Retired NASA astrophysicist and photographer Fred Espenak said the experience usually lasts for just a couple minutes, but it’s truly out of this world.

“It is unlike any other experience you’ve ever had,” Espenak, popularly known as Mr. Eclipse, told ABC News. “It’s a visceral experience; you feel it. The hair on your arms, on the back of your neck, stand up. You get goosebumps.

“You have to be there,” he added.

Espenak said the rare and striking astronomical event can last as long as seven minutes. For the Aug. 21 eclipse, NASA anticipates the longest period when the moon obscures the sun’s entire surface from any given location along its path will last about two minutes and 40 seconds.

Some animals may react strangely to the celestial phenomenon. Rick Schwartz, an animal behavior expert with the San Diego Zoo, said there have been observations of animals going to sleep during total solar eclipses.

“The animals take the visual cues of the light dimming, and the temperature cues,” Schwartz told ABC News.

“You hear the increase of bird calls and insects that you usually associate with nightfall,” he added. “Farmers have said that the cows lay down on the field or the chickens go back into the coop.”

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Protests erupt from Boston to California as Confederate monument tensions boil over

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By Suzie Liu

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The weekend after a white nationalist rally collapsed into chaos in Charlottesville, Virginia, leading to the alleged murder of an anti-racism activist, protests erupted across the country against white supremacy, racism and the presence of Confederate monuments.

Boston, Massachusetts

Tens of thousands counterprotesting a rally purporting to be about free speech swarmed Boston on Saturday, leading to a few conflicts with police and widespread attention from traditional and social media.

A total of 33 arrests were made Saturday in Boston, primarily resulting from disorderly conduct and alleged assaults against police officers, the Boston Police Department said. Police indicated that some demonstrators were throwing rocks and bottles of urine, but that did not represent the majority of participants, according to Police Commissioner William Evans.

“99.9 percent of the people here were for the right reasons” and participated peacefully, Evans said.

Dallas, Texas

Thousands of demonstrators gathered around the area of Dallas City Hall Saturday at a rally calling for unity, according to ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.

More than a dozen activists, politicians and faith leaders spoke prior to a candlelight vigil, the affiliate reported.

Tensions were high near Confederate War Memorial Park, where calls have been growing to remove statues commemorating Civil War veterans who fought for the Confederacy, WFAA-TV reported.

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Monuments commemorating the Confederacy on public land “must be and will be removed,” Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway said at a Friday press conference, which featured black members of Dallas’s City Council, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Kevin Felder, one of the City Council members, said “taxpayer dollars should not support vestiges of racism and white supremacy,” in reference to the statues, while speaking at Friday’s press conference.

Five people were detained during Saturday’s rally and then released without charges, the Dallas Police Department told ABC News.

Memphis, Tennessee

Six demonstrators were arrested in Memphis following a rally to remove a monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest, a slavetrader and lieutenant general who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, according to ABC affiliate WATN-TV.

The monument has become a flashpoint of tension between anti-racism activists, who covered it with anti-racist signs on Saturday, and those who seek to protect the history of the Confederacy.

Gene Andrews, a caretaker for Nathan Bedford Forrest’s boyhood home and a participant in the white nationalist rally that took place in Charlottesville last week, told the Tennessean newspaper that tensions over the monuments were building.

“I think people have had enough,” Andrews told the paper. “Somewhere there’s going to be a line drawn. And if it’s a war that’s coming, so be it.”

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Atlanta, Georgia

Hundreds of groups gathered in Centennial Olympic Park on Saturday in Atlanta to march against racism and hate, according to ABC affiliate WSB-TV.

The march ended at the tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the affiliate reported.

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Indianapolis, Indiana

Anthony Ventura, a 30-year-old man, was arrested after police said he damaged the Confederate statue with a hammer, according to ABC affiliate WRTV.

Laguna Beach, California

In Laguna Beach on Saturday, a group of about 300 demonstrators met for a pre-emptive response to a far-right rally planned for that day, the Los Angeles Times reported. At the rally, participants planned to call attention to victims of crimes committed by immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

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Saturday’s gathering of counterprotesters, which was set up to show solidarity and strength, was officially called “From Charlottesville to Laguna Beach: We Stand Together.” Laguna Beach Mayor Toni Iseman helped organize the event and spoke to the crowd on Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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