Crime and punishment
February 27, 2014

Apple might help South African prosecutors who want access to Oscar Pistorius' phone. The double-amputee athlete claims that he forgot the password to his locked iPhone. Officials, meanwhile, believe that it might contain evidence that prosecutors would need to convict the former Olympian of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year.

Investigators have been requesting help from Apple for more than a year, according to a spokesman for South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority. Court officials are slated to meet with representatives from Apple on Thursday to see if anything on the phone could help them. Even if evidence is favorable toward Pistorius, the prosecutors claim they will make it available to the defense.

Pistorious is accused of killing Steenkamp after an argument escalated out of control. He claims he erroneously shot her after mistaking her for an intruder. The trial starts Monday. Jordan Valinsky

double checking
9:23 a.m. ET

It's not just Americans who have crazy moon landing conspiracy theories — our space race pals over in Russia are skeptical, too. In fact, one blogger is so suspicious of the U.S. Apollo missions that he has managed to raise over a million rubles (about $16,000) in four days to crowdfund a "micro-probe" to take high-resolution photos of the moon — you know, just to make sure the whole "one giant leap for mankind" thing actually happened, Meduza reports.

The blogger in question, Vitaly Egorov, said the team still needs another half a million rubles to complete the probe's computer. That will only get him as far as having the physical probe, though — to send it into space, Egorov will likely need the help of investors, as well as a rocket for the probe to hitch a ride on. He's hoping it can tag along with a Russian, Indian, or Chinese moon project sometime in the next decade.

To be fair, it's not just the United States under scrutiny by Egorov and his supporters; the probe would also check out the locations of the unmanned Luna spacecraft landings and the Lunokhod rovers, both former Soviet programs. That being said, Russia has been squinting its eyes at the Apollo pictures for awhile: As Russian Investigative Commission spokesman Vladimir Markin wrote earlier this year for the newspaper Izvestia, "We are not contending that they did not fly [to the moon], and simply made a film about it. But all of these scientific — or perhaps cultural — artifacts are part of the legacy of humanity, and their disappearance without a trace is our common loss. An investigation will reveal what happened."

NASA has said that they erased the original tapes of the missions to save money. If you want to take a look at the surviving evidence yourself, NASA just put 8,400 high-resolution Apollo program photos on Flickr. Just remember — there's no wind on the moon. Jeva Lange

On the up and up
8:25 a.m. ET
David Greedy/Getty Images

Back when Scott Walker was still in the race and Jeb Bush seemed like the GOP's strongest contender, Marco Rubio, as The New York Times puts it, "looked boxed out." But now that Walker has thrown in the towel and Bush is struggling, Rubio may finally be getting his big chance — and the betting markets are paying attention. Since the last Republican debate, The New York Times reports that Rubio's chances of winning the nomination have more than doubled, jumping from 13 percent to 29 percent. That puts him only two percentage points behind Bush, at 31 percent.

But even with the window wide open for Rubio, The New York Times writer Nate Cohn wonders if the 2016 hopeful can take advantage. Rubio's widespread appeal is a double-edged sword, Cohn suggests, since he "is not the natural favorite of any wing of the party, which is the easiest way for a candidate to become the first choice to a meaningful block of voters." As a "young, Catholic, Latino lawyer from Miami," Rubio might also struggle to appeal to "old, evangelical, white, less-educated, and rural voters," Cohn writes.

Challenges aside, the odds are still looking better than ever for Rubio.

Read the full story over at The New York Times. Becca Stanek

The Daily Showdown
8:20 a.m. ET

On Monday's Daily Show, Trevor Noah addressed last week's mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, and it started out with a fairly normal throw to senior correspondent Jessica Williams. It pretty quickly became apparent, though, that the Daily Show team was going to make a point about the déjà vu nature of these "terrible, unending national tragedies." And they did.

"I'm sick of having to do my job when our leaders won't even do theirs," Williams told Noah after admitting to pre-taping her segments on mass shootings and other sadly predictable events. When Noah protested that the media still has to cover tragedies like the one in Oregon, Williams said that the reports aren't pointless, exactly, just one part of America's "five stages of mass shooting grief," with Stage 4 being " a weekend of half-assed gun control debate in the media" and the final stage being when "we all go back to Keeping up with the Kardashians." When Noah responded with a rousing speech about demanding change, Williams brought the segment full circle. It's a little cynical, and pretty dark, but sadly appropriate. Watch below. Peter Weber

home sweet home
8:16 a.m. ET

For the owners of the Rhode Island farmhouse that inspired the 2013 horror film The Conjuring, it's not the supernatural that scares them — it's the superfans. Norma Sutcliffe and Gerald Helfrich are suing Warner Bros. over legions of trespassing ghost hunters inspired by the film, citing "threats of physical violence and harm, sleepless nights, and worry that one day, one of the many trespassers will commit an act of destruction, violence, or harm," according to court documents reported by Entertainment Weekly and The Guardian.

The "Conjuring-instigated siege of their property" began in 2013, after the film was released; before then, Sutcliffe and Helfrich had lived in the house since 1987 without any spooks, terrestrial or otherworldly. However, the owners maintain that Warner Bros. released the film without ever letting them know or asking their permission — with the studio going as far as "to market the movie as based on a true story" as well as to "prominently" identify the location of the house in promotional materials.

The court documents added that, "The property was inundated by curiosity seekers and trespassers who, at all hours of night and day, come to and on to the property, approach, and seek to enter the house, take photographs and videos, ignore the 'no trespassing' signs, fences, and barriers installed." Up to 500 such trespassers are mentioned in the report. For Warner Bros., it might turn out that The Conjuring was truer than they realized: Sometimes it is better to keep the genie in the bottle. Jeva Lange

Watch this
7:27 a.m. ET

"The Swan" is arguably the most beautiful movement of Carnival of the Animals by Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns, usually performed with just piano and cello. On Monday's Late Show, justifiably legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma played the tune with Stephen Colbert's house band, Jon Batiste and Stay Human. They didn't stick to the traditional arrangement, throwing in brushed drums, bass, guitar, and sax. With a lesser or more heavy-handed arrangement, that could have been a recipe for disaster. It wasn't. There's enough terrible news in the world — watch and enjoy some rare beauty below. Peter Weber

Crisis in Syria
6:59 a.m. ET

On Monday, NATO ambassadors held an emergency meeting after Russian fighter jets in Syria flew at least two sorties into Turkish airspace over the weekend, once locking its weapons onto Turkish fighter jets. The NATO officials warned that Russia's "irresponsible behavior" could have serious consequences. Russia responded that the incursions were an accident and that "there is no need to look for conspiratorial reasons." U.S. and NATO officials dismiss that explanation and suggest Russia is trying to intimidate Turkey and its allies.

In Chile on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. is "greatly concerned" about the Russian incursions "because it is precisely the kind of thing that, had Turkey responded under its rights, could have resulted in a shootdown." If Russia attacks Turkey, NATO is obligated to come to Ankara's defense.

Russian fighter jets join an increasingly crowded aerial battlefield over Syria, where Russian and Syrian jets are bombing one side of the country and the U.S.-led coalition — which includes Turkey as well as France, Australia, Canada, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia — is bombing Islamic State and other Islamist targets around the country. "What we're seeing now is a lot of different countries and coalitions operating in the skies over Syria," said Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "I think it creates a situation that is fraught with danger and very delicate, as we'd seen in the issue of the violation of the airspace with Turkey.... This should really refocus people's attention on finding a political solution." Peter Weber

6:15 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics to two particle physicists, Takaaki Kajita in Japan and Arthur B. McDonald in Canada, for their discovery of neutrino oscillations and the resulting evidence that subatomic neutrino particles have mass. "The discovery has changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and can prove crucial to our view of the universe," the academy explained in a news release. Those findings "have yielded crucial insights into the all but hidden world of neutrinos. After photons, the particles of light, neutrinos are the most numerous in the entire cosmos."

The two scientists will share the $960,000 prize as well as the honor of winning the same award as Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Niels Bohr. Peter Weber

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