<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - National & International News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Sun, 04 Oct 2015 19:42:29 -0400 Sun, 04 Oct 2015 19:42:29 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Poll: Trump's Lead Narrows as Fiorina, Carson Close In]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 10:42:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Fiorina-Trump-Carson.jpg

Donald Trump remains ahead in the early Republican nominating contests of Iowa and New Hampshire, but his lead has shrunk from a month ago, according to new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls of these two states.

In New Hampshire, Trump holds a five-point advantage over Carly Fiorina among GOP primary voters, 21 percent to 16 percent. But a month ago Trump's lead over the nearest competition in the Granite State (John Kasich) was 16 points, 28 percent to 12 percent.

Trump is ahead of Carson by five points among potential GOP caucus-goers in Iowa, 24 percent to 19 percent - with Fiorina in third at 8 percent. Trump's lead over Carson in the same poll a month ago was seven points.

Meanwhile, in the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton maintains her lead in Iowa with 47 percent support of caucus voters, and Bernie Sanders is still ahead in New Hampshire, leading the former secretary of state by nine points, 48 percent to 39 percent.  

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Talks Syria on "Meet the Press"]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 12:22:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Trump+Meet+the+Press+1.png

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, when asked if he believes the Middle East would be better today if Moammar Gadhafi of Libya and Saddam Hussein of Iraq were still in power, responded, "It's not even a contest."

"You can make the case, if you look at Libya, look at what we did there — it's a mess — if you look at Saddam Hussein with Iraq, look what we did there — it's a mess," the real-estate mogul said in an interview with Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press."

Trump related the situations in both countries with what is currently happening in Syria and seemed to endorse a stronger President Bashar Assad, while admitting that he is "probably a bad guy." 

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<![CDATA[Doctors Without Borders Leaves Afghan City After Deadly Airstrikes]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 07:38:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/MSF+Hospital+Bombing+1.JPG

The International medical charity Doctors Without Borders said on Sunday it had withdrawn from the northern Afghan city of Kunduz after a deadly airstrike destroyed its hospital and killed 19 people, including 12 MSF staffers, NBC News reported.

"MSF hospital in Kunduz is not functional anymore," Kate Stegeman, a Kabul-based spokesperson for the charity also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), announced in a tweet on Sunday.

The group blames the U.S. for the airstrike. Afghan officials said helicopter gunships returned fire from Taliban fighters who were hiding in the facility.

Investigations are continuing into Saturday's bombing of the hospital.

<![CDATA[Contrast in Number of Americans Killed by Gun Violence Vs. Terrorism ]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 08:43:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/deaths-GettyImages-490928292.jpg

A frustrated President Barack Obama addressed the nation Thursday, contrasting federal efforts to combat terrorism with the lack of action on gun violence, NBC News reported.

Obama asked news organizations to “tally up the number of Americans who have been killed in terrorist attacks in the last decade” and compare those killed by gun violence.

An estimated 153,144 homicide cases in which firearms were used were registered by the Centers for Disease Control between 2001 and 2013, compared to 3,046 people killed in the U.S. by terrorist or possible terrorist attacks between 2001 to 2014, according to the Global Terrorism Database.

The shooting rampage on the community college campus in Roseburg left at least 10 people dead, including the shooter.

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Shooting at Community College in Oregon]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 19:12:58 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_566569925259.jpg At least 10 people are dead and seven others were injured after a gunman opened fire Thursday morning on the campus of Umpqua Community College in southwest Oregon, authorities said.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[FBI, ATF Issue Warning to Philly Area Colleges]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 19:13:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/fbigeneric2.jpg

The FBI and the ATF issued an alert to all Philadelphia colleges and universities after a threat to area schools was posted on social media.

In a statement, the FBI notified local colleges and universities “out of an abundance of caution” to the threat of violence directed at Philadelphia-area schools for Monday, October 5.

“No specific college or university was identified in the posting,” the statement read. “We encourage students, faculty, and employees at area colleges and universities to follow the guidance of their campus security officials.”

“The FBI will continue to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to investigate threats of violence, and, as always, we ask the public to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.”

Drexel University alerted their students and staff of the threat in a post on their Public Safety page.

"Although the FBI has assured us there is no specific threat to a particular college or university, we are taking this very seriously and are taking extra precautions to protect the Drexel community," Drexel University's statement said.

The school announced it will increase patrols on campus Monday and that they are working with University of Pennsylvania Police and Philadelphia Police to assure they have the latest information. Drexel police officers and Allied Security officers are also aware of the threat and will be vigiliant to report and investigate any suspicious person or package. 

School officials urged Drexel students to call Drexel Public Safety at 215-895-2222 or 911 if they notice any "suspicious activity, person or package."

Villanova University officials also sent an alert to all students, faculty and staff notifying them of the threat.

"The University has notified the Radnor Police Department and is working in conjunction with them to enhance protection of the campus," Villanova Public Safety Director David Tedjeske said. "In addition, the Public Safety Department has increased security patrols. We ask that you remain aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activity or behavior to the Department of Public Safety at 610-519-4444."

In a Twitter post, Temple University notified students and faculty to monitor their emails for "an important public safety message from Temple police."

The Temple's student news program Temple Update tweeted the email reporting an "action could take place at 1 p.m. CDT (2 p.m. EST) Monday, Oct. 5, 2015."

NBC10's David Chang and Deana Harley contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP Image
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<![CDATA[Little Bulldog Scares Away Bears]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 03:00:43 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Bulldog_Chases_Bears_Away_1200x675_538106435917.jpg

Dogs are loyal pets. This statement rings true for a 20-pound French bulldog from Monrovia, California, when a surveillance video caught the pup chasing away two bears from his owner's property Friday, police said.

In one of the videos found on YouTube, the bears are seen walking around the back porch of a residence located in the 400 block of Highland Place.

Thirty seconds into the clip, the tiny bulldog charges down the porch steps and starts jumping at one of the bears, causing to two to scatter. 

Defensive, the bear leaps on its hind legs and starts pushing the dog away. The dog then goes after the other bear and starts chasing them off of the porch.

In a second video, one the bears is frantically slipping and sliding on the front porch of the house, bumping into a porch swing, while trying to escape the bulldog's wrath.

Bears and deer are very common in the area according to the city's website. Just last year, a bear and her two cubs were spotted around the neighborhood climbing up trees and drinking from a woman's backyard fountain. 

<![CDATA[Disneyland Raises Annual Pass Prices, Introduces New Passports]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 17:55:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/disney-turns-60.jpg

Some of the most faithful Disneyland fans will have to dig a little deeper in their pockets after a second pricing overhaul this year went into effect Sunday at the "happiest place on earth."

As the park celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, Disney introduced two new annual passports, eliminated one and hiked rates for existing passes.

The $779 no blackout day Premium Annual Passport is no longer an option for visitors. Instead, a new Disney Signature Plus pass for $1,049 was introduced with no blackout days.

Visitors can also purchase a new lower-tier pass for $849, with blackout days only during the park's busiest times, the two weeks around Christmas and New Years.

Both passes also include merchandise and dining discounts, free parking and the new PhotoPass, which allows visitors unlimited digital access to photos taken of them in the park.

The existing Deluxe pass increased by $50, and the park's cheapest pass, available only to Southern California residents, increased by $30.

The Southern California pass, which increased from $389 to $459, is now only available for renewal by existing holders.

Parking prices were also raised at Disneyland theme parks.

For more details on pricing changes, visit Disneyland's website here.

Photo Credit: Paul Hiffmeyer]]>
<![CDATA[The Deadliest Mass Shootings in U.S. History]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 02:04:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_247282778895.jpg

The massacre at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, is the latest in a tragic list of mass shootings that have taken place across the country, at schools and elsewhere.

Here is a list of some of the other shootings across America that claimed the most lives, according to NBC News.

Thirty-two people were killed on April 16, 2007, when 23-year-old Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people on campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, before killing himself.

On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza killed 28 people, including himself and his mother, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

George Hennard crashed his pickup through a cafeteria on Oct. 16, 1991, in Killeen, Texas, where he shot and killed 23 people before shooting and killing himself.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Sandy Hook Parents Speak Out]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 16:14:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/159498517.jpg

The parents of two young children killed in the Sandy Hook tragedy are speaking out about doing more nationally to prevent future school shootings after another deadly carnage at an Oregon community college.

At least nine people were killed and nine others injured when a gunman opened fire in a Thursday morning writing class at the Umpqua Community College campus in Roseburg, Oregon. The shooter, identified as 26-year-old Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

Sandy Hook parents Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley empathize with the families of the victims in Oregon. They experienced similar losses when their children, Daniel Barden, 7, and Dylan Hockley, 6, were fatally shot along with 24 others at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012. The guman also shot and killed his mother before ultimately taking his own life.

"Our hearts break for the shattered families and community of Umpqua Community College after yesterday’s horror," Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley said in a statement Friday. "We understand their pain now and in the days and years to come and we promise to support them in any way possible. Our thoughts remain with them, the loved ones killed, those injured, and the countless traumatized."

Hockley said she can't stand to watch the hauntingly familiar images coming from Oregon.

"Absolute shock that it had happened again," Hockley told NBC Connecticut. "My heart is so with them, knowing what they are going through, knowing what’s coming down the line for them. It doesn’t get any easier I’m afraid to say. It’s one hard day after another.”

Hockley says she's tired of the political fights the shootings spark. But, she adds, what is most frustrating is that most of these tragedies might have been prevented.

That’s why this Sandy Hook mom and others launched the group Sandy Hook Promise.

Barden and Hockley are managing directors of Sandy Hook Promise, "a national movement of parents, schools and community organizations engaged and empowered to deliver gun violence prevention programs and mobilize for the passage of sensible state and national policy," according to the website.

"While our hearts continue to break, our spirit never will. Nor will our anger in knowing that this was yet another preventable tragedy," Barden and Hockley said. "We know that as we learn facts about this tragedy, our nation will once again enter the endless debate around gun control and gun freedom. The debate goes on, but our children need us now. What saddens us is that we also know that, as usual, facts will come to light about the warning signs and signals the shooter gave to others, who then took no action to intervene."

The Sandy Hook Promise program called “Say Something” teaches kids, parents, and school staff how to spot an at-risk person and how to report it.

Hockley says most school shooters displayed warning signs. If someone had noticed and taken action it could have prevented the horrible result, she said.

“That’s what keeps me going every single day," Hockley said. "This is a long, long, hard journey but there is nothing in this world that’s going to stop until we’ve saved more people.”

The “Say Something” program has been in the trial phase. Now the goal is for it to spread across the country and a “Say Something Week” is planned to start Oct. 19.

Since the fatal Sandy Hook shooting, 483 people have signed the Sandy Hook Promise, which obliges pledges "to do all [they] can to protect children from gun violence by encouraging and supporting solutions that create safer, healthier homes, schools and communities."

"While we at Sandy Hook Promise believe our country needs to make progress on policies for appropriate firearm access, we also believe that we must change our attitudes and behaviors on passively accepting daily threats and violence, believing ourselves immune to having this sort of tragedy in our own community and believing we are helpless to prevent it in any case. None of us are immune and none of us are helpless," Barden and Hockley said.

Click here to read the full statement from Barden and Hockley.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Extreme Weather 2015]]> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 14:47:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_818021593259.jpg See photos of extreme weather from the U.S. and around the world.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Pope: Marriage Is an 'Indissoluble Bond']]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 09:41:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/PopeFrancisFamilyMeeting.jpg

Pope Francis opened a divisive meeting of the world's bishops on family issues Sunday by forcefully asserting that marriage is an indissoluble bond between man and woman. But he said the church doesn't judge and must "seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy."

Francis dove head-on into the most pressing issue confronting the meeting of 270 bishops during a solemn Mass in St. Peter's Basilica: How to better minister to Catholic families experiencing separation, divorce and other problems when the church's teaching holds that marriage is forever.

He insisted that the church cannot be "swayed by passing fads or popular opinion." But in an acknowledgment that marriages fail, he said the church is also a mother, who doesn't point fingers or judge her children.

"The church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission and instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock," he said.

One of the major debates at the synod is whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion.

Francis launched the synod process two years ago by sending out a 39-point questionnaire to bishops, parishes and ordinary Catholic families around the world asking about their understanding of and adherence to church teaching on family matters. Their responses showed a widespread rift between official Catholic teaching and practice, particularly on sex, marriage and homosexuality.

A first meeting of bishops ended last October with no consensus on how to better welcome gays and divorced and civilly remarried Catholics in the church. Conservatives insisted that Catholic doctrine is clear and unchanging. Progressives acknowledged the doctrine but sought wiggle room in pastoral practice.

In the ensuing 12 months, both sides have dug in and sparks are expected to fly in Round 2. In fact, few Vatican meetings have enjoyed as controversial a run-up as this one. There have been allegations of manipulation and coercion; secret caucuses to plot strategy; de-facto laws passed to take the wind out of the debate.

And on the eve of the synod, a Vatican monsignor outed himself as gay and denounced widespread homophobia in the church.

"We are happy if there is turbulence," said Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Italian running the synod. "We are in the sea, and so there has to be some turbulence."

Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican's finance manager who is firmly in the conservative camp, predicted little more than a reaffirmation of the status quo would emerge in Round 2, albeit with perhaps better explanation as to why the status quo exists.

"It's quite impossible for there to be any change in the church's teaching on Communion for the divorced and remarried," Pell said on the sidelines of a conference last week about helping gays overcome their homosexual tendencies.

The conference was one of many initiatives launched by conservatives in the run-up to the synod aimed at reasserting traditional Catholic teaching on homosexuality, which holds that gays are to be respected but that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered."

In a clear challenge to that teaching, a mid-level official in the Vatican's orthodoxy office, Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, announced Saturday that that he was a proud gay priest (with a boyfriend), called for the synod to take up the plight of gays, and denounced homophobia throughout the church.

The Vatican summarily fired him.

Gay rights activists, who were in Rome to try to influence the synod from the sidelines, came to his defense and urged the synod fathers to assert that there is no place for homophobia in the church.

Former Irish President Mary McAleese, a practicing Catholic with a gay son, said she hoped that more transparency would help "kill for once and all this terrible lie" that everyone was born heterosexual.

But there is little sense the synod will show any new great opening to gays after the first round pulled back on a ground-breaking welcome initiated mid-way through. In that mid-way report, the bishops said gay unions could provide "precious" support for partners.

In a new book "The Rigging of a Vatican Synod?" author Edward Pentin asserts that the mid-way report was essentially manipulated by the Vatican's synod organizers, using heavy-handed, coercive tactics that didn't reflect the synod membership.

More movement may emerge on the other hot-button issue, whether divorced and civilly-remarried Catholics can receive Communion.

Catholics who divorce and want to remarry in the church must first obtain an annulment, a ruling from a church tribunal that their first marriage was invalid. Without the annulment, these civilly remarried Catholics are considered to be living in sin and cannot receive Communion, a condition that has lead generations of Catholics to feel shunned by their church.

Francis has sought a more merciful approach, insisting that these remarried Catholics be fully part of the life of the church. Progressive prelates led by German Cardinal Walter Kasper have called for a process by which a bishop could accompany these remarried Catholics on a path of penance that, over time and on a case-by-case basis, could lead to them receiving the sacraments.

Earlier this year, a handful of progressive German, Swiss and French bishops met in secret at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University to plot strategy ahead of the synod, allowing in only a handful of friendly progressive media in behind closed doors.

In the meantime, Francis pulled the rug out from under the debate to some degree by radically reforming the annulment process to make the decrees easier to obtain. Canon lawyers and conservatives have balked at the new law, asserting that it amounts to "Catholic divorce" — a charge Francis has vigorously denied.

Like it or not, however, the new law will make it easier for Catholics to get annulments, which may lessen the urgency of coming up with a definitive solution for the divorce/remarried issue at the synod.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Israel Restricts Palestinian Access to Jerusalem's Old City]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 09:55:20 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_610256804884.jpg

In an unprecedented measure, Israeli police barred Palestinians from Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday in response to stabbing attacks that killed two Israelis and wounded three others, as Israel's prime minister vowed a "harsh offensive" to counter rising violence.

Tensions have flared in recent weeks over an Old City holy site sacred to Muslims and Jews, a series of so-called "lone wolf" attacks on Israelis and a security clampdown, which on Sunday saw Israeli troops launch a bloody arrest raid in the West Bank.

The latest spike in violence comes at a time when many Palestinians no longer believe statehood through negotiations with Israel is possible. Israeli commentators raised the possibility of a third uprising, though Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has so far prevented major outbreaks of violence despite his growing friction with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In response to the recent violence, Israeli police said they would prevent Palestinian residents of Jerusalem from entering the Old City for two days during a Jewish holiday. Palestinians who live, work and study within the Old City, as well as Israelis and tourists, will be allowed in.

"This is a drastic measure that's being taken in order to make sure there are no further attacks during the Jewish festival where you can see thousands of people visiting the Old City," Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Israel captured the Old City and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, and later annexed the areas. Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their hoped-for state.

Some 300,000 Palestinians live in Jerusalem, making up about a third of the city's population. They live in the predominantly Arab eastern district and have residency status in the city, but do not hold Israeli citizenship.

They are usually free to enter the Old City in east Jerusalem, where major Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy sites are located. Jerusalem expert Danny Seidemann said it is the first time since Israel captured the Old City in 1967 that it has prevented Jerusalem's Palestinians from entering.

In the latest attack, Israeli police say a Palestinian teenager stabbed and moderately wounded a 15-year-old Israeli early Sunday morning in Jerusalem before being shot dead by Israeli police.

Israeli TV showed footage of the alleged assailant walking along the city's light rail tracks as bystanders screamed, "Shoot him!" In the video, a police car arrives on the scene, multiple gunshots are heard, and the attacker is then seen lying on the ground.

The attack came hours after a Palestinian teen fatally stabbed two Israelis in the Old City and wounded the wife and toddler of one of the slain men, before the attacker was shot dead by an Israeli police officer. Israeli officials identified the victims of Saturday's attack as Aharon Banita, a 21-year-old soldier, and Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, a father of seven who was a rabbi at a seminary in the Old City's Muslim Quarter.

Tensions have soared in recent weeks over a major holy site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israeli police and Palestinian demonstrators have clashed repeatedly there in recent weeks.

The unrest has spread to the West Bank, where at least 18 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli troops Sunday during an Israeli arrest raid. On Friday, an Israeli couple was killed in a Palestinian drive-by shooting in the West Bank.

Netanyahu said he would meet with security officials Sunday to decide on a "harsh offensive on Palestinian Islamic terror," according to a statement on his Facebook page. "We are in an all-out war against terror," Netanyahu wrote.

Israel's leading newspaper commentator, Nahum Barnea, called the recent violence the "Third Intifada," referring to Palestinian uprisings in the 1980s and the early 2000s. "Not calling it by name allows the political and military establishment to evade, repress, shirk responsibility," he wrote in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper.

But Hani al-Masri, a Palestinian political analyst, said it was not likely the start of a new Intifada. "Intifada needs a leadership and the Palestinian political leadership is against it," he said.

Relatives of the teen behind Sunday's attack identified him as Fadi Alloun, 19, from traditionally Arab east Jerusalem. On Saturday, he wrote on his Facebook page: "Either martyrdom or victory."

Muhannad Halabi, the 19-year-old Palestinian behind the deadly stabbing attack on Saturday, also wrote a post on Facebook before the attack: "What's happening to our holy places? What's happening to our mothers and sisters in the Al-Aqsa mosque? We are not the people who accept humiliation. Our people will revolt."

The sacred hilltop compound is a frequent flashpoint and its fate is at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, site of the two biblical Jewish temples. Muslims revere it as the Noble Sanctuary, where they believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven in a night journey.

Non-Muslim visitors are only allowed to enter the site at specific hours and are banned by police from praying there. Many Muslims view Jewish visits as a provocation and accuse Jewish extremists of plotting to take over the site. Israel has promised to ensure the delicate arrangement at the site and insists it will not allow the status quo there to be changed.

In the West Bank, Israeli troops shot and wounded at least 26 Palestinians in an arrest raid in the Jenin refugee camp, a Palestinian hospital director said. The refugee camp was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the second Palestinian intifada.

Monther Irshaid, director of the Khalil Suleiman Hospital in Jenin, said the Palestinians were shot in the legs with live bullets and two suffered serious leg injuries.

The clashes broke out as troops surrounded the home of a Palestinian suspect. Witnesses said Israeli troops fired a "small missile" at the house to force the suspect out. The Israeli military said a few dozen Palestinians attacked troops with pipe bombs and that troops responded with "riot dispersal means."

Troops arrested two Palestinians suspected of "terror activity," the army said. One armed suspect barricaded himself inside a building and a fire broke out during the arrest, the army said without elaborating. The army said troops found explosive devices inside.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[U.S. Airmen Killed in Afghan Plane Crash ID'd]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 07:37:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Helicopter-US-Afghanistan.jpg

The six U.S. airmen killed Friday when their C-130 transport plane crashed during takeoff in Afghanistan have been identified, NBC News reported.

On Saturday, the Department of Defense named the dead Americans as Capt. Jonathan J. Golden, 33, of Camarillo, California; Capt. Jordan B. Pierson, 28, of Abilene, Texas; Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Hammond, 26, of Moundsville, West Virginia; Senior Airman Quinn L. Johnson-Harris, 21, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Senior Airman Nathan C. Sartain, 29, of Pensacola, Florida; and Airman 1st Class Kcey E. Ruiz, 21, of McDonough, Georgia.

The four-engine turboprop aircraft plummeted shortly after midnight local time (3:19 p.m. ET) at Jalalabad airfield, coalition spokesman U.S. Army Col. Brian Tribus said. In total, 13 people were killed.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Officials: Oregon College Shooter Died of Apparent Suicide]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 16:34:11 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_51415249853.jpg

The man armed with several guns who walked into a Thursday morning writing class at a rural Oregon community college and fatally shot nine people, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, speaking at a news conference Saturday, said the medical examiner's office has determined the cause of death as suicide.

Officials initially said the shooter, identified as 26-year-old Christopher Harper-Mercer, was killed during a shoot out with officers responding to the Umpqua Community College campus. The worst mass shooting in Oregon history also injured nine people.

Hanlin also revealed an additional gun was found at the apartment Harper-Mercer shared with his mother, bringing the total number of weapons seized to 14. 

Harper-Mercer was armed with a 9mm Glock pistol and .40-caliber Smith & Wesson, according to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives incident report obtained by The Associated Press.

Mercer also had a .40-caliber Taurus pistol traced to someone in Portland and a .556-caliber Del-Ton.

ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Celine Nunez announced Friday at a news conference that six weapons were recovered at the college campus and an additional seven were found at the shooter's home.

Nunez said the firearms were purchased legally by the shooter or a family member in the last three years. Officials did not say whether the latest gun found at Harper-Mercer's home was purchased legally. 

Investigators also found a flak jacket next to a rifle at the school, which contained steel plates, Nunez said.

Officials conducting searches at the school, shooter's residence and vehicle have also seized documents and digital media, Hanlin said.

"The Oregon State Police Crime Lab as well as the ATF and FBI Laboratories are all engaged in the effort to move forward with processing this evidence," he added.

Douglas County District Attorney Rick Wesenberg said the Oregon State Police's investigation into the officer-involved shooting is "nearing conclusion."

"I expect to be presented with the case early next week. Once I receive the case, I will do a thorough review and make a determination on whether the use of force was justified," he said.

In a statement, Harper-Mercer's family expressed their grief and offered prayers to the families of the victims.

"We are shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific events that unfolded on Thursday, October 1. Our thoughts, our hearts and our prayers go out to all of the families of those who died and were injured," the statement read.

Law enforcement officials told NBC News that Mercer left behind a multi-page document at the shooting scene espousing what one of them called "a philosophy of hate."

Two officials familiar with the contents say he wrote that he would be "welcomed in Hell and embraced by the devil."

The officials said he lamented the fact that he had no girlfriend. "He said he had no life," another official said, adding, "He felt the world was against him."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Clinton Campaign Courts Latino Voters]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 00:48:50 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/HilaryClinton-HumanRightsFoundation.jpg

Capitalizing on her still positive polling numbers with Latinos, Democrat Hillary Clinton is making the most of Hispanic Heritage Month to bolster her backing in the community and overall nationally, NBC News reported.

The campaign said Thursday it is launching "Latinos for Hillary" with several events that it will roll out over the next several weeks.

Clinton, the frontrunner early in the 2016 election, has seen her positive ratings drop among all voters and the wide lead over closest rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, shrink or disappear in New Hampshire and Iowa.

The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released this week shows Clinton with a negative popularity rating, 39 percent to 47 percent (-8) favorable/unfavorable among all voters. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Meet Architect Phil Freelon, the Visionary Behind the Newest Smithsonian]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 05:28:05 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Phil-Freelon-Museum-DC.jpg

You may not know his name, but you probably know his work.

He designed the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, which opened with much fanfare in Atlanta in June of 2014. His portfolio also includes the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, Emancipation Park in Houston, multiple library projects for the Washington D.C. Public Library System and the Durham County Human Services Complex in North Carolina.

Phil Freelon is widely considered one of the country's most talented architects.

A President Obama appointee to the National Commission of Fine Arts, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) and a recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture, the proud Philly native who now calls Durham, North Carolina home, also happens to be African American. 

Photo Credit: File--The Washington Post/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hundreds Missing and at Least 73 Dead in Guatemala Mudslide]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 00:01:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GuatemalaMudslide.jpg

Hopes faded of finding any remaining survivors of a massive landslide in Guatemala that killed at least 73 people, even as families scrabbled through rubble hoping to find the bodies of loved-ones, with hundreds of others still missing, NBC News reported.

Distraught relatives of the victims shoveled alongside diggers through the mounds of earth that destroyed homes in Santa Catarina Pinula on the southeastern flank of Guatemala City after the collapse of a hillside on Thursday night. 

Every fresh batch of earth turned up by the diggers held more personal belongings, from mattresses and books to toys and Christmas decorations, reminders of around 350 people who authorities said were still unaccounted for.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[19 Dead After Hospital Hit by Apparent US Airstrike]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 23:18:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Kunduz+hospital+Bombings+1.JPG

Twelve Doctors Without Borders staff along with seven patients, including three children, were killed and another 37 injured after an apparent U.S. airstrike hit the international charity's hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz.

Coalition spokesman Col. Brian Tribus confirmed that a U.S. airstrike conducted at around 2:15 a.m. local time on Saturday (5:45 p.m. ET Friday) "may have caused collateral damage to a nearby health facility." The incident was being investigated, he added.

Doctors Without Borders — which is also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres — said its site "was hit several times during sustained bombing and was very badly damaged" in what it called an "aerial attack."

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called the event "tragic" and noted that U.S. forces were "operating nearby" in support of Afghan security forces battling the Taliban.

"While we are still trying to determine exactly what happened, I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to everyone affected," Carter said in a statement.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called Saturday for a "swift, full and transparent investigation."

“This event is utterly tragic, inexcusable, and possibly even criminal,” Zeid said.

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<![CDATA[ER Nurse Treats Dying Brother]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 01:09:15 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/209*120/Andy+2.jpg

A suspect was arrested in the fatal hit-and-run crash of Cesar Andres Medina, authorities said Saturday. 

Andrew Christopher Michaels, 19, of Laguna Niguel was arrested in connection with the crash, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

An emergency room nurse, Jennifer Medina, was trying to cope with the heartbreak after she discovered that the patient she was treating while working the night shift at a Southern California hospital was her dying brother, Cesar.

Medina, known to friends as Andy, was transported to Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo after being struck by a hit-and-run driver in San Juan Capistrano Friday night.

His sister, Jennifer Medina, was working a busy shift at the hospital when her 23-year-old brother was brought in unresponsive and not breathing.

As doctors worked frantically to save Medina, Jennifer Medina and her coworker looked for his identification. "I recognized the wallet ... And she opened it up and it was my brother's face right there," said Jennifer Medina in tears. "Everything just collapsed I just couldn't hold it together."

The collision was reported around 10:10 p.m. on Del Obispo Street and Paseo Carolina, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Witness accounts and evidence shows Medina was struck in the crosswalk as he crossed from the south to the north side of Del Obispo, OCSD said. Witnesses also said Cesar Andres Medina had the right of way while crossing on a green light.

"Please. I'm begging the guy that killed my nephew to go to the police," said Mary Floyd, the victim's aunt.

"I just knew I wanted to say my last goodbyes to Andy after they cleaned him up," said Jennifer Medina. "And tell him how much I love him."

A GoFundMe page has been set up in Cesar Andres Medina's memory.

Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigators said deputies located a truck matching the description of the vehicle believed to be involved in the hit-and-run.

The Dodge Ram truck was parked in the driveway of a home.

Michaels contacted the sheriff's department and after authorities interviewed him, he was arrested on felony hit-and-run.

He was set to be booked in Orange County Jail.

Anyone with information about the vehicle or who witnessed this collision is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff's Department's Traffic Bureau at (714) 647-7000 or (949) 425-1860.

Corey Arvin contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[SF More Expensive During Gold Rush]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 18:43:56 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GoldPanningGeneric_0608.jpg

San Francisco’s tech boom may be the cause of rising rents in the city, but, apparently, it’s nothing compared to the cost of living in California during the Gold Rush.

In 1849, as men flocked to the San Francisco area in hopes of hitting gold, local retailers took advantage of the situation by charging exorbitant prices for commodities, The Smithsonian reports. Back then, a dozen eggs could cost the equivalent of $90 today.

The Smithsonian cites the writings of Bayard Taylor, a reporter who wrote about the Gold Rush for the now-defunct New York Tribune. According to Taylor’s articles, some individual hotel rooms cost upwards of $10,000 a month – the equivalent of about $300,000 today.

But that’s not all.

Coffee could cost the equivalent of $1,200 per pound while a pair of shoes would run about $3,000.

While researchers have made various estimates for commodity pricing during the Gold Rush – some have priced coffee at around $100 per pound -- most of them agree: it was a very expensive, if not the most expensive time to live in the city.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Priest Points Gun at 8-Year-Old Boy]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 20:24:55 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/priest+kevin+carter+arrested.jpg

A New Jersey church priest pointed a musket at an 8-year-old child inside his church and threatened him with it over an apparent sports rivalry, prosecutors say. 

The 54-year-old priest at St. Margaret of Cortona Roman Catholic Church in Little Ferry was arrested Friday on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and aggravated assault by pointing a firearm, the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office said. 

The priest allegedly approached the boy before Mass services at the church on Sunday, Sept. 13, and asked to see him in one of the rectory rooms, according to prosecutors. 

Once they were in the room, the priest allegedly had the boy stand against the wall, then retrieved a musket and pointed it at him, prosecutors said, citing several witnesses.

"As he raised his weapon and pointed it at the boy, he said, 'I'm going to shoot you,'" Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli told NBC 4 New York Friday. 

The boy was not hurt, Molinelli said.

One of the parishioners who witnessed the incident contacted Newark Archdiocese officials on Sept. 25, and the Archdiocese in turn contacted the prosecutor's office on Sept. 28. 

The prosecutor's office began investigating along with Little Ferry police, and on Friday, interviewed the priest at the rectory. A search of the room turned up the weapon that was allegedly used -- a functioning Civil War-style musket -- as well as gunpowder, ammunition and other associated items for the gun, authorities said. 

Prosecutors said the priest, a Giants fan, was apparently unhappy because the boy planned to root for the Cowboys in a game against the Giants later that day. 

"The young boy was apparently a fan of a particular football team, the priest was not. So perhaps we have indication it started out as that," said Molinelli. 

"There's no such thing as joking around with a weapon when you're dealing with an 8-year-old kid," he added. 

The Giants lost to the Cowboys 26-27 on Sept. 13. 

The priest, Kevin Carter, was jailed on $15,000 bail. He was still in custody at Little Ferry Police headquarters Friday night and could not be reached; it wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney. 

The Archdiocese did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The prosecutor's office says Carter was ordained in Newark in November 1986 and has since worked at various Roman Catholic churches across the Archdiocese. He has been at St. Margaret of Cortona since February 2013. 

<![CDATA[CT Dunkin Donuts Wouldn't Serve Cop]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 11:57:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/West+Hartford+Dunkin+Donuts+1200.jpg

A Dunkin' Donuts employee is apologizing after telling a police officer waiting to buy coffee that a Connecticut location doesn't serve cops, police said.

A West Hartford police officer was waiting at the back of the line in the Dunkin' Donuts at 1234 Farmington Ave. to buy a cup of coffee at the coffee franchise when one of the employees said loudly before a room of several customers, "He didn't get the message. We don't serve cops here," police said.

The officer immediately left without another word from any workers. On his way to his cruiser, the franchise manager brought the employee outside to apologize to the officer for the comment. The employee told the policeman the statement was a joke, according to the police report.

The officer told the employee to apologize to the customers who appeared offended instead of to him, so the employee went inside with him and did so. The worker offered the officer a free cup of coffee to make up for it, but he declined and said he would get one elsewhere, police reported.

The manager apologized for her employee's behavior and notified the regional manager, telling the officer she would handle the situation. Dunkin' Donuts corporate office was also notified.

"We are aware of the situation at the Dunkin’ Donuts at 1234 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford," Michelle King, senior director of global public relations for Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc. said in a statement released to NBC Connecticut. "The crew member exhibited poor judgment and apologized immediately to the police officer. The franchise owner, a long-time supporter of local police, has also reached out to apologize on behalf of the restaurant. Dunkin’ Donuts and our franchisees share a commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all guests."

<![CDATA[Coast Guard Finds Life Ring in Hunt for Missing Cargo Ship]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 10:15:23 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/EL_FARO.jpg

The U.S. Coast Guard has found a life ring from a cargo ship that went missing during Hurricane Joaquin, searchers announced Saturday.

The Coast Guard said in a tweet that they have confirmed the life ring is from the El Faro, a 790-foot container ship that went missing Thursday with 33 people aboard — including 28 Americans. 

The El Faro was last heard from Thursday around 7:20 a.m. when it sent a distress call indicating it had lost power and was taking on water. It left for San Juan in Puerto Rico Tuesday from Jacksonville, Florida.

Joaquin was a topical storm when the ship departed, but the storm quickly grew in intensity and became a Category 4 hurricane when it lashed the Bahamas on Thursday.

Photo Credit: Capt. William Hoey]]>
<![CDATA[14-Year-Old Charged in 15 Robberies]]> Sun, 04 Oct 2015 07:30:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Teen-Armed-Robbery-Suspect.jpg

A 14-year-old boy was arrested and charged in connection to 15 robberies near Drexel University in Philadelphia in August and September. 

During an incident on Sept. 29, a woman and another victim had just gotten into her car around 11:15 p.m on the 3900 block of Baring Street. The woman told police she tried several times to close her car door but believed it was stuck. She then heard the other victim repeatedly yell, “Mom,” police said. The woman told investigators she then looked up and saw the teen boy holding a gun. 

The boy then allegedly told her, “Get out of the car you f****** b****,” several times. The woman and second victim then fled into a nearby home while the boy entered their car, police said. After a few moments, the teen exited the car and fled in another direction.

While the boy didn’t take anything during that incident, during  other robberies the teen stole cellphones, cash, credit cards, house keys, and medication, police said. He also allegedly pistol whipped a victim during an incident on Sept. 18 on the 500 block of North 34th Street and punched a woman twice in the face during an incident on Sept. 30 on the 400 block of N. Preston Street.

On Sept. 30, detectives interviewed the victim of a robbery on the 400 block of N. Preston Street. Investigators told the woman, who is a student at Drexel, to log into her Discover Credit Card account to cancel her stolen card. While she was logging in the woman received an email stating that a suspicious transaction occurred at a business on the 700 block of N. 38th street around 7:24 a.m. that day, police said.

An investigator went to the business and recovered surveillance video of the teen suspect using the woman’s credit card at the ATM machine inside the store, according to police. Investigators then retrieved still images of the suspect.

On Friday police officers spotted the suspect riding a purple bicycle on 37th Street and Fairmount Avenue, investigators said. The officers noticed the teen looked like the suspect in the surveillance video and that he was riding a purple bicycle that was described in some of the previous robberies. The teen was taken in for questioning and officials obtained a search warrant for his home.

As they searched they found clothing he wore in previous robberies as well as other bicycles he used, police said.

The teen was arrested and charged with 15 counts of robbery and other related offenses. Police believe he used a BB gun during the robberies.

The robberies occurred at the following times at the following locations:

  • Sept. 30, 400 block of N. Preston Street
  • Sept. 29, 3900 block of Baring Street
  • Sept. 27, 400 block of N. 41st Street
  • Sept. 21, Preston Street and Powelton Avenue
  • Sept. 21, 4400 block of Sansom Street
  • Sept. 18, 32nd Street and Haverford Avenue
  • Sept. 18, 3100 block of Hamilton Street
  • Sept. 18, 500 block of N. 34th Street
  • Sept. 18, 600 block of N. 34th Street
  • Sept. 17, 600 block of N. 32nd Street
  • Sept. 10, 4000 block of Baring Street
  • Sept. 5, 4000 block of Spring Garden Street
  • Sept. 5, 34th Street and Mantua Avenue
  • Sept. 5, 3500 block of Hamilton Street
  • Aug. 30, 400 block of N. 35th Street

Photo Credit: Philadelphia Police ]]>
<![CDATA[NY Explosion Kills 1, Injures 3]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 23:25:52 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/pots-n-watts1.jpg

A gas stove is the suspected source of an explosion Saturday that killed a woman, injured three passersby and devastated a three-story building in Brooklyn, New York. 

The 1 p.m. blast tore the facade from the front of a building on 42nd Street and 13th Avenue in Borough Park, fire officials said.

The explosion might have been sparked while a high-end stove was being disconnected from a gas line, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said during a news conference with Mayor de Blasio. Investigators believe the blast occurred on the second floor, he said.

The woman who died was found in a stairwell near the second floor, the commissioner said. Her identity wasn't disclosed. Firefighters believe she was the only person in the building.

A 33-year-old man and his 10-year-old son and a 27-year-old man were injured by bricks and other debris blown onto the sidewalk as they walked past the front of the building, Nigro said. They are expected to survive their injuries but were taken to area hospitals.

Approximately 200 firefighters responded to the fire, which was quickly brought under control. Five firefighters sustained minor injuries, Nigro said.

It appears that the building is home to housewares store and several apartments. The building was severely damaged and could collapse, fire officials said.

"We will be doing a full investigation," said de Blasio.

The incident prompted Gov. Cuomo to direct the state Department of Public Service to investigate the cause of the explosion.

"This explosion is the latest in a disturbing trend of incidents that occurred in Harlem and the East Village," he said. "On behalf of all New Yorkers, my thoughts and prayers are with those who have been impacted by today's explosion, especially the friends and family of those lost or injured."

On March 26, a gas line exploded at a Sushi restaurant in the East Village. Two men were killed and 25 others were injured. Evidence indicated that someone had tampered with the gas lines or meters, investigators said at the time.

The East Village incident occurred one year after a similar blast killed eight people in an East Harlem building. Federal investigators released a a report a few months ago that blamed the explosion on poorly crafted pipe-joint and an old sewer line that cause a gas line to break.

<![CDATA[Cuomo Creates Scholarship for Slain Aide]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 14:57:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_963912915416.jpg


Gov. Cuomo has created a scholarship and fellowship honoring former aide Carey Gabay, who was fatally shot after being caught in gang crossfire.


The scholarship will be awarded annually to five students at State University of New York schools and will cover the full cost of attendance.

The fellowship is open to attorneys interested in public service. Winners will spend two years in the office of the counsel to the governor focusing on issues relating to violence and poverty.

To be eligible for the programs applicants must come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Gabay was shot in the head during a predawn party celebrating the West Indian Day Parade Sept. 7. He died Sept. 15. No arrests have been made.

The 43-year-old Harvard-educated lawyer served as first deputy general counsel at the Empire State Development Corp.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Arrest in Murder of Dallas Dentist]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 10:55:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/kendra+hatcher.JPG

Dallas police say they have arrested a man suspected of fatally shooting a Dallas dentist last month at her Uptown apartment parking garage.

Kristopher Love, 31, is charged with capital murder and is being held on a $2.5 million bond, Dallas Police Maj. Max Geron announced in a Friday evening press conference.

Love also faces a federal charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. Geron said when Love was arrested, he was allegedly in possession of the weapon believed to have been used in the murder.

Jail records did not list an attorney for Love Friday.

Geron said an alleged accomplice, 33-year-old Brenda Delgado, is wanted on a capital murder charge and is considered a fugitive.

Murder in Uptown Parking Garage Sept. 2

Kendra Hatcher, 35, was fatally shot Sept. 2 in the parking garage of her Uptown apartment complex.

Geron said investigators believe the motive in the deadly shooting was murder-for-hire. Delgado is suspected of having a role in the planning of the murder, Geron said.

Police said Hatcher pulled into the garage at her residence, the Gables Park 17 apartments on Cedar Springs Road, and parked her vehicle at about 7:45 p.m.

Sometime before Hatcher arrived home, the driver of a Jeep Cherokee followed another driver into the garage and parked, according to Geron, with the Dallas Police Department's Crimes Against Persons Division.

While Hatcher parked, Geron said, someone got out of the Cherokee and appeared to approach Hatcher. Police said witnesses then described hearing a gunshot and the person who exited the Cherokee then returned to the vehicle and drove away.

Hatcher was found deceased next to her car.

Woman Arrested on Capital Murder Charge

Dallas police said 23-year-old Crystal Cortes admitted her involvement in the murder.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Cortes told detectives she was behind the wheel of the Jeep Cherokee spotted by a witness on the the night Hatcher was shot and killed.

Cortes told detectives she was paid $500 to drive a man to that parking garage for a robbery. She also said that man she drove is the shooter, according to the affidavit.

According to an arrest affidavit, Love admitted to his role in the robbery which resulted in Hatcher's death.

Cortes was arrested Sept. 4 and also faces a capital murder charge.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Vatican Fires Gay Priest on Eve of Synod]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 13:35:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_412561681413.jpg

The Vatican on Saturday fired a monsignor who came out as gay on the eve of a big meeting of the world's bishops to discuss church outreach to gays, divorcees and more traditional Catholic families.

The Vatican took action after Krzysztof Charamsa, a mid-level official in its doctrine office, came out in newspaper interviews in Italy and Poland saying he was happy and proud to be a gay priest, and that he was in love with a man whom he identified as his boyfriend.

"The decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the synod appears very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the synod assembly to undue media pressure," the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said in a statement.

As a result, Charamsa could no longer work at the Vatican or its pontifical universities, he said. Despite his dismissal, Charamsa remains a priest, although Lombardi hinted that his superiors could take further action.

Charamsa, 43, initially planned a press conference in front of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith's office, but moved it to central Rome after the Vatican action. He was joined by his companion, identified only as Eduard.

Charamsa told reporters that the timing of his disclosure was not related to the bishops meeting on the family, but said he hoped it might add "a Christian voice" to the synod that is expected to address how the Church can better minister to the homosexual faithful.

"I came out. This is a very personal, difficult and tough decision in the Catholic church's homophobic world," Charamsa said, and asked people to bear this in mind.

He said he has written a book in Italian and Polish to "lay bare" his experience "in front of all those who want to confront me."

Charamsa told the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza that he was motivated to make his sexual orientation public by hate mail that he received after publicly criticizing a right-wing Polish priest who is strongly anti-gay in the Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny.

"I have to say who I am. I am a gay priest. I am a happy and proud gay priest," he told Gazeta Wyborcza.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[LBJ's Immigration Act 50 Years Later]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 07:34:41 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/LBJ-Immigration-1965.jpg

It was considered a symbolic move — President Lyndon Johnson going to the Statue of Liberty and signing an immigration bill that gave people from every country in the world an equal chance to come to America.

The president himself described the legislation as less than revolutionary. "It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives, or really add importantly to either our wealth or our power," he said during the ceremony on Oct. 3, 1965.

But, he noted, the new law also would "strengthen us in a hundred unseen ways."

Fifty years later, there's been dramatic change as a result of the Hart-Celler Act that Johnson signed. A country that was almost entirely native-born in 1965 has a significant foreign-born population; demographic diversity has spread to every region, expanding a black-and-white racial paradigm into a multicolored one. Americans have gleefully adopted musical genres and foods that have immigrant origins, while remaining conflicted and uneasy politically over who's here, legally and not.

Facts about Hart-Celler, also known as the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965:


Pushed by the American families of European immigrants who wanted to bring relatives over, Congress decided to replace the nation's tightly controlled, country-of-origin immigration system with a process that divided visas equally between all countries, giving preference to immigrants with advanced skills and education, or family ties to U.S. citizens.

For some in Congress, the thought was that virtually nothing would change. At that time, many figured immigrants from European countries would be the main beneficiaries.

"Historic patterns of immigration had always been from Europe," said Erika Lee, a professor of immigration history at the University of Minnesota. "They were thinking this builds on those patterns."

However, immigrants from places like Asia and Latin America came to the U.S. as well. Once they were in, they also made use of the family preferences to bring over their parents, children and siblings. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, 59 million people have come to the U.S. since 1965, just over half from Latin America and a quarter from Asia.


Immigration to the United States had been tightly controlled starting from the late 19th century, with outright bars on people from certain regions like Asia, and in 1924, an immigration law limiting the number of immigrants from a particular country at 2 percent of the population of that country already living in the United States in 1890. Restrictions loosened slightly over the middle 20th century, but it was still very difficult to enter from a non-favored nation.

As a result, America in the middle part of the 20th century was atypical compared to both the country's origins and where it is now, said Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Research Center.

In 1965, only 5 percent of people in the United States were foreign-born. He contrasted that to the period between 1860 and 1920, where it was between 13 and 15 percent and where we are now, at 14 percent.

"Today is more typical than 1970 in terms of the presence of immigrants in the population," he said.

The U.S. has gone from 84 percent white, 11 percent black, 4 percent Hispanic and 1 percent Asian in 1965, to 62 percent white, 11 percent black, 18 percent Hispanic and 6 percent Asian now, the Pew report said. By 2055, no one group is expected to have a majority.


The law also led to the contemporary issues of immigrants in the country without legal documentation, said Alan Kraut, history professor at American University.

Prior to 1965, countries in the Western Hemisphere didn't have quotas, so those in Mexico and Central America could come back and forth fairly regularly. Once the law was enacted, those countries had quotas as well, which were not high enough to meet the built-up demand.

The law was signed a year after the U.S. formally ended its bracero program, which had allowed temporary workers to come from Mexico for more than 20 years. "Both of these laws really shut the door to a generation of cross-border migration," Lee said.

Every country getting the same quota has also spurred huge backlogs for places like India, where demand is much higher than in other, less populous nations.


The larger U.S. culture has been greatly impacted by immigrants and the cultures they've brought with them, said Jeff Melnick, professor of American studies at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. "You'd have to go really far to find an area of American life that's untouched by the realities of the '65 law," he said.

He pointed to hip-hop as a prime example, which has roots in the toasting, or chanting over beats, practiced by Jamaican and other Caribbean immigrants and brought with them to New York City.

Jim Bittner, president and general manager at Bittner-Singer Orchards north of Buffalo, New York, observed that, decades ago, the seasonal farmworkers were mostly Southern blacks who would leave an area when the work was done. Sometime in the 1980s that started to shift, with the workforce becoming increasingly immigrant, predominantly Hispanic.

But it hasn't been all smooth sailing. Issues of how well America is bringing together all the people who live here now abound in all spheres, from conversations about representation in media and entertainment, to heated political debates about fences and deportations.

"With one hand, the dominant culture of the U.S. is sort of taking their stuff and saying, 'This is delicious' or 'This is funky' or 'Wow, this is attractive,' while also saying, 'God, I wish those people wouldn't be taking our jobs,'" Melnick said.

Photo Credit: File--AP]]>
<![CDATA[Train Hero Avoided Oregon Rampage Due to TV Show]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 00:25:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/216*120/10-2-15-Alek_Skarlatos.JPG

One of the heroes credited with taking down a terrorist on a French train would have been attending a class at a community college in Oregon when a gunman opened fire in a mass shooting if he hadn't been at a rehearsal for "Dancing With the Stars."

Alek Skarlatos, 22, who was one of three Americans credited with stopping a terrorist attack on a train in August, bolted from the "Dancing With the Stars" set when he heard about the massacre and headed straight to Roseburg, Oregon, a community he calls home.

"It takes a special kind of person to live here," he said. "It's kind of a tough place to make a living and it's a really resilient community and the people who are here are here for a reason. It's definitely a setback, but it's not going to crush this community at all."

Skarlatos said he was going to take some classes Umpqua Community College if it hadn't been for the unexpected opportunity to appear on the hit reality TV show.

Skarlatos said he would have tried to take down Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer, 26, if he had been in the classroom when Harper-Mercer, an Army boot camp dropout who studied mass shootings, opened fire, killing nine people before he was shot dead in an exchange of gunfire with police.

Skarlatos said he was with "Dancing" partner Lindsay Arnold when he received a text from a friend about the shooting. He said he then looked up the news on the Internet to confirm it.

"I just sat down for a second and then hid in the bathroom so the cameras couldn't see me," he said.

As far as he knows, none of his friends were among the victims.

"My heart really goes out to the people who can't say the same," he said.

Skarlatos and two friends, U.S. Air Force Airman Spencer Stone, 23, and Anthony Sadler, 23, received worldwide acclaim when they tackled the gunman aboard a train while vacationing in Europe. The heroics earned Skarlatos his stint on "Dancing With the Stars."

The next installment of the competition airs on Monday. If he misses that show he would be eliminated under the rules.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[12 Doctors, 7 Patients Killed From U.S. Airstrike]]> Sat, 03 Oct 2015 21:10:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_698247290605.jpg

 Twelve Doctors Without Borders staff along with seven patients, including three children, were killed after an apparent U.S. airstrike hit the international charity's hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz.

Another 37 others were injured in the strike: 19 staff members, including five in critical condition, and 18 patients and caretakers, according to Jason Cone, the executive director for Doctors Without Borders in the U.S. The organization didn't comment on the identities of the victims, but said all international staffers were alive and accounted for.

Coalition spokesman Col. Brian Tribus confirmed that a U.S. airstrike conducted at around 2:15 a.m. local time on Saturday (5:45 p.m. ET Friday) "may have caused collateral damage to a nearby health facility." The incident was being investigated, he added.

Photo Credit: AP]]>