October 12, 2017

Devastating wildfires are raging across Northern California, consuming nearly 170,000 acres and at least 3,500 structures. Twenty-two separate blazes have combined to scorch the region, resulting in 23 deaths so far.

This startling satellite image shared by former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield shows just how massive the wildfires' reach has been:

The Tubbs Fire, which has consumed over 30,000 acres and caused the most deaths, was only 10 percent contained as of Thursday morning. The Atlas Fire was just 3 percent contained after already having burned more than 40,000 acres. Several wineries in the region have burned to the ground. California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has declared a state of emergency in eight counties as firefighters strain to contain the blazes. Kimberly Alters

September 15, 2017
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U.S. Army recruiters have backed out of contracts with hundreds of foreign-born recruits, meaning enlistees who have waited years to join a program that would fast-track citizenship now face deportation.

A retired Army recruiter told The Washington Post that recruiters were given until Sept. 14 to drop contracts with foreign-born enlistees without penalties. In recent years, the process for recruiting foreign-born enlistees has become burdened with increased security measures, making enlistment a labor-intensive process for recruiters. This past week, with the deadline looming, recruiters were forced to choose between hitting their recruitment goals or continuing the contract process for immigrant enlistees.

The immigration recruitment program, designed to attract highly skilled immigrants to the armed services in exchange for an expedited citizenship process, has been under close scrutiny by the Pentagon in recent months. A memo last summer that revealed that over 1,000 recruits have waited so long for their status to be approved that they are now in a deportation limbo prompted Congress to speak up about the issue, pressuring President Trump or Defense Secretary James Mattis to take action. Elianna Spitzer

July 24, 2017
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Nearly a dozen immigrants being smuggled into the United States died Sunday after being transported from Laredo, Texas, to San Antonio in a tractor-trailer without any air conditioning, and survivors are recounting the extreme heat and cries for help that went unanswered by the driver.

Adan Lalravega, 27, told The Associated Press the trailer was crowded with people, and as the trip dragged on, the temperature kept getting higher and higher. Adults and children were crying and begging for water, and Lalravega said he lost consciousness before arriving in San Antonio. Other survivors told authorities there was one hole in the wall of the trailer, and people were taking turns breathing out of it. They also pounded on the sides of the trailer, yelling at the driver to stop, but he didn't.

Relief came when the driver, James Matthew Bradley, stopped the truck at a Walmart in San Antonio at around midnight. Bradley told authorities he was driving the truck from Iowa to Brownsville, Texas, on behalf of his boss, who had sold it. Bradley said he heard banging and shaking in the trailer, court records show, but he had no idea there was anyone back there, and was surprised when people came jumping out. He also said he knew the refrigeration system wasn't working, and ventilation holes were likely clogged. Bradley, who appeared in federal court Monday on charges of illegally transporting immigrants for financial gain resulting in death, could face the death penalty.

At least 20 passengers have been hospitalized for heatstroke and extreme dehydration. Most are from Mexico and Guatemala, and one said he traveled to the U.S. by raft, then was driven to Laredo, where he was put in the trailer. He was supposed to pay $5,500 to smugglers when he arrived in San Antonio. Catherine Garcia

July 21, 2017

On July 9, three teenage boys watched a disabled man drown in a pond in Cocoa, Florida, east of Orlando, and they filmed the man's death on a cellphone and taunted him for the duration of the 2-minute video, which they then posted to social media, police say. The teens, age 14 to 16, did not call for help or tell authorities about the death of Jamel Dunn, 32; his fiancée reported him missing on July 12 and his body was recovered from the pond on July 14. A woman who says she is Dunn's sister, Simone Scott, came across the video and posted it on Facebook last weekend, and police identified the boys and questioned them. At least one of them showed no remorse, Cocoa Police Department spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez said.

Near the beginning of the video, the audio of which was posted by Florida Today, one boy is heard shouting at Dunn, "Get out the water, you're gonna die." The kids laughed. "He keeps putting his head under," another boy said. "Wow." "Bro, you scared to see a dead person?" one of the boys asked another. Finally, one of the teens said, "Oh, he just died," and they laughed some more.

Police are not going to file any charges against the teens, at the recommendation of state prosecutors, because they did not violate any Florida laws. Floridians are not legally obliged to assist people in distress or call for help. "If there was (a law like that) we would charge them," Martinez tells CNN. "The family is frustrated," she said, and "the detectives are frustrated, that we cannot hold anyone accountable for this." In a statement, the state attorney's office said that while no laws were broken, "we can find no moral justification for either the behavior of persons heard on the recording or the deliberate decision not to render aid to Mr. Dunn."

Cocoa Police Chief Mike Cantaloupe was more direct. "As chief of police, there are times when I wish I could do more, but I'm a firm believer in that good will always win over evil," he said. "It may not come in our lifetime, but there will be justice." Peter Weber

June 19, 2017
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Police in Virginia say it appears a case of road rage led to the death of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen.

The Muslim teenager went missing on her way back to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center in Sterling early Sunday, and her remains were found Sunday afternoon, not far away from the center. Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, was arrested and charged with murder Monday in connection to the case. In a statement, Fairfax County police said Hassanen's death "appears to be the result of a road rage incident involving the suspect, who was driving and who is now charged with murder, and a group of teenagers who were walking and riding bikes in and along a roadway. Our investigation at this point does not indicate the victim was targeted because of her race or religion."

A friend of Hassanen's, Asma Ibrahim, told BuzzFeed News she was told by teens who were with Hassanen before her death that they were walking back from McDonald's when two of the boys in the group insulted a man's car. He then tried to run them over on the sidewalk, and got out of the car with a metal bat and started chasing them. Another family friend told BuzzFeed News the suspect followed the teens from the McDonald's and threw a beer bottle at them. Officer Tawny Wright, a spokesperson for the Fairfax County Police Department, confirmed that the suspect got out of his car and "the missing teen was the closest one to him. He assaulted her." Ibrahim told BuzzFeed News Hassanen was "very funny" and "a very good dancer" who was "dedicated to her school work," and most members of the mosque agree with the police assessment that Hassanen's death was not a hate crime "because of the altercation that happened right before." Catherine Garcia

June 2, 2017
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Early Friday morning in the Philippines, a man with a rifle barged into a casino in Manila and started shooting at slot machines and setting tables on fire. The English-speaking gunman escaped with about $226,000 worth of gambling chips and was later found dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot on the fifth floor of the Resorts World Manila casino, Metropolitan Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said Friday morning.

Police have found 36 victims in the casino, all dead from apparent smoke inhalation and none of them with gunshot wounds. Officials say the motive was robbery; Albayalde speculated that the unidentified man either wanted to recoup gambling losses or went "totally nuts." The attack sparked panic in the area and several people were wounded in a stampede to leave the smoke-filled casino. "Most of the victims were women who were found dead inside the bathroom," Tomas Apolinario, a fire official, told CNN.

Soon after the attack, President Trump characterized it as a "terrorist attack." "We are closely monitoring the situation," Trump said on live TV Thursday afternoon, before announcing he will withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. "But it is really very sad as to what's going on throughout the world with terror. Our thoughts and our prayers are with all of those affected." Soon after, the Philippine police chief and a Resorts World Manila executive said there was no sign of terrorism in the attack.

An unidentified senior White House official tells CNN that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster had briefed Trump on the incident before he went into the Rose Garden, and that his briefing included "that media reports indicated ISIS had taken credit." An unidentified U.S. intelligence official tells NBC Nightly News that U.S. intelligence agencies had not called it a terrorist attack, and that Trump "was freelancing" with his characterization. "A laugh went up in the Situation Room" when Trump made his declaration, the official said. Peter Weber

May 30, 2017
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A zookeeper at the Hamerton Zoo in Cambridgeshire, England, was killed Monday after a tiger entered the enclosure she was in and attacked, police said.

The unidentified zookeeper died at the scene. A witness told The Sun zookeepers came running up to the enclosure "with pieces of meat trying to get whatever's attention" and it was "heartbreaking seeing them trying to help." In a statement to visitors, the zoo said the mauling was "a freak accident," and is being investigated. The zoo will be closed through Wednesday. Catherine Garcia

May 21, 2017
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A 50-year-old Alabama man and two other climbers died Sunday on Mount Everest, expedition organizers said.

They did not release any details about how Roland Yearwood of Georgiana died, except that he was near the summit. A 54-year-old Australian climber and a 50-year-old Slovak climber also died on Sunday, in separate incidents, and organizers said an Indian climber who successfully made it to the top of Everest went missing on his way back down; his Sherpa guide, who was able to reach a camp while suffering from frostbite, said they both became sick on the descent.

This year, 371 permits were issued for people to climb Mount Everest during the spring season that runs from March through May. In 2014, an avalanche killed 16 Sherpa guides, and in 2015, 19 climbers were killed and 61 injured when an earthquake triggered an avalanche at base camp. Catherine Garcia

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