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US and World News

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    Ahmad Rahami, a 28-year-old U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, was taken into custody Monday after a gun battle with police in Linden, New Jersey, that left two officers injured, four law enforcement sources and other officials said.

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday a blast that injured 29 people in Manhattan was caused by some kind of bomb, but the attack didn't appear to be linked to international terrorism

    Cuomo, speaking near the scene of the Saturday night blast, told reporters a second device found blocks away from the first explosion appeared "similar in design" to the first, though investigators are still examining it after it was removed by a bomb squad robot and taken to a police facility in the Bronx.

    "As governor of New York, this is my worst nightmare," Cuomo said.

    Cuomo added that whoever is responsible for planting the device "will be brought to justice." 

    The bombing rocked the city's Chelsea neighborhood, a mostly residential part of Manhattan's west side known for its art galleries and large gay population. Witnesses described hearing a deafening blast, and surveillance video footage captured images of nearby windows being blown out by the explosion as people sprinted away from the scene.

    Cuomo said, as a precaution, close to 1,000 additional State Police and National Guard troops will be dispatched across the city to guard transit stations and area airports. 

    Mayor de Blasio said Sunday that authorities don't yet know who made it, who set it off or the motivation behind it but called the blast an "intentional act."

    The mayor added that there is "no specific and credible threat against New York City at this point in time from any terror organization."

    Meanwhile, authorities said the same man was was seen at the 23rd Street and 27th Street locations before the blast. Police are enhancing and comparing the videos from the scene as they continue their investigation. 

    Law enforcement sources say police are in possession of a video that shows a man putting an object in a dumpster near 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue, followed by an explosion some time later. 

    Another video from 27th Street shows a man leave a piece of luggage on the sidewalk before two other people come along, take a device out of the bag and walk away with just the suitcase, officials familiar with the investigation said.

    President Obama was briefed on the explosion, according to the White House. The FBI and Homeland Security officials, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a New York arson and explosive task force, were at the scene.

    The NYPD also removed a possible secondary device on 27th Street, four blocks away. Four law enforcement sources described the device as a pressure cooker that had what appeared to be protruding wires, a cell phone and black tape. The NYPD tweeted that it had been safely removed to Rodman's Neck Range in the Bronx just before 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

    The device was rendered safe and sent to the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, for a forensic examination. 

    Saturday night, photos posted to social media showed an extensive emergency presence at the scene, with the area between Sixth and Seventh avenues cordoned off. Sixth Avenue was closed from 14th to 34th Street and NYC Transit reported extensive disruptions to the 1, 2, E and F subway lines. 

    Street closures continued Sunday. Crosstown traffic was closed in both directions from West 14th Street to West 32nd Street between Fifth and Eighth avenues. The closures are in effect until further notice, the mayor's office tweeted.

    While there was no damage to the subway system, NYPD Chief of Transit Joseph Fox tweeted that police will need to keep the 23rd and 28th street subway stations closed along Seventh Avenue as they investigate. He plans to tweet another update on those lines Monday at 7 a.m.

    "We'll reopen stations as quickly as possible while conducting a complete and thorough investigation," he tweeted. "Appreciate your patience and understanding."

    There was no damage to the subway system and the MTA expects full service to resume Monday morning at all stations near the scene of the blast, Cuomo said Sunday. 

    The Port Authority will resume PATH service on the 33rd Street line beginning at 5 a.m. Monday, but trains will skip the 23rd Street station due to the ongoing police investigation. PATH trains will make stops at the Christopher, 9th, 14th and 33rd street stations. 

    At least one Twitter user tweeted that her "whole high-rise building shook" from a apparent blast. Another image showed a Dumpster or trash bin blown apart, with bits of debris scattered on the sidewalk. People at least seven blocks away reported hearing and feeling a loud boom.

    The Standard Hotel's offer of a free room and dinner Sunday night to residents on 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues quickly booked up the venue, and it said in a subsequent post on social media that it would look to see if other hotels in the area could accommodate the demand.

    Earlier Saturday, one of three bundled pipe bombs placed in a trash can along a 5k race route to be run by Marines detonated in Seaside Park, New Jersey. The race had been running late, but authorities said they believed the device had been timed to explode as runners went by the trash bin.

    No one was hurt in the explosion.

    Investigators are working to determine if the New Jersey explosion is linked to the Chelsea blast and the pressure cooker found on 27th Street. 

    Old-fashioned flip phones were found on all three devices, law enforcement officials close to the investigation told NBC 4 New York. 

    FBI investigators also searched a livery cab in midtown for evidence from the explosion Sunday afternoon. The driver of that cab was riding on 23rd Street when the blast went off and shrapnel from the explosion may have hit his car.

    The driver called 911 and pulled over near the intersection of 39th Street and Madison Avenue, which is where FBI investigators were gathering evidence Sunday.  

    Security concerns on the Jersey shore also continued Sunday. The San Gennero Festival in Belmar was canceled because of safety concerns, Mayor Matt Doherty tweeted. 



    Photo Credit: AP
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    Crime scene investigators work at the scene of Saturday's explosion in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, in New York, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)Crime scene investigators work at the scene of Saturday's explosion in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, in New York, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

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    Authorities continued to hunt for clues Sunday in the growing investigation into the explosion in Manhattan Saturday night that injured 29 people.

    Investigators are analyzing possible similarities between two devices seized in New York and one that detonated earlier Saturday in New Jersey, including the fact that all three devices apparently contained old-style mobile flip phones, according to officials familiar with the probe.

    The explosion in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, was reported at around 8:30 p.m. Twenty-nine people were hospitalized with injuries, but they had all been released by Sunday afternoon, authorities said.

    Less than three hours after the New York blast, an object police described as a "possible secondary device" was found just a few blocks away from the original explosion on 27th Street while officers were combing the area.



    Photo Credit: Andres Kudacki, AP

    People try to access the area near the scene of an explosion on West 23rd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, in New York, early Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016.People try to access the area near the scene of an explosion on West 23rd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, in New York, early Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016.

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    Two high school football teams in suburban Detroit came together Friday to give one young man his opportunity to shine. 

    Robby Heil, of Novi, Michigan, has Down syndrome. He's a senior at Novi High School, and proudly sports a jersey with the No. 24 as the football team's longtime water boy. 

    "Our team's seen him as part of the family," Novi coach Jeff Burnside told NBC affiliate WDIV.

    So when they learned that Robby's mother Debbie was battling cancer, they hatched a plan to give their family a very special memory.

    After a timeout during Friday's game against South Lyon High School, who was in on the plan, Robby took the field ready to play. The quarterback handed him the ball and he took off, running more than 20 yards to score a touchdown. 

    Debbie had no idea it was coming, and grew emotional watching her son fulfill a lifelong dream. 

    "It was incredible, I did not know about this," Debbie told WDIV through tears. "This team has just been so instrumental with helping me get him to practice like when I'm at chemo, and it really takes a village to raise my son and this village has really been outstanding."

    "No matter how bad a day he's having, it's a smile from ear-to-ear," Coach Burnside said. "An opportunity to put that helmet on tonight, it brought tears to my eyes and I'm pretty sure tears all over the place."

    While the touchdown didn't count for the game, even the opposing team joined in celebrating Heil's victory, presenting him with a South Lyon jersey bearing the No. 1. 



    Photo Credit: WDIV
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    Three people suffered shark bites in less than three hours Sunday in the same area of New Smyrna Beach in Florida, authorities said.

    A 43-year-old man from Longwood, Flordia, was bitten on the lower leg area or ankle while surfing about 10:40 a.m., 30 minutes after a 36-year-old Miami man was bitten on both hands, according to Senior Capt. Tamra Marris of the Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue agency. 

    About two hours later, a 16-year-old boy from New Smyrna was bitten while surfing, suffering a minor laceration to his inner thigh. 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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    In Ohio this weekend, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren fired up Democratic base voters by taking the opportunity to dig into Donald Trump. 

    Warren targeted the Republican presidential candidate for "inviting his followers to commit a terrible act of violence on his opponent," charging only "a little bully who can't win in a fair fight" would do such a thing.

    Warren added that "Trump has led the charge on the "birther" movement, and only when his handlers tied him down and made him did he finally admit that it wasn't true."

    "What kind of a man does that?" she said.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a DemocratRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat

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    Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton was on Today in New York Monday morning to talk about bombs found in Chelsea and Elizabeth, New Jersey.

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    Doctors were able to save a baby girl's life after she was born prematurely when her mother was shot and killed at six months pregnant in a drive-by shooting on Chicago's South Side.

    Authorities say 19-year-old Parashay Beard was sitting in a car outside her home in the 8700 block of South Marquette Avenue just after 6 p.m. Sunday when a gunman pulled up and opened fire. She was hit in the neck by the gunfire, police said.

    Beard was in the vehicle with a 26-year-old man at the time, who family said was her boyfriend. The man was also shot in the chest and neck and left critically wounded. Police say the man has documented gang ties. 

    Both victims were rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where Beard was pronounced dead and her baby was delivered.

    Family members told NBC 5 that the baby girl, who they are calling a miracle, is in critical condition but they are just grateful for her survival.

    "It's a blessing," Beard's cousin, Tinishia Jackson, said. "That's all I can say."

    The child was born three months premature, according to her family. Beard was due to give birth in December.

    "I was happy they didn't get to take two lives," Jackson added.

    Beard was also the mother to a 4-year-old daughter, family members said. She worked at Portillo's restaurant in suburban Skokie while attending the Chicago Excel Academy of Southwest.

    Beard's's mother told NBC 5 that she and her sister plan to take in and raise both children.

    “She was a loving child," Beard's aunt, Sandy Jones, told NBC 5. "She went to school, she worked ... And they just took her life."

    No one is in custody for the deadly shooting. Police say they have only a vague description of the gunman.



    Photo Credit: Family Photo

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    An estimated 45,000 people turned out for the Pride Parade in Dallas’ Oak Lawn neighborhood Sunday.

    Among them was an 8-year-old transgender girl and her family, who are fighting to educate people about what it’s like to grow up transgender.

    Marilyn Morrison has a lot of energy. Like most 8-year-olds, she plays with her friends and she loves animals. But she has something to say.

    "I want people to understand that I'm just a normal kid," said Marilyn.

    And she doesn't mind spelling it out for you.

    "M-A-R-I-L-Y-N," she said, spelling out her name. She still likes the sound of it.

    "It makes me feel like I am myself, I'm my true self now," said Marilyn.

    Because until recently, Marilyn was known as Madden, a boy.

    "In our home and family life, she has been called Marilyn for almost a year and at school she went back as her true self and she's known as Marilyn and the she that she is," said her mother Chelsa Morrison.

    On Sunday, Marilyn walked in the Pride Parade with the group Equality Texas, with her family there supporting her.

    “This is our child we’re talking about,” said Marilyn’s father Andrew Morrison. "Whether it's boy or girl, tall or short, whatever the difference is, she's our child."

    On this day, in this place, Marilyn was a superstar. But it's not always easy growing up transgender.

    "I have a bully at school who she said her whole family was freaking out about me turning into a girl and I was like, 'why?'" said Marilyn.

    The bathroom debate poses new challenges. With an injunction blocking federal guidelines, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD is in a wait-and-see phase.

    "She's been using the girl's restroom,” said Andrew Morrison. “And how many issues have there been? Zero."

    Still, some days it's hard to go back to school.

    "I feel like if I go back there and give them more love and support that I can change their heart. I can make them accept me," said Marilyn.

    To Marilyn's parents, this is nothing new.

    "We've known for many, many years," said Andrew Morrison.

    "When she started asking questions of when her body was going to change to be like a woman, what she was, and started telling us she was a girl," Chelsa Morrison added.

    After research and therapy, the family firmly believes this is not a phase.

    "These kids know exactly who they are because they were born that way," said Chelsa Morrison.

    And at least for today, Marilyn is flying high, building a thick skin and a strong community.

    "They'll build a shield around me," she said of her friends and family.

    Something to rely on for the long road ahead.



    Photo Credit: Alice Barr

    An estimated 45,000 people turned out for the Pride Parade in Dallas’ Oak Lawn neighborhood Sunday. Among them was an eight-year-old transgender girl and her family, who are fighting to educate people about what it’s like to grow up transgender.An estimated 45,000 people turned out for the Pride Parade in Dallas’ Oak Lawn neighborhood Sunday. Among them was an eight-year-old transgender girl and her family, who are fighting to educate people about what it’s like to grow up transgender.

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    One of five devices found in a bag near an Elizabeth, New Jersey, train station exploded early Monday as a bomb squad robot was trying to disarm it, and just hours later heavily armed FBI agents were seen in the city as authorities grew more concerned that there may be an active terror cell in the tri-state area. 

    The news of the suspicious bag at the Elizabeth station was first reported late Sunday, around the same time that the FBI said it had taken five people into custody for questioning in connection with Saturday's bombing in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood after a traffic stop on the Verrazano Bridge. 

     

    "I'd say to all New Jerseyans that now is not the time to be intimidated," Gov. Christie said Monday. "We need to be on guard and we need to keep our eyes open."

    Christie said all train and transit systems had been inspected after the explosion in Elizabeth. 

    The FBI said that the five individuals who were taken into custody are from Elizabeth, and law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation tell NBC 4 New York they are believed to be relatives or associates of 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect taken into custody after a shootout with cops in connection with the Chelsea bombings as well as a pipe bomb explosion in Seaside Park, New Jersey, over the weekend. It wasn't clear if the Elizabeth case was also connected. 

    There was law enforcement activity at an address on Elmora Avenue in Elizabeth at 6 a.m. Monday. Officials familiar with the investigation said that it's connected to the investigation at the Elizabeth NJ Transit station. Heavily armed FBI agents in camouflage were focusing on a residence above "First American Fried Chicken." 

    Police and the FBI had responded earlier to the Elizabeth NJ Transit station after two homeless men found a suspicious bag there around 8:30 p.m. Sunday; devices in the bag were later determined to be explosive. The bag was in a trash can next to a trestle near the station, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage said.

    After the bag was discovered, all New Jersey-bound Amtrak trains were held at New York Penn Station in midtown, hampering travel on the busy North East Corridor. NJ Transit service was also suspended between Newark Liberty Airport and Elizabeth, affecting the Northeast and New Jersey Coast lines. Amtrak and NJ Transit serive had resumed with delays by 6 a.m. 

    Around 1 a.m. Monday, an explosion was heard near the train station in Elizabeth. A robot named "Jinx" was being used to dismantle the bomb at the time of the powerful blast and inadvertently detonated the device. 

    Mayor Bollwage said that five separate pipe bomb devices were found inside the bag and that those devices were pulled from the bag and separated so that they could be inspected. As the robot was "cutting wires" on the first device, it went off, startling everyone at the scene. No one was injured. Bollwage said it "could have hurt a lot of people." 

    Authorities were reassessing how to handle the other four devices after the first one exploded. 

    The devices in Elizabeth apparently looked similar to what detonated in Seaside Park, New Jersey, on Saturday morning ahead of a Marine race. No one was injured in the Seaside Park explosion. 

    Two bar patrons found the bag containing the devices in a trash can near train tracks. They looked inside and found pipes and wires. They then called authorities.

    Bollwage said that the men are being questioned at police headquarters but are not suspected of building or planting the device. 

    "We do not believe they were involved. We believe they did the right thing," Bollwage said. 

     


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    A former lawyer cried as she pleaded guilty Monday for her role in a home invasion and attack on her ex-boss and his wife, a crime for which her husband is already serving life in prison.

    Alecia Schmuhl, of Springfield, Virginia, pleaded guilty to five charges in the case. The 2014 attack was an act of revenge against her former boss, who had fired her from his law firm weeks earlier, prosecutors said. 

    Monday, Alecia Schmuhl pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated malicious wounding, two counts of abduction, and one count of burglary with a deadly weapon. She cried as she pleaded guilty to each charge.

    Her plea deal sets a possible sentence range of 10 to 45 years in prison. Without a plea, she could have received life in prison like her husband.

    The prosecutors told the judge that both victims supported the terms of her plea deal.

    "Tt was after giving strong consideration to the victim's wishes in this case regarding the trials and tribulations of a second trial and the prospect of having to go thru a second trial and testify," said Casey Lingan, chief deputy in the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney.

    Prosecutors said in November 2014, Schmuhl's husband, Andrew Schmuhl, broke into the McLean home of lawyer Leo Fisher and his wife, Sue Duncan, and held them captive for three hours as he shot, stabbed and shocked them with a Taser. 

    Prosecutors said Alecia Schmuhl was just outside the home during the attack, communicating by phone with her husband. The victims were critically injured in the attack.

    Fisher said he was in and out of consciousness but remembers his wife covered in blood while they struggled to call 911. Finally, Duncan was able to hit a panic alarm, and Andrew Schmuhl fled.

    Andrew Schmuhl was convicted in June and sentenced earlier this month to two life terms plus 98 years.

    Fisher has previously said that the brutal attack left both him and his wife with permanent scars and impairments.

    "I've never been a person who hated before, and I hate now," he said. 

    Duncan has constant nightmares about someone trying to kill her, her husband said.

    "I just don't want this guy and his wife, these two monsters, to ever do this to anyone else again," Fisher told jurors during Andrew Schmuhl's trial.

    Alecia Schmuhl is scheduled for sentencing for two days on Jan. 18-19.



    Photo Credit: Fairfax County Police Department

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    New polls released this week suggest Hillary Clinton may have a growing problem with millennial voters.

    Both national polls and surveys in swing states show Clinton has seen a slide with voters younger than 35, particularly when Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are factored in.

    In 2012, millennials gave President Barack Obama his biggest numbers by far. He captured 60 percent of the under-30 vote in the national electorate, compared to just 37 percent that went for GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

    Obama did even better with that age group in Michigan and Ohio, with 63 percent of the under-30 vote.



    Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

    Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at UNC Greensboro on Sept. 15, 2016, in Greensboro, North Carolina.Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at UNC Greensboro on Sept. 15, 2016, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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    A Tennessee woman injured a Port Authority police officer when she drove into oncoming traffic to avoid going through the Lincoln Tunnel into New Jersey Sunday night, police said.

    Amber Johnson, 30, of Clarksville, was driving in Manhattan traffic toward the Lincoln Tunnel when she apparently told Port Authority police officers she did not want to continue westbound to New Jersey.  

    Police told Johnson to continue through the tunnel, but she ignored them and reportedly turned into oncoming traffic. 

    She hit one Port Authority police officer as she drove against traffic. The officer was treated for a wrist injury at a hospital, Port Authority police said. 

    Johnson continued driving against traffic across an underpass at 39th Street and 40th Street, and ran a red light before being stopped near Times Square, police said.

    Johnson was arrested and charged with assault, unlawfaul fleeing and other traffic violations.

    Attorney information for her was not immediately available.  



    Photo Credit: AP/Port Authority Police

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    Kellogg is recalling about 10,000 cases of Eggo Nutri-Grain whole wheat waffles over the possibility they were contaminated with Listeria bacteria.

    No illnesses have been reported in connection with the products, Kellogg said in a Monday news release, but Listeria monocytogenes can cause infections in young children and others with weakened immune systems, like the frail or elderly.

    The recalled waffles can be identified by looking for UPC code 38000 40370, dated better if before used by Nov. 21 and 22, 2017.

    They were distributed in the following 25 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

    Anyone who purchased the product can receive a full recall by calling 1-800-962-1413 or visiting https://www.kelloggs.com/en_US/contact-us.html, Kellogg said.



    Photo Credit: Kellogg Company

    About 10,000 cases Eggo Nutri-Grain whole wheat waffles were recalled over the possibility they've been contaminated with Listeria bacteria.About 10,000 cases Eggo Nutri-Grain whole wheat waffles were recalled over the possibility they've been contaminated with Listeria bacteria.

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    Check out some of the best images from the 2016-2017 NFL season.

    Photo Credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Strong safety T.J. Ward #43 of the Denver Broncos tackles tight end Jack Doyle #84 of the Indianapolis Colts in the red zone in the third quarter of the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2016, in Denver, Colorado.Strong safety T.J. Ward #43 of the Denver Broncos tackles tight end Jack Doyle #84 of the Indianapolis Colts in the red zone in the third quarter of the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2016, in Denver, Colorado.

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    The interactive timeline above charts a series of events beginning with a pipe bomb explosion at a Marine 5k race in Seaside Park, New Jersey, Saturday. Hours later, a device exploded in or near a large bin on a packed block in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, injuring 29 people. Another device was found nearby.

    Late Sunday, five devices were found in a trash can near a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey. A robot trying to disarm the devices inadvertently detonated one, causing an explosion. No one was injured in the New Jersey cases. Suspect Ahmad Rahami, a 28-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, was taken into custody following a gun battle with police Monday. 



    Photo Credit: AP
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    Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) carry on investigations at the scene of Saturday's explosion on West 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, New York, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. An explosion rocked the block of West 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Officials said more than two dozen people were injured. Most of the injuries were minor. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) carry on investigations at the scene of Saturday's explosion on West 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, New York, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. An explosion rocked the block of West 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Officials said more than two dozen people were injured. Most of the injuries were minor. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

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    Amal Clooney is taking up the fight of Iraq's Yazidi community, driven from their homes by ISIS in a campaign the United Nations and U.S. State Department have called genocide, NBC News reported.

    The renowned human rights lawyer, who is married to George Clooney, recently told a group of Yazidi refugees in Greece that "the international community should be ashamed that they haven't done more" to help them.

    Along with a 23-year-old survivor of three months in ISIS captivity, Clooney is trying to persuade the international community to begin collecting evidence so the members of ISIS who have attacked Yazidis can be prosecuted in international court.

    "Victims have all said they actually want their day in court," Clooney told NBC News in an exclusive interview. "It's not going to be easy, but we're working on multiple fronts."



    Photo Credit: Jake Whitman / NBC News
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    Amal Clooney visits with Yazidi refugees at a camp in northern Greece.Amal Clooney visits with Yazidi refugees at a camp in northern Greece.

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    Even as a trendy Miami neighborhood has been declared Zika-free, the mosquitoes that transmit the virus can continue to survive over the next few months across the southeast United States from Florida to Texas, research shows.

    The potential for an abundant population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito remains moderate or even high through November in the southernmost cities in the country, according to a study, “On the seasonal occurrence and abundance of the Zika virus vector mosquito Aedes aegypti in the contiguous United States.”

    Florida with its hot, humid weather is particularly vulnerable. In November, the threat will be high in and around Miami and moderate in Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa, in New Orleans and in Houston and Brownsville, Texas.

    Only in December will the risk decrease enough so that Miami alone will have a moderate potential for a significant supply of mosquitoes. Elsewhere in Florida, Louisiana and Texas there will still be some potential, though a low one.

    Winter weather will be too cold for the mosquitoes elsewhere.

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    “When a mosquito bites someone and gets a virus it needs a week or two depending on temperature to actually incubate a virus — for it to move from its mid gut up to its salivary glands,” said the study’s lead author, Andrew Monaghan, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. “If you’re in cooler areas, not only is that slower but mosquitoes often won’t survive it long enough to go through that extrinsic incubation period.”

    The study, which looked at 50 cities within the range of Aedes aegypti, was published in March before locally transmitted cases of Zika were discovered in Florida — 70 cases in all, many in the Wynwood arts neighborhood of Miami and across Biscayne Bay in Miami Beach. Authorities in Florida say that they have found the virus in mosquitoes trapped in a 1.5-square-mile area of Miami Beach, a first for the continental United States.

    On Monday, officials declared the first Zika outbreak on the continental United States to be over. No new cases of Zika have been found in Wynwood for 45 days, which represent three full incubation periods for the virus. However more cases were found in Miami Beach last week.

    Monaghan and the study’s other authors had warned that the prevalence of Aedes aegypti would likely increase as the weather got warmer.

    From New York to LA
    Researchers found that conditions in the United States are mostly unsuitable for the mosquitoes from December through March, except in southern Florida and south Texas, where the potential for an abundant population is low to moderate.

    In the peak summer months, July through September, the mosquito can thrive in all 50 cities -- as far north as New York City along the East Coast and as far west as Los Angeles across the southern portion of the country, according to computer simulations run by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. The mosquitoes are most abundant in the Southeast, particularly southern Florida, and south Texas where locally acquired cases of Aedes-transmitted viruses have been reported previously. Higher poverty rates in cities along the U.S.-Mexico border may result in increased exposure to the mosquito.

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    But Zika is unlikely to spread widely in the United States as it has done in the Caribbean and Latin America, experts say. That’s because so many Americans live in air-conditioned homes and work in air-conditioned offices.

    Zika was first identified in 1947 in Uganda, and has moved through tropical regions of the world over the past 10 years, according to experts.

    The role of climate change
    One question has been the role climate change is playing in the widespread Zika epidemic. Sharyn Stein, a climate scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, said that though many factors can affect the spread of a disease like Zika, mosquito seasons are lasting longer.

    “In some places it’s lasted three or four weeks longer than usual and so people will be exposed to mosquitoes carrying Zika for a lot longer period of time,” she said.

    But how a warmer warm will influence the spread of the virus is not known, she said.

    Much is not known about the virus and the latest mystery is how a dying man in Utah infected his son. Doctors in Utah warned that blood and other body fluids of people who are severely ill might be infectious.

    Although most people with Zika have more mild symptoms, the disease can cause microcephaly in babies — and the accompanying devastating birth defects.

    “While there is much we still don’t know about the dynamics of Zika virus transmission, understanding where the Aedes aegypti mosquito can survive in the U.S. and how its abundance fluctuates seasonally may help guide mosquito control efforts and public health preparedness,” Monaghan said when the study was released.

    A battle over funding
    President Obama has asked for $1.9 billion in emergency funding; Congress countered with $1.1 billion but has not passed the legislation. Republicans tried to prevent money from going to clinics in Puerto Rico run by ProFamilias, a Planned Parenthood partner, as part of their approval -- a provision Democrats have refused to agree to. This week, 77 mayors, including those of Miami Beach, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston, wrote to the Congressional leadership urging that Congress work together.

    “Congress’ persistent inaction has forced the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to use more than $10 million of its funding for cancer and heart disease research for Zika,” the mayors wrote. “In total, $670 million has been diverted from other health priorities to fund Zika research. In addition, the CDC estimates that it will run out of funding to combat Zika at the end of this month, just as mosquito season reaches its peak.”

    The CDC reports 20,870 cases of the Zika virus in the United States and its territories —  3,176 in the states and the District of Columbia, most of those brought by travelers, and 17,694 in the territories. So far, 1,887 pregnant women have tested positive for the virus, 731 in the states and 1,156 in the territories. Twenty-five babies are affected, according to the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat.  

    “The critical resources that President Obama has requested would help prevent the spread of the virus by allowing local governments to work in cooperation with the CDC and the NIH to enhance mosquito control, conduct tests, and deploy a critical Zika vaccine,” they wrote.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott has singled out the Obama administration and Democrats for blame.

    A long history in the US
    The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads viruses for yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya, has been in the United States since at least the mid-1600s, when the first cases of yellow fever were documented. It transmitted yellow fever up the northeastern seaboard as far as New York and dengue as early as 1780 in Pennsylvania.

    “Conditions were more suitable for Aedes aegypti in the northeastern U.S. a couple of hundred years ago when piped water access was lower, sanitation was much worse,” Monaghan said. “And human exposure was higher as well. People weren’t living in air-conditioned, screened environments. The likelihood of them coming into contact with this mosquito was much higher.”

    The mosquito was nearly eradicated in the United States in the first half of the 20th century but has since rebounded, though today its range has contracted to the southern tier and up the eastern seaboard.

    Monaghan said he and his colleagues are working to improve their modeling so that public health and mosquito control officials could provide early warnings — not just of when the Aedes aegypti populations are elevated but also what might influence the transmission of the virus and other projections.

    They noted that northern cities could become more vulnerable if a related species of mosquito, Aedes albopictus, starts to carry the virus. Aedes albopictus is more tolerant of the cold.



    Photo Credit: ap
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    In this Feb. 24, 2016 file photo, Aedes aegypti mosquitos are bred for Zika related testing at the dengue lab run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico on Friday, May 13, 2016 announced its first Zika-related microcephaly case as concerns grow over an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus in the U.S. territory.In this Feb. 24, 2016 file photo, Aedes aegypti mosquitos are bred for Zika related testing at the dengue lab run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico on Friday, May 13, 2016 announced its first Zika-related microcephaly case as concerns grow over an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus in the U.S. territory.

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    Ahmad Rahami was not on federal or NYPD terror watch lists before allegedly planting bombs in New York and New Jersey, but officials said Monday they did not believe he was part of a terror cell. 

    Rahami, a naturalized 28-year-old native of Afghanistan who came to the country as an asylum seeker in 1995, was taken into custody after a gun battle with police in Linden, New Jersey, that left two officers shot. The suspect was also wounded. Officials believe he is connected to a blast in Chelsea in Manhattan that injured 29 people and at least one explosion in New Jersey. 

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    "We have every reason to believe this was an act of terror," Mayor de Blasio told a Monday afternoon news conference, adding that authorities were not looking for any other suspects. 

    FBI officials said the investigation was ongoing and nothing was off the table, but as of now Rahami did not appear to be part of an organized group.

    "I have no indication that there's a cell operating in the area," FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney said at the news conference.

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    The chaos began to unfold Saturday morning, when a pipe bomb exploded in a trash can near a Marine race in Seaside Park, New Jersey. The race had been running late, and authorities have said they believed the device was timed to detonate when runners would be racing by the bin.

    Hours later, an explosive device went off in or near a large construction bin on a busy block in Chelsea, leaving 29 people with minor injuries. Another device was found four blocks away and removed to a Bronx firing range for controlled detonation.

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    Then, late Sunday, five pipe bombs were found in a trash can near an NJ Transit station in Elizabeth, New Jersey. One of the bombs exploded as a robot tried to disarm it. No one was hurt. The pipe bombs were similar to the one that detonated in Seaside Park, but they have not been linked to Rahami.

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    The news of the suspicious bag at the Elizabeth station in New Jersey was first reported late Sunday, around the same time that the FBI said it had taken five people into custody for questioning after a traffic stop on the Verrazano Bridge.

    The agency said that the five individuals were from Elizabeth, New Jersey and were in a vehicle previously associated with Rahami. The FBI said Monday afternoon that none of the five were under arrest. 

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    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    Suspected New York and New Jersey bomber Ahmad Rahami is seen in an FBI photo inset over the explosion of one of his purported bombs in Elizabeth, NJ.Suspected New York and New Jersey bomber Ahmad Rahami is seen in an FBI photo inset over the explosion of one of his purported bombs in Elizabeth, NJ.

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    Ahmad Khan Rahami, a suspect in the bombings in New York City and a shore town in New Jersey, immigrated to the United States from Afghanistan and lives in New Jersey, where his father owns a fried chicken restaurant.

    Rahami was wounded during a shootout with police in Linden, New Jersey, Monday morning after he was found sleeping in the doorway of a bar, according to authorities. Two police officers were also wounded, but are expected to survive.

    Rahami was charged with five counts of the attempted murder of a law-enforcment official Monday evening. 

    "We have every reason to believe this was an act of terror," New York City Bill de Blasio said.

    Rahami, 28, is a U.S. citizen whose family opened First American Fried Chicken in 2002 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The restaurant was searched by authorities Monday morning. The family came to the United States in 1995 as asylum seekers. 

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    Rahami lives with his family above the restaurant, according to The Associated Press.

    "He's a very friendly guy, that's what's so scary," Ryan McCann of Elizabeth told the AP.

    His father, Mohammed, said little to an NBC News reporter outside their home Monday, telling him only "I'm not sure what's going on" and "It's very hard right now to talk." 

    Rahami, who was born on Jan. 23, 1988, in Afghanistan, was arrested in connection with the bombings Saturday and Sunday in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood and Seaside Park, New Jersey. Five pipe bombs were found in Elizabeth, one of which exploded as authorities investigated.

    A law enforcement source told NBC that a fingerprint on an unexploded device linked the bombings to Rahami; cellphone information also helped.

    He was not on either a U.S. terrorist watch list nor on one maintained by the New York Police Department, senior officials told NBC News.

    A senior U.S. intelligence official told NBC News on Monday that Rahami made several trips to Pakistan, visited Afghanistan in 2013 and is licensed to carry a firearm.

    Mohammed and two relatives claimed in a lawsuit filed in federal court five years ago that they were harassed by city officials over the restaurant's hours of operation. Neighbors had complained that the restaurant was a late-night nuisance.

    They accused the city of targeting them because they were Muslim, according to the the civil rights complaint.

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    The restaurant had an exemption to stay open past 10 p.m., but police repeatedly tried to close it early, according to the lawsuit. During one confrontation with police, one of Ahmad Rahami's older brothers was arrested after a fight with an officer, and later fled to Afghanistan, The New York Times reported.

    One man, James Dean McDermott, told the family, "Muslims make too much trouble in this country," according to the complaint.

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    McDermott, a freelance television cameraman, denied the accusation, telling NBC News, "it never happened." He said his dispute with the Rahamis was over the restaurant's hours and not their religion.

    Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage told The AP that Rahami's father and two brothers sued after the city passed an ordinance requiring it to close early. 

    The owner of a neighboring business described the family as "very secluded" and said the children usually worked behind the counter.

    Rahami's father, Mohammad, told NBC News in a brief interview Monday that he had no idea his son was plotting an attack.

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    Rahami was a criminal justice major at Middlesex Community College from 2010 to 2012 but did not graduate, a college spokesman said. The school said there was nothing concerning in his file.

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    He was involved in a domestic incident but the allegations were recanted, FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney Jr. said in a news briefing on Monday. He did not describe the incident further.

    For more coverage of the New Jersey and New York bombings, click here.

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    Photo Credit: New Jersey State Police
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    Ahmad Rahami, the naturalized 28-year-old native of Afghanistan hunted in connection with a series of bombings in New York City and New Jersey over the weekend, has been charged with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer after a gun battle that left two officers wounded, officials said. 

    Rahami was taken into custody earlier Monday after a gun battle with police that left two officers wounded. 

    One Linden police officer was shot in the torso during the takedown in Linden, New Jersey, but the cop was not seriously wounded because he was wearing a bulletproof vest. It wasn't clear where the other was hit, but both officers were expected to make full recoveries. 

    Rahami was shot multiple times, including once in the leg, and was taken to a hospital by ambulance. He is expected to survive, and video showed him alert and conscious. Photos from the scene showed the thickly bearded suspect on the rain-soaked sidewalk, his hands cuffed behind his back, his shirt rolled up revealing his bare chest as he lifted his head up off the ground. 

    Officials said he underwent surgery, but did not have additional updates on his condition.

    Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced the shooting charges against Rahami Monday evening. In addition to the counts of attempted murder, Rahami is charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon and second-degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. 

    Bail for Rahami has been set at $5.2 million. Charges related to the bombings weren't immediately clear Monday afternoon. 

    As a manhunt was underway for the suspect, a bar owner called police about a man sleeping in the doorway of his business. When officers arrived, they tried to rouse him and the man lifted his head. They recognized him as the man pictured in an FBI wanted poster released hours earlier and told him to show his hands. Instead, according to police, Rahami pulled out a gun and fired, hitting one of the cops. He then got up and started walking down the street, apparently randomly firing at passing vehicles, authorities said. Eventually, he was taken down. 

    Authorities had been looking for Rahami in connection with bombings that rocked a crowded Manhattan neighborhood and a Jersey shore town over the weekend. A senior law enforcement official says a fingerprint collected from an unexploded device led investigators to Rahami as a suspect in the bombings at a Marine 5K race in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and the blast in Chelsea.

    It wasn't clear if the suspect was linked to five pipe bombs -- one of which was inadvertently detonated by a robot -- found at a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, late Sunday, not far from where Rahami was later captured. 

    The blast in Chelsea injured 29 people, though all have since been released from the hospital. The explosion left twisted metal and shrapnel scattered across 23rd Street. An unexploded pressure cooker with a cellphone attached and wires protruding was found four blocks away; it was taken to a firing range, where it was safely detonated. 

    The discovery of the Manhattan devices came hours after a pipe bomb exploded in a trash bin at the Marine 5K in Seaside Park. Authorities had said they believed the device had been timed to go off as participants were running by, but the race had been late. It was canceled and no one was hurt.

    Old-fashioned flip phones were found on the devices in Manhattan and in Seaside Park, law enforcement officials close to the investigation told NBC 4 New York. A senior law enforcement official said information obtained from the phones connected to two unexploded devices also pointed to Rahami.

    The investigation into the devices found in Elizabeth was ongoing, and authorities were raiding a fried chicken restaurant owned by Rahami's father and several other buildings in the area as part of the probe. 

    Rahami's father, Mohammed Sr., said little to an NBC News reporter near their home in Elizabeth Monday evening. 

    "I'm not sure what's going on," he said in his car. "It's very hard right now to talk." 

    Meanwhile, five people believed to be relatives or associates of Rahami were taken into custody Saturday during a traffic stop on the Verrazano Bridge. No one was charged; the stop came as authorities pursued a "promising lead" into surveillance video obtained from two sites in Manhattan where explosive devices were found -- one on 23rd Street and one on 27th Street. 

    Rahami is believed to be the man seen on surveillance video at two locations where the explosive devices were recovered. 

    One video shows a man putting an object in a dumpster near 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue, followed by an explosion some time later. Another video from 27th Street shows a man leave a piece of luggage on the sidewalk; that piece of luggage contained a bag with a pressure cooker inside. 

    The series of incidents put the entire tri-state area on edge. Calls to police about suspicious packages skyrocketed amid heightened tensions. Police at Rutgers University urged students and faculty to clear an area near a parking garage at the New Brunswick campus as they investigated a report of a suspicious package, which was deemed safe an hour or so later. In Paterson, New Jersey, officials also responded to a report of a suspicious item, and social media chatter highlighted a dozen similar emergency responses in New York. 

    The Chelsea explosion left many rattled in a city that had marked the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks only a week earlier and that was schedule to hold a United Nations meeting Monday to address the refugee crisis in Syria. 

    Witnesses described a deafening blast that shattered storefront windows and injured bystanders with shrapnel in the mostly residential neighborhood on the city's west side.

    It was new NYPD Commissioner Jimmy O'Neill's first full day on the job.

    Former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who stepped down just last week, said Monday morning this was probably the first successful terrorist attack in the city since 9/11.

    After hedging on any potential terror angle over the weekend, Mayor de Blasio said at a news briefing Monday that there is "every reason to believe" the bombings in the city and in New Jersey were "an act of terror."

    Authorities said, though, that there was no indication of a terror cell in the area, and officials said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the attacks.

    Two senior officials confirmed to NBC News that Rahami was not on a U.S. terrorist watchlist. One of the sources, a former senior intelligence official with the NYPD, says that the NYPD intelligence bureau does have its own list of individuals called the "persons of interest" list, but that source said "the NYPD did not have this guy on the radar" before Saturday. He also has no arrest record in New York City over the last five years, a source said. 

    On Sunday, Gov. Cuomo deployed nearly 1,000 additional State Police and National Guard troops across the city to guard transit stations and area airports as a precaution. He called for an additional 1,000 troops Monday. 

    The White House said President Obama was briefed throughout the night and early Monday on the investigation into the bombs. At a briefing Monday, the president called the people of New York and New Jersey resilient, and lauded the efforts of counterterrorism officials working on the case.

    "Folks around here, ya know, they don't get scared," the president said. "They are tough, they are resilient, they go about their business every single day. That's the kind of strength that makes me proud to be an American."

    Cuomo said Monday he had spoken with the president about the evolving situation, and pledged that whoever was responsible would be brought to justice. 

    "The disruption is going to be to their lives, not our lives," Cuomo said. "We've been through a lot worse." 


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