Jason Myers 42-yard field goal on last play of OT lifts Seahawks to 27-24 win over 49ers

0 0 12 Nov 2019

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The San Francisco 49ers are no longer unbeaten and the NFC West race just got a whole lot more interesting.

It took until the final play of overtime but Jason Myers converted a 42-yard field goal to lift the Seattle Seahawks to a 27-24 victory over the 49ers on Monday night.

Russell Wilson scrambled for a critical 18 yards on third-and-2 with just over a minute left in overtime to move Seattle into field goal range. After stopping the clock with four seconds left to play, Myers rebounded from missing three kicks a week ago against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to deliver the game-winning boot for the Seahawks. It was the second straight week Seattle needed overtime to get a victory.

The 49ers fall to 8-1 on the season while the Seahawks close the gap in the NFC West by moving to 8-2 ahead of their bye next week. Seattle will hold the tiebreaker over the 49ers for time being as well with a Week 17 matchup between the two teams still to come.

Seattle appeared as those they could win the game on the opening drive of the extra period before Wilson was intercepted by Dre Greenlaw to turn away the Seahawks inside the 5-yard line. After trading failed possessions from there, 49ers kicker Chase McLaughlin had the chance to win it with a 47-yard field goal, which was the exact same distance he converted with one second left in regulation to send the game to the extra session. But McLaughlin yanked the kick wide left to give Seattle one more chance and ultimately the victory.

It was game the 49ers appeared they would completely dominate for much of the first half. San Francisco out-gained Seattle by a 118-5 margin through the first quarter en route to an early 10-point lead.

McLaughlin converted a 43-yard field goal to give the 49ers an early 3-0 lead at the end of a 13-play, 50-yard opening drive. After a second straight three-and-out by Seattle, the 49ers marched 83 yards in seven plays before Kendrick Bourne beat Jamar Taylor for a 10-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 10-0.

The Seahawks went the entire first half without gaining more than a single first down on an offensive possession. However, their defense came up with the big play needed to keep them in the game. Jarran Reed‘s first sack of the season came with a strip of Jimmy Garoppolo, which was quickly scooped up Jadeveon Clowney for a 10-yard touchdown and a massive momentum swing.

The 49ers would make their own massive defensive play right before the half as Jaquiski Tartt ripped the ball free of DK Metcalf at the 2-yard line to prevent the Seahawks from taking the lead into halftime.

K’Waun Williams would strip Rashaad Penny on Seattle’s opening drive of the third quarter but the 49ers weren’t able to capitalize. They elected to for a fourth-and-2 at Seattle’s 33-yard line rather than let McLaughlin try a 51-yard field goal and Garoppolo couldn’t connect with Deebo Samuel for a turnover on downs.

Samuel still led the 49ers with eight receptions for 112 yards.

After being manhandled in the first quarter, Seattle’s defense took control for the next two quarters. With Emmanuel Sanders out with a rib injury, the 49ers offense stagnated. The Seahawks held San Francisco to just 77 yards combined in the second and third quarters and forced three 49ers turnovers.

The third turnover came as a Garoppolo pass bounced off Bourne’s hands and into the waiting arms of Quandre Diggs, who was making his Seattle debut after a trade from the Detroit Lions last month. Diggs returned the interception 44 yards to the 49ers’ 16-yard line. Three plays later, Wilson floated a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Hollister to give Seattle the lead.

Wilson completed 24 of 34 passes for 232 yards with a touchdown, interception and lost fumble for Seattle.

Four plays into the 49ers’ next drive, Clowney sacked Garoppolo with another forced fumble that was recovered by Poona Ford at the 49ers 24-yard line. Chris Carson would score on a 1-yard touchdown run to increase Seattle’s lead to 21-10 late in the third quarter.

Carson carried 25 times for 89 yards and a touchdown.

Another defensive score got the 49ers back in the game.

K’Waun Williams and Arik Armstead combined for a strip-sack of Wilson that ended up in the arms of right tackle Germain Ifedi. As Ifedi tried to run with the ball he was swarmed over with Fred Warner punching the ball free. DeForest Buckner recovered the twice-fumbled ball for a 12-yard touchdown to close the Seattle lead. A two-point conversion from Garoppolo to Bourne made it a 21-18 game with 12 minutes left to play.

After a Seattle three-and-out, Garoppolo led the 49ers on an eight-play drive for the tying score. A bobbled ball was nearly intercepted by Seattle before McLaughlin drilled a 39-yard field goal to even the game at 21-21 with 6:17 remaining.

The Seahawks managed to burn over four minutes off the clock before Jason Myers converted a 46-yard field goal to give Seattle a 24-21 lead with 1:45 left to play.

Garoppolo gave Seattle a pair of interception chances on the final drive of regulation, but ultimately led the 49ers the necessary distance to set up a 47-yard game-tying field goal from McLaughlin to send the game to overtime. McLaughlin drilled the field goal to extend the game an extra 10 minutes before the Seahawks earned the walk-off win.

Garoppolo completed 24 of 46 passes for 248 yards with a touchdown, interception and two lost fumbles.

CPS took their kids. Now, the agency says it found no evidence of abuse.

2 0 12 Nov 2019

This article was published in partnership with the Houston Chronicle.

HOUSTON — More than a year after Texas child welfare authorities improperly took Melissa and Dillion Bright’s children and temporarily placed them in foster care, the agency has officially notified the family that it has closed its investigation after finding no evidence that the parents abused their children.

The Oct. 31 letter from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services was delivered to the Brights’ home this weekend, just days after the family’s ordeal was the subject of an investigation by NBC News and the Houston Chronicle.

“Honestly, I was pissed when I opened it,” Melissa Bright said. “After all this time, now they’re saying there was no evidence of abuse. And yet, they put us through hell.”

The Brights’ story was the fourth in a series of reports by NBC News and the Chronicle examining the work of child abuse pediatricians, a growing subspecialty of doctors who assist authorities with child welfare investigations. The doctors’ opinions can have an extraordinary influence over the decisions of state child welfare agencies, sometimes triggering questionable family separations and criminal charges, the series found.

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Child Protective Services, a division of the Texas agency, opened its investigation into the Brights in July 2018, after their son Mason, then 5 months old, fell from a lawn chair in the driveway at their home in Tomball, Texas. A child abuse pediatrician at Texas Children’s Hospital reported that Mason’s injuries — two skull fractures and brain bleeding — did not match his parents’ account of what happened and were “consistent with abuse.”

Based on the doctor’s report — and despite a dissenting medical opinion and evidence that Mason suffered from a condition that may have explained his excessive bleeding — the child welfare agency obtained an emergency court order in September 2018 to take him and his 2-year-old sister, Charlotte, and place them in foster care.

The next time the Brights saw their children, a few days later, Charlotte had a gash on her face and a black eye, and Mason’s cries were hoarse.

Charlotte had a gash on her face after she returned from foster care.

A few weeks later, a Harris County judge ordered the children returned to the Brights and rebuked Child Protective Services for needlessly traumatizing the family despite having “no credible evidence” of abuse. The judge also ordered the agency to retrain its investigators and pay $127,000 in sanctions to cover the Brights’ legal fees.

But this is the first time the state has acknowledged that Melissa Bright did not abuse her baby. (Although the state removed the children from both parents, the letter did not list Dillon as a subject of the investigation.)

Dennis Slate, a Houston lawyer who represented the Brights, said he believes the letter was issued as a result of the reporting by NBC News and the Chronicle.

A letter received by the Brights from CPS says that alleged abuse or neglect was “Ruled Out.”Dennis Slate

“I had been trying to get the agency to make a finding for the last year and got nothing from them,” Slate said.

But Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Department of Family and Protective Services, said the letter was the result of “a simple oversight.”

Agency officials recently discovered they never formally closed the case, Crimmins said in a text message, and that’s what triggered the letter.

“It’s nothing new,” he said. “Just formalized and documented the case closing.”

In an earlier statement, Texas Children’s officials defended their handling of the case, noting that the hospital’s doctors are required by law to report suspicious injuries, and that “a referral to CPS is not absolute confirmation of abuse, nor a determination of guilt or innocence of the parents.”

Pentagon official testifies Trump directed freeze on aid to Ukraine

2 0 11 Nov 2019

Laura Cooper, the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy regarding Ukraine, told House impeachment investigators last month that President Donald Trump directed the relevant agencies to freeze aid to Ukraine over the summer, according to a transcript of her testimony released Monday.

Cooper, during Oct. 23 testimony before the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s Ukraine dealings, testified that she and other Pentagon officials had answered questions about the Ukraine assistance in the middle of June — so she was surprised when one of her subordinates told her that a hold had been placed on the funds after an interagency meeting in July.

“I got, you know, I got a readout from the meeting — there was discussion in that session about the — about OMB [Office of Management and Budget] saying that they were holding the Congressional Notification related to” Ukraine, Cooper testified, according to the transcript.

Cooper, according to the transcript of her testimony, described the hold as “unusual.”

Cooper said that she attended a meeting on July 23, where “this issue” of Trump’s “concerns about Ukraine and Ukraine security assistance” came up. She said the president’s concerns were conveyed by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

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Days later, on July 26, she testified that she found out that both military and humanitarian aid had been impacted.

Asked if the president was authorized to order that type of hold, Cooper said there were concerns that he wasn’t.

“Well, I’m not an expert on the law, but in that meeting immediately deputies began to raise concerns about how this could be done in a legal fashion because there was broad understanding in the meeting that the funding — the State Department funding related to an earmark for Ukraine and that the DOD funding was specific to Ukraine security assistance. So the comments in the room at the deputies’ level reflected a sense that there was not an understanding of how this could legally play out. And at that meeting the deputies agreed to look into the legalities and to look at what was possible,” she said, according to the transcript.

At the next meeting with national security personnel, she said she told attendees “there were two legally available mechanisms should the President want to stop assistance” — a presidential rescission notice to Congress or for the Defense Department to do “a reprogramming action.”

“But I mentioned that either way, there would need to be a notification to Congress,” she said, according to the transcript.

Asked if that happened, Cooper said, “That did not occur.”

Investigators have zeroed in on the testimony of several key figures in the Ukraine affair — including Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state who worked on Ukraine and five other countries — to support the allegation that the Trump administration froze aid intended for Ukraine as part of an attempt to pressure the country to open probes that would benefit Trump politically.

In a statement, the chairs of the three committees leading the inquiry — House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.; and House Oversight Committee acting Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. — said Cooper testified that Trump “through the Office of Management and Budget, directed the freeze on hundreds of millions of dollars of critical military aid for Ukraine, against the judgment of career officials in the Department of Defense, Department of State, and other relevant agencies.”

They also said that she had “raised concerns, as did others on several occasions, to senior U.S. government officials about the legality of withholding the congressionally-authorized money, and the challenges that White House delays would put on spending it.”

Cooper’s testimony was delayed by five hours after a group of House Republicans who don’t sit on the committees that questioned her stormed the secure room where her deposition was taking place.

Trump rages about impeachment on Twitter, but he has Republicans to blame for the rules

1 0 11 Nov 2019

Last week, President Donald J. Trump complained that he would be getting “no lawyer” and “no due process” during the House impeachment hearings, set to begin Wednesday.

The irony of course is that if Trump is unhappy with how the impeachment process is unfolding, he has mostly Republicans to blame. After all, they are the ones who have written the rules that impeachment investigations follow.

After weeks of Republican demands for a vote on an impeachment resolution, the House of Representatives did just that and approved, along party lines, a resolution that establishes the procedural guidelines for the impeachment investigation of Trump. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced that public hearings will commence Wednesday.

The impeachment process Democrats just approved, and which Trump will doubtless spend the next several weeks slamming publicly, is the same process Republicans have used to govern their oversight investigations during the past three decades. The GOP has controlled the majority of the House’s investigative powers for 20 of the last 25 years. (And I spent five of those years working at the House Oversight Committee as a spokesperson and a senior adviser under the chairmanship of Republican Darrell Issa, R-Calif.)

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Trump might label this an attack on “due process,” but his fight isn’t with Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Schiff, it’s with the Republican-led investigative committees who instituted this precedent during their investigations of President Bill Clinton’s administration in 1997 and 1998. That practice was extended in the 112th, 113th, 114th and 115th congresses.

For all Trump’s griping about lawyers, the House impeachment inquiry isn’t a trial at all. But the reason he won’t have a lawyer representing his interests in the hearings is because Republicans made a point to continue the procedure during the Benghazi investigation. During that investigation, Republican committee members approved rules specifically stipulating that “counsel … for agencies under investigation may not attend.”

We’ve seen this pattern of Trump and Republicans objecting to rules they created consistently throughout the impeachment investigation.

In recent weeks, House Republicans have extended a lot of energy and rhetoric railing against “closed-door depositions.” Yet, according to a report released by congressional investigative experts at Co-Equal, a group intended to help Congress remain a check on the executive branch, House Republicans conducted depositions of more than 140 administration officials during their impeachment inquiry of Clinton. While the Trump administration has tried to obstruct the current impeachment investigation by blocking witnesses from appearing for depositions, during the Benghazi inquiry alone, House Republicans took testimony from more than 60 career employees who served under President Barack Obama.

Even much of the authority to conduct depositions for investigations stemmed from Republicans. Republicans first gave this authority to a congressional committee during the Clinton investigation, then expanded it to the House Oversight Committee in 2011, and again in 2014 as part of the Benghazi probe, again in 2015 to include four additional committees, and finally in 2017 to include all House congressional committees. (Previously, “depositions had been authorized by the House only for specific investigations.”)

Interestingly enough, the effort to expand deposition authority to all congressional committees was spear-headed by Reps. Jim Jordan and former Rep. Mike Pompeo who said, “The ability to interview witnesses in private allows committees to gather information confidentially and in more depth than is possible under the five-minute rule governing committee hearings. This ability is often critical to conducting an effective and thorough investigation.”

Even much of the authority to conduct depositions for investigations stemmed from Republicans.

This is the same Pompeo, who, as secretary of state, has refused to cooperate with the congressional investigation and the same Jordan, who, as the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, has labeled the impeachment investigation a “sham process.” Jordan has yet to explain how this process is a “sham” when it’s being conducted under the very rules and powers that he specifically helped enact when he thought Hillary Clinton was going to be the president of the United States.

Trump officials such as White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, acting-Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Pompeo have refused to testify in a blatant act of obstruction, and yet, Republican chairs took 141 depositions from Clinton officials, including from two White House chiefs of staff, two White House counsels, the vice president’s chief of staff and the first lady’s chief of staff.

The bottom line is Trump and his Republican defenders can continue their embarrassing crusade against the rules and procedures that Democrats are using, but the inescapable fact is those very rules and procedures were authorized and utilized by Republicans first. When the impeachment hearings begin Wednesday, congressional Democrats would be wise to remind Trump and his faithful servants that if they are looking for someone to blame, they need only to look in the mirror.


Turkey begins repatriating Western Islamic State fighters

1 0 11 Nov 2019

LONDON — Turkey said on Monday that it has begun the repatriation of captured foreign Islamic State militants, including one American who has already been returned to the U.S.

State-run Anadolu news agency quoted a spokesman for Turkey’s interior ministry as saying that three foreign ISIS fighters will be deported from the country on Monday.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu had warned last week that Ankara would begin sending back ISIS members to their home countries even if their citizenship has been revoked. Soylu said that Turkey is not “a hotel” for militants and announced that the deportations would start on Monday.

About 1,200 foreign ISIS fighters were in Turkish prisons, Soylu said last week.

“A U.S. citizen Daesh terrorist has been repatriated after the completion of legal procedures,” Ismail Catakli, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told Anadolu, referring to ISIS by its Arabic acronym.

Several Western countries have stripped ISIS members of their nationalities over security concerns, making it impossible for them to go back.

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The deportation of a German national is in progress, Catakli said, adding that a Danish national would also be repatriated on Monday. He added that seven more German nationals will also be deported later this week.

Legal proceedings for two Irish nationals were about to end and they would also be repatriated soon, Catakli told Anadolu.

Two other German and 11 French nationals are also to be deported, according to Catakli. U.S. officials did not immediately comment on Ankara’s announcement.

Cristofer Burger, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry, confirmed Monday that Turkey had informed Germany of planned repatriations.

Burger said Turkey planned to send seven German citizens on Thursday and another two on Friday.

Burger added that they had received personal details of the German nationals, but were not able to say if they had ties with ISIS. He said police and security services are currently looking into possible connections.

He said that of the 10 German citizens Turkey plans to send this week, three are men, five are women and two are children. Burger added that so far they know that two of the women had spent time inside Syria.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly said in a radio interview Monday she was not aware of any repatriations of French ISIS fighters from Turkey, but said there is a protocol in place for when that might happen.

Turkey has accused Western countries, especially in Europe, of being too slow to take back citizens who traveled to the Middle East to fight for ISIS.

President Donald Trump has called on his European allies to take back their nationals who have fought for Islamic State on several occasions.

As U.S.-backed forces in Syria closed in on the extremist group’s final sliver of territory in February, Trump said “the United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial.”

In October, Turkey launched a military offensive in northeast Syria, where Kurdish forces, allied with the U.S., held ISIS captives, some of which managed to escape during the early days of the operation.

Turkey’s offensive has drawn widespread criticism from European leaders and raised fears of an ISIS resurgence.

Yuliya Talmazan reported from London; Carlo Angerer from Mainz, Germany; Nancy Ing from Paris; and Charlene Gubash from Cairo.

Arctic blast in U.S. could bring record-lows from Texas to New York

3 0 11 Nov 2019

An Arctic blast is forecast to bring widespread record-setting temperatures to parts of the United States this week.

The coldest surge of Arctic air so far this season will impact much of the central and eastern regions down to the Gulf Coast, according to the National Weather Service.

The agency expects record-setting cold from Monday through Wednesday. The lowest temperatures are predicted for Wednesday on the East Coast.

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Below freezing temperatures are forecast as far south as the central Texas coast by Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service said.

“This will make it feel like in the middle of winter rather than in November for much of the eastern two-thirds of the country for the next few days.”

Snowfall in the Midwest impacted air travel in Chicago. A plane trying to land at O’Hare International Airport slid off the runway.

None of the 38 passengers and three crew members aboard an Envoy Air flight from Greensboro, North Carolina, were hurt when the plane slid off the runway at about 7:45 a.m. Monday, according to The Associated Press.

According to the National Weather Service, parts of Chicago could see as much as 6 inches of snow.

A winter weather advisory is in effect until 2 p.m. Tuesday, Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications said.

Northwest Indiana could see accumulations of up to 10 inches in addition to high winds.

“Behind the strong arctic high, an upper-level impulse will bring the next chance of snow and mixed precipitation across the Pacific Northwest into the northern Rockies Tuesday and Tuesday night,” the National Weather Service said. “The precipitation will likely move into the northern Plains in the form of snow early on Wednesday.”

Judge tosses out Trumps lawsuit to block House committee from getting his state taxes

2 0 11 Nov 2019

A federal judge on Monday dismissed President Donald Trump’s lawsuit to prevent the House Ways and Means Committee from utilizing a recently passed New York law providing the panel an avenue to pursue his state tax returns.

Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that his court was not the proper jurisdiction to hear the case, leaving open the option that Trump sue New York officials elsewhere.

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In his lawsuit, Trump sued to preemptively block the House Ways and Means Committee from requesting the returns, New York Attorney General Letitia James from enforcing the law, and to stop the New York Department of Taxation from furnishing the documents.

The House Ways and Means Committee has not taken any action related to the new New York law.

“Based on the current allegations, Mr. Trump has not met his burden of establishing personal jurisdiction over either of the New York Defendants,” Nichols wrote. “The Court therefore need not reach the question of proper venue. Accordingly, the New York Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss is granted, and Mr. Trump’s Amended Complaint is dismissed without prejudice as to them.”

Nichols also ruled that Trump did not sufficiently establish a conspiracy between the House Ways and Means Committee and the New York defendants, which would have strengthened his case for the lawsuit to be heard in Washington, D.C. Trump argued that Washington, D.C. was the proper venue through a legal theory known as “conspiracy jurisdiction.”

“But nowhere in his Amended Complaint does Mr. Trump allege the existence of a conspiracy; in fact, the word ‘conspiracy’ does not even appear in his pleadings,” Nichols wrote.

Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement on Monday that, “We are reviewing the opinion. The case against the Ways and Means Committee proceeds in federal court.”

Pete Williams, Hallie Jackson and Charlie Gile contributed.

Hero teen who survived Mexican highway ambush speaks out

3 0 11 Nov 2019

A teenager who survived a brutal ambush that killed nine people in Mexico last week and walked 14 miles to get help for his siblings says his mother desperately tried to protect her kids before she was fatally shot.

Devin Langford, 13, was in the car with his family in the Mexican border state of Sonora on Nov. 4 when men who appeared to be wearing bulletproof vests started shooting at them with long guns, the boy told ABC News in his first interview since the attack.

Devin Langford, 13, had to walk for 14 miles back to his hometown of La Mora to get help.Family Photo

The massacre killed three women and six children, including Devin’s mother, Dawna Langford, and his younger brothers Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 2. All nine were U.S. citizens who were part of a Mormon offshoot group living in La Mora, Mexico.

Devin said his mother’s final words to her children before she was killed were “get down right now.”

“She was trying to pray the Lord, and she was trying to start the car to get out of there,” he said. But the car wouldn’t start, he said, adding that he believed a bullet hit the engine.

“They just started hitting the car first with a bunch of bullets, just started shooting rapidly at us,” the teen said.

The gunmen — who Mexican authorities say were drug cartel members who mistook the victims for members of a rival gang — then drove off, Devin said. Devin had no injuries, but his siblings did. Those who survived included a baby brother with a bullet wound to the chest and a sister who was shot in the foot.

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Devin said he and the others who were able to walk carried their injured siblings as far as they could.

“We walked a little while till we couldn’t carry them no more,” he said.

Fearing the gunmen would return, Devin hid the wounded children behind a bush and then started walking for help.

“Every one of them were bleeding really bad, so I was trying to get in a rush to get there,” he said.

Devin ended up walking for several hours, traveling 14 miles before he found help. The whole time, he said, he was terrified, wondering if “there wasn’t anybody else out there trying to shoot me or follow me.”

Devin’s father, David Langford, credited the boy with saving his surviving brothers and sisters.

“To be honest with you, my boy’s a hero,” David Langford said. “Everyone one of my children that survived are living miracles,” he added.

“She was a nice person and a brave woman that tried to save her kids.”

But Devin said he wanted the public to know how heroic his mother had been, too. Pausing to hold back tears, he said, “She was a nice person and a brave woman that tried to save her kids.”

The attack has upended the families’ lives and prompted outrage and skepticism toward Mexican authorities. Many relatives of the victims say they do not believe the shooting was a case of mistaken identity and are demanding answers.

“This was 100 percent intentional,” Ryan Langford, a family member, told the “Today” show.

On Sunday, the FBI announced it was going to be “providing assistance at the invitation of the Mexican government.”

“The FBI remains committed to working alongside our international partners to help bring justice to the perpetrators of this heinous act of violence,” it said in a statement.

Funerals were held last week and over the weekend for the victims. In addition to Dawna Langford and two of her sons, the victims were identified as Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 29; Rhonita Miller, 30; Howard Miller, 12; Krystal Miller, 10; and infant twins, Titus and Tiana Miller.

Dozens of members of the extended family left Mexico in a caravan over the weekend, fearing it was too dangerous to stay.

“No one needs to live in a place they don’t feel safe,” Ryan Langford said.

James Le Mesurier, key backer of Syrias White Helmets, dies in Turkey

4 0 11 Nov 2019

A key backer of the group that trained Syria’s White Helmets emergency response group has died in Turkey, the organization confirmed Monday.

White Helmets tweeted that they have learned “with shock and sadness” about the death of James Le Mesurier at his home in Istanbul.

James Le Mesurier, co-founder of the White Helmets, was found dead in Istanbul. The White Helmets

“The Syria Civil Defense family extends its deepest condolences to the James family, and we express our deepest sorrow and solidarity with his family,” the group said in a tweet. “As we also must commend his humanitarian efforts which Syrians will always remember.”

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The organization, whose network of volunteer rescue workers helps communities in war-ravaged Syria prepare for and recover from attacks, did not reveal how Le Mesurier died.

NBC News has reached out to Mayday Rescue for further comment on Le Mesurier’s death. Turkish police were not immediately available for comment.

The White Helmets, known officially as Syria Civil Defence, have been widely hailed for saving more than 115,000 lives in rebel-held areas during years of bombing by Syrian government and Russian forces.

White Helmets members say they are neutral, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers describe them as tools of Western propaganda and Islamist-led insurgents.

Le Mesurier founded Mayday Rescue, a Netherlands-based non-profit that helps establish community-based rescue and recovery teams, and is one of the institutions supporting the White Helmets.

In a statement Monday, the organization said Le Mesurier dedicated his life to helping civilians respond to emergencies in conflicts and natural disasters.

“Nowhere was the impact of his important work felt so strongly as in Syria,” it said in an emailed statement, adding that Le Mesurier should be remembered “as a great leader” and “a visionary.”

Istanbul Police refused to comment on Le Mesurier’s death and referred NBC News to Istanbul governor’s office, which said that a detailed judiciary, forensic and administrative investigation is underway.

In 2016, Le Mesurier was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II for the protection of civilians in Syria.

Reuters contributed.

Supreme Court to hear arguments on Dreamers in case against Trumps move to end DACA

4 0 11 Nov 2019

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday takes up one of the most important cases of the term — the fate of DACA, the federal program that has allowed nearly 800,000 young people, known as Dreamers, to avoid deportation and remain in the country.

The court must decide whether the Trump administration improperly tried to shut DACA down by simply declaring the program to be illegal while offering no detailed explanation or analyzing the effect on the immigrant population. No such analysis was necessary, the Justice Department insists.

Short for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the initiative was launched in 2012 and allows children of illegal immigrants to remain here if they were under 16 when their parents brought them to the U.S. and if they arrived by 2007.

Although President Barack Obama imposed DACA by executive order, the program’s defenders say President Donald Trump cannot stop it by declaring it to be illegal. They say federal law requires the government to give a detailed explanation for wanting to end such a program that affects nearly one million people. Instead, they argue, the Trump administration is hiding behind its claim that the program is illegal, rather than making a straightforward statement that it wants to change immigration policy.

“They did not want to take responsibility for it,” said Ted Olson, the Washington, D.C., lawyer who will defend DACA before the Supreme Court in oral arguments on Tuesday. “Instead of saying, ‘We want to eliminate DACA because we don’t like the program, because we want to send a message,’ they didn’t say any of those things. They say, ‘Mother made us do it'” by claiming it’s illegal.

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Among those nervously watching is Claudia Quiñonez of Maryland, brought to the U.S. at age 11 by her mother, who overstayed a tourist visa.

“DACA truly changed my life. I have a Social Security number. I have the ability to work, to contribute and pay taxes,” she said.

Figures show that over 90 percent of DACA participants have a job and nearly half are in school. Many don’t speak the language or know the culture of their home countries.

The case has attracted the interest of more than 100 businesses and trade groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that are urging the Supreme Court to allow DACA to continue. Microsoft is one of the DACA defenders whose lawsuits led to court orders that kept the program going.

The company says more than 60 DACA recipients are among its employees. “These young people contribute to our company and serve our customers,” Microsoft said in a court filing. “They help create our products, secure our services, and manage our finances.”

Immigration advocates hold a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 23, 2018.Andrew Harnik / AP file

Apple CEO Tim Cook filed a separate friend of court brief in support of DACA participants. “They, and immigrants like them, are vital to Apple’s success,” it said. “They spark creativity and help drive innovation. They are among our most driven and selfless colleagues.”

After initially saying that DACA would be allowed to continue, the Trump administration moved to end the program in 2017. But three federal appeals courts blocked that attempt. Following a brief hiatus, the government began accepting renewal applications from DACA participants, which must be filed every two years.

The Justice Department argues that the administration does not need to offer the kind of detailed explanation for shutting down the program that DACA’s defenders are demanding. It says the Department of Homeland Security has as much authority to stop the program now as it did to start it in 2012. The decision to terminate the program isn’t subject to a review by the courts, the government says.

And even if the courts can review the decision to stop it, the Trump administration says it had ample reason to do so. Creating DACA was “legally questionable,” it says, and a decision of that magnitude should be left to Congress.

“Broad-based and controversial deferred-action policies like DACA,” the Justice Department says in its court brief, “should proceed only with congressional approval and the political legitimacy and stability that such approval entails.”

A ruling in such a contentious case isn’t likely until the spring of 2020, assuring that DACA will figure in the presidential campaign.