Pope asserts marriage is forever at start of family meeting VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis opened a divisive meeting of the world's bishops on family issues Sunday by forcefully asserting that marriage is an indissoluble bond between man and woman. But he said the church doesn't judge and must "seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy." Francis dove head-on into the most pressing issue confronting the meeting of 270 bishops during a solemn Mass in St. Peter's Basilica: How to better minister to Catholic families experiencing separation, divorce and other problems when the church's teaching holds that marriage is forever. He insisted that the church cannot be "swayed by passing fads or popular opinion." But in an acknowledgment that marriages fail, he said the church is also a mother, who doesn't point fingers or judge her children.
Israel bars Palestinians from Jerusalem's Old City JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli police took the unprecedented step of preventing Palestinian residents of Jerusalem from entering the walled Old City on Sunday after two Palestinian stabbing attacks against Israelis. A Palestinian teenager stabbed and wounded a 15-year-old Israeli before dawn Sunday before being shot dead by police, Israeli police said. The attack came hours after a Palestinian teenager fatally stabbed two Israelis in Jerusalem's Old City and wounded a woman and a toddler, before he was shot dead by an Israeli police officer. Tensions have soared over access to a sensitive holy site within the Old City that is sacred to Jews and Muslims.
Gusty wind may add to weather risks on soggy East Coast CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Flooding from days of record-setting rain along the heavily populated East Coast washed out bridges and homes and forecasters warned wind gusts topping 35 mph could down trees and power lines across the Carolinas and Virginia in coming hours. At least five weather-related deaths have been reported since rains began spreading over the Eastern Seaboard, which has appeared to dodge the full fury of Hurricane Joaquin churning hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in South Carolina and ordered federal aid to bolster state and local efforts as flood warnings remained in effect for many parts of the East Coast through Sunday.
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Survivor: Gunman spared 'lucky one' to give police message ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) - The gunman who opened fire in an Oregon college shot one classmate after saying he could save her life by begging, and others were killed after being told to crawl across the floor, according to relatives of students in the classroom. However, Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer spared a student and gave the "lucky one" something to deliver to authorities, according to the mother of a student who witnessed Thursday's rampage. Authorities have not disclosed whether they have an envelope or package from Harper-Mercer, who Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin said Saturday killed himself as officers arrived. But a law enforcement official said a manifesto of several pages had been recovered.
Rep. Chaffetz, brash committee chairman, eyes speaker's race WASHINGTON (AP) - A brash congressman who's led high-profile investigations into the Secret Service, Planned Parenthood and other issues seems ready for his most attention-grabbing move yet: an underdog challenge to ascend to House speaker. Rep. Jason Chaffetz hasn't made his intentions known publicly, but he booked a spot on "Fox News Sunday" to discuss his plans ahead of Thursday's House leadership elections. The prohibitive favorite in the race is Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, now the top deputy to Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who is resigning at month's end, worn down by conservatives' pressure. It's a time of tumult for majority Republicans, and the elections may heighten the disarray among lawmakers looking for a new team to confront President Barack Obama - and perhaps rankle the GOP-run Senate, where Democrats have bottled up Republican priorities.
Flash floods on French Riviera kill at least 16 ANTIBES, France (AP) - Flash flooding around the French Riviera has killed at least 16 people, including some trapped in cars, a campsite and a retirement home, the president said. Torrents of muddy water also inundated buildings, roads and railway tracks, disrupting car and train traffic along the Mediterranean coast. Helicopters patrolled the area and 27,000 homes were without electricity Sunday after the Brague River overflowed its banks and fierce thunderstorms poured more than 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) of rain on the Cannes region in two hours Saturday night. That is the equivalent of two months of rainfall for the region, local radio France Bleu-Azur reported.
Doctors Without Borders leaves Afghan city after airstrike KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - International medical charity Doctors Without Borders said on Sunday it has withdrawn from the northern Afghan city of Kunduz after a deadly airstrike destroyed its hospital, killing 19 people. The humanitarian crisis in the city, which briefly fell to the Taliban last week before the government launched a counteroffensive, has grown increasingly dire, with shops shuttered because of ongoing fighting and roads made impassable by mines planted by insurgents. "All critical patients have been referred to other health facilities and no MSF staff are working in our hospital," said Kate Stegeman, the communications manager for Doctors Without Borders, using the French acronym for the organization.
School hazing gets stern penalty in military-ruled Thailand BANGKOK (AP) - At a military facility outside Bangkok, a drill sergeant barks orders at a group of film students learning the hard way that creative license has its limits in Thailand. "You are here to learn discipline," the officer shouted. "Do you understand?" "Yes, sir!" shouted back the group of 53 aspiring artists - boys with shaggy hair, girls with tattoos and yoga pants. "Discipline means respecting the rules and regulations," he told them. "If you misbehave, you must be punished." In military-ruled Thailand, this is how university hazing is handled. The offense: a video posted online that showed a half-dozen fully clothed freshman doing an erotic couples dance as upperclassmen cheered.
Meet Val the bartender: Hillary Clinton does an 'SNL' skit WASHINGTON (AP) - Set 'em up, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and lend an ear to the troubles of a presidential candidate. The front-runner for the Democratic nomination appeared on the season opener of "Saturday Night Live" as a wise bartender named Val who pours a drink or two for, ahem, Hillary Clinton (played by "SNL" regular Kate McKinnon). Most political candidates play themselves on "SNL," often for just a cameo in a sketch or to declare the show's famous tag line, "Live from New York - it's Saturday night!" Seldom do they go all-out thespian and play a character in a sketch.
Walking the Americas: Woman preps for 5-year trek SMITHVILLE, Mo. (AP) - The night before Bethany Hughes started on the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650-mile hike from Mexico to Canada, she was so wired that she kept rifling through her bags. Everyone else was asleep, but Hughes thought a "real" backpacker knew where to find anything she needed. So she kept pulling out gear, then repacking it. Over and over, all night. Eventually, another hiker said, "You're like a 5-year-old the night before Christmas," and her trail name of "Fidgit" was born. It has never fit better. Five years later, the 29-year-old with the curious inability to sit still is preparing to depart on her next daring expedition: She will attempt to become the first documented woman to travel the length of the Americas - from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Barrow, Alaska - entirely by non-motorized means.