‘I am strong enough to walk through hell with a smile’: Cleveland kidnap victims say thanks


NBC NEWS

By Mark Stevenson, Staff Writer

Three Cleveland women who escaped in May after about a decade of captivity appeared in a video posted to YouTube thanking people for their help.

Each of the trio — Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight — makes a statement in the video, posted for them by a Cleveland PR firm.

“First and foremost, I want everyone to know how happy I am to be home with my family and my friends,” Berry says. “It’s been unbelievable. I want to thank everyone who has helped me and my family through this entire ordeal. Everyone who has been there to support us — it’s been a blessing to have such an outpouring of love and kindness.”

After also thanking “everyone for your love, support and donations,” Knight strikes a defiant and upbeat tone.

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“Boy Scouts vote to lift ban on gay youth”


NBC NEWS

By Miranda Leitsinger and Jason White, NBC News, Staff Writer, NBC News

Michael Prengler / Reuters Pascal Tessier, 16, from Kensington, Md., an openly gay scout who was facing expulsion from the Boy Scouts, answers questions from the media while his mother, Tracie Felker, looks on.
Michael Prengler / Reuters
Pascal Tessier, 16, from Kensington, Md., an openly gay scout who was facing expulsion from the Boy Scouts, answers questions from the media while his mother, Tracie Felker, looks on.

GRAPEVINE, Texas — The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to end its controversial policy banning gay kids and teens from joining one of the nation’s most popular youth organizations, ditching membership guidelines that had roiled the group in recent years.

Over 61 percent of Scouting‘s National Council of 1,232 delegates from across the country voted to lift the ban, BSA officials said. The final tally was 757 yes votes, to 475 no (another 168 delegates did not cast a ballot since they were not present at the meeting). The ban on gay leaders was not voted on and will remain in place.

“This resolution today dealt with youth. We have not changed our adult membership standards. They have served us well for the last 100 years. Those were not on the table,” said Tico Perez, BSA national commissioner.

The policy change will go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, “allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units,” the BSA said in a statement.

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“‘You’re afraid to talk to your neighbors’: Suspects’ street was perfect hiding spot”


NBC NEWS

John Makely / NBC News An FBI investigator exits the house on Seymour Ave.
John Makely / NBC News
An FBI investigator exits the house on Seymour Ave.

By Matthew DeLuca, Staff Writer, NBC News

CLEVELAND — It was the perfect place to hide three captives in plain sight.

In a rundown section of Cleveland, Ohio, police say three young women — Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight — were held against their will in a white, two-story house for roughly a decade before Berry escaped Monday night and the other two were freed.

While some who lived and worked in the neighborhood described it as tight-knit, others spoke of a darker side.

He was surprised not so much by the women’s captivity but by how much time transpired before they were found.

“Does it shock me?” he said. “Well, I don’t know. Ten years shocks me.”

The three women vanished between August 2002 and April 2004 in separate incidents; they were between 14 and 20 years old. Authorities have arrested three brothers: Ariel Castro, 52, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50.

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“Obama: Iran more than a year away from nuclear weapon”


By Becky Bratu, Staff Writer, NBC News

Iran is “over a year or so” away from developing a nuclear weapon and the United States remains committed to preventing that from happening, President Barack Obama told a reporter in an interview aired Thursday on Israeli television.

“Right now, we think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon, but obviously we don’t want to cut it too close, and what we’re going to be doing is to continue to engage internationally with Iran,” Obama said, adding that his communication with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the topic is ongoing.

“So, what I’m consulting (on) with Bibi as I have over the last several years on this issue, my message to him is the same as before: If we can resolve it diplomatically, that’s a more lasting solution, but if not I continue to keep all options on the table,” Obama said.

Iran has maintained its nuclear program is peaceful and designed to produce energy.   FULL  ARTICLE

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“Teen slain after performing at inaugural: ‘Happiest day of her life and then she’s gone'”


By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News

dnainfo.comHadiya Pendleton, 15, a student at King College Prep, was killed Tuesday at a Chicago park near the school, authorities said.
dnainfo.com
Hadiya Pendleton, 15, a student at King College Prep, was killed Tuesday at a Chicago park near the school, authorities said.

A 15-year-old Chicago girl gunned down a week after she performed during President Obama’s inaugural festivities was remembered Wednesday as a “walking angel” – the last person her family could imagine dying by a bullet.

Hadiya Pendleton was an honor student, a marching-band majorette, and a doting big sister who thought about becoming a journalist or a pharmacist or even getting into politics after she witnessed history in Washington last week.

The biggest trouble the insatiable reader ever gave her parents: running up their credit card buying books on Amazon.

“I couldn’t ask for a better child,” her mother, Cleo Cowley, said through tears at her Chicago home. “She didn’t give me any hard time at all. She had a heart of gold.”  FULL  ARTICLE