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Where will Obama's presidential library be? There are four finalists

The Barack Obama Foundation on Monday announced four locations as potential sites for President Obama's presidential library and museum. 

Columbia University, the University of Hawaii, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago are all set to submit official proposals to house the library. Each of the universities demonstrated in initial proposals the ability to develop and design the library and enhance economic development in the communities in which they reside, according to officials with the foundation. 

“These four potential partners have come the farthest in meeting our criteria and have each demonstrated a strong vision for the future Obama Presidential Library," said foundation Chairman Martin Nesbitt, a close friend of the Obamas. "We look forward to working with each institution to further refine their proposals over the coming months, and to presenting our recommendations to the president and first lady early next year.” 

On Monday, the foundation...

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Justice Department launches new program to identify U.S. extremists

Atty Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. announced a new effort Monday to disrupt foreign terrorist cells from recruiting Americans, including a program to identify radicals who hold U.S. passports and are associated with the militant group Islamic State.

The aim is to identify and stop Americans before they join the ranks of terrorist groups overseas or return from abroad with plans to strike in this country, Holder said in a video message on the Justice Department’s website.

“We have established processes for detecting American extremists who attempt to join terror groups abroad,” he said.

He added that Justice Department officials will step up their efforts working with local law enforcement agencies and community networks, building upon about 1,700 meetings already held in the last two years. He also announced a White House conference next month to deal with “Countering Violent Extremism.”

Holder’s “pilot program” comes two months after his remarks during a law enforcement conference in Norway...

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Family of gun instructor killed by 9-year-old calls for love, prayer

The children of an Arizona weapons instructor have reached out to comfort the 9-year-old girl who accidentally killed their father during a shooting lesson, telling her they pray for her and offering her love and hugs.

Charles Vacca, 39, a father of four from Lake Havasu City, was shot and killed Aug. 25 at the Last Stop gun range in White Hills when the girl lost control of the Uzi submachine gun she was using to practice. No charges have been filed in the incident.

"We don't know your name, but we're connected by this tragedy," the children wrote in a letter they recited on a video uploaded by their attorney, Marc Lamber, on his website. Christopher Vacca, 11; Tylor Vacca, 14; Elizabeth Vacca, 15; and Ashley Moser, 19, took turns reading portions of the statement.

“You're only 9 years old," they said. “We think about you. We are worried about you. We pray for you, and we wish you peace. Our dad would want the same thing.”

In the heart-rending video, the children described their...

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Medal of Honor awarded to two soldiers from Vietnam War

On March 11, 1966, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins and his squad of Green Berets found themselves atop a hill, in the dark, in the middle of a jungle in central Vietnam.

They had endured days of battle with North Vietnamese troops off the Ho Chi Minh trail. Adkins was wounded and exhausted, and the last rescue helicopter had already left. With enemy soldiers closing in on them, the troops heard something in the jungle: the growls of a tiger. The Vietnamese retreated, and Adkins and his comrades were rescued the next morning.

On Monday, nearly 50 years after Adkins helped his squad escape from that hilltop, President Obama awarded him the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration, and posthumously awarded one to Army Spc. Donald Sloat, who died in the Vietnam War.

“Sometimes even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the fog of war or the passage of time,” the president said, noting that the medal is typically awarded within three years of the acts of...

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Mother of missing Maryland children 'has not said they are not alive'

Police in Maryland are opening a homicide case against Catherine Hoggle, the mother of two children who were reported missing a week ago, even as they still hope to find the children alive.

Hoggle, 26, of Clarksburg, Md., has refused to reveal the whereabouts of her children Sarah, 3, and Jacob, 2, although she has repeatedly said they are safe, Montgomery County police said. She and the children were reported missing Sept. 8, and police said she was taken into custody Friday.

“She has not said they are not alive,” police Capt. Darren Francke, director of the major crimes division, said Monday at a news conference, but “we have to be prepared for every circumstance.”

He also asked local residents to search their properties for signs of the children.

Hoggle has been charged with two counts of child neglect and one of hindering and obstructing an investigation, and she is being held in lieu of $1,020,000 bail, a Montgomery County state's attorney's spokesman said. Two charges of parental...

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Detroit reaches settlement with key creditor in bankruptcy case

A key opponent of Detroit's plan to reduce its debt has reached a final settlement with the city, a significant step that could allow the municipality to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

In a court filing Monday, lawyers for Syncora Holdings Ltd.'s Syncora Guarantee Inc. said the company had reached “a comprehensive settlement” to end its objection to the city's debt-cutting plan. 

Proceedings in the Chapter 9 case were adjourned last week when Syncora, a bond insurer, and Detroit announced they had reached a tentative settlement and needed more time to complete their negotiations.

Final details of the settlement are expected to be announced in court Monday. Syncora will reportedly collect between 20% to 25% of the approximately $200 million it is owed.

Detroit had an estimated $18 billion in long-term obligations when it filed for bankruptcy protection in July 2013, making it the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

The Syncora action means Detroit is a step closer to...

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Natural gas production contaminated drinking water in Texas, study finds

Natural gas production contaminated the well water of two homes in a Texas subdivision, according to a study published Monday.

The discovery came two years after the Environmental Protection Agency halted its investigation in the Parker County community over concern about costs and legal risks.

In the new study, scientists were trying to determine the origins of high methane levels in drinking water aquifers near gas wells in Pennsylvania and Texas. They found that water in the two homes had changed over nine months, going from containing trace amounts of methane to containing high levels.

The newly identified cases “caught this contamination in the act,” said Robert Jackson, a study coauthor and professor of environmental science at Stanford University.

The discovery challenges a long-standing assertion by the oil and gas industry that the U.S. energy boom has not damaged water supplies.

Other studies have found that water wells near natural gas production are more likely to contain...

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Northern lights illuminate skies in awesome night show
Navy pilot from Lake Arrowhead presumed dead in jet crash

A Navy fighter pilot presumed dead after two jets crashed Friday over the Pacific Ocean was identified Sunday as Lt. Nathan Poloski of Lake Arrowhead.

Poloski, 26, was involved in the apparent collision of two F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets from the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson west of Wake Island. After a search, the Navy said Saturday that he was presumed dead. The pilot of the other plane was rescued.

Family members described Poloski as smart, driven and compassionate, with a love of speed, a zest for life and a knack for making personal connections wherever he went.

“Everyone was his friend and everyone thought they were his best friend, even though there were hundreds of them,” said his mother, Miriam Kendrick. In high school, for example, he once jumped in front of a football player who was picking on a smaller boy — and the football player respected that so much, he ended up befriending Poloski, Kendrick said.

Born in San Diego on Feb. 6, 1988, Poloski spent his early years living...

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No answers yet in fatal ambush of Pennsylvania state trooper

A investigation continued in northeast Pennsylvania on Sunday after a state trooper was killed and another was critically wounded in an apparent shooting ambush over the weekend.

No suspect or suspects have been identified in the Friday night attack, and no specific motive has been given.

State police announced late Sunday that the wounded trooper, Alex T. Douglass, was awake and talking, the Associated Press reported.  A state police spokesman said authorities were getting "fantastic" tips. 

The Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers announced a $50,000 reward Saturday for information on who killed Cpl. Bryon Dixon and wounded Douglass during a shift change outside the agency's Blooming Grove barracks near the New York-Pennsylvania border.

Representatives of the Pennsylvania State Police did not immediately return messages seeking comment on Sunday afternoon. "I don't know if you'll get anything, they're all still out," said a trooper who answered the phone at the Blooming Grove barracks.

The...

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Maryland mother says her missing children are safe but won't say where

The mother of two missing Maryland children says they are safe but refuses to say where they are, police said.

Catherine Hoggle, 26, of Clarksburg, Md., was taken into custody late Friday. She and her children, Sarah, 3, and Jacob, 2, were reported missing Monday, Montgomery County police said.

Hoggle faces charges of child neglect and of obstruction and hindering, police said. She is being held at the county Department of Correction and Rehabilitation.

Troy Turner, Hoggle’s longtime partner and the children's father, told police that on Sept. 7, Hoggle left Sarah at her mother’s home in nearby Gaithersburg and said she was taking Jacob with her to get pizza. She returned without Jacob about three hours later and said the boy was at a playmate’s home, police said in a statement. Police later determined that Jacob had never been at his friend’s home.

Hoggle brought Sarah home, left with her the next morning and returned alone about 8:30 a.m., telling Turner she had taken Sarah and Jacob...

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U.S. Navy ends search for pilot presumed dead in Pacific crash

The Navy has ended its search for a fighter pilot presumed dead after two jets crashed Friday in the Pacific Ocean, west of Wake Island, officials said.

The pilot, whose identity has not been released, was involved in a collision of two F/A-18 fighter jets from the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson.

"This is an exceptionally difficult time for the friends and family of the missing pilot and the Navy community," Rear Adm. Christopher Grady, commander of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, said in a statement. "We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from the community. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this tragedy."

The cause of the collision remains under investigation.

The crash occurred about seven miles from the aircraft carrier. One pilot was rescued by helicopter and has been treated and released, Navy officials said.

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