In stunning news, Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday morning from the Vatican that he will resign his position as head of the Catholic Church, effective on February 28. This has already set off a flurry of speculation, largely because no pope has voluntarily done so since the year 1415.
The news is still coming in, but here's what we know so far:
A 14-year-old student at Price Middle School in Atlanta was shot in the head or neck on Thursday afternoon. The student was taken to the hospital; his condition has not been officially released, but reports say that he is alert, conscious and breathing.
Sometimes—like when they call themselves "space conquerors" after launching a satellite that broke almost immediately and tumbled out of orbit—it can be hard to take North Korea seriously. Other times—like when they threaten another test of their nuclear program at a highly delicate time for their neighbors, politically—it seems wiser to keep a close eye on them.
On Wednesday President Obama announced a series of proposals to address gun violence. The day before, the National Rifle Association, which opposes the president's ideas, released a Web ad that stoked controversy, particularly because the ad focuses on Obama's daughters.
The national unemployment rate spiked following the 2008 financial crash, and it has remained stubbornly high ever since. Unfortunately, it has been even worse for returning American servicemembers. Today, though, Wal-Mart announced a plan to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years.
UPDATE 4:07 p.m. EST: Authorities have identified the gunman as William Spengler, an ex-convict who spent 17 years in prison for murdering his 92-year-old grandmother in 1980.
Spengler was paroled for the crime in 1998.
Police also have not located Spengler's 67-year-old sister, who lived in the house with Spengler.
Authorities also report that a total of seven houses were destroyed in the blaze.
UPDATE 12:40 p.m. EST: Police chief Gerald Pickering says that the gunman, who was killed at the scene, either by police or from a self-inflicted wound, may have set a trap for first responders.
UPDATE 12:15 p.m. EST: The Associated Press is reporting that the gunman who killed the two firefighters is also dead. His body was found at the scene. The names of the two deceased firefighters, according to the Democrat and Chronicle, are Mike Chiapperini, 43, a volunteer firefighter and the Webster Police Department’s public information officer, and Tomasz Kaczowka. The names of the wounded firefighters are Joseph Hofsetter and Theodore Scardino.
Early Monday morning two firefighters were shot and killed when responding to a call in Webster, New York, just outside Rochester. After the firefighters arrived at 191 Lake Road, an unknown shooter fired at them as they left their truck, killing two of them and wounding two others. The wounded men are at a nearby hospital; one is in stable condition, the other is in guarded condition.
Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, read a statement Friday morning in reaction to last week's shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. He called for installing armed guards in schools to prevent future gun violence against students.
In the wake of the horrific killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week, Americans across the country are wondering how they can aid the families of the victims. There are numerous methods to donate money, but you also can help in other ways, such as volunteering your time, writing a card or letter, or sending a teddy bear to a child in Newtown.
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