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May 2, 2014

Five years ago, a Southern California mother decided that in order to save the life of her son with severe autism, she needed to turn to medical marijuana.

Joey Hester-Perez was diagnosed with autism at 16 months, and later with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. His symptoms became worse as he got older, and more and more medications were added to his regimen until he was taking 13 different drugs every day. When Joey was 9 years old, ABC 7 in Los Angeles says, doctors told his mother to plan his funeral.

"I couldn't bear that," Mieko Hester-Perez said. "I couldn't imagine my life without Joey." Instead, she decided to give medical marijuana a try. It took trying about 15 different strains before the right one was found, but as soon as Joey's Strain, as it's now called, was concocted, the change was immediate. Joey began to smile, laugh, and joke with his in-home nurse. He gained weight, calmed down, and was no longer on edge. Today, Joey eats one brownie every week that contains cannabis oil derived from Joey's Strain, and his mother is sharing the positive results with other families.

"We need to open the door to more research so we can do this the right way," she told ABC 7. The few studies on autism and medical marijuana in the U.S. are focusing on cannabinoids, the active molecules found in marijuana, but it's very difficult to get started; according to doctors, they must "navigate a maze of bureaucratic red tape and receive permission from multiple federal agencies."

Mieko hopes that the rules are loosened, so more strides can be made and other children like Joey can have improved lives. "He may never walk, he may never form a sentence, he may never throw a ball," she said. "But he will smile, and that's all I've ever wanted." --Catherine Garcia

11:51 a.m. ET
Ameer Alhalbi/Getty Images

French United Nations Ambassador Francois Delattre said Sunday the barrage of Syrian government airstrikes that have pounded rebel-held areas of Aleppo since Friday amount to "war crimes" by the Bashar al-Assad regime and cannot be left unpunished.

The "Security Council simply cannot accept such war crimes — yes, war crimes — to repeat again," Delattre argued, proposing "an immediate humanitarian truce in Aleppo and the Ghouta [a region of Syria near Damascus], 20 years after the siege of Sarajevo."

Since Friday, more than 200 strikes have hit Aleppo, killing at least 100 people and leaving 2 million civilians without running water. The U.N. Security Council convened at 11 a.m. Eastern time Sunday to discuss the situation. Complicating matters, the council includes Russia, which is allied with the Assad regime. Bonnie Kristian

11:10 a.m. ET
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Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence promised Sunday his running mate, Donald Trump, will "absolutely" tell the truth while debating Hillary Clinton on Monday because he "always speaks straight from his mind and straight from his heart."

Trump is "going to speak the truth to the American people," Pence said in an interview with CBS' Face the Nation. "That’s why you see the tremendous momentum in this campaign."

The veep candidate also weighed in on Trump's informal style of debate prep — which poses a sharp contrast to Clinton's more studied approach — arguing that Trump "has been preparing for this debate for his entire lifetime." After all, "he's built a great business and he's traveled the country," Pence said, "and particularly in this campaign he's given voice to the frustration and aspirations of the American people like no leader in my lifetime since Ronald Reagan." Bonnie Kristian

10:46 a.m. ET
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Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson said intergalactic travel is part of the long-term plan of dealing with climate change while speaking with ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.

Stephanopoulos played a clip from several years ago in which Johnson argued, "the long-term view is that in billions of years the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth, right? So global warming is in our future." Asked whether that means "we don't do anything about it now," Johnson said that line was a joke but then got serious, arguing his mention of the sun highlights "the fact that we do have to inhabit other planets. I mean, the future of the human race is space exploration."

Still, right now, "we should be prudent with the environment," he added as the interview ended. "We care about the environment. Look, clean air, clean water. I think the EPA exists to protect us against individuals, groups, corporations that would do us harm. Pollution is harm." Bonnie Kristian

10:29 a.m. ET
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Gennifer Flowers, the actress and Penthouse model who claims to have had a 12-year affair with former President Bill Clinton, on Saturday agreed to take a front-row seat at the first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Monday night. On Sunday, the Trump campaign said she's not invited.

The cold shoulder came from both Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who said on CNN Flowers was never "formally" invited, and from vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, who told Fox News' Chris Wallace that Flowers will not attend.

The arrangement was originally suggested by Trump himself on Twitter Saturday in response to news that Clinton supporter Mark Cuban said he would sit in the front row. Whether Cuban or Flowers would even be permitted to take those seats is unclear; the candidates do have tickets to distribute as they please, but the Commission on Presidential Debates said it would "frown upon" prominent placement of either person. Bonnie Kristian

10:14 a.m. ET
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An onslaught considered to be the heaviest bombing campaign of the Syrian civil war continues in Aleppo after the aerial attack by government forces began buffeting rebel-held parts of the city with airstrikes on Friday.

More than 200 strikes have pounded Aleppo's eastern neighborhoods since then, killing more than 100 civilians, including children. Rescue workers are still attempting to free people from the rubble of their flattened homes. An estimated 2 million people in Aleppo have no running water after attacks damaged the water station serving rebel-held areas and another water station serving government-controlled parts of the city was turned off in retaliation.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday condemned the assault as the "most sustained and intense bombardment since the start of the Syrian conflict," calling it "appalling" in advance of a U.N. meeting on Syria cease-fire efforts. Bonnie Kristian

10:06 a.m. ET

The Miami Marlins' star pitcher José Fernández was killed Sunday morning in a boat crash in Miami Beach, Florida. He was 24 years old.

"The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernández," the Major Leage Baseball team said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time. Today's game against the Atlanta Braves has been cancelled."

Fernández was born in Cuba but defected to the United States in 2007 with his mother. He was National League Rookie of the Year in 2013. Bonnie Kristian

8:30 a.m. ET
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Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are separated by less than the 4.5 percent margin of error in a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday morning. Clinton has maintained a substantial lead over Trump for most of the campaign, but the gap has increasingly narrowed as Election Day approaches, and this survey sees that trend continue.

Among likely voters Clinton scores 46 percent support to Trump's 44 percent, while Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson takes 5 percent and the Green Party's Jill Stein has 1 percent national support. If Johnson and Stein are removed as options, Clinton leads Trump 49 to 47 percent. Among registered voters, Clinton and Trump are tied at 46 percent in a two-way race and 41 percent in a four-way race.

More than 100 million people are expected to watch Monday's first general election debate between the two candidates, the largest debate audience in U.S. history. Bonnie Kristian

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