April 23, 2014

Last week, hundreds of residents of Benitiu, the capital of oil-rich South Sudan state Unity, gathered in a mosque for safety as rebel troops took the town from government forces. Instead, United Nations peacekeepers say, thieves were waiting to rob the people of their money and cell phones, then gunmen entered and opened fire, indiscriminately slaying hundreds of civilians, including children and the elderly.

"Piles and piles" of bodies were left in the mosque, town hospital, and along the roadside, Toby Lanzer, the top U.N. aid official in South Sudan, tells The Associated Press. The hundreds of dead add to the thousands killed since December when the largely ethnic Nuer supporters of former Vice President Riek Machar started warring with the largely ethnic Dinka supporters of President Salva Kiir.

But the April 15-16 mass killings in Benitiu, carried out by Nuers, are "quite possibly a game-changer," Lanzer said. That's because, like the two-decades-old genocide in Rwanda, the Benitiu massacre was preceded by exhortations on the radio for revenge attacks and rapes. "It's the first time we're aware of that a local radio station was broadcasting hate messages encouraging people to engage in atrocities," Lanzer says. "And that really accelerates South Sudan's descent into an even more difficult situation from which it needs to extract itself." Peter Weber

10:30 p.m. ET

Armed with water, brushes, and environmentally-safe cleaning solution, Andrew Lumish spends every Sunday at Woodlawn Cemetery in Tampa, cleaning the gravestones of veterans who fought from the Civil War to Vietnam.

"It's pretty messy, pretty dirty," he told WUSF. "We're pulling out dirt and biological material that's been here since 1921. So, a lot of elbow grease here." Lumish says that over the last five years, he's cleaned about 600 gravestones, with some covered in so much mold and mildew it was impossible to read the names. It all started when Lumish, a history buff, was at another cemetery taking photos, and saw how the gravestones of some veterans were in complete disrepair. Because he owns his own cleaning company, Lumish decided he would give back by bringing new life to the gravestones.

It takes Lumish anywhere from four days to four months to finish cleaning a gravestone; it's easier when a stone is made of marble or granite and the dirt stays on the surface, opposed to limestone and sandstone, which are porous. Lumish uses genealogy websites and records at the library stretching back to the 1800s to get information on the veterans, and he posts what he learns on a Facebook page called Good Cemeterian. He's also inspired others, now serving as a consultant and helping Potter County in Pennsylvania clean its own veteran tombstones. "We uncover heroes," Lumish said. "They were not considered heroes of their day, so I hope that some of the stories that I tell make people appreciate the men and women that serve currently. There are heroes today that surround us on a daily basis." Catherine Garcia

9:18 p.m. ET
Sabah Arar/AFP/Getty Images

A car bomb that exploded in central Baghdad early Tuesday killed at least 10 people and left 40 wounded, Iraqi officials said.

Police Maj. Ali Mohammed told CNN the explosion took place in "the busy al Hurriya Square," and an interior ministry spokesman said the car bomb detonated outside an ice cream shop. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility, saying they were targeting Shi'ite Muslims. Islam's holy month of Ramadan began on Friday, and families often are out late during the month, breaking their daily fast. Catherine Garcia

8:47 p.m. ET
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Golf great Tiger Woods said Monday night he is taking "full responsibility" for the actions that led to him being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence early Monday morning in Jupiter, Florida.

In a statement, Woods, 41, said he understood the "severity" of what happened, but wanted the "public to know that alcohol was not involved. What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn't realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly." Woods went on to apologize to his "family, friends, and the fans. I expect more from myself, too. I will do everything in my power to ensure this never happens again." Catherine Garcia

8:05 p.m. ET
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

A sportswriter for The Denver Post was fired Monday after he sent what the newspaper called a "disrespectful and unacceptable" tweet about the winner of the Indianapolis 500.

Following Takuma Sato's win on Sunday, Terry Frei tweeted, "Nothing specifically personal, but I am very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend." Not long after he posted his message, Frei deleted it. He followed up with an apology to Sato and those who were offended by his tweet. "I made a stupid reference, during an emotional weekend, to one of the nations that we fought in World War II — and, in this case, the specific one my father fought against," he said, later adding he was "angry" at himself because "there was no constructive purpose in saying it and I should not have said it, especially because The Denver Post has been dragged into this."

It wasn't enough, and on Monday morning, The Post's Mac Tully and Lee Ann Colacioppo released a statement saying Frei was no longer an employee and they were sorry for his "disrespectful and unacceptable" tweet. Catherine Garcia

7:24 p.m. ET

A Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives who called Immigration and Customs Enforcement on protesters gathered at the Capitol Monday said he threatened to shoot one of his colleagues after he promised to "get" him.

The protesters were speaking out against State Bill 4, which requires that cities and counties in Texas go along with federal immigration authorities who ask they detain people suspected of living in the U.S. without proper documentation; critics are afraid this will lead to racial profiling. After the demonstrators began to chant and unfurl banners, security officers arrived and eventually started to remove them from the gallery. State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) said he "took issues" with Democrats "bragging about how great it was and they were inciting them to break the House rules and break Texas law." He said he saw signs stating the protesters were not legal residents, so he decided to call ICE.

"Matt Rinaldi gave the perfect example of why there's a problem with SB 4," state Rep Ramon Romero (D-Fort Worth) said. "Matt Rinaldi looked into the gallery and saw Hispanic people and automatically assumed they were undocumented. He racially profiled every single person that was in the gallery today. He created the scenario that so many of us fear." State Rep. César Blanco (D-El Paso) said Rinaldi came up to a group of Democrats and said he "just called ICE to have all these people deported," while state Rep. Ramon Romero (D-Fort Worth) said Rinaldi declared, "I called ICE — f—k them," before turning to another lawmaker and yelling, "F—k you" to "the point where spit was" flying in their faces.

Rinaldi claimed on Twitter that state Rep. Poncho Nevárez (D-Eagle Pass) "threatened my life on the House floor" and said "he would 'get me.' I made it clear that if he attempted to, in his words, 'get me,' I would shoot him in self-defense." Nevárez told The Texas Tribune he put his hands on Rinaldi to tell him to take his argument outside the chamber, but he never threatened to hurt him. Later, Nevárez tweeted that Rinaldi is a "liar and hateful man. Got no use for him. God bless him."Catherine Garcia

2:26 p.m. ET

On Friday, a 35-year-old apparent racial extremist named Jeremy Christian allegedly stabbed three people on a light-rail train in Portland, killing two of them, after they interceded to stop Christian from harassing two teenage girls with dark skin, one apparently in a hijab. On Saturday, about 1,000 people gathered in Portland to honor the three men who intervened: Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, a recent graduate of Reed College, and Rick Best, 53, an Army veteran, both of whom died; and David-Cole Fletcher, 21, who survived.

"They didn't have capes," local activist Ellie Eaton said at the vigil. "They were just human beings that we all have the capacity to be like." On Monday, President Trump called the attack "unacceptable," and said the "victims were standing up to hate and intolerance," in a tweet from his official POTUS account:

On Saturday, one of the girls targeted on the MAX train told a local TV station that she is not a Muslim and that the people who stood up for her were heroes. "I just want to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me, because they didn't even know me and they lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we look," she said. "And I just want to say thank you to them and their family and that I appreciate them because without them, we probably would be dead right now."

Christian has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder and may face more when he is arraigned on Tuesday. Peter Weber

1:39 p.m. ET

New French President Emmanuel Macron hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris on Monday, and the two leaders agreed on the need to work together to try to resolve conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. But they disagreed on the independence and integrity of state-sponsored Russian news outlets RT and Sputnik, which Macron had refused to accredit during his presidential campaign, accusing them of spreading Russian misinformation favoring his pro-Russia rival, Marine Le Pen. On Monday, Putin said Russia did not try to meddle in the French election and argued it would have been strange to not meet with Le Pen.

Standing next to Putin, Macron disagreed about the first part. RT and Sputnik "didn't act like the media, like journalists. They behaved like deceitful propaganda" and "agents of influence," he said, in response to a question from RT France head Xenia Fedorova. "I have always had an exemplary relationship with foreign journalists, but they have to be real journalists," he added. "All foreign journalists, including Russian journalists, had access to my campaign." You don't have to speak French to tell when he's talking about RT and Sputnik, or to catch Putin's expression when the translation reaches his earpiece.

Macron, 39 and in office less than a month, met with President Trump for the first time last week, and their interactions suggest his extraordinary critique of Russian media in front of Putin wasn't impromptu. On Sunday, Macron told the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche that his white-knuckled handshake with Trump "wasn't innocent." It wasn't "the be-all and the end-all of a policy, but it was a moment of truth," he added, putting Trump in the same category as Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

"Donald Trump, the Turkish president, or the Russian president see relationships in terms of a balance of power," Macron said, according to The Guardian's translation. "That doesn't bother me. I don't believe in diplomacy by public abuse, but in my bilateral dialogues I won't let anything pass. ... That's how you ensure you are respected. You have to show you won't make small concessions — not even symbolic ones." Peter Weber

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