A mixture of drought and high winds has caused tumbleweeds to wreak havoc in parts of Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas this year. The pesky brush is blocking roadways, sticking to buildings, and even trapping people inside of their homes. That's what happened in January to 80-year-old Wilford Ransom and his wife, Mary. "I looked out the window to see why it got so dark all of a sudden, and they were over 12-feet high, blocking my front and back doors," the Clovis, N.M., resident tells Reuters. "We couldn’t get out."
What's with the sudden invasion? Due to dry conditions, many ranchers are either selling off or moving their cattle to more fertile areas. Not only are the cows no longer there to graze on the young plants — technically, Russian thistle, a 19th century import — but the tumbleweeds now have larger swathes of land to grow on. "They are opportunistic invaders that need just a little water to sprout," says Ben Berlinger of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service. Catherine Garcia
Amsterdam will repay families of Jewish people fined for late rent payments while they were held in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, city officials announced Friday. The average reimbursement would be 1,800 euros, or about $2,000, Agence France Presse reports.
Only 18,000 of the 80,000 Jewish people from Amsterdam sent to concentration camps survived. The Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide reported 240 Holocaust survivors were made to pay late fees upon returning to the Dutch capital.
AFP found that though complaints over the finds have renewed in recent years, there was controversy as early as 1946, when carpenter and businessman J.W. Levending wrote to local authorities: "Is it for us to pay for the broken pots? Those who during the past years have lived in misery, locked away, and from whom the Germans took everything?" Julie Kliegman
An August pillow fight at the United States Military Academy, an annual tradition among freshmen, turned violent, The New York Times reported Friday. The West Point, New York, institution confirmed the Aug. 20 incident to the Times on Thursday after social media rumors of injuries circulated.
"My plebe [West Point's term for freshman] was knocked unconscious and immediately began fighting when he came to," an unnamed upperclassman wrote on Yik Yak. "I was so proud I could cry."
Some cadets reportedly packed helmets and other hard objects into their pillow cases. The academy said 30 cadets were injured, 24 with concussions. One freshman was knocked unconscious, and others suffered broken bones and dislocated shoulders.
"If you don’t come back with a bloody nose, you didn't try hard enough," one upperclassman commander reportedly told a freshman cadet.
No cadets have been punished so far, but there is an ongoing investigation. West Point called off the annual tradition in 2013 after a cadet injured others with a lockbox in a pillowcase during the 2012 event. A 1901 congressional inquiry on hazing shows the tradition dates back to at least 1897. Julie Kliegman
No. 8 Rafael Nadal bowed out of the U.S Open early after falling in a grueling five-set match Friday night. The Spanish star led No. 32 Fabio Fognini of Italy after two sets at Arthur Ashe Stadium, but after nearly four hours, he was ousted 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.
The third-round loss breaks Nadal's 10-year streak of winning at least one Grand Slam title. "The only thing it means is I played amazing the last 10 years," he said.
Fognini called his hard-earned upset a "mental victory."
"That was one of greatest, most spectacular comebacks you're ever going to see on a tennis court," tennis legend John McEnroe said. "The level that he played to mount that miraculous comeback will be remembered for a long time." Julie Kliegman
About 4,000 migrants, many fleeing war in Syria, arrived in Austria early Saturday, where they were greeted by applause, food, and medical supplies. Many refugees, who Hungary agreed to bus, will request asylum in Austria, while others will continue on to Germany, BBC News reports.
Europe's ongoing migrant crisis has seen renewed attention in September after graphic photos emerged of a Syrian toddler's body washed up on a Turkish beach. The United Nations called on the European Union to help migrants Friday, one day after Hungary had forced migrants off of the nation's trains. Many of the migrants, including young children, had walked along Hungary's train tracks for hours toward Austria before boarding buses.
Jailed Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis will reportedly appeal her contempt of court ruling and has no plans to resign as Rowan County clerk, her lawyer said Friday. Davis, who was sent to jail Thursday after a judge found her in contempt of court for defying the Supreme Court's order to issue same-sex marriage licenses, says she has a "clean conscience."
Though a deputy clerk began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Davis' absence Friday, her attorney asserted that the licenses are void because she didn't authorize them. Samantha Rollins
Only in America: University professors threaten to give bad grades to students who use 'offensive' language, like 'male' and 'female'
Washington State University professors have warned students that using "oppressive and hateful language" such as "male," "female," and "illegal immigrant" will result in bad grades. But administrators promised to ensure that no student will be punished for "using terms that may be deemed offensive to some."
In a Friday interview with NBC News' Andrea Mitchell, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton once again refused to apologize for using a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. "I'm sorry this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions," Clinton said.
While she admitted a personal server "wasn't the best choice," she maintained that she never knowingly broke the law. "This was fully above board, people knew I was using a personal email, I did it for convenience," Clinton said. "I sent emails that I thought were work related to people's dot gov accounts."