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October 29, 2018

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 2,000 people gathered in Pittsburgh's Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall on Sunday night, and many more gathered outside, for an emotional interfaith ceremony to commemorate the 11 people killed and six injured in Saturday's mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue. Three Jewish congregations use the synagogue, and the rabbis of each congregation spoke, as did Christian, Muslim, and civic leaders.

"We lost 11 of our neighbors, and we are here to mourn the way they were taken from us," said Mayor Bill Peduto. "We are here for you, because we're Pittsburghers. And that's what we do." He called Saturday the "darkest day of Pittsburgh's history" and vowed to "eradicate any type of hate" from Pittsburgh.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, whose congregation lost seven members in the mass murder, said "my holy place has been defiled." Pointing to the 23rd Psalm — "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want." — he said, "Well God, I want!" but "what I want you can't give me. You can't return these 11 beautiful souls. You can't rewind the clock." He vowed to rebuild, and pointing to another psalm and the outpouring of support, added: "My cup overflows with love. That's how you defeat hate." Rabbi Cheryl Klein of Dor Hadash remembered slain congregant Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, who died "on his way to be of help to others."

Rabbi Jonathan Perlman of New Light Congregation lamented the three "pillars" of his congregation who were murdered. "These three men — they cannot be replaced. But we will not be broken. We will not be ruined by this event."

The Anti-Defamation League says Saturday's massacre was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history, but the latest incident in an upsurge of anti-Semitic attacks. Earlier this year, the ADL reported a 60 percent jump in anti-Semitic incidents last year, the single largest single-year rise in the three decades the organization has been tracking such activity. Peter Weber

8:36 a.m.

Pope Francis made what has been described as an "almost revolutionary" decision, the Vatican announced Saturday, expelling Theodore McCarrick from the priesthood. The decision came after an expedited Vatican trial found the former cardinal and archbishop of Washington guilty of sexually abusing three minors and harassing adult seminarians and priests.

This is believed to be the first time the church has defrocked a U.S. cardinal. McCarrick is also the highest-ranking church official to be dismissed for sexual abuse. "Bishops and cardinals are no longer immune to punishment," Kurt Martens, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, told the The New York Times.

Allegations against McCarrick reached church officials as early as 2000, CNN reports, just months before he became a cardinal. After the accusations became public in 2017, McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals but denied he had any recollection of the incidents. Francis ordered a Vatican investigation into the matter, as did the Archdiocese of New York, where several of the alleged incidents occurred. The probes found the accusations to be "credible and substantiated."

The news comes just ahead of this week's meeting of top Catholic officials from around the world, who will gather in Rome to discuss the church's sex abuse crisis. The summit is the first of its kind. Tim O'Donnell

8:26 a.m.

Six people were killed, including a shooting suspect identified by authorities as a man named Gary Martin, in a workplace shooting at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois, on Friday afternoon.

Martin was a 15-year employee of the Henry Pratt Company and was scheduled to be let go from his job Friday. In addition to fatally shooting five people, he wounded six police officers, all of whom are in stable condition. Though initial reports said the suspect was taken into custody, Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said he was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police.

Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin (D) and Tammy Duckworth (D) both tweeted their thanks to first responders and said they were monitoring the situation. "My heart hurts for the victims, their families, the brave first responders, Aurora, and all of Illinois right now," Duckworth wrote in a follow-up post. "Our nation's epidemic of deadly gun violence is a real national emergency." Bonnie Kristian

7:53 a.m.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, Sanders said in a statement Friday.

"The president urged me, like he has everyone in the administration, to fully cooperate with the special counsel," Sanders said. "I was happy to voluntarily sit down with them." Sanders did not comment on the content of the conversation, and CNN reports, citing unnamed sources, the White House did not immediately accede to Mueller's request for the interview.

Sanders' interview took place in the fall of 2018, around the time Mueller's investigators spoke with other current and former senior administration figures, including then-Chief of Staff John Kelly, former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Mueller is investigating alleged Trump campaign involvement in Russian meddling with the 2016 election. Read The Week's Ryan Cooper on the probe's recent progress here. Bonnie Kristian

February 15, 2019

Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac may have just taken their last steps in a larger world.

Director J.J. Abrams on Friday announced that Star Wars: Episode IX, which is being billed as the conclusion of the franchise's Skywalker saga, has officially wrapped production. "There is no adequate way to thank this truly magical crew and cast," Abrams wrote, posting a photo of the film's main three stars hugging on set. "I'm forever indebted to you all."

Boyega wrote that this is "the end to a chapter of my life that I couldn't be more thankful for," also thanking Abrams for "making my dreams come true."

The photo is only the second glimpse of Episode IX, following a picture taken in the Millennium Falcon that Abrams tweeted when production began in August. The photo posted Friday reveals that Episode IX will feature scenes on a desert planet, perhaps Luke Skywalker's home, Tatooine, or Rey's home, Jakku. The photo also shows Rey and Finn sporting new hairdos, while Poe seems to be rocking some suspenders.

With 10 months to go until Episode IX is released, Lucasfilm still hasn't yet revealed the film's official title, but that announcement could be imminent. The title of The Force Awakens, after all, was announced shortly after production wrapped in 2014. Then again, the title of The Last Jedi wasn't announced until four months after production wrapped.

In addition to the returning cast, Episode IX will feature Billy Dee Williams reprising his role of Lando Calrissian, as well as a posthumous appearance by Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa using footage shot for The Force Awakens. The film hits theaters on Dec. 20. Brendan Morrow

February 15, 2019

Roger Stone may need to cut down on his Infowars appearances.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Friday issued a gag order in the trial of the former adviser to President Trump, saying Stone must "refrain from making statements to the media or in public settings that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case," Politico reports.

Stone was arrested last month as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, and he pleaded not guilty to charges of witness tampering, lying to Congress, and obstruction, The New York Times reports.

But that hadn't slowed down Stone's media appearances, and he jumped on Alex Jones' InfoWars two times within a week after his arrest. This prompted Jackson to warn him earlier this month that he must stop acting like he's on "a book tour."

Axios reports that the gag order prevents Stone from making any comments "within the vicinity of the courthouse." But Politico notes that the gag order only prevents him from talking about his case, and Jackson says he can continue talking about "foreign relations, immigration or Tom Brady" to his heart's desire. Brendan Morrow

February 15, 2019

Police have arrested two potential suspects in connection with the alleged assault of Empire star Jussie Smollett, ABC News reported on Friday.

Chicago police told ABC that two men were arrested on Wednesday at the airport, with detectives having "probable cause that they may have been involved" in the alleged assault. The suspects have not yet been charged with a crime, however.

Authorities also told ABC that the suspects "have a relationship with" Smollett but did not offer specifics. According to CNN, they are two Nigerian brothers, and CBS 2 Chicago reports they have worked as extras on Empire.

This development comes after two local news stations reported Thursday that investigators now believe the attack on Smollett was staged, per Variety. But chief police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said that there is "no evidence to say that this is a hoax" at this time, USA Today reports. One of the Thursday reports had also said investigators believe Smollett staged the attack because he was being written off Empire, something 20th Century Fox denied in a statement, calling the notion "patently ridiculous." Brendan Morrow

February 15, 2019

The NFL and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick announced Friday that they have reached a settlement over Kaepernick's collusion lawsuit, The Washington Post reports. Kaepernick had sued the league after he was apparently blacklisted from playing football due to his protests during the national anthem; he has been out of the sport for the past two seasons.

While the terms of the settlement were not revealed, and the resolution is subject to a confidentiality agreement, NFL columnist Mike Freeman reported that "team officials are speculating to me [that] the NFL paid Kaepernick in the $60 million to $80 million range."

Separately, a similar lawsuit against the NFL by Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid also reached a settlement. In a joint statement, the NFL and lawyers for Reid and Kaepernick said: "For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL ... The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party."

The NFL Players Association also released a statement: "We are not privy to the details of the settlement, but support the decision by the players and their counsel," it read. "We continuously supported Colin and Eric from the start of their protests, participated with their lawyers throughout their legal proceedings, and were prepared to participate in the upcoming trial in pursuit of both truth and justice for what we believe the NFL and its clubs did to them. We are glad that Eric has earned a job and a new contract, and we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well." Jeva Lange

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