Ohio Catholic school fires teacher after name of her same-sex partner reportedly appears in obituary
A female teacher at a Catholic high school in Ohio who was fired after the name of her same-sex partner appeared in her mother's obituary is reportedly fighting to get her job back.
The Plain Dealer reports that Carla Hale, 57, a longtime physical education teacher at Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, was informed by the school principal that she was terminated for being in a homosexual relationship — and not for being gay.
"Your written spousal relationship violates the moral laws of the Catholic Church," Bishop Watterson High School Principal Marian Hutson wrote to Hale in a March 28 letter.
The obituary, which appeared in the Columbus Dispatch, listed survivors, including "daughter, Carla (Julie) Hale."
The Catholic Diocese of Columbus was alerted to the obituary by an anonymous letter, the newspaper reports. The author claimed to be "a concerned parent" of one of Hale's students.
"I was shocked by what I saw," read a copy of the letter given to The Plain Dealer by Hale's attorney. "It had her teacher's name and that of her 'spouse' listed. It was two females!"
Hale was informed by the school that she violated a contract between the diocese and a union representing Catholic teachers, specifically a section that indicates teachers can be fired for "immorality." Hale was not available for an interview, the newspaper reports.
"The decision that I made — to acknowledge Julie, my partner, in my mother's obituary — is not immoral," Hale said in a statement issued last week through attorney Thomas Tootle.
Columbus diocese officials did not return phone calls seeking comment. Columbus Bishop Frederick Campbell told the Dispatch last week that Hale's firing was necessary to maintain "the integrity of our faith."
"We don't necessarily go looking for things like that, but this was made public," Campbell told the newspaper.
Hale, however, wants her job back. Late last month she filed a grievance through the teachers union, asking to be reinstated.
Hutson, in a handwritten response, reportedly wrote: "You were not terminated for being gay, but for the spousal relationship publicized in the newspaper which is against church teaching."
Agriculture students at a Northern California high school say they are being bullied online by fellow students who identify as vegans.
Fox 40 reports the vegan students allegedly have been posting angry words against Elk Grove High School's agriculture program on social media sites such as Instagram.
"[One student] keeps posting about goats and sheep and pigs and dead pictures and them being slaughtered," agriculture student Katie Velon told the station.
Outside vegan groups have also reportedly become involved in the bullying, and some vegan students are passing out fliers on campus. In one instance, meat eaters were called "carcass crunchers."
The agriculture students say they feel misunderstood.
"I don't think it's fair for people to be saying that, because they don't understand the work we put into all these animals. And it's something we voluntarily do," student Miranda McCurry tells Fox 40.
A vegan student who spoke with Fox 40 but declined to be identified says she has not passed out any fliers and no vegan student has called a fellow student a "carcass cruncher."
As smoke thickened and a fire grew in the back of a limousine, Nelia Arellano desperately tried to squeeze through a 3 foot by 1 1/2-foot partition.
Stuck for a moment, Arellano made her way into the front seat. Four of her friends quickly followed. Five others didn't make it. Their bodies were later found pressed against the partition.
Arellano said in an interview Monday with KGO-TV that she believes the driver, Oliver Brown, could have done more to help during the fire, which took place Saturday night on one of the busiest bridges on San Francisco Bay.
"When he stop the car, he get out from the car, he just get out from the car," she said.
Arellano and other women had started the night celebrating the recent wedding of Neriza Fojas and were headed across the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge to a hotel in Foster City.
Brown -- a San Jose man who worked for the limo company the past two months -- has said in interviews that one of the passengers tapped on the partition behind him, saying something about smoke as music blared from the back. No smoking was allowed, he told them.
Then the taps turned to urgent knocks, and someone screamed "Pull over!"
Brown said he stopped on the bridge as soon as he could. Then he helped pull the women out through the partition, he said.
One of the women who made it through the partition ran to the back and yanked open a door, but Brown said that provided oxygen to the fire and the rear of the limo became engulfed in flames.
Brown said he believed it was an electrical fire.
"It could have been smoldering for days," he told KGO on Monday, noting there was no explosive boom.
Authorities searched for answers Monday, hoping to learn what sparked the blaze and why five of the victims killed Saturday night couldn't escape.
The position of the bodies at the partition suggested they were trying to get away from the fire, San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said.
Fojas, 31, a registered nurse from Fresno was planning to travel to her native Philippines to hold another wedding ceremony with relatives. Her friends in the limousine were fellow nurses.
Fojas was among the five who died. Her mother, Sonya, broke into tears during an interview in the Philippines with local TV network GMA News.
"How painful, how painful what happened," she said.
The U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, Harry Thomas Jr., on Tuesday expressed condolences to the Fojas family.
"Mystery surrounds deadly limo fire," he said in a Twitter message. "Condolences to the Fojas family in the Philippines and the U.S. and other nurses."
Fojas and another woman who died, Michelle Estrera, were nurses at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno. The remaining three victims haven't been identified.
The medical center's CEO, Jack Chubb, said in a statement Monday that Fojas and Estrera were outstanding nurses, loved by their patients, colleagues and staff.
"Both were good friends, stellar nurses and excellent mentors who served as preceptors to new nurses," he said.
A relative of Fojas said the young nurse was preparing to get her master's degree.
Christina Kitts said Monday that Fojas lived in Hawaii while she reviewed for her nursing exam, then took a job in Oakland for two years before moving to Fresno about a year ago.
Three survivors hospitalized were identified as Jasmine Desguia, 34, of San Jose; Mary Guardiano, 42, of Alameda; and Amalia Loyola, 48, of San Leandro. Arellano, 36, of Oakland, was treated and released.
California Highway Patrol Commander Mike Maskarich said the state Public Utilities Commission had authorized the vehicle to carry eight or fewer passengers, but it had nine on the night of the deadly fire. Maskarich said it was too early in the investigation to say whether overcrowding may have been a factor.
State PUC spokeswoman Terrie Prosper said Monday that the commission is looking into whether the operator of the limo, Limo Stop, willfully misrepresented the seating capacity to the agency. If so, Limo Stop could be penalized $7,500 for each day it was in violation.
Limo Stop is licensed and has shown evidence of liability insurance, Prosper said. The company has seven vehicles with a seating capacity of up to eight passengers listed with the commission, and it has not been the target of any previous enforcement action.
The CPUC requires that all carriers have a preventive maintenance program and maintain a daily vehicle inspection report, Prosper said. Carriers also certify that they are have or are enrolled in a safety education and training program, she said.
Prosper said requirements for emergency exits only apply to buses, and limousines are not required to have fire extinguishers.
Joan Claybrook, the top federal auto-safety regulator under President Jimmy Carter, said the stretch limousine industry is poorly regulated because the main agency that oversees car safety doesn't have enough money to prioritize investigating the small businesses that modify limos after they leave the assembly line.
"I think the oversight is pretty lousy, because the modifications are so individualistic, and there are not that many companies out there that do this. Mostly, they are mom-and-pop operations," said Claybrook, a former administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration who previously led consumer group Public Citizen.
Instead, the agency tends to focus more on problems with new cars and major recalls, she said.
U.S. Department of Transportation data shows five people died in three separate stretch limo accidents in 2010, and 21 people died in another three stretch limo accidents in 2011.
Stretch limos are typically built in two ways.
In the first process, one carmaker builds the limousine's body, then another company customizes or stretches the vehicle.
The second company has to issue a certification that the car meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety standards for new vehicles, and that all safety equipment is working as required before it can be sold to the public, said Henry Jasny, an attorney with the Washington-based nonprofit Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
In the second process, a customer buys the limousine directly from the carmaker, then takes it to be customized. But modifying the car after it has been sold is considered a retrofit, so is not something NHTSA would regulate, Jasny said.
Many older models such as the 1999 Lincoln Town Car that caught fire Saturday were modified after they left the factory, said Jerry Jacobs, who owns a boutique limousine company in in San Rafael with a fleet that includes two stretch limos.
"There is nothing wrong with having these older models on the road. Many have low mileage and immaculate interiors because we take care of them. But when these cars start getting older and the rubber boots wear out, they start running hot," Jacobs said. "The key is you have to keep doing all the right maintenance to make sure they're running smoothly."
A Massachusetts funeral director is having trouble finding a burial location for the body of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect who was killed in a gun battle with police, despite more than a hundred offers from across the U.S. and Canada.
Worcester funeral home director Peter Stefan told the Associated Press Monday he has received 120 burial offers for the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev in various cities, but when he talked to officials in the cities and towns where the graves are located, nobody wanted the body there.
An employee at the funeral home also told Fox News Monday that Tsarnaev's mother has expressed interest in sending his body to Russia.
Joseph Gliniecki, of Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors, said Monday that the funeral home is "exploring that as an option" and would have to file necessary paperwork with the Russian Embassy in the U.S.
He said the decision on the body will be up to the family, but added that the mother would like to send it back to Russia for burial "if at all possible."
"Everyone wants him sent back to Russia," Stefan said, according to NBC News.
Stefan said when he made follow-up calls on all the grave offers, he got the same result each time.
"It's not only Massachusetts that doesn't want him," Stefan said. "Nobody wants him. And all these people who have donated graves, I've made some calls and said to somebody in the cities and towns where the graves were, `Hey, we would like to bury the guy there that was part of the marathon bombing."'
He said the response was often the same: "You're not gonna do that here."
He said he received an offer from a Texas truck driver who didn't want anybody to know that the body would be in the plot he'd be donating, but the outcome was the same.
Additionally, the founder of the organization that built Colorado's largest mosque, which operates independently, tells Fox News that if there is no one willing to "perform the actual physical burial," he would be willing to do so.
Al-Shaikh Abu Omar Almubarac says that he has performed traditional Muslim burials for men, women, children and infants for about twenty years, and calls any Muslim who would refuse to do so for a fellow Muslim "so-called Muslims."
"As a Muslim I have a responsibility to bury the deceased as commanded by the Almighty," he said.
Stefan told the Associated Press he was not aware of Almubarac's offer, but said he might pursue it.
Stefan said he plans to ask for a burial in the city of Cambridge, where Tsarnaev lived, but Cambridge City Manager Robert Healy urged the Tsarnaev family not to make a request.
"The difficult and stressful efforts of the citizens of the City of Cambridge to return to a peaceful life would be adversely impacted by the turmoil, protests, and wide spread media presence at such an interment," Healy said in a statement on Sunday.
The Tsarnaev brothers are accused of carrying out the Boston bombings using pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails, ball bearings and metal shards. The attack killed three people and injured more than 260 others near the marathon's finish line.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured and remains in a prison hospital. He has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and faces a potential death sentence if convicted.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev's uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, of Montgomery Village, Md., and three of his friends met with Stefan on Sunday to wash and shroud Tsarnaev's body according to Muslim tradition.
Tsarni told reporters that he is arranging for Tsarnaev's burial because religion and tradition call for his nephew to be buried. He would like him buried in Massachusetts because he's lived in the state for the last decade, he said.
"I'm dealing with logistics. A dead person must be buried," he said.
He said he was grateful to Stefan for agreeing to arrange the burial and to his friends for accompanying him to Massachusetts to aid with the funeral.
"These are my friends who feel for me ... as I do understand no one wants to associate their names with such evil events," he said.
Fox News' Corbett Riner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
A transcript of the 911 call placed Monday by a woman missing since 2003, when she was 16.
Caller: Help me. I'm Amanda Berry.
Dispatcher: You need police, fire, ambulance?
Caller: I need police.
Dispatcher: OK, and what's going on there?
Caller: I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years, and I'm, I'm here, I'm free now.
Dispatcher: OK, and what's your address?
Caller: 2207 Seymour Avenue.
Dispatcher: 2207 Seymour. Looks like you're calling me from 2210.
Dispatcher: Looks like you're calling me from 2210.
Caller: I can't hear you.
Dispatcher: Looks like you're calling me from 2210 Seymour.
Caller: I'm across the street; I'm using the phone.
Dispatcher: OK, stay there with those neighbors. Talk to police when they get there.
Dispatcher: OK, talk to police when they get there.
Caller: OK. Hello?
Dispatcher: OK, talk to the police when they get there.
Caller: OK (unintelligible).
Dispatcher: We're going to send them as soon as we get a car open.
Caller: No, I need them now before he gets back.
Dispatcher: All right; we're sending them, OK?
Caller: OK, I mean, like ...
Dispatcher: Who's the guy you're trying -- who's the guy who went out?
Caller: Um, his name is Ariel Castro.
Dispatcher: OK. How old is he?
Caller: He's like 52.
Dispatcher: And, uh -
Caller: I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last 10 years.
Dispatcher: I got, I got that, dear. (Unintelligible) And, you say, what was his name again?
Caller: Uh, Ariel Castro.
Dispatcher: And is he white, black or Hispanic?
Caller: Uh, Hispanic.
Dispatcher: What's he wearing?
Caller (agitated): I don't know, 'cause he's not here right now. That's why I ran away.
Dispatcher: When he left, what was he wearing?
Caller: Who knows (unintelligible).
Dispatcher: The police are on their way; talk to them when they get there.
Caller: Huh? I - OK.
Dispatcher: I told you they're on their way; talk to them when they get there, OK.
Caller: All right, OK. Bye.
Authorities say three brothers have been arrested after three women who vanished about a decade ago in separate cases were found alive Monday in a residential area just south of downtown Cleveland, just a few miles from where they disappeared.
Police said a 52-year-old man was among those arrested, but released no names and gave no details about the others arrested or what charges they might face. They described one of the suspects as a Hispanic male but said they planned to provide more information at a news conference Tuesday.
Cheering crowds gathered Monday night on the street near the home where police said Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were found earlier in the day. A 6-year-old also was found in the home, according to authorities.
Police didn't immediately provide any details of how the women were found but said they appeared to be in good health and had been taken to a hospital for evaluation, where they would be reunited with their relatives.
Cleveland's police chief says he thinks three women were tied up in the house where they were found and had been there since they disappeared.
"Help me, I'm Amanda Berry. ... I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years. And I'm here, I'm free now," Berry can be heard saying on the frantic 911 call,made at 5:51 p.m. Monday.
She asks for police to respond "now, before he gets back" and then identifies her kidnapper as "Ariel Castro."
Berry disappeared at age 16 on April 21, 2003, when she called her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her job at a Burger King.
DeJesus disappeared at age 14 on her way home from school about a year later. Police said Knight went missing in 2002 and is 32 now. They didn't provide current ages for the other two women.
Loved ones said they hadn't given up hope of seeing Berry and DeJesus again. Among them was Kayla Rogers, a childhood friend of DeJesus.
"I've been praying, never forgot about her, ever," Rogers told The Plain Dealer. "This is amazing. This is a celebration. I'm so happy. I just want to see her walk out of those doors so I can hug her."
Berry's cousin Tasheena Mitchell told the newspaper she couldn't wait to have Berry in her arms.
"I'm going to hold her, and I'm going to squeeze her and I probably won't let her go," she said.
At Metro Health Medical Center, Dr. Gerald Maloney declined to go into details about the women's conditions. "We're assessing their needs, and the appropriate specialists are evaluating them as well," he said at a news conference, which concluded with a round of applause from a large gathering of area residents.
In January, a prison inmate was sentenced to 4 1/2 years after admitting he provided a false burial tip in the disappearance of Berry, who had last been seen the day before her 17th birthday. A judge in Cleveland sentenced Robert Wolford on his guilty plea to obstruction of justice, making a false report and making a false alarm.
Last summer, Wolford tipped authorities to look for Berry's remains in a Cleveland lot. He was taken to the location, which was dug up with backhoes.
Berry's mother, Louwana Miller, who had been hospitalized for months with pancreatitis and other ailments, died in March 2006. She had spent the previous three years looking for her daughter, whose disappearance took a toll as her health steadily deteriorated, family and friends said.
Two men arrested for questioning in the disappearance of DeJesus in 2004 were released from the city jail in 2006 after officers did not find her body during a search of the men's house.
One of the men was transferred to the Cuyahoga County Jail on unrelated charges, while the other was allowed to go free, police said.
In September 2006, police acting on a tip tore up the concrete floor of the garage and used a cadaver dog to search unsuccessfully for DeJesus' body. Investigators confiscated 19 pieces of evidence during their search but declined to comment on the significance of the items then.
No Amber Alert was issued the day DeJesus failed to return home from school in April 2004 because no one witnessed her abduction. The lack of an Amber Alert angered her father, Felix DeJesus, who said in 2006 he believed the public will listen even if the alerts become routine.
"The Amber Alert should work for any missing child," Felix DeJesus said then. "It doesn't have to be an abduction. Whether it's an abduction or a runaway, a child needs to be found. We need to change this law."
Cleveland police said then that the alerts must be reserved for cases in which danger is imminent and the public can be of help in locating the suspect and child.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The owner of a San Fernando Valley jewelry store has reached a plea agreement for his role in an insider-trading case involving a former senior partner at accounting firm KPMG.
Prosecutors allege that accountant Scott London provided jeweler Bryan Shaw, a long-time friend and golf partner, with insider information about KPMG clients including Herbalife Ltd., Skechers USA Inc., Uggs maker Deckers Outdoor Corp.
The government alleges that Shaw made over $1 million in illicit profits by trading in advance of company announcements on earnings results or mergers. In exchange, Shaw is alleged to have given London bags filled with cash, along with a Rolex watch and jewelry for his wife, among other items.
The Department of Justice said Shaw was charged Monday with one count of conspiracy for his role in the scheme. As part of the deal, Shaw agreed to plead guilty to the felony offense and admitted that he plotted with London to commit securities fraud. He will also forfeit nearly $1.3 million in illegal stock-trading profits.
Shaw, a 52-year old resident of Lake Sherwood, Calif., is expected to make his initial appearance later this week in U.S. District Court.
London was fired from KPMG and charged last month for his role in the scheme that took place from 2010 to 2012. The 50-year old Agoura Hills, Calif., resident is scheduled to be arraigned on May 17.
An Air Force officer who led the branch's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response unit has been charged with groping a woman in a parking lot.
Arlington County Police said Monday that they charged Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski of Arlington with misdemeanor sexual battery after an alleged assault about 12:30 a.m. Sunday in the Crystal City section of the county.
A police report says that the 41-year-old Krusinski was drunk and grabbed a woman's breast and buttocks. Police say the woman fought him off and called police.
Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck says Krusinski did not know the woman involved.
An arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.
Air Force spokeswoman Natasha Waggoner said Krusinski was removed from his position after the Air Force learned of his arrest.
A Pennsylvania man faces larceny, money laundering and other charges stemming from the alleged theft of six art works including a Pablo Picasso etching from a suburban New York City estate.
Brooklyn and Long Island prosecutors announced the indictment Monday of Joselito Vega, of Easton, Pa.
They say Vega was working as a painter in March 2011 at an estate in Kings Point, N.Y., where three paintings were later reported missing.
Investigators tracked one of the stolen paintings to an art gallery in Oakland, Calif., where it sold for $8,500.
Detectives set up a sting at the estate and Vega was arrested last month after allegedly stealing three more works, including the Picasso.
He is being held on $1 million bond. A listing for his attorney could not be found.
Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Andrés Alonso will retire at the end of the school year, after six years of leading the district and orchestrating a turnaround for a system ailing from decades of decline.
Alonso's six years at the district's helm make him one of the longest-serving big-city superintendents in the country.
Under Alonso's leadership, student enrollment and graduation rates increased as suspension and dropout rates dropped.
He said Monday that he is retiring to return home to New Jersey to care for his parents and to assume a professorship at Harvard University.
His last day will be June 30. Chief of Staff Tisha Edwards will serve as an interim CEO through the next school year while the School Board searches for a permanent successor.
Former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman is questioning the expected use of a voice recognition expert at his murder trial next month.
Zimmerman's attorney filed a motion made public Monday asking for a hearing to determine whether testimony from the expert would be allowed.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year in a gated community in Sanford during a struggle. Zimmerman is pleading not guilty.
Neighbors called 911 during the struggle and cries of help can be heard on the calls. Martin's family claims the voice is that of the South Florida teen.
Zimmerman's father has said in court he believes the cries are from his son.
Zimmerman's attorney says jurors could be confused by a voice expert's testimony.
Israel's willingness to hit Syrian targets it sees as threats to its own existence has complicated the Obama administration's internal debate over arming President Bashar Assad's foes and may change the way U.S. approaches allies as it tries to boost the rebels, including with possible military aid.
As Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Russia on Monday for talks with the Assad regime's most powerful ally, the administration remained tight-lipped on both Israel's weekend air strikes and their implications for Washington decision-making.
Israeli warplanes targeted caches of Iranian missiles that were bound for Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terror group that has threatened Israel. The weapons would have allowed Hezbollah to strike Tel Aviv and as far as southern Israel from inside Lebanese territory.
Still, Israel's actions put Damascus and Moscow on notice that the U.S. and its allies may not wait for an international green light to become more actively engaged. The administration said last week it was rethinking its opposition to arming the rebels or taking other aggressive steps to turn the tide of the two-year-old civil war toward the rebels.
At the same time, Israeli involvement in the war carries risks. Instead of prodding Russia into calling for Assad's ouster, it could bring greater Arab sympathy for Assad and prompt deeper involvement from Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, actors committed as much to preserving Assad as to fighting the Jewish state.
Although Israel hasn't officially acknowledged it carried out the airstrikes, Syrian officials on Monday were blaming Israel, calling it a "declaration of war" that would cause the Jewish state to "suffer."
Russia, alongside China, has blocked U.S.-led efforts three times at the United Nations to pressure Assad into stepping down. Officials said Kerry hopes to change Moscow's thinking with two new arguments: American threats to arm the Syrian rebels and evidence of chemical weapon attacks by the Assad regime.
Kerry, U.S. officials said Monday, hopes that may be enough to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to support, or at least not veto, a fresh effort to impose UN sanctions on Syria if Assad doesn't begin transition talks with the opposition. The officials demanded anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly about the confidential diplomacy.
"We have consistently, in our conversations with the Russians and others, pointed clearly to Assad's behavior as proof that further support for the regime is not in the interest of the Syrian people or in the interest of the countries that have in the past supported Assad," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
"We have been clear in the past about our disappointment with Russia over their opposition to resolutions at the Security Council with regards to this matter. But this is an ongoing conversation," he said.
U.S. officials said the administration doesn't believe the weekend activity will force President Barack Obama's hand, noting that the U.S.'s main concern is the use of chemical weapons by Assad, while Israel's top concern is conventional weapons falling into the hands of its enemies.
The chemical weapons argument is now under surprising attack, with former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte saying over the weekend she and fellow members of a four-member U.N. human rights panel have indications the nerve agent sarin was used by Syrian rebel forces, but not by government forces.
Despite a clarification from the UN that it is has not yet made any definitive determination on chemical weapons use, Washington pushed back on del Ponte's assertion, saying it's highly likely that the Assad regime, and not the rebels, has been behind any chemical weapons use in Syria.
"We are highly skeptical of suggestions that the opposition could have or did use chemical weapons," Carney said. "We find it highly likely that any chemical weapon use that has taken place in Syria was done by the Assad regime. And that remains our position."
The State Department said the administration continues to believe that Syria's large chemical weapons stockpiles remain securely in the regime's control.
The Obama administration opened the door to new military options in Syria after declaring last week it strongly believed the Assad regime used chemical weapons in two attacks in March. Two days after that announcement, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said arming the Syrian rebels was a policy consideration.
Before departing for Russia, Kerry visited the Pentagon for a lunch meeting with Hagel. Defense Department press secretary George Little said he expected Syria to be discussed.
Also Monday, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called for the US. to provide weapons to vetted Syrian rebels. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., introduced legislation that would allow for arms, military training and non-lethal aid to rebels that meet certain criteria on human rights and don't have links to terrorism.
Until now, U.S. efforts to bolster the rebels' fighting skills and gather intelligence on the groups operating inside Syria have been limited to small training camps in Jordan, according to two U.S. officials, who weren't authorized to speak about secret activities and demanded anonymity.
There are several options for escalation ranging from arming the rebels to targeted airstrikes and imposing no-fly zones. However, arming the rebels is the most likely escalation, officials said.
Officials said targeted strikes are likely to be considered only after uncontested proof emerges of chemical weapons use. And, even the most ardent advocates of U.S. intervention don't want American military boots on the ground while no-fly zones would demand intensive operations to neutralize Syria's Russian-supplied air defenses.
Although Israel seems to have thwarted those defenses with its weekend strikes, U.S. officials say that maintaining permanent no-fly zones will require far more support than specific actions like the airstrikes.
After visiting Moscow for the first time since he became secretary of state, Kerry will travel to Rome for talks with members of the new Italian government as well as Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh to discuss Middle East peace prospects.
Associated Press writers Donna Cassata, Jim Kuhnhenn, Josh Lederman, Kimberly Dozier and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.
Authorities say searchers have found the body of an 83-year-old woman who went missing after arriving at a Washington airport from Barbados.
U.S. Park Police spokesman Paul Brooks said in an email Monday afternoon that the body of Victoria Kong was found about 2 p.m. by a team with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police.
Brooks said Kong's body was found north of Reagan National Airport, about 30 feet from a bike trail in a wooded area.
He said the investigation into her death is continuing.
Kong was last seen Friday leaving the airport on foot.
Kong's family says they were waiting for her to be escorted off the flight by wheelchair, but she never showed up.
Singer-songwriter Josh Ritter says he won't play a central Pennsylvania Christian college again unless it changes its policy against "homosexual behavior."
Ritter made the announcement on Facebook hours after playing a Friday night concert at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., southwest of Harrisburg.
Messiah students and staff have to sign a "community covenant" promising to avoid homosexual behavior and premarital sex.
Ritter calls the policy exclusionary and bigoted. He says he's donating his fee to an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services.
Messiah spokeswoman Beth Lorow says the administration is disappointed that Ritter is speaking in favor of tolerance but isn't applying those principles to their religious freedoms.
Ritter talked about the policy during the show. Lorow says his comments on stage weren't as harsh as his Facebook posting.
Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/joshrittermusic/posts/10151431221117709
A Phoenix jury is on its second day of deliberations in the trial of Jodi Arias, who is accused of murdering her one-time boyfriend in Arizona.
Jurors took a lunch break at noon Monday after three hours of deliberations. They are scheduled to resume at 1 p.m.
The jury began deliberating Friday on whether the 32-year-old Arias should be convicted of first-degree murder in Travis Alexander's June 4, 2008, death.
Prosecutors say Arias planned the attack in a jealous rage.
Arias initially denied involvement, then blamed it on two masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense.
Testimony in the case began in early January, and Arias spent 18 days on the witness stand.