Category Archives: International

Zimbabwe latest: Ruling Zanu-PF urges Mugabe to step down

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Regional branches of Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party have joined growing calls for President Robert Mugabe to resign.

The move comes ahead of a protest march to be held in the capital Harare on Saturday, fully supported by the country’s military which staged a takeover on Wednesday.

War veterans until recently loyal to the 93-year-old president and liberal groups have also urged him to quit.

Earlier Mr Mugabe made his first public appearance since the takeover.

Mr Mugabe had been under house arrest for days, but attended a graduation ceremony on Friday, handing out degrees.

The army made its move after a power struggle over his successor. Mr Mugabe sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, apparently to pave the way for his wife Grace Mugabe – who is four decades younger than him – to take over the presidency instead.

The military said it was “engaging” with Mr Mugabe and would advise the public on the outcome of talks “as soon as possible”.


Who is saying Mr Mugabe should quit?

At least eight out of 10 regional party branches voted on Friday evening for Mr Mugabe to resign as president and party secretary.

In an unprecedented broadcast, several regional leaders appeared on state TV saying that he should quit.

They also called for Grace Mugabe to resign from the party, and for Mr Mnangagwa to be reinstated in the party’s central committee.

The party’s members agreed to mobilise support for and attend Saturday’s rally. The party is planning to hold a special central committee session over the weekend to discuss the crisis.

Meanwhile in a statement issued on Friday evening, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) said it had been approached by organisers of the rally, which it described as a “solidarity march”.

The statement went on: “ZDF is therefore advising the nation that for as long as the planned march remains orderly, peaceful… and without hate speech and incitement to cause violence, it fully supports the march.”

Earlier Christopher Mutsvangwa – the leader of the influential war veterans’ association, once loyal to Mr Mugabe – called for a huge turnout at the rally.

“We want to restore our pride and tomorrow is the day… we can finish the job which the army started,” he said.

“There’s no going back about Mugabe. He must leave.”

Liberal groups opposed to the president have also backed the protest.

The leader of last year’s #Thisflag protests, Evans Mwarire, urged people to turn up.

What happened when Mr Mugabe appeared in public?

Mr Mugabe’s attendance at the graduation is an annual tradition but he was not expected this year.

BBC Online Africa editor Joseph Winter says the president was allowed to be there partly to keep up the pretence that the military have not staged a coup and partly because of a genuine, deeply felt respect for him going back more than 40 years.

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Mr Mugabe opened the ceremony at Zimbabwe’s Open University, where he is chancellor.

One of the people he conferred a degree upon was Marry Chiwenga, the wife of the general who detained him on Wednesday, the state broadcaster reports.

Grace Mugabe was not present. It had been thought she had left the country but it emerged on Thursday that she was at home with Mr Mugabe.


How did we get here?

Soldiers seized the headquarters of Zimbabwe’s national broadcaster ZBC on Wednesday and loud explosions and gunfire were heard.

Major General Sibusiso Moyo then read out a statement on national television, assuring the nation that President Mugabe and his family were safe.

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The military was only targeting what he called “criminals” around the president, he said, denying that there had been a coup.

On Thursday Mr Mugabe was pictured smiling as he took part in talks with an army general and South African government ministers at State House but sources suggested he might be resisting pressure to resign.


What has the reaction been across the world?

  • US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged a quick return to civilian rule, but also said the crisis was an opportunity for Zimbabwe to set itself on a new path
  • Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing was hoping for stability and a peaceful “appropriate” resolution
  • UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned against a transition from “one unelected tyrant” to another
  • Botswana’s President Ian Khama said regional leaders did not support Mr Mugabe staying in power
  • Alpha Conde, the chairman of the African Union, a key regional bloc, said the takeover “seems like a coup” and demanded a return to constitutional order

Uneasy calm in Mugabe’s village

By Stanley Kwenda, BBC News, Kutama

To get to President Mugabe’s rural home you drive along the Robert Mugabe highway. It’s probably one of the best maintained roads in Zimbabwe, like driving on a carpet. Along the way you are greeted by a plaque erected in his honour.

Kutama is a small and tightly connected village where everyone knows each other.

You can’t really tell if they’ve been rattled by the current political crisis. As we arrived there was an air of uncertainty. Mr Mugabe is respected here – to many he’s a father and a friend. A 65-year-old neighbour of his told me: “He’s kind, he’s a good man and he understands people’s plight.”

The man goes to St Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church with Mr Mugabe, a devout Christian, whenever he visits. “He never demands special treatment. He visits people to check on their welfare,” said the man at his compound.

He said he supports the move by the army saying it’s meant to correct a broken system. “If his term goes out then there’s nothing wrong,” he said.

Syria: Russia again blocks extension of chemical attacks probe

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Russia has cast a second veto in as many days to block a UN Security Council resolution that would have extended an international inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

Russia rejected a Japanese draft resolution to prolong by 30 days the Joint Investigative Mechanism, whose mandate ends at midnight on Friday.

Western nations condemned the move.

It is the 11th time Moscow has used its veto powers in support of its ally since the conflict began.

On Thursday, Russia blocked a US-written draft to extend the JIM’s mandate for a year.

The JIM was set up in 2015 to identify perpetrators of chemical attacks. It is the only official mission investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Moscow strongly criticised the inquiry when it blamed the Syrian government for a deadly nerve agent attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in April.

Syria denies using banned chemical weapons.


What is the Joint Investigative Mechanism?

  • Created in 2015 with unanimous backing from the UN Security Council and renewed in 2016 for another year
  • Involves the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
  • Has previously concluded that Syrian government forces used chlorine as a weapon at least three times between 2014 and 2015
  • It has also found that Islamic State militants used sulphur mustard in one attack

Russia, the UK, China, France and the US all have veto powers at the Security Council.

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The attack on Khan Sheikhoun left more than 80 people dead and prompted the US to launch missile strikes on a Syrian airbase.

Last month, a UN Human Rights Council inquiry concluded a Syrian air force jet was responsible, dismissing statements from Russia that the jet had dropped conventional munitions that struck a rebel chemical weapons depot.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the incident in Khan Sheikhoun was a “fabrication”.

Ohio Supreme Court Judge Bill O’Neill brags of sex conquests

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Ohio voters are in shock after a top judge boasted of having been “sexually intimate” with “approximately 50 very attractive females”.

State Supreme Court Judge Bill O’Neill, who is a Democratic candidate for state governor, made the claim on Facebook on Friday afternoon.

In a follow-up interview he defended his post and a senator who was pictured apparently groping a sleeping woman.

Ohio Democrats condemned Judge O’Neill’s comments.

His post began: “Now that the dogs of war are calling for the head of Senator Al Franken I believe it is time to speak up on behalf of all heterosexual males.”

Trump: Al Franken photo ‘really bad’

Judge O’Neill noted that as a candidate for governor, his admission would “save my opponents some research time”.

“In the last fifty years I was sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females,” wrote the Chagrin Falls, Ohio, native.

The 70-year-old Democrat went on to describe two of the women and his alleged encounters with them.

“It ranged from a gorgeous personal secretary to Senator Bob Taft (Senior) who was my first true love and we made passionate love in the hayloft of her parents barn.”

He later edited the post to clarify it was the secretary – not Senator Taft – with whom he purportedly had sexual relations.

In an interview with Cleveland.com after the post was published, Judge O’Neill confirmed he had written it.

He told the publication the number “50” could be incorrect since he “doesn’t keep count”.

Judge O’Neill also said he did not think it improper for a Supreme Court justice to divulge particulars of his sex life.

According to Ohio media, Judge O’Neill must retire from the bench when his current term ends in 2019 due to age restrictions.

He is the only Democrat not just on the state Supreme Court, but to hold state-wide office in Ohio.

The over-sharing jurist launched his campaign for governor in late October on a platform of expanding mental care access, tax incentives for solar power, and legalising cannabis – the last of which he mentioned in his Facebook tell-all.

The post provoked an avalanche of responses on social media ranging from baffled to admiring to derisive.

One woman wrote: “YOU ARE TRASH.”

A man posted: “You earned my vote.”

Many pointed out the judge’s encounters appeared to be consensual in contrast to Senator Al Franken, who along with Senate hopeful Roy Moore, is accused of non-consensual sexual contact.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor condemned her colleague in a statement.

“No words can convey my shock,” she said.

“This gross disrespect for women shakes the public’s confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.”

Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach wrote to Judge O’Neill on Twitter: “Not only have you lost any glimpse of support from me, (you’ve) also lost my respect.”

Mary Taylor, Republican lieutenant governor of Ohio, posted on Twitter: “There’s a very serious conversation going on right now in this country about sexual harassment and @BillForOhio’s crass post is ill-timed and dismissive at best.”

“We have to be better than this,” she added.

But Judge O’Neill doubled down on his comments in a subsequent Facebook post.

“Lighten up folks,” he scolded his critics.

“This is how Democrats remain in the minority.”

Saad Hariri: Lebanon PM to leave Saudi Arabia

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Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has tweeted that he is “on the way to the airport”, denying claims that he is being held hostage in Saudi Arabia.

Mr Hariri resigned unexpectedly during a visit to Riyadh on 4 November – but his resignation has not been accepted.

On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he had invited Mr Hariri to Paris after talks with Saudi officials.

Lebanese officials have said Mr Hariri is being detained in Saudi Arabia – a claim denied as “false” by Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia has also denied forcing Mr Hariri to resign in an attempt to curb the influence of its regional rival Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, which is part of a national unity government that Mr Hariri formed last year.

France, Lebanon’s onetime colonial ruler, has been trying to mediate in the crisis.

Jesse Jackson diagnosed with Parkinson’s

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US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

“My family and I began to notice changes about three years ago,” Mr Jackson, aged 76, wrote in a statement.

“After a battery of tests, my physicians identified the issue as Parkinson’s disease, a disease that bested my father.”

Parkinson’s is an incurable neurological disease that can cause tremors and affect coordination.

“Recognition of the effects of this disease on me has been painful, and I have been slow to grasp the gravity of it,” Mr Jackson said.

He said the diagnosis was “not a stop sign but rather a signal that I must make lifestyle changes and dedicate myself to physical therapy in hopes of slowing the disease’s progression”.

Mr Jackson fought for civil rights alongside Martin Luther King Jr in the 1960s. He was twice a candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, in 1984 and 1988, and his son Jesse Jr is a former US congressman.

He has remained an activist into later life, and spoke up last year in the wake of a spate of police shootings of black men, saying they were just one expression of a “mean-spirited division” taking hold of the country.

About 60,000 new Parkinson’s diagnoses are made every year in the US, where the disease affects an estimated one million people.

“I am far from alone,” Mr Jackson said.

“God continues to give me new opportunities to serve. This diagnosis is personal but it is more than that. It is an opportunity for me to use my voice to help in finding a cure for a disease that afflicts seven to 10 million worldwide.”

Argentine navy loses contact with submarine

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The Argentine navy is searching the South Atlantic for a submarine that has not made contact for 48 hours.

The vessel with its 44 crew was last located more than 400km (250 miles) off the coast of Patagonia, the navy said.

There is no sign yet that the problem is anything worse than a communications failure, a spokesman said.

It is believed that the ARA San Juan, a German-built TR-1700 type submarine, suffered an electric malfunction, Argentina’s La Nacion reports.

Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi told the newspaper the submarine had been on its way from the Ushuaia naval base to the Mar del Plata base, its usual station, when “at some moment communication stopped”.

“It’s not that it’s lost,” he said. “For it to be lost we’d have to look for it and not find it.”

Mr Balbi said the submarine had food supplies for several days and was probably continuing its planned journey.

Trump family’s hunting history reexamined in light of new elephant trophy policy

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Donald Trump Jr. caused an uproar among some when pictures surfaced of him holding the tail of a dead elephant after a big-game hunt in Africa years ago. Now, new policy changes proposed by his father’s administration may allow Americans to bring the carcasses of elephants and lions killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia back to the U.S.

The importing of so-called hunting trophies was banned by former President Obama in 2014, but the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will allow Americans to bring back elephant and lion trophies. Fish and Wildlife officials said they would begin issuing permits on Oct. 20.

The African lion population has decreased 42 percent in the past 20 years, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.

During the press briefing Friday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that the change in policy stems from a study that was initiated during the Obama administration.

She said the study determined that both Zambia and Zimbabwe met “strict international conservation standards that allowed Americans to resume hunting in those countries.”

Sanders noted the ban on imported ivory remains in place.

Neither of Trump’s sons have spoken about the policy changes yet, but both Donald Trump Jr. and President Trump have publicly spoken about their family’s hunting history in the past.

Back in 2012, years before their father ran for president, photos surfaced of Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump‘s hunting trip to Zimbabwe.

Photos released by the safari company at the time, which were later published on TMZ and elsewhere, showed the brothers posing next to various dead animals that were killed as part of their hunt. Donald Trump Jr. was 34 years old at the time, and Eric Trump was 28.

Various photos show the brothers flanking a crocodile hanging from a tree, smiling behind the horns of a killed waterbuck, and standing together as Eric held a dead leopard. Donald Trump Jr. was pictured sitting next to a dead buffalo while holding a gun and wearing an ammunition belt, and Eric Trump can be seen sitting on one of the dead animals with guns resting on its horns.

The Trump brothers were not pictured with any dead lions in 2012, but Donald Trump Jr. was pictured next to a dead elephant while holding its severed tail.

A spokesperson for the Trump sons did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment on the recent policy change. It remains unclear if the brothers brought back any animal trophies from their safari trip, as it was legal to do so at the time.

Donald Trump Jr. has spoken about the 2012 trip in the past.

In a 2012 interview with a Forbes contributor, Donald Jr. reportedly told him that it was African tradition to cut off an elephant’s tail and use its hair to make bracelets, and that it is seen as a sign of respect for the animal.

Following the uproar caused by the photos, Donald Jr. and Eric released a statement to E! News, calling themselves “avid outdoorsmen and were brought up hunting and fishing with our grandfather who taught us that nothing should ever be taken for granted or wasted.”

“We have the utmost respect for nature and have always hunted in accordance with local laws and regulations. In addition, all meat was donated to local villagers who were incredibly grateful. We love traveling and being in the woods—at the end of the day, we are outdoorsmen at heart,” the statement read.

That didn’t stop critics from going after Donald Trump Jr. on Twitter, and he responded in kind.

“I AM A HUNTER I don’t hide from that,” he wrote in one tweet to a critic.

“Not a pr move I didn’t give the pics but I have no shame about them either. I HUNT & EAT game,” he wrote in another.

More recently, Donald Trump Jr. has shared a number of photos from domestic hunting trips, including one in Montana earlier this month. He also shared a photo from a bow hunting trip in the Yukon “earlier this fall,” and went pheasant hunting in Iowa with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) in October.

President Trump commented on his sons’ love of hunting to TMZ after the photos were released in 2012. At the time, Donald Trump defended his sons but acknowledged he felt differently about hunting.

“My sons love hunting. They’re hunters and they’ve become good at it. I am not a believer in hunting and I’m surprised they like it,” Trump told TMZ at the time.

“I know that anything they did was 100 percent okay in terms of the hunting community,” Trump added to TMZ.

Donald Trump Jr. echoed that sentiment in his interview with Forbes in 2012, saying that his father “really doesn’t understand why Eric and I hunt. However, he is open-minded and so always allowed us to go hunting.”

The brothers said their interest in hunting came from Ivana Trump‘s father.

“Our maternal grandfather was Czechoslovakian. When we were young, he would have us to his place in Czechoslovakia for a month or more during summers…He loved to hunt and fish and taught us how,” Donald Trump Jr. told Forbes in 2012.

But Ivana Trump herself has spoken out about her sons’ hunting, writing in her book published just last month, “Raising Trump,” that she was “not fond of” it.

“I don’t object to their going to Patagonia to shoot birds. There are a million of them there, enough to spare,” Ivana Trump wrote. “But why go to Zimbabwe to shoot Bambi and Dumbo? I don’t blame people for giving them a hard time about it.”

While President Trump may not “understand” his sons’ interest in hunting, he has referenced it when appealing to gun rights supporters both during the campaign and since he has taken office.

A month before Donald Trump announced his candidacy, he tweeted about his sons’ ties to the National Rifle Association.

“My two sons, Eric & Don, have long been expert hunters & marksmen @NRA. They go on safaris & give animals to the poor & starving villagers!” he tweeted.

And while the president never talks about hunting himself, he said he does own a gun. In his 2015 book, Trump wrote that he “owns guns. Fortunately, I have never had to use.” According to publicly accessible records, President Trump has had a concealed weapons permit since 2010.

“I’m a member of the NRA. My sons, Don and Eric, are members of the NRA for a long time. They’re hunters. They’re great members of the NRA,” Trump said during an MSNBC town hall event in February 2016.

He has specifically mentioned his sons’ NRA membership in speeches he has given to the gun rights group, both as a candidate in 2016 and as president earlier this year.

“I can tell you, both sons, they love the outdoors. Frankly, I think they love the outdoors more than they love, by a long shot, Fifth Avenue,” he said in his April 2017 speech to the NRA.

North Korean defector found to have ‘enormous parasites’

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A North Korean soldier who was shot while fleeing across the border has an extremely high level of parasites in his intestines, his doctors say.

The defector crossed the demilitarised zone on Monday, but was shot several times by North Korean border guards.

Doctors say the patient is stable – but “an enormous number” of worms in his body are contaminating his wounds and making his situation worse.

His condition is thought to give a rare insight into life in North Korea.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 20 years as a physician,” South Korean doctor Lee Cook-jong told journalists, explaining that the longest worm removed from the patient’s intestines was 27cm (11in) long.

What does it tell us about N Korea’s standards of health?

“North Korea is a very poor country and like any other poor country it has serious health problems,” Prof Andrei Lankov of Kookmin University in Seoul told the BBC.

“North Korea does not have the resources to have a modern medical system,” he says. “Its doctors are relatively poorly trained and have to work with primitive equipment.”

In 2015 South Korean researchers studied the health records of North Korean defectors who had visited a hospital in Cheonan between 2006 and 2014.

They found that they showed higher rates of chronic hepatitis B, chronic hepatitis C, tuberculosis and parasite infections, compared to South Koreans.

“I don’t know what is happening in North Korea, but I found many parasites when examining other defectors,” Professor Seong Min of Dankook University Medical School was quoted by the Korea Biomedical Review as saying.

But Prof Lankov points out that compared with other countries with a similar per capita income – like Bangladesh or many African countries – the population in North Korea is healthier than one would expect. The country’s life expectancy is well above average considering the level of economic poverty, he says.

Are the parasites endangering the soldier?

Yes. Considering that he is already in a critical condition, they are making a bad situation much worse.

The soldier was shot at least six times when North Korean border guards opened fire on him as he ran across the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom to the South Korean side.

The young soldier was rushed by helicopter to a hospital in South Korea and has undergone emergency surgery.

Doctors say there is a severe contamination of the wounds by both parasites and faeces.

“We are paying close attention to prevent possible complications,” surgeon Lee Cook-jong told reporters, explaining that “an enormous number of parasites” including roundworms had been found in the small intestine.

How do you get a parasite?

Humans can get parasites through eating contaminated food, by being bitten by an insect or by the parasite entering through the skin.

In the case of the North Korean defector, the first case is most likely. Parasites which enter the body via contaminated food are often worms.

The soldier’s food may have been contaminated because the North still uses human faeces as fertiliser, known as “night soil”.

Lee Min-bok, a North Korean agriculture expert, told Reuters: “Chemical fertiliser was supplied by the state until the 1970s. By the 1990s, the state could not supply it any more, so farmers started to use a lot of night soil instead.”

If these faeces are untreated and fertilise vegetables that are later eaten uncooked, the parasites get into the mouth and the intestines of the person.

While some don’t cause any severe symptoms, others can be life-threatening, explains Prof Peter Preiser from the School of Biological Sciences at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

“What they all do is take nutrients away from your body,” he told the BBC. “So [even] if most of them might go unnoticed, they all indicate a poor health status. To put it simply: people who have parasites are not healthy.”

If the intestines are disrupted and parasites are released into the body cavity, they can be a lot more dangerous and much more complicated to treat.

Also, he is likely to have had the parasites for a long time. This means “that patient will generally be in a weaker state so any wounds and surgery will become more dangerous,” explains Prof Preiser.

Is this a problem particular to North Korea?

Parasites, especially worms, are thought to be widespread in North Korea. However, they also affect many developing countries where diets include uncooked vegetables fertilised with faeces.

There are ways to treat faeces so they can be used as a safe fertiliser, but many poor countries neglect to do so. Prof Lankov says this seems to be the case in North Korea.

The poor health and nutrition has widespread consequences “but North Korea does not admit this because they fear this will affect their image too much”.

Should there ever be a reunification of the two Koreas though, there would be massive health problems for officials to deal with for decades to come, Prof Lankov warns.

Telling the story of a boy with Treacher Collins

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One of my favorite things to do with my children is to read to them.

A few years ago, the bedtime book was “Wonder,” and it was hands-down one of the best books we read together. So, a few years later when my mother forwarded me an email from a member of her book club, I took notice. “Has Elizabeth heard of the book ‘Wonder?’” the email read. “If so, I have the real-life wonder boy in my class.” I jumped for the phone.

We made contact with the Newman family, living in Reno, Nevada, and spent the next two and a half years following Russ and Magda and their sons Nathaniel and Jacob. Nathaniel, now 13, had been born with a severe case of Treacher Collins syndrome. It’s a genetic condition that radically affects the bones in Nathaniel’s face. Russ and Magda were shocked when Nathaniel was born – they had no warning anything was wrong.

Watch the full story on “20/20” TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET.

They are incredibly brave people, who have been through so much. But they made a pledge to each other, and to Nathaniel, that they would not hide him from the world, or the world from him, and they allowed my producers and me to follow them for more than two years. We were along with him on his first day of middle school, where students had all gotten a letter from Nathaniel explaining his condition, along with a picture, so they could prepare themselves.

We were along when the family met a man with this rare condition, who was able to explain what Nathaniel will probably face in his teenage years. And we and our cameras were there when the Newmans decided to try a risky and revolutionary surgery that might allow Nathaniel to breath without a trach tube in his throat. Magda Newman calls the surgery barbaric, and honestly it was. But no one was braver than Nathaniel, who chose to take the risk.

Shadowing a family like this for as long as we did with our cameras is a delicate thing. We assigned one of our best producer/shooters for this, Jeff Schneider. After the first few hours of recording, he was able to make the Newmans so comfortable, they could almost forget he was there. We captured some truly intimate moments with this family – the worry about how other kids would treat their son, the anguish as they carried him into the operating room for yet another surgery. My producers, Sean Dooley and Jen Joseph, and I all became very close to the Newmans. They are remarkably candid about their most difficult moments, about their worries and their fears. I interviewed them almost half a dozen times over the two years.

Getting to know Nathaniel was wonderful. He is a sensitive boy, but so very strong. He was four years old when he first realized he looked different. Sometimes, he told me, in moments of pure joy, he can forget for a moment what his face looks like. But he knows he will always look this way, no surgery can correct it, and that there will people who will at times be cruel.

But one thing has made life easier for Nathaniel: the book “Wonder,” by RJ Palacio. Russ Newman says that book has done more than anything in the world to ease the way for children like his son. The Newmans could not believe the story when they read it. It is their story. As Russ told me, “Was RJ spying on us?” RJ likewise told me that when she met Nathaniel, she exclaimed, “It’s Auggie Pullman come to life.” It really stretches credulity, the similarities between art and life are so strong.

We interviewed RJ about how she got the idea for the book, and how she never expected it to be the phenomenon it has become: Five million copies sold around the world, translated into 45 languages, and now a blockbuster movie.

If the book has eased the way a bit for Nathaniel and other children like him, we hope our hour Friday night will do the same. It is so much easier to be humane, to be kind, when the person in front of you is someone you know. We are excited to introduce our viewers to Nathaniel, and the Newman Family.

During discussion about guns in church, man accidentally shoots himself, wife: Police

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A man accidentally shot himself and his wife in their Tennessee church after he had taken his gun out during a discussion about weapons in places of worship, police said.

The man, 81, and his wife, 80, both suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

The incident happened Thursday afternoon as members of the First United Methodist Church in Tellico Plains — about 60 miles southwest of Knoxville — were gathered at the church for a pre-Thanksgiving lunch, Tellico Plains Police Department Chief Russ Parks told ABC News.

The church members were discussing weapons in places of worship on the heels of the shooting at a Texas church earlier this month that killed over two dozen people, Parks said, and “one of the gentlemen said, ‘Well, I take my gun with me everywhere.'”

The 81-year-old man took his handgun out of his pocket, removed the magazine, cleared the weapon and handed it to other churchgoers who wanted to see it, Parks said.

He then took his weapon back, placed the magazine back in it, put the gun back in his holster and placed it in his pocket, Parks said.

When another man came over and asked to see the weapon, the man pulled his gun back out of his pocket and accidentally hit the trigger, firing one round, Parks said.

A single bullet struck the gun owner in his right hand before hitting his 80-year-old wife, Parks said. That bullet went through the woman’s left side of her abdomen and came out of the right side of her abdomen, after which it struck her inside right forearm, came out of her forearm, struck the wall, ricocheted and landed at her wheelchair, Parks said.

No one else was injured, police said.

No charges will be filed, Parks said.

“This was an accident. It was not intentional,” Parks said. “It just slipped his mind that he recharged the weapon.”

Parks said the man was carrying the gun legally.

Parks added, “We are currently working on a program now for our local citizens on weapon safety. Sometimes we don’t get enough of that for the general public.”

A representative for the First United Methodist Church did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.