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POPE
Pope Francis will speak before a Joint Meeting of Congress Thursday morning, this last day in Washington, D.C. before heading to New York City. In between, he will make several brief stops, including a visit to Catholic Charities. Once in the Big Apple, Francis will hold an evening prayer service at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

VOTE 2016
-- Dr. Ben Carson tells ABC News he agrees with Pope Francis' message of tolerance, saying he believes tolerance is a two-way street. Speaking on his tour bus Wednesday, Dr. Carson also said he does not believe his view of Muslims clashes with the idea of tolerance.
-- Meanwhile, GOP front-runner Donald Trump is in full attack mode against his rival candidates. While in South Carolina on Wednesday, the New York City billionaire took shots at Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, and he called Hillary Clinton "shrill".
-- Hillary Clinton took her own shots at Donald Trump during an interview Wednesday, calling his rhetoric irresponsible and denouncing his accusation that she is the original birther as absurd.

VOLKSWAGEN
The backlash continues against Volkswagen, which admits to installing software in an estimated 11 million vehicles that allows them to cheat on carbon emissions tests. The automaker's stock was down by 25 percent as of Wednesday. C-E-O Martin Winterkorn announced Wednesday that he is stepping down.

CHINA PRESIDENT
Boeing and Chinese officials announced a mega-deal Wednesday in Seattle. China is purchasing 300 new Boeing aircraft, mainly 373s, at an estimated cost of 38 billion dollars. Boeing's CEO says China now makes up a quarter of the company's sales. Chinese President Xi Jinping also took a tour of Boeing's headquarters Wednesday.

HAJJ STAMPEDE
The death toll of the stampede during the Hajj pilgrimage outside Mecca this morning currently stands at more than 300, with another 400 injured. In the Islamic calendar, Thursday marks Eid al-Adha, the holiday that marks the climax of the pilgrimage.
The Hajj pilgrimage is an annual 5-day event that draws millions of Muslims to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

TX REF TACKLED
The lawyer for two Texas high school students says the district is keeping the boys in alternate school for the rest of 2015 for tackling a referee during the first football game of the season. They'll be able to return to regular classes in January. The boys had a disciplinary hearing Wednesday with school officials in which, the lawyer says, they addressed a letter allegedly written to their high school principal from their coach taking full responsibility of the incident. The attorney accuses the district of concealing the letter and leaving the boys "to hang".

MD HOMES EXPLOSION
Multiple town homes are on fire after a reported explosion in Columbia, Maryland.  One Baltimore Gas and Electric worker is reported to have been injured One unit has completely collapsed and debris is everywhere. Windows appear to have blown out more than 50 feet across the parking lot.

PATRICK KANE
The lawyer for a woman alleging she was sexually assaulted by Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane says an empty evidence bag was improperly left in the doorway of the woman's mother's home.  Thomas Eoannou says Wednesday that the bag at one point contained the rape kit used when the woman reported that she had been assaulted.  Eoannou wants the FBI or state police to probe how the bag left the custody of investigators. Kane’s attorney, Paul Cambria, held a short press briefing in Buffalo on Wednesday. He says there is no information to suggest that the evidence chain was in anyway disrupted before it was tested. He says that the tests came back negative for Kane.   

YOGI BERRA
To remember Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra, the New York Yankees will wear Number 8 patches on their uniforms.  The team will observe a moment of silence at its next home game on Thursday.  All flags in New York City are also flying at half-staff through sunset on Thursday to honor Berra.  A private funeral service for Berra will be held Tuesday in Montclair, N.J. 

AMAZON PRIME
To celebrate Transparent winning five Emmys, this Friday only, Amazon Prime is offering one-year of its service for $67 to new members.  Normal price is $99.