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Berkeley is always leading the way when it comes to progressive laws and Wednesday it added another to the list.

The City Council is moving forward with a plan to remove all gendered words from the city code. That means personal pronouns like "he," "she," "him" and "her" will instead be "they" and "them." But it doesn’t just stop there.

Berkeley’s youngest city council member, Rigel Robinson, is behind the proposed change to the city’s municipal code.

"A male-centric municipal code doesn’t reflect the reality of the city of Berkeley," Robinson said.

Robinson asked the city manager for a plan to remove all the gendered pronouns and words and replace them with gender neutral words.

For example: "fireman" will become "firefighter." Out with "brother," in with "sibling." Forget "manpower," it’s "human effort" now.

"Language has power, this matters," Robinson said.

Some Berkeley residents say other issues matter more.

"That’s Berkeley!" a resident named Sara said. "I think they should put their time into figuring out homelessness."

There will be a second reading of the ordinance next week. If the council approves it, it will go into effect in late August.

It will cost the city about $600 to update the municipal code.


Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP, File
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You’re trying to be eco-friendlier, but you just can’t turn off your AC unit and open your windows when it feels like 115 degrees outside.

We get it.

So how can you conserve energy while still staying cool in a heat wave?

Buildings account for approximately 40 percent of the world’s annual energy consumption, so it’s never too early to start practicing energy-efficient, long-term ways to cool your home.

Take our quiz below to see how much you know about green ways to cool your house and maintain your AC unit during these dog days of summer energy consumption:



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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News4 wants kids in the DMV to have a great start this school year, and school supplies are the first step. This year, we're partnering with Whole Foods to kick off this back-to-school campaign. Head to Whole Foods in Riverdale Park on Thursday through 2 p.m. Here's how you can help


Photo Credit: Molette Green/News4
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The D.C. area is in for an eighth day in a row of temperatures in the 90s followed by another round of potentially severe storms later Thursday.

Thursday will be about as hot as Wednesday with highs in the low to mid-90s and heat index values around 100 degrees.

Storm Team4 has declared a weather alert.

 

The final pool of moisture associated with what was Hurricane Barry will bring D.C. one last chance for cooling thunderstorms this afternoon and evening, one day after heavy wind and rain downed trees and snapped power lines in the region.

With plenty of moisture to work with today's storms could once again become severe and produce wind gusts over 60 mph and drop a quick half inch to an inch of rain.

Dangerous levels of heat and humidity are headed our way for Friday. An excessive heat watch will be in effect for the D.C. area from Friday morning to Sunday evening as forecasters anticipate heat index values up to 110-115 degrees.

Friday kicks off three days of summer misery. Friday afternoon will be hazy, hot and ridiculously humid. High temperatures will reach the mid- to upper 90s with heat index values getting close to 110 degrees.

This heat wave will peak on Saturday afternoon with highs around 100 degrees and heat index values again hovering around 110 degrees.

Sunday will also be dangerously hot and humid and strong storms are likely to fire up later in the afternoon and evening. Highs will be near 100 degrees with a heat index around 104-109 degrees before the storms get going in the evening.

Storm Team4 has this advice for staying cool and safe during this heat wave:

  • Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing
  • Stay hydrated
  • Stay in the shade or air conditioning as much as possible
  • Check on elderly or infirm friends and neighbors to insure they are staying cool
  • Make sure outdoor pets are either brought inside or at least have ample shade and fresh water
  • Never leave kids or pets unattended in a car on a hot day. Temperatures can quickly reach dangerous levels

Monday is the beginning of the end for this heat wave, but it will still be hot and stormy.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser activated the District's Heat Emergency Plan earlier this week.

Those in need of a place to cool down are encouraged to visit any library or recreation center during their normal business hours, or the Adams Place Day Center (2210 Adams Place NE). See a map of D.C.'s cooling centers here.

A hyperthermia hotline is available at 202-399-7093 for anyone seeking transportation to a cooling center for a resident experiencing homelessness, officials said.


Photo Credit: Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images
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Our technological capabilities were much different 50 years ago when man first set foot on the moon, but the technology that came out of the Apollo 11 mission is still with us today. News4's Cory Smith reports.

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Amid a blistering heat wave, a council member in Montgomery County, Maryland, has proposed that all landlords should provide air conditioning for their tenants.

Councilman Tom Hucker introduced a bill Tuesday to make working air conditioning a requirement for all rental units in the county.

"On days like today, this is really a life or death issue it’s not a comfort issue," Hucker said Wednesday.

The heat index broke 100 degrees by Wednesday afternoon. Those dangerous temperatures can cause heat exhaustion, heat stroke and even death, officials say.

News4 crews saw a woman passed out from heat exhaustion at the Charter House, an apartment community for seniors in Silver Spring. Other residents stood around her fanning her to try to cool her off.

Residents said the air conditioning in the building has not been working properly.

"She got too hot and no water to drink and we didn’t have no water to give her because the water faucet was out," resident Ella Cassidy said.

Fire and rescue officials said the heat likely exacerbated a preexisting condition.

Cassidy and her husband, Allen Cassidy, are in their 70s and have lived at the Charter House for years. They say lately their air conditioning unit hasn't worked.

"It’s not on cause if it were on you would hear it," Allen Cassidy said.

After just 15 minutes inside their apartment, the News4 crew also began to sweat.

A spokesperson for the building said crews were working on fixing the issues with the air conditioning.

Hucker's proposal in its beginning stages and a final vote to pass the bill would come in the fall.


Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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A local gas station owner has a wall of photos of people he says stole from his business. Some people say the commentary with the pictures is going too far. News4's Pat Collins reports.

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Federal prosecutors used jailhouse recordings, aerial footage and more to convince the judge to give an avowed white supremacist a life sentence. 

James Fields Jr., 22, received two life sentences and 419 years for plowing his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. His actions killed Heather Heyer, 32, and injured more than two dozen others. 

To convince a judge to give Fields a life sentence, prosecutors gathered a variety of evidence, including recordings that used Fields' words against him. 

Fields was locked up for about two weeks when he began to talk about the defense he might use at trial. In a recorded jailhouse call with his mom, Fields mentioned an insanity defense and how he'd need to convince his doctor he didn't intend to kill the day he plowed into a crowd of counter demonstrators. 

"Yeah, I hope I can get that insanity thing. The second definition of it is an irresistible impulse," Fields said in the recording. 

Fields faced a murder charge for killing Heyer. Her mother, Susan Bro, took a public stance against white supremacists, and her words were broadcasted nationally.

When Fields spoke to his mother again in December, he went on a rant attacking Heyer's mother. 

"Her mother is going around, doing speeches and s---, slandering me. Bunch of commies," he said in a recording.

When his mother reminded him that Susan Heyer had lost her daughter, Fields persisted. 

"She is a communist. An anti-white, liberal. It's not up for questioning, she is. She's the enemy," he said.

Prosecutors also showed a judge new videos of the attack, including a live periscope feed that captured the peaceful chants of the counter demonstrators and the chaos that followed when Fields plowed into them.

There was also footage from above as Virginia State Police witnessed Field's rampage.

One of the voices heard in the recording included that of Trooper Berke Bates. He kept Fields's car in their camera view to make sure Fields didn't get away. 

Bates tracked fields until he finally pulled over. Three hours later with Bates and a new trooper, Lt. Jay Cullen, on board, the chopper began to spin and crashed to the ground, killing both men on board.

Some of their final hours were spent making sure a racist killer was brought to justice. 


Photo Credit: Virginia State Police
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NBC4 Washington by Drew Wilder And Cordilia James - 12h ago


Someone vandalized a memorial for a Virginia family's dead son nearly a decade after his death, the family said.

Kevin Sullivan Jr. of Spotsylvania County was killed in November 2010, but there's never been an arrest in the case.

Nearly 10 years later, the broken cross that sat along the road where he died still has some writing left on it, and the teddy bear that sat next to it is ripped into pieces, said Kevin Sullivan Sr.

"It eats me up every day and this right here just makes me twice as mad," he said. 

Sullivan Jr. was found unconscious along Salem Church Road and suffered from a serious head injury, broken bones and a collapsed lung. 

He was on life support for eight days until Sullivan decided to take his son off life support. 

"They claim he was hit by a car, but I don't think he was," Sullivan said. "The surgeon came out, said he wasn't."

Years later, the family still searches for answers. With each year that goes by, the case just looks more hopeless, Sullivan said. 

The Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office updates Sullivan on the investigation every year around the time of his son's death, but there's never much to report, Sullivan said.

News4 reached out to the sheriff's office about the case.

Sullivan plans to rebuild the cross and put it back at the memorial to keep the memory of his son alive. 


Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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A security guard was shot and killed four years ago in Capitol Heights, Maryland, and the case remains unsolved.

Adrian Kinard hoped to become a police officer when he and a partner were shot in a drive-by in a parking lot where they worked in 2015. Kinard died, but his partner survived.

The 26-year-old left behind a 1-year-old daughter.

“She just turned 5,” said his mother, Cynthia Kinard. “She's doing well but she says, ‘My daddy.’”

Police recovered the gunman’s care soon after the shooting but still don’t have a suspect.

“We've done an extensive amount of research with the evidence we've gathered so far in the case,” Prince George’s County police Cpl. Nicholas Clayton said. “Our investigators have traveled out of state. They've gone as far as doing as many canvasses and interviews as they could possibly do.”

Police also have people who are cooperating with the investigation, but the case is missing important pieces.

“Having a killer essentially out on the loose doesn’t rest well with us and, we’re not going to rest until we find the killer in this case,” Clayton said.

Anyone with information about the case should call 1-866-411-TIPS. Callers can remain anonymous.

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