UCLA shooter had 'kill list,' woman on list found dead: police

2016-06-02 20:17:41

LOS ANGELES The man accused of fatally shooting a University of California, Los Angeles, professor in a murder-suicide had written a "kill list" that included a woman who has been found dead in Minnesota, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said on Thursday.Investigators found the list while searching the suspect's home in Minnesota, Beck told Los Angeles television station KTLA, adding that the investigation extended to Minnesota after finding a note at the crime scene. The list also contained the name of another, unidentified UCLA professor, who was unharmed, and the woman, he said.“In the residence in Minnesota, we found multiple items, including extra ammunition and also a note with names on it indicating a kill list,” Beck told KTLA.Police investigated the woman’s home in a nearby town in Minnesota and found she had been shot to death, Beck said. "Professor Klug's name was on that list, as was another UCLA professor who was alright," Beck told the station.Mainak Sarkar, 38, shot dead engineering professor William Klug, then killed himself, authorities said, in an attack that prompted a two-hour lockdown of UCLA's sprawling urban campus.The attack appeared to be provoked by Sarkar's belief that Klug had stolen computer code from him, according to a March blog post by a person of the same name."Your enemy is my enemy. But your friend can do a lot more harm," Sarkar wrote in the post. "Be careful about whom you trust."Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the authenticity of the post. The Los Angeles Times quoted an unnamed university source as saying the claims made in the blog were "untrue" and "absolutely psychotic." University officials did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.The anger reflected in the March blog contrasted with earlier online records indicating Sarkar had gotten along with Klug. In a copy of his 2013 dissertation posted online, Sarkar thanked Klug."I would like to thank my advisor, Dr. William Klug, for all his help and support. Thank you for being my mentor,” Sarkar wrote.Klug, 39, was a married father of two children, UCLA said in a statement on Thursday. "Our entire UCLA family is mourning the loss of Professor Klug, a respected, dedicated and caring faculty member," Gene Block, the university's chancellor, said in a statement.Reports of shots fired, or even sightings of possible gunman, have sparked heavy police responses and lockdowns at U.S. schools because of the nation's history of mass shootings. Last October nine people were shot and killed at Umpqua Community College in southwest Oregon. The 2007 attack at Virginia Tech where a gunman shot dead 32 people was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. University officials said classes would resume on Thursday and counselors will be available for students, faculty and staff. 'CAN'T THINK STRAIGHT'Students took to social media to ask the university to reschedule final exams, saying they were rattled by the incident and needed more time to prepare.Students said on social media on Wednesday that they had hidden behind doors that could not be locked while police searched the campus to make sure there were no other gunmen."How the hell am I going to study for finals when this just happened? I can't think straight," Bahjat Alirani, a UCLA bioengineering student said on Twitter."Students need time to process today. Hope my colleagues seriously consider postponing finals this week. Let's help everyone heal," Tyrone Howard, a UCLA associate dean and professor of education, said on Twitter.UCLA, with more than 43,000 students, is one of the more well-regarded schools in the University of California system. (Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and Amy Tennery in New York; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Mississippi governor to join suit against Obama transgender policy

2016-05-26 21:13:04

Mississippi's Republican governor said on Thursday he planned to join a lawsuit by officials from 11 states to overturn an Obama administration directive that tells schools to let transgender students use bathrooms matching their gender identity.The lawsuit led by Texas, the most significant legal challenge to this month's directive, said the federal government and Obama administration officials overreached their authority by taking actions that should be left to Congress or individual states."Our office has talked to the Texas attorney general's office and I intend, as soon as possible, to join the lawsuit against this latest example of federal overreach," Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said in a statement.As with some of the other states, Mississippi's governor and attorney general disagree on the suit, which challenges the administration's interpretation that federal civil rights laws against sex discrimination should apply to transgender people.Mississippi's attorney general, Democrat Jim Hood, declined to participate in the lawsuit, according to Clay Chandler, a spokesman for the governor. Chandler said Bryant will work with an attorney in the governor's office in joining the lawsuit. Hood's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Amid a national debate on transgender rights, President Barack Obama's administration on May 13 told U.S. public schools that transgender students should be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice, upsetting Republicans and paving the way for fights over federal funding and legal authority. Texas was joined by Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin, plus Arizona's Department of Education and Maine's governor.The lawsuit said the administration "conspired to turn workplace and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment, flouting the democratic process, and running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights." Transgender rights advocates criticized the suit as a malicious attack, saying there have never been public safety incidents or invasions of privacy related to protections for transgender people."While the department will review the complaint, the federal government has strong legal foundations to uphold the civil rights of transgender Americans," the Justice Department said in a statement on Wednesday. (Reporting by Letitia Stein; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Will Dunham)

Venezuela security forces block anti-Maduro protesters

2016-05-19 00:13:05

CARACAS Venezuelan security forces fired tear gas at protesters in Caracas on Wednesday amid nationwide rallies demanding a recall referendum to end President Nicolas Maduro's socialist rule. In the third day of opposition rallies in the past week, several thousand protesters descended on downtown Caracas for a march to the national election board, witnesses said.But National Guard soldiers and police cordoned off the square where they planned to meet, so protesters instead milled in nearby streets waving flags, chanting "the government will fall" and pressing up against lines. Authorities shot tear gas to disperse them several times, sending hundreds of panicked people running down streets. A few demonstrators were arrested and one young man was carried off unconscious, according to Reuters witnesses.Opposition leaders have warned that Venezuela is a "time bomb" and have said blocking democratic avenues for Maduro's removal means people will increasingly take to the streets. Spontaneous demonstrations and looting are becoming more common amid worsening food shortages, frequent power and water cuts, and inflation that is the highest in the world."They're scared," Alfredo Gonzalez, 76, from the 23 de Enero slum, said at the Caracas demonstration as he wore a scarf over his mouth."Venezuelans are tired, hungry," said Gonzalez, who added that he had been sprayed with pepper gas.Both protesters and security forces appeared more numerous than in other rallies this year, although the demonstration was still smaller than anti-government protests that turned violent and shook the OPEC country for three months in 2014. While Venezuelans are now much angrier at their deepening economic crisis, many are too busy queuing up for scarce food or too fearful of violence to join marches. Others are pessimistic about the chances of a recall referendum. In Tachira state, which saw the most violent scenes during the 2014 protests that resulted in 43 deaths, troops also blocked scores of marchers from reaching the local election board office on Wednesday. At a demonstration in the Caribbean coastal town of Coro, protesters formed a chain in the streets.An anti-Maduro demonstration last Wednesday in Caracas also turned violent, with troops using tear gas to quell stone-throwing protesters and an officer pepper-spraying opposition leader Henrique Capriles."DEAL WITH IT"Maduro, a 53-year-old former bus driver who narrowly won election to replace the late Hugo Chavez in 2013, accuses Capriles and other opposition leaders of seeking a coup with the help of the United States. "You don't like Maduro? Well, deal with it," said Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz, who has repeatedly said there will be no recall referendum this year.Authorities condemned Wednesday's demonstration, saying protesters had poured gasoline on two National Guards to burn them alive and attacked a school dorm. "We're in the presence of a profoundly violent right," said Socialist Party official Jorge Rodriguez. The opposition coalition, capitalizing on popular discontent over the economy, won control of the National Assembly in December elections. But all the legislature's measures have been shot down by the government-leaning Supreme Court.The opposition wants a recall referendum against Maduro this year to force a presidential election. But ruling Socialist Party officials say there is no time to organize a vote in 2016 and the election board is dragging its feet on paperwork. At the weekend, Maduro declared a 60-day state of emergency, widening his powers to sidestep the legislature, intervene in the economy and control the streets, because of what he called U.S. and domestic plots against him.Authorities also closed subway stations in Caracas on Wednesday to impede the protesters."The people will stay in the street unless there is a recall referendum," said demonstrator Roberto Campos, 43, his forehead bleeding from where he said he had been hit by a tear gas canister.Protesters around him scrawled "recall" on security forces' riot shields. Many drivers honked their support, while government supporters shouted against the protesters from balconies of nearby buildings, even waving a sign that read: "'Chavista' territory." Maduro retains the support of a significant, although dwindling, hard core of "Chavistas" who praise Chavez's oil-fueled social projects. Maduro's approval levels fell just under 27 percent in March, a key poll showed.Latin America's leftist bloc is shrinking with swings to the right in Brazil and Argentina but Maduro still has strong support from Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia. Bolivian President Evo Morales condemned what he called "aggressions" against the Venezuelan leader. But the secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, who has often crossed swords with Maduro, wrote a stinging letter calling him a "puny dictator." (Additional reporting by Mircely Guanipa in Punto Fijo, Daniel Kai, Diego Ore, and Corina Pons in Caracas, Daniel Ramos in La Paz; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Bill Trott and Andrew Hay)

Missouri lawmakers pass bill to restrict viewing of police camera footage

2016-05-11 08:06:05

Missouri lawmakers passed a bill on Tuesday to restrict the public's access to police camera footage, nearly two years after the slaying of a black teen in a St. Louis suburb fueled demands across the country for more police accountability.The measure would block the public from accessing footage collected by cameras worn by officers and mounted inside patrol vehicles while investigations are ongoing. Once an investigation is over, footage would remain restricted if recorded at locations where "one would have a reasonable expectation of privacy," such as inside schools, homes and medical facilities.Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, was considering whether to sign the proposal, an aide said.The legislation was passed almost unanimously by the state's House of Representatives on Tuesday after winning unanimous support in the state Senate. Both chambers are Republican-led. Police in Ferguson, Missouri, were not wearing body cameras in August 2014 when a white patrolman fatally shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. The incident sparked months of sometimes violent protests and demands for police reforms, including mandatory body cameras. Ferguson police use cameras now.Many U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Detroit and Seattle have also moved toward supplying patrol officers with body cameras following protests over what critics see as police use of indiscriminate force against unarmed civilians, particularly racial minorities and the mentally ill. So far in 2016, Florida, Indiana, Utah and Washington state as well as the District of Columbia have enacted laws governing the use of body cameras, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty-three states have passed laws for body cameras, the group said.Lawmakers and the Missouri Sheriff's Association that backed restricted access to police videos cited privacy issues, such as when officers rush into a home to help a victim of domestic violence.While the measure restricts access to footage gathered at schools, homes and medical facilities, some people would be able to obtain copies of the recordings, including those whose images or voices are contained in the video, their attorneys or certain relatives, and insurers. The general public including journalists would have to seek a court's permission to access videos taken from the designated non-public places. (Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Peter Cooney)

U.S. government and North Carolina escalate legal fight over transgender law

2016-05-10 02:58:06

WASHINGTON/WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. A fight between the Obama administration and North Carolina over a state law limiting public bathroom access for transgender people escalated on Monday as both sides sued each other, trading accusations of civil rights violations and government overreach.The U.S. Justice Department's complaint asked a federal district court in North Carolina to declare that the state is violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act and order it to stop enforcing the ban.Hours earlier, North Carolina's Republican governor, Pat McCrory, and the state's secretary of public safety sued the agency in a different federal court in North Carolina, accusing it of "baseless and blatant overreach."The so-called bathroom law, passed in March and known as HB 2, prohibits people from using public restrooms not corresponding to their biological sex.It has thrust North Carolina into the center of a national debate over equality and privacy, and has now led the state into what could be a long and costly legal battle with the U.S. government.Americans are divided over how public restrooms should be used by transgender people, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, with 44 percent saying people should use them according to their biological sex and 39 percent saying they should be used according to the gender with which they identify. By passing the law, North Carolina became the first state in the country to ban people from using multiple occupancy restrooms or changing rooms in public buildings and schools that do not match the sex on their birth certificate.U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Monday the department "retains the option" of curtailing federal funding to North Carolina unless it backs down. "None of us can stand by when a state enters the business of legislating identity and insists that a person pretend to be something or someone that they are not," Lynch said at a news conference, comparing the measure to Jim Crow-era racial discrimination laws and bans on same-sex marriage.Lynch said the department is monitoring other U.S. jurisdictions that have passed or considered laws similar to North Carolina's but declined to say whether the agency was planning any action against them. White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the North Carolina law “mean-spirited” but McCrory said in his complaint that it is "common sense privacy policy."North Carolina Republicans say the law stops men from posing as transgender to gain access to women's restrooms. BILLIONS AT STAKENorth Carolina stands to lose $4.8 billion in funds, mainly educational grants, if it does not back down, according to an analysis by lawyers at the University of California, Los Angeles Law School.The Justice Department's complaint named the state of North Carolina, McCrory, the state's Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina system as defendants. The 17-campus University of North Carolina system says it takes federal non-discrimination laws very seriously but must also adhere to state laws like HB 2. "In these circumstances, the University is truly caught in the middle," UNC President Margaret Spellings said.McCrory told reporters that North Carolina had been forced to pass the law after the Charlotte city council passed an ordinance that allowed transgender people access to bathrooms based on gender identity in public and private buildings. "We’re taking the Obama admin to court. They're bypassing Congress, attempting to rewrite law & policies for the whole country, not just NC," McCrory wrote on Twitter. The Republican leaders of North Carolina's state legislature also sued the U.S. government over the law on Monday, hours after McCrory's lawsuit.The law is also being challenged in federal district court by critics including the American Civil Liberties Union. (Additional reporting by Julia Edwards in Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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