Author: Bill Chappell

Police Identify Suspect In London Attack Near Parliament; Death Toll Rises To 4 – NPR

GOOGLE NEWS A flower left in tribute to the victims of Wednesday’s attack is seen next to the Palace of Westminster that houses the Houses of Parliament in central London. Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images The man who is believed to have carried out a deadly attack near the U.K. Parliament has been identified by Britain’s Metropolitan Police as Khalid Masood, 52. Police believe the man acted alone. He was shot and killed after carrying out an attack that killed a police officer and three civilians and wounded several others around 2:40 p.m. local time Wednesday. (Two of the civilian victims...

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Former Russian Lawmaker Is Shot To Death Outside Hotel In Kiev – NPR

GOOGLE NEWS Denis Voronenkov was shot in the head on a sidewalk in Kiev Thursday. He’s seen here with his wife, Maria Maksakova, in February. Oleksandr Synytsia/AP Denis Voronenkov, who fled Russia last October and has criticized President Vladimir Putin’s government, was killed in Kiev Thursday, in an apparent assassination that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is reportedly calling “state terrorism.” Voronenkov had just left the Premier Palace hotel when he was shot twice in the head on a sidewalk along a busy street, according to Kiev Post. Citing police, the newspaper adds that both Voronenkov’s bodyguard and the attacker...

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House OKs Bill Allowing ‘Mentally Incapacitated’ Veterans To Buy Guns

A House-approved bill would require a court hearing before a U.S. veteran is deemed mentally unfit to own a gun. Here, rifles are seen at a gun shop in Merrimack, N.H., last year. Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images The House has approved legislation allowing veterans who are “mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent” or prone to blackouts to buy guns. Critics of the bill say it could raise the suicide rate among veterans — a rate that has risen in the past decade. At least a dozen Democrats joined Republicans to support the bill, which was approved by a 240-175 vote. The legislation would add a new hurdle to the process of blocking a veteran from owning a gun. While the Department of Veterans Affairs currently adds the names of veterans it deems unfit to own a deadly weapon to a federal background check system, the bill would require a court hearing before that determination is made. “About 170,000 disabled veterans are deemed mentally incompetent by the VA,” NPR’s Quil Lawrence reports. “A guardian makes legal decisions for them, and their names go on an FBI list so they can’t purchase guns. House Republicans sponsored the Veterans’ Second Amendment Protection Act to change that.” Opponents of the bill say that easing gun ownership for mentally disabled veterans would make them a greater threat to themselves. As recently as 2014, an average of...

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Sharing Of Nude Photos Of Female Marines Prompts Pentagon Investigation – NPR

A Pentagon investigation is under way into the posting of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of nude photos of female Marines. Here, members of the service march in the Veterans Day Parade in New York City last November. Spencer Platt/Getty Images Hundreds of Marines are reportedly under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, after a trove of photographs were shared online that show female service members and veterans in the nude. The images were spread via a closed Facebook group with thousands of members. When the photos were shared via Marines United — a Facebook group that’s intended only for male Marines and Marine veterans — they drew bawdy and obscene comments, according to two nonprofit news sites: the War Horse and the Center for Investigative Reporting. According to War Horse founder Thomas James Brennan, many of the photos on the Marines United page included personal information about the female service members, from their name, rank and duty station to the names of their social media accounts. The Facebook page also included links to a Google Drive with even more images — and an invitation to any members to contribute photos. The images were obtained in a variety of ways, Brennan reports, from sharing by former partners to stalking and, potentially, the hacking of service members’ personal accounts. Almost immediately after the War Horse contacted the Marine Corps about...

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Court Moves ‘Bridgegate’ Case Forward, Setting A Date For Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat Christie, visited the White House this week, ahead of a court date related to lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. Evan Vucci/AP Nearly four months after a former aide testified that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie knew about a looming traffic nightmare that sparked a political scandal, a municipal judge says a criminal complaint against Christie can move forward. In finding there is probable cause for a complaint of official misconduct to proceed against Christie, Bergen County Municipal Court Judge Roy McGeady is extending a probe into the governor’s involvement in a case that has generated federal charges against several former aides to Christie. Christie is scheduled to appear in court over the case on March 10. The case stems from lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that were made in September of 2013 — closures that were seen as targeting the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., for not supporting Christie’s re-election campaign. “The criminal complaint was brought against Christie by William Brennan, a Bergen County activist who is now running for governor,” WNYC reports. The member station adds, “The complaint accuses the governor of failing to stop subordinates from purposely creating traffic jams to punish a Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse him.”  In November, Christie’s deputy chief of staff and the former Port Authority deputy executive...

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Trump’s National Security Adviser Reportedly Discussed Sanctions With Russia

Questions have loomed over National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s contact with a Russian diplomat in late December — and the explanation provided by the White House has changed over time. Win McNamee/Getty Images National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. in December included a discussion of U.S. sanctions imposed by President Obama, according to new reports that contradict what the White House has said about the matter. The sanctions included the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats; when they were announced in in late December, they drew a notably muted response — and no retaliation — from Moscow. Citing current and former U.S. officials, The Washington Post reports, “Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.” The question of the contacts’ legality largely rests in the Logan Act, which bans unauthorized U.S. citizens from communicating with a foreign government “with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government… in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.” The Logan Act was passed in 1799 —...

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EPA Halves Staff Attending Alaska Environmental Conference – NPR

Days before this week’s Alaska Forum on the Environment, the EPA said it’s sending half of the people who had planned to attend. The nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s pick to head the EPA, is still pending confirmation. Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images The Environmental Protection Agency’s presence at an environmental conference in Alaska this week was cut in half, after the Trump administration’s transition officials ordered the change. The agency had helped to plan the conference. The abrupt change has reportedly created awkward scenes at the Alaska Forum on the Environment — particularly at events meant to highlight the EPA’s role in Alaska, a state known for both its pristine ecosystems and its oil production. From the Alaska Dispatch News: “At a panel discussion Tuesday morning slated to include six EPA staff members discussing Alaska EPA grants, only two EPA officials were at the front of the room taking questions — many of which focused on how the agency might be changing.” From Anchorage, Rachel Waldholz of Alaska Public Media reports for our Newscast unit: “The Alaska Forum on the Environment draws more than a thousand people each year to discuss topics ranging from water and sewer systems to climate change. Thirty-four employees from the EPA were scheduled to attend. “But forum director Kurt Eilo got a call just days before the conference opened, saying the...

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Read Coretta Scott King's Letter That Got Sen. Elizabeth Warren Silenced

Enlarge this image A nine-page letter written by Coretta Scott King is attracting new attention for its critical comments about Sen. Jeff Sessions. King, who died in 2006, is seen here at the Lincoln Memorial in 2003. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Mark Wilson/Getty Images One day after Senate Republicans invoked a conduct rule to end Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s speech against the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general, a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King urging the Senate to reject Sessions’ nomination as a federal judge is gaining new prominence. Warren was reading aloud from the letter by King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, when she was interrupted by the presiding chair of the Senate, who warned her of breaking Rule 19, which forbids members from imputing to a colleague “any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.” The warning mentioned Warren’s earlier quote of Sen. Edward Kennedy, who had called Sessions, then a U.S. attorney, a disgrace. But it was King’s letter that — more than 10 minutes after Warren finished reading it aloud Tuesday night — prompted Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call her out of order. That resulted in Warren being silenced on the Senate floor. In his objection, McConnell cited King’s accusation that Sessions had used “the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of...

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