Official: Shooter debated sanity online during bar massacre
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The gunman who killed 12 people at a country music bar in Southern California went on social media during the attack and posted about his mental state and whether people would believe he was sane, a law enforcement official said Friday.
Also, one of the possibilities investigators are looking into is whether gunman Ian David Long believed his former girlfriend would be at the bar, the official said.
Authorities have not determined a motive for Wednesday night’s rampage at the Borderline Bar and Grill.
The official was briefed on the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The official would not give additional details on what the 28-year-old former Marine posted on his Facebook and Instagram accounts.
A second law enforcement official said that when Long was inside the bar, he apparently stopped shooting and posted to Instagram, based on the time stamps of the posts. Ventura County Sheriff’s Capt. Garo Kuredjian also said he didn’t know the content of the posts.
At least 9 dead as fire incinerates N. California town
PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — A fierce wildfire in Northern California incinerated most of a town of about 30,000 people with flames that moved so fast there was nothing firefighters could do, authorities said Friday. Nine people died in what quickly grew into the state’s most destructive fire in at least a century.
Only a day after it began, the blaze near the town of Paradise had grown to nearly 140 square miles (362 square kilometers), had destroyed more than 6,700 structures — almost all of them homes — and was burning completely out of control.
“There was really no firefight involved,” Capt. Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said, explaining that crews gave up attacking the flames and instead helped people get out alive. “These firefighters were in the rescue mode all day yesterday.”
With fires also burning in Southern California , state officials put the total number of people forced from their homes at about 250,000. Evacuation orders included the entire city of Malibu, which is home to 13,000, among them some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration providing federal funds for Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
Fires besiege California city reeling from mass shooting
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — A city reeling from the tragedy of a mass shooting was under a siege of a different sort Friday as raging wildfires on both sides of the city forced widespread evacuations and shut down part of the main freeway to town.
Flames driven by powerful winds torched at least 150 homes in Southern California, burning parts of tony Calabasas and mansions in Malibu and prompting orders for 250,000 people — including some celebrities — to flee as the fire marched across the Santa Monica Mountains toward the sea. The cause of the blazes was not known.
For Thousand Oaks, which had been considered one of the safest cities in the nation before a gunman massacred 12 people at a country music bar, the spasm of violence jolted the city’s sense of security. Encroaching flames, despite the near-constant threat of fire in the bone-dry state, presented an entirely different hazard.
“It’s devastating. It’s like ‘welcome to hell,'” resident Cynthia Ball, said about the dual disasters while she was outside the teen center serving as a shelter for evacuees. “I don’t even know what to say. It’s like we’re all walking around kind of in a trance.”
A day earlier, the facility had been the location where grieving family members had gathered and received the grim news on the fate of loved ones who had not returned from the Borderline Bar and Grill, where a Marine combat veteran went on a shooting rampage Wednesday before apparently killing himself.
Florida finds itself again at center of election controversy
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida is once again at the center of election controversy, but this year there are no hanging chads or butterfly ballots, like in 2000. And no angry mobs in suits — at least not yet.
The deeply purple state will learn Saturday whether recounts will be held in the bitter, tight U.S. Senate race between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson; and in the governor’s race between former Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and the Democratic mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum.
The state’s recount procedures have been revised since Florida held the country hostage for a month 18 years ago, when George W. Bush edged Al Gore for the presidency. Among other things, the infamous punch-card ballots are no longer.
Yet, Scott and President Donald Trump on Friday alleged fraud without evidence, even as the often-laborious process of reviewing ballots in a close race continued ahead of the Saturday noon deadline. Both Scott and Nelson sought to get the courts to intervene.
Scott said “unethical liberals” were trying to steal the election in Democratic strongholds of Broward and Palm Beach counties. He suggested something was awry because vote-counters were taking longer there than in other jurisdictions, and his thin lead has kept narrowing since election night. Late Friday, he led by 0.18 percentage points, low enough to require a recount.
Whitaker led group that may have violated tax-exempt status
WASHINGTON (AP) — Matthew G. Whitaker, the nation’s new acting attorney general, repeatedly chided presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in public statements during 2016 while he was speaking for a group that is barred by its tax-exempt status from supporting or opposing political candidates during a campaign.
Before coming to the Justice Department in 2017, Whitaker was president and executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a charitable organization that styles itself as nonpartisan government watchdog promoting ethics and transparency. The tax-exempt group — known by its initials, FACT — is supposed to serve the public interest under Section 501c3 of the U.S. tax code, without directly or even indirectly supporting or opposing specific candidates for office.
Yet the group has engaged in one partisan pronouncement after another, mostly directed at Democrats. During the last presidential race, Whitaker argued in July 2016 newspaper opinion pieces that Clinton should be prosecuted for her handling of her private email server — a favorite talking point of Donald Trump. The opinion pieces identified Whitaker as FACT’s leader.
In September 2016, Whitaker argued that Clinton had acted shamelessly by appointing her charity’s donors to boards of the State Department when she was secretary of state.
“I don’t think anybody in the history of our country that served in the administration has been this bold in their private fundraising and their sort of giving favors,” he said in a radio interview posted on YouTube by his group.
Questions and answers about Trump’s new immigration ban
SAN DIEGO (AP) — President Donald Trump ordered Friday that anyone who enters the U.S. illegally from Mexico by going around official border crossings is ineligible for asylum.
His edict takes aim at the cherished principle of asylum, which grants haven to people who flee persecution on grounds of race, religion, nationality, political opinion and other factors.
Illegal border crossings are low compared to the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s but there’s no question the asylum system is under severe strain.
Here are questions and answers about the new rules:
WHAT DOES THE NEW BAN DO?
Facebook ends forced arbitration of sexual misconduct claims
Facebook is dropping a requirement for mandatory arbitration of sexual misconduct allegations, acceding to a demand recently pressed by other Silicon Valley tech workers.
Google made a similar change on Thursday, a week after thousands of employees briefly walked off their jobs to protest how the company handled sexual-misconduct allegations against prominent executives.
The move at Facebook, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, means that employees no longer have to submit to private arbitration, which kept misconduct allegations secret and sometimes allowed abusers to continue their behavior. Employees can now press their claims in court instead. Other tech companies such as Microsoft and Uber have previously dropped mandatory arbitration.
Facebook will now also require executives at director level and above to disclose any dating relationships with company employees.
Utah latest state to legalize medical pot, expand Medicaid
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Voters in conservative Utah have decided to join the growing number of states legalizing medical marijuana and expanding Medicaid to cover tens of thousands more low-income residents, two issues that had long stalled out with conservative state lawmakers.
Utah will be on the list of more than 30 states allowing patients legal access to medical marijuana after the plan maintained a vote lead in in Friday tabulations. The measure will be revised, though, under a compromise that won the approval of influential Mormon church leaders.
The faith had opposed the ballot proposal over fears it could lead to broader use, but after months of fierce debate agreed to the deal. It will change the law by blocking marijuana edibles like cookies that might appeal to children and won’t allow people to grow their own marijuana if they live too far from a dispensary.
The state Legislature is expected to meet in early December to hammer out the details of revising the newly passed law.
Missouri also passed a medical marijuana initiative in this midterm election. Michigan became the first Midwestern state to legalize recreational marijuana while North Dakota voted against it.
NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week
A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked these out. Here are the real facts:
NOT REAL NEWS: FLASHBACK: Obama kicks out reporter at press briefing
THE FACTS: Former President Barack Obama did not throw a reporter out of a press conference for asking a question in 2015, as a claim circulating widely online suggests. The false claim surfaced after a heated exchange Wednesday between President Donald Trump and CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, whose White House press pass was suspended afterward. Some social media users then circulated a video they said showed Obama kicking a reporter out of press briefing. As reported by the AP, Obama was actually responding to a protester who was heckling him during a gay pride month reception at the White House in June 2015. “Shame on you, you shouldn’t be doing this,” Obama told the protester, adding he had the option of staying quiet or being removed. The protester was removed.
NOT REAL NEWS: CNN anchor shown laughing as American flag burns
France seizes jet at takeoff after Ryanair doesn’t pay bill
PARIS (AP) — Storms, strikes, computer failures — you can now add “your plane has been seized by the government” to the list of things that can delay your flight.
In France, 149 passengers were preparing to take off for London late Thursday when French authorities ordered their Ryanair Boeing 737 impounded.
The budget carrier owed money and it was “regrettable that the state was forced” to evacuate the plane, the civil aviation authority said.
The passengers had gone through passport control and security and were about to walk on the tarmac to board the plane when airport authorities told them to turn around, passenger Boris Hejblum said.
“The airport staff told us there was an issue with the plane,” he told The Associated Press in an email.
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