AR-15 rifle found, student arrested after threat on South L.A. school, sheriff says

Two people, including a student, have been arrested in connection with a serious threat against a South Los Angeles middle school, and an AR-15 assault rifle and a list of targeted students have been seized, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Friday.

The threat was made against Ánimo Mae Jemison Charter Middle School in Willowbrook, an independent charter school where Los Angeles School Police do not have a presence, Sheriff’s Department spokesman Rudy Perez said.

Sheriff’s officials provided few details about the investigation but said more information would be released at an 11:30 a.m. news conference.

After responding to a call reporting the threat, deputies at the Sheriff Department’s Century station served a search warrant at an undisclosed location. In addition to the weapon and target list, officials reportedly found a drawing of the school’s layout and ammunition.

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The arrest comes a week after police and witnesses said a 16-year-old boy opened fire on his classmates at Saugus High School, spreading panic throughout the Santa Clarita campus and surrounding neighborhoods. Two students died hours after the shooting in a nearby hospital. Three others were wounded. The gunman, Nathaniel Berhow, shot himself during the rampage and died the following day.

Officials said the gun used in the Saugus attack was a “ghost gun,” assembled from parts and without a registration number. Sheriff’s officials Friday said the AR-15 rifle seized in connection with the most recent threat was also a ghost gun.

The South L.A. threat is one of several school incidents reported across the state in the last few days. On Friday morning, police increased patrols around Charter Oak High School in Covina after a threat to the school.

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In Visalia, a Redwood High School student was arrested Thursday after he allegedly threatened to shoot a classmate, according to the Visalia Times-Delta. Police found the threat was not credible and classes were held Friday.

Times staff writer Sonali Kohli contributed to this report.

Jared Cohen: JFK’s death — THIS is what Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Jesse Jackson, others will never forget

Fifty-six years ago this week, President Kennedy arrived in Dallas, Texas as part of a multi-day campaign stop. The president’s aides were uncomfortable. The Texas crowds were unfriendly and rowdy. “If anybody really wanted to shoot the president of the United States,” Kennedy told his aide Kenneth O’Donnell on the morning of November 22, “it was not a very difficult job—all one had to do was get a high building someday with a telescopic rifle, and there was nothing anybody could do to defend against such an attempt.”

That same morning, he made a joke to Jackie: “We’re heading into nut country today. . . . You know, last night would have been a hell of a night to assassinate a President.”

President Kennedy was shot at 12:30 p.m. (CST) on that day as his open limousine made its way through Dealey Plaza. He was pronounced dead 30 minutes later. His death marked the first assassination in 62 years, but unlike the McKinley murder, the entire country followed events in real-time

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Everybody has a Kennedy story. He was both loved and reviled by so many people and was taken so fast and so publicly for it to not have left an indelible mark on anyone who lived through it. It was also a period of heightened tensions – Vietnam, civil rights, nuclear showdowns – that coincided with the rise of an outspoken counterculture movement of activists and dissidents alike.

Even in his nineties, President George H.W. Bush’s memory of the day was crystal clear. “I was running for the U.S. Senate,” he told me in an interview for my book, Accidental Presidents, “and Bar and I were in Tyler, Texas. We had a bunch of events that day and [the] next. We canceled them all and went home to Houston to be with our kids.”

For him, the impact became very real, noting that, “I am not sure President Kennedy would have gotten the Civil Rights legislation passed. LBJ is maybe the only person at that time who could have pulled that off. You had a Southern President calling his former Senate colleagues in the South, and in that wonderful Texas drawl of his, telling them to do the right thing. JFK’s Boston twang would not have had the same effect. LBJ knew how to push.”

For civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, Kennedy’s death was a critical inflection point in the civil rights movement. He remembers walking across campus at North Carolina A&T and hearing it on the radio. “I couldn’t believe it,” he remembered, “Presidents didn’t get killed. Lincoln had been killed, but that was so long ago. I felt like there were two assassinations, Kennedy and civil rights. I would eventually realize that I was wrong.”

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, then 40-years-old and working at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard, was immersed in a frustrating conversation with a colleague. At the time of the assassination, he was sharing his critique of the Kennedy administration’s foreign policy in Vietnam and “was very unhappy with that discussion because the Diem brothers had just been arrested a few months earlier and I thought that was an awful decision and that is what we were discussing.”

He had only made part of his argument when someone burst into his office to share the news. “I was shaken,” he told me. “With all these criticisms I make now and I made then, there was an inspirational aspect [to him]. He brought to my generation a vision of America that they wanted to see fulfilled.”

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was living in an apartment that he shared with another student at the University of Wyoming. These were the days of his “misspent youth” and he had enrolled there for “ninety-six bucks a semester” after leaving Yale under what he described as “less than favorable circumstances.” He had actually gone to hear JFK speak on campus just a few months earlier.

On the day of the assassination, he was walking from class back to his apartment when a stranger stopped his car, rolled down the window, and told him that the president had been shot. He had just heard it on his car radio.

Cheney got in the car and they went to find a television at the student union, after which Cronkite came on and pronounced the president dead. Emotionally distraught, he got in his car – as he did every weekend – and drove 150 miles to Boulder, Colorado where his fiancé Lynne was studying. They didn’t have a television that weekend but listened to the radio as all the events unfolded from Oswald’s capture to his murder.

“It’s something you never forget,” he said, “It was made more poignant and real because he had been with us on campus at the University of Wyoming just weeks before.”

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in geography class at Brunetta C. Hill elementary school in Montgomery, Alabama. Her teacher, Mrs. Riles, had gone to the door to talk to another teacher, and when she returned to the class, she said, “boys and girls, the president has been shot, and so now we are going to say a prayer that he’s ok.”

They said their prayer and then went for recess, but the somber news made playtime less than joyous. They were all just kind of standing around and when recess was over, the principal announced over the PA system that the president was dead.

At that moment, Mrs. Riles began wailing and went over to the door when Rice heard her say to another teacher, “The president’s dead and there is a southerner in the White House, what are we going to do now?”

For Tom Brokaw, then a 23-year-old reporter at NBC’s Omaha office, the entire experience was “surreal.” Meriwether Lewis, the UPI reporter had dictated the news in “one of those brilliant narratives” and Tom, realizing they were not on the network at the time, interrupted a garden show and just read it off the wire.

“I just kept racing back and forth and I was on two tracks,” he recalled, “got to get this out there and this doesn’t happen in America.”

He had been a child of the fifties and even though he had been through the war and a lot of other things, the idea of assassinating this guy who for him “represented the new generation, all the vigor and youth and the promise,” was a savage act.

But Brokaw also lived in Omaha, which was one of the most conservative parts of the country and the people there loathed Kennedy. Among them was his chief engineer, who he remembers as a “terrible, sour, little man.”

Sensing the chaos in the newsroom, he asked what happened and when Brokaw explained that Kennedy had been shot, he said, “It’s about time somebody got the son-of-a-b-tch.”

Brokaw was so furious and went after him with his fists and had to be pulled off and restrained by another colleague. But this was not unusual for this part of the country. He recalled another friend, who told him that his father gave a party in Oklahoma in honor of Kennedy’s death. This was a different part of the country.

In Brokaw’s home state of Nebraska, life went on almost immediately, particularly as it pertained to football. That Saturday, the University of Nebraska was scheduled to play the University of Oklahoma in the Big 8 NCAA title and reflecting the tenor of the state, Nebraska insisted that the game go on. Having covered the assassination just the day before, Brokaw was dispatched to cover the game. “It was startling,” he recalled, “The Nebraska fans acted as if nothing had gone wrong. And Bud Wilkinson, the Oklahoma coach had a relationship with Kennedy and he never lifted up his head the entire game. He just walked up the sidelines” as Nebraska beat them twenty-nine to twenty.

In the Soviet Union, we know from declassified JFK files that the assassination was met with both great confusion and wild speculation. According to a Top Secret report from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to the White House, the Soviets believed Kennedy’s assassination was a “well-organized conspiracy on the part of the ‘ultraright’ in the United States to effect a ‘coup.’”

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According to the report, the Soviets “seemed convinced that the assassination was not the deed of one man, but that it arose out of a carefully planned campaign in which several people played a part. They felt that those elements interested in utilizing the assassination and playing on anticommunist sentiments in the United States would then utilize this act to stop negotiations with the Soviet Union, attack Cuba and thereafter spread the war.”

The report then went on to say that the “Soviet officials were fearful that without leadership some irresponsible general in the United States might launch a missile at the Soviet Union.”

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Kennedy’s assassination created an intelligence challenge for the Committee for State Security, better known as the KGB, whose station chief in New York, Colonel Boris Ivanov, convened his local spies on November 25 to inform them that “President Kennedy’s death had posed a problem for the KGB.”

One FBI source indicated that the “KGB was in possession of data purporting to indicate President Johnson was responsible for the assassination.” Ivanov “emphasized that it was of extreme importance to the Soviet Government to determine precisely what kind of man the new President Lyndon Johnson would be.”

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He issued instructions to all of its agents to immediately obtain all data available concerning Johnson, “including his background, his past working experience and record in Congress, his present attitude toward the Soviet Union, and particularly all information which might have bearing upon the future foreign policy line he would follow.”

At the direction of Moscow, they began collecting “information concerning President Lyndon B. Johnson’s character, background, personal friends, family, and from which quarters he derives his support in his positions as President of the United States.” According to one FBI source cited in the documents, the KGB claimed to be in possession of data purporting to indicate President Johnson was responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy.

John Bolton tweets: ‘For the backstory, stay tuned’

President Trump said he would like an impeachment trial and continued to disparage former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch during an appearance on Fox News this morning.

“I want a trial,” he said in a telephone interview, railing against the inquiry.

He said he wants Hunter Biden and Adam Schiff to testify, claiming he knows “exactly” who the whistleblower is.

Trump also went after Yovanovitch, the former US Ambassador to Ukraine who testified publicly last week.

“The ambassador, the woman, she wouldn’t even put up, she’s an Obama person,” Trump said of Yovanovitch.  He said he asked his team “why are you being so kind” to Yovanovitch and was told “she’s a woman – we have to be nice.”

“I heard bad things,” Trump said, inaccurately saying that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky brought her up during the call. Trump brought her up. 

Trump claimed that Yovanovitch “wouldn’t hang my picture in the embassy” and “wouldn’t defend” him.

“This was not an angel, this woman, okay? And there were a lot of things that she did that I didn’t like,” he said.

Trump said he doesn’t know a number of the witnesses who have testified in the impeachment inquiry, such as Kurt Volker. As for US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, Trump said he “hardly” knows him.

Trump questioned why Sondland was working so closely with Ukraine – which was something Sondland addressed during his testimony.

“I’ve had a couple of conversations, I’ve seen him hanging around, you know, when I go to Europe, but he was really a European Union Ambassador, and all of a sudden, he is working on this, you know, ask about that,” he said. 

Mojave Air and Space Port awarded much-needed federal grant

The U.S. Department of Transportation has approved an $8 million grant for Mojave Air and Space Port through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, who provided early support for the grant  and announced its approval in a press release Thursday, has long been a supporter of the eastern Kern County spaceport, where companies like Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Co. and Stratolaunch Systems operate research, testing and engineering facilities.

“From Stratolaunch to Virgin Orbit, Mojave Air and Space Port is leading the way in civilian aeronautics and commercial spaceflight,” McCarthy stated in the release. “But in order to continue to take the next steps toward even greater innovation in the industry, it is vital that Mojave Air and Space Port’s infrastructure is revitalized.”

Infrastructure. It’s not as exciting as the sight of a rocketplane blasting civilian astronauts into the microgravity of suborbital space — but it is crucial nonetheless, said Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Karina Drees.

“In some cases, the pavement is failing,” Drees said of Taxiway C — or as she calls it, “Taxiway Charlie” — a 7,200 foot long, 60 foot wide ribbon of pavement designed for the movement of aircraft before and after takeoff and landing.

Maintaining the spaceport’s infrastructure is “very difficult,” Drees said. “We spend $200,000 annually in just crack sealing to try to prolong the life of the pavement for as long as possible.”

But now it’s time to replace, not prolong.

“Congressman McCarthy called personally this morning to let us know we got the grant,” she said.

It’s not a sure thing, Drees said. On the contrary, this is the first such grant MASP has received. 

Last year, McCarthy sent a letter to the FAA in support of Mojave’s grant application. Apparently, it doesn’t hurt to have a powerful member of Congress on your side.

Drees was named MASP’s CEO and general manager in 2016, only the third general manager in the history of the former World War II-era Marine Corps air base. Now the facility, situated about 60 miles east of Bakersfield, is considered one of the top aviation airports and home to innovative flight tests and several commercial space companies. One of 12 licensed space ports in the United States, MASP plays host to more rocket engine tests than any other place in the world.

The one-time desert outpost earned its place onto the map of commercial space endeavors in the summer of 2004 when aerospace entrepreneur Burt Rutan and his Mojave-based company, Scaled Composites, became the first team to successfully send a civilian pilot to suborbital space through a privately funded effort. In September of that year, Rutan’s team would go on to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

Eight years later, Rutan’s SpaceShipOne was on track to be replaced by the next generation vehicle, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, a six-passenger, two-crewmember rocketplane also built and tested at MASP.

Last December, SS2 reached suborbital space for the first time, coming closer than ever to the advent of commercial tourism, $250,000 thrill rides to the edge of space.

Sometime over the next few months, Drees said, Virgin Orbit, another company within the Virgin Group, is on track to launch a payload to space from its base in Mojave using a rocket launched from beneath a modified Boeing 747.

Hang on tight, Kern County. Commercial spaceflight is in your back yard.

Hiltzik: UC contracts place religious restrictions on treatment and training at its medical schools

Religious restrictions on healthcare have been developing into a public health crisis of the first order. New disclosures show how deeply these restrictions have infiltrated an institution that should be a bulwark against them: the University of California.

Clinical and educational training contracts with Catholic hospitals chains have placed religion-based constraints on UC personnel and students at every one of UC’s six medical schools, as well as some nursing, nurse practitioner, physician assistant and pharmacy programs.

The contracts remain in force at medical and professional schools at UC San Francisco, UCLA, and UC Davis, San Diego and Riverside. At UC Irvine, a 2016 contract with Providence St. Joseph Health expired at the end of May.

The [Catholic directives] are problematic because they’re not based on science, or medical evidence, or the values and obligations of the university as a public entity.

UC Regents Chair John A. Pérez

Most of the contracts are with the Catholic hospital chain Dignity Health. The contracts typically require UC personnel and student trainees to comply with Catholic Church strictures on healthcare while practicing or doing field training at Dignity facilities. The restrictions don’t apply when UC personnel and students are working or studying at UC facilities such as its own medical centers or clinical sites not operated by Dignity.

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In some cases the restrictions could prohibit UC personnel at Dignity facilities to even counsel patients about medical options that conflict with church doctrine, such as contraception and abortion. UCSF also has training agreements with Providence St. Joseph in Oregon and Washington state.

The most restrictive church rules are specified by the Ethical and Religious Directives on Catholic Health Care, known as the ERDs, a document issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that bars almost all abortions, sterilization procedures such as tubal ligations, and provision of contraceptives. The directives are in place at many of the hospitals named in the UC contracts, even though UC is prohibited by the state Constitution from allowing religious considerations to govern its operations.

The contracts were obtained by the ACLU of Northern California via a Public Records Act request. The documents raise new questions about whether UCSF officials were candid with university regents in testimony this spring over a proposed affiliation between UCSF and Dignity Health. UCSF abandoned the plan in May in the face of a public uproar and professional rebellion at the school.

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In defending the proposal, UCSF officials suggested that UC providers would be able to circumvent many of the religious strictures by transferring patients to hospitals with less restrictive rules, and sometimes through subterfuges such as falsifying patient records.

But as the ACLU observed in a Nov. 15 letter to UCSF officials, “even at the time of these assertions, UCSF … already had entered into contracts with Dignity Health that explicitly tie the hands of UC providers and require them to comply with Dignity Health’s religious doctrine.” (Emphasis in the original.)

“They argued that there was some sort of bubble privilege around UCSF providers operating in these religiously-restrictive facilities giving them greater latitude to provide evidence-based care to their patients,” says Phyllida Burlingame, reproductive justice and gender equity director at the Northern California ACLU.

But an educational training contract reached last year and effective through August 2020 shows that the UCSF providers are “specifically tied to the Ethical and Religious Directives [at Dignity] facilities.”

UC President Janet Napolitano’s office told me by email that “there is no contract that we read as restricting our personnel’s ability to counsel, prescribe or refer according to the standard of care and their professional judgment.”

Following the furor over the UCSF proposal, Napolitano established an 18-member working group of faculty and administrators from across the system to establish guidelines for future collaborations with outside health systems whose values may not conform to UC’s.

The group is expected to make its report around the end of this year. UC refused to provide a full list of the group’s members.

The ACLU is calling for the termination of any contracts that “impose religious restrictions on care.” University officials say they’re “in the process of drafting amendments” to active contracts, but haven’t disclosed the language.

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RC hospitals.jpg

One in six U.S. hospital beds is subject to Catholic healthcare restrictions; in California, the share is more than 10%.

(ACLU)

In a campus-wide message issued Friday, UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood and UCSF Health Chief Executive Mark Laret — both of whom are members of the working group — said they expect that UCSF personnel, wherever they’re working, “will always practice medicine and make clinical decisions consistent with their professional judgment and considering the needs and wishes of each patient.”

That’s a dodge. The problem is restrictions on procedures and treatments that UC providers would prescribe for patients, but that can’t be performed for patients at Catholic facilities.

“Even if UC providers are permitted to make clinical decisions ‘consistent with their professional judgment,’” cautions Vanessa Jacoby, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at UCSF, a leading critic of its Dignity proposal and another member of the working group, “the inability to carry out these clinical decisions because treatment is prohibited by religious directives forces UC providers to adhere to the ERDs.”

Any attempt to accept religious judgments on healthcare in future contracts might well run into a buzzsaw at the UC Board of Regents. “The ERDs are problematic,” says Board Chairman John A. Pérez, a former Assembly speaker, “because they’re not based on science, or medical evidence, or the values and obligations of the university as a public entity.”

Pérez, who spoke out against the UCSF-Dignity proposal last spring, said he would “have a difficult time agreeing to any renewal of agreements if they maintain ERDs and other measures that are inconsistent with UC policies and medical standards of care.”

Dignity, for its part, claims that it and UC “have always expected any physician practicing at a Dignity Health location to discuss all treatment options, prescribe appropriate medications, and facilitate access to another provider if a Dignity Health location does not provide a desired service.”

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“Prohibited Procedures” for UCLA physicians working in some Dignity Health hospital ERs including abortions and some treatments for victims of sexual assault.

(University of California)

That’s another dodge, since under the ERDs Dignity hospitals don’t stock contraceptives even if they’re prescribed by a physician and have to be administered in a clinical setting, and the directives further bar employees from even making referrals for abortions. Transferring a patient to another hospital may not measure up to the standard of care if the patient needs immediate treatment that the Dignity location won’t provide because of the bishops’ rules.

Most of the contracts obtained by the ACLU apply to clinical training programs conducted at the sectarian hospitals for students in medicine, nursing or pharmacy. But the pacts also include a UCLA contract for emergency services and a UCSF contract for cardiology services.

Some of the contracts covering training programs give the hospitals the right to request the ejection of faculty members or students deemed to have violated the religious rules, based on the “sole judgment” of the hospital.

No cases have yet emerged of faculty or students removed from programs for violating the church rules. But two lawsuits are pending in California state courts asserting discriminatory treatment by Dignity hospitals acting in compliance with the directives.

One was brought by a patient whose hysterectomy was abruptly canceled when hospital administrators learned he was transgender, and the other by a patient who was refused a tubal ligation that was to be performed in conjunction with a Caesarean delivery, even though performing both procedures at the same time is standard medical practice to protect the health of the patient.

It’s impossible to overstate how drastically these contracts depart from California law and public policy. The state Constitution explicitly dictates that the university “shall be entirely independent of all political or sectarian influence … in the administration of its affairs.” The Constitution warns against discrimination on the basis of “race, religion, ethnic heritage or sex.”

California also has been in the forefront of the battle against the imposition of religious limitations on healthcare. Just Tuesday, in a lawsuit brought by the state, San Francisco and Santa Clara County, federal Judge William Alsup of San Francisco blocked President Trump’s so-called conscience order, which vastly expanded the rights of doctors, nurses, even ambulance drivers and hospital receptionists to refuse to participate in procedures such as abortions by claiming moral objections. (On Nov. 6, a New York federal judge, ruling on other lawsuits, also blocked the order.)

In the California cases, the state and its fellow plaintiffs had called Trump’s rule a “coercive ‘gun to the head’” that would force hospitals, other healthcare providers and their patients to “adhere to the religious beliefs and practices of every employee.”

Catholic Church restrictions on medical practice have increasingly become an issue nationwide as Catholic hospitals expand their footprint coast-to-coast through acquisitions and affiliations, reaching the point where 1 in 6 U.S. hospital beds is subject to the church directives. Dignity is now the fifth largest hospital chain in the country and the largest not-for-profit system in California.

Officials at many of the UC campuses assert they have little choice but to forge clinical and teaching partnerships with Dignity facilities because of their own space constraints. “Even with UC’s scale, access to our care at UC facilities is limited by capacity and geography,” Jacqueline Carr, a spokeswoman for UC San Diego, told me by email. “Relationships with other healthcare organizations allow us to care for more patients … and provide training to tomorrow’s health professionals.”

Yet the contracts provide for no departure from practice limitations derived from the ERDs or the church’s Statement of Common Values, a slightly less restrictive document in force at some Dignity facilities.

A February 2019 contract through which UCLA physicians provide emergency services at Dignity’s California Hospital Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles, for example, specifies nine “prohibited procedures,” including abortions, even for medically dangerous extrauterine pregnancies; physician-assisted suicide or “aid-in-dying”; “promotion of contraceptive practices”; and treatments for victims of sexual assault that aim at the “removal, destruction or interference with implantation” of a fertilized egg.

The ERDs go further than merely prohibiting certain procedures. The directives dictate that in “any kind of collaboration, whatever comes under the control of the Catholic institution — whether by acquisition, governance, or management — must be operated in full accord with the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, including these Directives.”

They forbid administrators and employees to “manage, carry out, assist in carrying out, make its facilities available for, make referrals for, or benefit from the revenue generated by immoral procedures” such as abortions and sterilizations.

In other words, by collaborating with Dignity and other Catholic institutions, UC is making itself complicit with much broader constraints on the ability of its professionals and students to serve themselves and their patients in accordance with science- and medicine-based healthcare. Those are the values that the University of California must stand up for, uncompromisingly.

Former White House official rejects ‘fictional narrative’ Trump and Giuliani used in Ukraine pressure campaign

Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former top Russia adviser, and David Holmes, the counselor for political affairs at the US Embassy in Ukraine, are testifying together publicly today before the House Intelligence Committee in the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry into Trump.

The hearing is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. ET.

Here’s what we know about Hill and Holmes:

About Hill: A former national security official, Hill served in the Trump administration from April 2017 until July of this year. During her time with the National Security Council, she oversaw rocky Washington-Moscow ties, and her views sometimes seemed at odds with Trump’s desire to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin whom he has praised on multiple occasions.

In her previous deposition, Hill said US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told Ukrainian officials in meetings on July 10 they would have to open an investigation to secure a meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

About Holmes: Holmes is a career foreign service officer who arrived in Ukraine in 2017, according to a source who knows him and describes him as a “sharp guy.” He joined the foreign service in 2002, according to the American Foreign Service Association, and has previously served in Kabul, New Delhi, Kosovo, Bogota, Moscow and Kosovo.

He told lawmakers during a closed-door deposition that he overheard a conversation between President Trump and Ambassador Gordon Sondland the day after Trump spoke with the Ukrainian president by phone in July, CNN previously reported. Holmes heard Trump ask Sondland on the call if the Ukrainians were going to “do the investigation,” and Sondland responded, “He’s gonna do it.”

British robbery suspect apparently tried to use pair of glasses to trick police

A robbery suspect in England thought he could evade authorities with a new look: a pair of glasses.

David Springthorpe, 30, was wanted for allegedly shoplifting and violating a court order when he recently came into contact with a police officer in South Normanton. A “short chase” ensued, and he was detained, authorities said.

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Springthorpe – a white man with blue eyes, brown hair, wide ears, and a notable neck tattoo – tried to disguise himself by wearing a pair of black-rimmed glasses. That, the Alfreton Police wrote on Facebook Tuesday “was not quite cunning enough to outsmart the team!”

David Springthorpe, 30, apparently thought he could fool police by changing up his look with a pair of glasses.

David Springthorpe, 30, apparently thought he could fool police by changing up his look with a pair of glasses. (SWNS)

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“A pair of glasses not going to disguise that ear,” one commenter ridiculed about Springthorpe’s look change. “You would think he would’ve kept an ear out,” another user wrote.

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Springthorpe was convicted of theft for stealing perfume gift sets, according to Metro UK, and sentenced to a 30-week jail sentence.

Kern Community Foundation celebrates 20 years with big surprise

It’s been 20 years worth of giving and helping the community for the Kern Community Foundation, but the organization’s work is far from over. 

Current and former board members and individuals who have set up funds with the organization came together Wednesday night to celebrate past successes and future endeavors. 

Over the last 20 years, more than 160 funds established by community members and local agencies have generated $24 million in grants to local nonprofits, ones across the country and even some internationally. Those funds also make $25 million in assets at the foundation. With almost $50 million going toward the community, it’s definitely something to be proud of, according to organization leaders.

“I have to think in this giving community that we live in that that trajectory is going to continue,” said Kristen Beall Watson, Kern Community Foundation president and CEO.

A big surprise revealed during Wednesday’s celebration was that Judi and Rob McCarthy — who gifted $2.5 million to the Kern Community Foundation earlier this year — are gifting $1 million from their fund to put into the foundation’s community endowment which will allow it access to discretionary money.

Kern Community Foundation began in the mid-1990s with a vision shared by Curtis Darling and Morton Brown to establish an organization that would be dedicated to encouraging philanthropy in Kern County.

James Simmons, the foundation’s first president, said Wednesday it all began with four funds totaling between $200,000 to $300,000. 

As times changed and the organization mastered its original intent, leaders decided to consider other ways they could help their community.

Over the years, Kern Community Foundation’s initiatives have evolved to respond to important community needs. That’s being done through two strategic initiatives:

  • Nonprofit strengthening, which helps local nonprofits increase their visibility, capacity and sustainability through collaboration and networking, training, marketing, outreach and fundraising support, grant-making, online resources, and participation in community events such as Give Big Kern.
  • Educational attainment, which works to create a cradle-to-career pipeline of college and job readiness success through scholarships and convening every level of education and community leaders to commit to improving educational outcomes through the Kern Education Pledge.

One-fourth of Kern’s residents live below the poverty line, and closely related to that is 22 percent of adults have an associate’s degree or higher in the community, compared to the state’s average of 39 percent, Beall Watson explained. By lifting up students and giving them “every opportunity to pursue their dreams, we’ll end up with a large percentage of a community” with some type of postsecondary degree, she said.

“The work is very commendable,” said Simmons. “They didn’t have to do that … but they did. I’m very proud.”

So what can the community expect in the coming years? More of the same work to help local organizations and individuals, and new opportunities to proactively transform the community.

“I don’t think there’s anything stopping us,” Beall Watson said.

Montebello student threatened principal on Snapchat to get out of going to school, police say

A Montebello high school student was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of threatening his principal on Snapchat so that he wouldn’t have to go to school.

A concerned parent of another student at Montebello’s Vail High School notified school officials of the social media post, and it was then reported to police, the city Police Department said in a news release.

Detectives interviewed the 16-year-old student suspected of creating the post, and he admitted to doing so in the hope that classes would be canceled and he wouldn’t have to attend school, police said.

Police arrested the student on suspicion of making a criminal threat. His name wasn’t released because of his age.

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The arrest came in the wake of a shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita that left two students dead and three others injured.

Last week, police in Merced arrested an El Capitan High School student they said posted a threat on social media stating there was going to be a shooting there.

Ambassador says he pushed Ukraine to investigate Bidens at Trump’s ‘express direction’

Drew Angerer/Getty Images Drew Angerer/Getty Images

EU ambassador Gordon Sondland is making clear that some of President Trump’s senior-most aides were aware of a link between US aid to Ukraine and the country opening investigations that would benefit Trump politically.

“Everyone was in the loop,” he said in his opening statement. “It was no secret.”

Here is what he says these officials knew, and that they’ve said before today about their involvement:

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:  Sondland says his efforts to pressure Ukraine into opening the investigations came at the “express direction of the President of the United States.” 

“We followed the President’s orders,” Sondland said.

What Trump has said: Trump has been adamant in his self-defense, insisting over and over there was “no quid pro quo” in Ukraine.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Sondland says he told Pence in early September that he was concerned US aid to Ukraine was being tied to investigations into Trump’s political rivals. 

What Pence has said: Under repeated questioning, Pence has refused to say whether he knew there was a link between US aid and investigations. He’s denied ever linking the issues in his own conversations with Zelensky, and told CBS last month, “I can only tell you what I know, and what I know is that the transcript of the President’s call with President Zelensky shows that there was no quid pro quo.”

SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO: Sondland says Pompeo was kept apprised on his efforts in Ukraine, and cites emails to the top diplomat showing he raised the issue of linking aid to Ukraine with investigations.

Sondland also says “based on my communications with Secretary Pompeo,” he felt comfortable raising concerns about the linkage to a top aide to Zelensky.

What Pompeo has said: Asked on ABC about claims the White House conditioned US aid on investigations, Pompeo said in October, “I never saw that in the decision-making process that I was a part of.”

“The conversation was always around, what were the strategic implications? Would that money get to the right place?” he said.

ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MICK MULVANEY: Sondland says an email to Mulvaney on July 19 to set up a phone call between Trump and Zelensky made the alleged exchange clear. Mulvaney responded that he was asking the NSC to arrange the call for the next day.

What Mulvaney has said: In a now-infamous news conference, Mulvaney confirmed there was a quid pro quo but downplayed its significance. He later denied he said that. He’s refused to be interviewed by Congressional investigators.

ENERGY SECRETARY RICK PERRY: Sondland says Perry was directly involved in carrying out the wishes of President Trump by working with Giuliani secure the investigations.

What Perry has said: Perry has denied any quid pro quo, including in an interview with Fox: “There was no quid pro quo in the sense of what those folks out there would like for it to be…I never heard that said anywhere, anytime in any conversation.” He’s also refused to cooperate with the investigation.

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JOHN BOLTON: Like other witnesses, Sondland recalls a meeting in Bolton’s office on July 10 where he linked the investigations and a White House meeting for President Zelensky. Sondland also says Bolton’s office requested Giuliani’s contact info before a visit to Kiev.

What Bolton has said: Bolton has remained silent as the impeachment proceeding advances. He has defied a Congressional subpoena, and wants a judge to decide whether he should cooperate with investigators or follow the White House guidance not to comply.