U.S. top court rejects challenge to California gun waiting period

Firearms are shown for sale at the AO Sword gun store in El Cajon, California, January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake

By Andrew Chung

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a blow to gun rights activists, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday turned away a challenge to California’s 10-day waiting period for firearms purchases that is intended to guard against impulsive violence and suicides.

The court’s action underscored its continued reluctance to step into the national debate over gun control roiled by a series of mass shootings including one at a Florida school last week. One of the court’s most conservative justices, Clarence Thomas, dissented from the decision to reject the case and accused his colleagues of showing contempt toward constitutional protections for gun rights.

The gun rights groups and individual gun owners who challenged the law had argued that it violated their right to keep and bear arms under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. The challengers did not seek to invalidate California’s waiting period for everyone, just for people who already owned guns and passed a background check.

In his dissent, Thomas scolded his colleagues. “If a lower court treated another right so cavalierly, I have little doubt this court would intervene,” Thomas wrote. “But as evidenced by our continued inaction in this area, the Second Amendment is a disfavored right in this court.”

The Supreme Court has not taken up a major firearms case since issuing important gun rulings in 2008 and 2010.

The United States has among the most lenient gun control laws in the world. With the U.S. Congress deeply divided over gun control, it has fallen to states and localities to impose firearms restrictions. Democratic-governed California has some of the broadest firearms measures of any state.

A series of mass shootings including one in which a gunman killed 17 people at a Parkland, Florida high school on Feb. 14 have added to the long-simmering U.S. debate over gun control and the availability of firearms.

In another gun case, the high court on Tuesday also declined to take up a National Rifle Association challenge to California’s refusal to lower its fees on firearms sales and instead use a surplus generated by the fees to fund efforts to track down illegal weapons.

Thomas said he suspected that the Supreme Court would readily hear cases involving potentially unconstitutional waiting periods if they involved abortion, racist publications or police traffic stops.

“The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this court’s constitutional orphan. And the lower courts seem to have gotten the message,” Thomas added.

Lead plaintiff Jeff Silvester, the Calguns Foundation and its executive director Brandon Combs, and the Second Amendment Foundation in 2011 challenged the 10-day waiting period between the purchase of a firearm and its actual delivery to the buyer, saying it violated the Second Amendment for individuals who already lawfully own a firearm or are licensed to carry one.

The waiting period gives a gun buyer inclined to use it for an impulsive purpose a “cooling off” period before obtaining it, which has been shown in studies to reduce handgun suicides and homicides, the state said in a legal filing. The waiting period also gives officials time to run background checks and ensure that weapons being sold are not stolen or being purchased for someone prohibited from gun ownership, the state said.

The states of California, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Illinois, Minnesota, Florida, Iowa, Maryland and New Jersey as well as Washington, D.C., have waiting periods that vary in duration and type of firearm, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gun control advocacy group.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s law in 2016, reversing a federal trial court that had ruled it unconstitutional.

Last year, the Supreme Court left in place a California law that bars permits to carry a concealed gun in public places unless the applicant can show “good cause” for having it.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)

Storm barrels through U.S. Midwest with snow and frigid temperatures

Satellite image from the National Weather Service. 2-9-18

By Brendan O’Brien and Suzannah Gonzales

MILWAUKEE, Wis./CHICAGO (Reuters) – A major winter storm barreled into Chicago and Milwaukee early on Friday, dumping heavy snow and dropping temperatures well below freezing as it forced schools to close and threatened to leave travel at a stand still across the Midwest.

The storm system stretches from western Montana across the Dakotas and parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, and reaches as far east as southern Michigan. The storm could drop up to 14 inches (36 cm) of snow in some areas, the National Weather Service said.

Chicago was anticipating six to 12 inches of snow early on Friday morning with more snow expected over the weekend, according to the service’s weather forecast.

“The city is ready for this,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said during a news conference about the city’s preparedness on Thursday. “Make no mistake though, this is a heavy snow, heavier than we’ve seen in a number of winters.”

City officials announced school closures in Chicago, Detroit and Milwaukee because of the weather.

Wind chill temperatures were expected to drop below 0 Fahrenheit (-18 C) in many areas across the region, and officials warned of limited visibility on roads.

Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway international airports canceled more than 200 flights on Thursday before the storm hit, and several airlines were also anticipating delays or cancellations.

United Airlines said on Twitter that waivers were in effect for snow-hit areas this week allowing travelers to change flights without charges, and Delta Air Lines offered to rebook flights on Friday for 18 Midwest cities.

Winter weather across the United States this week killed several people in accidents in the Midwest, including six in Iowa, two in Missouri and one in Montana, local media in those states reported.

(Editing by Peter Graff)

Morningside welcomes Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to The Jim Bakker Show

Morningside welcomes Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann to The Jim Bakker Show

By Kami Klein

On Tuesday, December 12, at noon, The Jim Bakker Show will be taping a special interview with former Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.  Currently Michele serves as the Executive Director of Skyline United Nations, a U.N. ministry seeking to bring a biblical perspective to the U.N.  As a much needed  voice for evangelical Christians standing with Israel, Congresswoman Bachmann will have much to tell on the President’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and her observations on United Nations leaders.   

While speaking to the congregation of Skyline Church in San Diego California, Bachmann confirmed the challenges she will face as she attempts to shine God’s truth on the corruption now ingrained within this important international organization.  “We are taking this unbelievably audacious step of going to the U.N.,” Bachmann shared, “I don’t know of a darker, more deceived place on Earth than the U.N.

Because Bachmann admits she’s never had any love for the United Nations as an organization, she experienced a lot of soul searching and prayer before deciding to accept the position.  She has felt that policies that emanate from the global body, are mostly globalist and socialist in nature.

“Their goal has been from the very beginning the creation of a one-world order – not a one-world order under the umbrella of the Holy Spirit, but man’s attempt at a one-world order, that only brings about chaos, confusion, deception, delusion, pain. And that’s when, rather than cursing the darkness, Skyline Church is about to light a candle.”

We encourage you to be a part of this timely and informative interview with the former Congresswoman on Tuesday, December 12th at noon on Grace Street.  If you are unable to attend please be sure to watch when the show airs on your station or on Jimbakkershow.com/video/.  We hope to see you there!  

Sources:  WND article   One News Now article    Times of San Diego article 

Family of Australian woman fatally shot wants Minnesota cop charged

FILE PHOTO: Justine Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, from Sydney, is seen in this 2015 photo released by Stephen Govel Photography in New York, U.S., on July 17, 2017. Stephen Govel/Stephen Govel Photography/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

By Chris Kenning

(Reuters) – The family of an Australian woman who was fatally shot wants the Minneapolis policeman involved charged, their attorney said on Tuesday, the same day investigators sent the evidence collected to the local prosecutor.

State investigators did not release their findings in the July 15 shooting of Sydney native Justine Damond, 40, who died from a single gunshot fired by Officer Mohamed Noor. The policeman was in a patrol car with Officer Matthew Harrity.

Damond had called police about a possible sexual assault near her house and had approached the police after their arrival, authorities previously said. Damond was living in Minneapolis and engaged to be married.

The shooting sparked outrage in Minnesota as well as in Australia, where Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the incident “shocking” and “inexplicable.” Minneapolis’ police chief resigned after city officials said procedures had been violated during the incident and Damond “didn’t have to die.”

The attorney for Damond’s family, Bob Bennett, said her family believes the officer should be held accountable.

“They certainly believe charges are merited,” he said in a telephone interview.

The most likely charges may be second-degree manslaughter, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years, Bennett said.

Attorneys for the officers could not be reached. Noor previously expressed condolences to the Damond family in a statement, but declined to discuss the shooting.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman will review the case file to determine what, if any, charges might be brought after the findings were submitted Tuesday, according to a statement. A decision is expected by the end of the year, his office said.

Harrity told investigators he was startled by a loud sound near the patrol car shortly before Noor fired through the open driver’s-side window, striking Damond. Court documents said a woman slapped the back of the car before the shooting.

Noor was put on paid leave after the shooting. Neither officer had their body cameras activated, police have said.

Damond’s family has not yet filed a civil lawsuit, Bennett said. He is the same lawyer who reached a nearly $3 million settlement for the family of black motorist Philando Castile who was shot and killed by Minnesota police in July 2016 during a traffic stop.

Because of past criticism over a lack of transparency when grand juries consider possible charges in police shootings, Freeman plans to decide on charges himself, his spokesman said.

Freeman’s office said in a statement it might ask for additional investigation into the matter.

(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Probe of fatal Minneapolis school blast focuses on repair work

Damage to the building is seen as emergency personnel work the scene of school building collapse at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Adam Bettcher

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) – Authorities in Minneapolis were investigating on Thursday whether contractors working at a Christian private school caused a gas explosion that leveled a building, killing two staff members and injuring nine other people.

“Various agencies will be on site this morning to pinpoint exactly how this happened,” the fire department’s assistant chief, Bryan Tyner, said on Thursday. “That investigation will include local, state and federal agencies.”

Minneapolis fire department officials told reporters on Wednesday there were early indications that a gas line was ruptured by contractors working on the campus.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which investigates accidents involving pipelines, said on Thursday it had sent an emergency response team to the site and that its officials were expected to brief reporters later in the day.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has also sent agents and trained canines to join the investigation.

School receptionist Ruth Berg and custodian John Carlson were killed by the blast that tore through the Upper School of the Minnehaha Academy at about 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday, officials said.

“Please keep John’s family, Ruth’s family, those who were injured, and our school community, in your prayers,” the school said on Facebook.

The school described Carlson, 82, as its “biggest cheerleader.” He had graduated from Minnehaha in 1953. Berg, 47, was engaged to be married, local media reported.

One of the injured was in critical condition at a local hospital. He was named as Bryan Duffey, an assistant soccer coach at the school. One other person was listed as satisfactory, while seven were treated and released, the Hennepin County Medical Center said on Thursday.

“We pray for his healing and for the wisdom of the doctors and nurses caring for him at this time,” the school said in a statement on Thursday, referring to Duffey.

Minnehaha Academy was founded in 1913 and teaches more than 800 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade on two campuses, according to its website.

School was not in session on Wednesday due to the summer break. City fire officials said the situation would have been far worse if pupils were in class.

Hundreds of people crowded into a chapel for a prayer service at the academy on Wednesday night.

“We’re going to get through it,” said Minnehaha Academy President Donna Harris, who was injured in the explosion. “We trust God. He is going to do phenomenal work.”

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Diane Craft)

Investigators look for answers in deadly Minneapolis school explosion

Investigators look for answers in deadly Minneapolis school explosion

(Reuters) – Federal and state authorities on Thursday investigated the cause of a gas explosion that ripped through a Christian private school in Minneapolis, killing two people and injured nine.

School receptionist Ruth Berg and staff member John Carlson were killed in the explosion that tore through the Upper School of the Minnehaha Academy at about 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday, the school said.

“Please keep John’s family, Ruth’s family, those who were injured, and our school community, in your prayers,” the school said on Facebook.

The school called Carlson, who graduated from the school in 1953, its “biggest cheerleader.” Carlson, 82, was a custodian and Berg, a 47-year-old receptionist, was engaged to be married, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune newspaper reported.

Local officials said it appeared that a ruptured gas line may have led to the explosion, caused by contractors working at the school, local media reported.

The academy said there had been a gas leak and explosion at its school.

The state fire marshal and local fire officials were combing through the rubble on Thursday to determine the exact cause of the explosion, Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said at a news conference on Wednesday.

“The investigators will continue their work and hopefully they will have some answers … in the coming days,” he said.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had agents on the scene, the agency said on Twitter.

According to its website, Minnehaha Academy was founded in 1913 and teaches more than 800 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade on two campuses.

School was not in session due to summer break.

“It would have been dramatically worse … we were pretty lucky in that sense,” Fruetel said.

Of the nine people injured, one was in critical condition and three were in satisfactory condition at Hennepin County Medical Center. Another five were released, the hospital said on Twitter.

Hundreds of people crowded into the campus chapel for a prayer service at the academy’s lower and middle campus on Wednesday night.

“We’re going to get through it,” said Minnehaha Academy President Donna Harris, who was injured in the explosion. “We trust God. He is going to do phenomenal work.”

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Minneapolis orders stricter police body-camera rules after fatal shooting

Justine Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, from Sydney, is seen in this 2015 photo released by Stephen Govel Photography in New York, U.S., on July 17, 2017. Stephen Govel/Stephen Govel Photography/Handout via REUTERS

By Chris Kenning

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Minneapolis officials set stricter police body camera rules on Wednesday, more than a week after officers failed to activate cameras during the fatal police shooting of an Australian woman.

Mayor Betsy Hodges and acting Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said the new policy will require officers to turn on cameras anytime they are dispatched to a call or undertake any self-initiated activity. The new policy takes effect on Saturday.

“What good is a camera if it is not being used when it may be needed the most?” said Arradondo, who acknowledged that some officers were not using the cameras frequently enough.

Justine Damond was shot shortly before midnight on July 15 by an officer responding to an emergency call she had placed about a possible assault in her residential neighborhood. The shooting sparked outrage in Australia and Minnesota.

Authorities said officer Mohamed Noor shot the 40-year-old woman through the window as she approached his patrol car. Neither his nor his partner’s body camera were on, nor was dashboard camera activated.

The incident, still under investigation, led Hodges to request the resignation of the city’s police chief.

Minneapolis rolled out cameras late last year with use guidelines calling for officers to activate them “when safe” in a variety of situations including traffic stops, emergency responses, vehicle pursuits, searches and before any use of force.

Arradondo said supervisors were being trained to audit the use of the cameras.

“Many of our officers are using our cameras a lot,” he said. But some officers, he said, are failing to use them enough.

The new policy will still include some exceptions, but will reduce the amount of discretion officers have in using them, officials said.

The technology has been adopted by police departments across the country, increasing sharply after the 2014 police shooting of a teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked demonstrations over police treatment of minorities.

At least 14 people were killed in the United States by officers wearing body cams that were either not turned on or inoperative since 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union said in December. Even so, that was a tiny fraction of police-involved shootings.

Jim Pasco, a senior adviser with the Fraternal Order of Police, said recently that noncompliance among police was not widespread nationally. A Pew Research Center report earlier this year found 66 percent of police supported the use of body cameras.

(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Warrant in Minnesota police shooting says woman slapped squad car

FILE PHOTO: Justine Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, from Sydney, is seen in this 2015 photo released by Stephen Govel Photography in New York, U.S., on July 17, 2017. Stephen Govel/Stephen Govel Photography/Handout via REUTERS

By Chris Kenning

(Reuters) – A woman slapped the back of police squad car just before the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Australian woman in Minneapolis, according to newly released court documents.

The detail came in an application for a search warrant, made public Monday in court documents, from state investigators examining what led to the July 15 shooting of Sydney native Justine Damond, 40.

The fatal incident outraged the public in Australia and Minnesota, and led to the resignation of Minneapolis’ police chief. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the shooting “shocking” and “inexplicable.”

“Upon police arrival, a female ‘slaps’ the back of the patrol squad. After that, it is unknown to BCA agents what exactly happened, but the female became deceased in the alley,” the court document reads. It does not say whether the woman who slapped the car was Damond.

Damond family attorney Robert Bennett could not be reached to comment on Tuesday. Previously, Bennett had said: “Usually people who call the police in their pajamas are not ambushers.”

One responding officer, Matthew Harrity, told investigators he was startled by a loud sound near the patrol car shortly before his partner, Mohamed Noor, fired through the open driver’s-side window, striking Damond.

Damond, who had made Minneapolis her home and was engaged to be married, had called police about a possible sexual assault in her neighborhood just before midnight. A cellphone was found near her body, according to the court documents.

Last week, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau resigned at the request of Mayor Betsy Hodges, who lost confidence in the chief after the shooting.

Over the weekend, metal street signs mocking the police appeared in the city, reading “Warning: Twin Cities Police Easily Startled,” according to KARE-TV.

Noor’s lawyer, Tom Plunkett, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Noor has refused to be interviewed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting. Plunkett previously released a statement in which Noor expressed condolences to the Damond family, but declined to discuss the shooting.

Harrity’s attorney, Fred Bruno, could not be reached for comment. Bruno previously told the Star Tribune it was “certainly reasonable” for the officers to fear they could be the target of a possible ambush.

Police also on Monday released the officers’ partly redacted personnel files, which include records of employment and completed training, including weapons training. However, the files reveal little about job performance.

(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by David Gregorio)

Minneapolis police chief resigns after Australian woman’s shooting

FILE PHOTO: Minneapolis Chief of Police Janee Harteau takes part in a round table discussion on ways to reduce gun violence during a visit to the Minneapolis Police Department Special Operations Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. on February 4, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

By Eric M. Johnson

(Reuters) – Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau resigned on Friday at the request of the city’s mayor, who said that she and the community had lost confidence in Harteau following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Australian woman.

The death of Sydney native Justine Damond, 40, from a single gunshot wound to the abdomen fired through the open window of a police patrol car, has outraged her family members and the Australian public. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called it “shocking” and “inexplicable.”

Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a written statement that she and Harteau agreed on Friday that Harteau would step aside.

“I’ve lost confidence in the Chief’s ability to lead us further – and from the many conservations I’ve had with people around our city, especially this week, it is clear that she has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well,” Hodges said in the statement.

A press conference Hodges called to discuss the personnel change was interrupted by a group of protesters calling for her to resign, a witness video posted on YouTube showed.

“We don’t want you as our mayor of Minneapolis anymore,” a male protester in the video yelled as Hodges nodded slowly and tried repeatedly to resume her remarks but was drowned out.

“Your leadership has been very ineffective. Your police department has terrorized us enough,” he said.

Damond, who was living in Minneapolis and engaged to be married, had called police about a possible sexual assault in her neighborhood just before midnight on Saturday. She was shot as she approached the driver’s side of Mohamed Noor’s and Matthew Harrity’s patrol car.

Harteau’s resignation came a day after she told reporters during her first news conference following Damond’s death that the shooting violated department training and procedures and that the victim “didn’t have to die.”

“Last Saturday’s tragedy, as well as some other recent incidents, have caused me to engage in deep reflection,” she said in a statement. “Despite the MPD’s many accomplishments under my leadership over these years and my love for the city, I have to put the communities we serve first.”

According to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Harrity told investigators that Damond approached the squad car immediately after he was startled by a loud noise and that Noor, who was in the passenger seat, fired his weapon through the open driver’s-side window, striking Damond.

Noor has refused to be interviewed by the agency, which is conducting the investigation.

The police department said on Friday that bureau investigators had interviewed a person who was bicycling in the area immediately before the shooting and watched as the officers provided medical assistance to Damond. No further details were provided.

Hodges said Assistant Chief Medaria Arradondo would become police chief, and the department’s website on Friday evening had been updated to reflect it.

Harteau, a 30-year veteran of the department, was the first woman to lead it and is also openly gay. She was criticized for the department’s handling of the fatal 2015 shooting of 24-year-old black man Jamar Clark, who was unarmed.

The shooting of Clark touched off protests in Minneapolis at a time of fierce national debate over the use of excessive force by police, especially against black people.

Hundreds of people also took to the streets of Minneapolis to protest Damond’s shooting.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler & Shri Navaratnam)

Australian woman ‘didn’t have to die’: Minneapolis police chief

Justine Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, from Sydney, is seen in this 2015 photo released by Stephen Govel Photography in New York, U.S., on July 17, 2017. Stephen Govel/Stephen Govel Photography/Handout via REUTERS

By Todd Melby

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) – The Minneapolis police chief said on Thursday the fatal shooting of an unarmed Australian woman by a junior police officer violated department training and procedures, and that the victim “didn’t have to die.”

The death of Justine Damond, 40, from a single gunshot wound to the abdomen fired through an open window of a police patrol car, has outraged her relatives and the public in Australia. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called it “shocking” and “inexplicable.”

“Justine didn’t have to die,” Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau said in her first news conference about the shooting.

Harteau said she apologized to Damond’s fiance for the loss of life, adding that the action taken by Officer Mohamed Noor, who fired the fatal shot, reflected “one individual’s actions.”

She said the body cameras of the two officers on the scene should have been activated. There is no known video footage of the shooting.

Based on the available information, Harteau said: “The actions in question go against who we are as a department, how we train, and the expectations we have for our officers.”

Damond had called police about a possible sexual assault in her neighborhood just before midnight on Saturday.

Earlier on Thursday, an attorney who represented another police shooting victim in Minnesota said Damond’s family had hired him.

The lawyer, Bob Bennett, reached a nearly $3 million settlement in June for the family of black motorist Philando Castile from the St. Paul, Minnesota, suburb of St. Anthony. Castile was shot and killed in July 2016 during a traffic stop.

The officer who shot Castile was acquitted in a manslaughter trial in June.

“Usually people who call the police in their pajamas are not ambushers, especially spiritual healers and pacifists,” Bennett said of Damond, who owned a meditation and life-coaching company.

“You shouldn’t shoot unarmed people who call the cops,” Bennett said in a telephone interview.

He added that the family would wait until officials complete their investigation before deciding whether to file a civil lawsuit.

Bennett said Damond’s body was still at the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Damond’s family told the Australian Associated Press it wished to bring her body back to Australia for burial. She is from Sydney.

“All we want to do is bring Justine home to Australia to farewell her in her hometown among family and friends,” her family said, according to AAP.

Noor, a Somali-American seen as a role model in the Somali community in Minneapolis, has refused to be interviewed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting. His attorney released a statement in which Noor expressed condolences to the Damond family, but declined to discuss the shooting.

Harteau told reporters she would prefer Noor speak about the incident. “There are questions that need to be answered and he is the only one who has those answers,” she said.

(Reporting by Todd Melby; Additional reporting and writing by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, and Jane Wardell in Sydney; Editing by Diane Craft and Peter Cooney)