Authorities say looters have come from as far away as New York and Virginia to steal from victims of last month's tornado in Moore, Okla.
The Oklahoman reports (http://bit.ly/18UQjGJ ) that police arrested one man from Elmhurst, N.Y., and two from Virginia on misdemeanor complaints of stealing copper wire, scrap metal and other items from homes destroyed by the May 20 tornado. Twenty-four people were killed.
Several Moore residents were also arrested on similar misdemeanor complaints.
Residents have filed theft reports for such items as a $50,000 watch, a $13,000 watch, a $2,000 fountain pen and a $1,300 hunting camera.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com
A criminal charge has been dismissed against a Utah youth football coach accused of hitting an opposing ball carrier under the chin with his forearm during a game and giving the boy a concussion.
Fourth District Judge Donald Eyre on Thursday dismissed a misdemeanor assault charge filed against Nathan Harris, 39, of Mapleton, last November.
According to police, video shows that as the 13-year-old ball carrier ran last October, Harris stepped out and intentionally knocked him down with his forearm.
Referee David Durrant, who threw a penalty flag and ejected Harris, said the boy looked like he was about to go out of bounds — or had just gotten out of bounds — when he was hit. He said the coach stood his ground and delivered a blow, even though he had time to move.
But Harris maintains the boy ran into him near the sideline at the end of a play and he never moved toward the boy. He said he had little time to react and raised his arms to protect himself out of instinct.
New video obtained by Harris lawyer Rhome Zabriskie shows the boy back up and playing after the collision, indicating he did not suffer a concussion as the charging documents alleged.
"I appreciated the way the prosecution handled this case," Zabriskie told the Deseret News. "When they saw that there were those inconsistencies, they took a very close look at it and made the right decision."
Harris, a father of six, said dismissal of the charge is a huge weight off him and his family.
"Now I can start putting my life together and try to erase all the damage that has been done," he told Provo's Daily Herald. "It has been quite a roller coaster. We feel like we are blessed to come out with the right outcome."
Harris said he hopes his case does not prevent other parents from volunteering with their children's activities. If the opportunity arose, he said, he would be glad to coach again.
"It's worth it to be involved in your kid's life," he said.
Harris had been scheduled to stand trial on the assault charge next week.
He originally was arrested on a felony child abuse charge, but the Utah County Attorney's Office declined to prosecute the case. The Payson City Attorney's Office then filed a lesser assault charge against him.
A top U.S. national security official says President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping found "quite a bit of alignment" on the subject of North Korea and agreed that North Korea has to be denuclearized.
White House national security adviser Tom Donilon says that the leaders also agreed that neither country will accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state.
Donilon says the common ground between Obama and Xi on North Korea provides a key for enhanced U.S.-China cooperation.
He spoke Saturday at the end of two days of meeting between Obama and Xi in an estate in the California desert.
Eager to quell a domestic furor over U.S. spying, the nation's top intelligence official stressed Saturday that a previously undisclosed program for tapping into Internet usage is authorized by Congress, falls under strict supervision of a secret court and cannot intentionally target a U.S. citizen. He decried the revelation of that and another intelligence-gathering program as reckless.
For the second time in three days, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper took the rare step of declassifying some details of an intelligence program to respond to media reports about counterterrorism techniques employed by the government.
"Disclosing information about the specific methods the government uses to collect communications can obviously give our enemies a 'playbook' of how to avoid detection," he said in a statement.
Clapper said the data collection under the program, first unveiled by the newspapers The Washington Post and The Guardian, was with the approval of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court and with the knowledge of Internet service providers. He emphasized that the government does not act unilaterally to obtain that data from the servers of those providers.
Clapper's reaction came a day after President Barack Obama defended the counterterrorism methods and said Americans need to "make some choices" in balancing privacy and security. But the president's response and Clapper's unusual public stance underscore the nerve touched by the disclosures and the sensitivity of the Obama administration to any suggestion that it is trampling on the civil liberties of Americans.
Late Thursday, Clapper declassified some details of a phone records collection program employed by the National Security Agency that aims to obtain from phone companies on an "ongoing, daily basis" the records of its customers' calls. Clapper said that under that court-supervised program, only a small fraction of the records collected ever get examined because most are unrelated to any inquiries into terrorism activities.
His statement and declassification Saturday addressed the Internet scouring program, code-named PRISM, that allowed the NSA and FBI to tap directly into the servers of major U.S. Internet companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and AOL. Like the phone-records program, PRISM was approved by a judge in a secret court order. Unlike that program, however, PRISM allowed the government to seize actual conversations: emails, video chats, instant messages and more.
Clapper said the program, authorized in the USA Patriot Act, has been in place since 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration, and "has proven vital to keeping the nation and our allies safe.
"It continues to be one of our most important tools for the protection of the nation's security," he said.
Among the previously classified information about the Internet data collection that Clapper revealed:
— It is an internal government computer system that allows the government to collect foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision.
— The government does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers. It requires approval from a FISA Court judge and is conducted with the knowledge of the provider and service providers supply information when they are legally required to do so.
— The program seeks foreign intelligence information concerning foreign targets located outside the United States under court.
— The government cannot target anyone under the program unless there is an "appropriate, and documented, foreign intelligence purpose" for the acquisition. Those purposes include prevention of terrorism, hostile cyber activities or nuclear proliferation. The foreign target must be reasonably believed to be outside the United States. It cannot intentionally target any U.S. citizen or any person known to be in the U.S.
— The dissemination of information "incidentally intercepted" about a U.S. person is prohibited unless it is "necessary to understand foreign intelligence or assess its importance, is evidence of a crime, or indicates a threat of death or serious bodily harm.
The Post and the Guardian cited confidential slides and other documents about PRISM for their reports. They named Google, Facebook, Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., Yahoo Inc., AOL Inc. and Paltalk as companies whose data has been obtained.
All the companies have issued statements asserting that they aren't voluntarily handing over user data. They also are emphatically rejecting newspaper reports indicating that PRISM has opened a door for the NSA to tap directly on the companies' data centers whenever the government pleases.
Clapper appeared to support that claim by stressing that the government did not act unilaterally, but with court authority.
"Nobody is listening to your telephone calls," Obama assured the nation Friday after two days of reports that many found unsettling. What the government is doing, he said, is digesting phone numbers and the durations of calls, seeking links that might "identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism."
While Obama on Friday said the aim of the programs is to make America safe, he offered no specifics about how the surveillance programs have done that. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., on Thursday said the phone records sweeps had thwarted a domestic terror attack, but he also didn't offer specifics.
The revelations have divided Congress and led civil liberties advocates and some constitutional scholars to accuse Obama of crossing a line in the name of rooting out terror threats.
Obama, himself a constitutional lawyer, strove to calm Americans' fears but also to remind them that Congress and the courts had signed off on the surveillance.
"I think the American people understand that there are some trade-offs involved," he said when questioned by reporters at a health care event in San Jose, Calif.
Obama echoed intelligence experts — both inside and outside the government — who predicted that potential attackers will find other, secretive ways to communicate now that they know that their phone and Internet records may be targeted.
An al-Qaida affiliated website on Saturday warned against using the Internet to discuss issues related to militant activities in three long articles on what it called "America's greatest and unprecedented scandal of spying on its own citizens and people in other countries."
"Caution: Oh brothers, it is a great danger revealing PRISM, the greatest American spying project," wrote one member, describing the NSA program that gathers information from major U.S. Internet companies.
"A highly important caution for the Internet jihadis ... American intelligence gets information from Facebook and Google," wrote another.
Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., who served on the House Intelligence Committee for a decade, said "the bad folks' antennas go back up and they become more cautious for a period of time."
"But we'll just keep coming up with more sophisticated ways to dig into these data. It becomes a techies game, and we will try to come up with new tools to cut through the clutter," he said.
Hoekstra said he approved the phone surveillance program but did not know about the online spying.
Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.
Follow Lara Jakes Twitter at: https://twitter.com/larajakesAP.
Authorities have pulled a missing teacher's car from a New Orleans bayou and police say there is a decomposed body inside.
Terrilyn Monette, a Long Beach, Calif., native who moved Louisiana to teach, vanished three months ago. Authorities did not immediately say whether the body in the car was Monette.
Monette's black Honda Accord was pulled from New Orleans' Bayou St. John on Saturday.
Louisiana state Rep. Austin Badon has spearheaded the search for Monette. He says he and a volunteer diver resurveyed the waterway in a boat using sonar and found a car that had earlier been missed.
The 26-year-old teacher was last seen leaving a New Orleans bar not far from the bayou in the early morning hours of March 2.
Authorities say gusty winds sweeping through the Denver area Saturday caused several hot air balloon crashes that injured at least five people.
The four unrelated accidents all happened within miles and about an hour of each other.
In rural Boulder County, Sheriff's Deputy Mitch Rosebrough said a dozen people were riding in a balloon that came down at about 9 a.m. in a field southeast of Boulder.
The pilot was trying to land when the basket hit the ground and was dragged about 50 yards. Two women were taken to a hospital for evaluation after complaining of neck and back injuries.
Balloon pilot Jeff Meeker, of Boulder-based Fair Winds Hot Air Balloon Flights, said the incident was not a crash but a "high-wind landing."
"For the safety of our passengers, it was a calculated decision to put it down in the best place we could," he told The Associated Press.
"The first 45 minutes were absolutely gorgeous, and then the winds just started picking up," he said, adding, "It's Mother Nature, and Mother Nature sometimes lets you know who is in charge."
Meeker said hot air ballooning, a popular pastime in the area, is extremely safe, and it's rare for several balloons to go down on the same day.
"It was just one of those days," he said. "This is obviously not our normal landing conditions."
Meeker was ticketed for landing in the field, a protected habitat for ground-nesting birds. The driver of a vehicle that went to recover the balloon also was ticketed for driving into the area.
Just before Meeker's balloon crashed, another balloon operated by a different company went down in the Rocky Flats area south of Boulder.
Dana Lewis, an engineer with the Rocky Mountain Fire District, said one of the 11 people on board suffered an ankle injury.
"We were watching the balloons go overhead and the balloon that crashed into Rocky Flats, they were screaming," he said. "They were definitely going fast."
In Arvada, one person was injured when a hot air balloon crashed into power lines and sparked a small brush fire at about 8 a.m., police said.
Three people were in the basket when the balloon crashed near a highway intersection, said Arvada police spokeswoman Jill McGranahan.
McGranahan didn't have details on the injured person.
In nearby Louisville, a balloon went down, injuring the pilot, who cut his wrist crashing into an undeveloped industrial park at about 7:45 a.m.
"They were attempting to land and got caught up in some pretty stiff winds," said Louisville Patrol Sgt. Mark Spinder.
There were five passengers in the balloon but none were injured, he said.
The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the crashes, all of which happened in the suburbs northwest of Denver.
A man who fled the U.S. in 1979 after being charged with killing a man in Chicago has been arrested at O'Hare International Airport.
The Cook County sheriff's office says 65-year-old Ata Yousef El Ammouri was taken into custody Friday after arriving on a flight from Jordan, where he has been living.
He was traveling to the United States to attend a graduation.
El Ammouri is accused of shooting 31-year-old Joe Harris in July 1979 after Harris walked out of his store without paying for a can of beer.
El Ammouri was charged with murder but posted $100,000 bail and disappeared.
He was brought to bond court Saturday and ordered held.
Sheriff Tom Dart says "the simple passage of time does not eradicate our commitment to bringing fugitives to justice."
A heavy equipment operator with a lengthy rap sheet who is accused of being high on marijuana when a downtown building collapsed onto a thrift store, killing six people, surrendered Saturday to face charges in the deaths, police said.
Sean Benschop faces six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of risking a catastrophe. A warrant had been issued for his arrest and police had been searching for him.
Authorities believe the 42-year-old Benschop had been using an excavator Wednesday when the remains of the four-story building under demolition gave way and toppled onto an attached Salvation Army thrift store, killing two employees and four customers and injuring 13 others.
Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison said a toxicology report showed evidence that Benschop was high on marijuana. That finding, combined with witness statements and evidence from the scene, led to the decision Friday to raid his North Philadelphia home and later seek an arrest warrant, he said.
Benschop's attorney, Daine Grey, said his client was not at fault.
"This was an accident, but Mr. Benschop is not responsible," Grey said Saturday. "And we believe that, in time, the facts will show that he is not responsible."
Benschop was wearing a bandage on his right arm when he turned himself in. Grey said he had been injured at a worksite, but he declined to say where or when.
Grey said Benschop was able to operate heavy equipment.
"He was completely able to operate a backhoe," Grey said. " ... He operated it safely, as he always does, and he did not violate the law in any capacity.
"He has been doing this for more than 13 years. He is very experienced. He has worked for a number of contractors throughout the region. All of the contractors have found him professional and found that he did his work with the highest regard for the safety of those around him."
Mayor Michael Nutter, in a statement Saturday night, called for harsh charges and punishment for Benschop.
"It is my hope that the harshest level of charges are brought against Sean Benschop and he is punished accordingly," Nutter said. "We must also seek answers from property owners Richard Basciano and Griffin T. Campbell who hired Benschop to do the significant job of operating heavy equipment. These three individuals bear the ultimate and sole responsibility for this tragedy. Justice will only be served if Sean Benschop receives a sentence that buries him in a jailhouse forever, just like his victims were buried on Wednesday."
Benschop, who also goes by the name Kary Roberts, has been arrested at least 11 times since 1994 on charges ranging from drugs to theft to weapons possession, according to court records. He was twice sentenced to prison in the 1990s after being convicted on drug trafficking charges. Benschop's last arrest, on a charge of aggravated assault, came in January 2012, but the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.
As the criminal investigation heated up, at least two survivors sued the demolition contractor and building owner, alleging gross recklessness at the job site.
The city, meanwhile, promised to crack down on the demolition industry.
"We can do much better," Nutter said at a news conference Friday. "We will not accept the status quo in the face of this tragedy."
Nutter's reform plan for construction sites includes random drug testing on heavy equipment operators.
"If that's a factor here, that certainly takes things in a very different direction," he said hours before the charges against Benschop were confirmed.
The mayor also pledged to adopt tougher background requirements for demolition contractors, including information about each worker's experience, and more frequent site inspections when demolitions are underway.
His plan could run into resistance from builders who say they're already highly regulated.
"I think that before we do anything, before we rush to any judgment about how to fix what happened, we have to have all the facts," said Steven Lakin, executive managing director of the General Building Contractors Association, a trade group representing Philadelphia-area contractors. "Everybody wants to regulate demolition contractors, but I'm not so sure that's the answer."
Lawyers for the two survivors who have sued accuse demolition contractor Griffin Campbell -- who has a criminal background and has filed for bankruptcy twice -- of violating federal safety regulations. They say building owner Richard Basciano should have picked a more qualified and competent contractor to do the work.
No one answered the phone at a listing for Campbell on Saturday, and the voice mailbox was full.
Plaintiff Linda Bell, a 50-year-old mother of three, was shopping at the thrift store when the building came down on top of her. She fell into the basement and was covered by rubble for more than an hour.
"She's still shook up real bad, sore, swollen up," Bell's brother, Keith Bell, told the AP on Friday. She's also suffering mental anguish from "seeing other people getting killed," he said.
Construction engineers have said the thrift store should have been evacuated during critical phases of the demolition project next door.
The Salvation Army was concerned enough about the demolition that its attorneys reached out to a lawyer for building owner STB Investments Corp., a company linked to prominent businessman and developer Richard Basciano.
"There was communication between The Salvation Army and the attorney of the neighboring building's owner, pertaining to the demolition. The neighbor assured The Salvation Army that they would be taking proper precautions," Maj. Robert W. Dixon, director of operations of The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia, said in a statement Friday.
"These discussions were never finalized," he said.
Some important events in the history of the gay-rights movement in the United States:
1950: Mattachine Society, widely considered first national gay rights organization, is formed.
1957: Frank Kameny is fired from job as government astronomer because he's gay; his appeal later reaches Supreme Court before being denied.
1969: Stonewall Inn riots break out after patrons of New York City gay bar protest police harassment.
1977: After campaign led by Anita Bryant and other conservatives, Miami-area voters overturn ordinance banning anti-gay discrimination.
1978: In San Francisco, Mayor George Moscone and pioneering gay politician Harvey Milk are assassinated.
1979: First national gay-rights march on Washington.
1985: Rock Hudson dies, after acknowledging he had AIDS
1986: U.S. Supreme Court upholds Georgia anti-sodomy law criminalizing consensual gay sex
1987: Second national gay-rights march on Washington; AIDS memorial quilt displayed on National Mall
1993: "Don't ask, don't tell" policy implemented for U.S. military, allowing gays to serve but not to be open about their sexual orientation.
1996: Congress passes Defense of Marriage Act, stipulating that federal government will not recognize same-sex marriages.
1997: Ellen DeGeneres comes out publicly as lesbian in appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
1998: Gay university student Matthew Shepard killed in Wyoming.
2000: Vermont becomes first state to establish civil unions; Supreme Court upholds Boy Scouts' right to exclude gays.
2003: Supreme Court strikes down Texas law criminalizing consensual gay sex.
2004: Same-sex marriages start in Massachusetts in compliance with state high court ruling; many other states adopt bans on same-sex marriage.
2008: California court orders legalization of same-sex marriage; voters overturn the ruling by approving Proposition 8 limiting marriage to one man, one woman.
2010: Appeals court strikes down Florida's three-decade-old ban on adoptions by gays.
2011: Military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is repealed; New York becomes largest state to approve same-sex marriage.
2012: President Barack Obama endorses same-sex marriage; voters approve it in referendums in Maine, Maryland and Washington state.
2013: Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota raise number of states with same-sex marriage to 12; Boy Scouts vote to let openly gay boys participate.
Houston resident Cheryl Strain's inexperience with guns was apparent as she struggled to load shells into a 20-gauge shotgun.
Over the piercing blasts of gunfire in the shooting range, Strain's instructor, Dan Blackford, patiently directed her on how to use her thumb to shove a shell all the way inside the barrel and feel it click.
"Now we got a round in the chamber ready to go," Blackford said as he positioned her body on the right way to hold the shotgun. "Look down your sight, put that BB right in the middle of your target and press the trigger."
Strain's northwest Houston community of Oak Forest is the first neighborhood in the country being trained and equipped by the Armed Citizen Project, a Houston nonprofit that is giving away free shotguns to single women and residents of neighborhoods with high crime rates.
While many cities have tried gun buy-backs and other tactics in the ongoing national debate on gun control, the nonprofit and its supporters say gun giveaways to responsible owners are actually a better way to deter crime. The organization, which plans to offer training classes in Dallas, San Antonio, and Tucson, Ariz., in the next few weeks, is working to expand its giveaways to 15 cities by the end of the year, including Chicago and New York.
But others in Houston, while expressing support for Second Amendment rights, question whether more guns will result in more gun-related deaths rather than less crime.
Residents of Oak Forest say their neighborhood, made up of older one-story houses and a growing number of new townhomes, has experienced a recent rash of driveway robberies and home burglaries. On a recent Sunday afternoon, a group of 10 residents, including Strain, went through training at Shiloh Shooting, a northwest Houston gun range.
Kyle Coplen, the project's 29-year-old founder said his group expects to train at least 50 Oak Forest residents and put up signs saying the neighborhood is armed.
"When we have a crime wave, we don't just say let's just increase police and that's all we do. We do multiple things. I see this as one aspect of what we can do," said Coplen, who graduated from the University of Houston with a master's degree in public administration.
It costs the organization about $300 to arm and train an individual and about $20,000 for an entire neighborhood. All costs are paid through donations, said Coplen, though he declined to say how much his organization has raised so far.
While some residents in the neighborhood are supportive, several officials have mixed feelings about it.
Sandra Keller, Strain's neighbor, said she is participating in part because of the helplessness she felt after her furniture store was robbed a couple of years ago.
"If you don't have a gun, you're just a walking victim. You're just waiting for somebody to take advantage of you and your property," said Keller, 64, after practicing at the shooting range.
But Houston City Councilwoman Ellen Cohen, who represents Oak Forest, said, "I have serious concerns about more guns in homes."
Cohen said she supports Second Amendment rights and believes that such a responsibility should include proper training and background checks.
David Hemenway, a professor of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health who has written about firearms and health, said studies suggesting gun ownership deters crime have been refuted by many others that say the opposite.
"Mostly what guns seem to do is make situations more lethal because most crime has nothing to do with guns," he said. "When there is a gun in the mix, there is much more likely to be somebody dying or somebody incredibly hurt."
Proponents of increased gun ownership point to a variety of statistics to support their argument, including ones showing that some cities with strict gun control laws, like Chicago, still have high murder rates.
Blackford, the firearm instructor in the Oak Forest training, said the group is teaching residents not only how to handle and store a weapon but also when to use deadly force.
"The sad part is most people think if you're pro-gun, that you've got this gunslinger attitude, that you are walking around looking for a gun fight to get into and that is so far from the truth," said Blackford, a former Secret Service agent.
Harris County Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen, whose deputies patrol Oak Forest, said that while he believes the best deterrent to crime is effective neighborhood watch programs, he believes people should have the right to protect themselves.
"In terms of having a shotgun, after you've been properly trained on it, to have that in your home to protect your home, I'm for it," he said.
Strain, 46, a single mother who has never owned a gun, said she was nervous firing the shotgun but that more training will help. She also had her 12-year-old son Rory practice firing the shotgun so "if God forbid something happens, he could be prepared as well."