Elevator briefly breaks down at reopened Washington Monument

WASHINGTON (AP) — The newly upgraded elevator at the Washington Monument stopped working just days after reopening to the public following a three-year renovation project.

The National Park Service says there was a “brief interruption in service” for about an hour Saturday.

Spokesman Mike Litterst said Parks Service staffers resolved the issue and visitors who were at the top of the 555-foot stone obelisk were able to return to the ground floor using the elevator.

First lady Melania Trump cut the ribbon Thursday morning as the monument opened to the public for first time since September 2016. It had been closed to replace the elevator and upgrade security systems.

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Litterst apologized to visitors for the inconvenience. He said tours were running on schedule later Saturday afternoon.

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World

      

US police assess rise in threat tips after 3 mass killings

By Lisa Marie Pane and Stefanie Dazio | Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — It had all the makings of a massacre. Six guns, including a Colt AR-15 rifle. About 1,000 rounds of ammunition. A bulletproof vest. And an angry Southern California man who threated to kill his co-workers at a hotel and its guests.

But a concerned colleague intervened, alerting authorities who arrested 37-year-old Rodolfo Montoya, a cook at the Long Beach Marriott hotel, the next day and discovered the arsenal where he lived in a rundown motor home parked near industrial buildings.

In the weeks after three high-profile shootings in three states took the lives of more than two dozen people in one week in August, law enforcement authorities nationwide reported a spike in tips from concerned relatives, friends and co-workers about people who appear bent on carrying out the next mass shooting.

Some of those would-be shooters sent text messages to friends or posted on social media that they hoped to one-up previous mass shootings by killing more people.

The reasons for the increase in tips and heightened awareness of thwarted mass shootings vary, law enforcement officials said.

In some cases, it’s the so-called “contagion effect” in which intense media coverage of mass shootings leads to more people seeking to become copycat killers. In other cases, it’s a reflection of the general public being more aware of warning signs when a friend or relative or co-worker is in an emotional crisis — and more willing to tip off police.

On average, the Federal Bureau of Investigation receives about 22,000 tips about potential threats of violence weekly. That volume increased by about 15,000 following the high-profile shootings during the first week of August in Gilroy; El Paso, Texas; and Dayton, Ohio, that killed 34 people and wounded nearly 70.

Mass shootings tend to plant the idea of …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World

      

Prosecutors say key witness lied in California motorcycle gang trial

LAS VEGAS — Prosecutors have asked a judge in Las Vegas to throw out the testimony of a key witness in a federal racketeering trial after they say he lied on the witness stand.

The trial stems from a 2011 shootout that killed a rival Hells Angels leader in a northern Nevada casino.

Prosecutors say Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick lied after spending more than three days telling jurors that Vagos Motorcycle Club members had plotted to kill a rival biker in Sparks, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Thursday.

“We have grave concerns and doubt as to whether this witness will be truthful,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Han said after 23 days of a trial expected to last through the end of the year.

At the beginning of the trial, Han called the slaying of Jeffrey Pettigrew, 54, an orchestrated murder among criminal conspirators that received a “green light” go-ahead from the Vagos international president following a series of clashes between members of the two motorcycle clubs in San Jose, California.

The eight men standing trial represent the first of three groups totaling 21 defendants, ranging in age from 36 to 70, who prosecutors say were involved in crimes in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Nevada.

Each of the men, including Albert Lopez, Albert Perez, James Gillespie, Bradley Campos, Cesar Morales and Ernesto Gonzalez, could face up to life in prison if convicted.

Defense attorneys for the men have asked to have the murder and racketeering charges thrown out.

“I don’t believe the government can prove the case without Rudnick,” said defense attorney Jess Marchese, who represents Gillespie.

If U.S. District Chief Judge Gloria Navarro dismisses this case, it would mark the second time in two years that high-profile federal charges against multiple defendants were tossed out, officials said.

Video surveillance showed Pettigrew pistol-whipping another man on the casino …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World

      

Paolo Sorrentino’s Loro is the perfect film for our lying times

The sun is shining over Sardinia, and Silvio Berlusconi is lying to his grandson about Sir Isaac Newton. “Do you know what the great English scientist Isaac Newton said?” he asks with a tone both smug and warmly paternal at the same time. “Appearances only deceive mediocre minds.”

Up front, Newton never said this. He did once describe truth as “the offspring of silence and meditation,” which is almost the opposite of what Berlusconi claims he said, but of course this matters not a lick to a king among liars. It’s baked into his personal ideology: “Truth is the result of our tone of voice and the conviction with which we speak.” Thus, if you believe the lies you tell, and if you proclaim those lies lie to others with just the right amount of self-assurance, the lie is made reality. In this case, the reality Berlusconi wishes to write is one in which he has never stepped in poop, the precipitating event of his exchange with his grandson. “Your grandfather has never stepped in poop his whole life,” Berlusconi admonishes the boy having just stepped in poop, “and never will.”

This is the most innocuous lie Berlusconi tells in Paolo Sorrentino’s richly realized and unabashedly filthy new picture, Loro, which finally gets its American release this week after debuting in two parts last year in Italy. But it’s also the most instructive lie, the lie that lays bare Berlusconi’s molecular-level dishonesty and also his talents for transmuting said dishonesty into fact. He’s played, to the surprise of nobody familiar with Sorrentino’s work, by Toni Servillo, one of Sorrentino’s recurring leading men (a’la The Great Beauty and Il Divo), whose performance is at once a recreation of the Berlusconi people know domestically as well as internationally and a farcical rebuke of …read more

Source:: The Week – World

      

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