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Sessions says US will intervene in campus free speech cases

WASHINGTON (AP) - Decrying what he sees as political correctness run amok on college campuses, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday the Justice Department will ramp up its support for students who sue universities claiming their free speech rights have been violated.

The complexity of the free-speech issue was on display as Sessions spoke to an invitation-only crowd at Georgetown University's law school. About 200 protesters gathered outside in university-designated "free speech zones" and some students complained they were excluded from the Sessions event. Meanwhile, Sessions condemned the NFL players who have been exercising their own freedom of expression by kneeling silently during the national anthem before games.

"These players, with all the assets they have, can express their political views without in effect denigrating the symbols of our nation, a nation that has provided our freedom to speak," Sessions said during a question-and-answer period.

In declaring free speech "under attack" on college campuses, Sessions dove into an issue that has become a cause celebre for conservatives who argue their voices are being drowned out on college campuses as speeches by right-wing figures have been derailed by protests and threats of violence.

Demonstrations erupted this week at the University of California, Berkeley, around a planned four-day conservative event dubbed Free Speech Week, which was suddenly canceled.

"The American university was once the center of academic freedom, a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas," Sessions said. "But it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos."

As Sessions spoke, the Justice Department announced it would throw its support behind a student who sued Georgia Gwinnett College, arguing his rights were violated when administrators limited where he could preach Christianity on campus.

The crowd of invited students, staff and Justice Department employees was mostly friendly. But in at least one row, students sat silently in black with duct tape over their mouths.

"We respect your views no matter what they are," Sessions said in comments directed at protesters outside. "We will defend your views and the right to express them in appropriate and effective ways. We celebrate the diversity of opinion."

Sessions hasn't always been a vocal supporter of free expression. As an Alabama senator in 2006, he spoke out against flag burning, which the Supreme Court has ruled is free speech. He spoke then about the need for reasonable "time, place, and manner" restrictions on speech.

"In my view, the flag of the United States is a unique object, and prohibiting its desecration will not in any fundamental way alter the free expression of ideas in this country," he said at the time, in support of proposed constitutional amendment outlawing the practice.

Ambur Smith, 24, a third-year law student who was protesting outside, said holding a speech about free expression but limiting the audience was "hypocritical."

"He should be accountable to everyone in this country, let alone on this campus," she said. "It's a blatant contradiction of what it's supposed to be about."

But law professor Randy Barnett, who organized the event at the Justice Department's request, said he invited certain students from his classes because he was looking for an audience that would be civil, not sympathetic.

"We did not screen people for political views," he later told reporters, adding that the speech was livestreamed so more people could listen. "If they wanted to do more than listen and if they actually wanted to disrupt the event, then they were not provided with that opportunity."

Woman has affair with daughter’s husband, tries to run him over, report says

A Florida woman is facing a felony charge after she allegedly tried to run over her daughter’s husband with her Mercedes-Benz, according to an arrest report.

>> Read more trending news 

Kathleen Regina Davis, 58, admitted to Palm Beach Gardens police she had an affair with the 33-year-old man while he was with her daughter, the report said. Davis said the man ruined her relationship with her daughter after he told the daughter of the affair.

That led Davis on Sept. 20 to the man’s house, where she allegedly tossed several eggs at his residence and vehicles. When police arrived, they saw Davis driving in circles in the front yard of the house while attempting to hit the man with her Mercedes.

The man told police he was nearly hit by Davis’ vehicle multiple times. Davis told officers she wanted to run the man over and wanted him to die.

The police report refers to the man’s relationship as an ex-boyfriend to Davis’ daughter. But records show that the man and Davis’ daughter are married. The couple is in the midst of divorce proceedings, according to records.

Davis is facing a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill and was released from the Palm Beach County Jail on Sept. 22 after posting a $3,000 bond.

Atlanta councilman wants dramatically reduced punishments for marijuana

There is a big vote Tuesday to ease punishment for marijuana use in Atlanta.

Channel 2’s Sophia Choi spoke with the city council member behind the proposal who said this is a racial issue.

“It’s really not about the use, but it’s about who actually is being criminalized for possession,” said Kwanza Hall.

The Atlanta city council member said it’s time for the city to decriminalize what he calls a petty crime that targets young black people.

We're breaking down the proposal details on Channel 2 Action News starting at 4.

TRENDING STORIES:

Atlanta councilman wants dramatically reduced punishments for marijuana

There is a big vote Tuesday to ease punishment for marijuana use in Atlanta.

Channel 2’s Sophia Choi spoke with the city council member behind the proposal who said this is a racial issue.

“It’s really not about the use, but it’s about who actually is being criminalized for possession,” said Kwanza Hall.

The Atlanta city council member said it’s time for the city to decriminalize what he calls a petty crime that targets young black people.

We're breaking down the proposal details on Channel 2 Action News starting at 4.

TRENDING STORIES:

Accused police impersonator turns out to be federal officer

Aside from the blue light mounted in his unmarked SUV and the weapon on his hip, a man recorded during a traffic stop didn’t look like a police officer at all.

>> Read more trending news

But looks can be deceiving, Georgia authorities learned Tuesday morning.

Hours after officials with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office  asked the public to help identify a “suspected police impersonator,” they issued a retraction and said that the man was, in fact, an officer with a federal agency.

“We have positively identified him as a certified law enforcement officer in an off-duty capacity at the time of this incident,” sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Marianne Kelley said in a statement. 

The name and agency of the officer were not released.

The mix-up began about 4 p.m. Monday, when the officer pulled over a citizen in Ball Ground, Georgia.

“The citizen who was stopped felt concerned over what he described as an irregular contact,” the sheriff’s office said in the statement. 

The officer never identified himself or the agency he represented, according to the sheriff’s office. He even backed off once he realized the citizen was recording the encounter.

“He was wearing his agency-issued badge,” Kelley said, “but did not have on any other identifying credentials or documentation.”

Law enforcement officers generally are “in uniform or will identify themselves to you and advise you of the agency where they work,” she said.

The sheriff’s office notified the officer’s immediate supervisor of the traffic stop.

“I don’t know what their protocol is,” Kelley said. “It would not be appropriate for one of our own officers to pull someone over and then not identify what agency they work for.” 

Groom ditches bride during photo shoot, but it was to save the life of a young boy

A groom left his bride alone on her wedding day, but before the internet gets into an uproar over it, it was for a good reason. He was saving the life of a boy who fell into the water.

Darren Hatt is a photographer who was taking photos of a bride at Victoria Park in Kitchener, Canada, CTV reported.

>> Read more trending news

He said that the bride, Brittany Ross Cook, yelled to her husband when she saw what was going on, and before the photographer realized what happened, groom Clayton Cook was already soaked, pulling the boy from the water.

The unidentified boy was reunited with his sister shortly after the ordeal, CTV reported.

Hatt posted the photos of the dripping-wet groom on his Facebook page, telling Clayton Cook, “Well Done sir!”

Winning numbers drawn in 'All or Nothing Day' game

ATLANTA (AP) _ The winning numbers in Tuesday afternoon's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's "All or Nothing Day" game were:

01-02-04-05-11-13-14-15-16-17-21-23

(one, two, four, five, eleven, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, twenty-one, twenty-three)

Are Puerto Ricans American citizens? Yes, they are

 On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced that he would visit the hurricane-devastated island of Puerto Rico next week. The announcement came after criticism mounted that the administration was not moving quickly enough to provide resources to the American territory.

Hurricane Maria’s damage was widespread, and authorities say it may take months to repair infrastructure and rebuild homes and businesses.

Many know the island as a tourist destination, but only about half who took part in a poll earlier this year knew that Puerto Rico is an American territory and that its residents are American citizens.

Here are some facts about the island and its relationship to the United States.Is Puerto Rico part of the United States?

The commonwealth of Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States. It became a territory of the U.S. in 1898 after the Spanish-American War.What does unincorporated territory mean?

It means that as a U.S. territory, the Constitution of the United States applies to certain areas of life in Puerto Rico – such as interstate trade, immigration, commerce and foreign relations, among other areas. The government of Puerto Rico, like that of a U.S. state/U.S. federal government relationship –, controls internal issues,though how it handles them must not conflict with U.S. law.

Who is in charge of running the Puerto Rican government?

The head of the Puerto Rican government is the governor. He or she governs with the help of a cabinet and serves a four-year term. The island has a Senate and a House of Representatives. The Senate has 27 members, and the House has 51 members. There are seven justices on Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court.

As a U.S. territory, are Puerto Ricans U.S. citizens?

Yes, Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. A child born in Puerto Rico to Puerto Rican parents is automatically an American citizen.

Do they have the same rights as U.S. citizens who live in a U.S. state?

Mostly. They cannot cast a vote for president, however. They participate in Republican and Democratic party primaries and conventions, though. They also do not have voting representation in the U.S. House or Senate.

Do they pay U.S. income tax?

Puerto Ricans file U.S. income tax returns only if they work for the federal government. Otherwise, they do not pay federal income taxes. They do pay payroll taxes, including Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes.

Will Puerto Rico become a state? Do the people there want the island to be a U.S. state?

Not in the near future. Puerto Ricans voted for U.S. statehood in 2012 and earlier this year. The vote does not have to be considered by the U.S. Congress.

How is Puerto Rico already like a state?

Puerto Ricans serve in the U.S. military.They use the U.S. Postal Service to send and receive mail.They use the U.S. dollar as their form of currency.

Other facts about Puerto Rico:

The capital is San Juan.Christopher Columbus named the island San Juan Bautista. It later became known as Puerto Rico, or “rich port.”The population is 3.411 million.The official languages are Spanish and English.Ninety-one percent of all people living in U.S. territories live in Puerto Rico 

 

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