University of California, Berkeley officials have canceled conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s appearance at the campus next week, citing safety concerns following violence on campus between protesters.

Police concerns were affected by “escalating violence during demonstration-related events on the campus and surrounding areas” in February and on Saturday that resulted in injuries and arrests, Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said in an email. Campus police fear that the same people will rally and fight at a Coulter appearance.

“Last week posters threatening disruption of the event appeared on the walls of campus buildings, and (Tuesday) night new, targeted threats were discovered” online, Mogulof said in the email.

The Berkeley College Republicans, who organized the event, still plans to host Coulter off campus on April 27 as originally scheduled, said Troy Worden, the group’s spokesman and a Berkeley student.

A February scheduled appearance by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled amid a violent protest on the campus. That sparked a national debate — in which President Donald Trump took part — about the right to demonstrate and the protection of free speech that some find objectionable.

—Los Angeles Times


Suburban Chicago family files $50 million lawsuit against school district over geography bee

CHICAGO — A $50 million federal lawsuit filed by an Oak Brook, Ill., family against Butler Elementary District 53 isn’t about the money, said the mother of two boys who are students in the district and, according to the suit, have been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment related to allegations of cheating in a geography bee.

The suit was filed April 14 in U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois by Rahul Julka on behalf of his two sons, said Julka’s wife, Komal Julka.

Komal Julka said the federal lawsuit was filed in an attempt to bring attention to the situation.

“We don’t even have an attorney for this federal lawsuit; we’re doing it ourselves,” she said. “It really isn’t about the money, but if we filed the suit for $10, nobody would pay attention. We want people to know what’s going on here.”

Julka said she and her husband believed the federal lawsuit was necessary because a lawsuit filed last year in DuPage County Circuit court against District 53 and the school board, seeking to eliminate the sanctions and have letters and documents related to the district investigation removed from their sons’ files, doesn’t allow them an opportunity to tell their entire story. A hearing on the DuPage court case is scheduled for April 25.

“That case is an administrative review, which only allows for the court to look at the procedure the school district followed and not what happened because of their actions,” Julka said. “This is a small community, and a lot of people presume we did something wrong when we didn’t.”

A school district investigation determined that Komal Julka registered as a “fraudulent” home-school provider, and her emails showed she paid for geography bee questions with her credit card after creating a school name and address, the Chicago Tribune reported, based on court records when the DuPage County lawsuit was filed.

The competition, known as the GeoBee, was slated to begin Jan. 19, 2016, at Brook Forest School. Word spread among parents that some families may have actual test questions, and administrators began receiving complaints Jan. 15, 2016.

Rahul Julka withdrew his children from the competition that same evening, according to district records.

The Julka boys, then in fourth and fifth grades, were banned from all academic competitions in District 53.

The Julkas deny any wrongdoing.

—Pioneer Press


Now it’s lawmakers’ turn to drag United executives before Congress

WASHINGTON — Last week’s passenger-dragging incident on a United Airlines flight is about to be scrutinized by Congress.

In a bipartisan fashion, too. The House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which oversees aviation policy, will hold a hearing to probe just what happened on United Flight 3411.

The panel’s chairman, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and top Democrat, Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, jointly announced their plan Wednesday.

No witnesses or precise date was announced, but the hearing comes after a drumbeat of concern from members of Congress.

They want to know more about why and how Chicago Department of Aviation Police dragged Kentucky doctor David Dao off the Chicago-to-Louisville flight on April 9 after the airline involuntarily bumped him and three other passengers to accommodate airline employees.

Cellphone video of the event was viewed by millions and prompted a global public outcry and a stumbling response from the airline and its chief executive, Oscar Munoz. He initially defended the conduct of airline employees before apologizing multiple times.

Dao received a concussion and a broken nose and had two of his teeth knocked out. His attorney said he would likely sue the airline.

Government watchdogs and consumer groups alike have predicted that the dragging incident could lead to new rules from Congress or the U.S. Department of Transportation strengthening passenger rights.

—McClatchy Washington Bureau


Tens of thousands of Venezuelans march against President Maduro

CARACAS, Venezuela — Tens of thousands of Venezuelans used a national holiday to demonstrate yet again against the government of embattled President Nicolas Maduro, and at least two people died as the government used heavily armed forces and tear gas to control the vast crowds.

Marching on a day marking the beginning of Venezuela’s independence movement from Spain in 1810, protesters dressed mainly in white clogged freeways and main thoroughfares across metropolitan Caracas, the capital. Many held placards reading “Maduro out,” “Down with dictatorship” and “Liberty.”

One of the fatalities was identified in social media as 19-year-old Carlos Jose Moreno Baron, said to have been killed by a gunshot to the head fired by informal motorcycle-riding militias who support Maduro. The death reportedly happened during an attack on a group of protesters in the working-class San Bernardino barrio.

April 19 is normally a day in which businesses shut down, families in Caracas to head to the beach and politicians leave flowers at a monument to the nation’s founder, Simon Bolivar.

But on this usually festive day, a photograph circulated on social media of a young man, his eyes closed, lying on his back in the street as blood pooled about his head. One tweet by Hasler Iglesias, a student protest leader, described him as “a victim of the murderous dictatorship.”

Later in the day, Paola Andreina Ramirez Gomez, 23, also was reported killed by a gunshot in the San Carlos Plaza area of San Cristobal, capital of the western state of Tachira. It was not immediately clear who fired the shot.

In addition to Caracas, social media reported massive demonstrations in provincial cities including Merida, Maracaibo, Valencia and San Cristobal.

Iglesias, who has developed a national reputation as an anti-government protest organizer, described the scene on a highway devoid of cars but full of protesters. In a tweet he said authorities continued to engage protesters, “but we will not be moved. Fight with the RESISTENCE.”

Meanwhile Maduro spoke to a huge group of followers in downtown Caracas massed in the central government zone, and accused opposition marchers of attempting to use violence to overthrow his government. He also said “30 masked criminal terrorists” had been arrested on terrorism charges.

—Los Angeles Times

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