Police: Ride-Share Mistake Led to Death of South Carolina College Student

The man accused of killing a woman who got into his car thinking it was her Uber ride had activated the child locks in his backseat so the doors could only be opened from the outside, police in South Carolina say.

Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook also said investigators found the victim’s blood in Nathaniel David Rowland’s vehicle. Rowland, 24, was arrested and charged in the death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student from Robbinsville, New Jersey.

Investigators would not say what they think Rowland did to Josephson from the time she got into his black Chevrolet Impala in Columbia’s Five Points entertainment district around 1:30 a.m. Friday until her body was dumped in woods off a dirt road in Clarendon County about 65 miles (105 kilometers) away.

Josephson had numerous wounds to her head, neck, face, upper body, leg and foot, according to arrest warrants released Sunday by the State Law Enforcement Division. The documents didn’t say what was used to attack her.

Josephson’s blood was found in the trunk and inside Rowland’s car along with her cellphone, bleach, window cleaner and cleaning wipes, Holbrook said.

“This was a bad scene,” the police chief said at a news conference late Saturday.

Hunters found Josephson’s body Friday afternoon just hours after it was dumped, despite being left in an area that was “very difficult to get to unless you knew how to get there,” Holbrook said.

Rowland has recently lived in the area, he said.

The night after Josephson was kidnapped, a Columbia police officer noticed a black Chevrolet Impala about two blocks from the Five Points bars where Josephson was kidnapped. The driver ran, but was arrested after a short chase, Holbrook said.

Rowland is charged with kidnapping and murder, Holbrook said. He was being held in the Richland County jail. It wasn’t known if he had a lawyer.

Rowland decided not to appear at a hearing in jail Sunday. The judge allowed Josephson’s mother to speak, The State newspaper reported.

Marci Josephson said her daughter was planning to go to law school after graduating in May and described her as “bubbly, loving, kind and full of life.”

“Unlike him, Samantha had love within her heart and purpose in her life,” Marci Josephson said.

Safety advocates urged college students to match the vehicle color and model, the license tag number, and the photo of their ride-share drivers before getting in a vehicle and make the driver say their names to them before they introduce themselves.

“She simply, mistakenly, got into the car thinking it was an Uber ride,” Holbrook said.

The crime shook Columbia, the state capital where the University of South Carolina is one of the main economic engines.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and his wife, Peggy, asked on a message on Twitter for prayers for Josephson’s family.

“Peggy and I are devastated and crushed over the Josephson family losing their beautiful daughter Samantha. She was one of the brightest young stars,” McMaster wrote.

Trump’s Battle With ‘Obamacare’ Moves to Courts

After losing in Congress, President Donald Trump is counting on the courts to kill off “Obamacare.” But some cases are going against him, and time is not on his side as he tries to score a big win for his re-election campaign.

Two federal judges in Washington, D.C., this past week blocked parts of Trump’s health care agenda: work requirements for some low-income people on Medicaid, and new small business health plans that don’t have to provide full benefits required by the Affordable Care Act.

But in the biggest case, a federal judge in Texas ruled last December that the ACA is unconstitutional and should be struck down in its entirety. That ruling is now on appeal. At the urging of the White House, the Justice Department said this past week it will support the Texas judge’s position and argue that all of “Obamacare” must go.

A problem for Trump is that the litigation could take months to resolve — or longer — and there’s no guarantee he’ll get the outcomes he wants before the 2020 election.

“Was this a good week for the Trump administration? No,” said economist Gail Wilensky, who headed up Medicare under former Republican President George H.W. Bush. “But this is the beginning of a series of judicial challenges.”

It’s early innings in the court cases, and “the clock is going to run out,” said Timothy Jost, a retired law professor who has followed the Obama health law since its inception.

“By the time these cases get through the courts there simply isn’t going to be time for the administration to straighten out any messes that get created, much less get a comprehensive plan through Congress,” added Jost, who supports the ACA.

In the Texas case, Trump could lose by winning.

If former President Barack Obama’s health law is struck down entirely, Congress would face an impossible task: pass a comprehensive health overhaul to replace it that both Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Trump can agree to. The failed attempt to repeal “Obamacare” in 2017 proved to be toxic for congressional Republicans in last year’s midterm elections and they are in no mood to repeat it.

“The ACA now is nine years old and it would be incredibly disruptive to uproot the whole thing,” said Thomas Barker, an attorney with the law firm Foley Hoag, who served as a top lawyer at the federal Health and Human Services department under former Republican President George W. Bush. “It seems to me that you can resolve this issue more narrowly than by striking down the ACA.”

Trump seems unfazed by the potential risks.

“Right now, it’s losing in court,” he asserted Friday, referring to the Texas case against “Obamacare.”

The case “probably ends up in the Supreme Court,” Trump continued. “But we’re doing something that is going to be much less expensive than Obamacare for the people … and we’re going to have (protections for) pre-existing conditions and will have a much lower deductible. So, and I’ve been saying that, the Republicans are going to end up being the party of health care.”

There’s no sign that his administration has a comprehensive health care plan, and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus among Republicans in Congress.

A common thread in the various health care cases is that they involve lower-court rulings for now, and there’s no telling how they may ultimately be decided. Here’s a status check on major lawsuits:

‘Obamacare’ repeal

U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, ruled that when Congress repealed the ACA’s fines for being uninsured, it knocked the constitutional foundation out from under the entire law. His ruling is being appealed by attorneys general from Democratic-led states to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The challenge to the ACA was filed by officials from Texas and other GOP-led states. It’s now fully supported by the Trump administration, which earlier had argued that only the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions and its limits on how much insurers could charge older, sicker customers were constitutionally tainted. All sides expect the case to go to the Supreme Court, which has twice before upheld the ACA.

Medicaid work requirements

U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg in Washington, D.C., last week blocked Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky and Arkansas approved by the Trump administration. The judge questioned whether the requirements were compatible with Medicaid’s central purpose of providing “medical assistance” to low-income people. He found that administration officials failed to account for coverage losses and other potential harm, and sent the Health and Human Services Department back to the drawing board.

The Trump administration says it will continue to approve state requests for work requirements, but has not indicated if it will appeal.

Small-business health plans

U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates last week struck down the administration’s health plans for small business and sole proprietors, which allowed less generous benefits than required by the ACA. Bates found that administration regulations creating the plans were “clearly an end-run” around the Obama health law and also ran afoul of other federal laws governing employee benefits.

The administration said it disagrees but hasn’t formally announced an appeal.

Also facing challenges in courts around the country are an administration regulation that bars federally funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions and a rule that allows employers with religious and moral objections to opt out of offering free birth control to women workers as a preventive care service.

Arab Leaders to Seek UN Security Council Resolution on Golan

Arab leaders said on Sunday they would seek a U.N. Security Council resolution against the U.S. decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and promised to support Palestinians in their bid for statehood.

Arab leaders, long divided by regional rivalries, also ended their annual summit in Tunisia calling for cooperation with non-Arab Iran based on non-interference in each others’ affairs.

Arab leaders who have been grappling with a bitter Gulf Arab dispute, splits over Iran’s regional influence, the war in Yemen and unrest in Algeria and Sudan sought common ground after Washington recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan.

But the abrupt departure from the summit shortly after it began by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who is locked in a row with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, suggested rivalries were not easily buried. No reason was given for his departure.

“We, the leaders of the Arab countries gathered in Tunisia … express our rejection and condemnation of the United States decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan,” Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said.

He said Arab countries would present a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council and seek a legal opinion from the International Court of Justice on the U.S. decision. It warned other countries away from following Washington’s lead.

Trump signed a proclamation last week recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel, which annexed the area in 1981 after capturing it from Syria in 1967.

Trump’s earlier decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital also drew Arab condemnation. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz told the Arab leaders his country “absolutely rejects” any measures affecting Syria’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said Arab nations needed to ensure the international community understood the centrality of the Palestinian cause to Arab nations.

In their final communique, Arab states renewed support for an Arab peace initiative that offers Israel peace in exchange for withdrawal from all lands occupied in the 1967 war and said they would seek to revive peace talks with the Jewish state.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who also addressed the meeting in Tunis, said any resolution to the Syrian conflict must guarantee the territorial integrity of Syria “including the occupied Golan Heights”.

The Tunis summit brought together the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the first time at the same gathering since 2017 when Riyadh and its allies imposed a political and economic boycott on Doha.

But Qatar’s emir left the summit hall shortly after Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit praised the way Saudi Arabia handled its rotating Arab League presidency last year, live television footage showed.

Qatar’s state news agency did not say why the Qatari emir left, but Tunisia’s state news agency TAP said the rest of Qatar’s delegation stayed.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and say it has been cosying up to Iran, a charge Doha denies.

The row has defied mediation efforts by Kuwait and the United States, which called on Gulf Arab states to unite in opposition to Iranian influence in the region.

The final communique said Arab states called for ties with Iran to “be based on good neighborliness, non-interference in internal affairs, the non-use of force or threats, and refraining from practices and actions that would undermine confidence and stability in the region.”

Arab states remain divided over other issues, including how to deal with pro-democracy protests that have erupted in the region since 2011. The presidents of Sudan and Algeria, two nations roiled by anti-government protests, did not attend the summit.

Syria’s seat at the summit was vacant. Damascus as been suspended from the League since 2011 over its crackdown on protesters at the start of its civil war. The League has said no consensus has yet been reached to allow Syria’s reinstatement.

Biden Denies He ‘Acted Inappropriately’ Toward Female Candidate

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a possible Democratic challenger to President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, denied Sunday that he “acted inappropriately” in the face of allegations from a Nevada lawmaker that he unexpectedly  touched her shoulders and kissed her hair at a 2014 political rally.

Lucy Flores, a former Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in the western state of Nevada, recalled the incident on CNN, saying that “very unexpectedly and out of nowhere, I feel Joe Biden put his hands on my shoulders, get up very close to me from behind, lean in, smell my hair and then plant a slow kiss on the top of my head.”

She called the moment “shocking,” adding, “You don’t expect that kind of intimacy from someone so powerful and someone who you just have no relationship (with) whatsoever to touch you and to feel you and to be so close to you in that way.”

Biden said: “In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”

Political surveys show the 76-year-old Biden leading a long list of Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to oust Trump from the White House, but he has not yet formally declared his candidacy even as he has made frequent speeches at campaign-style rallies in recent weeks.

He has twice unsuccessfully sought the party’s presidential nomination, before serving for eight years as vice president under former President Barack Obama, ending in early 2017.

In the lead-up to his presumed candidacy, Biden has faced new questions about his public hands-on attention to women in public settings over the years and notably his 1991 treatment of Anita Hill when Biden, as a U.S. senator, chaired the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

Hill is a college law professor who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment when they worked together at a U.S. government agency, but the all-male panel headed by Biden largely dismissed her allegations, with Thomas winning narrow confirmation to the country’s highest court, where he still sits.

Biden in recent days has said he regretted that he “couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved,” even though he led the committee.

Biden is not believed to have apologized personally to Hill in the nearly three decades since the hearing. But as he seemingly moves toward another presidential candidacy in an era of new accountability for men in powerful positions of their treatment of women in years past, Biden is facing new calls for further explanation of his role in the Thomas confirmation hearings.

Center in Havana Opens to Preserve Hemingway’s Legacy

U.S. donors and Cuban builders have completed one of the longest-running joint projects between the two countries at a low point in bilateral relations.

Officials from the Boston-based Finca Vigia Foundation and Cuba’s National Cultural Heritage Council cut the ribbon Saturday evening on a state-of-the-art, $1.2 million conservation center on the grounds of Ernest Hemingway’s stately home on a hill overlooking Havana.

 

The center, which has been under construction since 2016, contains modern technology for cleaning and preserving a multitude of artifacts from the home where Hemingway lived in the 1940s and 1950s.

 

When he died in 1961, the author left approximately 5,000 photos, 10,000 letters and perhaps thousands of margin notes in roughly 9,000 books at the property.

 

“The laboratory we’re inaugurating today is the only one in Cuba with this capacity and it will allow us to contribute to safeguarding the legacy of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba,” said Grisell Fraga, director of the Ernest Hemingway Museum.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, spoke at the ceremony and called it a sign of the potential for U.S.-Cuban cooperation despite rising tensions between the Communist government and the Trump administration.

 

McGovern, who met with President Miguel Diaz-Canel and other Cuban officials during his visit, said that despite tensions over Venezuela, a Cuban ally, he still believed respectful dialogue was the most productive way of dealing with Cuba’s government.

 

The Trump administration has said it is trying to get rid of socialism in Latin America.

 

 

White House Demands Mexico, 3 Central American Countries Curb Migrant Surge

The Trump administration on Sunday demanded that Mexico and three Central American countries curb the surge of thousands of undocumented migrants heading to the United States, noting that the homeland security chief for former President Barack Obama agrees there is an immigration crisis at the southern U.S. border.

“We need your help,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in an interview on ABC News. He said Mexico needs to solidify its southern border with Guatemala to prevent the caravans from heading north through Mexico to the U.S. and that the three Central American counties need to curb migrants from leaving their countries.

He left open the distinct possibility that President Donald Trump would close the U.S. border with Mexico in the coming days, even as he says he intends to cut off about $500 million in U.S. aid to the three Northern Triangle countries.

“Jeh Johnson admits we were right” about a crisis on the southern U.S. border, Mulvaney said, referring to the Obama homeland security secretary. “We hate to say we told you so, but we told you so.”

On Saturday, Johnson told Fox News, “By anyone’s definition, by any measure, right now we have a crisis at our southern border.”

There were 4,000 apprehensions of migrants at the border one day last week and the U.S. is on pace for 100,000 for all of March.

“That is by far a greater number than anything I saw on my watch in my three years as secretary of Homeland Security,” Johnson said.

Mulvaney said if the three Central American countries do not curb migration to the U.S., “there’s little reason to continue sending them money.”

Current Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen last week signed a regional border security compact with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to curb the illegal migrant surge and interdict the flow of drugs into the U.S.

But Mulvaney said the three countries’ “actions will speak louder than words.”

Blaming Democrats

The White House official said, “Congress can fix this” with tougher immigration controls along the U.S., but that “it’s clear the Democrats are not going to help us. So we’re looking to cutting off aid and closing the border.”

Trump said on Twitter Saturday, “It would be so easy to fix our weak and very stupid Democrat inspired immigration laws. In less than one hour, and then a vote, the problem would be solved. But the Dems don’t care about the crime, they don’t want any victory for Trump and the Republicans, even if good for USA!”

He added, “Mexico must use its very strong immigration laws to stop the many thousands of people trying to get into the USA. Our detention areas are maxed out & we will take no more illegals. Next step is to close the Border! This will also help us with stopping the Drug flow from Mexico!”

After Congress earlier this year refused to fund Trump’s request for money to build a border wall, he declared a national emergency to tap money allocated for other programs to build the wall. Both houses of Congress passed legislation to overturn Trump’s national emergency declaration, but he vetoed it and the House of Representatives last week failed to override the veto.

‘Reckless’ policy?

Congressional action would be needed to cut off aid to the three countries. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called Trump’s order a “reckless announcement” and urged Democrats and Republicans alike to reject it.

 

Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat and chairman of the Hispanic Caucus, warned in a statement released Saturday that cutting off aid will further destabilize the Northern Triangle countries.

 

“By cutting off desperately needed aid, the administration will deprive El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras of critical funds that help stabilize these countries by curbing migration push factors such as violence, gangs, poverty and insecurity. Ultimately, this short-sighted and flawed decision lays the groundwork for the humanitarian crisis at our border to escalate further,” he said.

 

Michael Clemens, a senior fellow at The Center for Global Development, says the administration’s strategy to shape migration through aid needs to be done right.

 

“If what the United States wants to do is prevent irregular child migration in a way that works and is cost-effective, it should not do what it has traditionally done — spend 10 times as much on border enforcement trying to keep child migrants out as it spends on security assistance to the region,” he said. “In fact, smartly packaged security assistance” is the only thing that has been “shown to reduce violence effectively and cost effectively.”

Денісова отримала понад 200 звернень через порушення виборчих прав

Прес-служба Уповноваженої Верховної Ради з прав людини Людмили Денісової повідомляє, що омбудсмен отримала 218 телефонних звернень і 21 електронне звернення від виборців станом на 13 годину дня.

На брифінгу Денісова уточнила, що 40% звернень стосуються реєстру.

«В списках виборців допущені неточності, технічні помилки, описки в даті народження, в адресі проживання виборця. Таких у нас 40%, це 114 тільки сьогодні звернулося. Ми радимо нашим громадянам звертатися до голови ДВК, контролюємо це питання, коли вони звертаються. Всі, хто звернувся до 14 години, виборче право реалізували і проголосували. Потім – немає у списках виборців, але тут вже складніше питання, тому що зараз вже нічого не можна зробити, тільки, вже якщо буде другий тур, звернутися до відділу реєстру і встановити, щоб там була в списках ця людина занесена», – повідомила вона.

Читайте також: Поліція: надійшло 649 заяв про порушення на виборах​

Крім того, Денісова зазначила, що деякі дільниці відкривалися з запізненням, а низка дільниць непристосовані для людей з інвалідністю.

Раніше Центральна виборча комісія повідомила, що три виборчі дільниці відкрилися з запізненням, але наразі всі вони працюють.

В Україні 31 березня відбувається голосування на чергових виборах президента країни. Голосування закінчиться о 20:00. У бюлетень для голосування внесено прізвища 39 кандидатів.

Поліція: надійшло 649 заяв про порушення на виборах

Національна поліція України повідомляє, що станом на 15:00 отримала 649 заяв і повідомлень про правопорушення під час чергових виборів президента, які відбуваються 31 березня.

«11 повідомлень слідчі внесли до Єдиного реєстру досудових розслідувань», – йдеться в повідомленні поліції у Facebook.

Серед порушень, про які надійшли заяви – незаконна агітація, підкуп виборців, пошкодження бюлетеня, фотографування, повідомлення про замінування, спроба винесення бюлетеня.

У поліції уточнили, що на 15:00 найбільше заяв про порушення надійшло з Києва – 76; Донецької області – 66; Харківської – 61; Сумської – 50; Полтавської – 42; Дніпропетровської – 41; Одеської – 39; Луганської – 35; Вінницької – 26.

У відомстві додали, що, крім розпочатих за даними фактами 11 кримінальних проваджень, поліцейські склали чотири адміністративні протоколи.

В Україні 31 березня відбувається голосування на чергових виборах президента країни. Голосування закінчиться о 20:00. У бюлетень для голосування внесено прізвища 39 кандидатів.

За даними ЦВК, активність виборців станом на 15:00 склала 44,45%.

 

На виборчу дільницю у Мінську не пустили представників російських ЗМІ

На закордонну дільницю для виборів президента України в Мінську не були допущені представники російських ЗМІ. Вони могли лише знімати за парканом посольства – таке рішення виборчої комісії, повідомив кореспондент Радіо Свобода. Кореспонденти російських агенцій ТАСС, «РИА-Новости», телеканалів «РЕН-ТВ» та «НТВ» знімали лише на вулиці, в тому числі опитували громадян України.

Натомість дільницю вільно могли відвідувати представники білоруських, українських та міжнародних ЗМІ.

Читайте також: Посол США в Україні прийшла на виборчу дільницю в Києві​

На території Білорусі зареєстровано 12 тисяч українських виборців, їх віднесено до двох дільниць: у посольстві України в Мінську та в Генеральному консульстві у Бресті.

Зазвичай у виборах беруть участь близько 10% українських громадян, які постійно проживають у Білорусі. Цього разу очікується вища явка, сказав Радіо Свобода посол України у Мінську Ігор Кизим.

Голова виборчої комісії, яка діє у Мінську при посольстві України, Оксана Врублевська розповіла Радіо Свобода, що станом на 12 годину у виборах взяв участь 241 виборець.

Читайте також: У Генштабі розповіли, як голосують в ООС​

В Україні 31 березня відбувається перший тур чергових виборів президента країни. Голосування закінчиться о 20:00. У бюлетень для голосування внесено прізвища 39 кандидатів.

На дільниці працюють спостерігачі від кандидатів та Всесвітнього конгресу українців. Зауважень станом на 12 годину дня не було.

Декілька осіб не змогли проголосувати через те, що не мали закордонних паспортів, тільки внутрішні. Члени комісії роз’яснили їм законодавство та порадили підготуватися до наступних виборів, отримавши нові документи.

Посол України у Мінську Ігор Кизим розповів Радіо Свобода, що у списках виборців у Білорусі є люди, котрі походять з Донбасу та Криму, які стоять на консульському обліку.

Кореспондент Радіо Свобода зустрів на дільниці у Мінську громадян, що походили з Криму та Донецька, переїхали до Білорусі ще до подій 2014 року, а також родину з Горлівки, яка два роки тому залишила свій дім у зв’язку з воєнними діями.