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May 1, 2019

TRUMP SUPPORTERS - BUTTIGIEG ALLEGATION

UNDATED (AP) — A Michigan college student says pro-Trump agitators recruited him to falsely claim he was raped by Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg (BOO’-tuh-juhj), then published the smear without his permission.

Hunter Kelly, a 21-year-old gay Trump supporter, says conservative activists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman sought to use him for the “despicable scheme” they concocted to blunt Buttigieg’s momentum and help the president’s re-election bid.

The incident may offer a glimpse into disinformation tactics — powered by fake social media accounts and partisan news sites — that could become a staple of the 2020 campaign.

Wohl denies Kelly’s accusation, saying the student had reached out to him.

Invoking the powerful #MeToo movement against a pioneering gay candidate, the anti-Buttigieg smear started Sunday when a post appeared on the publishing platform Medium under Kelly’s name.

NEW ZEALAND - WHITE SUPREMACIST IDEOLOGY

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s major media organizations have pledged not to promote white supremacist ideology when covering the trial of the man charged with killing 50 people at two mosques in March.

The five organizations which signed the agreement today say they were aware that accused gunman Brenton Tarrant might try to use the trial as a platform to promote white supremacist or terrorist views.

The organizations say the commitment extended to coverage of Tarrant’s 74-page manifesto and broadcasting symbolic images. That clause came after Tarrant made a hand gesture at his first court appearance, which is sometimes associated with white supremacists.

The organizations include the country’s two main television news stations, its two major newspaper companies, and its public radio station.

Tarrant is next due in court on June 14.

PENN STATE CONVICTION TOSSED

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A federal judge has thrown out former Penn State President Graham Spanier’s child-endangerment conviction, less than a day before he was due to turn himself in to jail.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick in Scranton, Pennsylvania, issued a decision late yesterday that gave state prosecutors three months to retry Spanier.

She agreed with Spanier’s argument he was improperly charged under a 2007 law for actions that occurred in 2001, when he was responding to a complaint about Jerry Sandusky showering with a boy on campus.

Spanier had been due to report to jail early today to begin serving a minimum sentence of two months.

The 70-year-old Spanier was forced out as president shortly after Sandusky’s 2011 arrest.

MOUNTAIN LION DEATH CAUSED

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say a mountain lion that died last month in the wilderness west of Los Angeles had rat poison in its system.

The lion dubbed P-47 had no visible wounds when it was found dead March 21.

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area said yesterday that the mountain lion had six compounds of a rodenticide in its system. It’s unclear if that caused the death.

Researchers say the mountain lion may have eaten a squirrel or other animal that ingested the poison, or ate tainted prey.

The National Park Service has found poison compounds in more than a dozen local cougars.

JUDGE GETS “VITRIOLIC” CALLS AFTER GIVING EX-SCHOOL BUS DRIVER PROBATION IN TEEN’S RAPE

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — New York court officials say a judge who stoked social media outrage for sentencing a former school bus driver to probation in the rape of a 14-year-old is getting “numerous vitriolic” phone calls.

Jefferson County Supreme Court Judge James McClusky last week sentenced 26-year-old Shane Piche (PEE’-she) to 10 years of probation. Piche was required to register as a Level 1 sex offender.

He pleaded guilty to third-degree rape in February.

The sentencing sparked an online wave of condemnation from people arguing it was too lenient. Some critics posted the judge’s phone number online.

A New York courts spokesman says the judge was within the sentencing range for this type of a negotiated plea conviction.

SUSPECT IN PARENTS’ KILLING CLOSE TO BEING ARRESTED BEFORE SLAYINGS

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee man suspected of killing his parents and five others was close to being arrested for probation violations.

Twenty-five-year-old Michael Cummins was caught Saturday, hours after bodies were found in two rural Sumner County homes.

Court records show Cummins had been on probation after serving just 16 months of a 10-year sentence.

He was convicted of attempting to burn down a neighbor’s house and assaulting her when she tried to put out the fire.

Sumner District Attorney Ray Whitley says Cummins’ probation officer had been preparing another arrest warrant for Cummins’ violation of a no-contact order with the neighbor and failure to get a mental health evaluation.

The officer wasn’t able to get a judge to sign the warrant, but Whitley says it is unlikely Cummins would have been arrested immediately.

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