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Susan Smith-Harmon

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Judge's order preserves NSA surveillance records

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 00:05 Published in National News
   SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge in San Francisco stopped the destruction Monday of millions of telephone records collected by the National Security Agency more than five years ago.
   U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White, who is overseeing an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against the agency, issued a nationwide order Monday to safeguard evidence until March 19, when he will hold a hearing on extending the deadline further.
   The secret federal court that approved the agency's surveillance has required that documents be purged after five years for privacy reasons. On Friday, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court denied the federal government's request to keep the records for the sake of pending lawsuits.
   The NSA, which has acknowledged obtaining phone numbers and other information on all U.S. calls, was prepared on Tuesday to destroy all records collected more than five years ago, according to court documents.
   White said he was enforcing an order he had issued in an earlier NSA surveillance case that halted evidence from being destroyed.
   He wrote that "the Court would be unable to afford effective relief once the records are destroyed" and before he decided if their collection was legal. The plaintiffs in the lawsuits include civil rights, environmental and religious groups as well as gun organizations and marijuana advocates.
   The NSA started collecting domestic phone call records in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Since 2006, the agency has obtained warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
   The White House referred questions on the NSA records to the Justice Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
   AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — The chaos at the University of Massachusetts over the weekend during a pre-St. Patrick's Day celebration brought new attention to an old problem affecting colleges across the country: How to deal with alcohol-fueled revelers during the March festivities.
   Celebrations near the UMass campus in Amherst spiraled out of control Saturday as police dealt with thousands of drunken and unruly people during the annual "Blarney Blowout." More than 70 were arrested and four officers suffered minor injuries.
   Like other colleges and towns, UMass and Amherst officials took action to try to prevent problems. The university warned students last week that there would be an increased police presence Saturday, and Amherst police prepared for large-scale disturbances based on past problems. Six people were arrested in Amherst last year.
   At Penn State, the school paid licensed liquor establishments to stay closed this month during the unofficial drinking holiday known as State Patty's Day for the second year in a row. State College, Pa., Police Chief Tom King said the strategy, along with a fraternity ban on parties, helped lead to a 75 percent decrease in arrests and citations this year compared to 2011 — the fake holiday's heyday.
   In Champaign, Ill., University of Illinois and local officials have been dealing with the so-called "Unofficial St. Patrick's Day" for years.
   The News-Gazette newspaper reported there were dozens of arrests and nearly 260 tickets issued for city ordinance violations in Champaign on Saturday, but no major injuries. Students were told of the dangers of binge drinking and the consequences of being arrested during pre-celebration educational campaigns.
   In Amherst, this year's celebrations became unruly in several areas around town despite efforts by UMass officials and local police.
   Amherst police Capt. Jennifer Gundersen told The Republican newspaper of Springfield that the daylong partying was "extremely disturbing and unsafe."
   "Perhaps one of the worst scenes we have ever had with drunkenness and unruliness," Gundersen said. "It is extremely upsetting. It is very dangerous."
   UMass denounced the "unruly behavior" Saturday, and spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said students who were arrested will be reviewed under the school's code of conduct and sanctions could include suspension or expulsion.
   Many UMass students and other young people posted their thoughts and experiences during Blarney Blowout on Twitter. Some said the police response was excessive, one person said their nose was broken by a beer bottle that someone threw and another said they were "teargassed."
   Longtime Amherst resident Larry Kelley has railed against drunken UMass student partying for the past several years. He reported on Saturday's events on his blog, "Only in the Republic of Amherst."
   "Yesterday was the worst day in this town for public rowdy-ism," Kelley told The Associated Press. "We still had a horrendous experience yesterday, horrendous."
   Police from the city and university and state troopers in riot gear converged on a crowd of about 4,000 people at an apartment complex shortly after noon. Authorities said people were destroying things, and as officers began to disperse the crowd, they were pelted with glass bottles, beer cans and snowballs.
   After quieting the disturbance, several thousand people assembled near a frat house. That gathering became dangerous and out of control, officials said, and when officers tried to clear the crowd, they again were attacked with bottles, rocks, cans and snowballs.
   Pepper spray was used to disperse the crowd because of the size and "assaultive behavior," police said.
   Three officers were hurt when they were hit by bottles, and one was injured while attempting to make an arrest, Gundersen said. None of the officers were seriously injured.
   Police say charges included inciting to riot, failing to disperse, disorderly conduct, liquor law violations and assault and battery on officers. Some of those arrested had been released on bail by early Sunday, police said, while others were held.

MU student reports rape near Columbia, MO campus

Monday, 10 March 2014 01:34 Published in Local News

   Students at the University of Missouri are being warned to be extra vigilant after a female student reported being raped near campus over the weekend.  

   The student told Residential Life that she'd been raped late Saturday night or very early Sunday morning in the 800 block of Richmond Avenue. University officials say they're working with the victim to make sure she receives the resources and assistance she needs.  

   Additional details about the crime haven't been released.  Police say their investigation is ongoing. 

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