Updated 

In Brief | Nation & World | 12-17-13


Judge: bulk collection of phone records likely violates Constitution

WASHINGTON — In the first ruling of its kind, a federal judge declared Monday that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records is likely to violate the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable search. The program probably isn’t effective in fighting terrorism either, the judge said in a lengthy opinion filled with blistering criticism.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon granted a preliminary injunction against the government’s collecting of the phone records of two men who had challenged it and said any such records for the men should be destroyed. But he put enforcement of that decision on hold pending a near-certain government appeal, which may well end up at the Supreme Court.

Kerry announces new security aid to Asia as China rivalry intensifies

HANOI, Vietnam — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offered harsh words for China and new maritime security assistance for Southeast Asia on Monday to bolster countries facing growing Chinese assertiveness in a region where the two world powers are jockeying for influence.

Tensions are running high after a near-collision of U.S. and Chinese naval vessels this month and an air defense zone China has declared over an area that includes territory controlled by Japan, a U.S. ally. Those actions have raised fresh alarm as Beijing modernizes its military and claims a wide swath of ocean and disputed islands across the East and South China Seas.

Kerry used his first visit to Vietnam as America’s top diplomat to reiterate support for diplomacy between Southeast Asia’s regional bloc and Beijing over the territorial disputes, and to provide aid for Southeast Asian nations to defend waters they claim as their own.

Kerry pledged $32.5 million, including up to $18 million for Vietnam that will include five fast patrol boats for its Coast Guard. With the new contribution, U.S. maritime security assistance to the region will exceed $156 million over the next two years, he said.

Fake signer at memorial among a mob that burned men to death?

JOHANNESBURG — Just when it seemed the scandal over the bogus sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial had run its course, a cousin and three friends say he was part of a mob that accosted two men found with a stolen television and burned them to death by setting fire to tires placed around their necks.

Thamsanqa Jantjie never went to trial for the 2003 killings when other suspects did because authorities determined he was not mentally fit to stand trial, the four told The Associated Press Monday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the fake signing fiasco, which has deeply embarrassed South Africa’s government and prompted a high-level investigation into how it happened.

Their account of the killings matched a description of the crime and the outcome for Jantjie that he himself described in an interview published by the Sunday Times newspaper of Johannesburg.

Coroner: 9-year-old Ohio girl found in trash bin had been strangled

WOOSTER, Ohio — A coroner says a 9-year-old girl found dead over the weekend in an Ohio trash bin likely died of strangulation.

Findings from an initial autopsy released Monday indicate second-grader Reann Murphy was strangled with an unknown object.

A 24-year-old man who lived near the girl’s family has been arrested. Neighbors say he had been seen building a snowman with the girl and helped search for her after she was reported missing Saturday.

A sheriff’s investigator said Jerrod Metsker was the last person seen with the girl at the trailer park where they lived near Akron.

Metsker is being held on $1 million bond following a court appearance by video Monday. His relatives and attorney aren’t commenting.

By wire sources