In brief | Nation & World, February 3, 2014


Top Republicans support Christie, criticize ex-ally at center of scandal

High-profile Republicans were adamant Sunday that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie should not resign from his post as chairman of the Republican Governors Association after a recent claim from a former ally that there is evidence Christie knew about an apparently politically motivated traffic jam earlier than he has said.

The support from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan put Republicans on the offensive and the Democratic chairman of a state legislative committee investigating the September lane closures near the George Washington Bridge on the defensive the day Christie’s state hosted the Super Bowl.

Giuliani, appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation” took aim at the credibility of two figures central to the scandal: John Wisniewski, who’s leading the investigative probe, and David Wildstein, the former Christie loyalist who as an executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey last year ordered the lane closures, as someone with less than pure motives.

He said Wildstein “wants somebody else to pay his legal bills and he can’t get them paid unless the governor is responsible.”

Despite increases in security, school shootings continue

WASHINGTON — There’s been no real reduction in the number of U.S. school shootings despite increased security put in place after the rampage at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

In Pennsylvania and New Mexico, Colorado and Tennessee, and elsewhere, gunfire has echoed through school hallways, and killed students or their teachers in some cases. “Lockdown” is now part of the school vocabulary.

An Associated Press analysis finds that there have been at least 11 school shootings this academic year alone, in addition to other cases of gun violence, in school parking lots and elsewhere on campus, when classes were not in session.

Last August, for example, a gun discharged in a 5-year-old’s backpack while students were waiting for the opening bell in the cafeteria at Westside Elementary School in Memphis. No one was hurt.

Experts say the rate of school shootings is statistically unchanged since the mid- to late-1990s, yet still remains troubling.

Radicals with a taste for violence are wild card in Ukraine’s protests

KIEV, Ukraine — Wearing masks, helmets and protective gear on the arms and legs, radical activists are the wild card of the Ukraine protests now starting their third month, declaring they’re ready to resume violence if the stalemate persists.

When the protests started in late November, attracting crowds sometimes above 100,000 and visits from Western officials, the gatherings’ general determined peacefulness was an integral part of their claim to legitimacy. But in mid-January, the image of placid but principled people changed sharply, to frightening scenes of protesters heaving stones and firebombs at police.

The violence was sparked by the radicals within the larger protest movement, angered by President Viktor Yanukovych’s implementation of harsh anti-protest laws and increasingly impatient with the protesters’ failure to achieve any of their demands. In a vivid demonstration of frustration, they sprayed opposition leader Vitali Klitschko, the towering former heavyweight boxing champion, with a fire extinguisher when he pleaded for clashes to stop.

An uneasy truce settled in days later after three protesters died, but with no government concessions apparently in the works, the radicals say they’re preparing to fight again.

“We are ready for a national mobilization and complete blockade of the government quarter. The time for chatter has passed,” the leader of the radical group Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), Dmitry Jarosh, told The Associated Press. The group nominally cooperates with protest leaders, but often sharply differs with their views.

By wire sources