La Habra 16-year-old boy armed with gun wounded in police shooting

LA HABRA  A 16-year-old boy was wounded in a police shooting Monday morning in La Habra, according to authorities.

Around 9:35 a.m. officers were dispatched to the 200 block of South Monte Vista Street after being notified by a woman that her son had armed himself with a gun following a family dispute, La Habra police Sgt. Jose Rocha said.

“The caller advised that the suspect left on foot, armed with the firearm and stated that he wanted to shoot something and be on the news,” he said.

However, when police arrived, the teen had already left the area. Police found him in the 300 block of South Walnut Street where an officer shot the teen, Rocha said.

The teen fled and was later located at Knudson Street and 3rd Avenue. A handgun was recovered,  Rocha said.

He was transported by ambulance to UCI Medical Center where his condition was unknown. He is in custody on suspicion of attempted homicide, criminal threats, and brandishing a firearm.

No officers were injured.

A motive for the shooting has not been released, and the incident remains under investigation.

 

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Own a home or renting? 5 questions about what Trump’s tax plan could mean to you

It’s little more than bullet points on a single page.

But the effect of President Donald Trump’s plan to overhaul the U.S. tax system is being hotly debated in real estate circles.

The National Association of Realtors, citing Trump’s proposals to double the standard deduction while scrapping write-offs for expenses like state and local property taxes, warns that such a plan would hurt a wide swath of homeowners and the residential real estate market.

“It’s going to continue to make California a renter’s state vs. a homeowner’s state,” said Tammy Newland-Shishido, Orange County Association of Realtors president-elect, who was in Washington D.C., with the national advocacy group last week.

Not every real estate expert foresees dire consequences. Some say if the plan prevails in Congress, it could spread the wealth.

“It’s beneficial to the everyday person,” said Fadel Lawandy, director of the Hoag Center for Real Estate and Finance at Chapman University in Orange. “The middle class is going to benefit, whether they own a home or not. It will help renters significantly.”

Trump’s simple, one-page outline was expected to forge major changes in the tax code this year, but some Wall Street analysts believe the repeated crises faced by the White House could push tax reform into 2018.

Regardless of when it happens, here’s how arguments over what it could mean for housing are unfolding:

What’s been proposed?

Trump’s plan raises the standard deduction to $24,000 from $12,600 for a married couple filing jointly. Only deductions for only mortgages and charitable donations would be allowed. Deductions for state and local taxes, including property taxes, and other write-offs would be eliminated.

The mortgage interest deduction — which allows homeowners to deduct interest paid on home loans up to $1.1 million — would still be an option. But the Realtors group and a national home builders’ organization say it would carry far less value; most people would have to file for the standard deduction and many would pay higher taxes.

Why the alarm?

Real estate agents and builders say they’d be losing what they consider an important incentive for homebuyers — the prospect of receiving a mortgage deduction on their taxes. And, they say, getting rid of deductions for state and local taxes would decrease home values.

“Current homeowners could very well see their home’s value plummet and their equity evaporate if tax reform nullifies or eliminates the tax incentives they depend upon, while prospective homebuyers will see that dream pushed further out of reach,” said William E. Brown, NAR’s president. “While we appreciate the administration’s stated commitment to protecting homeownership, this plan does anything but.”

Brown, from Alamo, added, “Common sense says owning a home isn’t the same as renting one, and American’s tax code shouldn’t treat those activities the same either.”

The National Association of Home Builders also sounded a warning.

“Doubling the standard deduction could severely marginalize the mortgage interest deduction, which would reduce housing demand and lead to lower home values,” said Granger MacDonald, the association’s chairman.

How popular is the mortgage interest deduction?

The write-off, enacted in 1913, has been a third rail in U.S. politics. No one ever touches it.

Proposals to eliminate it, turn it into a tax credit or limit it for high-income taxpayers have come and gone.

In 2014, some 32 million homeowners claimed it, saving about $2,173 each, the National Association of Realtors says.

The real estate industry typically makes a strong push to keep the deduction, saying that to do otherwise would price-out would-be buyers and threaten the housing market.

But some economists and academics say the write-off favors the upper-middle class and the wealthy.

Zillow economist Svenja Gudell said she doesn’t believe that a desire to claim the mortgage interest deduction necessarily drives home purchases.

Dennis C. Smith, a Huntington Beach mortgage broker, agrees.

“Having interviewed potential homeowners for 30 years, I can state that very few, about 10-15 percent or less, of those I have spoken to over the years, make their decision to buy a home because of the tax deduction they will receive,” Smith, co-owner of Stratis Financial, recently wrote in his blog.

How could the tax plan affect pricey housing markets?

Getting rid of property tax deductions would hit expensive markets harder than other places, Realtors, economists and academics say.

“For households in higher-tax states, the benefit of itemizing is higher,” states an article entitled “Tax plan could hurt homeowners” published on the national Realtor group’s’ website. “And for second-home owners, the net tax benefit of itemizing can be substantial.”

“There’s a segment of borrowers who would be adversely affected,” said Paul Habibi, a faculty member at the Ziman Center for Real Estate at UCLA. “It just depends on what side of the income spectrum you’re on.”

In coastal markets, including Los Angeles and Orange County, San Francisco and New York City, he said, “You’re going to have a greater percentage of those potential homeowners adversely affected because they have median prices high enough to kick them into benefiting from the (itemized) deductions.”

Under the plan, a married couple would need a home-loan balance of about $608,000 to use the mortgage interest deduction, up from about $322,000 now, Bloomberg reported.

Ralph McLaughlin, an economist at home search website Trulia, does not think the plan, if implemented, would create a major disruption in the overall housing market.

But, he said, “The proposed tax reform will push the benefits of the mortgage interest deduction further out of reach of the middle class. Under the current tax code, the top 43 percent of household earners can itemize their mortgage interest if they purchased a home. Under the proposed tax plan, that number would shrink to just the top 17 percent.”

In Orange County, only 26 percent of households could afford to buy a home with a mortgage high enough to qualify for the mortgage interest tax deduction under the proposed tax plan – down from 55 percent of households that currently qualify, by Trulia’s math.

What’s next?

Despite arguments that Trump’s proposals could help renters and those struggling to become homeowners, Senate Democrats say Trump’s overall plan is aimed at the rich, including the president.

And the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has said nearly 8 million families – including a majority of single-parent households – would be worse off.

Much still is unknown. The plan has three tax brackets of 10, 25 and 35 percent. But it’s not yet clear what the income levels would be.

And, of course, what Congress would do remains to be seen.

But the plan’s advocates, as well as those who do not see it harming the housing market, predict the savings for most households could actually become a boon to homeownership.

“For many lower and middle-income taxpayers, a higher standard deduction will increase their after-tax income, which could end up boosting home buying demand from these groups if net income rises enough,” said Gudell of Zillow.

“At the end of the day, what really matters is whether people have more or less after-tax money to spend on housing and other living expenses,” she said.

As to those at the higher end who would see no benefit, Smith wrote, “There is an old saying, ‘If you can afford a Ferrari you aren’t worried about the price of gas or an oil change.’

“Similarly, if you can afford a $10 million dollar estate, you aren’t worried about the mortgage interest and property tax deduction.”

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Police arrest 2 in connection with thefts from Westminster gym

Christopher Blackburn
Christopher Blackburn
Tiffany Cauyong
Tiffany Cauyong

FOUNTAIN VALLEY Two people were arrested Wednesday in connection with thefts from lockers at a Fountain Valley gym, police said.

Tiffany Cauyong, 18, and Christopher Blackburn ,19, both of Daly City were booked into the  Orange County Jail on suspicion of burglary, grand theft, and fraud, Fountain Valley police Sgt. Tony Luce said in a statement.

Around 10:40 a.m. Wednesday, police were notified that several lockers had been broken into at 24 Hour Fitness, 17200 Brookhurst St., Luce said.

Cauyong  and  Blackburn are suspected of stealing car keys, credit cards and cellphones, Luce said. Police believe the pair used the keys to unlock vehicles in the gym parking lot to take additional items.

Cauyong and Blackburn were arrested as they left Westminster Mall where police say they used stolen credit cards to make fraudulent purchases.

 

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UC Irvine law dean Erwin Chemerinsky named dean of Berkeley’s law school, will begin July 1

  • Erwin Chemerinsky, who is the founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law at UCI, teaches one of his classes in 2015. (Michael Goulding, Staff File)

    Erwin Chemerinsky, who is the founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law at UCI, teaches one of his classes in 2015. (Michael Goulding, Staff File)

  • Erwin Chemerinsky, who is the founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law at UCI, wipes down the classes whiteboard and chats with a student after teaching one of his classes  in 2015. (Michael Goulding, Staff File)

    Erwin Chemerinsky, who is the founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law at UCI, wipes down the classes whiteboard and chats with a student after teaching one of his classes in 2015. (Michael Goulding, Staff File)

  • Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of UCI Law School, makes a point while discussing "Marriage Redefined in One State or All? The Meaning and Impact of the Supreme Marriage Decisions" at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa in 2013. (Christine Cotter, Staff File)

    Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of UCI Law School, makes a point while discussing “Marriage Redefined in One State or All? The Meaning and Impact of the Supreme Marriage Decisions” at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa in 2013. (Christine Cotter, Staff File)

  • Erwin Chemerinsky, has a one-on-one discussion with Ronald Park of Irvine after teaching one of his classes in 2015. (Michael Goulding, Staff File)

    Erwin Chemerinsky, has a one-on-one discussion with Ronald Park of Irvine after teaching one of his classes in 2015. (Michael Goulding, Staff File)

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Erwin Chemerinsky, the founding dean of UC Irvine’s School of Law, will become the next dean of UC Berkeley’s law school, ending his nine-year tenure in Orange County during which he has taught courses on the First Amendment, published multiple books and law review articles and argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Berkeley announced the appointment on Wednesday, May 17. Chemerinsky will begin his five-year term at Berkeley School of Law on July 1.

“Dean Chemerinsky is an acclaimed researcher, gifted teacher, and accomplished administrator,” Carol Christ, interim executive vice chancellor at Berkeley, said in a statement.

“I believe he will be a phenomenal leader for our law school, someone who will ensure that Berkeley Law remains not only a powerhouse of legal scholarship and training, but also a community built on mutual respect and inclusion.”

L. Song Richardson, who has a law degree from Yale University, will become the interim dean when Chemerinsky leaves UCI, that university said in a statement.

Richardson joined the faculty at the UCI law school in 2014, and teaches courses on criminal law, criminal procedure, and law and social science.

“I want to express my enormous gratitude to Dean Erwin Chemerinsky for all he has contributed to the success of the law school and the entire university during his tenure as dean,” said UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman in a statement. “I’m very grateful that Song Richardson has agreed to serve as interim dean, knowing that she will work with the law school community to maintain our extraordinary momentum.”

Richardson – who has also taught at DePaul University, American University and the University of Iowa – said in a statement Wednesday that she is “honored and humbled” to become interim dean and noted Chemerinsky’s role in turning the law school into an “extraordinary” institution.

“Through our collective leadership, I look forward to an exciting future for UCI law and to more continued success,” she said.

The university’s statement did not say when it will begin to search for a permanent dean.

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O.C. surfers collect West Coast titles at Oceanside

  • San Clemente’s Nico Coli powers his way to the Western Surfing Association’s West Coast title in the Boys Under 14 division. He also was a finalist in the SSS State Middle School Championships a day earlier.

    San Clemente’s Nico Coli powers his way to the Western Surfing Association’s West Coast title in the Boys Under 14 division. He also was a finalist in the SSS State Middle School Championships a day earlier.

  • George Williams of Laguna Beach shows his winning form May 14 at the Western Surfing Association’s 2017 West Coast Championships tournament at Oceanside. He won the Boys Under 16 division, althought the West Coast title went to Mick Davey of La Jollas on cumulative season points.

    George Williams of Laguna Beach shows his winning form May 14 at the Western Surfing Association’s 2017 West Coast Championships tournament at Oceanside. He won the Boys Under 16 division, althought the West Coast title went to Mick Davey of La Jollas on cumulative season points.

  • Liam Murray of San Clemente bashes a section en route to victory in the Boys Under 18 division at the WSA West Coast Surfing Championshiips on May 14 at Oceanside. San Clemente’s Reef Tsutsui placed third and clinched the season title on cumulative points.

    Liam Murray of San Clemente bashes a section en route to victory in the Boys Under 18 division at the WSA West Coast Surfing Championshiips on May 14 at Oceanside. San Clemente’s Reef Tsutsui placed third and clinched the season title on cumulative points.

  • Dana Point’s Bella Kenworthy was a two-division finalist at the Western Surfing Association’s 2017 West Coast Championships.

    Dana Point’s Bella Kenworthy was a two-division finalist at the Western Surfing Association’s 2017 West Coast Championships.

  • While spectators keep an eye on the surfing action at the 2017 Western Surfing Association West Coast Championships, some gymnastics training is going on in the background.

    While spectators keep an eye on the surfing action at the 2017 Western Surfing Association West Coast Championships, some gymnastics training is going on in the background.

  • Namor Cayres, a Brazilian surfer now residing in San Clemente, took first place in the Open Men’s shortboard division at the 2017 Western Surfing Association West Coast Championships tournament.

    Namor Cayres, a Brazilian surfer now residing in San Clemente, took first place in the Open Men’s shortboard division at the 2017 Western Surfing Association West Coast Championships tournament.

  • Kai McPhillips of San Clemente is the Scholastic Surf Series’ California state middle school longboard champion. He also was a finalist in shortboarding.

    Kai McPhillips of San Clemente is the Scholastic Surf Series’ California state middle school longboard champion. He also was a finalist in shortboarding.

  • Callan Emery of Laguna Niguel won his division on May 14 at the Western Surfing Association’s West Coast Championships tournament held at Oceanside. Lucas Owston of Oceanside was the West Coast champion based on total season points.

    Callan Emery of Laguna Niguel won his division on May 14 at the Western Surfing Association’s West Coast Championships tournament held at Oceanside. Lucas Owston of Oceanside was the West Coast champion based on total season points.

  • Reef Tsutsui of San Clemente captured the Western Surfing Association’s season title for Boys Under 18, clinching it with a third-place showing at the championship event of the season.

    Reef Tsutsui of San Clemente captured the Western Surfing Association’s season title for Boys Under 18, clinching it with a third-place showing at the championship event of the season.

  • Two spectators watching the finals of the WSA West Coast Surfing Championships from Oceanside Harbor’s South Jetty took time out to take a selfie.

    Two spectators watching the finals of the WSA West Coast Surfing Championships from Oceanside Harbor’s South Jetty took time out to take a selfie.

  • Petey Romaniuk of Huntington Beach is Western Surfing Association’s West Coast Champion for Boys Under 10.

    Petey Romaniuk of Huntington Beach is Western Surfing Association’s West Coast Champion for Boys Under 10.

  • With a third-place showing at the Western Surfing Association’s 2017 West Coast Surfing Championships tournament at Oceanside, Pedro Todaro of San Clemente clinched the season title in Open Men’s shortboarding.

    With a third-place showing at the Western Surfing Association’s 2017 West Coast Surfing Championships tournament at Oceanside, Pedro Todaro of San Clemente clinched the season title in Open Men’s shortboarding.

  • Kristina Hehl of Huntington Beach goes vert during the Girls Under 18 championship final at the WSA West Coastg Surfing Championships.

    Kristina Hehl of Huntington Beach goes vert during the Girls Under 18 championship final at the WSA West Coastg Surfing Championships.

  • Laguna Beach surfers George Williams and Travis Booth, pictured here, placed 1-2 at the Western Surfing Association’s 2017 West Coast Championships tournament in the Boys Under 16 division.

    Laguna Beach surfers George Williams and Travis Booth, pictured here, placed 1-2 at the Western Surfing Association’s 2017 West Coast Championships tournament in the Boys Under 16 division.

  • San Clemente’s Jeff Jessee won the Open Men’s shortboard division at the 2017 Western Surfing Association West Coast Championships tournament.

    San Clemente’s Jeff Jessee won the Open Men’s shortboard division at the 2017 Western Surfing Association West Coast Championships tournament.

  • Jake Levine of Laguna Beach blasts off the top during Boys Under 18 final at the WSA West Coast Surfing Championships. He placed second in his division.

    Jake Levine of Laguna Beach blasts off the top during Boys Under 18 final at the WSA West Coast Surfing Championships. He placed second in his division.

  • Meet the Shorecliffs Middle School surf team, which brought home the 2017 Scholastic Surf Series California state middle school surfing title to San Clemente.

    Meet the Shorecliffs Middle School surf team, which brought home the 2017 Scholastic Surf Series California state middle school surfing title to San Clemente.

  • Hagan Johnson was one of three Shorecliffs Middle School surfers in the SSS state middle school shortboard final, with teammates Nico Coli and Kai McPhillips.

    Hagan Johnson was one of three Shorecliffs Middle School surfers in the SSS state middle school shortboard final, with teammates Nico Coli and Kai McPhillips.

  • Tess Booth of Thurston Middle School in Laguna Beach won a girls’ title at the Scholastic Surf Series’ California state middle school surfing championships.

    Tess Booth of Thurston Middle School in Laguna Beach won a girls’ title at the Scholastic Surf Series’ California state middle school surfing championships.

  • Luke Blackwill of San Clemente is the Scholastic Surf Series’ California state middle school bodyboard champion.

    Luke Blackwill of San Clemente is the Scholastic Surf Series’ California state middle school bodyboard champion.

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With San Clemente surfers leading the way, Orange County produced champions in 13 of 25 divisions Sunday, May 14, at the West Coast Surfing Championships in Oceanside.

Petey Romaniuk of Huntington Beach won Western Surfing Association titles in two divisions, as did Pedro Todaro, a San Clemente surfer originally from Brazil.

Other West Coast titles went to San Clemente’s Reef Tsutsui, Nico Coli, Jeff Jessee, Chad Clifton, Ezra McPhillips, Tommy Coleman, Hana Catsimanes and to Lance Albright of Huntington Beach and Jeff Munson of Corona del Mar.

The two-day tournament benefited from consistent waist- to head-high waves. Season titles were based on points earned in monthly contests held since August, plus the championship event.

In the two-day contest itself, Orange County produced first-place winners in 14 of 25 divisions: Mark Austin of Orange, George Williams of Laguna Beach, Callan Emery of Laguna Niguel, Albright of Huntington Beach, Munson of Corona del Mar and San Clemente’s Coli, Jessee, Clifton, McPhillips, Todaro, Namor Cayres, Liam Murray, Kai Finn and Tommy Coleman.

Top-rated performers will earn invitations to the Surfing America USA Championships from June13-17 at Oceanside and June 19-22 at Lower Trestles, south of San Clemente.

On day one of the tournament, the Scholastic Surfing Series completed its own state championships on the same beach, with Shorecliffs Middle School of San Clemente taking the title. As that contest concluded at 11 a.m., the two-day WSA championships began.

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Clapper: U.S. government ‘under assault’ by Trump after Comey firing

By HOPE YEN

WASHINGTON  — Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Sunday described a U.S. government “under assault” after President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to fire FBI director James Comey, as lawmakers urged the president to select a new FBI director free of any political stigma.

“I think, in many ways, our institutions are under assault, both externally — and that’s the big news here, is the Russian interference in our election system,” Clapper said. “I think as well our institutions are under assault internally.”

When he was asked, “Internally, from the president?” Clapper said, “Exactly.”

Clapper spoke following Trump’s sudden firing of Comey last week, which drew sharp criticism because it came amid the FBI’s probe into Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.

Clapper said America’s founding fathers had created three co-equal branches of government with checks and balances, but with Trump as president, that was now “under assault and is eroding.”

Lawmakers from both parties also criticized Trump’s actions last week, which included changing explanations from the White House for the firing and an ominous tweet by Trump that warned Comey against leaks to the press because he may have “tapes” of their conversations. The lawmakers urged the president to select a new FBI director without any political background.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said promoting an FBI agent to lead the agency would allow the nation to “reset.” He dismissed as less desirable at least two of the 14 candidates under consideration by Trump, former Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, explaining that “these are not normal circumstances.”

Rogers, an ex-FBI agent and former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has drawn the backing of the FBI Agents Association. Cornyn is the No. 2 Republican in the Senate.

“It’s now time to pick somebody who comes from within the ranks, or is of such a reputation who has no political background at all who can go into the job from Day 1,” the South Carolina Republican said. Asked whether Rogers or Cornyn would be good choices, Graham flatly said, “no.”

“The president has a chance to clean up the mess he mostly created,” Graham said, adding, “I have no evidence the president colluded with the Russians at all, but we don’t know all the evidence yet.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the new FBI director should certainly be someone “not of partisan background” with “great experience” and “courage.” He left open the possibility that Democrats might try and withdraw support for a new FBI director unless the Justice Department names a special prosecutor. Under rules of the Senate, Republicans could still confirm an FBI director with 51 votes. Republicans hold 52 seats in the chamber to Democrats’ 48.

Less than a week after Trump fired Comey, the administration has interviewed at least eight candidates to be FBI director, and Trump has said a decision could come before he leaves Friday on his first overseas trip as president.

“I think the process is going to go quickly. Almost all of them are very well-known,” Trump said of the candidates before Air Force One took off for Lynchburg, Virginia, where he gave the commencement address at Liberty University. “They’ve been vetted over their lifetime essentially, but very well-known, highly respected, really talented people. And that’s what we want for the FBI.”

Trump abruptly fired Comey on Tuesday and later said Comey was a “showboat” and “grandstander” who was not doing a good job. The firing drew a wave of criticism in large part because the FBI has been investigating whether election meddling by Russia involved people in Trump’s presidential campaign, and Trump said in an interview with NBC that the investigation factored into his decision to fire Comey. The changing rationales the White House offered added an element of chaos to the president’s action.

The FBI director serves a 10-year term but can be replaced by the president.

So far 14 people — lawmakers, attorneys and law enforcement officials among them — have emerged as candidates. Eight met at the Justice Department on Saturday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein.

The first candidate to arrive for interviews was Alice Fisher, a high-ranking Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration.

Also interviewed were:

—Adam Lee, special agent in charge of the FBI’s office in Richmond, Virginia.

— Andrew McCabe, the acting FBI director.

—Michael J. Garcia, a former prosecutor and associate judge on New York’s highest court.

—Cornyn, a former Texas attorney general.

—U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, a Bush appointee who struck down the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s health care law in 2010.

—Frances Townsend, a former Bush homeland security and counterterrorism adviser.

—Rogers. The FBI Agents Association says it believes his diverse background makes him the best choice.

Fisher and Townsend were the only women on the list of candidates. The FBI has never had a female director.

Sessions has faced questions over whether his involvement in Comey’s firing violates his pledge to recuse himself from investigations into Russian interference in the election. Some lawmakers have alleged the firing was an effort to stifle that FBI probe.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Sessions and Rosenstein were involved in the interviews because the FBI director reports to them as attorney general and deputy attorney general.

Clapper and Schumer made their comments on CNN’s “State of the Union”; Graham spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

___

Associated Press writers Sadie Gurman and Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

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Nations grapple with huge cyberattack, but more’s coming

By ALLEN BREED, JIM HEINTZ and SYLVIA HUI

LONDON (AP) — Teams of technicians worked around the clock Saturday to restore Britain’s crippled hospital network and secure the computers that run factories, banks, government agencies and transport systems in other nations after a global cyberattack.

The worldwide cyberextortion attack is so unprecedented that Microsoft quickly changed its policy, announcing security fixes available for free for the older Windows systems still used by millions of individuals and smaller businesses.

After an emergency government meeting Saturday in London, Britain’s home secretary said one in five of 248 National Health Service trusts had been hit. The onslaught forced hospitals to cancel or delay treatments for thousands of patients, even some with serious aliments like cancer.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said 48 NHS trusts were affected and all but six were now back to normal. The U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center said it is “working round the clock” to restore vital health services.

Security officials in Britain urged organizations to protect themselves by updating their security software fixes, running anti-virus software and backing up data elsewhere.

Who perpetrated this wave of attacks remains unknown. Two security firms — Kaspersky Lab and Avast — said they identified the malicious software in more than 70 countries. Both said Russia was hit hardest.

And all this may be just a taste of what’s coming, a cyber security expert warned.

Computer users worldwide — and everyone else who depends on them — should assume that the next big “ransomware” attack has already been launched, and just hasn’t manifested itself yet, Ori Eisen, who founded the Trusona cybersecurity firm, told The Associated Press.

The attack held hospitals and other entities hostage by freezing computers, encrypting data and demanding money through online bitcoin payments. But it appears to be “low-level” stuff, given the amounts of ransom demanded, Eisen said Saturday.

He said the same thing could be done to crucial infrastructure, like nuclear power plants, dams or railway systems.

“This is child’s play, what happened. This is not the serious stuff yet. What if the same thing happened to 10 nuclear power plants, and they would shut down all the electricity to the grid? What if the same exact thing happened to a water dam or to a bridge?” he asked.

“Today, it happened to 10,000 computers,” Eisen said. “There’s no barrier to do it tomorrow to 100 million computers.”

This is already believed to be the biggest online extortion attack ever recorded, disrupting services in nations as diverse as the U.S., Russia, Ukraine, Spain and India. Europol, the European Union’s police agency, said the onslaught was at “an unprecedented level and will require a complex international investigation to identify the culprits.”

The ransomware appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was purportedly identified by the U.S. National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes. The NSA tools were stolen by hackers and dumped on the internet.

A young cybersecurity researcher has been credited with helping to halt the spread of the global ransomware attack by accidentally activating a so-called “kill switch” in the malicious software.

The Guardian newspaper reported Saturday that the 22-year-old Britain-based researcher, identified online only as MalwareTech, found that the software’s spread could be stopped by registering a garbled domain name. It said he paid about $11 on Friday to buy a domain name that may have saved governments and companies around the world millions. His action couldn’t help those already infected, however.

Before Friday’s attack, Microsoft had made fixes for older systems, such as 2001’s Windows XP, available only to mostly larger organizations that paid extra for extended technical support. Microsoft says now it will make the fixes free for everyone.

Russian agencies slowly acknowledged that they were affected but insisted that all attacks had been resolved.

The Russian Interior Ministry, which runs the country’s police, confirmed it fell victim. Ministry spokeswoman Irina Volk was quoted by the Interfax news agency Saturday as saying the problem had been “localized” with no information compromised.

A spokesman for the Russian Health Ministry, Nikita Odintsov, tweeted that the cyberattacks on his ministry were “effectively repelled.”

“When we say that the health ministry was attacked, you should understand that it wasn’t the main server, it was local computers … actually nothing serious or deadly happened yet,” German Klimenko, a presidential adviser, said on Russian state television.

Russian cellular phone operators Megafon and MTS were among those hit. Russia’s national railway system said it was attacked but rail operations were unaffected. Russia’s central bank said Saturday that no incidents were “compromising the data resources” of Russian banks.

French carmaker Renault’s assembly plant in Slovenia halted production after it was targeted. Radio Slovenia said Saturday the Revoz factory in the southeastern town of Novo Mesto stopped working Friday evening to stop the malware from spreading.

Krishna Chinthapalli, a doctor at Britain’s National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery who wrote a paper on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal, said many British hospitals still use Windows XP software, introduced in 2001.

Security experts said it appeared to be caused by a self-replicating piece of software that enters companies when employees click on email attachments, then spreads quickly as employees share documents.

The security holes it exploits were disclosed weeks ago by TheShadowBrokers, a mysterious group that published what it said are hacking tools used by the NSA. Microsoft swiftly announced that it had already issued software “patches” to fix those holes, but many users haven’t yet installed updates or still use older versions of Windows.

Elsewhere in Europe, the attack hit companies including Spain’s Telefonica, a global broadband and telecommunications company.

Germany’s national railway said Saturday departure and arrival display screens at its train stations were affected, but there was no impact on actual train services. Deutsche Bahn said it deployed extra staff to help customers.

Other European organizations hit by the massive cyberattack included some soccer clubs. IF Odd, a 132-year-old Norwegian soccer club, saying its online ticketing facility was down.

In the U.S., FedEx Corp. reported that its Windows computers were “experiencing interference” from malware, but wouldn’t say if it had been hit by ransomware.

___

Heintz reported from Moscow and Breed from Raleigh, N.C.

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Man sentenced to 52 years-to-life for stabbing mother’s boyfriend to death

SANTA ANA A 29-year-old Anaheim man was sentenced to 52-years-to-life in prison on Friday for stabbing his mother’s boyfriend to death in a rage over how the boyfriend treated her.

A jury in March convicted Ruben Martinez of first-degree murder for the death of Maximino Fuentes Clara, 52, of Garden Grove, who was found lying in the street with multiple stab wounds in an unincorporated area near Anaheim on Nov. 16, 2014.

Martinez, who has prior convictions for carjacking and vehicle theft, stabbed Clara after an argument, prosecutors said.

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Acting FBI director vows to inform committee if White House tries to upend Russia probe

By Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian

WASHINGTON – Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe vowed Thursday that he would tell the Senate Intelligence Committee if the White House tried to interfere with the bureau’s probe of possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election – though he asserted that there had “been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”

McCabe made the assertions at a public hearing with top U.S. intelligence officials before the Senate Intelligence Committee – a hearing that has taken on new significance since Trump suddenly removed James Comey from the FBI’s top post. He also said he would not provide updates to President Trump or anyone else in the White House about the status of the probe, nor had anyone yet asked.

As the hearing continued, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the top committee officials from each party, suddenly stepped out. Around the same time, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was spotted on Capitol Hill.

Rosenstein drafted the memo that Trump used as a rationale to fire Comey.

McCabe appeared in place of Comey, and Warner, the committee vice chair, asked him at the outset if he would commit to informing the committee if the White House tried to meddle in the Russia investigation.

“I absolutely do,” McCabe responded.

McCabe would go on to make several assertions that might irk Trump. He forcefully defended his former boss – who Trump had said was not doing a good job – declaring that working with Comey was “the greatest privilege and honor of my professional life.” He said that his view was widely shared in the agency.

“The vast majority of FBI employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey,” McCabe said.

McCabe also rebutted White House officials’ attempts to minimize the Russia probe – declaring it a “highly significant investigation” that had not and would not be deterred.

“Simply put, sir, you cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution,” he said in response to a question from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

McCabe declined to comment on Trump’s assertion that Comey, while FBI director, had told him three times that he was not under investigation.

Trump had made the claim in his letter firing Comey as a sort of bizarre aside – as the rationale for removing the FBI director was purportedly not in relation to any probe that might touch the president but instead because of Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau,” Trump wrote.

Burr, the committee’s chair, asked McCabe: “Did you ever hear Director Comey tell the president that he was not the subject of an investigation?”

“Sir, I can’t comment on any conversations the director may have had with the president,” McCabe responded.

McCabe’s testimony comes as Justice Department officials are considering candidates to possibly replace him. They interviewed four people Wednesday and are expected to make a decision soon.

McCabe, who had been the No. 2 man in the bureau before his boss’s ouster, was joined by virtually every other top official whose job it is to detect and prevent Russian spy operations. The others on the witness list are CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Vincent Stewart.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, like the FBI, is probing Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and its chairs announced Wednesday that they had issued a subpoena to former national security adviser Michael Flynn for documents related to that probe.

Flynn resigned from the Trump White House after public reporting on potentially illegal contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States, which acting attorney general Sally Yates warned might make him susceptible to blackmail. He also has faced scrutiny for payments he received from Russian-backed entities, including the RT television network.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Pompeo sparred over a series of questions about whether Pompeo was aware of Yates’s concerns. Pompeo first challenged Wyden to define how his question was relevant to the published subject of the hearing – worldwide threats – before arguing that he had “no firsthand information with respect to the warning” that Yates delivered to White House counsel Don McGahn, as “she didn’t make that warning to me.”

The bureau’s probe, the only one that could produce criminal charges, is separate from the committee’s, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle feared that it might be upended now that Comey is gone. McCabe said he did not believe that would happen, and that the bureau was the right agency to continue the investigation.

“Do you need somebody to take this away from you and somebody else to do it?” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., asked.

“No, sir,” McCabe responded.

McCabe did not definitively resolve a dispute over whether Comey asked Rosenstein for more resources for the Russia investigation last week, though he asserted that the bureau had “resourced that investigation adequately.” Democrats have said that Comey informed lawmakers of such a request, but the Justice Department has denied that one was made.

For his part, McCabe said he was “not aware of that request, and it’s not consistent with my understanding of how we request additional resources.”

On Thursday, senior Appropriations committee Democrats Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire sent a letter to Rosenstein asking for specifics.

“We stand ready to assist should the FBI require additional funding to comprehensively conduct this crucial investigation or to meet any of its core missions,” they wrote in the letter. But Leahy and Shaheen said they were “surprised” to learn from media reports about Comey’s request.

“The American people have a right to know, for the sake of our national security and sovereignty, whether and to what extent Russia interfered in the 2016 Presidential election,” they wrote. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) should dedicate the needed personnel and resources to the investigation without hesitation.”

As the deputy director of the FBI, McCabe would have been intimately involved in the Russia investigation even before Comey’s firing. He was notably at the center of a February incident in which the White House reportedly enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia.

CNN reported at the time that the FBI had refused administration requests to knock down media reports on the subject, and the administration fired back that McCabe had pulled aside Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to tell him a New York Times story was “B.S.”

McCabe was also at the center of a controversy in the Clinton email investigation – the case that administration officials have pointed to as Trump’s basis for firing Comey. The Justice Department inspector general is investigating whether McCabe should have been recused from the case because his wife ran for a Virginia Senate seat and took money from the political action committee of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat and Clinton ally.

The FBI asserted at the time that McCabe had checked with ethics officials and followed agency protocols. He also was not yet deputy director when his wife was first recruited to run.

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Maternity leave dispute: Wescom settles complaint against Santa Ana couple who sought loan

The Housing and Urban Development department and Wescom Credit Union have resolved allegations the company denied a Santa Ana couple’s mortgage loan application because the wife was on maternity leave.

The couple’s name was redacted from the HUD agreement.

The agreement requires the Pasadena-based credit union refinance the couple’s existing mortgage at a lower rate and create a $50,000 compensation fund for applicants who were similarly denied loans or withdrew mortgage applications from Wescom during 2015.

Refusing to provide a mortgage loan or mortgage insurance because a woman is pregnant or on family leave violates the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition against sex and familial status discrimination, which includes discrimination against individuals who have or are expecting a child.

HUD in a statement said it has received nearly 150 complaints alleging maternity leave discrimination and has obtained more than $8 million in compensation for victims.

“An otherwise qualified borrower should not have their mortgage loan denied or delayed just because they’re having a baby,” said Bryan Greene, HUD’s general deputy assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

The agreement announced Wednesday stems from a complaint that a married couple from Santa Ana filed with HUD. The couple alleged Wescom unfairly denied their mortgage loan and the lender requested the woman return to work and provide a current pay stub before they would approve the loan application.

Wescom denied they were engaged in any of the discriminatory acts alleged in the complaint, according to HUD. The agreement between Wescom and HUD was signed by Charles Thomas, senior vice president of lending at Wescom.

Other terms of the agreement Wescom include:

— Ensure its lending policies regarding parental leave comply with the Fair Housing Act;

— Provide fair lending training to its employees; and

— Send a notice to its employees regarding its parental leave lending policies.

Anyone who believes they have experienced discrimination can file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at 800-669-9777 or 800-927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.

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