National Roundup

 Florida

Congressman to resign after cocaine scandal 
MIAMI (AP) — The Florida congressman who pleaded guilty to cocaine-possession charges last year will resign, his spokesman said Monday, after several GOP leaders requested that he step down.
Rep. Trey Radel will send a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, spokesman Dave Natonski said. Politico first reported the freshman Republican’s upcoming resignation.
On Nov. 20, Radel pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession and was sentenced to a year of probation. He admitted to purchasing 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover officer Oct. 29 in Washington.
Several GOP leaders, including Gov. Rick Scott, had asked him to resign. But Radel had pledged to stay in office and rebuild constituents’ trust after completing in-patient treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.
He entered rehab on Nov. 21.
Radel had been in office for 10 months when charged. His district includes the Gulf Coast cities of Fort Myers and Naples.
The House Ethics Committee announced last month that it was launching a formal investigation of the congressman.

Colorado
Prof suspended for silent protest now reinstated 
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — A religious studies professor in Colorado who was suspended after his silent protest against alleged racial bias led to complaints about his refusal to speak during classes has been reinstated.
The Daily Camera reports Naropa University professor Don Matthews was reinstated after the start of the spring semester, which began Jan. 13, and has hired an attorney to negotiate the terms of his employment at the school.
Matthews was suspended in December after staging a silent protest that extended into the classroom — and after university officials said dozens of students complained about him in recent months.
Matthews, who is black, says the university has displayed institutional racism, and his case is being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board.
 
California
Probe in woman’s beating death stalled by silence
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Police detectives are having trouble unraveling a nightclub brawl that left a 23-year-old woman dead because they can’t identify many of the victim’s friends and others won’t talk to them.
Investigators working the death of Kim Pham, 23, outside a Santa Ana hot spot have only identified one of the eight friends who were with Pham, the Los Angeles Times  reported Sunday.
Her ex-boyfriend — who may have tried to help her — hasn’t come forward and the one female friend that police have found won’t talk, the paper reported.
Two women have been arrested in Pham’s death and police are seeking a third woman.
Distrust of the government and of police runs deep in Orange County’s Vietnamese-American community, where many residents are refugees or the children and grandchildren of refugees who fled to the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Although many younger Vietnamese-Americans are thoroughly Westernized, they could be avoiding police on the advice of their parents or out of respect for their concerns, said Police Commander Tim Vu, the highest-ranking Vietnamese-American law enforcement officer in Orange County.
“People worry that there will be retaliation,” Vu told the Times. Some may believe they could be retaliated against as witnesses — a belief that his hard to counter, Vu said.
Cell phone video shows the Chapman University graduate and aspiring writer getting beaten and stomped as a crowd gathers around. A reward for information in the case stands at $11,000.
“We need to reassure immigrants or potential witnesses that it’s not about them,” he said. “It’s about all the evidence and all other witnesses.”
Pham, of Huntington Beach, was taken off life support last week.
Civic leaders are now reaching out to witnesses through the Vietnamese-language media, stressing they will be treated with respect if they come forward and can meet privately with the police chief or even the mayor.
“Their identities will be protected if they wish,” said Ken Nguyen, a volunteer who acts as Santa Ana’s liaison to the local Vietnamese community. “These are the things we offered the youths, and so far, they are quiet.”
 
Pennsylvania
Roommate says Russian teen set off mini-bombs  
ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) — The roommate of a Penn State student from Russia charged with building a suspected bomb in his bedroom says the 18-year-old recently set off three “mini-bombs” just outside their apartment.
Andrew Leff told the Altoona Mirror that he had advised Vladislav Miftakhov to get rid of the bomb-making materials. He called Miftakhov a “dumb” and “crazy” kid who was bored and impulsive, but not dangerous.
Miftakhov, a student at Penn State’s satellite campus in Altoona, was in jail Sunday after being arrested Friday and charged with possessing a weapon of mass destruction, risking a catastrophe and several other drug and weapons counts, according to court records. The records did not list a lawyer for Miftakhov, who was being held on $500,000 bail.
In the affidavit, police said they were investigating a reported marijuana growing operation at Miftakhov’s apartment reported by the landlord when they found a suitcase holding two containers with exposed fuses and other explosives-related materials. The devices were later dismantled by Pennsylvania State Police troopers.
 
North Carolina
Governor, top lawmakers vary on abortion talk 
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina legislative leaders and fellow Republican Gov. Pat McCrory are taking opposing sides on whether to continue a court fight over requiring state-required speech by abortion providers.
Attorney General Roy Cooper has not said whether state attorneys will appeal a ruling this month invalidating the 2011 state law requiring abortion providers to describe the features of an ultrasound image placed next to a pregnant woman. Cooper’s spokeswoman did not respond to messages seeking comment Monday.
McCrory’s office issued a statement this weekend saying further litigation is not worth the cost. House Speaker Thom Tills and other GOP leaders disagree.
The federal court ruling did not block other parts of the law requiring that women receive information about the likely stage of fetal development and availability of abortion alternatives.

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