NEW YORK — A coalition of 11 mostly Republican-led states urged a federal appeals court to enforce President Donald Trump’s executive order punishing so-called sanctuary cities, which largely forbid local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

The group filed a joint brief last week urging the appeals court in San Francisco to reinstate a January directive in which Trump threatened broad cuts in funding for jurisdictions that don’t assist efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. The states, led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and his Louisiana counterpart, Jeff Landry, argued sanctuary cities undermine Trump’s immigration-enforcement authority and make the country less safe.

Trump has warned that violent Latino gangs flourish in sanctuary cities, while many Democratic-led states and cities contend that cooperation with federal officials drains local resources and risks infringing citizens’ rights. The other states backing Trump in the San Francisco fight are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

—Bloomberg News


Attorneys for former Trump aide tell judge their client didn’t violate gag order

WASHINGTON — Rick Gates, the former Trump aide indicted with ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort for crimes including money laundering, told a judge his appearance in a fundraising video didn’t violate her order not to try his case in the press.

Manafort and Gates were among the first people charged in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. The charges, unsealed in October, relate to political consulting work the men did for the pro-Russian Ukrainian government before their work on President Donald Trump’s campaign. They deny wrongdoing.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington demanded last week that Gates explain why his participation in the Dec. 19 event hosted by conservative radio host Jack Burkman didn’t violate her earlier order barring the defendants from making statements that could affect the case’s outcome. In the short video, Gates referred to “the cause” and the goal of ensuring that his supporters “hear our message and stand with us.”

“Mr. Gates was only referring to those throughout the United States who are willing to contribute to help defray the costs of a defense necessary to adequately defend himself,” his attorneys said Wednesday, adding that he had a free-speech right to his statement.

Peter Carr, Mueller’s spokesman, declined to comment. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 16.

—Bloomberg News


MTV Unplugged co-creator dies after taxi strikes him as he walks his seeing-eye dog on Upper East Side

NEW YORK — The co-creator of the iconic television series MTV Unplugged has died after being struck by a taxi while walking with his seeing-eye dog near his Upper East Side home, according to a report.

Jim Burns, 65, was crossing Fifth Avenue when a yellow cab turning off East 87th Street struck him about 9:30 a.m. Saturday, officials said. He suffered a massive head injury and was rushed to New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in critical condition.

A person close to Burns’ family told Billboard magazine Tuesday that Burns later died.

Burns was at least partially blind and his dog was his “seeing eye companion,” police sources said.

The taxi driver remained at the scene and no charges were filed, police said.

Burns, a longtime writer and executive producer for MTV, created Unplugged in 1989 with Robert Small.

Nirvana, Aerosmith, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Mariah Carey and Alice In Chains were among the stars who famously performed stripped-down acoustic versions of their chart-topping hits on the show.

Clapton’s Unplugged album earned the singer six Grammy Awards, including best album, record and song of the year. Nirvana also won a Grammy for best alternative music performance for their Unplugged album.

The popular series was revived twice on MTV, most recently this year with Shawn Mendes serving as its first artist.

—New York Daily News


Several injured in explosion at shopping center in St. Petersburg

MOSCOW — Several people were injured in an explosion at a Russian shopping center in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, federal investigators said, classifying the incident as “attempted murder.”

A total of nine people were taken to hospital, the federal Investigative Committee said in a statement.

The explosion, which occurred at a Perekryostok supermarket, is believed to have been caused by a device that contained shrapnel and had the power of about 200 grams of TNT, said Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko.

“Investigators are considering all possible scenarios,” state news agency RIA Novosti reported, stopping short of mentioning terrorism.

About 70 people were reportedly evacuated from the Gigant Hall shopping center in the north of Russia’s second-largest city.

A witness said the explosion appeared to have come from a baggage locker at the supermarket’s entrance.

Supermarkets in Russia usually have such lockers to keep customers from taking their own bags into the store, in an effort to prevent theft.

The witness saw one person who seemed severely injured, state news agency Tass reported.

“There was the extreme sound of an explosion, and the ground shook,” the witness was quoted as saying.

Russian authorities have been on edge following an apparent suicide bombing on an underground train in St. Petersburg in April that killed more than a dozen people.

The Kremlin said earlier in December that another bombing plot against targets in St. Petersburg including Kazan Cathedral was thwarted following a tip from U.S. intelligence.



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