Authorities are investigating online threats against schools near the Los Angeles-area high school where a 16-year-old boy shot and killed two classmates and wounded three others.
Sheriff’s officials said Sunday that investigators have not found any of the threats made on social media to be credible.
Meanwhile detectives are searching for a motive for the killings carried out Thursday by Nathaniel Berhow at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita. The teen shot himself and later died. Authorities say Berhow didn’t appear to be linked to any ideology.
A wounded 14-year-old girl was released from the hospital Friday. A 15-year-old girl remains hospitalized in good condition.
Officials didn’t say how many recent threats are being investigated. Additional law enforcement will be posted at schools Monday.
Thousands of Georgians protested outside the Caucasus country’s parliament Sunday, demanding snap elections after lawmakers failed to pass a promised electoral-reform measure.
The Georgian Dream party, which dominates the country’s politics and holds a strong majority in the legislature, had promised a constitutional amendment under which all seats filled in next year’s parliamentary election would be allotted according to the percentage of votes each party receives nationwide.
The promise was key to cooling down tensions after days of sometimes-violent demonstrations in Tbilisi during the summer. But many Georgian Dream legislators voted against the measure on Thursday and it failed to pass.
Demonstrators blocked the capital’s main avenue and later set up tents to maintain a round-the-clock presence, vowing to block anyone from trying to enter the parliament.
“This is our peaceful, nonviolent demonstration against this regime. We are sure no government, no regime, can win against the people,” Girogi Baramidze, a member of the opposition National Movement party, told the Associated Press.
Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday cautiously backed the government’s decision to raise gasoline prices by 50% after days of widespread protests, calling those who attacked public property during demonstrations “thugs” and signaling that a potential crackdown loomed.
The government shut down internet access across the nation of 80 million people to staunch demonstrations that took place in a reported 100 cities and towns. That made gauging if unrest continued increasingly difficult. Images published by state and semiofficial media showed the scale of the damage in images of burned gas stations, pillaged banks and roadways littered with debris.
Since the hike, demonstrators have abandoned cars along major highways and joined mass protests in the capital, Tehran, and elsewhere. Some protests turned violent, with demonstrators setting fires as gunfire rang out.
It remains to be seen how many people were arrested, injured or killed. Videos from the protests have shown people gravely wounded.
Iranian authorities on Sunday raised the official death toll in the violence to at least three. Attackers targeting a police station in the western city of Kermanshah on Saturday killed an officer, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Sunday. A lawmaker said another person was killed in a suburb of Tehran. Earlier, one man was reported killed Friday in Sirjan, a city some 800 kilometers (500 miles) southeast of Tehran.
In an address aired Sunday by state television, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said “some lost their lives and some places were destroyed,” without elaborating. He called the protesters “thugs” who had been pushed into violence by counterrevolutionaries and foreign enemies of Iran.
Khamenei specifically named those aligned with the family of Iran’s late shah, ousted 40 years ago, and an exile group called the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq. The MEK calls for the overthrow of Iran’s government and enjoys the support of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
“Setting a bank on fire is not an act done by the people. This is what thugs do,” Khamenei said.
The supreme leader carefully backed the decision of Iran’s relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani and others to raise gasoline prices. While Khamenei dictates the country’s nuclear policy amid tensions with the U.S. over its unraveling 2015 accord with world powers, he made a point to say he wasn’t an “expert” on the gasoline subsidies.
Khamenei ordered security forces “to implement their tasks” and for Iran’s citizens to keep clear of violent demonstrators. Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said the “key perpetrators of the past two days’ riot have been identified and proper action is ongoing.”
That seemed to indicate a crackdown could be looming. Economic protests in late 2017 into 2018, as well as those surrounding its disputed 2009 presidential election, were met with a heavy reaction by the police and the Basij, the all-volunteer force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
The semiofficial Fars news agency, close to the Guard, put the total number of protesters at over 87,000, saying demonstrators ransacked some 100 banks and stores in the country. Authorities arrested some 1,000 people, Fars reported, citing unnamed security officials for the information.
The protests have put renewed pressure on Iran’s government as it struggles to overcome the U.S. sanctions that have strangled the economy since Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal over a year ago.
While representing a political risk for Rouhani ahead of February parliamentary elections, the demonstrations also show widespread anger among the Iranian people, who have seen their savings evaporate amid scarce jobs and the collapse of the national currency, the rial.
Cheap gasoline is practically considered a birthright in Iran, home to the world’s fourth-largest crude oil reserves despite decades of economic woes since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Gasoline in the country remains among the cheapest in the world, with the new prices jumping 50% to a minimum of 15,000 rials per liter. That’s 13 cents a liter, or about 50 cents a gallon. A gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. costs $2.60 by comparison.
Iranian internet access saw disruptions and outages Friday night into Saturday, according to the group NetBlocks, which monitors worldwide internet access. By Saturday night, connectivity had fallen to just 7% of ordinary levels.
“The ongoing disruption is the most severe recorded in Iran since President Rouhani came to power, and the most severe disconnection tracked by NetBlocks in any country in terms of its technical complexity and breadth,” the group said. The internet firm Oracle called it “the largest internet shutdown ever observed in Iran.”
The semiofficial ISNA news agency reported Sunday that Iran’s Supreme National Security Council ordered a “restriction of access” to the internet nationwide, without elaborating.
The Trump administration so far has had a muted response to the protests amid the impeachment hearings investigating the president. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus tweeted her condemnation of the internet shutdown.
“Let them speak!” she wrote.
In Dubai, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates told The Associated Press that America was “not advocating regime change. We are going to let the Iranian people decide for themselves their future.”
“They are frustrated. They want freedom,” Ambassador John Rakolta said at the Dubai Airshow. “These developments that you see right now are their own people telling them, ‘We need change and to sit down with the American government.’”
Gordon Sondland, President Donald Trump’s emissary to the European Union, had a message when he met with a top Ukrainian official.
Sondland said vital U.S. military assistance to Ukraine might be freed up if the country’s top prosecutor “would go to the mike and announce that he was opening the Burisma investigation," a U.S. official told lawmakers. Burisma is the gas company in Ukraine where Democrat Joe Biden’s son Hunter served on the board.
Sondland relayed the exchange moments later to Tim Morrison, then a National Security Council aide. In his private testimony to impeachment investigators made public Saturday, Morrison recounted that Sondland also told him he was discussing the Ukraine matters directly with Trump.
Morrison’s testimony ties Trump more closely to the central charge from Democrats pursuing impeachment: that Trump held up U.S. military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into Democrats and Biden’s family. Morrison’s testimony also contradicts much of what Sondland told congressional investigators during his own closed-door deposition, which the ambassador later amended.
Both Morrison and Sondland are scheduled to testify publicly next week as part of the historic, high-stakes impeachment proceedings into the nation’s 45th president. Democrats charge that Trump abused his office for personal political gain, while the president and his allies argue that the process is politically motivated and that nothing in the testimony so far meets the bar for impeachment.
Transcripts from the closed-door testimony from Morrison, a longtime Republican defense hawk in Washington, and Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence on Russia and Europe, were released Saturday as investigators accelerated and deepened the probe. They provided another window into the alarm within the government over Ukraine pressure.
Immediately after the exchange with Sondland during an international gathering in Warsaw, Morrison called his boss, John Bolton, then Trump’s national security adviser.
“Stay out of it,” Bolton told him, “brief the lawyers.”
For Morrison, Burisma was a catch-all for a “bucket” of investigations — of Democrats and the family of Joe Biden — that he wanted to “stay away from.” They had nothing to do with “the proper policy process that I was involved in on Ukraine,” he testified.
Morrison said Sondland and Trump had spoken approximately five times between July 15 and Sept. 11 — the weeks that $391 million in U.S. assistance was withheld from Ukraine before it was released.
While some, including Trump himself, have begun to question Sondland’s knowledge of events, Morrison told House investigators the ambassador “related to me he was acting — he was discussing these matters with the President.”
Pressed by Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence Committee leading the probe, as to whether Sondland had actually spoken to the president, Morrison said he had verified it each time.
Pence, so far, has been a more unseen figure in the impeachment inquiry, but testimony from Williams raised fresh questions about what Pence knew about Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.
Pence was also at the Warsaw gathering. For the new government of Ukraine, situated between NATO allies and Russia, the security aid Congress had already approved was a lifeline to the West.
Williams was among the staffers in the White House Situation Room who listened and took notes during Trump's July 25 call when he asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for “a favor.” A whistleblower’s complaint about that call helped spark the House impeachment investigation.
Williams testified that Trump's discussion on the call of specific investigations struck her as "unusual and inappropriate" and seemed to point to "other motivations" for holding up the military aid.
After the call, Williams told investigators, she put the White House’s rough transcript into the into the vice president's daily briefing book.
"I just don't know if he read it," she said.
Williams corroborated the testimony of a previous witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an NSC aide on the call, who said the White House dropped the word “Burisma” from the transcript. She said in an addendum to her testimony that Zelenskiy had mentioned the word “Burisma” in the call.
Vindman and Williams at scheduled to testify together during a public impeachment hearing on Tuesday morning.
The White House’s decision to put the transcript of the July 25 call on a highly classified server has drawn keen interest throughout the probe. But Morrison said the unusual move was unintentional.
Morrison said he was concerned if the call got out it would be politically damaging. He talked to White House lawyer John Eisenberg and they agreed that access should be restricted, he testified.
But Morrison said Eisenberg later told him that he did not intend for the call summary to be placed on a highly classified server. Eisenberg's staff apparently put it there by mistake, he said.
As the transcripts were released, impeachment investigators wrapped up a rare Saturday session interviewing Mark Sandy, a little-known career official at the Office of Management and Budget who was involved in key meetings about the aid package.
Sandy’s name had barely come up in previous testimony. But it did on one particular date: July 25, the day of Trump’s call with Zelenskiy. That day, a legal document with Sandy’s signature directed a freeze of the security funds to Ukraine, according to testimony.
Throughout Morrison’s account, he largely confirmed testimony from current and former officials about what has been described as a shadow diplomacy being run by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, often at odds with U.S. national security interests.
A few days after the Warsaw meeting, Sondland was on the phone telling Morrison Sept. 7 he had just gotten off a call with the president.
Morrison said Sondland related that Trump assured him there were no strings being attached to the military aid for Ukraine.
“The president told him there was no quid pro quo, but President Zelenskiy must announce the opening of the investigations and he should want to do it,” Morrison testified.
Morrison had what he called a “sinking feeling” that the aid may not ultimately be released. About that time, three congressional committees said they were launching inquiries into efforts by Trump and Giuliani to investigate the Bidens.
At a Sept. 11 meeting at the White House, Pence and GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio “convinced the president that the aid should be disbursed immediately,” said Morrison, who said he was briefed about the meeting but did not attend it. “The case was made to the president that it was the appropriate and prudent thing to do.”
Egyptian police say nine people were killed when a minibus collided with a small truck on a highway in the southern province of Sohag.
A police statement says the accident took place late on Saturday and that along with the nine killed, nine others were injured. Sohag is located 390 kilometers, or 244 miles, south of the Egyptian capital of Cairo.
The statement says the injured were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment.
Road accidents are common in Egypt, often the result of badly maintained roads and poor enforcement of traffic laws.
The country’s official statistics agency says more than 8,000 road accidents took place in 2018, leaving over 3,000 dead and around 12,000 injured.