National briefs 1/21/16

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Judge won't force cop to testify in trial

BALTIMORE -- A judge has rejected prosecutors' request to force a Baltimore police officer to testify against three of his colleagues facing charges in connection with Freddie Gray's death. Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams on Wednesday denied the state's motion. Prosecutors indicated for the first time they wanted officer William Porter to testify against all five of the colleagues charged along with him in connection with Gray's death. Previously, they had indicated they wanted his testimony against only two. Porter's trial ended with a hung jury. An appeals court is reviewing an order mandating Porter testify against officer Caesar Goodson, who was driving the van carrying Gray to jail. Gray died of injuries received in the van.

Denial of disaster aid for Flint appealed

LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder released his emails Wednesday regarding Flint's drinking water and asked President Barack Obama to reconsider his denial of a federal disaster declaration to address the crisis, saying its severity poses an "imminent and long-term threat" to residents. Obama declared an emergency -- qualifying the city for $5 million -- but determined it is not a disaster based on the legal requirement such additional relief is intended for natural events, fires, floods or explosions. Snyder had estimated a need for up to $95 million over a year. In his appeal letter, Snyder called the decision a "narrow reading" and likened the crisis to a flood, "given that qualities within the water, over a long term, flood and damaged the city's infrastructure in ways that were not immediately or easily detectable. This disaster is a natural catastrophe in the sense that lead contamination into water is a natural process."

Governor urges feds to stop armed group

SALEM, Ore. -- Oregon's governor expressed anger Wednesday over federal authorities' handling of the occupation of a national wildlife refuge by an armed group and said she intends to bill the U.S. government for what the occupation is costing state taxpayers. Gov. Kate Brown said federal officials "must move quickly to end the occupation and hold all of the wrongdoers accountable." Exasperated by a tense situation that has caused fear among locals since it began Jan. 2, Brown said, "This spectacle of lawlessness must end, and until Harney County is free of it, I will not stop insisting that federal officials enforce the law." She said the occupation has cost Oregon taxpayers nearly $500,000. She didn't say what those costs entailed.

-- From wire reports

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