Documents: Epstein ducked sex abuse questions in deposition
NEW YORK — Confronted about allegations that he orchestrated a sex trafficking ring that delivered girls to him and his high-profile acquaintances, financier Jeffrey Epstein repeatedly refused to answer questions to avoid incriminating himself, according to court records released Friday.
A partial transcript of a September 2016 deposition in a lawsuit was included in hundreds of pages of documents placed in a public file by a federal appeals court in New York.
The 66-year-old Epstein was arrested July 6 and has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges in a case that has brought down a Cabinet secretary and launched fresh investigations into how authorities dealt with Epstein over the years.
Epstein was asked in the videotaped deposition whether it was standard operating procedure for his former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, to bring underage girls to him to sexually abuse.
Epstein replied “Fifth,” as he did to numerous other questions, citing the constitutional amendment that protects people against incriminating themselves.
Kashmir curfew partially eased for prayers amid lockdown
NEW DELHI — A strict curfew in Indian-administered Kashmir in effect for a fifth day was eased Friday to allow residents to pray at mosques, officials said, but some protests still broke out in the disputed region despite thousands of security forces in the streets as tensions remained high with neighboring Pakistan.
The predominantly Muslim area has been under the unprecedented lockdown and near-total communications blackout to prevent unrest and protests after India’s Hindu nationalist-led government said Monday it was revoking Kashmir’s special constitutional status and downgrading its statehood.
Thousands of Indian troops were deployed to the area, with more than 500 people arrested.
Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan and is divided between the archrivals. Rebels have been fighting New Delhi’s rule for decades in the Indian-controlled portion, and most Kashmiri residents want either independence or a merger with Pakistan.
Dilbagh Singh, the region’s police chief, told The Associated Press that residents in its largest city of Srinagar were being allowed to pray at area-specific mosques.
Walmart pulls violent game displays but will still sell guns
NEW YORK — Walmart has ordered workers to remove video game signs and displays that depict violence from stores nationwide after 22 people died in a shooting at one of its Texas stores, but the big box retailer will continue to sell guns.
In an internal memo, the retailer told employees to remove any violent marketing material, unplug Xbox and PlayStation consoles that show violent video games and turn off any violence depicted on screens in its electronics departments.
Employees also were asked to shut off hunting season videos in the sporting goods department where guns are sold. “Remove from the salesfloor or turn off these items immediately,” the memo said.
Walmart will still sell the violent video games and hasn’t made any changes to its gun sales policy, despite pressure from workers, politicians and activists to do so.
“We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week,” Walmart spokeswoman Tara House said in an email. She declined to answer any questions beyond the statement.
Documents: Plant owners ‘willfully’ used ineligible workers
JACKSON, Miss. — Six of seven Mississippi chicken processing plants raided Wednesday were “willfully and unlawfully” employing people who lacked authorization to work in the United States, including workers wearing electronic monitoring bracelets at work for previous immigration violations, according to unsealed court documents.
Federal investigators behind the biggest immigration raid in a decade relied on confidential informants inside the plants in addition to data from the monitoring bracelets to help make their case, according to the documents.
The sworn statements supported the search warrants that led a judge to authorize Wednesday’s raids, and aren’t official charges, but give the first detailed look at the evidence involved in what Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have described as a yearlong investigation.
Officials arrested 680 people during Wednesday’s operation targeting seven chicken processing plants in Mississippi.
The statements allege that managers at two processing plants owned by the same Chinese man appeared to be actively participating in fraud. They also show that supervisors at other plants at least turned a blind eye to evidence strongly suggesting job applicants were using fraudulent documents and stolen or made-up Social Security numbers.
Michael Brown’s father seeks new investigation into killing
CLAYTON, Mo. — On the fifth anniversary of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, his father urged St. Louis County’s top prosecutor Friday to reopen the investigation into the white police officer who fatally shot the black and unarmed 18-year-old.
Before a memorial service in the Ferguson street where a white police officer fatally shot his son on Aug. 9, 2014, Michael Brown Sr. addressed reporters outside of the St. Louis County Justice Center in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton.
“Justice has not been served,” Brown, 41, said as he was flanked by about three dozen supporters. “My son deserved to live a full life. But a coward with a badge … chose not to value his life.
“My son was murdered in cold blood, with no remorse and no medical treatment,” said Brown, who has never accepted the officer’s claim that he had acted in self-defense.
Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, the county’s first black prosecutor, took office in January after his stunning victory over seven-term incumbent Bob McCulloch.
Ship carrying migrants stranded while waiting for safe port
MILAN — A Spanish humanitarian ship has been stuck in the Mediterranean Sea for more than a week because no European government will offer safe harbor to the 121 migrants on board, and the vessel faces a fine of up to 1 million euros if it enters Italian waters.
The Open Arms was idle for an eighth day Friday in waters off Italy’s southernmost island. The ship’s dilemma is becoming increasingly common as European governments shut their doors to migrants, led by Italy’s firebrand Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who is popular for his hardline stance against migrant arrivals and who this week plunged Italy into a political crisis in an apparent play for power.
Open Arms founder Oscar Camps indicated that the vessel would avoid entering Italian waters without permission unless there is a humanitarian crisis on board, as allowed by international maritime law.
“Salvini can say what he wants, but maritime law and the courts will say what they have to say,” Camps told Catalunya Radio on Wednesday. “If we have serious health problems on board … we will enter (port) here or wherever we are, the closest place, today and any other day because we are backed by law.”
Malta also refused to let the ship in, while Spain demurred, saying it is not the closest safe port, the humanitarian group said.