KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The suspended University of Missouri assistant professor who was charged with misdemeanor assault stemming from a confrontation with two student journalists during November’s campus protests reached a deal Friday with prosecutors, getting community service but no jail time or fines if she stays out of trouble for a year.
Columbia city prosecutor Steve Richey said he decided to forego pursuing the misdemeanor assault case against assistant communications professor Melissa Click, who has pledged no further illegal behavior for a year and to complete 20 hours of community service, he said in a statement.
If Click fails to comply, “prosecution of the case will resume at that point,” Richey said, adding that he believes “this disposition to be appropriate.” Click was charged Monday, and could have faced up to 15 days in jail.
Click, who seeking tenure with the university, did not respond to an email seeking comment Friday. Her university voicemail was full, and her home number was disconnected.
The university system’s governing board of curators suspended Click on Wednesday and ordered an investigation by its general counsel to determine whether additional discipline “is appropriate,” board chairwoman Pam Henrickson said in a statement.
A message regarding whether Friday’s action would affect the suspension was left with Hendrickson’s law office.
Click had a confrontation with a student photographer and a student videographer during the Nov. 9 protests at the Columbia campus over what some saw as university leadership’s indifference to racial issues. Click called out to recruit “some muscle” from protesters to help remove the videographer, Mark Schierbecker.
That same day, the president of the four-campus University of Missouri system and the Columbia campus’ chancellor resigned over the unrest.
Click later said publicly she regretted her actions. She also apologized to Schierbecker, all journalists and the university community for detracting from the students’ efforts to improve the racial climate on the Columbia campus.
A message left Friday on Schierbecker’s cellphone was not immediately returned.
WASHINGTON (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is largely looking past Monday’s Iowa caucuses, where he barely registers in preference polls, to New Hampshire, where he’s staked his flag in the 2016 race for the Republican presidential nomination. Here’s a quick snapshot of things to know about him.
A year ago, it was hard to imagine any candidate overshadowing Christie in the charisma-and-entertainment department. But his “Sit down and shut up!” made-for-YouTube moments began to seem tame compared with Donald Trump’s insult-fueled reality show campaign, which arrived in June. That, combined with New Jersey’s sluggish economic recovery, his evolving policy positions and his staff’s politically motivated traffic jam near the George Washington Bridge, have emerged as Christie’s chief challenges.
Christie has bounced around in the polls — qualifying for early debates, missing the main stage in another, then qualifying again. Christie aides are hoping a stronger-than-expected finish in Iowa — which they define as beating the two other governors in the race — will boost him heading into New Hampshire, where he’s counting on a strong finish to keep his campaign alive.
The son of an Irish father and a Sicilian mother (to whom he credits his combative nature), Christie, 53, grew up in Livingston, N.J., playing Little League and high school baseball. He met his future wife, Mary Pat, at the University of Delaware and returned to his home state with her to attend Seton Hall University School of Law. Before he was governor, Christie built his reputation as a media-savvy prosecutor who took on the state’s notorious public corruption and won, scoring 130 convictions or guilty pleas on his watch.
He was widely praised for his performance, despite skepticism: Critics charged President George W. Bush only appointed the lawyer and registered lobbyist to the post of U.S. Attorney in New Jersey because of the money he raised for Bush’s 2000 campaign. A year after leaving that office, Christie, whose political career had consisted of failed bids for state office and several years as a local freeholder, defeated Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009. He secured a commanding re-election victory in 2013 after a term spent confronting public employees’ unions and rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy. He also stoked anger when he embraced President Barack Obama in the aftermath of the storm.
Christie has highlighted his background as a federal prosecutor by criticizing Obama’s handling of law enforcement issues, and by claiming that his history in the courtroom makes him the best candidate to take on Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic presidential nomination.
“The fact is we need someone who knows how to beat Democrats, who knows how to beat Democrats in a Democratic area,” Christie said in a debate. “I’ve done it twice as governor of New Jersey, and Hillary Clinton doesn’t want one minute on that stage with me next September when I’m debating her, and prosecuting her for her vision for America.”
Christie has consistently cast himself as the Republican presidential candidate who speaks directly to voters and best understands middle-class concerns. He laid down that marker at a debate in September when Christie bluntly told Trump and former tech company CEO Carly Fiorina that voters don’t care about their resumes.
“You’re both successful people. Congratulations,” Christie scolded. “The middle class in this country who’s getting plowed under by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, let’s start talking about those issues tonight and stop this childish back-and-forth between the two of you.”
MOMENT TO REMEMBER
Christie’s compelling recollection of losing a friend to drug addiction was captured in a Huffington Post video in October 2015, which at last count had racked up more than 8.6 million views on Facebook and liked by site founder Mark Zuckerberg and tens of thousands more.
“It can happen to anyone,” Christie said. “And so we need to start treating people in this country, not jailing them. We need to give them the tools they need to recover.”
The video caught fire just before Christie fell far enough in preference polls to lose his place in the GOP’s top-tier debates. But it underscored Christie’s raw political talent and ability to connect with an audience in ways many of his rivals cannot. The video, combined with Christie’s strong performance in the undercard debate and his constant campaigning across New Hampshire, helped improved his standing in preference polls enough to win back a place on the main stage in later debates.
Aides to Christie were accused of engineering the traffic jams at one of the world’s busiest bridges in September 2013 to punish a Democratic mayor who didn’t support his bid for re-election. Christie has consistently denied any knowledge of the plot, which led to federal indictments of his former deputy chief of staff and two other close allies. It was a scar, however, that raised questions about Christie’s judgment and put his campaign behind even before it started.
ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA
This story has been corrected to reflect that Christie defeated Corzine a year after leaving his job as U.S. attorney, not two years after that appointment.
ZIKA FOREST, Uganda (AP) — Birds sing in the canopy and a leopard roams the thick undergrowth of this rainforest in Uganda, where the mosquito-borne Zika virus was discovered almost 70 years ago. Yet while alarms are being sounded in the Americas amid serious health issues, there is little concern here.
Zika fever is suspected in a surge of birth defects in Brazil, where infections were first identified last year, but in Uganda, humans have never suffered a Zika outbreak since the virus was first found, in a monkey, in 1947.
Now, there is sudden interest in the 25-acre (10-hectare) forest for which the virus is named, located on the edge of Lake Victoria and 23 kilometers (14 miles) from Kampala, the capital.
“People have been calling me and saying, ‘What are you going to do with that mosquito? What are you still doing there?’ And I tell them that I have lived here for seven years and nothing has ever happened to me,” said Gerald Mukisa, a caretaker and tour guide at the forest.
An Associated Press team this week visited the Zika Forest, which has 35-meter (38-yard) -tall trees and is, now fittingly, a research site for scientists with the Uganda Virus Research Institute. There’s also a derelict observation tower. Birdwatchers come and go, and musicians have come here to shoot videos for their songs. Real estate developers threaten encroachment on the forest reserve.
But until the breakout of Zika in the Western Hemisphere, not much attention was paid to the virus in the forest, according to Ugandan officials. Zika is not considered a very important disease in tropical Africa where malaria, also transmitted by mosquitoes, is a major killer.
“We have foxes here, rabbits, pythons, and even a leopard that lost its partner,” Mukisa, stocky 50-year-old in jungle boots, said as he trekked through the forest, bending away undergrowth that blocked his path. “People come here mostly as students or tourists. Now people are starting to ask about the mosquito.”
The different impacts of the virus on humans in the tropics of Africa and those in Latin America and the Caribbean may be related to immunity and the fact that the mosquitoes carrying the virus here and there are different, with different habits.
The mosquito responsible for the virus’ spread across the Atlantic belongs to a subspecies called Aedes aegypti aegypti, and that might be a crucial difference. The one found in Uganda is known as Aedes aegypti formosus, and it targets animals more than people, according to Dr. Julius Lutwama, the leading Ugandan scientist investigating viruses spread by bugs. He said there have been no reported cases here of birth defects like microcephaly — babies born with small heads — that have been linked to the virus in Latin America.
While there has never been a known outbreak among people in Uganda, a few people have tested positive over the years, said Lutwama, who works with the Uganda Virus Research Institute and has investigated Zika for years. Yellow fever and dengue fever are more commonly reported in Uganda, and people infected with those diseases may also build resistance against Zika, he said.
“Because these diseases are closely related and they are being transmitted by the same mosquito, the likelihood of cross immunity is very high,” he told The Associated Press.
Matthew Aliota, a University of Wisconsin expert on the spread of mosquito-borne viruses, said scientists believe the cycles of Zika transmission are different in Uganda. While the Aedes aegypti aegypti in Latin America and the Caribbean prefers feeding on human blood, in Uganda the other type of the mosquito is spreading the virus. And that one prefers feeding on animals.
“Most of the transmission is in the animal cycle, with occasional spillover in humans,” said Aliota, who recently studied the eruption of Zika cases in Colombia.
Lutwama said the last time a sample in his lab tested positive for Zika was about three years ago, when a woman in northern Uganda with suspected yellow fever was found instead to be infected with Zika.
“This patient had a fever, joint paints, nausea,” he said, adding that the symptoms were mild.
Dr. Issa Makumbi, the head of epidemiology and surveillance at Uganda’s Ministry of Health, told AP “there is no threat” of a Zika outbreak in Uganda.
Associated Press writer Mike Stobbe contributed to this report from New York.
In this photo by Wally Santana, a video game player experiences a virtual reality headset at the Taipei Game Show in Taiwan, which attracted more than 130 game companies and gaming teams from 24 countries. The companies unveiled their latest games and gadgets, and enthusiasts got a chance to sample the new releases. Many of the players who tried the virtual reality headsets had to adjust their balance and coordination in the initial moments of wearing the headset because the scenes were so lifelike they were disorienting.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is looking to upset Hillary Clinton in Monday’s caucuses in Iowa, where Sanders’ campaign has energized young voters and liberals as the Democratic race has evolved into a surprisingly heated contest. Here’s a quick look at some things to know about him.
Championing the perils of income inequality, Sanders has risen from an obscure independent senator into a movement presidential candidate for liberals wary of Clinton’s record and Wall Street ties. Sanders has spoken before massive crowds — one rally in Portland, Oregon, last summer filled an arena with 19,000 people while another 9,000 waited outside.
A self-described “democratic socialist,” Sanders has expressed admiration for Scandinavian-style policies. His supporters cite his passion and authenticity and his pitch for tighter Wall Street restrictions, debt-free college and universal health care has touched a nerve with Democrats. But now he faces his biggest hurdle: Can he beat Clinton?
Sanders was active in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee while attending the University of Chicago in the early 1960s. He joined the 1963 March on Washington and witnessed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. He later joined an influx of counterculture, back-to-the-land migrants to Vermont and held various jobs, including as a carpenter and filmmaker.
Running as an independent in 1981, he upset the longtime incumbent mayor of Burlington, Vermont, by 10 votes and ran the city for the rest of the decade. Sanders won Vermont’s lone congressional seat in 1990 and was elected to the Senate in 2006. He remained an independent, but caucuses with Democrats and serves as ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.
Sanders gained attention in December 2010 when he took to the Senate floor and thundered for more than eight hours about a tax-cut package and what he called Congress’ failure to provide enough money for education and social programs. With trademark sarcasm, he mocked the rich, yelling: “How can I get by on one house? I need five houses, 10 houses! I need three jet planes to take me all over the world!” The speech was so popular it crashed the Senate video server and was later published.
Sanders has injected the plight of income inequality and struggling middle-class families into the Democratic campaign. At rallies, he argues big Wall Street banks were responsible for the economic meltdown in 2008 and 2009 and must be broken up because they have grown larger after the federal government bailed out the financial sector. He says the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case allowed millionaires and billionaires to “buy” elections and tells audiences he doesn’t have a super PAC “and doesn’t want one.”
Sanders has championed debt-free college and a “Medicare for all” universal health care system, saying he would pay for his plans by sharply raising taxes on the wealthy and Wall Street transactions. He has vowed not to run a negative campaign, but has drawn sharp contrasts with Clinton on an array of issues, from the Keystone XL pipeline, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and Clinton’s Wall Street ties, including her acceptance of speaking fees from Goldman Sachs.
Sanders gained attention during the first presidential debate when he blew off discussion of Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. Clinton and the audience cheered and she shook his hand, telling him, “Thank you, Bernie.”
But he has since been more forceful in drawing distinctions.
During their final debate in South Carolina, Sanders and Clinton at times shouted over each other and grappled over gun violence and Clinton’s Wall Street speaking fees. Sanders also was forced to defend his health care plan, which would be funded by higher taxes on the wealthy as well as middle class families. Clinton argued that reopening the health care debate would put President Barack Obama’s signature health care law at risk.
MOMENT TO REMEMBER
Sanders’ most memorable moment perhaps came during the first debate, with his cranky one-liner dismissing Clinton’s use of a private email system at the State Department.
“Let me say something that may not be great politics,” Sanders said, “but I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!”
Sanders later said he didn’t regret his decision not to raise the issue, which he said showed that he was trying to run a different kind of campaign. But it helped him in popular culture when Larry David spoofed him on “Saturday Night Live.”
Sanders struggled early on with activists, including protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement.
During a forum in Arizona, he appeared after a large group of protesters took over the stage as ex-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley was addressing the Netroots Nation convention. When he took the stage, Sanders struggled to speak over the protesters: “Black lives of course matter. I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and if you don’t want me to be here, that’s OK.”
During an August stop in Seattle, Sanders also had an event disrupted when a pair of Black Lives Matter activists took the stage and refused to allow him to speak.
ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — For the Republican candidates for president, it was a glimpse of what could have been.
Front-runner Donald Trump’s boycott of the final debate before the Iowa caucuses created space for his rivals to delve more deeply into their differences on immigration, foreign policy and their approach to governing.
And for some candidates — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in particular — Trump’s absence from the debate stage Thursday night appeared to ease some of the tension created by his sharply personal attacks.
A frequent target of Trump, Bush opened the debate by saying wryly, “I kind of miss Donald Trump; he was a teddy bear to me.”
Iowa voters kick off the 2016 nominating process with Monday’s caucuses, and they’ll provide the first indication of whether Trump’s abrupt decision to skip the debate will have any impact on his standing atop the GOP field. His lead in Iowa had already become more tenuous in recent days, as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz pulled in support from conservative and evangelical voters.
Trump’s decision to pull out of the debate over a feud with host Fox News was a gamble, particularly so close to the state of voting. But having defied political convention throughout his campaign, it was a risk the real estate mogul was willing to take.
He still looked to steal attention away from his rivals with a competing rally elsewhere in Des Moines, an event he said raised $6 million for military veterans.
“When you’re treated badly, you have to stick up for your rights,” Trump said in explaining his boycott. Broadening his point, he said, “We have to stick up for ourselves as people and we have to stick up for our country if we’re being mistreated.”
Trump’s absence put the spotlight on Cruz, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, as well, who needs a strong showing in Iowa in order to stay in the top tier of candidates.
The two senators were confronted with video clips suggesting they had changed their positions on immigration, one of the most contentious issues among Republicans. While each insisted the other had flip-flopped, both denied they had switched their own views on allowing some people in the U.S. illegally to stay.
Cruz accused Rubio of making a “politically advantageous” decision to support a 2013 Senate bill that included a pathway to citizenship, while the Florida senator said his Texas rival was “willing to say or do anything to get votes.”
“This is the lie that Ted’s campaign is built on,” Rubio said. “That he’s the most conservative guy.”
In a rare standout debate moment for Bush, the former Florida governor sharply sided with Cruz in accusing Rubio of having “cut and run” on the Senate immigration bill.
“He cut and run because it wasn’t popular with conservatives,” said Bush, who was more consistent in this debate than in previous outings.
Cruz was put on the spot over his opposition to ethanol subsidies that support Iowa’s powerful corn industry — a position that has long been considered politically untenable for presidential candidates in the state. The Texas senator cast his position as an effort to keep the government from picking economic winners and losers.
With their White House hopes on the line, the candidates worked hard to present themselves as best prepared to be commander in chief and take on terror threats.
Rubio struck an aggressive posture, pledging that as president he would go after terrorists “wherever they are. And if we capture them alive, they are going to Guantanamo.” Rubio also stood by his previous calls for shutting down mosques in the U.S. if there were indications the Muslim religious centers were being used to radicalize terrorists.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — back on the main debate stage after being downgraded to an undercard event because of low poll numbers earlier this month — warned against closing down mosques. A proponent of a more isolationist foreign policy, Paul also raised concerns about the U.S. getting involved militarily in Syria, where the Islamic State group has a stronghold.
The candidates focused some of their most pointed attacks on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
“She is not qualified to be president of the United States,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said.
Christie is part of a crowded field of more mainstream candidates who have struggled to break through in an election year where Trump, and increasingly Cruz, have tapped into voter anger with the political system. Party leaders have grown increasingly anxious for some of the more traditional candidates to step aside to allow one to rise up and challenge for the nomination.
Asked whether the crowded establishment lane was putting Trump in position to win, Bush said: “We’re just starting out. The first vote hasn’t been counted. Why don’t we let the process work?”
Bush also defended the flurry of critical advertisements his well-funded super PAC has launched against Rubio and other rivals.
“It’s called politics,” Bush said. “That’s the way it is. I’m running hard.”
Bush and Christie, along with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, are looking beyond Iowa and hoping New Hampshire’s Feb. 9 primary jumpstarts their campaigns. In an election where a lengthy political resume has been a liability, Kasich defended government’s ability to tackle big problems.
“We serve you,” Kasich said of government officials and voters. “You don’t serve us. We listen to you and then we act.”
Cruz proudly claimed he was “not the candidate of career politicians in Washington.” Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has a small but loyal base in Iowa, said that even though he hasn’t been in government, he’s made plenty of life-and-death decisions as a doctor.
“I don’t think you need to be a politician to tell the truth,” he said.
Associated Press writer Kathleen Ronayne contributed to this report.
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