Nation and world news briefs

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Vanessa Bryant sues LA County sheriff, alleging ‘cover-up’ of Kobe Bryant crash photos

LOS ANGELES — Vanessa Bryant has sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department over deputies sharing “unauthorized” photos of the scene of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Kobe Bryant, their daughter and seven others.

Shortly after the Jan. 26 crash, Vanessa Bryant alleges, Sheriff Alex Villanueva personally assured her that deputies were securing the crash site to ensure her privacy. Her suit comes after a Los Angeles Times investigation revealed that deputies had taken and shared photos of the crash scene.

But the lawsuit alleges “no fewer than 8 sheriff’s deputies at the crash site, pulled out their personal cell phones and snapped photos of the dead children, parents and coaches. The deputies took these photos for their own personal gratification.”

Villanueva has admitted that eight deputies were involved in taking and sharing photos of the remains of Kobe Bryant and other victims at the scene of the crash in Calabasas and that he ordered the photos to be destroyed. He said at least one of the photos was shared outside of the department.

The lawsuit alleges one of the deputies was at a Norwalk bar and showed gruesome photographs from the crash scene to a woman and that the bartender overheard the conversation and decided to report it to the sheriff’s department.

According to the suit, Villanueva attempted to cover up the taking of the graphic photographs by going to the sheriff’s substation that responded to the crash and telling deputies if they deleted the images they would not face discipline.

— Los Angeles Times

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Sen. Cruz blocks Ginsburg resolution, objecting to mention of her dying wish to keep seat open for next president

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday failed to pass a resolution honoring the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz objected to Democrats trying to insert a line about her dying wish that the vacancy be filled by the winner of this year’s White House race.

The Republican accused Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York of politicizing the ceremonial effort and turning a “bipartisan resolution into a partisan resolution.”

Cruz laid into the Democrats over their complaints about the GOP moving ahead this year with a nomination. He then suggested that a line instead be subbed in to reflect Ginsburg’s objections to packing the court with additional justices – an idea that’s been floated as Democratic revenge.

“We are sadly seeing one side of the aisle embrace more and more dangerous and radical proposals, including trying to use brute political force to politicize the court,” the Texan said. “That is not consistent with the Constitution.”

But Schumer was having none of it.

“Justice Ginsburg would easily see through the legal sophistry of the argument of the junior senator from Texas,” he said, rejecting Cruz’s modification. “To turn Justice Ginsburg’s dying words against her is so, so beneath the dignity of this body.”

Cruz then objected to Schumer’s version, tabling the resolution for the time being.

— The Dallas Morning News

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NASA plans to land woman, and next man, on moon by 2024; it just needs $3.2 billion

NASA has announced in a $28 million plan that in 2024 a woman and man will land on the moon for the first time since the last Apollo lunar mission in 1972.

The move is in line with its mandate to establish sustainable space exploration by the end of this decade, the agency said Monday, laying out its plan in a 74-page opus.

All it needs is $3.2 billion more to build a landing system there, BBC News reported.

“With bipartisan support from Congress, our 21st century push to the Moon is well within America’s reach,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.

Before we get to Mars, though, NASA plans to start relatively small. And it needs a few more billion dollars.

A series of test flight missions will be conducted this fall, and as soon as 2021, NASA plans to send robotic missions to the moon via commercial delivery services, landing “dozens of new science investigations and technology demonstrations to the Moon twice per year beginning in 2021.”

The mission is called Artemis, and it’s divided into stages I, II and III. Phase I will culminate in moon stays of as long as seven days, NASA said. Among other tasks, they’ll seek resources that will enable them to conduct ever deeper explorations.

— New York Daily News

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2 Marines at Camp Pendleton charged in federal drug bust tied to overdose of fellow Marine

Two U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton were arrested Tuesday by federal agents after being indicted in a drug-dealing conspiracy that included the sale of oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl that led to the fatal overdose of another Marine.

Lance Cpls. Anthony Ruben Whisenant, 20, and Ryan Douglas White, 22, are among five defendants expected to make their initial appearances Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Whisenant is accused of distributing narcotics to fellow Marines, including one who overdosed, and White is charged with being an accessory after the fact. Prosecutors said White tried to hinder the apprehension of Whisenant and accused drug supplier Jordan Nicholas McCormick.

The 14-count indictment alleges that McCormick, 26, of Palmdale, led a conspiracy to distribute LSD, ecstasy, cocaine and oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl. Also named are Jessica Sarah Perez, 23, of Pacoima, and Gustavo Jaciel Solis, 24, of Sylmar.

Prosecutors say Perez distributed narcotics from McCormick — including fentanyl and cocaine — to civilian customers, while Solis distributed drugs to both civilians and military personnel.

— Los Angeles Times

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