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A court in northern India sentenced a Hindu guru and 14 followers to life imprisonment on Tuesday in the deaths of four women and a child at his sprawling ashram.

The court ordered the penalty for Sant Rampal in Hisar city in Haryana state, where authorities deployed hundreds of riot police in anticipation of violence by the guru's thousands of disciples in response to his sentencing.

Rampal, 67, was arrested in 2014 following a days-long standoff between law enforcers and his supporters in which six people died and hundreds were injured. At the time, Rampal was wanted for questioning in a 2006 murder case and had repeatedly ignored orders to appear in court.

Rampal and the 14 followers were accused by police of holding the four women and child captive inside the ashram, resulting in their deaths from a lack of food and medicine as the fierce standoff continued. The court is expected to announce sentences in the death of a fifth woman on Wednesday.

Hindu gurus and holy men are immensely popular in India, with millions of followers. People often consult gurus before making important personal decisions. But the enormous power wielded by some has led to scandals in which they have been accused of exploiting devotees.




Georgia's highest court on Monday declined to stop voting in a referendum on whether a new city of Eagle's Landing should be created from part of the existing city of Stockbridge.

The General Assembly passed two acts that were signed by the governor earlier this year to create Eagle's Landing from land that is currently part of Stockbridge combined with unincorporated parts of Henry County. The proposed city's creation must be approved by local voters, but Stockbridge residents who live outside the boundaries of the proposed city won't get a say.

Opponents, including the Stockbridge mayor, say creation of a new city would take a significant amount of city's land and tax revenue and harm the Stockbridge's ability to pay municipal bond obligations.

Proponents of a new city say they want to secure better city services, increase property values and attract high-end businesses. But opponents say race is a factor. About 20 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of Atlanta, Stockbridge is predominantly black, while the city of Eagle's Landing would have a higher proportion of white residents.

Stockbridge sued the Henry County elections director and members of the county commission and asked a judge to declare that the acts setting up the referendum violated the state Constitution. The judge declined, and the city appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the case last week.



Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday criticized a court order that allows for the questioning of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on how a citizenship question came to be added to the 2020 census.

The court's actions, the attorney general said in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation, represent an improper attempt "to hold a trial over the inner-workings of a Cabinet secretary's mind."

With his remarks, Sessions waded into a simmering legal dispute that may ultimately be resolved by the Supreme Court, which solidified its conservative majority with the recent addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The conflict centers on a judge's order that Ross may be deposed by lawyers challenging whether a question on citizenship legally can be included on the census. Plaintiffs in two lawsuits, including more than a dozen states and big cities, have sued, saying the question will discourage immigrants from participating in the census.

The judge, Jesse M. Furman, has said Ross can be questioned about how the citizenship inquiry was added to the census because he was "personally and directly involved in the decision, and the unusual process leading to it, to an unusual degree." A New York-based federal appeals court backed Furman's ruling last week, but Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a temporary stay.


Congress is heading toward a postelection showdown over President Donald Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as GOP leaders signal they’re willing to engage in hardball tactics that could spark a partial government shutdown and the president revs up midterm crowds for the wall, a centerpiece of his 2016 campaign and a top White House priority.

Trump is promising voters at rallies across the country that Republicans will bring tougher border security in campaign speeches that echo those that propelled him to office two years ago. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., promised a “big fight” over the border wall money and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not ruled out a mini-shutdown as GOP leaders look to help Trump “get what he’s looking for” on the wall.

“Democrats want to abolish America’s borders and allow drugs and gangs to pour into our country,” Trump said without evidence Wednesday during a swing through Erie, Pa.
“Right after the election we’re doing something very strong on the wall,” Trump added Thursday in an interview on “Fox & Friends.”

Republicans steered clear of shutdown politics ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm election. They know voters have soured on government dysfunction, hold low views of Congress and are unlikely to reward Republicans — as the party in control of Congress and the White House — if post offices, national parks and other services are shuttered.

GOP leaders struck a deal with Democrats earlier this year to fund most of the government into next year. They presented their case to Trump in a White House meeting in September — complete with photos of the border wall under construction. Trump, who previously warned he would not sign another big budget bill into law without his border funds, quietly signed the legislation before the start of the new budget year Oct. 1.

At Ohio rally, Trump takes another victory lap

  Politics  -   POSTED: 2018/10/13 07:39

President Donald Trump has taken another victory lap in Ohio. He was touting a “really historic week for America” that began with the installation of his second Supreme Court justice and concluded with the release of an American detained in Turkey.

Trump campaigned Friday for Ohio’s gubernatorial and congressional candidates, but, as he often does, spent much of the hour-plus speech touting his own track record. He zeroed in on the past week, which many White House aides believe was one of the most successful of his presidency.

Trump drew loud cheers from the crowd for securing the release of pastor Andrew Brunson, swaggering that “we bring a lot of people back.”


An American pastor flew out of Turkey on Friday after a Turkish court convicted him of terror links but freed him from house arrest, removing a major irritant in fraught ties between two NATO allies still strained by disagreements over Syria, Iran and a host of other issues.

The court near the western city of Izmir sentenced North Carolina native Andrew Brunson to just over three years in prison for allegedly helping terror groups, but let him go because the 50-year-old evangelical pastor had already spent nearly two years in detention. An earlier charge of espionage was dropped.

Hours later, Brunson was transported to Izmir’s airport and was flown out of Turkey, where he had lived for more than two decades. He was to be flown to the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, then on to Washington, where he was to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday.

“I love Jesus. I love Turkey,” an emotional Brunson, who had maintained he was innocent of all charges, told the court during Friday’s hearing. He tearfully hugged his wife Norine Lyn as he awaited the court decision.

“PASTOR BRUNSON JUST RELEASED. WILL BE HOME SOON!” Trump tweeted after the American was driven out of a Turkish prison in a convoy. Later, after Brunson was airborne, Trump told reporters the pastor had “suffered greatly” but was in “very good shape,” and that he would meet with him at the Oval Office on Saturday.


Former Vice President Joe Biden brought his blue-collar appeal to a Democratic stronghold of Indiana on Friday, heaping praise on Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly as the kind of guy who keeps his word, puts country over party — and would have his back in a street fight.

Around the same time, current Vice President Mike Pence was rallying for Donnelly’s opponent, Mike Braun, in Indianapolis.
Biden told a crowd in the heavily industrial northwest corner of Indiana that “Joe is as good a man as I know,” adding that if they’d grown up in the same neighborhood they would’ve been friends.

“I’ll tell you why: I know that if I were coming through my neighborhood and I got jumped by four guys, even though ... it wouldn’t make a difference, Joe would jump in and help me,” Biden said.

For Donnelly, victory in a neck-and-neck race with the Republican businessman Braun requires a big turnout in the area, which draws more from the machine politics of nearby Chicago than the rural conservatism prevalent elsewhere in the state.

“Northwest Indiana is red meat for Joe Donnelly,” said Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott. “Eight out of 10 of those people that show up are going to vote for Joe Donnelly.”

With early voting starting in Indiana this week, Biden urged the crowd to turn out for Donnelly and bring their friends, saying “if there’s any time we needed character in the United States Senate, it’s now.”

Three hours south, Mike Pence — the state’s former governor — rallied GOP activists at a fundraising dinner with Braun and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in Indianapolis.

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