National Roundup

New Jersey
Doctor whose dog bit off girl’s ear under fire

HADDONFIELD, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey doctor whose dog bit off a young girl’s ear in 2009 is facing allegations that his new dogs are terrorizing the neighborhood in a leafy suburb of Philadelphia.

Two neighbors have reported run-ins with Robert Taffet’s dogs in Haddonfield to local authorities, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

One neighbor filed a police report after he said one of Taffet’s dogs came charging at him while he was walking his own dog. A second neighbor said three of Taffet’s dogs, two Kangals and a black Labrador, attacked her and her dog.

The orthopedic surgeon told the newspaper the incidents were not as severe as described. His wife was cited for having three dogs not properly registered.

“There have been many, many dog bites in the town of Haddonfield that have not been reported to the police or, even if they were reported to the police, they didn’t make the newspaper,” Taffet said.

Neighbors thought that problems with Taffet’s dogs would end after he had the Rhodesian Ridgeback that bit the girl euthanized, a process that was filmed for an HBO documentary.
But they said the new incidents happened last month.

“You can’t stay quiet,” said Julie Hughes, the woman who said the dogs attacked her and her dog. “I was never raised to not seek the truth and do what’s right. And you can’t do this to neighbors — it’s irresponsible and it’s disrespectful.”

A town commissioner says they are examining whether to work out an agreement with the Taffet family or pass an ordinance against irresponsible dog owners or dangerous dogs.

New Mexico
Shooting suspect twice tried to escape from jail

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a man accused of killing five people in a shooting rampage in northern New Mexico last month has twice attempted to escape from the Rio Arriba County jail and also assaulted a guard.

County Sheriff James Lujan told the Santa Fe New Mexican authorities are hoping to get 21-year-old Damian Herrera transferred to a New Mexico Department of Corrections facility.

Lujan calls Herrera a danger and a menace to the county jail.

Herrera remains held without bond as he faces five open counts of murder.

He’s accused of shooting his stepfather, younger brother and mother at their La Madera home and then fleeing in the family’s vehicle.

Authorities say Herrera later fatally shot a Tres Piedras man and killed a man at a gas station in Abiquiu.

Man accused of trying to support terrorist group

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A 22-year-old California man has been charged with attempting to support terrorism by allegedly using social media to promote the Islamic State group and offering to join the organization, according to court documents.

Federal prosecutors allege Amer Sinan Alhaggagi “went so far as to meet with undercover agents on multiple occasions to plan a potential terrorist attack,” said a court filing unsealed Friday.

Alhaggagi, an Oakland, California, resident, has been in custody since November on unrelated identity-theft charges.

His defense lawyer told the San Francisco Chronicle that the latest allegations are baseless and stem from idle talk in late-night internet chat rooms.

“Amer is a very young and naive person, and it appears that he allowed himself to be drawn into conversations that he should have been far more suspicious of,” attorney Mary McNamara said. She said Alhaggagi was unemployed at the time, had just turned 21, and “just got drawn into online communities” with other “young men staying up late at night.”

The federal grand jury indictment charged Alhaggagi with attempting to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization. The case has been assigned to a federal judge in Oakland. An arraignment has not yet been scheduled

Between July 24 and Nov. 29 of last year, the indictment said, Alhaggagi was “opening social media accounts understanding and intending that such accounts were to be used by, and for the benefit and promotion of, ISIS, and personnel, in the form of himself, to a foreign terrorist organization, namely ISIS,” using the acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The terrorism charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The indictment did not give details of the social media accounts or specify how, or to whom, Alhaggagi offered “personnel, in the form of himself” to the terrorist organization.

Judge to rule in Mexican-American studies trial

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A judge plans to rule within weeks on a challenge to an Arizona law that prompted the dismantling of a Mexican-American history program in Tucson’s largest school district.

U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima heard closing arguments Friday in the case in which plaintiffs contend the law was too broad and infringed on their First Amendment rights.
The courts have upheld most of the law but are determining whether it was enacted with an intent to be discriminatory, which the state denies.

The law prohibits courses that promote resentment toward a race or a class of people, are designed primarily for people of a particular ethnic group, or advocate ethnic solidarity instead treating people as individuals.

Tucson Unified School District dismantled the program in 2012 to avoid losing state funding.

Tom Horne, former state attorney general and former leader of Arizona’s public schools, testified last week that he was troubled by what he described as radical instructors teaching students to be disruptive. But he insisted he targeted all ethnic studies programs equally.

Lawmakers dismantled the programs in a measure that passed in 2010, the same year Arizona approved its landmark immigration law known as SB1070.

Students in the Tucson Unified School District, which offered the Mexican-American course, launched protests and then sued.

Horne drafted the law as superintendent of public schools and later defended it as state attorney general.

The Tucson program began in 1998 and focused on Mexican-American history, literature and art in an effort to keep Mexican-American students in school and engaged. Advocates say students who participated outperformed their peers in grades and standardized tests.

The board of the Tucson school district officially dismantled the program in January 2012, a month after the law took effect.

Attorneys for the state have denied that racial discrimination played a part in the law.