MINNEAPOLIS — University of North Dakota officials announced late Wednesday that they concluded an investigation into two racially charged Snapchat photos, and have decided not to punish the students involved.

“After a full review of the information, the Code of Student Life, and the laws pertaining to each incident, and after consulting with General Council, (the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities) has concluded that neither incident constitutes a violation of the UND Code of Student Life,” the school wrote in a statement. The outcome was “driven by the Constitutional protection of free speech,” but officials wouldn’t disclose details of their findings.

The two UND Snapchat incidents occurred within days of each other in late September. The first involved three different students who allegedly locked a black student out of a dorm and took a picture on her phone with the caption, “locked the black b—— out.” And the second showed four students posing in blackface with the caption “Black lives matter.”

—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)


Stepmother pleads guilty to murder of Kansas City, Kan., boy who may have been fed to pigs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In a case that shocked even veteran police officers and prosecutors, the stepmother of a 7-year-old boy killed in Kansas City, Kan., last year pleaded guilty Thursday to murder and child abuse charges.

Heather Jones, 30, pleaded guilty in Wyandotte County District Court to a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Adrian Jones, whose remains authorities previously said had been fed to pigs.

She also pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse.

Her husband and the boy’s father, Michael A. Jones, is also charged in the case and has a February trial date set.

According to Wyandotte County prosecutors, the little boy had been the victim of “chronic confinement and abuse” before his death.

Court documents say Adrian was abused over a period of several months beginning in May 2015.

The documents say he was killed sometime between Sept. 18 and Oct. 4 last year.

The boy’s remains were found last November on the property where Heather Jones and her husband lived.

Police were initially called to the home the day before Thanksgiving on a domestic disturbance call.

Michael Jones, 45, was arrested and later charged with aggravated battery and aggravated assault in connection with that disturbance.

But while on the scene investigating that incident, police learned that the boy had not been seen for several months and may have been killed.

On Thanksgiving Day, police served a search warrant on the property and found human remains in a barn.

The remains were later identified as Adrian’s after DNA testing.

—The Kansas City Star


Russia warns US against strikes on Assad’s positions

MOSCOW — Russia warned the U.S. against attacking Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces as the breakdown in ties between the former Cold War foes continued to worsen.

With French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in Moscow on the first leg of a renewed effort to secure a cease-fire deal in the civil war and halt attacks on the besieged city of Aleppo, the Russian Defense Ministry said that any air-to-ground strikes targeting territories controlled by the Syrian government would be seen as a direct threat against Russian servicemen deployed in the area. Russia’s air defense systems may spring a “surprise for any unidentified flying objects,” spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

After a Sept. 9 cease-fire deal collapsed within days, the U.S. cut bilateral discussions with Russia over the conflict in Syria, leaving the two powers on a collision course as fighting rages around the northern city of Aleppo. Russia hasn’t budged from its support for Assad, continuing to back the Syrian regime’s bombardments in Aleppo, where the United Nations estimates 275,000 people are trapped.

After meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday, Ayrault will continue the diplomatic push by traveling to Washington for talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry the following day. France and the U.S. are working on a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for yet another cease-fire in Syria to try to halt a war that’s killed more than 280,000 people and sent millions fleeing to neighboring countries and Europe since 2011.

“Blind bombing creates new jihadists,” Ayrault said after the talks in Moscow, stopping short of accusing Russia of being responsible for the “unprecedented” atrocities in Aleppo as it supports Assad’s actions.

The U.S. has blamed President Vladimir Putin’s government for indiscriminate bombing that has killed civilians and targeted hospitals in Syria. Russia said the U.S. failed to meet its commitment to separate moderate rebels opposed to Assad from terrorist groups.

—Bloomberg News

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