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March 28, 2013 at 12:00 PM   |   Comments

Sandy Hook shooting information released

NEWTOWN, Conn., March 28 (UPI) -- It took Adam Lanza less than 5 minutes to fire 155 bullets at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the lead prosecutor in the massacre said Thursday.

State's Prosecutor Stephen Sedensky said 154 rounds were fired from a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle and one bullet was fired from a Glock handgun Lanza used to kill himself Dec. 14, NBC News reported.

Some of the information from warrants and an accounting of what police recovered in Lanza's home and vehicle were released Thursday, a week before state lawmakers were to take up bipartisan reforms to Connecticut's gun laws, as well as and mental health and school safety reform.

Authorities said three samurai swords were recovered at the home that Lanza shared with his mother, Nancy Lanza, whom he killed before heading to the elementary school, where he killed 20 children and six adults before shooting himself.

Also recovered were a National Rifle Association certificate and boxes of Lanza's papers and writings, authorities said.

Police also recovered nine 30-round magazines, three of which were full, for the Bushmaster Lanza took to Sandy Hook, NBC News said.

Besides the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle with a 30-round magazine and the Glock 10mm handgun, authorities said they found a Sig-Sauer 9mm semiautomatic pistol in the school.

Police found a shotgun in the car Lanza drove to the school.

All of the weapons were legally owned by his mother, authorities have said.


Report: Damascus engineering school hit

DAMASCUS, Syria, March 28 (UPI) -- Mortar shells hit an architectural engineering school in Damascus while gunfire in the elsewhere in Syrian capital left two people dead, state media reported.

The official SANA said initial reports indicated students were killed and injured at the school Thursday when two shells landed, although it provided no further information.

Meanwhile, two Syrians were killed and another injured when a minibus was fired upon near Jdaidat Artouz, a Damascus suburb, SANA said.

The news agency said terrorists were behind both incidents. "Terrorists" is used by President Bashar Assad's government to describe opposition and anti-government forces.

The United Nations, meanwhile, said it was investigating reports to determine whether Turkey expelled hundreds of refugees involved in rioting Wednesday violating international asylum laws, The Guardian reported.

Sybella Wilkes, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, said the U.N. entity has contacted the Turkish government about the reports.

"We are very concerned that there are allegations of possible deportations from the camp in the past day," Wilkes told The Guardian. "That would be a breach of international law. It would violate the principle of non-refoulement, because with the situation in Syria people's lives could be in danger."

A Turkish official denied that those involved in the rioting were deported, The Daily Hurriyet in Ankara reported.

"We refute the deportation claims; nearly 500 people return every day to Syria of their own free will," the official said. "The status we provide for Syrian refugees is temporary protection; without their will, not a single Syrian national can be sent back."

The agency announced earlier this month the number of refugees topped 1 million people, and the number is rapidly increasing, Wilkes said.

"In March alone we have had an average of 10,000 people crossing per day. In February it was 8,000. In January it was 5,000," she told The Guardian. "The numbers keep going up and up."


Report: Obama issued 149 orders so far

WASHINGTON, March 28 (UPI) -- President Obama is on track to issue about as many executive orders in his two terms as his predecessor George W. Bush, records indicated.

As of Wednesday, records showed Obama issued 149 executive orders, 147 from his first term and two this year, The Hill reported Thursday.

Bush issued 173 executive orders through the end of his first term, the American Presidency Project said. President Bill Clinton issued 200 executive orders through his first term.

Comparing Obama's use of executive power to his predecessors is thorny, since such orders are only part of a president's authority arsenal, experts said.

"They're not the only measure of presidential assertion of authority," said Kenneth Mayer, a University of Wisconsin political science professor who studied the presidency extensively. "He's actually been pretty aggressive on a number of fronts."

Obama, Mayer told The Hill, has enacted policy shifts through informal "executive actions" on issues such gun control, immigration and drone strikes overseas.

For example, his 2011 decision to halt the deportations of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants was communicated by memo from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

While Obama isn't the first U.S. president to bypass Congress to exert authority, his actions -- such as the halting of deportations -- have drawn Republican ire.

"He's circumventing Congress with a directive he may not have the authority to execute," Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said when the immigration decision was announced.


Hot air balloon crash injures nine

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, March 28 (UPI) -- A hot air balloon crashed in Cambodia, injuring nine people, officials said.

The crash happened Tuesday in Siem Reap, The Phnom Penh Post reported.

A police officer, who asked to not be named, said the balloon, operated by Cambodian Flight Holiday International Travel, made a hard landing in a rice paddy after being blown off course by a strong gust of wind.

"According to an eyewitness, this balloon was about to land before there was a high wind, just only (16 feet) above the ground," the officer said. "When the wind came suddenly, it threw the balloon into a palm tree in a paddy field, causing nine tourists to be injured."

One tourist was seriously injured, while the others were slightly injured, the officer said.

A Cambodia Flight Holiday employee, however, denied that the balloon crashed, saying, "We landed on time before the gusty wind came. Two passengers just received minor injuries but I would like to confirm that our balloon did not fall down."


Police: Berezovsky death a suicide

WINDSOR, England, March 28 (UPI) -- An exiled Russian tycoon found dead in his bathroom appears to have committed suicide, a British police officer said Thursday during an inquest.

Detective Inspector Mark Bissell said material found around Boris Berezovsky's neck matched material tied to a shower rail, The Independent reported.

Bissell told the coroner at a hearing in Berkshire County there appeared to be no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Berezovsky, who was found dead Saturday on the floor of the bathroom of his home in Ascot.

An autopsy Monday "found the case of death was consistent with hanging," the police officer said. "The pathologist saw nothing to indicate a violent struggle or any involvement by any third party."

The detective said third party involvement in the death hasn't been ruled out.

Berezovsky, 67, was granted asylum in Britain in 2003 after he clashed with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was believed to have been in financial difficulties after losing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit to his former business partner.

Speaking after the inquest, Alex Goldfarb, a friend of Berezovsky, said he last saw his friend two weeks ago. At that time, Goldfarb said, he "was depressed and stressed but I felt it was under control."


Pope Francis celebrates Holy Thursday

VATICAN CITY, March 28 (UPI) -- Pope Francis celebrated his first Maundy Thursday with a mass at St. Peter's Basilica with 1,600 members of the clergy, church officials said.

During the homily, the Argentine pontiff called on the priests to be good pastors. He encouraged them to go out into their communities to help people, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

"We need to 'go out' then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the 'outskirts' where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters," he said.

In a separate mass later in the day, Francis was to wash the feet of young inmates at Rome's Casal del Marmo juvenile detention center, ANSA said.

Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, is a pre-Easter feast day and celebrates the Last Supper of Jesus with his Apostles.

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