National briefs: Anti-terrorism plan spurs suit

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WASHINGTON — A government counterterrorism initiative that collects and stores information about alleged suspicious behavior has been challenged by civil liberties groups who filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming the program leads to the investigation of people involved in no criminal activity.

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, was brought on behalf of five men who said they were unfairly targeted by the government’s Suspicious Activity Reporting program, created several years ago to share information that could detect, prevent or deter a terrorist attack.

The lawsuit says the men were taking photographs, buying computers or standing in a train station when they came under government scrutiny.

Gay marriage confusion

DENVER — Gay couples can keep getting married in Colorado, even though the state’s gay marriage ban is still in effect, a judge ruled Thursday.

The decision added to the national confusion over same-sex marriage, as the judge said a county clerk can continue giving marriage licenses to gay couples despite what the state’s attorney general calls “legal chaos” as the issue makes its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

An hour after the ruling, Denver’s clerk said she would join her counterpart in the college town of Boulder in providing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Couples began trickling into Denver City Hall to tie the knot Thursday afternoon.

Industrial spy sentenced

OAKLAND, Calif. — A California businessman was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday for stealing DuPont trade secrets to help a state-owned Chinese company develop a white pigment used in a wide range of products.

A jury found Walter Liew, 56, guilty earlier this year on over 20 criminal counts, including conspiracy to commit economic espionage and trade secret theft.

Feds sue Amazon

WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission is suing, alleging that the online retailer unlawfully billed parents millions of dollars for mobile in-app purchases made by their children.

The federal complaint, which was filed in Washington’s District Court on Thursday, asks for a court order requiring Amazon to refund customers for unauthorized charges and to ban the company from billing parents for in-app charges made by children without their consent.

In-law held in killings

SPRING, Texas — A man charged with killing four children and their parents was dressed as a delivery man when he forced his way into the family’s suburban Houston home and held the youngsters at gunpoint until their parents arrived, police said Thursday.

A day after the slayings, investigators slowly built a picture of Ronald L. Haskell, 33, who was the slain couple’s estranged brother-in-law.

Mr. Haskell is accused of killing his sister-in-law, Katie Stay, and her husband and four of their children ranging in age from 4 to 14. The lone survivor of the attack, the couple’s 15-year-old daughter, was in critical condition in a Houston hospital.

7 die in apartment blaze

LOWELL, Mass. — A fire ravaged a three-story apartment building before dawn Thursday, killing four adults and three children, forcing tenants to jump or hand their children to safety, and leading to dramatic rescues from upper floors.

The victims in this former mill city about 25 miles northwest of Boston were all found in units on the top floor of the building, which had a liquor store on the ground floor and apartments on the upper floors, fire officials said. Nine people were hospitalized with injuries not considered life threatening.

— Compiled from news services.

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