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Teacher accused of lewd conduct crashes truck

LOS ANGELES — A teacher under investigation for lewd conduct with a former student led police on a dramatic chase Tuesday afternoon to Rolling Hills Estates, where he drove off an embankment, went airborne and slammed into the side of an office building.

Kip Richard Arnold, 51, a physical education teacher at Southeast Middle School in South Gate, was hospitalized after firefighters freed him from the wreckage of his Ford F-150 truck.

Police had put Arnold under surveillance a day earlier as part of an investigation into alleged lewd conduct with a former student, Bell police Lt. Ty Henshaw said.

Detectives tried to stop him near his Lakewood home Tuesday, but he drove away when they approached him.

“He said he was suicidal,” Henshaw said. “He rolled up his windows and took off.”

Police gave chase. California Highway Patrol officers took over on the San Diego (405) Freeway, eventually heading south on the Harbor (110) Freeway. Arnold exited at Pacific Coast Highway in Wilmington and headed west. CHP officers followed, pushing his truck from behind and causing it to spin into a big-rig truck near Western Avenue.

—Larry Altman and Douglas Morino, (Torrance, Calif.) Daily Breeze

Turkey vows retaliation for downing of military jet by syria

CAIRO — Turkey’s president said Saturday that his country would do “whatever is necessary” in response to the downing of a Turkish military jet by Syria, adding a new complication to the tense relationship between the former allies split by Turkey’s support for Syrian rebels trying to overthrow the government.

“It is not possible to cover over a thing like this,” said President Abdullah Gul of Turkey, according to the Anatolia news agency. “Whatever is necessary will no doubt be done.”

Syria said Friday that its military forces had shot down a Turkish jet that had entered its airspace just off the Syrian coast. But Gul said Saturday that while the exact route of the plane had not yet been confirmed, it was routine for military jets flying at high speeds to briefly cross into another country’s airspace, and that the jet’s presence over Syrian territory was not intended as a hostile act.

The plane went down over the Mediterranean off the coast of the Syrian province of Latakia and south of the Turkish province of Hatay. On Saturday, Turkish officials confirmed that parts of the jet had been recovered.

—Liam Stack, The New York Times

Kyrie Irving, aka Uncle Drew, is the Pepsi septuagenarian

The breakout star of this year’s NBA finals was not a member of the Miami Heat or the Oklahoma City Thunder, but instead a man appearing to be well into his 70s who displayed supernatural basketball gifts in a neighborhood pickup game and referred to himself simply as Uncle Drew.

In a series of short commercials shown during the games, fans were teased to find out who Uncle Drew actually was by going online. More than 11.7 million people so far have taken the bait and learned that the character is none other than Kyrie Irving, the 20-year-old Cleveland Cavaliers point guard, in an advertisement for Pepsi Max.

The ads and video became a viral phenomenon largely through word-of-mouth and the effort has yielded a 98 percent like-rate on YouTube and made the front page of the website Reddit, an online popularity contest. In Game 5, as LeBron James was on his way to clinching his first NBA championship, Irving was trending worldwide on Twitter, not just under his name, but under Uncle Drew’s as well.

“I’m not even Kyrie Irving anymore,” Irving said. “I’m Uncle Drew.”

—Benjamin Hoffman, The New York Times

New Jersey lawmakers to hold hearings on halfway houses

New Jersey lawmakers stepped up their calls for more scrutiny of the state’s troubled halfway house system Tuesday, announcing plans for hearings and demanding that the Corrections Department explain its “disturbing history of mismanagement and neglect.”

State Senate leaders said they would conduct a hearing July 26 to examine oversight of the sprawling network of large, privately run halfway houses, which contract with the state to hold inmates who are finishing their sentences and parolees who are re-entering society.

Senate officials said they would invite halfway house executives to testify, along with corrections officials, independent experts and others with insight into the system, which houses about 3,500 inmates and parolees, and has been plagued by escapes, gang activity, sexual attacks and rampant drug use.

“Clearly, there is something going wrong,” said state Sen. Robert M. Gordon, a Democrat from Bergen County and chairman of the Legislative Oversight Committee, which will conduct the hearing. “I believe the Legislature has an obligation to determine what the problem is and to develop solutions.”

Assembly officials said they would hold separate hearings this month, although they have not set a date.

Lawmakers said they were responding to a series of articles in The New York Times last month that detailed widespread problems in the halfway house system, which the state had long promoted as a national model. The system is dominated by a company called Community Education Centers, which has close ties to Gov. Chris Christie and politicians of both major parties.

—Sam Dolnick, The New York Times