By Eric Kelsey LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The estranged wife of Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Donald Sterling can proceed with the record $2 billion sale of the NBA team despite her husband's objections, a judge ruled on Monday, in a likely coda to a case of lingering racism in American sports. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas said the deal struck by Shelly Sterling with former Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer was permissible and could be consummated even if Sterling, who has been banned for life from the National Basketball Association for racist remarks, chose to appeal. "She had every good reason to believe that Donald agreed to the sale of the team," said Levanas, who added that he found Donald Sterling's combative testimony at the emotionally charged nine-day trial "often evasive and inconsistent." The ruling was a major victory for an embarrassed NBA and Shelly Sterling, who had asked the probate judge to confirm her as the trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers.
U.S. surveillance programs are making it more difficult for government officials to speak to the press anonymously, two rights groups said on Monday. Large-scale surveillance, on top of the Obama administration's crackdown on national security leaks, threatens the freedom of the press and the right to legal counsel, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union said in a joint report. The National Security Agency's surveillance programs, which include the collection of telephone "metadata," have heightened government officials' concerns about dealing with the media, as "any interaction - any email, any phone call - risks leaving a digital trace that could subsequently be used against them," the report said.
Two U.S. marshals and a New York police detective were wounded and a fugitive wanted on sex abuse charges was killed in a shootout in the city's upscale Greenwich Village neighborhood on Monday, authorities said. The detectives tracked 32-year-old Charles Mozdir, who was recently featured on a TV show about fugitives, to the Smoking Culture smoke shop where he worked and attempted to arrest him on child molestation charges filed in the San Diego, California, area, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told a news conference. Mozdir was recently on CNN's "The Hunt" reality television show with former "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh, which sets out to catch fugitives, said U.S. Marshals spokeswoman Lynzey Donahue. The U.S. Marshals Service worked on "The Hunt" in Mozdir's case, Donahue said.