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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Officer Charged In Rayshard Brooks Shooting

Officer Charged In Rayshard Brooks Shooting

 

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Protests intensified in Atlanta after a police officer shot 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks in the parking lot of a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant.  The encounter was caught on surveillance camera and by a witness. Police approached Brooks after he had fallen asleep in his car. The police questioned Brooks, patted him down and gave him a breathalyzer test.  Witness videos, surveillance footage, bodycam and dashcam footage show the officers engaged Brooks without incident for 41 minutes before the encounter turned fatal.

Atlanta Police Department officer Devin Brosnan arrived at the Wendy’s restaurant to investigate a report of a man asleep in a car which was blocking the drive-through lane.  Brosnan awakened Brooks and told him to move the car to a parking space and take a nap.  Brooks fell asleep again without moving the car prompting Brosnan to again wake Brooks and instruct him to park the car.  Brosnan checked Brooks’s driver’s license and radioed for assistance from an officer certified to conduct driving under the influence investigations.  Officer Garrett Rolfe arrived at 10:56 and, with Brooks’s permission, performed a pat-down search for weapons, a field sobriety test, and a breathalyzer test.  Brooks appeared impaired and said he had consumed one to one-and-a-half drinks and denied driving or being too drunk to drive. The Breathalyzer registered a blood alcohol level of 0.108%, above the legal limit of 0.08%.  Brooks asked to leave his car in the parking lot overnight and walk to his sister’s house a short distance away.

At 11:23, Rolfe told Brooks: “All right, I think you’ve had too much to drink to be driving. Put your hands behind your back for me”; he and Brosnan then moved behind Brooks to handcuff him.  Brooks tried to break free and he and the officers scuffled on the ground. During the struggle Brosnan drew his Taser, but Brooks wrested from him and fired it toward Brosnan before attempting to run away.  Brosnan says the Taser contacted him and he struck his head on the pavement.  Rolfe drew his own Taser and shot Brooks with it.  Brooks fled through the parking lot with Brosnan’s Taser still in hand as Rolfe pursued him and fired again with his own Taser.  While still running, Brooks turned to fire the second shot of Brosnan’s Taser – capable of two shots before being reloaded – over Rolfe’s head.  According to prosecutors, Brooks and Rolfe were 18 feet apart when Rolfe dropped his Taser, drew his handgun and shot Brooks once in the mid-back and once in the buttocks; a third shot struck a nearby vehicle, narrowly missing its three occupants.  According to prosecutors Rolfe then declared, “I got him”.

Within 24 hours of the shooting, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said that she did not believe it was justified, leading to Rolfe’s firing, Brosnan being placed on administrative duty and the resignation of the city’s police chief, Erika Shields.  The county medical examiner rule Brooks’ death a homicide and Georgia Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation.  The Fulton County District Attorney said Brooks did not present himself as a threat and appeared almost jovial during the encounter.  He announced 11 charges against Rolfe: felony murder, five counts of aggravated assault, four police oath violations, and damage to property.  He said Rolfe should have been aware that the Taser Brooks had taken posed no danger, as after being fired twice it could not fire again.  He also said that Rolfe and Brosnan did not provide timely medical aid to Brooks and that before they did, Rolfe kicked him and Brosnan stood on his shoulders.  The district attorney said it was a violation of department policy for Rolfe to begin handcuffing Brooks before telling him he was being arrested.

 

 

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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on More Police Reforms Passed As Civil Unrest Continues

More Police Reforms Passed As Civil Unrest Continues

 

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With mass uprising over police brutality showing no signs of abating, more policy changes are taking shape around the country.  San Francisco announced last week that trained, unarmed professionals will respond to noncriminal calls instead of police. Colorado lawmakers passed a bill to introduce sweeping police changes, including banning choke holds and requiring officers to intervene if they see excessive force being used. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he will reallocate $3 million from the police department’s budget toward public health initiatives. The Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a resolution to replace the police department with a community-led public safety system.  Minneapolis Councilmember Alondra Cano said, “We acknowledge that the current system is not reformable, that we would like to end the current policing system as we know it.”

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont imposed a series of reforms on the Connecticut State Police, including a ban on choke holds, a mandate that officers use body cameras and dashboard cameras, and restrictions on a program that funnels military equipment to local law enforcement.  Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a police reform bill into law, prohibiting the use of a choke hold in an arrest “except when a person cannot be captured any other way or has used or threatened deadly force” and preventing an officer from being hired in Iowa if they have a previous felony conviction, were fired for misconduct, or left before they could be fired for misconduct.  The bill also requires annual anti-bias and deescalation training for law enforcement and allows the Iowa Attorney General to prosecute officers for a criminal offense resulting in the death of a human being.

Michigan State Senator Jeff Irwin introduced Senate Bill 945 which would require the addition of “implicit bias, deescalation techniques, and mental health screening” as part of the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards certification process for new law enforcement officers.  The bill was drafted before the death of George Floyd in response to the broader problem of police brutality and passed the State Senate unanimously on June 4. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced a series of police reforms, including whistle blower protections, independent review of officer-involved shootings, and use of body cameras by police officers.  New Jersey has banned police departments from using choke holds and similar neck and carotid restraints.  According to Attorney General Grewal’s order, “Because these tactics create a substantial risk of death or serious bodily harm, officers who cause a subject’s death or injury while performing them face potential criminal liability” except when “deadly force is necessary to address an imminent threat to life”.

Meanwhile, counties and cities across the country, including Cleveland, Denver and Indianapolis, are declaring racism a public health crisis. Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant is calling for a section of downtown known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone to remain permanently in community control. Protesters took over several city blocks last week after the Seattle Police Department abandoned its Capitol Hill precinct and stopped trying to violently disperse marches.  The Seattle City Council voted unanimously to ban police use of tear gas and choke holds.

The New York Police Department announced it is dismantling its plainclothes anti-crime unit and the 600 officers in the unit will be reassigned. In 2018, news outlets reported plainclothes anti-crime officers had been involved in 31% of fatal police shootings in New York since 2000. Meanwhile, Albuquerque, New Mexico, has announced plans to create a new civilian department made up of social workers and others to respond to non-emergency 911 calls. In Georgia, the state Legislature reopened with a call to pass a hate crimes bill. Georgia is one of four states with no hate crime laws.

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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Covid 19 Prediction Warns It Hasn’t Gone Away

Covid 19 Prediction Warns It Hasn’t Gone Away

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With more than 2.06 million cases, America has the world’s largest COVID-19 confirmed cases to date. It’s also first when it comes to the total number of deaths, with more than 117,000 people having died of COVID-19 complications. Nearly 7.5 million people have had confirmed infections worldwide and over 420,000 people died.  As US states are opening up their economies, Harvard Global Health Institute director Dr. Ashish Jha predicts that the US will cross 200,000 deaths sometime in September.  Jha explained his estimates only take into account the next few months, but COVID-19 will obviously not disappear after that.

“The pandemic won’t be over in September so I’m really worried about where we’re going to be in the weeks and months ahead.  We’re really the only major country in the world that opened back up without really getting our cases as down low as we really needed to,” Jha noted, adding that the US is the only advanced country in the world not to have a proper contact tracing system setup. People should continue to maintain social distancing and wear masks, Jha advised. They should also “put pressure” on the government to advance testing and contact tracing programs.

“But even if we assume that it’s going to be flat all summer, that nothing is going to get worse, we’re going to stay flat all summer — even if we pick that low number, 800 a day — that’s 25,000 a month,” Jha pointed out. “In three and a half months, we’re going to add another 87- 88,000 people, and we will hit 200,000 sometime in September.”  Jha said anyone who still thinks the summer will bring a dramatic decrease in cases is “engaging in wishful thinking.” Coronavirus cases and associated hospitalizations may be falling in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, he said, but cases are surging in Arizona, Texas, Florida, and the Carolinas. The Harvard professor of public health said he is not trying to scare people into staying home by raising concerns about the number of deaths he’s predicting.

In Brazil, the coronavirus death toll has topped 43,000 with the total number of confirmed cases at over 850,000. It now has the second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths and cases in the world behind the United States.  According to the health ministry, the COVID-19 mortality rate in Brazil is five% and nearly 388,500 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Brazil.

China reported its highest number of daily infections in months, raising concern over a second wave of the outbreak. In Beijing, authorities have reimposed lockdown measures after a new cluster of cases emerged last week.  The cluster, the capital’s first locally transmitted cases in nearly two months, raised mainland China’s total number to 83,132. Almost 4,700 people have died in China, where the pandemic originated in December.

The World Health Organization says the pandemic is accelerating in Africa, with the most affected countries being South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Sudan.  In Yemen, medical authorities warn deaths linked to the pandemic could exceed war-related fatalities in the port city of Aden.  The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Learn how COVID-19 spreads and practice these actions to help prevent the spread of this illness.

Covid 19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon so the recommendations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the world’s economy reopens are:  Keep 6 feet of social distance between yourself and others; wear a mask or cloth covering when around others-especially when in situations where you can’t maintain the 6 feet of social distancing; clean your hands often, either with soap and water for 20 seconds or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol; avoid close contact with people who are sick; disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly and stay home if you are feeling any symptoms.

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Many Cities Announce Reforms As BLM Protests Continue

Many Cities Announce Reforms As BLM Protests Continue

 

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As historic protests continue to sweep the country two weeks after the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis City Council announced it would move to disband the city’s police department. Nine members of the council — a veto-proof majority — made the vow during a community rally. The vow to disband the police came just days after the Minneapolis City Council voted to ban chokeholds and neck restraints. Congress is slated to introduce reforms that include a chokehold ban, a limit on qualified immunity for officers and a restriction on military weapons. While news reporting may be bias, social media videos of police brutality toward peaceful protestors has sparked many local governments to take action as the protests continue. Although many of these reforms will be subjected to a long debate among local officials, some activists say it is a good start.
In Louisville, KY, the City Council unanimously passed “Breonna’s Law” Thursday night that banned the use of “no-knock” warrants. The legislation was named after Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, who was killed in her home while in bed in March by Louisville police officers while executing a no-knock warrant. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, who suspended the use of no-knock warrants last month, said he will sign the bill. “This is one of many critical steps on police reform that we’ve taken to create a more peaceful, just, compassionate and equitable community.” The officers involved in Taylor’s death are under investigation and have been placed on administrative leave.
New York’s state legislature voted to repeal parts of a provision that shielded police disciplinary records from the public. The repeal of 50-A means that police officers across the state must disclose personnel records used to evaluate performance. Criminal justice advocates have been pushing for the repeal for years. The legislation also bans officers from using chokeholds, prohibits false race-based 911 calls and appoints the state attorney general to be an independent prosecutor in any case where an officer shoots an unarmed person. The state Senate approved the bill and the state Assembly approved it with later in the day. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced a sweeping set of reforms that would shift funding from the NYPD to other sectors of the city’s budget. De Blasio said he will work with the city council to hammer out the details over the next three weeks, but told reporters Monday that the amount would be “something substantial.”
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced she will sign the emergency legislation passed by the City Council that bans the police from using neck restraints on suspects. The bill also bans the use of tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse protesters. The Council also passed a bill that requires the mayor to release police body camera video from any police-involved death or serious use of force within three days of the incident. The family members of the person involved in the incident will be the first to see the video, according to the bill’s language.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced short- and long-term changes to the city’s police force to address the concerns about police from residents. She said she will review the Seattle Police Department’s budget with a “special focus on listening community voices throughout the process.” Durkan has also called for an independent prosecutor at the state level to investigate and prosecute any police officers as well as updating the department’s procedures for mass protests.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced that the state will ban police departments from using chokeholds, carotid artery neck restraints or similar tactics. Grewal said their use has led to several incidents where a suspect suffered asphyxiation. The order provides an exemption “in the very limited situations when deadly force is necessary to address an imminent threat to life.”

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on US Unemployment Passes 40 Million

US Unemployment Passes 40 Million

 

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The U.S. Labor Department reported another 2.1 million workers filed for unemployment benefits over the last week, the lowest total since the coronavirus crisis began though indicative that a historically high number of Americans remain separated from their jobs.  The combined total of job losses since coronavirus lockdowns began in mid-March is a staggering 40.7 million.  One in four U.S. workers has lost their job in just 10 weeks.

Continuing claims, or those who have been collecting for at least two weeks, numbered 21.05 million, a clearer picture of how many workers are still out of work.  That number dropped sharply, falling 3.86 million from the previous week.  That decline in continuing claims suggests that the reopening of states is pushing businesses to rehire some of the people let go when the virus hit.  The Institute for Policy Studies reports that during the same period the combined wealth of U.S. billionaires soared by $485 billion.

State labor departments have been working since the beginning of the pandemic to clear their backlogs of jobless claims, after the surge in unemployment crashed systems that were ill prepared for such volume. Newly laid-off workers have overwhelmed unemployment offices in numerous states, leading to frustration and delays in applying for and receiving benefits.  The high jobless numbers persist even as all states have reopened their economies to various extents. Las Vegas casinos will be resuming activities late next week, Disney resorts also have targeted July reopening dates and Los Angeles is allowing retail stores to resume business. Restrictions are likely to be loosened soon in New York as well.

Many businesses are wrestling with multiple dynamics stemming from the biggest surge in in layoffs since the Great Depression. The Federal Reserve reported Wednesday that business owners are seeing workers reluctant to return to their jobs because of safety concerns, child-care issues and “generous” unemployment benefits from the government.  Pennsylvania saw the biggest rise in claims last week with 6,892, according to numbers.  Many large states, though, saw declines from a week earlier Washington fell by 86,839, while California declined by 32,088 and New York decreased by 31,769.

Many struggling retailers were forced to file bankruptcy during the pandemic.  FoodFirst Global Restaurants, the parent company of the Brio Italian Mediterranean and Bravo Fresh Italian restaurant chains filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in April.  The company said that 71 of its 92 restaurants had temporarily closed amid the coronavirus outbreak.  The company employed over 10,000 people nationally before the pandemic.

Neiman Marcus filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 7, citing “inexorable pressure” from the coronavirus pandemic.  They employed over 13,000 people before the pandemic.   J. Crew filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 4. The company now plans to convert $1.65 billion of its debt into equity.  The company said they will continue day to day operations with plans for downsizing, leaving 9,400 jobs up in the air. Stage Stores, which owns Goody’s, Palais Royal, Bealls, Peebles, and Gordmans, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 10, saying that coronavirus-related closures exacerbated a “challenging market environment.” The company said it would start winding down operations while seeking a buyer for part or all of its business.  They employed over 13,000 people.  JCPenney filed for bankruptcy on May 15, saying in court documents that pandemic-related disruptions pushed it over the edge. It will close about 30% of its stores leaving many of its 90,000 employees out of work.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Third Arrest In Ahmaud Arbery Shooting

Third Arrest In Ahmaud Arbery Shooting

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Authorities in Georgia have arrested a third man in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old man who was chased down and shot to death by two men in February. The man, William “Roddie” Bryan, 50, was arrested on charges of felony murder and attempted false imprisonment. He filmed the video showing Arbery jogging down a narrow road in Brunswick, Georgia, in broad daylight, before being ambushed. Retired police officer Gregory McMichael and his son Travis were both arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault earlier this month.
The video Bryan recorded on his cellphone shows Arbery trying to run around the McMichaels’ truck before turning sharply toward Travis McMichael and tussling over his shotgun. Arbery was shot three times and collapsed in the street. The 36-second video was not released until more than 10 weeks after the killing and spurred calls for the McMichaels’ arrests. It does not show what led up to the final moments of Arbery’s life.
Gregory McMichael — a former prosecutorial investigator, ex-Glynn County police officer and Travis’ father — told police that he and his son chased Arbery after seeing him at a neighbor’s under-construction home. They said he fit the description of a suspect in a rash of break-ins, according to an incident report. Surveillance footage from inside the under construction home show Arbery entered the home and was inside for approximately 3 minutes looking around but he did not take anything before leaving to continue his jog.
Bryan is accused of using his vehicle on multiple occasions between about 1 p.m. and 1:20 p.m. that day to “attempt to confine and detain Ahmaud Arbery without legal authority,” the warrant states. Investigators believe this “underlying felony helped cause the death of Ahmaud Arbery,” Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds said, referring to the charge of attempted false imprisonment. Bryan’s lawyer Kevin Gough, had said his client committed no crime, was no vigilante and would be the state’s “star witness.” He said his client has no relationship with the McMichaels. Bryan’s name appears in the police report filed the day of the shooting. Gregory McMichael told police that after he and his son Travis attempted and failed to stop Arbery, “Roddy” tried to intercept him, according to the report.
Gough told new outlets last week that Bryan was working in his yard when he saw a person he did not know being chased by a vehicle he recognized from the neighborhood. During an interview, Bryan said he prays for the Arbery family every night and said of the video, “I hope that it, in the end, brings justice to the family and peace to the family.”
The attorneys representing members of the Arbery family said they were relieved. “We called for his arrest from the very beginning of this process,” the family’s attorneys S. Lee Merritt, Benjamin Crump, and L. Chris Stewart, said. “His involvement in the murder of Mr. Arbery was obvious to us, to many around the country and after their thorough investigation, it was clear to the GBI as well. I can say Wanda Cooper and Marcus Arbery were very, very relieved to see this arrest finally take place. Not only have we been waiting since the McMichaels were arrested, they have been waiting for three months for all three of these men to be brought into custody,” Merritt said.
Bryan was booked into the Glynn County Jail, where the McMichaels are being held on charges of murder and aggravated assault. The father and son’s legal teams have said the full details of the case haven’t made it into the public arena, and they’ve promised the truth will exonerate their clients.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on UFCW Criticizes Reopening Meat Packing Plants Without Mandatory Safety Guidelines

UFCW Criticizes Reopening Meat Packing Plants Without Mandatory Safety Guidelines

 

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The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the country’s largest meatpacking workers’ union, is condemning the reopening of 14 meatpacking plants under a recent executive order by the US Administration.  The union is calling for CDC coronavirus safety guidelines to be made mandatory, as at least 30 meatpacking workers have died of COVID-19 and over 10,000 have been exposed to or infected by the coronavirus. The industry work practices under normal circumstances tend to put workers in close proximity to each other, working at high speed as they cut up animal carcasses.

The pandemic caused at least 30 meatpacking plants to temporarily close over the past two months, resulting in a 40% drop in pork production capacity and a 25% drop in beef production capacity, the union said.  The U.S. Agriculture Department said 14 plants that had closed due to outbreaks of the virus were in the process of reopening this week.  The 14 plants included a Smithfield Foods Inc pork facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that started operating on May 7 and another in Waterloo, Iowa, that Tyson Foods said earlier in the week would resume limited operations.  The agriculture department also said meat facilities operated by JBS USA [JBS.UL] in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and six other Tyson plants were reopening.

UFCW has previously said more protective equipment and testing would be required to open the plants.  But as plants reopened without these measures in place, UFCW International President Marc Perrone criticized the decision.  “Today’s rush by the Trump Administration to re-open 14 meatpacking plants without the urgent safety improvements needed is a reckless move that will put American lives at risk and further endanger the long-term security of our nation’s food supply.  Since the executive order was announced, the Administration has failed to take the urgent action needed to enact clear and enforceable safety standards at these meatpacking plants.”

Health guidelines issued by CDC and OSHA to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 in slaughterhouses includes face coverings, health training in multiple languages, and more distancing between workers. Processing lines in meat plants typically run at high speeds, with employees eviscerating animals inches apart from each other. Slowing lines down and spreading workers out will undoubtedly increase the cost of producing meat, but Perry says it’s a small price to pay to protect their lives.  CDC is also asking meat plants to do away with the contentious practice of offering “attendance bonuses,” in which companies offer hundreds of dollars of incentives to workers on the condition that they don’t miss their shifts.

The common criticism of OSHA and CDC’s Covid-19 guidance to meatpackers is that it’s entirely optional. This has resulted in an inconsistent patchwork of protections by plant and by state which leaves workers at risk for other outbreak.  Unions are asking for standardized workplace protections against airborne diseases like Covid-19.  Such requirements wouldn’t be without precedent.  In 2010, following the H1N1 pandemic, OSHA began to draft mandatory guidelines to reduce the spread of viruses that spread through air and respiratory droplets.  That rulemaking was finalized in 2017 but was halted during the change in US Administration.

 

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Two Men Arrested in Ahmaud Arbery Shooting

Two Men Arrested in Ahmaud Arbery Shooting

 

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Two months after the February shooting death of 25 year old Ahmaud Arbery, and just two days after video of the shooting was released to the public, the two men who gunned him down while he was jogging were arrested and charged for murder. The men, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were each charged with murder and aggravated assault and booked into a jail in coastal Glynn County, Ga., where the killing took place. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, in a news release, stated that it was Travis McMichael who shot and killed Mr. Arbery on Feb. 23.
The details of Mr. Arbery’s killing — and the fact that no one had been arrested in the months since it happened — led to a wave of outrage nationwide. Public pressure for an arrest intensified with the release of the video. The video of the shooting, taken from inside a vehicle, shows Mr. Arbery running along a shaded two-lane residential road when he comes upon a white truck, with a man, Travis McMichael, standing beside its open driver’s-side door with a rifle in his hand. Gregory McMichael is standing in the bed of the pickup. Mr. Arbery runs around the other side of the truck to avoid Travis McMichael. As Travis approaches the front of his truck, muffled shouting can be heard before Arbery emerges, tussling with the man outside the truck as three shotgun blasts echo.
It’s during this struggle that Arbery was shot a point blank range by Travis McMichael. Arbery then attempts to run away but collapses face down in the street. Gregory, a retired Glynn County police officer, and his son Travis both claim they were trying to make a citizen’s arrest when they followed Arbery after seeing him enter a home under construction 2 doors down from their home. They said he fit the description of a suspect in break-ins and burglaries in the area despite no reports of any in the neighborhood.
The owner of the home said nothing has ever been taken from the property but people have entered before. He released dozens of surveillance videos of people entering the property including one of Arbery from minutes before he was shot. Arbery was inside the home for less than 3 minutes looking around before he exits to continue his run. The additional videos show many other people entering the property to look around, including neighborhood kids and a couple who entered the same day Arbery was killed but no other trespassers were confronted.
The Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr formally requested the intervention of the FBI in the case to investigate the killing after there were reports that Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson said that no arrests should be made in the case and recused herself from further involvement in the case because Gregory McMichael had previously worked as an investigator in her office. The GBI found probable cause to charge Gregory and Travis McMichael within 36 hours of taking the case, and, on May 7, arrested the pair on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. The McMichaels were booked into the Glynn County Jail and were denied bond the following day.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced he asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and federal authorities to look into how local prosecutors possibly held crucial evidence of Arbery’s killing and refused to make arrests, as more than two months passed before the attackers were arrested. The Brunswick police reportedly had a copy of the shocking video but no arrests were made until 2 days after it was released to the public by a lawyer the McMichaels consulted with but did not retain.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Some States Reopen As Researchers Confirm Covid Was Circulating the US Earlier Than Believed

Some States Reopen As Researchers Confirm Covid Was Circulating the US Earlier Than Believed

 

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As many states slowly reopen, a pair of studies predict the COVID-19 outbreak is set to become far deadlier in the United States. A draft Federal Emergency Management Agency report forecasts that daily coronavirus deaths in the United States would rise to 3,000 people a day by June 1 — that’s a 70% increase over the current figure. Separately, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimates the U.S. death toll will reach around 135,000 by August in the United States.

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has topped 75,000 and is projected to keep rising in the coming weeks. The official coronavirus death toll worldwide has topped a quarter of a million, with over 3.6 million confirmed cases.  The United States makes up close to one-third of confirmed cases and a quarter of known deaths, even though it represents less than 5% of the world’s population.

Over half of U.S. states have relaxed, or are preparing to loosen, social distancing and other restrictions but it has not been a smooth transition.  In Georgia, more than 120 Atlanta restaurants have refused to open, saying it is not safe to do so despite Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s lifting of the state’s shelter-in-place order.  In Miami Beach, the governor had to close a popular park — just five days after reopening it — after thousands failed to adhere to new rules requiring social distancing and wearing a face mask.

Meanwhile, we continue to learn more about the virus globally as scientists and doctors try to create a vaccine.  A French hospital says they treated a COVID-19 patient as early as December — a month before the government confirmed its first cases.  A preliminary new study finds the novel coronavirus that first emerged in China mutated in Europe in February to become more contagious, speeding its spread around the globe. The authors of the study said they released their findings early so that people working on vaccines could see their results.

US Researchers say the novel coronavirus silently spread in the United States earlier than previously thought as well, infecting tens of thousands of people in New York and other major cities before the first US case was confirmed on January 21.  A new model by the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University in Boston shows the first infections came from China in early or mid-January, and that the virus went undetected because many people were not presenting symptoms or were misdiagnosed because US doctors had not seen the virus first hand yet.

The model suggests that while Americans were still focused on China, about 28,000 people in major cities — such as New York, San Francisco and Seattle — were infected by March 1.  Santa Clara County officials announced that tissue samples confirmed two people who died in early February tested positive for coronavirus. That month, a number of physicians saw patients, without travel histories, who had flu-like symptoms.

Several states, including California and Indiana, have been retracing their coronavirus timelines after discovering that the highly infectious disease started killing people earlier than previously known.  These discoveries have emphasized just how much about this pandemic remains unknown. Four months since the novel coronavirus was first discovered in Wuhan, China, experts worldwide still do not fully understand how the virus started, how it impacts the body or what treatments are effective.

 

 

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Canada Bans Assault Rifles After Nova Scotia Shooting Spree

Canada Bans Assault Rifles After Nova Scotia Shooting Spree

 

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Canada is banning military-style assault firearms, including the AR-15, two weeks after a gunman in Nova Scotia killed 22 people during a 12-hour rampage — the worst mass shooting in Canadian history. A domestic assault late Saturday night is suspected to be the catalyst of the Nova Scotia shooting rampage that left 22 people dead. The rampage began in the quiet town of Portapique on Cobequid Bay began after the gunman assaulted his longtime girlfriend. Police said Gabriel Wortman, 51, led police on a miles-long manhunt across the Canadian province. He died after a confrontation with police. He was wearing a RCMP uniform and drove what appeared to be a police cruiser.
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the ban he said “We are closing the market for military-grade assault weapons in Canada. We are banning 1,500 models and variants of these firearms by way of regulations. These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. Families of the victims deserve more than thoughts and prayers.” Family and friends of the victims have said that an emergency alert by police could have prevented some deaths. Police on Wednesday admitted that they failed to issue a timely alert to the public. Police learned about the gunman’s attire and vehicle from his girlfriend after 7 a.m. but the formal process for issuing an alert still took several hours to make its way up the chain of command. Nearly three hours after they learned the identity of the suspect, an alert had still not been issued. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the failure to issue an alert would be part of a larger investigation.
Police believe a domestic assault triggered the shooting spree. The couple returned home after arguing at a nearby party shortly before 10pm, where Wortman attacked his girlfriend and she fled into the woods to hide. Wortman then set his house on fire and returned to the party where he opened fire, killing seven people. The first 911 calls reporting gunshots were made at 10:01pm. When officers arrived on the scene at 10:26pm, they discovered thirteen victims who had been shot and killed both inside and outside of eight homes on Orchard Beach Drive and Portapique Beach Road, three of which were burning. Police said many had died while trying to escape the flames or in helping other victims. Wortman also shot and injured two dogs.
Police initially believed the killings were confined to the area and ordered a lock down. But the rampage, which spanned 16 locations, continued, with the gunman killing nine other people over several hours, police said. Wortman’s injured girlfriend emerged from the woods several hours after the first shooting deaths, just after 7am Sunday. She is still recovering from serious injuries but provided police key information about the gunman including a description of him, that he was impersonating an officer and a possible list of targets.
During his rampage, Wortman arrived at a home of acquaintances and killed the two occupants, as well as a neighbor who came to help. After setting the house on fire, police say he pulled over two vehicles and killed the occupants. He also shot and killed a woman walking along the road. Sometime before 10:49am, Wortman pulled alongside RCMP Constable Chad Morrison’s cruiser on Route 2 in Shubenacadie. Morrison had planned to meet fellow officer Heidi Stevenson at that location. Wortman shot into the car, injuring Morrison, who drove to a nearby hospital after reporting Wortman’s location.
As Wortman fled the scene, he collided head-on with Stevenson. Stevenson engaged Wortman, who shot and killed her, before taking her sidearm and ammunition. He also set both cars on fire and killed a nearby motorist who stopped to help. He then stopped at the home of a woman he knew and killed her before stopping for gas. Wortman was recognized by a RCMP officer at the gas station and was fatally shot.

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