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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Satellite Images Show North Korea Dismantling Nuclear Site

Satellite Images Show North Korea Dismantling Nuclear Site

 

 

 

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Satellite images show North Korea has taken the first steps toward its commitment to nuclear disarmament.  Images show they have begun dismantling a missile-engine test site, fulfilling one of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s promises during the historic summit in Singapore in June.  The site is believed to play a role in North Korea’s development of liquid-fuel engines, although it’s unclear how much the site’s facilities were still being used.

Images published by a leading think-tank on North Korea show activity at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, located among dense forest and hills close the northern border with China.  Workers are believed to be dismantling a building used to assemble space-launch vehicles and a nearby rocket engine test stand used to develop liquid-fuel engines for ballistic missiles and space-launch vehicles, the 38 North think-tank said.

The work started at some point in the past two weeks, after the last visit to North Korea by the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.  White House officials have stated that the trip made by Pompeo to Pyongyang went “as bad as it could have”.  Jenny Town, the managing editor of 38 North, which is based at the Stimson Center in Washington DC, said the work at Sohae could be an important move to keep negotiations going.  “Since these facilities are believed to have played an important role in the development of technologies for the North’s intercontinental ballistic missile program, these efforts represent a significant confidence-building measure on the part of North Korea,” 38 North said in a report.

South Korean officials have also said they detected dismantlement activities at the site, though didn’t specify the exact nature of the activities.  The South Korean foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, at a briefing in London, said its reports suggested North Korea was preparing for disarmament in return for a lifting of economic sanctions.  The satellite image analysis leaves it unclear whether North Korea planned to demolish the entire Sohae site, which has been vital to its space program. Other important facilities such as fuel bunkers, a main assembly building and the gantry tower appear untouched.

Senior US officials called on Mr Kim to act on his promise to give up his nuclear weapons and said the world, including China and Russia, must continue to enforce sanctions until he does so.  The US State Department issued an advisory together with the departments of Treasury and Homeland Security alerting businesses to North Korea’s sanctions-evasion tactics.  It said they should “implement effective due diligence policies, procedures, and internal controls to ensure compliance with applicable legal requirements across their entire supply chains.”

While the images are encouraging, experts urge caution until the North completely abandons the area.  “If North Korea goes further and dismantle the entire Sohae site, that would meaningfully reduce the country’s long-range missile capability by eliminating a facility where it could fire multiple ICBMs in succession,” said Lee Choon Geun, a missile expert at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute.  He added, however, that while the first steps in dismantling the site are important, in reality, Pyongyang is giving up little as it appears the country is content with the current long-range weapons in its possession.

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on BodyCam Footage of Harith Augustus Shooting Released

BodyCam Footage of Harith Augustus Shooting Released

 

 

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Violent protests erupted in Chicago after police officers shot and killed a 37-year-old African-American man on the South Side of Chicago. Harith Augustus was a well-known barber and the father of a 5-year-old daughter. Hundreds took to the streets to protest his killing.  Protesters and police clashed with protestors throwing rocks and bottles, some filled with urine at officers.  Four people were arrested, several officers were treated for minor injuries and two patrol cars were damaged.

The day after the protests, police released a 30 second clip with no sound of an officer’s body-cam footage.  Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said it was the quickest he had ever ordered such video released and that he hoped to dispel rumors Harith Augustus, 37, was unarmed.  He also said he hoped making the 30-second clip public would prevent another violent confrontation between residents and officers.  “The community needs some answers and they need them now, we can’t have another night like last night.”  Mr Johnson told reporters.  He said Mr Augustus’s family was in favor of releasing the video for the same reason.

The edited clip of body camera video shows at least three officers approaching Augustus as he is talking to another officer outside a store in the city’s South Shore neighborhood.  The first officer points at his waistband and Augustus backs away while reaching into his back pocket.  As Augustus pulls his wallet from his pocket, three officers try to grab his arms.  Augustus tries to get away, backing into a police cruiser as his shirt flies up, showing the gun.  The footage pauses and zooms in on the weapon, which police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said was done to ensure a semi-automatic handgun in its holster and two bullet magazines tucked into Mr Augustus’s waist could be seen clearly.

Augustus then runs into the street as a police SUV drives up. He spins away from the SUV and darts between the SUV and the police cruiser as he reaches towards his waist.  At that point, an officer opens fire, hitting Augustus multiple times.  Augustus did not fire his weapon and the footage does not show him pulling the gun out of its holster.  Police also released a 50-second, slow-motion clip showing Augustus reaching towards his waist. It was not clear if he was going for the weapon but it does appear he was grabbing for something at his waist.

Records show Augustus had a legal permit to carry a firearm and no recent arrest history. Augustus was known in the Grand Crossing neighborhood as “Snoop” — worked at a barbershop and had a five-year-old daughter.  A police spokesman said more videos will be released within 60 days but declined to say how many different angles exist or whether any of the officers’ cameras captured audio.

While the snippet of video released seems to have calmed some tensions, some pointed out that Augustus, a quiet man with only a few minor arrests from years ago, appeared to be trying to show the officers some sort of identification during the street stop, possible his firearm permit.  Experts on use of force have focused on how Augustus tried to evade arrest, twisting away from officers and fleeing into the street with his right hand hovering near his holstered gun.  The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the city agency that investigates police-involved shootings, will try to determine if the officers followed policy and if any training issues need to be addressed.

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on 17 Dead After Duck Boat Capsizes in Branson MO

17 Dead After Duck Boat Capsizes in Branson MO

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On July 19th, seventeen people died after a Missouri duck boat capsized and sunk on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri.  The boat, with 31 people aboard, sank around 7pm Thursday evening after it left for a ride on the lake that was hit by a thunderstorm generating near-hurricane strength winds.  Witnesses captured video of two of the Ride the Ducks vessels being tossed around by waves as they struggled to make it back to land, only one made it back safely.  One video shows water from the waves entering the craft before it capsized (rolled over onto its side) and then sank below the waves.  It is believed the boat sunk in 40 feet of water, rolling as it sank, before landing on its wheels in 80-feet-deep lake water.

Duck boats are amphibious vehicles equipped with wheels and propellers that can be driven on roadways or on water. With a push of a lever, the vehicle can switch from being wheel-driven to relying instead on the rear-mounted propeller. Originally built to transport troops during WWII, they are now popular in many tourist areas with large bodies of water.  The 17 victims in the tragedy ranged in age from 1 to 76 years with nine victims from the same family.  None of the victims were wearing life jackets when found.  There were life jackets on the boat but passengers weren’t required to wear them.

The National Transportation Safety Board recorded wind readings of 73 mph which were estimated to cause waves that rose to around 4 feet, with a possibility of 6-foot crests.  An investigation into the cause of the tragedy and why the Ride the Ducks boat entered the lake despite severe thunderstorm warnings for the area.  Branson is about 200 miles from Kansas City, and is considered a major family vacation destination.  The town was under a severe thunderstorm warning issued about half an hour before the boat capsized.

Tia Coleman and 10 of her relatives were on a family vacation from Indiana.  Her husband, her three children and five other members of her family died in the accident. Their names were: Angela, 45; Arya, 1; Belinda, 69; Ervin, 76; Evan, 7; Glenn, 40; Horace, 70; Maxwell, 2; and Reece, 9. Only Tia and her 13 year old nephew Donovan survived when the boat sank.  The other victims included the driver of the duck boat, Robert Williams, 73; Steve Smith, a retired teacher from Osceola, Arkansas, and his teenage son, Lance; William and Janice Bright, a married couple from Higginsville, Missouri; William Asher and his partner, Rosemarie Hamann from Missouri; and Leslie Dennison from Illinois.

Tia Coleman, one of the 14 survivors, said passengers were told there was a storm coming before the trip and that they would alter their route to tour the lake before the storm hit.  During an emotional interview from her hospital bed she said that the captain mentioned the life jackets before they went on the lake but said, “you won’t need them so we didn’t grab them, nobody did.”

She described the amphibious vessel being hit by waves and taking on some water.  She said that immediately after a large wave went over the vessel, they were plunged under water where she couldn’t see or hear anything but felt her head hitting the top of the craft.  Passengers were unable to make an immediate escape as the craft sank because the sides of the craft are windows with a canopy top.  Once the canopy top gave way, some were able to swim to the surface as the craft continued to sink in the murky later water.

Vacationers and employees of a nearby dining showboat immediately began throwing life preservers, and life rafts into the water.  Others jumped in and pulled people out of the water.  Several people nearby with medical training tried unsuccessfully to revive unresponsive victims.  Rescuers searched late into the night for survivors before calling it off due to poor visibility.  The searching resumed the next morning until the remaining victims were found.

 

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4 weeks ago · by · 0 comments

Three Year Old Refugee Girl Killed At Birthday Party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 3-year-old child refugee from Ethiopia attacked at her birthday party by a knife-wielding man has died of her injuries. Ruya Kadir died at a trauma center in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she was flown for treatment.  Police said five other children and three adults were wounded in the stabbing attack.  Police have arrested a 30-year-old man from Los Angeles who had been staying in the same apartment building.  Seven of the other eight victims remain in the hospital, many with serious or critical injuries, and one child was treated and released. The wounded children ranged in age from 4 to 12 years old.

The suspect, Timothy Kinner, 30, was initially charged with nine counts of aggravated battery, and six counts of injury to a child.  Kinner was arraigned in Ada County Court in Boise when a judge informed him that the charges had been amended and that he’s now facing one count of first-degree murder.  Kinner has an extensive criminal record spanning multiple states and has spent time in prison for previous violent offenses.  If convicted, Kinner could be eligible for the death penalty under Idaho law. Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts said her office has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty, saying those “high-level decisions” are made only after all the facts are in.

Boise Police Chief Bill Bones said during an emotional news conference that the suspect’s motive was “vengeance” for being asked to leave an apartment in the complex due to his behavior.  Bones said Kinner had been invited to stay for a few days at the apartment of a renter who had shown him compassion but was asked to leave on Friday due to his disruptive behavior.  According to Police Chief Bones, Kinner returned to the apartment where he had been a guest on Saturday and found nobody home.  Around 8:45 p.m. Kinner went a few doors down to where the party was going on and allegedly stormed the apartment, stabbing the people with a folding knife.

Zine Mutlack, the 8 year old boy who was treated and released from the hospital said he first saw Kinner hiding near the party.  “Then he popped up and I was in front of my aunt,” Zine said. “He just came to me and stabbed me in my belly. Then he went to her, made her fall on the ground, then he stabbed her lots of times and I heard her yelling.”  In the chaos that followed, Zine said his mother was stabbed in the neck and his father told him to run home and call the police.  “I said, ‘Somebody is stabbing people in the apartment,'” Zine said. “They said they were already on their way.”

The attack took place at an apartment complex that is home to refugee families. Kinner is not a refugee but he temporarily lived at the complex until he was asked to leave the day before his attack.  The chief said the victims were all refugees from Syria, Iraq and Ethiopia who had escaped violence in their homelands only to be confronted with it in America. The victims were placed in Boise as part of the refugee resettlement program.  International Rescue Committee CEO David Miliband said his group settled Ruya and her mother in Boise from Ethiopia in December 2015. Her father is in Turkey.

Monday evening, around 1,500 people turned out at a vigil honoring members of refugee families targeted in the stabbing.  People wept, sang and shouted their support for the refugee community, and many brought bouquets of white flowers intended to symbolize peace. By the end of the rally, hundreds of bouquets filled dozens of baskets on the steps of Boise’s City Hall.

A 3-year-old child refugee from Ethiopia attacked at her birthday party by a knife-wielding man has died of her injuries. Ruya Kadir died at a trauma center in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she was flown for treatment.  Police said five other children and three adults were wounded in the stabbing attack.  Police have arrested a 30-year-old man from Los Angeles who had been staying in the same apartment building.  Seven of the other eight victims remain in the hospital, many with serious or critical injuries, and one child was treated and released. The wounded children ranged in age from 4 to 12 years old.

The suspect, Timothy Kinner, 30, was initially charged with nine counts of aggravated battery, and six counts of injury to a child.  Kinner was arraigned in Ada County Court in Boise when a judge informed him that the charges had been amended and that he’s now facing one count of first-degree murder.  Kinner has an extensive criminal record spanning multiple states and has spent time in prison for previous violent offenses.  If convicted, Kinner could be eligible for the death penalty under Idaho law. Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts said her office has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty, saying those “high-level decisions” are made only after all the facts are in.

Boise Police Chief Bill Bones said during an emotional news conference that the suspect’s motive was “vengeance” for being asked to leave an apartment in the complex due to his behavior.  Bones said Kinner had been invited to stay for a few days at the apartment of a renter who had shown him compassion but was asked to leave on Friday due to his disruptive behavior.  According to Police Chief Bones, Kinner returned to the apartment where he had been a guest on Saturday and found nobody home.  Around 8:45 p.m. Kinner went a few doors down to where the party was going on and allegedly stormed the apartment, stabbing the people with a folding knife.

Zine Mutlack, the 8 year old boy who was treated and released from the hospital said he first saw Kinner hiding near the party.  “Then he popped up and I was in front of my aunt,” Zine said. “He just came to me and stabbed me in my belly. Then he went to her, made her fall on the ground, then he stabbed her lots of times and I heard her yelling.”  In the chaos that followed, Zine said his mother was stabbed in the neck and his father told him to run home and call the police.  “I said, ‘Somebody is stabbing people in the apartment,'” Zine said. “They said they were already on their way.”

The attack took place at an apartment complex that is home to refugee families. Kinner is not a refugee but he temporarily lived at the complex until he was asked to leave the day before his attack.  The chief said the victims were all refugees from Syria, Iraq and Ethiopia who had escaped violence in their homelands only to be confronted with it in America. The victims were placed in Boise as part of the refugee resettlement program.  International Rescue Committee CEO David Miliband said his group settled Ruya and her mother in Boise from Ethiopia in December 2015. Her father is in Turkey.

Monday evening, around 1,500 people turned out at a vigil honoring members of refugee families targeted in the stabbing.  People wept, sang and shouted their support for the refugee community, and many brought bouquets of white flowers intended to symbolize peace. By the end of the rally, hundreds of bouquets filled dozens of baskets on the steps of Boise’s City Hall.

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1 month ago · by · 0 comments

Thailand Soccer Team Rescued From Cave

 

 

 

In Thailand, rescuers raced to free 12 members of a youth soccer team and a coach who had been trapped in a flooded cave for nearly three weeks.  Divers found the teammates and coach alive, but had been unable to rescue them.  In the last 18 days, a local search for the missing 13 turned into a complex rescue operation, involving hundreds of experts who flew in from around the world to help in the rescue efforts.  The rescue has been a race to extract the boys and their coach ahead of monsoon rains that could haved flooded the cave completely.  Cave experts grappled with the problem of how to free the young, malnourished boys, some of whom couldn’t swim, from a flooded cavern as monsoon rains threatened to raise water levels even further.  The boys received a crash course in swimming and the use of SCUBA gear.

The final boy and his coach rescued Tuesday are still being treated at an on-site medical center, while three other boys have been transported to a nearby hospital where eight of their teammates are recuperating after being rescued Sunday and Monday.  Nineteen divers entered the cave at 10 a.m. local time Tuesday (11 p.m. Monday ET), many on their third mission in three days, with the aim of bringing everyone inside the cave out.  Tuesday’s rescue efforts took nine hours from the time the divers entered the cave to bringing out the boys and their coach.

Divers involved in the rescue described dangerous conditions involving fast-moving shallow water passing through very narrow passages. Poor visibility, razor sharp rocks and narrow passages made the rescue very tricky.  As rain threatened to hamper what was already a complicated rescue mission it became clear the boys were going to have to dive out  Officials scrambled to find full-face oxygen masks small enough to fit the boys and experts were sent in to teach them how to use scuba gear.

Two days before the first four boys were rescued, officials warned that oxygen levels within the cave had fallen to 15%.  The “optimal range” of oxygen needed in the air a person breathes in order to maintain normal function is between 19.5% and 23.5%.  Such low levels creates the risk of hypoxia, a condition that causes altitude sickness.

During the hours-long trip out of the cave, each boy was accompanied underwater by two divers helping them navigate the dark, murky water. The most dangerous part required the divers and boys to squeeze through a narrow, flooded channel. Rescuers had to hold the boys’ oxygen tanks in front of them and swim pencil-like through submerged holes. Once they completed this section, the boys were then handed over to separate, specialist rescue teams, who helped assist them through the remainder of the cave, much of which they can wade through.

All the boys rescued are being treated in an isolation ward in a Chiang Rai hospital. Medical officials told reporters that they’re healthy, fever-free, mentally fit and “seem to be in high spirits.”  They will remain in insolation until the risk of infection has passed.  Parents of the boys have been able to see their children through a glass window and talk to them on the phone. They’ll be allowed to enter the room if tests show the boys are free of infection.

The permanent secretary of the Thai Health Ministry, said the first group of boys taken out on Sunday were aged 14 to 16. Their body temperatures were very low when they emerged, and two are suspected of having lung inflammation.  The second group freed on Monday were aged 12 to 14.  Authorities will look for signs of Histoplasmosis, also known as “cave disease,” an infection caused by breathing in spores of a fungus often found in bird and bat droppings.  They are all likely to stay in hospital for seven days due to their weakened immune systems.

 

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on New Charges For Harvey Weinstein

New Charges For Harvey Weinstein

 

 

 

 

 

 

Media mogul Harvey Weinstein is seen leaving the NYPD 1st Precinct after surrendering himself in New York, NY on May 25, 2018. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones)(Sipa via AP Images)

The Manhattan district attorney has announced new criminal charges against 66 year old film producer Harvey Weinstein that could have the disgraced Hollywood mogul spending the rest of his life in prison.  In May, Weinstein was arrested on charges related to sexually assaulting two women. The new allegations involve a forcible sex act on a third woman that occurred in 2006.  Experts believe he could take a plea bargain to avoid facing 25 years in a criminal case that may hinge on actresses providing “prior bad acts” testimony, a key contributor to the Bill Cosby guilty verdict.

More than 100 women have accused him of sexual misconduct spanning decades.  Weinstein denied all allegations of nonconsensual sexual activity.  In early June, he pled not guilty on two counts of rape and one first-degree criminal sex act charge.  He remained free after he turned in his passport, paid $1 million bail and agreed to wear a monitoring device while under house arrest. Those charges stem from allegations from two women — one involving an incident in 2004, and one in 2013 — according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

As more women came forward with allegations against Weinstein, the New York Police Department and the Manhattan DA’s Office launched a joint investigation culminating in the charges. A grand jury indicted Weinstein on three felony counts on May 30.

Weinstein surrendered to authorities, seven months after The New Yorker and The New York Times published accounts from several women accusing him of various forms of sexual misconduct.  The New Yorker article contained on-the-record accounts from 13 actresses who reported Weinstein forcibly received or performed sexual acts on the women.  The accounts unleashed a flood of accusations of sexual harassment, assault and rape against Weinstein.

Among his accusers are some of Hollywood’s most well-known actresses including Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette, Kate Beckinsale, Daryl Hanna, Salma Hayek, Lena Headey, Lauren Holly, Natasha Henstridge, and Heather Graham.  He was also accused of retaliating against women who refused his advances by discouraging studios from working with them.  Harvey Weinstein’s wife of a decade, Georgina Chapman, announced in a statement that she was leaving him.  Chapman received primary custody of their two children in their divorce.

The scandal emboldened women around the world to accuse powerful men of sexual harassment as part of the #MeToo movement and led to the ousting of many of them from their positions. It also led a great number of women to share their own experiences of sexual assault, harassment, or rape on social media under the hashtag #MeToo. The scandal’s impact on powerful men in various industries came to be called the “Weinstein effect”.  The Times and the New Yorker jointly won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for their reporting on Weinstein.

 

 

 

 

 

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1 month ago · by · 0 comments

FDA Approves First Cannabis Based Drug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a cannabis-based drug.  The drug, Epidiolex, has been approved to treat two types of epileptic syndromes. The drug’s approval comes as an increasing number of states have approved medicinal and recreational marijuana use.  Epidiolex was recommended for approval by an advisory committee in April, and the agency had until this week to make a decision.

The twice-daily oral solution is approved for use in patients 2 and older to treat two types of epileptic syndromes: Dravet syndrome, a rare genetic dysfunction of the brain that begins in the first year of life, and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a form of epilepsy with multiple types of seizures that begin in early childhood, usually between 3 and 5.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement “This is an important medical advance because of the adequate and well-controlled clinical studies that supported this approval, prescribers can have confidence in the drug’s uniform strength and consistent delivery.”

The drug is the “first pharmaceutical formulation of highly-purified, plant-based cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid lacking the high associated with marijuana, and the first in a new category of anti-epileptic drugs,” according to a statement from GW Pharmaceuticals, the UK-based biopharmaceutical company that makes Epidiolex.  Justin Gover, chief executive officer of GW Pharmaceuticals, described the approval in the statement as “a historic milestone.”

He added that the drug offers families “the first and only FDA-approved cannabidiol medicine to treat two severe, childhood-onset epilepsies.”  “These patients deserve and will soon have access to a cannabinoid medicine that has been thoroughly studied in clinical trials, manufactured to assure quality and consistency, and available by prescription under a physician’s care,” Gover said.  He said Epidiolex will become available in the fall would not give any information on cost, saying only that it will be discussed with insurance companies and announced later.

Cannabidiol is one of more than 80 active cannabinoid chemicals, yet unlike tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, it does not produce a high.  The FDA has approved synthetic versions of some cannabinoid chemicals found in the marijuana plant for other purposes, including cancer pain relief.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, up to one-third of Americans who have epilepsy have found no therapies that will control their seizures.  With this approval, Epidiolex could be a new option for those patients who have not responded to other treatments to control seizures.

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1 month ago · by · 0 comments

Reality Winner Pleads Guilty

 

 

Accused NSA whistleblower Reality Winner has pled guilty to retaining and transmitting a document to a news organization after reaching a deal with the U.S. government to serve a 5-year prison sentence. Winner had faced up to 10 years in prison on charges she violated the Espionage Act by leaking a top-secret document to The Intercept about Russian interference in the 2016 election.  She’s been imprisoned for the last year at the Lincoln County Jail in Georgia.

Winner, a former Air Force linguist, was arrested last June and accused of sharing a classified report about Russian interference in the 2016 election with the news media.  Ms. Winner, who was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 2016, was working as a contractor for the National Security Agency when she obtained a copy of a report that described hacks by a Russian intelligence service against local election officials and a company that sold software related to voter registration.

The Intercept, an online news outlet that a prosecutor said Ms. Winner admired, published a copy of the top secret report shortly before Ms. Winner’s arrest was made public. The report described two cyberattacks by Russia’s military intelligence unit, the G.R.U. — one in August against a company that sells voter-registration-related software and another, a few days before the election, against 122 local election officials.

An F.B.I. affidavit made public after her arrest last year said there was a visible crease mark on the file, a scan of which The Intercept had provided to the government while trying to authenticate it. That prompted investigators to surmise it was a printout.  Audit trails showed six people had printed copies, but only one — Ms. Winner — had used a work computer to send emails to The Intercept.

A search warrant application said she had found the report by plugging keywords into the N.S.A.’s system that fell outside her normal work duties.  Computer security experts noted that the printer appeared to leave barely visible microdots on the printout identifying the serial number of the printer and the date and time of the printing: 6:20 a.m. on May 9, 2017.

The Justice Department prosecuted Ms. Winner under the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law that criminalizes the unauthorized disclosure of national-security secrets that could be used to harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary.  Her decision to plead guilty to one felony count allows the government to avoid a complex trial that had been scheduled for October.

Winner is the second person known to have reached a plea agreement in a leak prosecution case under the current administration.  Former F.B.I. agent, Terry J. Albury, pled guilty in April, but prosecutors in that case have hinted that they will ask that he serve 46 to 57 months in prison.  The Justice Department has recently filed charges in at least two other leak-related cases.  James Wolfe, a former Senate Intelligence Committee staff member, was arrested and charged with lying to the F.B.I. about his contacts with reporters, including a Times reporter with whom he had a personal relationship and whose phone records the department secretly seized, during a leak investigation.  In another case, Joshua A. Schulte, a former C.I.A. software engineer, was charged with violating the Espionage Act and other laws based on accusations that he sent a stolen archive of documents and electronic tools related to the agency’s hacking operations to WikiLeaks, which called them the Vault 7 leak.

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1 month ago · by · 0 comments

Maryland Newsroom Shooting

 

 

 

In Annapolis, Maryland, five people were left dead and two others injured after a gunman armed with a shotgun and smoke grenades stormed the newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper on the afternoon of June 28th.   The suspect, Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, was taken into custody at the scene and was charged on Friday morning with five counts of first-degree murder.  Police say Ramos refused to cooperate with the authorities or provide his name and was identified using facial recognition technology.

The attack was covered in real time by some of the journalists who found themselves under siege. A message saying “please help us” with the address of the office building was tweeted from the account of Anthony Messenger, a summer intern. A crime reporter, Phil Davis, described how the gunman “shot through the glass door to the office” before opening fire on employees.  “There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,” Mr. Davis wrote.

Davis said during a phone interview that the gunman was silent as he stalked the newsroom, stopping once to reload as journalists huddled in fear under their desks.  Once the police arrived, staff members put their hands in the air and shouted, “We’re not him,” Mr. Davis recalled. The gunman was hiding under a desk as the police moved in. He did not exchange gunfire with officers when he was taken in.

Police say Ramos had a long history of conflict with the Capital Gazette, which produces a number of local newspapers along Maryland’s shore, suing journalists there for defamation and waging a social media campaign against them.  “This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,” said William Krampf, acting chief of the Anne Arundel County Police Department. “This person was prepared to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm.”

In July 2012, Mr. Ramos filed a defamation lawsuit in Maryland’s Prince George’s County Circuit Court against Capital Gazette Communications, its then editor and publisher and a former reporter, claiming that his reputation had been damaged after the newspaper published a story in 2011 about Mr. Ramos’s guilty plea in a harassment case. Three months later, he filed a fuller complaint alleging invasion of privacy.  The lawsuit was later dismissed by Judge Maureen M. Lamasney after a March 2013 hearing, in which Mr. Ramos, who represented himself, was unable to identify anything that was falsely reported in the July 2011 article nor could he cite examples about how he had been harmed. According to the appellate decision that later affirmed the dismissal, Ramos showed no understanding of defamation law.

During a press conference, Acting Deputy Chief William Krampf told reportrs that the suspect had made violent threats against the paper and the paper had been threatened the day of the shooting.  Krampf could not specifically confirm what the threats entailed or if the shooter targeted anyone specifically but did say the shooting was a targeted attack.  Those killed in the shooting were identified as longtime editor and columnist Rob Hiaasen, editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, columnist and editor John McNamara, sales assistant Rebecca Smith and editor and community reporter Wendi Winters.

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2 months ago · by · 0 comments

Officer Charged in Antwon Rose Shooting

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of Antwon Rose, a 17-year-old unarmed African-American high school senior who was shot and killed on June 19th by an East Pittsburgh police officer.  Rose was shot in the back as he was trying to flee a traffic stop by Police Officer Michael Rosfeld.  Officer Rosfeld came upon Antwon and another teenager, Zaijuan Hester, when he stopped a car they were riding in that had been seen leaving a drive-by shooting in the nearby town of North Braddock.  Zaijuan, 17, was charged in connection with that shooting.

Prosecutors in Pennsylvania have charged Officer Michael Rosfeld with criminal homicide for the fatal shooting.  The charge against Officer Rosfeld capped days of protests in the Pittsburgh area, and came two days after the funeral for Antwon at Woodland Hills Intermediate School, in Swissvale, Pa., where he was a rising senior.  Allegheny County district attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said that Officer Rosfeld had failed basic police procedures in the moments before Antwon was shot, gave statements to investigators that were contradicted by witnesses and had a troubling employment history with other police departments.  Zappala said he’d ask a jury to consider first-degree murder charges against Rosfeld, though the charge of criminal homicide opens the door for a possible conviction on lesser charges—including involuntary manslaughter. Rosfeld surrendered to authorities and was released after posting $250,000 bail.

Officer Rosfeld pulled over the Chevrolet Cruze that matched the description of a vehicle seen near an earlier drive-by shooting in North Braddock, in which a 22-year-old man was struck in the abdomen.  Without waiting for backup, Officer Rosfeld approached the driver’s side of the car and had the driver step out. As he was placing the driver in handcuffs, Antwon, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, and Zaijuan, who was in the back seat, jumped out.  Witnesses said Antwon flashed his hands in the air, showing that they were empty, and then turned to run away.

A video of the encounter posted on Facebook shows the teenagers running from police vehicles as three shots are fired, and Antwon falling to the ground.  Witnesses told the police that they heard Officer Rosfeld fire three shots — all of which hit Antwon. One struck the right side of his face, another hit his right elbow and a third, which was the fatal wound, hit his back and then struck a lung and his heart, an autopsy found.

Officer Rosfeld initially told investigators that Antwon had turned his hand toward him and was holding “something dark,” and that he thought it was a gun.  Yet when he was asked again about what had transpired, Officer Rosfeld said he did not see a gun.  According to the criminal complaint, “When confronted with this inconsistency, Rosfeld stated he saw something in the passenger’s hand but was not sure what it was.” “Officer Rosfeld stated that he was not certain if the individual who had his arm pointed at him was still pointing at him when he fired.”

An empty 9 millimeter magazine, which fit into a 9 millimeter pistol recovered under the car’s front passenger seat, was found in Antwon’s front right pocket. The pistol had been reported missing in Monroeville, Pa., that same day.

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