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3 days ago · by · Comments Off on Measles Outbreak Continues, US on Verge of Losing Elimination Status

Measles Outbreak Continues, US on Verge of Losing Elimination Status

 

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that there have been 971 known cases of measles in in 26 state in the US so far this year, surpassing the number of cases during the last outbreak in 1994.  Public health officials blame lower vaccination rates based on misinformation for the current surge in infected people.  Public health officials blame lower vaccination rates based on misinformation for the current surge in infected people.

As many as four million people got measles each year in the United States before the vaccine became widely used, according to the C.D.C., with an estimated 400 to 500 deaths and 48,000 hospitalizations annually.  Before the measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, major outbreaks were a common global occurrence, with two to three outbreaks occurring annually. These outbreaks led to approximately 2.6 million deaths each year.

After decades of work by public health officials to educate the public about the importance of vaccination, measles was eliminated as an endemic disease in the United States in 2000.  While the elimination status didn’t mean the disease was completely eradicated, it meant that the country had gone more than 12 months without “continuous disease transmission.”

The C.D.C. pointed to a continuing outbreak in New York City and Rockland County, N.Y., as posing a particular public health threat.  There have been 550 confirmed cases of measles in New York City since September 2018.  Rockland County officials said another 254 cases of measles had been reported there as of May 28.  Measles is a highly contagious virus that can cause serious respiratory symptoms, fever and rash, as well as permanent deafness or encephalitis in severe cases, according to the C.D.C.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia require vaccinations for children entering kindergarten, however all states also provide medical exemptions to these requirements and some states also offer exemptions for religious and philosophical reasons.  Some states are taking precautionary measures to stop the outbreak.  Maine became the fourth state, along with California, Mississippi and West Virginia, to end most nonmedical exemptions for childhood vaccines.  Earlier this year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency in heavily Hasidic portions of Brooklyn, mandating that people who have not been vaccinated receive fines. Health workers have been offering free vaccines in the affected Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Measles is highly contagious and if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.  The measles virus can live for up to two hours in a space where the infected person coughed or sneezed. If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected. Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before through four days after the rash appears- meaning infected people are spreading the disease before they even know they have it.

The best protection against measles is measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, which provides long-lasting protection against all strains of measles. Your child needs two doses of MMR vaccine for best protection – the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, the second dose 4 through 6 years of age.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Stop & Shop Strike Ends

Stop & Shop Strike Ends

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After more than three months of negotiations and 11 days on strike, over 30,000 Stop & Shop workers have reached a tentative agreement with the supermarket chain that they said met their demands for better pay, health care coverage and other benefits.  The employees, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union at more than 240 Stop & Shops across Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, returned to work on April 22 after reaching the deal on Sunday.

During an interview, union spokeswoman Jessica Raimundo said “The new contract does satisfy the different points of contention.  The agreement preserves health care and retirement benefits, provides wage increases, and maintains time-and-a-half pay on Sunday for current members.  Under this proposed contract, our members will be able to focus on continuing to help customers in our communities.”   Details of the proposed three-year agreement will not be made public until the 31,000 union members across five locals ratify the contract.

A previous three-year contract expired on Feb. 23, and workers had protested what they considered cuts in the new contract to health care, take-home pay and other benefits. Stop & Shop continued negotiations with the union throughout the strike.  During negotiations, Stop & Shop employees argued that the chain’s parent company, Ahold Delhaize, reported profits of more than $2 billion to its shareholders last year, and could afford to compensate workers better.

Stop & Shop is a subsidiary of Dutch supermarket giant Ahold Delhaize, with 415 stores across the Northeast. Workers at company stores in New York and New Jersey were not on strike.  Stop & Shop is one of the last remaining union shops in the industry and the largest grocery store chain in New England.

Workers on strike included cashiers, stockers, bakers, deli clerks and butchers.  When the strike began, Stop & Shops across the three states set in motion a contingency plan to keep the stores open. The chain sent out support staff members and temporary replacement workers to several supermarkets but some stores were forced to close during the strike.  The company limited its offerings amid the strikes. Stop & Shop President Mark McGowan said in a letter April 16 that most stores would remain open for 12 hours, seven days a week. However, he said bakery, customer service, deli, seafood counters and gas stations would not be operational.

Stop & Shop released a statement following the end of the strike and said it was thankful for its customers’ patience.  “The tentative three-year agreements, which are subject to ratification votes by members of each of the union locals, include: increased pay for all associates; continued excellent health coverage for eligible associates; and ongoing defined pension benefits for all eligible associates.  Our associates’ top priority will be restocking our stores so we can return to taking care of our customers and communities and providing them with the services they deserve. We deeply appreciate the patience and understanding of our customers during this time, and we look forward to welcoming them back to Stop & Shop.”

 

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Man Charged In Death of USC Student’s Murder

Man Charged In Death of USC Student’s Murder

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Autopsy results have been released in the case of murdered 21-year-old USC student Samantha Josephson, showing she died of “multiple sharp force injuries.” Police believe the University of South Carolina senior and aspiring lawyer was kidnapped and killed after she mistakenly got into a car she believed to be her Uber ride after leaving a bar around 2am Friday morning in Columbia, South Carolina.  The suspect, Nathaniel Rowland, was arrested Saturday and charged with murder and kidnapping.

The investigation began after friends of 21-year-old Josephson filed a missing person’s report around 1:30 p.m. Friday. They told police they were separated from her the night before in the Five Points district and had not been able to get in touch with her after she did not return to The Hub, an apartment complex on Main Street where she lived with friends.  Clarendon County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a body found in a rural area 70 miles from Columbia, around 4pm Friday. Turkey hunters found a body, later identified as Josephson, in a field near a wooded area about 40 feet off a dirt road.

Around the same time, Columbia police publicized Josephson was missing and shared details of a related vehicle.  Surveillance video shows Josephson standing near the road of a crowded street corner, on her cell phone, reportedly trying to find her Uber driver.  A black Chevrolet Impala pulls up into a parking spot next to where she’s standing and she’s seen getting into the back seat of the vehicle.  Prosecutors said 24-year-old Nathanial Rowland, who is not a driver for Uber or Lyft, activated the child locks on his car when Josephson got in, trapping her.

Rowland was arrested around 3 a.m. Saturday, after a Columbia canine officer on patrol spotted the black Chevrolet Impala that matched the description of the vehicle involved in Josephson’s disappearance, two blocks from the Five Points area.  When the officer stopped the vehicle and asked Rowland to step out of the vehicle, he fled on foot.  The officer took him into custody after a foot chase and returned to the vehicle, where a large amount of blood was discovered in the trunk of the vehicle.

Investigators would later find her cell phone, bleach, window cleaner and more blood in the vehicle. Investigators also discovered that the child locks were enabled so Josephson would have been trapped in the back seat of the car.  Police say that there was a woman in the car with Rowland at the time of his arrest, she has been described as a friend of the suspect and is co-operating with the investigation.

Arrest warrants say Josephson had “numerous wounds evident on multiple parts of her body to include her head, neck, face, upper body, leg and foot.”  Josephson was a senior at USC majoring in political science, according to Jeffrey Stensland, a USC spokesman from the communications department.  Josephson would have graduated this spring and had planned to start law school in the fall.

Samantha’s father, Seymour Josephson, said he would dedicate himself to improving the safety of ride-sharing services.  Her mother Marci Josephson described her daughter as bubbly, loving, kind and full of life.  In her comments to the judge she said “There are no words to describe the immense pain his actions have caused our family and friends.  He’s taken away a piece of our heart, soul and life.”  She also described Rowland’s alleged actions as senseless and vile.

Rowland has not appeared in court and the date of his bond hearing has not yet been set but he will remain in jail until then.  If convicted, Rowland could face up to life in prison or the possibility of the death penalty. Under South Carolina law, kidnapping carries up to 30 years in prison.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on NY State Files Lawsuit Against Purdue and Sackler Family Members

NY State Files Lawsuit Against Purdue and Sackler Family Members

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New York State announced a sweeping lawsuit against members of the Sackler family, the owner of Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, the highly addictive drug at the center of the opioid epidemic.  A group of over 500 cities, counties and Native American tribes have filed suit against Purdue and 8 members of the Sackler family, which founded and owns Purdue Pharma, for their role in creating “the worst drug crisis in American history” by lying about the dangers of the opioid painkiller OxyContin and deceitful marketing of the drug.

New York Attorney General Letitia James accused the Sacklers of masterminding a scheme that “literally profited off of … suffering and death.”  While announcing the suit, James said “And as Purdue sold more and more opioids, the Sackler family transferred more and more wealth into their personal accounts. And as the lawsuits have piled up against the Sackler family and Purdue for their roles in this crisis, they continue to move funds into trusts and, yes, offshore accounts.”  The suit states that the Sackler family is worth an estimated $13 billion, partly due to the more-than-decade-long marketing campaign to boost sales of OxyContin.  At the same time, the economic cost to the U.S. for the opioid epidemic was $504 billion in 2015, the lawsuit contends.  Former Purdue CEO Richard Sackler allegedly touted the drug for unapproved uses and that Purdue workers were instructed to tell doctors the painkillers were not addictive and could help an “enhanced lifestyle,” according to the suit.

Portions of a lawsuit filed by the state of Massachusetts against Purdue that were made public, allege that the company, the Sackler family, and company executives misled prescribers and patients as they aimed to blanket the country with prescriptions for their addictive medications.  Five years after the drug was released to the market, questions were raised about the risk of addiction and overdoses that came with taking OxyContin and opioid medications.  Richard Sackler outlined a strategy that critics have long accused the company of unleashing: divert the blame onto others, particularly the people who became addicted to opioids themselves.  In a February 2001 email he wrote “We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible.  They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.”  The Massachusetts suit claims “By their misconduct, the Sacklers have hammered Massachusetts families in every way possible and the stigma they used as a weapon made the crisis worse.”  The complaint reveals that since 2007, Purdue has sold more than 70 million doses of opioids in Massachusetts for more than $500 million. “And the stigma they used as a weapon made the crisis worse.”

Purdue and the family denied any wrongdoing in a statement “The latest legal action is part of a larger effort to “single out Purdue,” and fault it for the entire crisis.  Purdue Pharma and the individual former directors vigorously denies the allegations in the complaint and will continue to defend themselves against these misleading allegations,” the statement said.

The state of Oklahoma recently reached a $270 million agreement with Purdue Pharma—settling a lawsuit that claimed the company contributed to the deaths of thousands of Oklahoma residents by downplaying the risk of opioid addiction and overstating the drug’s benefits.  More than $100 million of the settlement will fund a new addiction treatment and research center at Oklahoma State University.  The settlement is the first Purdue has made amid more than 2,000 pending lawsuits connecting its painkiller OxyContin to the opioid crisis-which U.S. government data estimates is responsible for nearly 50,000 deaths per year.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Parkland Shooting Survivor Commits Suicide

Parkland Shooting Survivor Commits Suicide

 

 

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On the day Nicholas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School he killed 17 classmates and teachers and wounded 17 others.  Many students escaped with their lives but have emotional wounds that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives.  For Sydney Aiello, 19, the grief of losing her classmates and teachers, including close friend Meadow Pollack, weighed heavily on her. A little over a year after the shooting took place, she took her own life on March 17th.  Heather Galvez of the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office said Aiello died from a gunshot wound to the head.  Aiello’s funeral was held Friday and she was buried at Temple Beth El Memorial Gardens in Davie, Fla.  She is survived by her parents, Cara and Joseph, and older brother Nick.

Aiello was a senior and on the high-school campus the day of the mass shooting but was not in the freshman building where the shooting occurred.  Many said she was never the same after the February 14th shooting claimed the lives of her classmates.  After graduating, she enrolled at Florida Atlantic University but her mother, Cara Aiello said she struggled to attend class because she was afraid to be back in a classroom.  She said her daughter was consumed with survivor’s guilt and recently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from the massacre.  She said Sydney couldn’t shake the devastating trauma of the mass shooting last year and the death of her longtime friend, Meadow Pollack.  She seemed sad in recent days, her mom said, but never asked for help before taking her own life.  Cara Aiello said that she hopes Sydney’s story can help save others who are struggling with their mental health in the aftermath of the shooting.

The horrific circumstances of Meadow Pollack’s death show the unrelenting savagery of shooter Nicolas Cruz that day and would understandably haunt anyone who loved her.  Meadow was shot 4 times in the hallway on the third floor.  She crawled down the hallway to another student, Cara Loughran and covered her to shield her from the bullets.  Cruz pointed his assault rifle at Meadow’s back and shot her four more times.  The bullets pierced through Meadow and into Cara beneath her, killing both students.   Cruz then shot Meadow once in the head.

Pollack’s father, Andrew Pollack, who has become an outspoken activist for more security at schools across the country since his daughter death, retweeted a photo of Sydney Aiello and his daughter posing together in fancy gowns with the heartbreaking caption, “A little more than a year after this photo was taken, both are gone.”  Pollack said his heart goes out to her “poor, poor parents.  It’s terrible what happened. Meadow and Sydney were friends for a long, long time,” he said. “Killing yourself is not the answer.”  Pollack added “If anyone feels like that they have no one that can understand their pain, if there’s any student out there that’s having a hard time, please reach out to me on Twitter. I understand you. You aren’t alone.”

Meadow Pollack’s brother, Hunter, also weighed in on Aiello’s death on Twitter.  “Beautiful Sydney with such a bright future was taken from us way too soon,” he wrote.  Ryan Petty, who also lost his daughter Alaina in the Parkland shooting, stressed the importance of suicide prevention for Stoneman Douglas students.  “It breaks my heart that we’ve lost yet another student from Stoneman Douglas.  My advice to parents is to ask questions, don’t wait.”

Cruz, 20, has pled not guilty and his lawyers have said he’ll plead guilty in return for life in prison but prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.  His trial is tentatively scheduled for next year.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Jury Rules Against Bayer in 2nd Roundup Cancer Trial

Jury Rules Against Bayer in 2nd Roundup Cancer Trial

 

 

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A San Francisco jury found that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide was a “substantial factor” in the cancer of California resident Edwin Hardeman. Hardeman says he sprayed the widely used herbicide on his property for almost three decades and once got the product directly on his skin. He has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The jury will now consider damages owed by Bayer, which owns Monsanto.  The federal case could have implications for thousands of others accusing the company of making them sick.

More than 11,000 people have filed suit against Monsanto Company (now Bayer) alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, alledging that Monsanto covered up the risks. As part of the discovery process, Monsanto has had to turn over millions of pages of its internal records.  More than 760 lawsuits are pending in U.S. District Court in San Francisco and the cases have been combined for handling as multidistrict litigation (MDL) under Judge Vince Chhabria.

The jury came to this verdict despite the judge barring evidence about Monsanto’s efforts to discredit the International Agency for Research on Cancer, after it classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.  Monsanto spent millions of dollars on various secretive tactics aimed at discrediting IARC.  Documents show the company discussing using third parties who appeared to be independent of Monsanto to publicly criticize IARC and push Monsanto propaganda points.  Internal Monsanto records show the company’s role in ghostwriting an article that appeared on Forbes’ contributors’ platform, and they show that the company was behind a story published by Reuters in 2017 that falsely claimed an IARC scientist withheld information from IARC that would have changed the classification.

The judge also barred evidence about how Monsanto worked to discredit French scientist Gilles-Éric Séralini after publication of his 2012 study findings about rats fed water dosed with Roundup. Internal Monsanto records show a coordinated effort to get the Seralini paper retracted, including an email string between Monsanto employees who apparently were so proud of what they called a “multimedia event that was designed for maximum negative publicity” against Seralini that they designated it as an “achievement” worth recognition.

The judge did allow portions of a 2015 internal Monsanto email to be introduced as evidence.  In the email, company scientist Bill Heydens discusses plans to ghostwrite a series of new scientific papers that will contradict IARC’s classification of glyphosate.   In the email, Heydens remarks on how this plan is similar to the ghostwriting of a scientific paper written and published in 2000 in response to another study that found glyphosate to be unsafe.

Officials with Monsanto owner Bayer AG are feeling the effects of the decision has the company’s share prices dropped even lower. The company’s shares already took a huge hit in August after the jury in the first Roundup cancer trial found that the company’s herbicides caused cancer.  In August 2018, a state jury awarded  former school groundskeeper DeWayne “Lee” Johnson nearly $300 million in damages after Monsanto’s Roundup was found to be responsible for his cancer, though the amount was later reduced to $78 million.  Of course, Monsanto appealed the verdict and Johnson has cross appealed, seeking to reinstate the jury award.

 

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Hollywood Actresses and Wealthy CEOs Indicted in College Admissions Scandal

Hollywood Actresses and Wealthy CEOs Indicted in College Admissions Scandal

 

 

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Hollywood actresses and a slew of chief executives are among 50 wealthy people charged in the largest college cheating scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice. Those indicted in the investigation, dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues,” allegedly paid bribes of up to $6.5 million to get their children into elite colleges, including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and the University of Southern California, federal prosecutors said.

At a news conference, Andrew Lelling, the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts said “This case is about the widening corruption of elite college admissions through the steady application of wealth combined with fraud. There can be no separate college admissions system for the wealthy and, I’ll add, there will not be a separate criminal justice system either.” Lelling said “The parents charged in the case are a catalog of wealth and privilege. They include, for example, the CEOs of private and public companies, successful securities and real estate investors, two well-known actresses, a famous fashion designer and the co-chairman of a global law firm.”

The ringleader of the scam is William Singer, owner of a college counseling service called Key Worldwide Foundation and a company called Edge College & Career Network. Singer allegedly accepted bribes totaling $25 million from parents between 2011 and 2018 “to guarantee their children’s admission to elite schools.” Singer, of Newport Beach, California, pleaded guilty in a Boston federal court on charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice.
Steven Masera, 69, the accountant and financial officer for the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation, was also indicted. Mark Riddell, a private school counselor in Bradenton, Florida, and Masera allegedly worked closely with Singer in the scam, according to the indictment. According to the indictment, Mikaela Sanford, 32, of Folsom, California, another employee of the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation, and David Sidoo, 59, of Vancouver, Canada, were also indicted for allegedly working closely with Singer to facilitate the scam.

Singer would allegedly instruct parents to seek extended time for the children to take entrance exams or obtain medical documentation that their child had a learning disability, according to the indictment. The parents were then told to get the location of the test changed to one of two testing centers, one in Houston and another in West Hollywood, California, where test administrators Niki Williams, 44, of Houston and Igor Dvorskiy, 52, of Sherman Oaks, California, helped carry out the scam, the indictment alleges. Riddell, 36, allegedly took ACT and SAT tests for students whose parents had paid bribes to Singer. Singer typically paid Riddell $10,000 for each student’s test.
Singer also allegedly bribed school coaches to give to his clients’ admissions slots reserved for student athletes in sports including crew and soccer. He went as far as to stage fake photos of his student clients engaging in sports they never played, or to digitally place the faces of his clients onto images found online of athletes.

Others charged in the probe include nine coaches at elite schools, two SAT and ACT exam administrators, one exam proctor, a college administrator and 33 parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. Robert Zangrillo, 52, of Miami, founder and CEO of the private investment firm Dragon Global; Bill McGlashan, 55, of Mill Valley, California, a businessman and international private equity investor; Gordon Caplan, a New York attorney; and Gregory Abbott, 68, founder and chairman of International Dispensing Corp., a New York food and beverage packaging company, and his wife, Marcia Abbott, 59.
Huffman’s husband, actor William H. Macy, was not indicted, but according to the court document he and Huffman were caught on a recorded conversation with a corroborating witness in the case, allegedly discussing a $15,000 payment to ensure their younger daughter scored high on a college entrance exam. Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli allegedly paid $500,000 to USC to have their two daughters falsely designated as crew recruits, though neither daughter ever participated in the sport.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Christchurch Mosque Shootings

Christchurch Mosque Shootings

 

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At least 49 people were killed and 48 seriously injured in mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on March 15, 2019.  The attack occurred around lunchtime when the mosques were full of worshipers. Footage of the massacre was streamed live online, and a rambling 87 page manifesto laced with white supremacist references was published just before the shootings unfolded.  Police also neutralized two improvised explosive devices attached to one vehicle near the mosque.

The suspected shooter, Brenton Tarrant, 28, live-streamed 17 minutes of video which included footage of himself inside the first mosque, going room-to-room, victim to victim, shooting the wounded from close range as they struggled to crawl away.  In the 6 minutes Tarrant was inside, forty-one people were killed at the Al Noor Mosque.  The live streamed footage also showed the gunman casually talking and laughing as he walked out of the mosque where he shot at people near the area before driving away at high speed, heading for the Linwood Islamic Centre, about 3 miles away.  Another 7 people were killed at the Linwood Mosque, an eighth victim later died in the hospital. Tarrant was apprehended as he fled the Linwood Mosque when two police officers ran his car off the road.

Tarrant has been charged with murder and two other men remain in custody, although their link to the attack is unknown.  None of the men in custody have a criminal history.  Tarrant is an Australian-born former personal trainer who is believed to have been radicalized during his travels abroad. According to the Independent, Tarrant met with right-wing extremists while taking a trip to Europe in 2017, and also traveled to Pakistan and North Korea.  Authorities have said that Tarrant had become obsessed with terrorist attacks committed by radical Islamists in Europe in 2016 and 2017.

According to his manifesto, he started planning a revenge attack about two years prior to the attack and chose his targets three months in advance.  The manifesto expresses several anti-immigrant sentiments including hate speech against migrants, white supremacist rhetoric, and calls for non-European immigrants such as Roma, Indians, Turkish people, Semitic people and others allegedly “invading his land” to be removed.  Tarrant describes himself as an ethno-nationalist and refers to revenge for European civilians who were casualties in Islamic terrorist attacks within Europe as motivation for his attack.  He repeatedly mentions revenge for Ebba Åkerlund, a victim in the 2017 Stockholm truck attack.

Prime Minister Ardern called the incident an “act of extreme and unprecedented violence” and said “this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”  She also described it as a well-planned terrorist attack.  Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel stated that she never thought “anything like this” could happen in New Zealand, saying “everyone is shocked”.  Many other politicians and world leaders have condemned the attacks and world leaders attribute the attack to rising Islamophobia.

Prime Minister Ardern announced: “Our gun laws will change, now is the time… People will be seeking change, and I am committed to that.”  Attorney-General David Parker was later quoted as saying that the government will ban semi-automatic guns but later said the government had not yet committed to anything and that regulations around semi-automatic weapons was “one of the issues” the government would consider.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on R Kelly Arrested Hours After Tense Interview With Gayle King

R Kelly Arrested Hours After Tense Interview With Gayle King

 

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R&B singer R. Kelly’s legal troubles seem far from over with Chicago police charging him with failure to pay more than $161,000 in child support owed to his ex-wife Andrea-for their three children.  The arrest came just two weeks after he was arrested and charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault against four women and girls—three of whom were under the age of consent at the time.  Prosecutors say three of Kelly’s victims were underage girls and that Kelly abused them over a span of about a dozen years.  Kelly was once again released from custody after someone paid his bail three days after his arrest.

His second arrest came just hours after an interview with Gayle King where he became visibly upset and was screaming and cursing.  During the interview, which broadcast on ”CBS This Morning,” Kelly again denied the allegations that have followed him for years as well as the more recent allegations that he is holding several young women in what has been described as a sex cult.  The 52 year old singer went from tears to yelling throughout the interview as he claims that the accusations are lies.  During the tense interview, at times, Kelly jumped from his seat, standing over King as he yelled and pounded on his chest.

  1. Kelly: “I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me! I’m fighting for my [bleep] life! Y’all are killing me with this [bleep]! I gave y’all 30 years of my [bleep] career!”

Gayle King: “Robert.”

  1. Kelly: “Thirty years of my career, and y’all are trying to kill me!”

During the interview, when asked about whether he pays child support to his ex-wife, he claimed to only have about $350,000 left in his bank account.

Kelly has faced scrutiny for more than a decade, though you wouldn’t know it by looking at his record sales over the years.  He is notably known for his music as much as the allegations involving underage girls.  It’s been well-known that Kelly settled four cases involving underage girls before his 2002 indictment.  During the six years it took that case to go to trial, Kelly churned out hits like “I Believe I Can Fly,”  “I Wish” and “Fiesta”.  He was eventually found not guilty and though the allegations were well known, they faded from the publics’ mind as his record sales soared.

Attention to the allegations were reignited in January after the six-part Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” aired.  It featured interviews with seven accusers and former members of his inner circle. They all said Kelly preys on vulnerable women and young girls.  All of the girls were willing involved with him but were underage at the time.  They claim that at the time, they loved him and began their relationships believing they had a special connection but began to realize that he had a sickness.

Gayle King also asked King about the two women that currently live with Kelly, whose parents both claim he has isolated them- abusing and brainwashing their daughters.  Aspiring singer Jocelyn Savage, 23, met Kelly when she was just 17 years old and has been living with Kelly since she was 19.  She broke off contact with her parents soon after she began living with him.  Another aspiring singer, Azriel Clary, 20, also met Kelly when she was 17 years old and she broke off contact soon after moving in with him.  In an interview with Gayle King, Clary and Jocelyn defended R. Kelly saying, that their parents are just after money and that they were happy being his girlfriends and living with him.  R.Kelly was in the room during the interview.rkelly.jpg

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Patriots Owner’s Arrest Spotlights Sex Trafficking Investigation

Patriots Owner’s Arrest Spotlights Sex Trafficking Investigation

 

 

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The billionaire owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, was charged with two counts of soliciting sex during a wide ranging sting operation investigating prostitution and human trafficking at day spas in South Florida.  The charges against Mr. Kraft, 77, in Jupiter, Fla., came after the police used video surveillance to observe activity inside several day spas and massage parlors.  Prosecutors say they have video evidence of Kraft engaging in the criminal acts.  While Mr. Kraft lives in Massachusetts, he has owned property in Palm Beach, Fla., for a number of years.  Kraft is accused of patronizing a spa in Jupiter called Orchids of Asia, a small storefront business in a strip mall on two occasions.

All of the sexual encounters that have resulted in charges were videotaped as part of the prostitution investigation.  Investigators had been conducting surveillance of massage parlors in the area for 6 months and have charged nearly 200 people, though only a fraction have been arrested so far.  The police said that the massage parlors and spas had been used for prostitution and that many of the women involved were considered to be victims.  Many of the women involved in the case came to the U.S. from China on temporary visas, and some reportedly had sex with 1,000 men a year.  The investigation involved several law enforcement agencies and resulted in raids and arrests connected to nearly a dozen businesses in the region.  At least one person was charged with human trafficking while others, including several women, are accused of racketeering and money laundering. More than two dozen customers, men ranging in age from their 30s to at least one in his 80s, have been arrested.

Acting on a tip, the police began their investigation of Orchids of Asia by searching online reviews for the business, several of which used a slang term for a sex act that was available to male customers.  After conducting 24-hour video surveillance in November, the police noticed that only male clients had entered.  A Florida Department of Health investigator inspected the business on behalf of the police and noticed several indications that women were living there, including beds, dressers with personal items and a refrigerator containing food and condiments.

One day in January, the police stopped men leaving the spa and the men told police officers that they had taken part in sex acts during their visits. Using that information, the police obtained a search warrant allowing them to monitor and record conduct inside the spa on video.  At 11:30pm on January 17th, the police entered the Orchids of Asia massage parlor under the pretense of investigating the report of a suspicious package.  They evacuated the parlor and set up surveillance cameras to capture what went on inside.  For five days, starting on Jan. 18, the police monitored the video, and they said they had observed more than 20 men receiving manual or oral stimulation during massage sessions.  Police say they did not observe sexual intercourse in any of the instances.

It is extremely difficult for law enforcement to takedown the rings that operate these types of parlors and even more difficult to prove human trafficking charges because of workers’ reluctance to testify, cultural barriers and an international business structure that makes identifying the masterminds next to impossible.  In the last several years, law enforcement has started to view the women in these situations as victims and have cracked down on arresting johns in an effort to eliminate the demand.  In many cases, they refer these women to social services after a parlor is raided.  Many of the women who are working in these establishments are recruited from rural parts of China with promises of legal employment in the US.  Some are fleeing domestic abuse, have little education or their families are heavily in debt.  Agencies in China charge them thousands in travel fees to the US and they agree to work off the debt, eventually being forced into the sex trade with little to no other options for housing or income once in the US.

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