Story highlights Driver provides his account of Boston-area carjacking He details behavior of the Tsarnaev brothers Older brother asked Danny about his heritage Incident followed Boston Marathon bombings During the 90-minute ride of terror, Tamerlan Tsarnaev kept talking. He barked out orders, detailed his hatred of Americans and asked his carjacking victim to remain calm. Tsarnaev kept asking about the 26-year-old driver's heritage and family. "If you cooperate, I won't kill you," said Tsarnaev, who, along with his younger brother, was a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings and the killing of a police officer. The Massachusetts driver, whom CNN is identifying only as Danny because of privacy and safety concerns, gave his account of the April 18 incident and described the very different behavior of Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar. JUST WATCHED Defending the Boston bombing suspect Replay More Videos ... MUST WATCH Defending the Boston bombing suspect 02:15 JUST WATCHED Widow: Give the body to his family Replay More Videos ... MUST WATCH Widow: Give the body to his family 01:10 JUST WATCHED Survivor: Rescuers better than Tom Brady Replay More Videos ... MUST WATCH Survivor: Rescuers better than Tom Brady 02:12 JUST WATCHED 'Miracle worker' to help defend Tsarnaev Replay More Videos ... MUST WATCH 'Miracle worker' to help defend Tsarnaev 02:56 While the talkative Tamerlan was the ringleader during the carjacking, the quiet Dzhokhar responded to multiple orders, such as getting money from an ATM. The only question Dzhokhar asked was how much Danny paid for his Mercedes SUV. After the Chinese entrepreneur eventually escaped, police caught up with the brothers and engaged in a gun battle that left Tamerlan Tsarnaev dead. From fear to cheers: The final 24 hours that paralyzed Boston Dzhokhar, wounded, was found later and is in police custody. Hours after authorities released images of the two bombing suspects, the brothers spontaneously decided to go to New York's Times Square to blow up their six remaining explosives, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators. His account was outlined by New York's police commissioner. Before forcing their way into Danny's vehicle three days after the bombings, the brothers fatally shot a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, police said. Tamerlan Tsarnaev said right after he got in the vehicle that he was responsible for the bombings and the officer's death, according to Danny. "This is like something you see in a movie, isn't it?" Tamerlan Tsarnaev said at one point during the carjacking. Danny, who first spoke with The Boston Globe, gave CNN this account of the carjacking in a more than hourlong conversation off-camera. -- Danny had stopped his vehicle to send a text when Tamerlan walked up and tapped on the window. The suspect, allegedly carrying a handgun, opened the door and got into the passenger seat. -- Dzhokhar followed in another vehicle. -- Under questioning by Tamerlan, Danny played up being Chinese and tried to humanize himself by talking about cell phones and family. Danny told CNN he felt being Chinese helped save his life. -- Eventually, Dzhokhar abandoned his vehicle and the three rode in Danny's SUV. Tamerlan started driving, using back streets in the Boston area, trying to avoid police and searching for an open gas station. -- Danny heard the word "Manhattan" at one point and thought the brothers were going to drive to New York, kill him on the way and dump his body under the bridge. -- When they stopped to refuel at a Shell gas station, Danny managed to slip away. He could feel Tamerlan grab him and heard him yell an expletive. Danny ran to a Mobil gas station, where he told an employee there what happened. Danny told CNN the fact that his car was low on gas helped save his life. During the carjacking, Danny thought about a girl in New York whom he really liked. He thought he'd never see her again. ||||| Boston suspects' carjacking victim describes terrifying night Timeline: 11 mass shootings in U.S. in just over a year Timeline: 11 mass shootings in U.S. in just over ... What Americans need to know when they choose prescription drugs What Americans need to know when they choose prescription drugs Brother: N.J. mall shooter did not intend to harm anyone but himself 11/05: Brother says N.J. mall shooter did not intend to harm anyone but himself; Paintings stolen by Nazis revealed for first time (CBS News) You are about to hear, for the first time, from a man who got caught up in the terror in Boston two weeks ago and helped bring it to an end. An immigrant from China, he was carjacked by the suspects, but escaped and tipped off the police. This 26-year-old Chinese entrepreneur, who calls himself "Danny," had just pulled over in his new Mercedes on a Boston street to send a text message when a man jumped in. (At left, watch "Danny" describe how the incident began) In his first television interview, he tells his story. At his request, CBS News is concealing his identity and has altered his voice. "I thought it was just a robbery, you know?" Danny said. "He took out his gun, pointed to me. He told me that 'You know I am serious. Don't be stupid.'" But Danny quickly learned it was more than just a robbery. "He asked me a question, like, 'Do you know the Boston explosion on Monday?' I said, 'yes.' He said, you know, 'I did that. And I just killed a policeman in Cambridge.'" (At left, "Danny" gives a detailed account of what happened in the car after the suspects took control.) The gunman was Tamerlan Tsarneav. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, was trailing behind in another car. When they pulled over, the two suspects loaded the remaining bombs into the back of Danny's car. Tamerlan and his brother spoke to each other in Russian. Full Coverage: Boston Marathon Bombings Boston bombers planned to go to NYC next, carjacking victim suggests Boston bombing probe: What female DNA may mean in investigation Danny said he didn't understand much of their conversation. "I only heard one word. It's Manhattan," he said. "It seemed like they were going to New York because they asked me a lot of questions." En route to a gas station, Danny's phone rang. It was his roommate, who wondered why he wasn't at home. Tamerlan pulled a gun out. "If you don't want me to pick up the phone, I won't pick it up. I won't say anything," Danny remembers telling Tamerlan. "He told me that you have to answer the phone. But if you use any single world in Chinese, I will kill you." When Danny's roommate heard him speaking in English, he responded in Chinese, saying "Why are you speaking in English? Are you okay?" (At left, "Danny" describes how the Tsarnaev brothers threatened to kill him if he spoke Chinese on a phone call with his roommate.) "I just told him I'm going to sleep over at a friend's place tonight," Danny said. "So after, I hang up the phone. Tamerlan was very happy. He said, 'Good job. Good boy.'" Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev At some point, he started thinking about his exit strategy. "I have a lot of things to do," he said he remembered thinking. "I have to unlock the door. I have to unfasten my seatbelt. I have to pull the handle on the door." Finally, at a gas station Dzhokhar left the car to pay inside. Tamerlan was fiddling with the GPS. Danny knew this might be his last chance. "I was counting," Danny said. "I was counting. I was just, 'one two, three, four.' And I just do it. And I did it. I can feel Tamerlan trying to grab me ... I was just running as fast as I can and I never look back." (At left, "Danny" describes how he managed to get away.) He ran across the street to a Mobil gas station, pleading with the clerk on duty to call 911. "Car-jacking occurred at Rich & Shell, 1-0-0-1 Cambridge Street," the police scanner said. "The victim fled the car at the Mobil on Memorial Drive." Danny said he doesn't think he's a hero. "What I was doing was trying to save myself. The police, they are the hero. They exchange gunfire with the bad guys. I think they are the heroes." Danny felt lucky to get out of it alive and in one piece. His car, the 2013 Mercedes SUV was not so lucky. Police used its GPS to track it to where they cornered the Tsarnaev brothers in the shootout. It sustained 32 bullet holes, so the Daimler Leasing Company says a month-and-a-half into the deal, Danny's car is a total loss. You know what? He's okay with that.
– As the Boston carjacking victim known only as "Danny" continues to recount his story of what happened during his encounter with the Tsarnaev brothers, CNN has what might be the strangest detail of all. Danny says that while Tamerlan made threats, blustered about his hatred of Americans, and generally acted as ringleader, Dzhokhar asked only one question the whole time: He wanted to know how much Danny paid for the Mercedes SUV they were riding in. At another point, the Chinese immigrant tells CBS that his phone rang. "If you don't want me to pick up the phone, I won't pick it up," he told Tamerlan. "I won't say anything." Tamerlan "told me that you have to answer the phone. But if you use any single word in Chinese, I will kill you." Danny complied, and when he hung up Tamerlan said, "Good job. Good boy."
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Thoughts may be ephemeral, but a tweet, apparently, is forever. A Criminal Court judge in Manhattan ruled on Monday that Twitter must turn over to prosecutors messages sent by a Brooklyn writer during the Occupy Wall Street protests last fall. In doing so, the judge, Matthew A. Sciarrino Jr., indicated that although private speech was protected, the same did not apply to public comments on Twitter. “The Constitution gives you the right to post, but as numerous people have learned, there are still consequences for your public posts,” Judge Sciarrino wrote. “What you give to the public belongs to the public. What you keep to yourself belongs only to you.” The writer, Malcolm Harris, was one of about 700 protesters arrested in October while walking on the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge. He was charged with disorderly conduct, a violation. In January, the Manhattan district attorney’s office subpoenaed all messages that he had posted to Twitter from two days before the Occupy Wall Street protests began in September through the end of 2011. Mr. Harris’s messages, which are no longer publicly available, are of interest to prosecutors because they may contradict an argument they expect him to make at trial: that the police led or escorted protesters off the pedestrian paths and into the bridge’s roadway. His lawyer, Martin R. Stolar, filed a motion to quash the subpoena, saying it had not been delivered properly, was overly broad and was issued for an improper purpose. Judge Sciarrino dismissed the motion in April, writing that Mr. Harris lacked the standing to oppose the subpoena because under Twitter’s policies, he had granted the company the “worldwide, nonexclusive, royalty-free” right to distribute his messages, which were all publicly available. Twitter itself then sought to quash the subpoena. But in the decision released on Monday, Judge Sciarrino ordered it to turn over Mr. Harris’s messages. While noting that laws regarding social media were evolving, he held that public speech, regardless of the forum, did not enjoy the same protections as private speech. The case over a minor criminal charge raises significant issues in the still-new area of social media. As is becoming more common, prosecutors requested Mr. Harris’s postings and member information directly from Twitter, which then notified Mr. Harris. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, arguing that prosecutors should be required to obtain a search warrant from a judge for each request and that the person whose posts were being sought should have an opportunity to oppose the demand in court. For law enforcement, social-media postings that document a person’s immediate thoughts and precise location provide a potent tool. “We are pleased that the court has ruled for a second time that the tweets at issue must be turned over,” said Daniel R. Alonso, the chief assistant district attorney in Manhattan. “We look forward to Twitter’s complying and to moving forward with the trial.” Twitter had argued that demands for postings and account information placed it under an undue burden of either turning over the information or fighting each request on behalf of its users. In a statement, the company said it was “disappointed” with the ruling and was considering its options. “Twitter’s terms of service have long made it absolutely clear that its users own their content,” the statement said. “We continue to have a steadfast commitment to our users and their rights.” ||||| Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo speaks in Cannes, France. The widespread data generated by social media is becoming a tool for police surveillance. (Sebastian Nogier / European Pressphoto Agency / ) Everything is evidence. You might want to remember that the next time you log on. According to new data released by Twitter on Monday, American police are leading the charge to get users’ info from the popular San Francisco-based microblogging service. Overall, from Jan. 1 through June, the company received 849 law enforcement requests for individual users’ information, granting 63% of those requests. American law enforcement accounted for 80% of those information requests compared to other nations, just as Americans are thought to make up a dominant share of the service’s users. U.S. officials made 679 requests, getting what they wanted 75% of the time. What’s more, the company reported, “We’ve received more government requests in the first half of 2012, as outlined in this initial dataset, than in the entirety of 2011.” The widespread data generated by social media use represents one of the next frontiers of privacy’s collision with police surveillance. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security monitors public posts on social media for potential threats; on Monday, the Manhattan district attorney’s office won a court ruling forcing Twitter to turn over three months’ worth of tweets for an Occupy Wall Street protester charged with disorderly conduct. The numbers released by Twitter on Monday show requests for “user information.” According to the company’s privacy policy, that can include your location, IP addresses, search terms, pages visited and also data from when you visit third-party websites with Twitter buttons on them — which would seem to include the one you’re reading right now. Some of this data is deleted after 18 months, according to the company’s privacy disclosure, if not sooner. The company accepts requests from law enforcement to preserve information for longer periods of time. Twitter is one of the more transparent social-media sites out there, with a standing policy to notify users of requests for their information, unless barred by a statute or a court order; in the case of the Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York, prosecutors had told the company not to tell the protester they were requesting his information. Twitter ignored this directive and told the protester anyway; he’s been fighting the subpoena ever since. Twitter’s openness policies contrast a bit with Facebook’s, which released its law-enforcement guidelines only after Anonymous Antisec hackers pried them out of the company’s fingers illegally. Facebook later posted its policy online as Twitter has done, but its policies on notifying users are noticeably less firm. In May, according to the Associated Press, Facebook cooperated with Pakistani authorities trying to block users participating in an inflammatory competition to post pictures of the prophet Muhammad, which is forbidden under Islamic law; Twitter, however, refused to cooperate and saw its services briefly blocked in Pakistan as a result. According to the data released Monday, Twitter received six requests from foreign governments and courts in France, Greece, Pakistan, Turkey and the United Kingdom over the past six months and complied with none of them. The company also received 3,378 copyright takedown requests in that time span and complied with 38% of them, removing 5,275 tweets. ALSO: Anderson Cooper comes out as gay. Does it matter? Yes Navy will resume sinking of old war ships; 3 are on target list Man trying out new rifle accidentally ignites towns’ fireworks displays nation@latimes.com
– Freewheeling speech on Twitter isn't the same as protected speech, a judge has ruled. In a decision with major repercussions for social media communication, a Manhattan criminal court judge has ordered Twitter to turn over tweets sent by a New York writer during Occupy Wall Street protests last fall. Judge Matthew Sciarrino said that while private speech is protected, the writer's communication doesn't merit the same treatment because his tweets were public, reports the New York Times. The case involves writer Malcolm Harris, who was busted while Occupiers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge. Prosecutors demanded two days of Harris' tweets in a bid to contradict his expected defense that it was police who led protesters off the bridge walkway and into the road. Twitter fought the request, and the ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that prosecutors should be required to obtain a search warrant in such a case, and that the process shouldn't skip over the writer of a tweet to go directly to Twitter. While the prosecution was delighted with the ruling, a Twitter statement expressed "disappointment," adding: "Twitter’s terms of service make it absolutely clear that its users own their content. We continue to have a steadfast commitment to our users and their rights." That's a surprise, given that Twitter itself has just revealed that it complied with 63% of 849 requests from law enforcement authorities to turn over tweets in the first six months of this year, reports the Los Angeles Times. American law enforcement made up 80% of those requests.
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Cover story Reports of abuse AIDS exacerbates sexual exploitation of nuns, reports allege By JOHN L. ALLEN JR. and PAMELA SCHAEFFER NCR Staff, Rome and Kansas City, Mo. S everal reports written by senior members of women’s religious orders and by an American priest assert that sexual abuse of nuns by priests, including rape, is a serious problem, especially in Africa and other parts of the developing world. The reports allege that some Catholic clergy exploit their financial and spiritual authority to gain sexual favors from religious women, many of whom, in developing countries, are culturally conditioned to be subservient to men. The reports obtained by NCR -- some recent, some in circulation at least seven years -- say priests at times demand sex in exchange for favors, such as permission or certification to work in a given diocese. The reports, five in all, indicate that in Africa particularly, a continent ravaged by HIV and AIDS, young nuns are sometimes seen as safe targets of sexual activity. In a few extreme instances, according to the documentation, priests have impregnated nuns and then encouraged them to have abortions. In some cases, according to one of the reports, nuns, through naiveté or social conditioning to obey authority figures, may readily comply with sexual demands. Although the problem has not been aired in public, the reports have been discussed in councils of religious women and men and in the Vatican. In November 1998, a four-page paper titled “The Problem of the Sexual Abuse of African Religious in Africa and Rome” was presented by Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa Sr. Marie McDonald, the report’s author, to the Council of 16, a group that meets three times a year. The council is made up of delegates from three bodies: the Union of Superiors General, an association of men’s religious communities based in Rome, the International Union of Superiors General, a comparable group for women, and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Vatican office that oversees religious life. Last September, Benedictine Sr. Esther Fangman, a psychological counselor and president of the Federation of St. Scholastica, raised the issue in an address at a Rome congress of 250 Benedictine abbots. The federation is an organization of 22 monasteries in the United States and two in Mexico. Five years earlier, on Feb. 18, 1995, Cardinal Eduardo Martínez, prefect of the Vatican congregation for religious life, along with members of his staff, were briefed on the problem by Medical Missionary of Mary Sr. Maura O’Donohue, a physician. O’Donohue is responsible for a 1994 report that constitutes one of the more comprehensive accounts. At the time of its writing, she had spent six years as AIDS coordinator for the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development based in London. Though statistics related to sexual abuse of religious women are unavailable, most religious leaders interviewed by NCR say the frequency and consistency of the reports of sexual abuse point to a problem that needs to be addressed. “I don’t believe these are simply exceptional cases,” Benedictine Fr. Nokter Wolf, abbot primate of the Benedictine order, told NCR. “I think the abuse described is happening. How much it happens, what the numbers are, I have no way of knowing. But it is a serious matter, and we need to discuss it.” Wolf has made several trips to Africa to visit Benedictine institutions and is in contact with members of the order there. In her reports, O’Donohue links the sexual abuse to the prevalence of AIDS in Africa and concerns about contracting the disease. “Sadly, the sisters also report that priests have sexually exploited them because they too had come to fear contamination with HIV by sexual contact with prostitutes and other ‘at risk’ women,” she wrote in 1994. O’Donohue declined requests for interviews with NCR. In some cultures, O’Donohue wrote, men who traditionally would have sought out prostitutes instead are turning to “secondary school girls, who, because of their younger age, were considered ‘safe’ from HIV.” Similarly, religious sisters “constitute another group which has been identified as ‘safe’ targets for sexual activity,” O’Donohue wrote. “For example,” O’Donohue wrote, “a superior of a community of sisters in one country was approached by priests requesting that sisters would be made available to them for sexual favors. When the superior refused, the priests explained that they would otherwise be obliged to go to the village to find women, and might thus get AIDS.” O’Donohue wrote that at first she reacted with “shock and disbelief” at the “magnitude” of the problem she was encountering through her contacts with “a great number of sisters during the course of my visits” in a number of countries. Different view of celibacy “The AIDS pandemic has drawn attention to issues which may not previously have been considered significant,” she wrote. “The enormous challenges which AIDS poses for members of religious orders and the clergy is only now becoming evident.” In a report on her 1995 meeting with Cardinal Martínez in the Vatican, O’Donohue noted that celibacy may have different meanings in different cultures. For instance, she wrote in her report, a vicar general in one African diocese had talked “quite openly” about the view of celibacy in Africa, saying that “celibacy in the African context means a priest does not get married but does not mean he does not have children.” Of the world’s 1 billion Catholics, 116.6 million -- about 12 percent -- live in Africa. According to the 2001 Catholic Almanac, 561 are bishops and archbishops, 26,026 are priests and 51,304 are nuns. In addition to such general overviews, Martínez’s office has also received documentation on specific cases. In one such incident, dating from 1988 in Malawi and cited in O’Donohue’s 1994 report, the leadership team of a diocesan women’s congregation was dismissed by the local bishop after it complained that 29 sisters had been impregnated by diocesan priests. Western missionaries helped the leadership team compile a dossier that was eventually submitted to Rome. One of those missionaries, a veteran of more than two decades in Africa, said the Malawi case was complex and the issue of sexual liaisons was not the only factor involved. She described the incident in a not-for-attribution interview with NCR. The missionary said the leadership team had adopted rules preventing sisters from spending the night in a rectory, banning priests from staying overnight in convents and prohibiting sisters from being alone with priests. The rules were intended to reduce the possibility of sexual contact. Several sources told NCR that religious communities as well as church officials have taken steps to correct the problem, though they were reluctant to cite specific examples. Others say the climate of secrecy that still surrounds the issue indicates more needs to be done. The secrecy is due in part to efforts by religious orders to work within the system to address the problems and in part to the cultural context in which they occur. In sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, where the problems are reportedly the most severe, sexual behavior and AIDS are rarely discussed openly. Among many people in that region of Central and Southern Africa, sexual topics are virtually taboo, according to many who have worked there. Expressing frustration at unsuccessful efforts to get church officials to address the problem, O’Donohue wrote in 1994, “Groups of sisters from local congregations have made passionate appeals for help to members of international congregations and explain that, when they themselves try to make representations to church authorities about harassment by priests, they simply ‘are not heard.’ ” The Vatican press office did not respond to NCR requests for comment on this story. O’Donohue wrote that, although she was aware of incidents in some 23 countries, including the United States, on five continents, the majority happened in Africa. Ironically, given the reticence of many Africans to talk about sex, casual sex is common in parts of Africa, and sexual abstinence is rare. It’s a culture in which AIDS thrives. Experts say the view derives from a deeply rooted cultural association between maleness and progeny -- a view that makes the church’s insistence on celibacy difficult not only in practice but also in concept for some African priests. AIDS rampant in Africa Some 25.3 million of the world’s 36.1 million HIV-positive persons live in sub-Saharan Africa. Since the epidemic began in the late 1970s, 17 million Africans have died of AIDS, according to the World Health Organization. Of the 5.3 million new cases of HIV infection in 2000, 3.8 million occurred in Africa. According to a graphic article on AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa in the Feb. 12 issue of Time magazine, “Casual sex of every kind is commonplace. Everywhere there’s premarital sex, sex as recreation. Obligatory sex and its abusive counterpart, coercive sex. Transactional sex: sex as a gift, sugar-daddy sex. Extramarital sex, second families, multiple partners.” Further, Time reported, women, taught from birth to obey men, feel powerless to protect themselves from men’s sexual desires. Even accounting for promiscuity -- which in fact, some experts have argued, is no less a problem in Western nations -- the religious men and women raising the issue of sexual exploitation of religious women say the situations they report on are clearly intolerable and, in some cases, approach the unspeakable. In one instance, according to O’Donohue, a priest took a nun for an abortion, and she died during the procedure. He later officiated at her requiem Mass. Harassment common In McDonald’s report, she states that “sexual harassment and even rape of sisters by priests and bishops is allegedly common,” and that “sometimes when a sister becomes pregnant, the priest insists that she have an abortion.” She said her report referred mainly to Africa and to African sisters, priests and bishops -- not because the problem is exclusively an African one, but because the group preparing the report drew “mainly on their own experience in Africa and the knowledge they have obtained from the members of their own congregations or from other congregations -- especially diocesan congregations in Africa.” “We know that the problem exists elsewhere too,” she wrote. “It is precisely because of our love for the church and for Africa that we feel so distressed about the problem,” McDonald wrote. McDonald’s was the report presented in 1998 to the Council of 16. She declined to be interviewed by NCR. When a sister becomes pregnant, McDonald wrote, she is usually punished by dismissal from the congregation, while the priest is “often only moved to another parish -- or sent for studies.” In her report, McDonald wrote that priests sometimes exploit the financial dependency of young sisters or take advantage of spiritual direction and the sacrament of reconciliation to extort sexual favors. McDonald cites eight factors she believes give rise to the problem: The fact that celibacy and/or chastity are not values in some countries. The inferior position of women in society and the church. In some circumstances “a sister has been educated to regard herself as an inferior, to be subservient and to obey.” “It is understandable then, that a sister finds it impossible to refuse a cleric who asks for sexual favours. These men are seen as ‘authority figures’ who must be obeyed.” “Moreover, they are usually more highly educated and they have received a much more advanced theological formation than the sisters. They may use false theological arguments to justify their requests and behaviour. The sisters are easily impressed by these arguments. One of these goes as follows: “ ‘We are both consecrated celibates. That means that we have promised not to marry. However, we can have sex together without breaking our vows.’ ” The AIDS pandemic, which means sisters are more likely to be seen as “safe.” Financial dependence created by low stipends for sisters laboring in their home countries or inadequate support for sisters sent abroad for studies. The problem of sexual abuse in Africa is most common, according to many observers, among members of diocesan religious congregations with little money and no network of international support. A poor understanding of consecrated life, both by the sisters and also by bishops, priests, and lay people. Recruitment of candidates by congregations that lack adequate knowledge of the culture. Sisters sent abroad to Rome and other countries for studies are often “too young and/or immature,” lack language skills, preparation and other kinds of support, and “frequently turn to seminarians and priests for help,” creating the potential for exploitation. “I do not wish to imply that only priests and bishops are to blame and that the sisters are simply their victims,” McDonald wrote. “No, sisters can sometimes be only too willing and can also be naïve.” Silence. “Perhaps another contributing factor is the ‘conspiracy of silence’ surrounding this issue,” McDonald wrote. “Only if we can look at it honestly will we be able to find solutions.” The American priest who gave a similar account of sexual abuse of women religious is Fr. Robert J. Vitillo, then of Caritas and now executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Campaign for Human Development. In March 1994, a month after O’Donohue wrote her report, Vitillo spoke about the problem to a theological study group at Boston College. Vitillo has extensive knowledge of Africa based on regular visits for his work. His talk, which focused on several moral and ethical issues related to AIDS, was titled, “Theological Challenges Posed by the Global Pandemic of HIV/AIDS.” ‘Necessary to mention’ Vitillo, a priest of the Paterson, N.J., diocese, declined requests from NCR for an interview on the content of his talk. He told the gathering at Boston College that nuns had been targeted by men, particularly clergy, who may have previously frequented prostitutes. “The last ethical issue which I find especially delicate but necessary to mention,” he said, “involves the need to denounce sexual abuse which has arisen as a specific result of HIV/AIDS. In many parts of the world, men have decreased their reliance on commercial sex workers because of their fear of contracting HIV. As a result of this widespread fear, many men (and some women) have turned to young (and therefore presumably uninfected) girls (and boys) for sexual favors. Religious women have also been targeted by such men, and especially by clergy who may have previously frequented prostitutes. I myself have heard the tragic stories of religious women who were forced to have sex with the local priest or with a spiritual counselor who insisted that this activity was ‘good’ for the both of them. “Frequently, attempts to raise these issues with local and international church authorities have met with deaf ears,” said Vitillo. “In North America and in some parts of Europe, our church is already reeling under the pedophilia scandals. How long will it take for this same institutional church to become sensitive to these new abuse issues which are resulting from the pandemic?” The specific circumstances outlined in the O’Donohue report are as follows: In some instances, candidates to religious life had to provide sexual favors to priests in order to acquire the necessary certificates and/or recommendations to work in a diocese. In several countries, sisters are troubled by policies that require them to leave the congregation if they become pregnant, while the priest involved is able to continue his ministry. Beyond fairness is the question of social justice, since the sister is left to raise the child as a single parent, “often with a great deal of stigmatization and frequently in very poor socioeconomic circumstances. I was given examples in several countries where such women were forced into becoming a second or third wife in a family because of lost status in the local culture. The alternative, as a matter of survival, is to go ‘on the streets’ as prostitutes” and thereby “expose themselves to the risk of HIV, if not already infected.” “Superior generals I have met were extremely concerned about the harassment sisters were experiencing from priests in some areas. One superior of a diocesan congregation, where several sisters became pregnant by priests, has been at a complete loss to find an appropriate solution. Another diocesan congregation has had to dismiss over 20 sisters because of pregnancy, again in many cases by priests. “Some priests are recommending that sisters take a contraceptive, misleading them that ‘the pill’ will prevent transmission of HIV. Others have actually encouraged abortion for sisters with whom they have been involved. Some Catholic medical professionals employed in Catholic hospitals have reported pressure being exerted on them by priests to procure abortions in those hospitals for religious sisters. “In a number of countries, members of parish councils and of small Christian communities are challenging their pastors because of their relationships with women and young girls generally. Some of these women are wives of the parishioners. In such circumstances, husbands are angry about what is happening, but are embarrassed to challenge their parish priest. Some priests are known to have relations with several women, and also to have children from more than one liaison. Laypeople spoke with me about the concerns in this context stating that they are waiting for the day when they will have dialogue homilies. This, they volunteered, will afford them an opportunity to challenge certain priests on the sincerity of their preaching and their apparent double standards. In one country visited, I was informed that the presbytery in a particular parish was attacked by parishioners armed with guns because they were angry with the priests because of their abuse of power and the betrayal of trust which their actions and lifestyles reflected. “In another country a recent convert from Islam (one of two daughters who became Christians) was accepted as a candidate to a local religious congregation. When she went to her parish priest for the required certificates, she was subjected to rape by the priest before being given the certificates. Having been disowned by her family because of becoming a Christian, she did not feel free to return home. She joined the congregation and soon afterwards found she was pregnant. To her mind, the only option for her was to leave the congregation, without giving the reason. She spent 10 days roaming the forest, agonizing over what to do. Then she decided to go and talk to the bishop, who called in the priest. The priest accepted the accusation as true and was told by the bishop to go on a two-week retreat. “Since the 1980s in a number of countries sisters are refusing to travel alone with a priest in a car because of fear of harassment or even rape. Priests have also on occasion abused their position in their role as pastors and spiritual directors and utilized their spiritual authority to gain sexual favors from sisters. In one country, women superiors have had to request the bishop or men superiors to remove chaplains, spiritual directors or retreat directors after they abused sisters.” Those most directly affected are the women abused, wrote O’Donohue. The effects extend, however, to the wider community and include disillusionment and cynicism. The abused and others in the community “find the foundation of their faith is suddenly shattered.” Many whose faith has been shattered are from families that look unfavorably on religious vocations and who “question why celibacy should be so strongly proclaimed by the same people who are seemingly involved in sexually exploiting others. This is seen as hypocrisy or at least as promoting double standards,” O’Donohue wrote. Some observers say that in the wake of such reports, steps have been taken to address the problem. New guidelines Wolf, the Benedictine leader in Rome, said, “Several monasteries already have guidelines in case a monk is accused of sexual misconduct, taking care of the individuals concerned, the victim included. I pushed this question in our congregation. We need sincerity and justice.” A Vatican official told NCR that “there are initiatives at multiple levels” to raise awareness about the potential for sexual abuse in religious life. The official cited efforts within conferences of religious superiors, within bishops’ conferences, and within particular communities and dioceses. Most of these, the official said, were steps the Vatican is “aware of” and “supporting” rather than organizing or initiating. The Vatican official was willing to speak anonymously about the problem with NCR. The official noted two signs that the culture in the church is changing. In specific cases, the official said, the response from church leaders is more aggressive and swift; and in general, there is a climate within religious life that these things have to be discussed. “Talking about it is the first step towards a solution,” the official said. Church officials have not always, however, been open to such exchanges. McDonald wrote in her 1998 report that in March of that year she had spoken to the standing committee of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, the consortium of African bishops’ conferences, on the problem of sexual abuse of sisters. “Since most of what I gave was based on reports coming from diocesan congregations and Conferences of Major Superiors in Africa, I felt very convinced of the authenticity of what I was saying,” McDonald wrote. Yet, “the bishops present felt that it was disloyal of the sisters to have sent such reports outside their dioceses,” McDonald wrote. “They said that the sisters in question should go to their diocesan bishop with these problems.” “Of course,” she wrote, “this would be the ideal. However, the sisters claim that they have done so time and time again. Sometimes they are not well received. In some instances they are blamed for what has happened. Even when they are listened to sympathetically, nothing much seems to be done.” Worth talking about Whatever positive steps have been taken, the problem remains a live concern for religious women. In an interview at her home in Kansas City, Mo., Fangman, the nun who raised the issue last September at a gathering of Benedictine abbots in Rome, told NCR that she had heard the stories about sisters being sexually abused by priests during informal discussions at meetings of abbesses and prioresses worldwide. “The sisters who brought it up were deeply hurt by it and found it very painful -- and very painful to talk about,” she said. Because of the pain that she and others were hearing, “we decided that it was worth also beginning to talk about in a more open way, and we had the opportunity at our regular meeting with the Congress of Abbots,” she said. Fangman said her report to the Benedictine abbots was based on the conversations with sisters and on the material in O’Donohue’s reports. Fangman’s talk was published in a recent issue of the Alliance for International Monasticism Bulletin, a mission magazine of the order. O’Donohue’s report was prepared in a similar spirit: in hope of promoting change. She wrote in her report that she had prepared it “after much profound reflection and with a deep sense of urgency since the subjects involved touch the very core of the church’s mission and ministry.” The information on abuse of nuns by priests “comes from missionaries (men and women); from priests, doctors and other members of our loyal ecclesial family,” she wrote. “I have been assured that case records exist for several of the incidents” described in the report, she said, “and that the information is not just based on hearsay.” The 23 countries listed in her report are: Botswana, Burundi, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Tonga, Uganda, United States, Zambia, Zaire, Zimbabwe. Her hope, she wrote, is that the report “will consequently motivate appropriate action especially on the part of those in positions of church leadership and those responsible for formation.” John Allen’s e-mail address is jallen@natcath.org. Pamela Schaeffer’s e-mail address is pschaeffer@natcath.org Documents related to the above story will be available on the NCR Web site at www.natcath.com/NCR_Online/documents/index.htm National Catholic Reporter, March 16, 2001 Top of page ||||| FILE - In this Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009 file photo, a nun is silhouetted in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. Some nuns are now finding their voices, buoyed by the #MeToo movement and the growing recognition... (Associated Press) FILE - In this Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009 file photo, a nun is silhouetted in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. Some nuns are now finding their voices, buoyed by the #MeToo movement and the growing recognition that adults can be victims of sexual abuse when there is an imbalance of power in a relationship.... (Associated Press) VATICAN CITY (AP) — The nun no longer goes to confession regularly, after an Italian priest forced himself on her while she was at her most vulnerable: recounting her sins to him in a university classroom nearly 20 years ago. At the time, the sister only told her provincial superior and her spiritual director, silenced by the Catholic Church's culture of secrecy, her vows of obedience and her own fear, repulsion and shame. "It opened a great wound inside of me," she told the Associated Press. "I pretended it didn't happen." After decades of silence, the nun is one of a handful worldwide to come forward recently on an issue that the Catholic Church has yet to come to terms with: The sexual abuse of religious sisters by priests and bishops. An AP examination has found that cases have emerged in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia, demonstrating that the problem is global and pervasive, thanks to the universal tradition of sisters' second-class status in the Catholic Church and their ingrained subservience to the men who run it. Some nuns are now finding their voices, buoyed by the #MeToo movement and the growing recognition that adults can be victims of sexual abuse when there is an imbalance of power in a relationship. The sisters are going public in part because of years of inaction by church leaders, even after major studies on the problem in Africa were reported to the Vatican in the 1990s. The issue has flared in the wake of scandals over the sexual abuse of children, and recently of adults, including revelations that one of the most prominent American cardinals, Theodore McCarrick, sexually abused and harassed his seminarians. The extent of the abuse of nuns is unclear, at least outside the Vatican. Victims are reluctant to report the abuse because of well-founded fears they won't be believed, experts told the AP. Church leaders are reluctant to acknowledge that some priests and bishops simply ignore their vows of celibacy, knowing that their secrets will be kept. However, this week, about half a dozen sisters in a small religious congregation in Chile went public on national television with their stories of abuse by priests and other nuns — and how their superiors did nothing to stop it. A nun in India recently filed a formal police complaint accusing a bishop of rape, something that would have been unthinkable even a year ago. Cases in Africa have come up periodically; in 2013, for example, a well-known priest in Uganda wrote a letter to his superiors that mentioned "priests romantically involved with religious sisters" — for which he was promptly suspended from the church until he apologized in May. And the sister in Europe spoke to the AP to help bring the issue to light. "I am so sad that it took so long for this to come into the open, because there were reports long ago," Karlijn Demasure, one of the church's leading experts on clergy sexual abuse and abuse of power, told the AP in an interview. "I hope that now actions will be taken to take care of the victims and put an end to this kind of abuse." ___ TAKING VICTIMS SERIOUSLY The Vatican declined to comment on what measures, if any, it has taken to assess the scope of the problem globally, what it has done to punish offenders and care for the victims. A Vatican official said it is up to local church leaders to sanction priests who sexually abuse sisters, but that often such crimes go unpunished both in civil and canonical courts. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the issue, said only some cases arrive at the Holy See for investigation. It was a reference to the fact that the Catholic Church has no clear measures in place to investigate and punish bishops who themselves abuse or allow abusers to remain in their ranks — a legal loophole that has recently been highlighted by the McCarrick case. The official said the church has focused much of its attention recently on protecting children, but that vulnerable adults "deserve the same protection." "Consecrated women have to be encouraged to speak up when they are molested," the official told the AP. "Bishops have to be encouraged to take them seriously, and make sure the priests are punished if guilty." But being taken seriously is often the toughest obstacle for sisters who are sexually abused, said Demasure, until recently executive director of the church's Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University, the church's leading think tank on the issue. "They (the priests) can always say 'she wanted it,'" Demasure said. "It is also difficult to get rid of the opinion that it is always the woman who seduces the man, and not vice versa." Demasure said many priests in Africa, for example, struggle with celibacy because of traditional and cultural beliefs in the importance of having children. Novices, who are just entering religious life, are particularly vulnerable because they often need a letter from their parish priest to be accepted into certain religious congregations. "And sometimes they have to pay for that," she said. And when these women become pregnant? "Mainly she has an abortion. Even more than once. And he pays for that. A religious sister has no money. A priest, yes," she said. There can also be a price for blowing the whistle on the problem. In 2013, the Rev. Anthony Musaala in Kampala, Uganda wrote what he called an open letter to members of the local Catholic establishment about "numerous cases" of alleged sex liaisons of priests, including with nuns. He charged that it was "an open secret that many Catholic priests and some bishops, in Uganda and elsewhere, no longer live celibate chastity." He was sanctioned, even though Ugandan newspapers regularly report cases of priests caught in sex escapades. The topic is even the subject of a popular novel taught in high schools. In 2012, a priest sued a bishop in western Uganda who had suspended him and ordered him to stop interacting with at least four nuns. The priest, who denied the allegations, lost the suit, and the sisters later withdrew their own suit against the bishop. Archbishop John Baptist Odama, leader of the local Ugandan conference of bishops, told the AP that unverified or verified allegations against individual priests should not be used to smear the whole church. "Individual cases may happen, if they are there," he said Thursday. "Individual cases must be treated as individual cases." ___ PRIESTLY ABUSE OF NUNS IS NOT A NEW PROBLEM Long before the most recent incidents, confidential reports into the problem focused on Africa and AIDS were prepared in the 1990s by members of religious orders for top church officials. In 1994, the late Sr. Maura O'Donohue wrote the most comprehensive study about a six-year, 23-nation survey, in which she learned of 29 nuns who had been impregnated in a single congregation. Nuns, she reported, were considered "safe" sexual partners for priests who feared they might be infected with HIV if they went to prostitutes or women in the general population. Four years later, in a report to top religious superiors and Vatican officials, Sr. Marie McDonald said harassment and rape of African sisters by priests is "allegedly common." Sometimes, when a nun becomes pregnant, the priest insists on an abortion, the report said. The problem travelled when the sisters were sent to Rome for studies. They "frequently turn to seminarians and priests for help in writing essays. Sexual favors are sometimes the payment they have to make for such help," the report said. The reports were never meant to be made public. The U.S. National Catholic Reporter put them online in 2001, exposing the depths of a scandal the church had long sought to keep under wraps. To date, the Vatican hasn't said what, if anything, it ever did with the information. Sister Paola Moggi, a member of the Missionary Combonian Sisters — a religious congregation with a significant presence in 16 African countries — said in her experience the African church "had made great strides" since the 1990s, when she did missionary work in Kenya, but the problem has not been eliminated. "I have found in Africa sisters who are absolutely emancipated and who say what they think to a priest they meet who might ask to have sex with them," she told the AP. "I have also found sisters who said 'Well, you have to understand their needs, and that while we only have a monthly cycle a man has a continuous cycle of sperm' — verbatim words from the '90s," she said. But the fact that in just a few weeks scandals of priests allegedly molesting sisters have erupted publicly on two other continents — Asia and Latin America — suggests that the problem is not confined to Africa, and that some women are now willing to break the taboo to denounce it publicly. In India, a sister of the Missionaries of Jesus filed a police report last month alleging a bishop raped her in May 2014 during a visit to the heavily Christian state of Kerala, and that he subsequently sexually abused her around a dozen more times over the following two years, Indian media have reported. The bishop denied the accusation and said the woman was retaliating against him for having taken disciplinary action against her for her own sexual misdeeds. In Chile, the scandal of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, an order dedicated to health care in the diocese of Talca, erupted at the same time the country's entire Catholic hierarchy has been under fire for decades of sex abuse and cover-ups. The scandal got so bad that in May, Francis summoned all Chilean bishops to Rome, where they all offered to resign en masse. The case, exposed by the Chilean state broadcaster, involves accusations of priests fondling and kissing nuns, including while naked, and some religious sisters sexually abusing younger ones. The victims said they told their mother superior, but that she did nothing. Talca's new temporary bishop has vowed to find justice. The Vatican is well aware that religious sisters have long been particularly vulnerable to abuse. Perhaps the most sensational account was detailed in the 2013 book "The Nuns of Sant'Ambrogio," based on the archives of the Vatican's 1860s Inquisition trial of abuse, embezzlement, murder and "false holiness" inside a Roman convent. Once word got out, the Vatican poured the full force of its Inquisition to investigate and punish. It remains to be seen what the Vatican will do now that more sisters are speaking out. ___ ONE SISTER'S STORY — AND YEARS OF HURT The sister who spoke to the AP about her assault in 2000 during confession at a Bologna university clasped her rosary as she recounted the details. She recalled exactly how she and the priest were seated in two armchairs face-to-face in the university classroom, her eyes cast to the floor. At a certain point, she said, the priest got up from his chair and forced himself on her. Petite but not frail, she was so shocked, she said, that she grabbed him by the shoulders and with all her strength, stood up and pushed him back into his chair. The nun continued with her confession that day. But the assault — and a subsequent advance by a different priest a year later — eventually led her to stop going to confession with any priest other than her spiritual father, who lives in a different country. "The place of confession should be a place of salvation, freedom and mercy," she said. "Because of this experience, confession became a place of sin and abuse of power." She recalled at one point a priest in whom she had confided had apologized "on behalf of the church." But nobody ever took any action against the offender, who was a prominent university professor. The woman recounted her story to the AP without knowing that at that very moment, a funeral service was being held for the priest who had assaulted her 18 years earlier. She later said the combination of his death and her decision to speak out lifted a great weight. "I see it as two freedoms: freedom of the weight for a victim, and freedom of a lie and a violation by the priest," she said. "I hope this helps other sisters free themselves of this weight." ___ Muhumuza reported from Kampala, Uganda. Have a confidential tip? Contact Amy Forliti at The Associated Press at 612-332-2727 or aforliti@ap.org ||||| – Former nuns of the Congregation of the Good Samaritan in Chile reported a series of sexual abuses committed by priests visiting the community, which belongs to the Diocese of Talca and is dedicated to caring for the sick. The new accusations come amid a growing sexual abuse scandal rocking the Church in Chile that led Pope Francis to summon the bishops to the Vatican in May to address the crisis, offer their resignation en masse, and the pope accepting some of the resignations. Currently this diocese in Southern Chile has as apostolic administrator Bishop Galo Fernandez Villaseca, after Francis accepted the resignation of the local bishop, Horacio Valenzuela. In a report broadcast July 24 by Televisión Nacional de Chile, five former nuns said that there was sexual abuse and the abuse of authority inside the congregation. They added that they were mistreated when they reported the incidents to the superior. “My silence stings my conscience. We have more than 23 sisters who in one year were expelled from the congregation because they were sexually abused, there was abuse of authority,” said Yolanda Tondreaux, who in the report charged that she was harassed by a priest. Without mentioning names, the women charged that at least three priests sexually abused the nuns. They were able to deliver their testimonies to Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu when they came to Chile the second time to gather information on abuse cases. Another of the complainants, Eliana Macías, said she was abused by a priest who during the night “would go into the nuns’ rooms.” Consuelo Gómez charged that she was the victim of sexual abuse by nuns of the same community: The former nuns said that when they related the incidents to the superior, Patricia Ibarra Gómez, she mistreated them until they were expelled from the community. The complainants maintained that the then-local bishop Horacio Valenzuela was aware of these events but did nothing. Tondreaux, who also served in the Apostolic Nunciature of Chile, said in addition that Valenzuela and the priest Fernando Karadima – found guilty of sexual abuse by the Vatican in 2011 – received checks with huge amounts of money, without specifying from whom. On May 29 the diocesan congregation issued a statement acknowledging one case of abuse, that of Consuelo Gómez, and asked forgiveness. However, when the journalist doing the television interview consulted them regarding the new complaints they provided no comment. Bishop Galo Fernández responded in the report, saying: “You see the pain there, where there’s a lot of pain and situations that merit being investigated with an openness to find the truth and to listen.” He also added that the former religious need to be listened to “not only in the framework of a criminal investigation in order to verify or not, but to listen so that the situations and pain they have experienced can hit home.” The Apostolic Administrator stressed that the congregation of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan “have a beautiful history, but that does not necessarily mean that there could not have been situations that were clearly out of line.” Regarding the total lack of support the women were left in after they were expelled from the community, Galo said, “a congregation clearly has a duty to care for the people that leave as well as examining the conditions under which they left. It’s a duty.” Finally, concerning the poor reception given to the victims by the Church authorities, the bishop said that “there’s a new sensitivity today in the culture and also by the Church.” “There are things that are not normal, that aren’t right, and it’s our responsibility to face them, correct them and where there has been a crime there certainly ought to be sanctions.” This article was originally published by the Spanish language ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
– "It opened a great wound inside of me. I pretended it didn't happen." So says a nun who claims an Italian priest sexually assaulted her while she was confessing to him about 20 years ago in Bologna. A new AP investigation finds she's not alone: Religious sisters are apparently being abused by bishops and priests in Asia, South America, Africa, and Europe, and usually keeping quiet about the assaults. That changed this week when five nuns appeared on national TV in Chile and told their stories of sexual abuse by priests and other nuns, Crux reports. It's an older story in Africa, where reports have emerged of priests abusing nuns and pressuring them into abortions; a six-year study and follow-up report for the Vatican found 29 nuns impregnated at one congregation. The National Catholic Reporter revealed that study in 2001, but what the Church did is unclear. Meanwhile, the Vatican remains quiet on the issue and lacks rules to probe and punish abusers, leaving it to local church leaders to take action. "Consecrated women have to be encouraged to speak up when they are molested," says a Vatican official on the condition of anonymity. "Bishops have to be encouraged to take them seriously, and make sure the priests are punished if guilty." But amid #MeToo and an ever-widening Catholic Church abuse scandal, more nuns may be speaking up for themselves. "I see it as two freedoms: freedom of the weight for a victim, and freedom of a lie and a violation by the priest," says the nun allegedly assaulted in Bologna. "I hope this helps other sisters free themselves of this weight."
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Arkansas is simultaneously the most fertile and most treacherous ground for a political campaign against Obamacare. Fertile, because the state's rapid sprint away from conservative Democrats and toward conservative Republicans makes it pretty easy to beat up Democrats like Sen. Mark Pryor. Treacherous, because the state's Republican legislature has pioneered and continued a "private option" for Medicaid expansion, cleaving the Tea Party (Americans for Prosperity, et al.) from the Chamber of Commerce, and preventing the state from joining the larger Obamacare rebellion. (Luckily, as Republicans are finding in West Virginia and Kentucky, Republican voters don't change overnight simply because they can access health insurance.) So: For a while, Americans for Prosperity was drenching Arkansas in ads that told the story of a woman whose health insurance had been canceled by the coverage mandates of the ACA. Democrats and liberal groups cried havoc—the state had actually extended the life of such plans until 2017. What was AFP to do? Sink six figures into this ad. Advertisement ||||| Published on Apr 1, 2014 Listen to Jerry from Arkansas explain the problems and uncertainty ObamaCare has caused for him and his wife. Then tell Mark Pryor to stop supporting Obamacare at http://www.LieOfTheYear.com ||||| President Obama today heralded more than 7 million sign-ups for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act -- bringing to a close a politically bruising six-month enrollment period and a first major test for his signature legislative achievement. The 7.1 million who have signed up, the president said in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, "despite several lost weeks out of the gate because of problems with the website." “Even more folks want to sign up,” he added. “7.1 million – that’s on top of the more than 3 million young adults who gained insurance under this law by staying on their family plan.” The latest tally represents the total number of Americans who selected health plans through state and federal marketplaces created by the law since Oct. 1. The number is expected to grow as last-minute applications filed through 23 state-run insurance exchanges are counted and people continue to complete applications in the federal exchange into April. Obama noted that many of the “tall tales” opponents have told about the law have been “debunked.” “There are still no death panels,” Obama said to laughter. “Armageddon has not arrived.” Obama added, “The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay." The 7-million figure has become a symbolic and political milestone since the administration embraced it as a “goal” in mid-2013 based on a projection by the Congressional Budget Office. Reaching that mark is a noteworthy feat after the significant, high-profile technical glitches and website outages that plagued the enrollment process on HealthCare.gov from beginning to end. In his statement, Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, declared: "We've taken a big step forward." Still, the number says little about the extent to which the health law has expanded coverage to the uninsured or will stabilize premiums. The administration does not yet know how many previously uninsured Americans gained coverage under the law. They also do not know the ratio of young and healthy enrollees to old and sick -- a key data point insurers watch to set their premiums. "We have none of that breakdown data at this point,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said today. However, “we already know that that breakdown is sufficient to ensure that the marketplaces will effectively function, that issuers will feel comfortable with the demographics,” he said. Officials also cannot say how many of the 7 million applicants have paid their premiums to finalize enrollment. Nevertheless, Obama said, “This law has made our health care system a lot better -- a lot better.” Meanwhile, Republicans continue to blast the law. "All across the country our constituents are having an unpleasant interaction with Obamacare,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.. “Whether they can sign up for a policy or not, they are discovering, of course, higher premiums, a higher deductible.” Public support for the Affordable Care Act narrowly notched a new high in the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll, while criticism of Barack Obama’s handling of the law’s rollout -- although still substantial -- has eased from its peak last fall. Americans split on Obamacare: 49 percent support it while 48 percent oppose it. But last November just 40 percent supported it while 57 percent opposed it. "I think I'm like a lot of people who end up waiting till the last minute,” Caroline Mays, 30, of Washington, DC, told ABC News as she signed up for an Obamacare insurance policy late Monday. “But now I'm all squared away. I have health insurance. I've been working independently so I haven't had coverage. So this is a big relief to me, for sure.” Senior administration officials credit grassroots organizing and a social media blitz, drawing on lessons from the 2012 election campaign, with fueling a last-minute surge in sign-ups. They say groups have held more than 5,000 events over the past 6 weeks, including appearances of Obama cabinet officials at 45 of those. They say their social media reach touched 350 million twitter followers and 33 million online video views. Privately, the White House points to what they call two pivotal moments in their campaign: A promotional video by NBA star LeBron James, who they say spurred other celebrities to help spread the word; and, the president’s “two ferns” interview with comedian Zach Galifianakis, which generated significant buzz. “I have a lot of friends who've been uninsured and have kind of been winging it,” said Sarah Leonard, who enrolled for a new health policy on Monday. “But I know that that's not very responsible, especially at 26, you have to get responsible. I was going to try to wing it but then there's also the tax penalty and I really didn’t want that either.” Most Americans were required to obtain health insurance by March 31 or face a fine of the greater of $95 or 1 percent of household income above $10,150 for an individual. Those subject to the fine will pay it on their 2014 federal income taxes. As for the politics of the Affordable Care Act, administration officials say the focus now shifts to making the case against repeal. They note that no Democrat that originally voted for the ACA has flipped his or her vote – a sign, they say, that if implemention of the law is continued effectively, then the intensity of debate will wane. Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, are vowing to intensify the drumbeat for repealing the law ahead of the November midterm elections. "House Republicans will continue to work to repeal this law and protect families and small businesses from its harmful consequences,” said House Speaker John Boehner. “We will also continue our work to replace this fundamentally-flawed law with patient-centered solutions focused on lowering health care costs and protecting jobs.” ABC's Shushannah Walshe contributed reporting. ||||| April 1 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the just over 7 million people that enrolled for insurance coverage under Obamacare. This afternoon President Obama, with a grinning Vice President Biden behind him, announced in the White House Rose Garden that sign-ups for his signature health law had exceeded original projections. Some 7.1 million Americans have signed up for Obamacare, the president said, by far exceeding the revised projection of 6 million insured after the disastrous roll out of the HealthCare.gov website in October. The president was clearly enjoying delivering the news: "This law is doing what it's supposed to do," he said. "It's working. It's helping people from coast to coast." He seemed bemused by the continuing efforts of Republicans do undo the legislation. "Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance? Why are they so mad about the idea of people having health insurance?" Republicans were quick to jump on what a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner called Obama's "victory lap." "This law continues to harm the American people," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. "Every promise the president made has been broken: healthcare costs are rising, not falling. Americans are losing the doctors and plans that they like – especially seniors suffering under President Obama’s Medicare cuts. Small businesses are afraid to hire new workers, hobbling our economic growth. That’s why we must replace this fundamentally flawed law." But Obama had already brushed off such criticisms. "Many of the tall tales have been debunked. There are still no death panels. Armageddon has not arrived. Instead this law has helped millions of Americans. The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay." Here's what some reporters, supporters and critics were tweeting during his remarks: WASHINGTON (AP) _ Obama: 7.1 million Americans sign up for health care, despite lost weeks at the start. — Phil Elliott (@Philip_Elliott) April 1, 2014 The Biden faces behind Obama = priceless. — Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) April 1, 2014 All of Obama's examples of the poor getting healthcare coverage could have happened by expanding previous programs not ending the good ones. — Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) April 1, 2014 Obama quotes letter from person who got insurance: "I felt like a human being again." Reminder of how rotten it is to be afraid. — Amy Davidson (@tnyCloseRead) April 1, 2014 Every time Obama comes out to try to defend #Obamacare his high-pitched squealing voice tells me he's desperate — Jim Lockwood Show (@jimlockwoodshow) April 1, 2014 The happy mood at the White House now that 7.1 million people have enrolled in Affordable Care Act via @cparsons http://t.co/aj9LpWA4AF — Maeve Reston (@MaeveReston) April 1, 2014 Obama warns ACA opponents "history is not kind" to those who seek to block progress — John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) April 1, 2014 Spoiler: No. MT @chucktodd: Politically aggressive speech from POTUS. Will D's running in tough races borrow same rhetoric on the trail? — Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 1, 2014 "There will be days when the website stumbles. I guarantee it," @BarackObama says, will be front-page news for media. Snap. — Charles Ornstein (@charlesornstein) April 1, 2014 This is Obama's "Mission Accomplished" speech. Take a picture. — Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) April 1, 2014 ALSO: More from Robin Abcarian Twitter: @robinabcarian robin.abcarian@latimes.com
– With an official count of 7,041,000 signups under ObamaCare—a number expected to grow as final tallies are made—President Obama enjoyed what both ABC and NBC called a "victory lap" in the Rose Garden today. "Many of the tall tales have been debunked," he said. "There are still no death panels. Armageddon has not arrived." The president said he doesn't understand why so many were "so mad about the idea of people having health insurance," but they better get over it, because the law is working "and it's here to stay." Another person who used the term "victory lap" was John Boehner, but he did so in criticizing Obama for celebrating a law that "continues to harm the American people," reports the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, Dave Weigel at Slate dubs "Confused Arkansas Guy" as the newest ObamaCare victim. That's thanks to a new ad funded by the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity group in which a man complains not that his policy has been canceled, but that it's now surrounded in a confusing "haze" because of the new law. "It was taken away from us, or it was given back to us, or it was taken," he says. A main target is Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor.
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Thieves Take Neil Armstrong's Solid Gold Lunar Module Replica Thieves made off with a solid gold replica of the first vehicle to land on the moon Friday. Police in Wapakoneta, Ohio, say they found the model of the 1969 Lunar Excursion Module missing from the Armstrong Air & Space Museum after they responded to an alarm that went off at the museum late Friday night. The gold replica, given to famed astronaut Neil Armstrong, is one of only three made — one for each astronaut aboard Apollo 11. Police said in a statement that "the value of such an item cannot be determined." The museum responded to the theft on its Facebook page: "The truth is that you can't steal from a museum. Museum's don't 'own' artifacts. We are simply vessels of the public trust. Museums care for and exhibit items on behalf of you, the public. Theft from a museum is a theft from all of us. Three hundred people driving from across the country were robbed of their opportunity to experience the museum today. For every day that an item is missing, we are all robbed of an opportunity to enjoy it and our history." Enlarge this image toggle caption Keystone/Getty Images Keystone/Getty Images Readers of French newspaper Le Figaro gave the 18-karat gold models to Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins during a visit to Paris in October 1969, according to the website collectSPACE. Le Figaro commissioned French jewelry-maker Cartier to design and make the models; the newspaper asked its readers "to contribute to the cost — 10 francs, 20 francs, whatever they could afford — with two of [the readers] making the presentation," Cartier archivist Violette Petit told Barron's in 2015. Inside each model was a microfilm with the names of readers who contributed. The jeweler bought back Collins' model in a 2003 auction for $56,000, according to the magazine. The lunar module model is only 5 inches tall and 4.5 inches wide, Wapakoneta police say. They say they are investigating with help from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI. Wapakoneta is Armstrong's hometown. The Armstrong Air & Space Museum opened there in 1972, exactly three years after Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. Today, you can see "one-of-a-kind artifacts including the Gemini VIII spacecraft, Neil Armstrong's Gemini and Apollo spacesuits, and an Apollo 11 moon rock" at the museum, in addition to two aircraft Armstrong flew. Armstrong died in 2012. ||||| This image provided by Armstrong Air and Space Museum shows a lunar module replica at Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio. Police say the rare gold replica of the lunar space module has... (Associated Press) This image provided by Armstrong Air and Space Museum shows a lunar module replica at Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio. Police say the rare gold replica of the lunar space module has... (Associated Press) CLEVELAND (AP) — Whoever broke into an Ohio museum and stole a solid-gold replica of the Apollo 11 lunar module likely intends to melt it down for the value of the gold instead of trying to sell what could be a collectible worth millions of dollars, said a retired NASA agent who has helped recover stolen moon rocks worth millions of dollars. The 5-inch (12.7-centimeter) replica was discovered stolen after an alarm sounded just before midnight Friday at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, the boyhood home of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the moon in July 1969. Replicas made by the French jeweler Cartier were presented to Armstrong and fellow Apollo 11 space voyagers Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins in Paris shortly after they returned to Earth. The NASA agent, Joseph Gutheinz Jr., noted the thief or thieves left behind a moon rock from the Apollo 11 mission that's much larger than other rocks given away or loaned to museums or foreign countries that could easily be smuggled out of the country, where a geologist could verity its authenticity. He said it would be worth millions of dollars to a collector into space items. "Either they didn't have easy access to the moon rock, or they weren't into collectibles," Gutheinz said Sunday. "They were into turning a quick buck." Gutheinz ran an undercover sting operation in 1998 that led to the recovery of a moon rock from the Apollo 17 mission originally given to the Honduran government. The seller offered the rock to Gutheinz for $5 million. Now an attorney in Texas, he more recently has led a group of criminal justice students from the University Phoenix in a project that has identified 79 missing lunar samples and rocks from the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 missions. A lunar collection bag Armstrong carried on the moon sold for $1.8 million, a value enhanced by tiny amounts of moon dust engrained in the bag, at an auction of space items earlier this month at Sotheby's in New York. It will be difficult to catch the thief if the replica is melted down, which Gutheinz said would be a "damn shame." It's unclear how much gold the replica contains. The FBI and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation are assisting Wapakoneta police in the theft investigation. Police have said they aren't able to place a value on the replica lunar module. No updates on the investigation have been released and authorities haven't said whether there were surveillance cameras in or around the museum that might have recorded the theft. Armstrong died in 2012 at the age of 82.
– It was one small model for Neil Armstrong, but one giant heist for thieves: Police in Ohio are searching for a rare solid gold replica of the first vehicle to land on the moon that was stolen from the Armstrong Air and Space Museum late Friday, NPR reports. An alarm signaled cops to the theft from the museum in Wapakoneta, Armstrong's hometown. Police said it was impossible to put a value on the 5-inch Cartier-cast replica, which Armstrong received in Paris shortly after the 1969 mission. Fellow Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins also got 18-karat models, which were commissioned and paid for by France's Le Figaro newspaper and its readers. The museum, which closed for several hours on Saturday, posted a statement on Facebook saying, "The truth is that you can't steal from a museum. Museum's don't 'own' artifacts. We are simply vessels of the public trust. … For every day that an item is missing, we are all robbed of an opportunity to enjoy it and our history." The FBI was aiding local police in investigating the theft. A retired NASA agent tells the AP the replica could fetch millions among space collectors, but the thieves probably plan to melt it down for its gold. Joseph Gutheinz Jr. notes that whoever swiped the statue left behind a large moon rock also worth millions. "Either they didn't have easy access to the moon rock, or they weren't into collectibles," Gutheinz says. "They were into turning a quick buck." (Thanks to a NASA inventory error, this woman is $1.8 million richer.)
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A Las Vegas judge on Friday threw out a case against Kirstin Blaise Lobato, who spent more than a decade behind bars for the killing of a homeless man whose penis was cut off. Kirstin Lobato, who has long claimed her innocence in a 2001 killing, appears in Regional Justice Center on Wednesday Jan. 04, 2017. The Innocence Project has agreed to take her case. Jeff Scheid/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @jeffscheid Kirstin Lobato, who has long claimed her innocence in a 2001 killing, appears in Regional Justice Center on Wednesday Jan. 04, 2017. The Innocence Project has agreed to take her case. Jeff Scheid/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @jeffscheid Kirstin Lobato, left, who has long claimed her innocence in a 2001 killing, talks to her attorney Travis Barrick in Regional Justice Center on Wednesday Jan. 04, 2017. The Innocence Project has agreed to take her case. Jeff Scheid/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @jeffscheid Kirstin Lobato, left, who has long claimed her innocence in a 2001 killing, talks to her attorney Travis Barrick in Regional Justice Center on Wednesday Jan. 04, 2017. The Innocence Project has agreed to take her case. Jeff Scheid/Las Vegas Review-Journal Follow @jeffscheid Kirstin Lobato, then 19, turns toward her family after being sentenced Aug. 28, 2002, to at least 40 years in prison for killing and sexually mutilating a homeless man. Las Vegas Review-Journal file photo Kirstin Lobato, then 19, appears in court for sentenced Aug. 28, 2002. Lobato was sentenced to at least 40 years in prison for killing and sexually mutilating a homeless man. Las Vegas Review-Journal file photo Kirstin Lobato awaits opening statements May 8, 2002 in her trial on charges of killing and cutting of the penis of a homeless man in Las Vegas in 2001. Las Vegas Review-Journal file photo Kirstin Lobato awaits opening statements May 8, 2002 in her trial on charges of killing and cutting of the penis of a homeless man in Las Vegas in 2001. Las Vegas Review-Journal file photo Tears stream down the face of Kirstin Lobato, appearing in Clark County District Court Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2001, on charges of murder and severing a man's penis. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal Convicted killer Kirstin Lobato makes an appearance in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006, for a hearing in connection with the death and mutilation of a homeless man. Lobato has been convicted of manslaughter in connection with the death of Duran Bailey in July 2001 and mutilating his body to include severing his penis. Ronda Churchill Las Vegas Review-Journal Kirstin Lobato in court. 8-7-01 RJ Photo Gary Thompson||| Kirstin Lobato listens to testimony in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, May 14, 2002, during her hearing in connection with the death and mutilation of a homeless man. Lobato allegedly killed Duran Bailey in July 2001 and mutilated his body to include severing his penis. Gary Thompson Las Vegas Review-Journal Kirstin Lobato makes an appearance in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, July 31, 2001, for her hearing in connection with the death of a man and mutilation. Lobato allegedly killed homeless man Duran Bailey earlier in the month and mutilated his body to include severing his penis. Gary Thompson Las Vegas Review-Journal Convicted killer Kirsten Lobato appears in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, May 19, 2006, for her retrial in connection with the alleged killing and mutilation of a homeless man. Lobato allegedly killed Duran Bailey in July 2001 and mutilated his body to include severing his penis. Gary Thompson Las Vegas Review-Journal Convicted killer Kirstin Lobato makes an appearance in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006, for a hearing in connection with the death and mutilation of a homeless man. Lobato has been convicted of manslaughter in connection with the death of Duran Bailey in July 2001 and mutilating his body to include severing his penis. Ronda Churchill Las Vegas Review-Journal A Las Vegas judge on Friday dismissed the case against Kirstin Blaise Lobato, who spent more than a decade behind bars for the killing of a homeless man whose penis was cut off, after prosecutors declined to proceed with a third trial. In a one-page order, Chief Judge Elizabeth Gonazalez ordered the Nevada Department of Corrections to release Lobato, 35. Lead defense attorney Vanessa Potkin, director of post-conviction litigation for the New York-based Innocence Project. which fought to overturn her conviction, said prison had a “devastating impact” on Lobato’s life. “We’re elated with the dimsissal,” Potkin said. “It brings an end to a nearly 17-year nightmare for Kirstin Lobato and her family.” Judge's Order by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson declined to comment on the ruling. During a court hearing Friday morning, Chief Deputy District Attorney Sandra DiGiacomo pointed out that two juries had previously convicted Lobato in the killing. “By the time the third trial could proceed, Lobato would be immediately eligible for parole if convicted,” DiGiacomo said. “Although we fully believe in her guilt, as did the 24 members of our community who found her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, our resources are such that we are electing not to proceed with the third trial of this defendant, particularly considering the more than 15 years she has served in prison.” Earlier this year, Las Vegas attorney David Chesnoff, known for representing high-profile criminal defendants, agreed to take on Lobato’s case for free and work with the Innocence Project. “I was very proud to work with the Innocence Project and could not be happier than providing freedom to a fellow human being at the new year,” Chesnoff said Friday. “I appreciate the professionalism of the district attorney’s office.” Ineffective counsel argued Another judge earlier this month granted Lobato’s request for a new trial after finding that ineffective assistance of counsel may have played a role in her conviction in 44-year-old Duran Bailey’s slaying on either July 7 or 8, 2001. Time of death was crucial in the case.Bailey’s body was found about 10 p.m. on July 8, and the only evidence as to time of death at trial came from the medical examiner, who said death could have occurred as early as 10 p.m. on July 7. There was uncontested evidence that Lobato was in Panaca, her hometown, at midday and early evening on July 8. During a lengthy hearing in October, however, four forensic experts for the defense, including a former Clark County medical examiner and a university professor of forensic pathology, testified that Baileylikely died about 9 p.m. on July 8, when Lobato was seen in Panaca. They said they based their testimony based on photos and reports indicating lack of blowfly egg colonization on the homeless man’s body. Lobato’s post-trial lawyers said that pointed to her innocence. As of early Friday afternoon, it was unclear whether Lobato would be freed this weekend from Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center, where she has served since 2007, even though Gonzalez’s order demanded that Lobato be released “forthwith.” A prison spokeswoman told the Review-Journal that Lobato “could be transported to another location” before being released. Voluntary sex conviction In 2007, Lobato was found guilty of voluntary sexual conduct between a prisoner and another person, which added another year to her sentence and was expected to be served after she finished serving her time for the killing. But Potkin said she would push for Lobato’s immediate release and revisit the prison crime conviction because Lobato “served over 15 years for a crime she did not commit.” Lobato filed a petition in May 2010 to challenge the legality of her detention, alleging 79 grounds for relief. The Supreme Court last year ordered an evidentiary hearing on 25 of the claims. Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter. ||||| On December 29, more than a decade after she was first sent to prison in Nevada for a murder she did not commit, Kirstin Blaise Lobato saw the charges against her dismissed. “It is the end to her nearly 17-year nightmare,” said Vanessa Potkin, director of post-conviction litigation for the Innocence Project, which took on Lobato’s case. “It’s over.” Lobato was twice convicted of the gruesome murder of a 44-year-old homeless man named Duran Bailey, whose body was found behind a dumpster off the Las Vegas Strip just after 10 p.m. on July 8, 2001, covered in a thin layer of trash. Bailey’s teeth had been knocked out and his eyes were bloodied and swollen shut; his carotid artery had been slashed, his rectum stabbed, and his penis amputated. It was found among the trash nearby. Despite a crime scene rich with potential evidence, Las Vegas detectives Thomas Thowsen and James LaRochelle ignored obvious leads and instead focused their investigation on 18-year-old Lobato, based solely on a third-hand rumor. Lobato, who was a stranger to Bailey, had an alibi for the day of the crime: She was at home with her parents in the small town of Panaca, nearly three hours northeast of Las Vegas near the Utah state line. Still, detectives and prosecutors insisted that Lobato had been in the city during the early morning hours of July 8, killing Bailey before setting off in her old Pontiac Fiero for the long drive up the unlit, mountainous highway, making it home in time to get cleaned up before being seen around the neighborhood later that morning. The state’s theory of the crime fell apart this past October, when Potkin and a team from the Innocence Project presented nearly a week’s worth of testimony from several renowned entomologists and a medical examiner, each of whom demonstrated why the state’s narrative never made any scientific sense. In short, had Bailey been slaughtered in the pre-dawn hours and his body left outside all day in the summer heat, as the state claimed, blowflies — nature’s swift and ubiquitous first responders to scenes of death — would have quickly colonized his remains, leaving visible clusters of eggs in his various wounds. Still, the prosecution would not be bowed: At the October hearing, prosecutor Sandra DiGiacomo tried to peddle the notion that flies in Las Vegas behave unlike flies everywhere else in the world. It didn’t work. In a detailed opinion filed December 19, Judge Stefany Miley concluded that the testimony of Lobato’s experts was credible, and had a jury heard such evidence, she might have been acquitted. Miley granted Lobato a new trial. That left District Attorney Steven Wolfson with three possibilities: appeal the ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court (a longshot given the court had granted the hearing before Judge Miley based on its determination that Lobato’s alibi evidence was strong); retry the case (another loser option, particularly since Miley’s ruling left the DA without any evidence to try the case again), or dismiss the charges and free Lobato. On Friday morning, Wolfson chose option three, and prosecutors went to court to ask that a judge dismiss the charges against Lobato “with prejudice” — meaning the state could never seek to prosecute her again for the crime. By Friday afternoon, Potkin said she had spent the day on and off the phone with the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center in Las Vegas trying to arrange for Lobato’s immediate release — as was called for in the judge’s order. “The defendant shall be released from the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections forthwith,” Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez wrote. If Lobato isn’t released on December 29, Potkin said, she will have to remain in prison through New Year’s Day. For Michelle Ravell, Lobato’s dedicated advocate, her release can’t come a minute too soon. Ravell said that Lobato, now 35, will live with her while she works to put her life back together. Indeed, Lobato has spent most of her adulthood locked up for a crime she did not commit. “I always knew this was going to happen,” Ravell said. “I just want to go and get her.” ||||| “Despite the strong evidence that Ms. Lobato played no role in this crime, including alibi evidence that she was three hours away from Las Vegas on the day the victim was killed, the police focused exclusively and inexplicably on her as a suspect,” said Vanessa Potkin, Post-Conviction Litigation Director for the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law. “As a result, Ms. Lobato has spent all of her young adulthood wrongfully incarcerated for a crime she did not commit. We are grateful that the prosecutor’s office moved expeditiously to dismiss her charges after the vacatur decision, and we hope Ms. Lobato will be released soon.” Lobato was just 18 years old when she was charged with the brutal 2001 murder of Duran Bailey, a homeless man in Las Vegas. Lobato, who was tried twice for the crime, has always maintained her innocence. Bailey’s body had been found at around 10 p.m. on July 8, 2001 next to a dumpster in the parking lot of a bank building. He had been brutalized: his eyes were swollen shut; his skull cracked; several of his teeth had been knocked out of his mouth; his carotid artery was cut; and his penis had been removed. Lobato grew up in Panaca, Nevada, a small town three hours north of Las Vegas. In late May 2001, two months before Bailey was killed, Lobato was visiting friends in Las Vegas when she was attacked in a motel parking lot by a man who attempted to rape her. Carrying a small knife given to her by her father for her protection, Lobato slashed at the man’s groin area and escaped his grasp. When she drove off, she saw the man on the ground, mobile and apparently crying. In the coming days and weeks, Lobato described this attack to numerous people, making clear that it occurred before July 2001 and stating that she believed she may have cut the man in the groin area before running off to safety. On July 20, 2001, nearly two weeks after Bailey’s murder, Las Vegas Metro Police Department detectives received a phone call from a Panaca resident who had heard from another Panaca resident that Lobato had told her that she had cut off a man’s penis in Las Vegas. Based on that attenuated story alone, detectives immediately drove the three hours to Panaca from Las Vegas. Upon arriving at Lobato’s family home, the detectives told Lobato that they knew she had recently been attacked. The police recorded a statement in which Lobato described the attempted rape in late May, stating that it had happened “at least a month ago,” clearly describing a motel parking lot as the location and not a dumpster, and describing a man who was mobile and alive when she left and not beaten to death, as was Bailey. Under the mistaken belief that police were informing her that the man who tried to rape her had died, she expressed remorse, and made other comments that the detective took as a confession for Bailey’s murder, even though the event Lobato described was glaringly at odds with the basic facts of his killing. Armed only with this statement, the detectives arrested Lobato for Bailey’s murder. The police did not investigate clear alternate perpetrators with the motive and means to so violently kill Bailey. On July 1, 2001, one week before he was found dead, Bailey assaulted and raped a woman who lived in an apartment building next to the bank where his body would be found. Bailey threatened to kill the woman if she told anyone, but she eventually reported the attack to the police on July 5, 2001, just three days before Bailey was killed. She also told a number of her male neighbors who had an ongoing dispute with Bailey about the attack. Despite the woman’s prior contact with the victim, as well as her male friends’ motive to retaliate against Bailey, the police prematurely dismissed these potential suspects. Instead, the police focused solely on Lobato, a teenager with no connection to Bailey and no motive to harm him. At trial, the prosecution relied primarily on Lobato’s statement to the detectives, which they characterized as a confession, as there was no physical or forensic evidence linking Lobato to this crime. The defense presented numerous family members and neighbors who testified that Lobato was actually in Panaca on July 8, 2001. The prosecution even conceded in summation that Lobato was in Panaca as of 11:30 a.m. on July 8th. However, the prosecution relied heavily on their medical examiner’s time of death estimation to undermine Lobato’s alibi defense: the medical examiner estimated that Bailey died up to 24 hours before he was pronounced dead at 3:50 a.m. on July 9th, meaning at approximately 4 a.m. on July 8th. The State argued that this put Bailey’s death at a time when Lobato was not accounted for by her alibi witnesses, and the jury convicted her. At the October 2017 hearing, Lobato presented the testimony of three forensic entomologists, or insect scientists, all of whom concluded that based on the weather conditions in Las Vegas on July 8, 2001 and based on the outdoor location where Bailey’s body was found, one would expect to see his body teeming with blowfly eggs within a short period of time after his death. Blowflies arrive very shortly after death and lay hundreds of easily observable eggs in a freshly dead body’s orifices and wounds. Given that Bailey’s body had no blowfly eggs on it, each of the forensic entomologists independently concluded that he had to have died close in time to when his body was discovered around 10 p.m. on July 8th, during which time, as conceded even by the prosecution, Lobato was three hours away with her family in Panaca. A forensic pathologist also independently concluded that based on the recorded rigor mortis changes in Bailey’s body between the time when his body was discovered and when his autopsy was conducted, he likely died during the early evening hours of July 8th. Based on this compelling scientific evidence which could have been presented at Lobato’s trial and which would have likely changed the jury’s outcome, Judge Miley granted Lobato’s habeas corpus petition and vacated her convictions. “We are grateful that the court recognized that Ms. Lobato’s defense counsel was ineffective for failing to present scientific evidence showing that the victim died close in time to when his body was found, at a time when Ms. Lobato was hours away from the crime scene.” Adnan Sultan “We are grateful that the court recognized that Ms. Lobato’s defense counsel was ineffective for failing to present scientific evidence showing that the victim died close in time to when his body was found, at a time when Ms. Lobato was hours away from the crime scene,” said Adnan Sultan, Staff Attorney at the Innocence Project. “After sixteen years of wrongful conviction, Ms. Lobato’s name is finally cleared and she can begin to build her life as a free woman,” said Jane Pucher, Staff Attorney at the Innocence Project.
– Kirstin Lobato will be happier than most to leave 2017 behind. Twice convicted of the brutal murder of a homeless man in Las Vegas, the 35-year-old is expected to start a new chapter when she becomes a free woman for the first time since 2001. A judge granted a request from a district attorney Friday that she be cleared of all charges and released "with prejudice," meaning Nevada can never again prosecute Lobato for Duran Bailey's murder, reports the Intercept. The move followed a judge's order vacating Lobato's murder conviction on Dec. 19, based on hours of testimony from pathology and entomology experts. They said Bailey, 44, was killed—his carotid artery was slashed and penis cut off—around 9pm on July 8, 2001, while 18-year-old Lobato was hours away from Sin City, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Prosecutors had claimed Lobato killed the homeless man in the morning—based on a rumor that she cut the penis of a man who tried to rape her weeks earlier—but that conflicted with an absence of blowflies, which collect on dead bodies. "Although we fully believe in her guilt … our resources are such that we are electing not to proceed with the third trial of this defendant, particularly considering the more than 15 years she has served in prison," Chief Deputy District Attorney Sandra DiGiacomo said Friday. It's not yet clear when Lobato, who had no connection to Bailey, will walk free. Though the judge said she should be released "forthwith," Lobato was convicted of voluntary sexual conduct in prison in 2007, which added a year to her sentence. Her Innocence Project attorneys say they will push for her immediate release regardless.
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There are reports from Torino about HARPS observations of Gliese 581(g) Vogt et al reported on additional possible planets in the multi-planet low mass Gliese 581(g) system. In particular they showed a ~ 3 sigma detection of a possible 3+ earth mass planet in a circular orbit with an orbital period consistent with a temperate surface. The paper used a combination of historic Keck data, published HARPS data up through 2008 and new high cadence Keck data. There was some concern when the paper came out that the False Alarm Probability was underestimated (see Cumming et al for discussion of False Alarm Probability estimates and general considerations ). The two new planets reported by Vogt et al, were both coming in close to the detection threshold and there have been problems disentangllng closely packed multi-planet systems, due to aliasing and harmonic contamination. Gliese 581, in particular, has had a couple of claims about its planets backed out before. What everyone in the community was waiting for is what the HARPS group could say, since they ought to have a couple of years more data, presumably with high cadence also, and very high velocity precision. IAU 276 The Astrophysics of Planetary Systems: Formation, Structure, and Dynamical Evolution just got underway in Torino, Italy (good week to be in Italy - meeting in Sardinia also, Wish I Was There). Ray Jay reports on social networks: " ‎"We cannot confirm it [Gliese 581g] in our HARPS data" - Francesco Pepe (Geneva team) at IAU 276 in Torino." This is interesting, but not totally surprising. It will be very interesting to see the HARPS paper, and how this shakes out. Gliese 581g could still be there, it could be in the orbit reported, but this needs some more work. PS: additional oral reports from the meeting. HARPS statement is stronger than "we don't see it" - they find that if they force a solution they get a negative signal appearing, implying the planet is not there, not just that they are not sensitive to it. 50% more data since 2008 published series. This could get interesting. ||||| Two weeks ago, U.S.-based astronomers announced the discovery of the first Goldilocks planet circling another star: just the right size and just the right temperature to harbor alien life. But yesterday at an exoplanet meeting in Turin, Italy, Switzerland-based astronomers announced that they could find no trace of the prized planet in their observations of the same planetary system. All the excitement has been over the subtlest of wiggles in the motion of the star Gliese 581 that lies just 20 light-years from the sun in the direction of the constellation Libra. A consortium of institutions led by the Observatory of Geneva in Switzerland had already discovered four planets circling Gliese 581 by sorting out the subtle motions of the star that are induced by the gravitational tugs of any orbiting planets. On 29 September, a U.S.-based team led by astronomer Steven Vogt of the University of California, Santa Cruz, announced that it had discovered a fifth planet. The American team used a combined set of observations: One 11-year-long set consisted of 122 measurements made by the team, while the other set was 4.3 years long and consisted of 119 measurements published by the consortium. Designated Gliese 581g, the new planet has at least three times the mass of Earth—large enough to hold on to a watery atmosphere—and orbits at a distance from its star that would allow any water to remain liquid. That would make 581g a happy home for life as we know it. But at this week's Astrophysics of Planetary Systems meeting, astronomer Francesco Pepe of the Geneva Observatory and the Swiss group reported that he and his colleagues could find no reliable sign of a fifth planet in Gliese 581's habitable zone. They used only their own observations, but they expanded their published data set from what the U.S. group included in its analysis to a length of 6.5 years and 180 measurements. "We do not see any evidence for a fifth planet ... as announced by Vogt et al.," Pepe wrote Science in an e-mail from the meeting. On the other hand, "we can't prove there is no fifth planet." No one yet has the required precision in their observations to prove the absence of such a small exoplanet, he notes. Astronomer Paul Butler, a member of the U.S. team who is at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished. He notes, however, that more observations will likely be needed to solidify the existence of Gliese 581g. "I would expect that on the time scale of a year or two this should be settled."
– US-based researchers may have gotten a tad carried away when they announced the discovery of a new, potentially life-sustaining planet a couple weeks back. Yesterday, a team of Switzerland-based astronomers said their own observations of star Gliese 581g didn’t back up the American team at all. “We do not see any evidence for a fifth planet,” astronomer Francesco Pepe told ScienceNow. The team also said that, if they were forced to draw a conclusion from their data, they would get a negative signal, which implies that the planet isn’t there, not that they just haven’t been able to find it, notes Steinn Sigurðsson on his blog. Meanwhile, a member of the US team admits that more data is necessary to confirm Gliese 581g’s existence. “I would expect that on the time scale of a year or two, this should be settled.”
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Police patrol through a neighborhood in Watertown, Mass., while searching for Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. All residents of Boston were ordered to stay in their homes Friday morning as the search for the surviving suspect in the marathon bombings continued after a long night of violence that left another suspect dead. April 19, 2013 Police patrol through a neighborhood in Watertown, Mass., while searching for Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. All residents of Boston were ordered to stay in their homes Friday morning as the search for the surviving suspect in the marathon bombings continued after a long night of violence that left another suspect dead. Charles Krupa/AP Following a massive search that shut down the city of Boston and its environs, authorities late Friday apprehended Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a suspect in the marathon bombings who had been missing since early in the day, when he had escaped from a shootout that had left his brother,and fellow suspect, dead. Authorities shot and killed one suspect in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings, and police were searching for a second suspect who was on the loose in Watertown, Mass., Friday after a chaotic night that left one police officer dead and another critically wounded in the Boston suburbs. Authorities shot and killed one suspect in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings, and police were searching for a second suspect who was on the loose in Watertown, Mass., Friday after a chaotic night that left one police officer dead and another critically wounded in the Boston suburbs. WATERTOWN, Mass.— Police said they had taken the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings into custody here Friday night, after a day of intense searching that shut down daily life across a large swath of greater Boston. Shortly after 8 p.m., police surrounded a boat stored behind a home in East Watertown, a short distance away from where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, had been last seen. Authorities said they believed Tsarnaev was inside the boat, which had been covered in a tarp. He was thought to be wounded but alive: television crews reported that they could hear police calling his name, attempting to induce his surrender. The other suspect in the bombings, Tsarnaev’s 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, was killed early Friday morning after a shootout with police in another section of Watertown. Also Friday, a report from Russian television cited the men’s mother as saying her older son had previously been interviewed by the FBI because of his interest in radical Islamic teachings. The FBI confirmed that agents in Boston had interviewed the elder Tsarnaev in 2011, on behalf of an unspecified foreign government that suspected he had ties to a terrorist organization. But the FBI found nothing warranting further investigation. The standoff with the younger Tsarnaev began just minutes after a press conference in which authorities had conceded that a daylong search for Tsarnaev had come up empty. They had said they did not know where the fugitive was, but would still lift a “shelter in place” order anyway. “You can get back out, as long as you are vigilant,” said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D). As night fell again here, the Tsarnaevs had become a new lesson in the awful magnifying power of terrorism. Two unremarkable brothers, armed with low-tech bombs and no apparent escape plan, had allegedly killed four people, injured more than 170, and then held one of America’s great cities in terror for a full day. And counting. While law enforcement officers continued to look for Tsarnaev, investigators in Washington and elsewhere began seeking to understand what had turned them to violence. The Tsarnaev brothers are of Chechen heritage. Both were born in the Caucusus region, a cauldron fought over by Chechen separatists, Russian security forces, Islamic extremists and organized crime. They had emigrated legally, and lived for years in the Boston area, where their father, Anzor, was an auto mechanic. In the past, both men had embraced American passions, according to friends and neighbors. Tamerlan, 26, was an accomplished boxer, with a wife and child. Dzhokhar was a wrestler at Cambridge’s public high school, who went on to attend the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. On Thursday evening, authorities released photos of two men spotted carrying backpacks near the Marathon’s finish line. These were apparently the Tsarnaevs, though authorities did not say that at the time--and, perhaps, did not know it at all. Their targets, it turned out, had not fled the city or the country. A few hours later, they began a violent spree just across the Charles River in Cambridge. At about 10:30 p.m., authorities said, the two shot and killed MIT Police officer Sean Collier, 26, as Collier sat in his cruiser. It was unclear what triggered that shooting: authorities said surveillance video appears to show the two approaching Collier and killing him without warning. After that, the men allegedly carjacked a Mercedes sport utility vehicle, and took the driver with them. At least one brother told the carjacked driver that they were the marathon bombers. They forced the driver to stop at several bank machines, and took $800 that he withdrew. After a few minutes, the man was left behind at a gas station, unharmed. It was unclear if he escaped, or was let go. From there, the brothers drove about three miles, throwing explosives out the window at police. In Watertown, they engaged in a shootout with police, in which at least 200 rounds were fired. Authorities said that Tamarlan Tsarnaev left the car at one point, and attempted to throw an explosive at officers. The device, however, went off in his hand. Police then tackled the wounded suspect in the street. Then, authorities said, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev--still behind the wheel of a car, swerved at the officers in an effort to hit them. The officers dodged. Tamerlan did not. He was dragged under the car, and later died at a Boston hospital. In the same confrontation, a Boston Transit police officer was also shot and wounded. {{Officials later identified the officer as Richard H. Donahue, 33, who was treated at Mt. Auburn Hospital and released. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escaped. Police later conceded that there were not enough officers to establish a perimeter. The teenager is believed to have fled on foot: police found a small blood trail, indicating he was injured. Then he vanished. Starting after midnight Friday, an army of police officers and federal investigators began fanning out to look for him. SWAT teams from as far away as Cape Cod and New Hampshire rolled through the streets in armored cars, as police carefully searched house to house in Watertown. While they looked, authorities issued a massive order to stay at home. It covered the entire city of Boston, plus the suburban towns of Belmont, Brookline, Cambridge, Newton, Waltham and Watertown. “This situation is grave. We are here to protect public safety,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said in the morning, as the extraordinary lockdown was put in place. “We believe this to be a terrorist. We believe this to be a man here to kill people.” As the afternoon wore on, authorities closed down the suspects’ street, and searched their home. President Obama was briefed. The Tsarnaev brothers’ relatives appeared one after another on cable TV, with one uncle denouncing the two as “losers.” In Boston, a few people began to defy orders, and come out in the streets. As night fell, the governor said that everyone could do that--but with the frightening knowledge that an alleged killer and bomb-maker was out there, too. “We can return to living our lives,” Patrick said. While authorities looked for Tsarnaev, another phase of the investigation was already underway. In Washington and elsewhere, investigators interviewed family members, and searched for travel records, financial documents and for the brothers’ traces on Internet. For now, the brothers’ alleged motive remains unknown. The Tsarnaevs, like many ethnic Chechens, are Muslim. In the last several months, Tamerlan Tsarnaev had posted videos to YouTube indicating his interest in radical Muslim ideologies. Another question: did the men have help, either from within the U.S. or abroad? While militant Chechen groups have been blamed for terror attacks in the past, their target has usually been Russia, a bitter foe from Caucusus wars. On Friday, U.S. authorities said they had no proof that anybody beyond the two Tsarnaev brothers was involved in the marathon attacks. But they were not done looking. ||||| The memorial at Boylston and Berkeley streets has been moved to the sidewalk, in front of Bank of America. (Chris Allen-Black) As we near the one-week point after the attacks, the investigation continues. Boylston Street around the scene of the crime remains closed, city officials said at a recently ended news conference. Police Commissioner Ed Davis said the scene could be reopened in "a couple of days . . . but don't hold me to that. " Also:
– Authorities say one of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing is dead and a massive manhunt is under way for the other, who has been identified as 19-year-old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev. Boston is effectively shut down in the meantime: Residents of Boston, Watertown, Newton, Waltham, Belmont, Cambridge, and the Allston-Brighton neighborhoods of Boston were told to remain in their homes; mass transit has been halted; businesses were asked not to open; and the Boston Globe reports that at least 16 area colleges have canceled classes. What we know of what happened overnight, per the AP and the Washington Post: The Middlesex district attorney says the two men are suspected of killing an MIT police officer at the college last night after the officer responded to a disturbance, then stealing a car at gunpoint and later releasing its driver unharmed. (All just hours after police released photos of the bombing suspects.) Authorities say the suspects threw explosives from the car as police followed it into Watertown; witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots and explosions at about 1am. A transit police officer was critically wounded. The suspects and police exchanged gunfire and one of the suspects was critically injured and later died at a hospital while the other escaped. Doctors at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center say they treated a man with a possible blast injury and multiple gunshot wounds. They wouldn't confirm that the patient, who came in with police, was the suspect in the black hat from marathon surveillance footage. Police say the suspect on loose is a "terrorist" who "came here to kill people." Governor Deval Patrick held a press conference with police this morning extending the shelter-in-place warning to all of Boston. "There is a massive manhunt underway," he assured reporters. "We've got every asset that we can possibly muster on the ground right now." Authorities have identified the MIT officer who was killed as 26-year-old Sean Collier of Somerville, according to the Boston Globe. The MBTA police officer who was injured has been identified as Richard H. Donohue.
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Add a location to your Tweets When you tweet with a location, Twitter stores that location. You can switch location on/off before each Tweet and always have the option to delete your location history. Learn more ||||| More than a week after he inserted himself into the 2016 presidential election by releasing information about an investigation into Anthony Weiner’s laptop that might implicate Hillary Clinton, FBI Director James Comey sent out another missive on Sunday clearing the Democratic nominee. In a letter to Congressional leaders, Comey said the FBI found nothing in their investigation that “changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton,” meaning no recommendation of criminal charges. The FBI director has been under fire for sharing details about an ongoing investigation, against Department of Justice policy with regard to the timing before an election. News of Comey’s latest letter set Twitter on fire, with Comey getting it from all sides for either “bowing” to Clinton pressure or for getting involved in the first place and disrupting the election. A sampling below: James Comey backs down, Clinton intimidation shook him. The FBI will never be taken seriously again. pic.twitter.com/MljbuRFmxm — Mike Cernovich 🇺🇸 (@Cernovich) November 6, 2016 After dropping a partisan bomb on the election, James Comey issues an "oh never mind" letter. pic.twitter.com/xeFDYiUaqT — Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) November 6, 2016 If there is nothing to hide Comey then release all the emails. Let the American people decide. #FBI — Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) November 6, 2016 My prayer Hillary is elected and makes James Comey's life a living hell for the next seven years @FBI — Robert Ernst (@RobEjr) November 6, 2016 James Comey now appears to be the guy who saw an unlit match on the floor and then screamed “FIRE!” in a crowded theater. — Matt Viser (@mviser) November 6, 2016 It's not Comey's fault that ignorant voters take mere presence of an investigation to mean something criminal definitely happened. — KStreetHipster (@KStreetHipster) November 6, 2016 JESUS CHRIST!!!! Now Comey announces FBI has not changed its assessment based on new emails. He threw the election in2 chaos FOR NOTHING!!! — Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) November 6, 2016 At the 11th hour, FBI has officially cleared Clinton in latest email probe! Why Comey stirred this unfounded controversy we may never know. https://t.co/KVz6j8ywKi — Misha Collins (@mishacollins) November 6, 2016 I don't care what your politics are, Comey has royally screwed the pooch handling this investigation. https://t.co/o66T0dFSrE — Harlan Hill (@Harlan) November 6, 2016 Now that Comey clears Clinton (again), he can get fired without claims of retaliation. — Markos Moulitsas (@markos) November 6, 2016 New Comey letter doesn't undo all damage of his last one which stopped Clinton momentum & may help Trump avoid landslide defeat he deserves. — Max Boot (@MaxBoot) November 6, 2016 So I'm guessing when Trump next speaks, the FBI / Comey / System are back to being rigged, yah? — (((DuneMyThang™))) (@Kris_Sacrebleu) November 6, 2016 Looks like James Comey thinks Hillary Clinton will win and he doesn't want to get fired. Sad. #RiggedSystem — Deplorable VP (@MikePenceVP) November 6, 2016 FBI Director Comey has ONCE again caved 2 the DoJ! The Dems will now put him back on his shiny pedestal If we want LAW & Order vote #Trump🇺🇸 — Deplorable Me🇺🇸⚡🏈 (@chrgdup1973) November 6, 2016 ||||| Immediately after breaking news hit that FBI director James Comey wasn’t changing any conclusions when it came to Hillary Clinton‘s use of a private email server, essentially stating that nothing will come from the previous letter he sent last month, Twitter went absolutely berserk. Considering the partisan nature of the story, and it coming just two days before the presidential election, it all depended on who was sending the tweet on what kind of reaction you’d see. We had the acknowledgement of how Democrats and Republican would immediately shift allegiances and their views of Comey. Now Ds who were savaging Comey a few days ago will praise him & GOPers who were behind him will turn on him again. https://t.co/WGsT8fp1rf — David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) November 6, 2016 *the sound of everyone switching sides on comey again* — Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) November 6, 2016 The anticipation of how Donald Trump and his campaign would react. Rudy Giuliani probably just threw his glass of Metamucil against a wall — john r stanton (@dcbigjohn) November 6, 2016 CNN’s Jim Acosta reminded us all how much Trump praised Comey after the first letter. Trump last Monday: "It took guts for Director Comey to make the move he made… What he did, he brought back his reputation." — Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 6, 2016 And there was a little humor regarding last night’s Reno rally. James Comey saw a sign and yelled "Gun!" — Matt Browner Hamlin (@mattkbh) November 6, 2016 Then we got journalists weighing in. Ive said, given chaos Comey created, he better be able to indict Clinton. Now he says "never mind." I dont curse on this feed, but fuck 'im. — Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) November 6, 2016 BREAKING: “What an ass!!!!” -my father, on Comey’s 2nd letter — Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) November 6, 2016 Hey, guys! Remember these things called "weekends"? #MakeTheNewsSlowAgain — Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) November 6, 2016 Kellyanne Conway's positronic motherboard scrambling to compile spin for Trump's "worse than Watergate" blurtings about Comey/emails. — Bob Cesca (@bobcesca_go) November 6, 2016 FBI really handled this one well — Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) November 6, 2016 Okay Trump and Clinton, back to your default positions on Comey… — Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) November 6, 2016 Thought neighbor stole my wrench. So I wrote a letter to all the neighbors letting them know i was investigating. But nm, he totes didn’t. — Ben Howe (@BenHowe) November 6, 2016 And just in case you wanted to know how Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich felt. Comey must be under enormous political pressure to cave like this and announce something he cant possibly know. — Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) November 6, 2016 UPDATE – 4:24 p.m. ET: NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald noted Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway‘s first televised reaction to the news: .@KellyannePolls on MSNBC on Comey: "He's mishandled this investigation from the very beginning." — Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) November 6, 2016 She previously gave her thoughts on the development with this tweet: Then why did you, your colleagues, and your candidate attack Comey and his credibility? https://t.co/GjPeV8pWsr — Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) November 6, 2016 UPDATE – 4:36 p.m. ET: House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican National Committee have also responded to the news: NEW: @SpeakerRyan issues statement in response to FBI letter on Clinton email review: https://t.co/cVXPro91CB pic.twitter.com/xAA1g0aGDl — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 6, 2016 RNC reaction to news FBI is not changing its conclusions after reviewing newly-discovered Clinton emails: pic.twitter.com/W2OjssAPkg — Jeremy Diamond (@JDiamond1) November 6, 2016 UPDATE – 4:46 p.m. ET: Former congressman and current Trump advocate Joe Walsh had this to say: Comey never should've opened his mouth in July. He never should've opened his mouth Oct 28th. Now 2 days b4 Election Day he cleans it up. — Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) November 6, 2016 UPDATE – 4:46 p.m. ET: Wayne Allyn Root, who spoke at one of Trump’s recent rallies, offered some thoughts: Crooked Hillary, what did you offer to Crooked Comey? American public no longer trusts FBI. What a legacy for Crooked Comey. — Wayne Allyn Root (@WayneRoot) November 6, 2016 Fox News host and frequent Trump booster Sean Hannity also got in on this: If law enforcement or congress ever ask for e mails regarding an investigation, the FBI now says it's OK to delete them with "Bleach Bit" — Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) November 6, 2016 As for #NeverTrumper Bill Kristol: Am I the only person in America (or at least on Twitter) who thinks each of Comey's three decisions (or announcements) is defensible? — Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) November 6, 2016 UPDATE – 5:20 p.m. ET: Drudge Report creator Matt Drudge made a rare Twitter appearance to give his personal take: Comey's head-fake fake just made the hornets nest even crazier! 48 hours of madness upcoming!! — MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) November 6, 2016 UPDATE – 6:40 p.m. ET: CNN’s Chris Cuomo also weighed in: Kind of just as big a surprise as last arguably inappropriate disclosure https://t.co/XxZAGWjVxX — Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) November 6, 2016 [image via screengrab] – Follow Justin Baragona on Twitter: @justinbaragona Have a tip we should know? tips@mediaite.com ||||| Editor’s note: This post has been republished from 10/28/16. — — Responding to the news Friday that the FBI was rekindling its investigation into Clinton’s emails, Rush Limbaugh speculated that the bureau was simply trying to redirect voters’ attention away from Wikileaks’ ongoing release of emails hacked from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. FBI Director James Comey “is going to make everybody think for the next three or four days that there’s really something to be forthcoming here,” Limbaugh said. Limbaugh said that the revelations in the Wikileaks material were “starting to hurt” the Clintons and that the renewed interest in an FBI investigation into her private email server would be a fruitless distraction. The radio host likened Comey to the “Lone Ranger,” riding to the Clinton campaign’s rescue. He added that Comey was “still carrying water for Clinton and is trying to get everybody to stop paying attentions to the Wikileaks dump.” Limbaugh qualified that this was the “cynical” interpretation of recent events. Have a tip we should know? tips@mediaite.com ||||| Comey must be under enormous political pressure to cave like this and announce something he cant possibly know. ||||| (CNN) FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers Sunday the agency hasn't changed its opinion that Hillary Clinton should not face criminal charges after a review of new emails. "Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July," Comey wrote in the new letter to congressional committee chairmen. Comey dropped a bombshell on the presidential race last month when he sent a letter to Congress saying the FBI had discovered emails in a separate investigation that could be connected to the now-closed probe of whether Clinton mishandled classified information. The move infuriated Democrats and emboldened Republican nominee Donald Trump. It's impossible to know before results are tallied what impact Comey's actions -- first raising a vaguely worded red flag 11 days out, and then lowering it two days from the election -- will have on the contest. But the news could help Clinton put to rest a controversy that has dogged her in the 2016 race's closing days, helping Trump narrow a polling gap nationally and in key battleground states. Trump assailed the FBI's handling of the matter, though he did not directly address Comey's announcement at a rally in Sterling Heights, Michigan. "You can't review 650,000 new emails in eight days. You can't do it, folks," Trump said, adding, "Hillary Clinton is guilty. She knows it, the FBI knows it, the people know it, and now it's up to the American people to deliver justice at the ballot box on November 8." JUST WATCHED Cooper to Conway: Fine to speculate without facts? Replay More Videos ... MUST WATCH Cooper to Conway: Fine to speculate without facts? 02:17 Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, blasted Comey's handling of the review. "Today's letter makes Director Comey's actions nine days ago even more troubling," Feinstein said in a statement. "There's no doubt that it created a false impression about the nature of the agency's inquiry." She added: "The Justice Department needs to take a look at its procedures to prevent similar actions that could influence future elections." JUST WATCHED Franken: Comey should answer Congress' questions Replay More Videos ... MUST WATCH Franken: Comey should answer Congress' questions 02:40 'As fast as we could' Comey's letter was the culmination of a fast-paced review of the newly discovered email, law enforcement sources said Sunday. "We went through this as fast as we could," a senior law enforcement official told CNN, with another law enforcement official saying investigators worked "around the clock" to review the large volume of emails. The FBI found the new emails as part of its separate investigation into a sexting incident by Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The thousands of new emails were mostly personal and duplicates of what had already been seen, law enforcement officials said in explaining how the conclusion was reached so quickly. The laptop which was found was about a decade old with lots of personal content on it not relevant to the investigation, according to one source. The probe is considered over with regard to Clinton. Though with not all the deleted emails recovered and not all the devices in FBI's possession, it is always possible something else could turn up that would require more review. There were some classified emails found, but law enforcement officials stressed the issue is not the classified information so much as proving intent. The sources would not specify if the the classified messages were new or duplicates of ones already reviewed, nor would would officials say how many there were and what levels at which they were classified. "Keep in mind we are focused on intent," the official said. "We know there are classified materials, but that doesn't change the conclusion reached back in July." As for others who were part of the probe, including Abedin, the FBI is still working on some remaining aspects of the review, including determining how the emails ended up on the laptop in the first place. Abedin's attorneys have said she doesn't know why these emails were there because this wasn't a computer she used. JUST WATCHED Who is Huma Abedin? Replay More Videos ... MUST WATCH Who is Huma Abedin? 03:25 The expectation remains that investigators will have to talk to Abedin again. It isn't uncommon to come across new evidence after concluding a probe -- which is what happened here in October. Normally, investigators take a look to see if anything changes in their conclusions and it's not a controversial issue. This case isn't a normal case, given the election and the stakes. DOJ informed of decision Comey sent the letter as soon as possible, the senior law enforcement official said. He was "very careful" about how the letter was crafted given the sensitivities. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was informed ahead of time that the FBI director was sending the updated letter to Congress informing them of that there would be no change in the FBI stance on Hillary Clinton, a Justice official told CNN on Sunday. Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates disagreed with Comey's earlier decision to notify Congress. The attorney general backed Comey's move Sunday. "Everyone is on the same page," the source said. Since there is no change to the original findings, the Justice Department has no need to weigh in further, the official said. "The Department of Justice and the FBI dedicated all necessary resources to conduct this review expeditiously," the Justice Department said in a brief statement released Sunday afternoon. Campaigns weigh in Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said her campaign is validated in its belief that nothing would change. We were always confident nothing would cause the July decision to be revisited. Now Director Comey has confirmed ithttps://t.co/BMQQx9eRzw — Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) November 6, 2016 "We were always confident nothing would cause the July decision to be revisited. Now Director Comey has confirmed it," he tweeted. The Trump campaign quickly slammed Comey. "We thought that Director Comey and the FBI were wrong when they made their initial recommendation in July, and we think that they're wrong now," Trump spokesman Jason Miller told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room." GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence sought to keep the pressure on Clinton. "Mishandling classified information is a crime," he said at a rally in an airport hanger in Hickory, North Carolina. "Hillary Clinton said that she never sent or received any classified information and the director of the FBI told the Congress classified information was sent." In Michigan, Trump called Clinton "the most corrupt person ever to seek the office of the presidency of the United States." But the Republican nominee, who has expressed hope in the last week that the FBI's review of new emails might yield an indictment, emphasized to his supporters Sunday that Clinton is "protected" by powerful forces. "Well, you have to understand it's a rigged system and she's protected," Trump said in Minnesota, though he offered no evidence to back up his theory. 'It opened a wound' A senior Democrat close to Clinton's campaign told CNN that "it's impossible to fully undo the damage of the last nine days." Internal campaign polling, the source said, found that some independents and Republican women fled Clinton after the original Comey announcement, robbing her of a constituency that she'd hoped would turn her contest with Trump into a blowout. "It opened a wound that cannot be quickly healed," the Democrat said. However, the Democrat called it a relief that the "matter is resolved" and said Clinton's campaign plans to "make everyone know about" Comey's Sunday letter. Comey's last-minute announcement gives Clinton an opportunity for an I-told-you-so moment. "We have seen Director Comey's latest letter to the Hill," said Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton's communications director, speaking with reporters after the news broke. "We are glad to see that he has found, as we were confident that he would, that he had confirmed the conclusions he reached in July and we are glad that this matter is resolved." Trump and his allies have seized on that announcement, using it to claim Clinton was likely to face criminal charges. "If she were to win, it would create an unprecedented constitutional crisis," Trump claimed Saturday night in Reno, Nevada. "In that situation we could very well have a sitting president under felony indictment and ultimately a criminal trial. It would grind government to a halt." Political benefit The political benefit for Trump has been that Republicans who'd been skeptical of their party's nominee have largely followed vice presidential nominee Mike Pence's calls to "come home" to the party -- finding Trump less objectionable than Clinton. It's not just Trump's campaign that seized on Comey's actions. Down-ballot Republicans -- particularly Senate candidates who had been forced to answer for Trump's statements for months -- used the moment to change the topic, shifting to the more comfortable ground of attacking Clinton. The last-minute Sunday move from Comey could also provide new fuel for Trump's claims of a "rigged" system -- allowing him to cast the FBI director's intervention in the presidential election in a new light. Comey and the FBI went from Trump's scapegoat to the Republican nominee's hero, with Trump claiming Comey had redeemed himself just in time. Newt Gingrich, a top Trump ally, tweeted "Comey must be under enormous political pressure to cave like this." Comey must be under enormous political pressure to cave like this and announce something he cant possibly know. — Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) November 6, 2016 Dems, GOP react House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed the significance of Comey's latest letter. "Regardless of this decision, the undisputed finding of the FBI's investigation is that Secretary Clinton put our nation's secrets at risk and in doing so compromised our national security," Ryan said in a statement. "Fortunately, the American people have the opportunity to ensure Secretary Clinton never gets her hands on classified information again." Capitol Hill Democrats praised Comey's decision to release more information. "While the original letter should never have been sent so close to an election, the expeditious review of these emails should put to rest -- once and for all -- the irresponsible speculation indulged in by the Trump campaign and others," Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said. "Voters can now make their decision based on the merits, and that decision should be simple: it is the choice between a woman superbly qualified to be commander in chief, and a man patently unfit for office." Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus issued a statement saying, "None of this changes the fact that the FBI continues to investigate the Clinton Foundation for corruption involving her tenure as secretary of state. Hillary Clinton should never be president." ||||| Please share and comment. Right after the news that FBI director James Comey was reopening the case into Hillary Clinton's email server, Rush Limbaugh speculated that it was all a distraction to take away focus from the Wikileaks and that Comey would clear Hillary Clinton. After today's revelation that theory seemed to have proven true Mediate.com reported: Responding to the news Friday that the FBI was rekindling its investigation into Clinton’s emails, Rush Limbaugh speculated that the bureau was simply trying to redirect voters’ attention away from Wikileaks’ ongoing release of emails hacked from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. FBI Director James Comey “is going to make everybody think for the next three or four days that there’s really something to be forthcoming here,” Limbaugh said. Limbaugh said that the revelations in the Wikileaks material were “starting to hurt” the Clintons and that the renewed interest in an FBI investigation into her private email server would be a fruitless distraction. The radio host likened Comey to the “Lone Ranger,” riding to the Clinton campaign’s rescue. He added that Comey was “still carrying water for Clinton and is trying to get everybody to stop paying attentions to the Wikileaks dump.” Read more @ (Link: www.mediaite.com) After today's revelation it would appear that Rush may have been correct. Please Share and Comment
– Just as quickly as the bombshell was dropped, it disappeared: FBI Director James Comey said in a letter Sunday to the top Republicans on the House Oversight Committee that after reviewing newly discovered Hillary Clinton emails, the bureau still believes there's no reason for Clinton to be criminally charged. "Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July," the letter reads, per CNN. Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon tweeted in response: "We were always confident nothing would cause the July decision to be revisited. Now Director Comey has confirmed it." Twitter went nuts after the news broke; Mediaite and the Raw Story have a sampling of the reaction, much of it backlash against Comey and the FBI. Newt Gingrich tweeted, "Comey must be under enormous political pressure to cave like this and announce something he cant possibly know." Mediaite notes that when news of the review of the new emails was first announced, Rush Limbaugh had speculated the announcement was just a stunt to distract everyone from the WikiLeaks release of John Podesta's emails. "[Comey] is going to make everybody think for the next three or four days that there’s really something to be forthcoming here," Limbaugh said, only for nothing to ultimately come of it. At least one blog says Sunday's letter proves Limbaugh correct.
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I’m pretty neutral on the whole face-computer thing. Would I buy Google Glass? Nah. But if you want to roll around looking like a broke-ass Robocop, we can still be friends. But you should take it off your face at certain times, particularly when seeing a camera strapped to your noggin would irk people out. Bathrooms. Parties. Bars. Movie theaters. The MPAA has gone ahead and made that last one an official rule, in partnership with NATO (the National Association of Theater Owners — not that other NATO.) — who, according to Plunkett’s Entertainment Almanac, represents roughly 26,000 theaters across the U.S. Under the new rules, theater owners will ask anyone with wearable recording devices to turn’em off and put them away. Fail to do that, and they’ll give you the boot. If they have any reason to think you’re recording in the theater, meanwhile, they’ll call the cops. Of course, all this shenanigans ignores something pretty crucial: if someone is the type of person who will strap a computer to their face, they’re probably also the type of person who knows of easier/better ways to pirate movies than recording a shaky, crap-resolution copy on Google Glass. Just sayin’. [via ArsTechnica] ||||| Glasses, smartwatches and other devices must be turned off and stowed Don't plan on being able to wear your Google Glass or smartwatch when heading to the movies. On Wednesday, the Motion Picture Association of America and the National Association of Theatre Owners adopted a zero-tolerance policy against wearable technologies, such as Google Glass. Moviegoers must turn off and put away any and all such devices, or risk being asked to leave. If theater staff suspects that illegal recording is taking place, law enforcement authorities will be notified. Read more Homeland Security Questions Man for Wearing Google Glass in Movie Theater The same anti-piracy policy already exists for phones and other recording devices. Officials with the MPAA and NATO approved the new rule during a meeting at ShowEast, the annual fall gathering of theater owners in Hollywood, Fla. Many theater owners already have a zero-tolerance policy against wearable devices, but on an individual basis. "The National Association of Theatre Owners and the Motion Picture Association of America have a long history of welcoming technological advances and recognize the strong consumer interest in smartphones and wearable 'intelligent' devices. As part of our continued efforts to ensure movies are not recorded in theaters, however, we maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward using any recording device while movies are being shown," the two organizations said in statement.
– It's official: If you want to see a movie while it's still in the theaters, you'll have to take off your Google Glass or smartwatch first. The MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners yesterday banned all wearable tech, meaning you'll need to turn such devices off and put them away if you don't want to get kicked out. And—in a policy that already exists for phones and other recording devices—if theater staff thinks you're recording illegally, they'll notify police. The new zero-tolerance policy was approved during the ShowEast convention, where theater owners gather each year, according to the Hollywood Reporter; the Washington Post reports that the association represents about 32,000 US theaters. But many individual theater owners had already instituted such a ban. Two potential problems: The new rule "ignores something pretty crucial," writes Greg Kumparak on TechCrunch. "If someone is the type of person who will strap a computer to their face, they're probably also the type of person who knows of easier/better ways to pirate movies than recording a shaky, crap-resolution copy on Google Glass." Plus, what happens when smart glasses become more popular and some people "choose to use the device as their primary eyewear"? wonders Chris Morran at the Consumerist. "At that point, do theaters kick people out just for wearing glasses that could shoot video?" One theatergoer has already been hauled from his seat by the feds because he was wearing Google Glass.
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WASHINGTON — White House national security adviser James Jones says Americans will feel "a certain shock" when they read an account being released Thursday of the missed clues that could have prevented the alleged Christmas Day bomber from ever boarding the plane. President Obama "is legitimately and correctly alarmed that things that were available, bits of information that were available, patterns of behavior that were available, were not acted on," Jones said in an interview Wednesday with USA TODAY. "That's two strikes," Obama's top White House aide on defense and foreign policy issues said, referring to the foiled bombing of the Detroit-bound airliner and the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, in November. In that case, too, officials failed to act when red flags were raised about an Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Hasan. He has been charged with killing 13 people. Jones said Obama "certainly doesn't want that third strike, and neither does anybody else." The White House plans to release an unclassified report Thursday on what went wrong in the incident involving a 23-year-old Nigerian man who tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight. THE OVAL: Obama not done with fallout from Christmas plot BEFORE ATTACK: Two in three favor full-body scanners, poll finds BOMB-SNIFFING DOGS: Three in Philly fail tests In Detroit Wednesday, the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was indicted on charges that include attempted murder and trying to use a weapon of mass destruction to kill nearly 300 people. Abdulmutallab, who faces life in prison if convicted, is to appear for the first time in federal court Friday. He has told investigators that he was trained and equipped in Yemen by a group affiliated with al-Qaeda. His father had gone to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria to warn American officials that his son seemed to be turning to extremist ideology. Even so, Abdulmutallab's visa to the U.S. wasn't revoked and he wasn't placed on the "no-fly" list. Jones said the remedies involve "tweaks" rather than the overhaul that followed the Sept. 11 attacks— for instance, hiring for intelligence agencies so analysts aren't overwhelmed by their workload. "We know what happened, we know what didn't happen, and we know how to fix it," Jones, a retired four-star Marine general, said in an interview in his West Wing office. "That should be an encouraging aspect. We don't have to reinvent anything to make sure it doesn't happen again." Senate Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said a "very comprehensive no-fly list" would be "the greatest protection our country has." In an interview, she said the definition of who can be included should be expanded to include anyone about whom there is "a reasonable suspicion." Contributing: The Associated Press Guidelines: You share in the USA TODAY community, so please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Use the "Report Abuse" button to make a difference. You share in the USA TODAY community, so please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Use the "Report Abuse" button to make a difference. Read more ||||| Anwar al-Awlaki has also been linked to the Fort Hood shootings The alleged US plane bomber met radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, after being recruited in London, a senior Yemeni official has said. Last week US security official John Brennan said there were "indications" of direct contact between the two men. Mr Awlaki was linked to an attack by a US Army major on the Fort Hood base in November, in which 13 people died. Yemen's deputy prime minister also said bomb suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab used explosives from Nigeria not Yemen. Mr Abdulmutallab was indicted by a US grand jury on six counts on Wednesday. ANWAR AL-AWLAKI Born 1971 in New Mexico Sermons in San Diego, California, attended by two of 9/11 hijackers Endorsed violence as religious duty Moved to Yemen in 2004 to live in ancestral home village Jailed in 2006 for alleged plot to kidnap US military attache Advised Fort Hood suspect Maj Nidal Malik Hasan by e-mail Profile: Anwar al-Awlaki Al-Qaeda's influence in Yemen Q&A: 'Jet bomber' case Charges against him include attempted murder of the 290 people aboard the plane and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. Mr Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to detonate a bomb on Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit, but the plane landed safely after crew and passengers overpowered him. In a separate development, Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister Rashad al-Alimi said that five Germans including three children and a Briton kidnapped in Yemen six months ago were still alive. He said northern Shia rebels were co-operating with al-Qaeda over the kidnap. 'Not just a cleric' Mr Alimi told journalists that Mr Abdulmutallab "joined al-Qaeda in London". The suspected bomber studied at University College London (UCL) from September 2005 to June 2008 and was president of its Islamic society in 2006-07. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has been in custody since 25 December But UCL has said there is no evidence to suggest Mr Abdulmutallab was radicalised while he was there, and UK officials responding to the Yemeni statement said they still believed his recruitment occurred in Yemen in the months before the attack. Mr Alimi said the suspect met Mr Awlaki in the cleric's ancestral home province of Shabwa. Mr Awlaki, a radical American Muslim cleric of Yemeni descent, has been linked to other attacks, including that carried out by Maj Nidal Malik Hasan of the US Army at the Fort Hood base in Texas in November. "Mr Awlaki is a problem. He's clearly a part of al-Qaeda in [the] Arabian Peninsula," Mr Brennan, who is US deputy national security adviser, told CNN last week. "He's not just a cleric. He is in fact trying to instigate terrorism." Some reports say the cleric was killed just before the Christmas attack, in an airstrike on a suspected al-Qaeda base. However, friends and relatives say he was not harmed in the raid. The BBC's Jeremy Bowen in Sanaa says Yemen has been accused of soft-pedalling on al-Qaeda and is currently under pressure from its ally the US to produce results. There have been a number of shootouts recently, but the authorities have as yet been unable to capture one of their prime targets, Mohammed al-Hanouk. However, Mr Hanouk is a member of a prominent tribal family, our correspondent says, and this suggests that the government is prepared to push hard in directions it might be easier to leave alone. 'A certain shock' Confirmation of the meeting between the alleged bomber and the cleric comes as the White House plans to publish a declassified account of the Christmas Day plot. In an interview for USA Today newspaper, National Security Adviser Gen James Jones said people would feel "a certain shock" that clues about Mr Abdulmutallab's role were not acted on. President Barack Obama "is legitimately and correctly alarmed that things that were available, bits of information that were available, patterns of behaviour that were available, were not acted on", he said. Mr Obama is expected to address the nation about the incident later in the day and unveil new steps aimed at avoiding further terrorist attacks. Bookmark with: Delicious Digg reddit Facebook StumbleUpon What are these? E-mail this to a friend Printable version
– The public will feel “a certain shock” at the security failures outlined in the unclassified report on the Christmas Day attack being released today, says national security adviser Jim Jones. In an interview with USA Today, Jones doesn’t downplay the miscues, saying President Obama is “legitimately and correctly alarmed” that intelligence wasn’t acted upon. Combined with the Fort Hood shooting, “that’s two strikes,” says Jones. “He certainly doesn’t want that third strike.” Meanwhile, a Yemeni official confirmed a link between those attacks, telling the BBC that alleged would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had met with radical American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who authorities believe was also in contact with the Fort Hood shooter. Abdulmutallab was recruited in London, the official said, then flew to Yemen to meet Awlaki. But he noted that the explosives were from Nigeria, not Yemen.
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Dow Jones Reprints: This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers, use the Order Reprints tool at the bottom of any article or visit www.djreprints.com J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. said traders appear to have hidden problems in a portfolio whose losses have ballooned to $5.8 billion, the latest twist in an episode that has tested the reputation of Chief Executive James Dimon as one of Wall Street's soundest risk managers. A review of roughly 1 million e-mails and tens of thousands of voice tapes suggests traders within the once-obscure Chief Investment Office "may have been seeking to avoid showing the full amount of losses" during the first quarter by placing inaccurate prices on their positions, the bank said Friday. One trader, nicknamed the "London ... ||||| JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), the largest U.S. bank, reported a $4.4 billion trading loss in its chief investment office, bigger than analysts estimated, that helped drive second-quarter profit down 9 percent. Net income fell to $4.96 billion, or $1.21 a share, from $5.43 billion, or $1.27, in the same period a year earlier, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimated the CIO trading loss at $4 billion. The company also restated first-quarter earnings, reducing net income by $459 million, and used securities gains and an $800 million accounting benefit to help boost profit. The trading loss may complicate efforts by Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, 56, to restore investor confidence after losing $39.7 billion in market value since April 5, when Bloomberg News first reported that the company had amassed an illiquid book of credit derivatives at the London unit. The firm also is being probed over the possible gaming of U.S. energy markets and was subpoenaed in global investigations of interest- rate fixing in London. “The restatement is not good, and at first glance, the numbers are so-so,” said Paul Miller, a former examiner for the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank and analyst at FBR Capital Markets Corp. in Arlington, Virginia. JPMorgan rose to $34.79 in New York trading at 7:36 a.m. from $34.04 yesterday. The shares were down 2.4 percent this year through yesterday. Analysts’ Estimates Second-quarter net income excluding the effect of accounting adjustments known as DVA was $1.09 a share. Excluding DVA, loan-loss reserve reductions and a Bear Stearns-related recovery, profit was 67 cents. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated adjusted earnings per share of 76 cents. In a departure from his customary earnings-day conference call, Dimon is meeting analysts in person for two hours starting at 7:30 a.m. today at the bank’s New York headquarters to field questions about the loss and what he’s doing to contain the damage. Dimon dismissed reports about the London operation as a “tempest in a teapot” when the bank reported first-quarter earnings on April 13. He reversed course less than four weeks later, disclosing a $2 billion loss that he said could grow to $3 billion or more during the quarter. Securities Sales JPMorgan said May 10 that it had taken $1 billion in profits from securities sales in the CIO to mitigate the trading loss and planned more asset sales if needed to offset the damages, which was caused by a wrong-way bet on credit derivatives by London trader Bruno Iksil. Dimon hired Iksil’s boss, London CIO chief Achilles Macris, in 2006 with a mandate to generate profits. Macris and Iksil eventually built up a position in credit derivatives that was so large it couldn’t be unwound without roiling markets. JPMorgan said today that it recently discovered information that suggests some individuals at the company may have been trying to avoid showing the full amount of the losses. All employees working on synthetic credit derivatives in the CIO have left the bank, the company said today. “We have already completely overhauled CIO management and enhanced the governance standards within CIO,” Dimon said in the statement. “We believe these events to be isolated to CIO, but have taken the opportunity to apply lessons learned across the firm.” The company said the CIO loss may increase by $800 million to as much as $1.6 billion in an extreme scenario. Ina Drew Chief Investment Officer Ina Drew, 55, retired four days after the loss was disclosed with about $57.5 million in stock, pension and other pay, according to regulatory filings and estimates from consulting firm Meridian Compensation Partners LLC. About $21.5 million of that money, based on the May 14 closing price, would have been automatically forfeited if she had been fired for cause. JPMorgan said today it will claw back compensation from individuals responsible for the losses on a case-by-case basis. Dimon is also grappling with historically low interest rates that have compressed profit margins on lending as well as yields on investments. Moshe Orenbuch, of Credit Suisse Group AG, was among analysts who lowered earnings projections for banks amid weak trading revenue and market turmoil caused by Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. Corporate bond issuance dropped almost 19 percent in the second quarter from $927 billion a year earlier as companies backed away from plans to raise capital. Europe Damper “Europe continues to put a damper on just about everything,” said Nancy Bush, an analyst and contributing editor at SNL Financial LC, a research firm based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Consumer credit is one bright spot for the industry as delinquency rates decline. Fewer borrowers fell behind on their credit-card payments in May, 2.35 percent, from 3.09 percent a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Government programs and mortgage rates near record lows have also helped fuel higher volume and bigger profits on home loans. JPMorgan set aside $335 million more toward its litigation costs during the second quarter. Dimon previously told shareholders that the company would be making as much as $24 billion in annual profit if it weren’t for all of its mortgage losses. Revenue fell 16 percent to $22.9 billion from $27.4 billion during the second quarter of last year. Revenue at the investment-banking unit fell 7 percent to $6.77 billion from $7.31 billion last year. Fixed Income Fixed-income and equity-markets revenue excluding accounting adjustments dropped to $4.54 billion from $5.36 billion a year earlier, the company said. U.S. banks are in the middle of the industry’s worst two years of revenue growth since the Great Depression, according to Mike Mayo, an analyst with independent research firm CLSA Ltd. in New York. Retail banking, which includes home loans and checking accounts, earned $2.27 billion, up from $383 million a year earlier. The bank’s net interest margin, a measure of lending profitability, declined to 2.47 percent from 2.72 percent a year earlier. JPMorgan benefited from gains in mortgage lending as low interest rates and federal incentive programs encouraged homeowners to refinance. Mortgage fees and related revenue totaled $2.27 billion, up from $1.1 billion a year earlier. Unemployment Rate Demand for loans rose as the unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent from 9.1 percent in the same period of 2011. Mortgage originations industrywide probably climbed 28 percent to $372 billion in the second quarter from the same period last year, driven by refinancings spurred by federal programs, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Fewer consumers fell behind on their credit-card payments in the second quarter compared with the same period in 2011. Loans at least 30 days overdue, a signal of future write-offs, fell to 2.14 percent from 2.98 percent in 2011. Write-offs dropped to 4.35 percent from 5.82 percent the prior year. To contact the reporter on this story: Dawn Kopecki in New York at dkopecki@bloomberg.com. To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net
– JPMorgan reported a $4.4 billion trading loss this morning, a figure far worse than analysts were expecting, in the wake of the "London Whale" fiasco. That drove the bank's earnings down 8.7%, but still left it with $4.96 billion in profit for the second quarter, down only a bit from its $5.43 billion mark a year ago, the Wall Street Journal reports. "We are not proud of this moment, but we are proud of the company," Jamie Dimon said. "We're not making light of this error, but we do think it's an isolated event." At the same time, however, the bank said it would soon revise its first-quarter results southward, thanks to "recently discovered information that raises questions about the integrity of the trader marks and suggests that certain individuals may have been seeking to avoid showing the full amount of losses." Analysts tell Bloomberg that the larger-than-expected losses will leave the bank struggling to restore investor confidence. "The reputation problem will just get worse," one analyst said.
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These crawls are part of an effort to archive pages as they are created and archive the pages that they refer to. That way, as the pages that are referenced are changed or taken from the web, a link to the version that was live when the page was written will be preserved.Then the Internet Archive hopes that references to these archived pages will be put in place of a link that would be otherwise be broken, or a companion link to allow people to see what was originally intended by a page's authors.The goal is to fix all broken links on the web . Crawls of supported "No More 404" sites. ||||| Just One More Thing... We have sent you a verification email. Please check your email and click on the link to activate your AJC.com profile. If you do not receive the verification message within a few minutes of signing up, please check your Spam or Junk folder. Close ||||| While taking her son Ethan to Egelston hospital on Monday, August 7th in order to have stitches removed resulting from a vicious dog attack on Christmas eve, Tracy suffered a stroke brought on by a large brain aneurysm. She lost consciousness in the lobby of Egelston and was rushed over to Emory for an emergency surgery to relieve pressure on the brain and stop the bleeding from the aneurysm. She is now stable and currently in a deep medically inducted coma but still shows signs of brain activity. The road too recovery is going to be very long. Prayers for Tracy and her family are greatly needed and appreciated during this difficult time. It was a miracle that she was already in the hospital when it occurred. The doctors believe that saved her life. We are praying for another miracle to happen and lead to a full recovery ||||| - Tracy Fain suffered a brain aneurysm and stroke last week. Sadly, she's now been declared brain dead. Her son, Ethan, was brutally attacked by two dogs on Christmas Eve. He was at the doctor getting his stitches out after a recent reconstructive surgery when his mother collapsed. "I said ‘Here I am. I'm old, lived my life. Why couldn't I have went instead of her?’" Fain's mother Sandra Moore said. Moore is heartbroken. Her world shattered into a million pieces the day she lost her daughter. "I've just been so upset over it. I'm just about to give up myself," said Moore. Just eight months ago, Fain's 7-year-old son was severely injured when he was mauled by a neighbor's dogs. He lost an ear in the attack. Then, on August 7, Fain was at a post-op appointment with Ethan at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Egleston campus when she collapsed, suffering a brain aneurysm and massive stroke. Family members clung to hope that Fain would make a full recovery, but she took a turn for the worse over the weekend. Moore was called to the hospital. She pleaded with her child to keep fighting. "I just told her that she had to fight harder. That that baby needed her, how much I loved her, and how much we all needed her," said Moore. Moore prayed for a miracle. "I prayed all day going to the hospital, the day they said her brain started swelling again. I prayed all day, but it didn't work. It's in God's hands," said Moore. "I just wonder why? Just like my grandson, I wonder why never have the answers." On Tuesday, doctors declared the wife and mother of two brain dead, a devastating blow for the family, coming just months after Ethan's incident and the sudden death of Fain's nephew in July. "It's just unreal," said Moore. "I know I just don't know how much more we can take." Anyone who wants to donate to the family's online account at https://www.gofundme.com/496vn2w.
– "It's just unreal," Sandra Moore tells Fox 5. "I just don't know how much more we can take." Moore's grandson, 7-year-old Ethan Fain, was mauled by two dogs who pulled him out of a tree and attacked him last Christmas Eve in Georgia. Ethan lost his right ear and suffered serious damage to his left ear; his injuries required 300 stitches, the New York Daily News reports. Now another tragedy has befallen the family. On Aug. 7, Ethan was with his mom, Tracy Dowdy Fain, at the hospital getting stitches from a reconstructive surgery removed, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Suddenly, Fain, who had complained of a headache, collapsed. Doctors found Fain suffered a brain aneurysm and stroke. Her daughter, Jessica Dowdy, says she wouldn't have survived if she wasn't already in a hospital when it happened. In the coming days, the swelling in Fain's brain got worse, and she was declared brain dead Tuesday. “Her body is still here, but her soul is gone,” Dowdy says. The family still hasn't told Ethan. “All he knows is mommy is sick and the doctors are trying to make her better like they made him better,” Dowdy says. A GoFundMe account has been set up for Fain, who also lost a nephew last month.
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Robin Williams Widow and Kids Bitter Fight Over Property Robin Williams -- Widow and Kids in Bitter Fight Over Property Exclusive Details ' widow is fighting his 3 children over property the kids say is clearly theirs ... and the dispute is so bad it has ended up in court.has filed legal docs complaining someone came into the house days after Robin's death and took some of the actor's belongings. But the kids tell a very different story.andclaim Susan is essentially attempting a money grab by ignoring the plain language of his will and trust and trying to redefine it to benefit her.Sources connected with the kids tell TMZ ... Susan refused to let them in the house after Robin died. We're told before Robin met Susan -- he was very clear in the trust he created ... he left his personal effects, including his Oscar for the movie "", movie memorabilia, action figures, graphic novels, theater masks and other items to his 3 children.Susan -- who was only married to Robin for 3 years -- acknowledges she has no right to items related to his acting career, such as his suspenders from "," but she wants other items like the tux from his wedding and other "knickknacks."Sources connected with the children say Susan can absolutely keep the items she accumulated with Robin while they were married, but they say she has gone way further. For example, they're indignant she is apparently trying to redefine the word "jewelry." We're told the kids are supposed to get all of it, but she's saying "jewelry" does not include his watch collection.And people who were extremely close to Robin say he would be heartsick that this was not worked out between family ... privately. ||||| Nearly six months after the death of Robin Williams, the Academy Award-winning actor and comedian, his widow and his children have become engaged in a contentious legal dispute over his estate. Court documents filed in December and January outline a bitter disagreement over money and property between the widow, Susan Schneider Williams, who was Mr. Williams’s third wife, and Zak, Zelda and Cody Williams, the comedian’s children from two previous marriages that ended in divorce. At stake is not only a portion of the wealth that Mr. Williams accumulated in a film, television and stage career of some 40 years, but also cherished belongings that include his clothing, collectibles and personal photographs. In their court papers, both sides display keen interest in such memorabilia — everything from Mr. Williams’s bicycles to his collections of fossils and toys — as tangible, deeply personal reminders of the irrepressible, manic imagination that drove his performances as a comedian and actor.
– In a sad but all-too-common postscript to someone's life cut short, Robin Williams' children and wife are locked in a bitter dispute over his estate. In court papers filed in December and January, the comedian's three adult children say they are "heartbroken" that widow Susan Williams is "challenging the plans he so carefully made for his estate" by trying to keep personal effects she's not entitled to, reports the New York Times. The children—Zak, Zelda, and Cody—are from two previous marriages, and they note that Susan was married to their father for "less than three years." They accuse her of adding "insult to a terrible injury" and say she refused to allow them in his Tiburon, Calif., home in the days after his death. Williams, who committed suicide in August, specified his estate go to his three children, but the dispute centers around a provision that the home, its contents, and enough cash to cover "all costs related to the residence" go to Susan Williams. The children accuse her of wrongly interpreting this to mean she can keep belongings she was never meant to have and of "greedily" trying to claim extra funds. Sources tell TMZ that the widow, who refers to Williams' collections of things like action figures and movie posters as "knickknacks," also argues that "jewelry" doesn't include things like watches. Her lawyer tells the Times that his client doesn't have "sticky fingers" and "compared to what the Williams children were set to receive from their father, this is a bucket of water in a lake."
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Police in Munich evacuated two train stations in the city after getting word of a possible terror attack. Officials said they got hints of a possible bomb attack, specifically in the main Munich train station and the Pasing station, a police spokeswoman told ABC News. Both train stations has been evacuated, police said. The were reopened hours later. Officers who were off duty for New Years went into work and are now performing sweeps of the stations. Police have not yet found anything suspicious, they said. Police are asking people to avoid crowds, public transportation and train stations. This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
– Police in Munich, Germany, warned citizens of an "imminent" terrorist attack shortly before New Year's Eve, the AP reports. According to ABC News, there are possible plans to blow up bombs at two train stations: the main Munich station and Pasing station. "Due to existing information, which we take highly seriously, there is an attack planned tonight," NBC News quotes Munich police. Both train stations were evacuated.
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Starting in 1996, Alexa Internet has been donating their crawl data to the Internet Archive. Flowing in every day, these data are added to the Wayback Machine after an embargo period. ||||| Contains archived websites, blogs, editorials and other materials posted online by, or on behalf of, 17 Russian political and cultural figures who have expressed some opposition to foreign and domestic policy in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The archive also captures eight websites that chronicle a range of contemporary political and human rights positions and events that reflect the prevailing climate. The political and cultural figures whose websites and/or blogs have been captured include: Rustem Adagamov, widely-read Russian blogger; Sergei Aleksashenko, economist, businessman; Konstantin Borovoi, entrepreneur and opposition politician; Leonid Gozman, opposition politician; Il’ia Iashin, opposition politician, co-founder of Russian “Solidarity” party; Oleg Kashin, political journalist and author; Oleg Kozyrev, author, screenwriter, blogger and journalist, leader of youth movement “Democratic Alternative”; Andrei Makarevich, founder of classic rock group Mashina Vremeni [Time Machine]), who Russian state media condemned as a “traitor” for performing a charity concert for Ukrainian children displaced by the war; Andrei Mal’gin, journalist, literary scholar and critic, publisher, and political activist well known for his blogging; Aleksei Naval’nyi, Russian political and social activist, lawyer, and popular blogger; Boris Nemtsov, prominent Russian opposition leader gunned down in Moscow on February 27, 2015; Valeriia Novodvorskaia (d. July 2014), a political activist, dissident, human rights advocate, independent journalist, and founder of liberal political parties; Dmitrii Oreshkin, political scientist and activist; Sergei Parkhomenko, publisher, journalist, political observer; Irina Prokhorova, literary scholar, editor, television personality, opposition political figure; Artemii Troitskii, rock journalist, music critic who emigrated to Estonia in 2014 because of the worsening political climate; Nikolai Uskov, historian, journalist and publishing executive. This archive also includes captures of the following sites: Civil Platform, founded in 2012, with the aims of establishing civil society in Russia, upholding of the rights of the individual, and economic reform. Human Rights in Russia, a website dedicated to raising awareness of threats to human rights in Russia, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Nashi, a pro-Kremlin youth organization. Politkom.Ru, web platform of the Center for Political Technology, which purports to be an independent source of news and analysis and an open forum for exchange of opinions between politicians, analysts and journalists. Putin. Itogi publishes “independent, expert” reports on Putin’s leadership, among them reports written by Boris Nemtsov. Solidarnost’ is a “united democratic movement” founded in 2008 as a coalition of opposition organizations against authoritarianism. Bolotnaya Square Case is a website devoted to documenting the consequences for dozens of protesters after their participation in an opposition rally in Moscow in May of 2012. Traitor.net is a website that singles out political and cultural figures for their expression of disagreement with Russian incursions into Ukraine. ||||| Matthew Dunn news.com.au IT turns out Vladimir Putin was seen invading the skies of New York City last week. OK, that might be a stretch, but if you believe an 11-second YouTube clip, the Russian president was definitely there in spirit. Sheryl Gilbert was on board a tourist bus when she captured footage of a flock of birds swarming around the New York skyline. What made the clip impressive was the fact the birds flew into a formation that resembled a human face. And it is not just any face, but the face of Putin. Since being uploaded to YouTube, the video has gained a lot of attention and has been viewed more than a million times. While many are quick to condemn the video as a fake, a number of Russian YouTube users think the event is a message. “This is a hint: imagine what we can do during the war, if we can now make your birds fly resembling the face of our president,” commented one user. “It’s a warning to the US that they shouldn’t start a war with Russia,” wrote another. Check out the video below and let us know your thoughts in the comments section or tweet us @newscomauHQ ||||| NEW YORK, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- A video showing the "strange behavior" of birds in New York is going viral after a Russian news station spotted the shape of Vladimir Putin's face in the flock. The video, posted to YouTube by Sheryl Gilbert, purports to show the "strange behavior of birds" flying in a flock near the Brooklyn Bridge. The video went viral in Russia after news station Zvezda aired the footage and reporters said a shape seen in a close-up of the birds appears to be the face of President Vladimir Putin. The station, owned by the Russian Defense Ministry, cautioned the video could have been faked, but Gregory West, who identified himself as Gilbert's husband, said on Twitter the footage was real and shot from a tour bus during a recent visit to New York. "Saw it several days ago during a trip and that's amazing! Can you see the face? Who is it?" West tweeted. ||||| Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Mikhail Klimentyev/ Presidential Press Service/RIA-Novosti/AP) In Russia, Vladimir Putin's face is a common sight on television, newspapers, T-shirts, book covers and patriotic graffiti. So it was no wonder that a Russian TV channel, Zvezda ("Star"), claimed that Putin's face could be seen in the outlines of a swarm of birds flying above New York. Zvezda is known for its strictly patriotic views and is owned by the Russian Defense Ministry. The TV channel pointed to a YouTube video posted by someone named Sheryl Gilbert. The video was uploaded Tuesday and generated lots of comments in Russian on Wednesday after the Russian channel picked it up. "It's a warning to the U.S. that they shouldn't start a war with Russia," one user wrote. "Putin bribed American birds," commented another in Ukrainian. Someone else suggested that the outlines did not resemble Putin's face as much as that of Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. But there wasn't much support for that view. Gregory West, who claims to be the husband of Sheryl Gilbert, posted a link to the video on Twitter on Tuesday. "Saw it several days ago during a trip and that's amazing! Can you see the face? Who is it?" Some suggested that it was Steve Jobs, Robin Williams or Jerry Mouse. But some think the video is a fake. Zvezda also warned that it cannot guarantee the authenticity of the video. ||||| Add a location to your Tweets When you tweet with a location, Twitter stores that location. You can switch location on/off before each Tweet and always have the option to delete your location history. Learn more
– Is Russia's leader glowering over America? A YouTube video purporting to show Vladimir Putin's face forming in a flock of birds above New York City has gotten a lot of online attention—especially in Russia, UPI reports. Posted under the name Sheryl Gilbert, it was aired last week by Russia's state-owned and "strictly patriotic" Zvezda news station, notes the Washington Post. Russian users quickly weighed in, posting comments like "It's a warning to the US that they shouldn't start a war with Russia" and, from a Ukrainian, "Putin bribed American birds." Many say the 11-second video is fake, Australia's News Network reports, but no one has described the alleged fakery in detail. Gregory West, whose Twitter account describes him as a "Patriot," "Conservative," "Political Blogger" and "Proud Husband of @ _SherylGilbert," tweeted, "Saw it several days ago during a trip and that's amazing! Can you see the face? Who is it?"
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Study: 98% Of Us Will Sign Away Our Firstborn Because We Don’t Read The Terms Of Service “Click here if you have read and agree to the Terms of Service.” How many times in your life — heck, how many times just this month, or this year — have you hovered over that little ticky box without bothering to click the TOS link first? Or scrolled straight to the bottom of a pop-up window with 17 pages of boring legalese in it, just to continue installation? If your answer is anything other than “all the times,” you are in a very, very small minority. A new study from researchers at two universities has confirmed what most of us already anecdotally know: nobody’s actually reading the fine print, even if they should. And how did the researchers find this, you may ask? By creating a fictitious social networking site that research participants signed up for. The privacy policy and terms of service for this fictitious site were modeled on existing documents on another social network (LinkedIn), and checked in at roughly 8000 and 4000 words respectively. But this fake site’s policies included a few extra clauses that should have raised eyebrows. One had to do with data sharing, and specified that the site could share your information with the NSA “and other security agencies in the United States and abroad.” It also said that your data could be shared with any third parties, and as a result “could impact eligibility in… employment, financial service, univeristy, entrance, international travel, the criminal justice system, etc.” The other said that participants agreed to sign over their firstborn, Rumpelstiltskin-style: “In addition to any monetary payment … all users of this site agree to immediately assign their first-born child” to the site, it read. “If the user does not yet have children, this agreement will be enforceable until the year 2050.” The researchers then asked open-ended questions to the participants asking if they had any concerns with the policies and sign-up options. 543 research participants signed up for the site. Of those, 399 skipped all the fine print entirely and just signed up blindly. For the remaining 144, the average time spent “reading” the privacy policy was 73 seconds, and for the TOS, 51 seconds. Even the best speed-readers are not going to get through — and understand — 8000 words of legalese in 73 seconds, and these participants were no exception. In the end, the researchers found that 98% of all participants completely missed the existence of the “gotcha” clauses. That means a total of 10-11 participants, at most, actually noticed. Research participants were all undergrads, as is very common for university-based research. But this behavior is far from limited to young adults. A similar experiment in the UK in 2014 found the same results, with users unwittingly signing away their firstborn in exchange for access to a free WiFi hotspot. A UK-based retailer found the same in 2010 when their customers happily, and unwittingly, signed over their immortal souls. Other studies have found that barely one in five internet users actually read the terms, and even they probably don’t usually stop to process the words. So yes, we should all read a little more carefully before we proceed — because as long as they disclose it, a company can do pretty much anything they want with your account or personal information. Of course, it doesn’t help that the policies are usually long, dense, complicated, formatted badly, and full of legalese. There are some tools that help but when it comes to comprehensibility, we still have a long way to go. [via Ars Technica] ||||| 37 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2016 Last revised: 18 Aug 2018 Date Written: June 1, 2018 Abstract This paper addresses ‘the biggest lie on the internet’ with an empirical investigation of privacy policy (PP) and terms of service (TOS) policy reading behavior. An experimental survey (N=543) assessed the extent to which individuals ignored PP and TOS when joining a fictitious social networking service, NameDrop. Results reveal 74% skipped PP, selecting the ‘quick join’ clickwrap. Average adult reading speed (250-280 words per minute), suggests PP should have taken 29-32 minutes and TOS 15-17 minutes to read. For those that didn’t select the clickwrap, average PP reading time was 73 seconds. All participants were presented the TOS and had an average reading time of 51 seconds. Most participants agreed to the policies, 97% to PP and 93% to TOS, with decliners reading PP 30 seconds longer and TOS 90 seconds longer. A regression analysis identifies information overload as a significant negative predictor of reading TOS upon signup, when TOS changes, and when PP changes. Qualitative findings suggest that participants view policies as nuisance, ignoring them to pursue the ends of digital production, without being inhibited by the means. Implications are revealed as 98% missed NameDrop TOS ‘gotcha clauses’ about data sharing with the NSA and employers, and about providing a first-born child as payment for SNS access.
– If Facebook or Apple ever turns truly evil, we might be in big trouble, apparently. A study published last week found that almost nobody reads online terms of service agreements—and even fewer understand them. Ars Technica reports 543 college students signed up for a fake social networking site called NameDrop, believing they were helping with a "pre-launch evaluation." They were actually agreeing to hand over their first-born child to NameDrop—enforceable through 2050—as well as have their data and information shared with the NSA, foreign security agencies, and all manner of third parties, according to Consumerist. But, of course, only 2% of participants realized they were agreeing to any of that. The study found 399 participants didn't read any of the 12,000 words comprising NameDrop's terms of service and privacy policy. The other 144 spent an average of 73 seconds reading the privacy policy and 51 seconds reading the terms of service. Based on average reading speed, it should have taken 30 minutes and 16 minutes respectively. In the end, 98% of participants didn't notice any of the onerous clauses in NameDrops's terms. The study concluded that people "view policies as nuisance" and that "I agree to these terms and conditions" is the "biggest lie on the internet." (Amazon will void its terms of service if the zombies come.)
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A blood pattern analysis of the Shroud of Turin has revealed that there's just absolutely no way the stains could have been made by a body laying flat on the fabric. A pair of researchers have found that the blood-like splotches on the linen cloth are inconsistent with each other - some can only have occurred by a person standing upright, while another is completely unrealistic. The famous length of fabric, which bears the image of a man, has long been thought to be the cloth that once wrapped the body of Christian figurehead Jesus of Nazareth. The imprint is said to have been transferred during the three days his body was interred. Scientific analysis has not yet yielded an answer as to how the image was created on the fabric, but several reddish stains consistent with the reported crucifixion wounds of Jesus of Nazareth contain iron oxide - which could be from pigment, or could be from blood. However, radiocarbon techniques have dated the shroud to between 1260 and 1390 CE. The weave and the fabricweave and the fabric are both consistent with the Jesus of Nazareth time frame, as well as the Middle Ages; analysis of the cloth shows inconclusive evidence for pigment; and research determining a Middle Eastern provenance for pollen found on the cloth was later disavowed by one of its authors. Radiocarbon dating notwithstanding, it would be fascinating to know exactly how the shroud was made; and, if it's real, it could reveal new information about crucifixion techniques. Because evidence for the shroud's authenticity has been so inconclusive, there has been recent scientific interest in using forensic techniques to investigate it. This is where forensic anthropologist Matteo Borrini of Liverpool John Moores University in the UK and organic chemist Luigi Garlaschelli of the Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Pseudosciences enter the picture. Rather than testing the substance itself, the researchers used a live subject and a mannequin to analyse the blood flow on wounds on the left hand, the forearms, the "lance wound" in the torso, and blood stains around the figure's waist. The technique is called Bloodstain Pattern Analysis; for this, they used two types of blood: human blood donated for the research, and synthetic blood with the same fluid properties. The researchers studied the flow for different positions: on the back of the hand in contact with wood, to observe the pattern left on the hand; on the left forearm, with blood trickling from the hand, in a standing position, and again in a supine (lying on the back) position with the hand covering the groin, as seen on the shroud. They also investigated the short trickles on the back of the left hand; and the blood over the spear wound, as well as the lumbar region, thought to be blood flow from that wound. The wood test was inconclusive, but the blood flow tests show that the shroud is a mess. For starters, the trickles on the back of the hand and the flow along the arm occurred at two completely different angles. The trickles from the hand as seen on the shroud occurred in the tests with the arms at a 45 degree angle, but that just doesn't work for the supposed position of the body. "The angle between the arm and the body must be greater than 80° and smaller than 100° in order for the rivulets to flow from the wrist toward the elbow on the outer part of the forearm, as it appears on the Shroud," the researchers wrote in their paper. (Borrini & Garlaschelli/Journal of Forensic Science) The spear wound bled in a direction consistent with the Shroud image when the test subject was upright, as would occur if the victim were pierced while hanging crucified, but with one key difference: it formed rivulets, rather than a solidly filled stain. As for the lower back stain, the scientists could not replicate it at all. They attempted it with both bleeding from a supine position, as well as a test subject that had been standing and then laid on its back, and nothing managed to produce a "blood belt" in the lower back. "Assuming that the red stains on the Turin linen are actually blood from the crucifixion wounds, the results of the experiments demonstrate that the alleged flowing patterns from different areas of the body are not consistent with each other. "Even supposing possible different episodes of bleeding (e.g., movements of the body, postmortem bleeding), these are not only non-documented, but also, as for the lumbar stains, they appear to be unrealistic," the researchers wrote. "The inconsistencies identified by the authors seem not only to point against their own reality, but against the authenticity of the Shroud itself, suggesting that the Turin linen was an artistic or 'didactic' representation from the XIV century." That doesn't mean the show is entirely over yet: until scientists are able to figure out exactly how the image was formed on the fabric, it's going to remain a tantalising scientific mystery. Their findings have been published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences. ||||| The Shroud of Turin, which has been revered by some Christians as the burial cloth of Jesus, could be a fake, according to a new forensic investigation. The investigation into the bloodstain pattern on the cloth was reported Tuesday in the Journal of Forensic Sciences and is apparently the first such analysis of the controversial shroud. Held in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, the shroud shows the image of a crucified man and has been analyzed and scrutinized for many, many years. The Vatican regards it as an icon, rather than a religious relic—and the church has never weighed in on its authenticity nor officially rejected it. In 2015, more than 2 million people saw the Shroud of Turin, which is 14-feet-long, 3.5-feet-wide and kept in a bulletproof, climate-controlled case. The cloth has long been the subject of debate and study. Researchers concluded that the linen seems to be patched with bloodstains from a standing model, not a crucified man or a facedown corpse, reports BuzzFeed News, adding evidence to claims that it is a fraud. “This is the kind of forensic work done all the time in police investigations,” Matteo Borrini, a forensic scientist at Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom, told BuzzFeed News. “Even a crucified or hanging person should leave a distinct blood pattern on the cloth, which would be fascinating information to have.” Borrini and his colleagues used real and synthetic blood samples to conduct seven different tests on different body parts depicted on the fabric. By pumping blood onto a model at wound points shown on the shroud, researchers could compare the angle that gravity pulled the liquid against the direction depicted on the linen. They found bloodstains that were inconsistent with any single pose, which seems to suggest a standing model was used to imprint the patterns. 11-MILLION-TON ICEBERG THREATENS TO INUNDATE TINY GREENLAND VILLAGE WITH TSUNAMI If it was truly the death shroud of someone hung on a cross, or pulled down from one for burial, Borrini said, “the bloodstains shouldn’t be so inconsistent.” BuzzFeed reports that researchers found forearm rivulets matched an arm held straight out around 90 degrees to the side, for example, while the hand marks matched an arm held out at about 45 degrees. Some hand bloodstains traced angles at odds with each other as well, off by as much as 10 degrees. A simulated spear wound in the chest ran in completely different patterns than the one on the shroud, whether standing or prone. “This is just not what happens to a person on a cross,” Borrini said. “Overall, the approach is founded in science and the methodology sound,” bloodstain pattern expert Jonathyn Priest of Bevel, Gardner and Associates Inc. told BuzzFeed News. However, Priest cautioned that the conclusions were based on body parts held in a fixed position, rather than accounting for carrying a body, cleaning a body, or preparing a body for burial, which might bear more study. “The fact that flowing bloodstains exist at all on a deceased body that was reportedly cleaned also raises questions,” he added. Although this latest research is not definitive, generations of the faithful will continue to be fascinated by the Shroud of Turin. ||||| “This is just not what happens to a person on a cross,” said a forensic investigator. Gerard Julien / AFP / Getty Images Pope John Paul II prays at the Turin Cathedral of St. John the Baptist before the controversial Turin shroud. The Shroud of Turin, long considered by some to be the burial cloth of Jesus, has inconsistent bloodstain patterns that suggest it is a fake, a new forensic investigation has found. Held in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, the shroud bears an image of a crucified man. It has been analyzed for decades, to some controversy, with radiocarbon dating determining its origin to be between 1260 and 1390. It is regarded by the Vatican as an icon, rather than a genuine religious relic. More than 2 million people came to see the shroud during a three-month display in 2015, including Pope Francis. The bloodstain pattern investigation reported on Tuesday by the Journal of Forensic Sciences is the first such analysis of the cloth, looking at its purported blood splatters and their alignment to each other in a kind of crime scene analysis. The researchers concluded that the linen appears patched with bloodstains from a standing model, not a crucified man or facedown corpse, adding to evidence that the shroud is a medieval fraud. “This is the kind of forensic work done all the time in police investigations,” Matteo Borrini, a forensic scientist at Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom, told BuzzFeed News. “Even a crucified or hanging person should leave a distinct blood pattern on the cloth, which would be fascinating information to have.” Borrini conducted the analysis with chemist Luigi Garlaschelli of the University of Pavia in Italy, using real and synthetic blood samples on cloth to test the orientation of stains on the better-defined left side of the cloth (they also compared the two liquids to see if they flowed the same way). They hoped to answer a debate over whether the crucifixion depicted on the cloth was T-shaped, Y-shaped, or some other manner of ancient Roman execution. Instead, they found that the bloodstains are inconsistent with any one pose, suggesting that a standing model was used to imprint the patterns at different angles for the hands, chest, and back. If it were a death shroud of a bleeding, executed person, hung on a cross, or pulled down from one for burial, Borrini said, “the bloodstains shouldn’t be so inconsistent.” In the analysis, the two researchers conducted seven different bloodstain tests on different body parts depicted on the fabric: the hand, forearm, chest, and lower back, along with a belt of blood (whether it is actually blood or paint pigments is another disputed forensic question) at the waist. By pumping blood onto a model at wound points depicted on the shroud, they could compare the angle that gravity pulled the liquid against the direction seen on the linen. They discovered the angle at which gravity would pull blood dripping from a body in the way seen on the shroud varied with the body part: The forearm rivulets corresponded to an arm held straight out around 90 degrees to the side, for example, while the hand marks matched an arm held out at about 45 degrees. Some hand bloodstains traced angles at odds with each other as well, off by as much as 10 degrees. A simulated spear wound in the chest ran in completely different patterns than the one on the shroud, whether standing or prone. “This is just not what happens to a person on a cross,” Borrini said. Luigi Garlaschelli / Via youtube.com A screengrab of the research.
– The Shroud of Turin is supposedly the burial cloth that was wrapped around Jesus after his crucifixion; bloodstains on the linen shroud, which are said to have been transferred to it during the three days Jesus was in the tomb, form the image of a crucified man. But a new study reported in the Journal of Forensic Sciences finds the bloodstain image was likely faked. Researchers looking at the blood spatter found that the stains appeared to come from someone standing up, rather than someone who was flat on the fabric, Science Alert reports. As the researchers put it, the stains are "totally unrealistic" when compared to what they should look like. The shroud, which is held in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Italy, is considered an icon, as opposed to a genuine religious relic, by the Vatican; Fox News notes "the church has never weighed in on its authenticity." "This is the kind of forensic work done all the time in police investigations," the forensic scientist who conducted the analysis tells BuzzFeed News. "Even a crucified or hanging person should leave a distinct blood pattern on the cloth, which would be fascinating information to have." The study found inconsistent staining, with researchers concluding multiple poses were used to create the bloodstains—a standing model was likely used to imprint patterns on the cloth at various angles for various body parts. Another bloodstain pattern expert notes that more research could be done to see whether cleaning a body or preparing it for burial might account for the inconsistent staining, though he notes that the stains do appear to have come from flowing blood, meaning a heart that was beating at the time the stains were made. (See previous stories in the real-or-fake debate here.)
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A controversial email sent by a Georgia Tech fraternity member offers pledges advice for how to seduce women with the help of alcohol. The university is investigating the email, which went out last month. It outlines how to succeed with girls, encouraging the pledges of Phi Kappa Tau to give women alcohol and also referencing rape. “If anything ever fails, go get more alcohol,” the email says. If pledges succeed in taking a girl home, the email tells them to “Expunge. (Send them out of your room and on their way out when you are finished.)” Women on the campus told Channel 2’s Amy Napier Viteri the email is troubling. “If they’re not into it, to just give them more alcohol and just keep feeding them more alcohol until you get them drunk enough into your bed,” student Mai Dinh said. Another female student said she disagreed with some students who found the email funny. “So it’s offensive to every single girl. I don’t think any girl would be OK with that," the student said. Most offensive to Dinh was the sign off, “in luring rape bait.” “As in us girls are the rape for them to bait, that just makes me sick to my stomach,” Dinh said. Someone at the Phi Kappa Tau house told Viteri, “No comment.” The fraternity CEO issued a statement saying, “The referenced email is extremely inappropriate and does not reflect the values of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. The written expression of this thinking by a member is disturbing to everyone associated with Alpha Rho chapter and the fraternity.” Fraternity leadership said the chapter has suspended the member who sent the email and placed itself on suspension as the fraternity and Georgia Tech investigate. The university sent a statement saying they do not condone this type of behavior and are working to determine the facts. ||||| UPDATE: The AJC is reporting the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity placed itself on probation and suspended the member accused of sending an email with instructions for “hooking up” with females. This censure happened prior to the release of the email on Internet sites: “The referenced email is extremely inappropriate and does not reflect the values of the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity, Alpha Rho chapter or Georgia Institute of Technology,” the Phi Kappa Tau national office said in a statement released Tuesday to The AJC. “Currently, Phi Kappa Tau Executive Offices staff, Institute officials, local board of alumni advisors and the regional director are working with chapter leadership to bring this matter to a swift resolution.” I have never quite understood the appeal of fraternities and sororities – I prefer to pick my friends one at a time rather than by the dozen. I also hate theme parties. Nor do I get how fraternity and sorority members keep getting themselves in hot water by patently insane actions. With all those new best friends, couldn’t someone warn them that they were about to make a mistake they’d never live down? And doesn't anyone ever suggest that sending out a vile email in a mass mailing is akin to taking out a full-page ad in the newspaper? Here are two vivid examples of bad, bad choices, one at Georgia Tech where you would think students might know better. A fraternity member emailed a sexist advisory to his brothers on “luring rapebait” at parties with the help of alcohol. I attempted to share a line of the email, but there's little that's printable. In a statement to the AJC, Tech said: “Georgia Tech is aware of this incident, and its Office of Student Integrity is currently engaged in an investigation to determine the facts. Phi Kappa Tau’s national office, as well as Tech’s student-led Interfraternity Council, are also reviewing the matter to determine whether to take any independent action. The Institute does not condone this type of behavior and continues to provide resources and education designed to create a supportive campus environment for all students, even those who exercise extremely poor judgment.” The Tech frat email is getting attention in the blogosphere where it's being described as the male match to a crazed dispatch sent earlier this year by a University of Maryland sorority member to her sisters. That email – which I warn you is chockfull of expletives – led to the writer’s ouster from the sorority. Let me advise that both emails are raunchy, so read at your own peril. ||||| ======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ==== ======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ==== Our news tip line just exploded. Apparently, an active member of Phi Kappa Tau at Georgia Tech sent an email to his chapter that is beginning to spread around like wildfire. In almost every one of the tips we received, the words “rape” and “creepy” were included. Upon further inspection, the email was, in fact, decidedly rapey and creepy. The alleged emailer is ΦKT’s social chair and rapey wordsmith. The subject of his email is “Luring your Rapebait,” and it reads as a “How-to” guide on talking to girls at parties, getting them drunk, aggressively dancing with them, then finally, closing the deal. And although he urges his brothers, “NO RAPING,” this is the rapiest tangent I’ve ever seen. Here’s the email: “Alright chods, some of you could use some help on how to mack and succeed at parties. Mostly pledges do, but some bros could use a review. For anytime throughout the party… If you are standing by yourself at any point, YOU ARE OUTTA HERE!!! If you are talking to a brother of your pledge brothers when there are girls just standing around, YOU ARE OUTTA HERE!!! Ok, if it is before midnight… A group of girls is standing around, grab a bro or pledge bro and go talk to them. First, introduce yourself and get their name, ask if they are having a good time, and then ask if they want anything to drink. If they say yes, walk them to the bar and tell them what we have to drink. If they say no and they look like they are in a sorority, ask them if they are in a sorority (DUH). If not, choose one of the following: where are you living, where are you from, have you been here before, how are classes going, or where all have you been tonight. Then proceed to have a conversation. IF THEY ARE HAMMERED AT ANY POINT BEFORE MIDNIGHT, JUST SKIP THE CHIT CHAT AND GO DANCE. Midnight or after, if you have been talking for awhile and they’ve had a couple drinks, ask if they want to dance. If you see an untalked to group or a solo girl, go up to her and ask if she wants anything to drink. If she says yes, get her a drink and then ask if she wants to dance. If she says no, ask her to dance. DANCING IS FUN!!!!! Always try to dance. If she does not want to dance and is with friends, say “aw thats no fun” (or something like that) and then ask one of her friends. Here is how to dance: Grab them on the hips with your 2 hands and then let them grind against your dick. After that slowly alternate between just putting your hand across their stomach, but make sure don’t to go to high (keep it under the boob) or too low(dont try to finger her… yet). After a song, start putting your cheek on the side of her cheek. ALWAYS USE YOUR HANDS OR ARMS TO GUIDE THEIR DANCING in order to maximize your pleasure. If she starts putting her hair over her ear, THAT MEANS SHE WANTS A KISS. Therefore, try to give her a kiss on the cheek. They usually like that and nothing really should ebcome of it. In the case, go for the neck kiss. If for some reason they aren’t down for a cheek kiss, just dance through it or say you are going to get another drink and see if they want one. And then repeat from the beginning. If the party is going good (a.k.a. there are a lot of open girls) try to escalate cause it’s awesome. Here is how to escalate: Try to twist her hips around to face you and dance front to front. FROM THERE THE OPTIONS ARE UNLIMITED! You can make-out with her (tongue on tongue), you can stick your hand up her shirt (not right away though), you can go for a butt grab (outside or inside the shirts), or use your imagination. ALWAYS START WITH THE MAKING OUT!!!! NO RAPING. A short guide consist of the 7 E’s of HOOKING UP! 1. Encounter (spot a girl or group of girls) 2. Engage (go up and talk to them) 3. Escalate (ask them to dance, or ask them to go up to your room or find a couch, depending on what kind of party) 4. Erection (GET HARD) 5. Excavate (should be self-explanatory) 6. Ejaculate (should also be self explanatory) 7. Expunge (send them out of your room and on their way out when you are finished. IF ANYTHING EVER FAILS, GO GET MORE ALCOHOL. I want to see everyone succeed at the next couple parties. In luring rapebait, [name redacted].”
– Georgia Tech says it's investigating an ill-advised mass email within a fraternity that explained how to treat women at parties: essentially, get them drunk and into bed, reports WSB-TV. What's caught the attention of most critics is the signoff by an unnamed member of Phi Kappa Tau: "In luring rapebait." And among its gems: "If anything ever fails, go get more alcohol." (You can read it in full at TotalFratMove, but be warned, it's as raunchy as you might expect.) The frat issued a statement calling the email "extremely inappropriate" and said its writer had been suspended. The campus chapter also placed itself on suspension pending the school investigation. Aren't frat brothers supposed to help each other out, wonders Maureen Downey at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution? "With all those new best friends, couldn't someone warn them that they were about to make a mistake they'd never live down?"
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These crawls are part of an effort to archive pages as they are created and archive the pages that they refer to. That way, as the pages that are referenced are changed or taken from the web, a link to the version that was live when the page was written will be preserved.Then the Internet Archive hopes that references to these archived pages will be put in place of a link that would be otherwise be broken, or a companion link to allow people to see what was originally intended by a page's authors.The goal is to fix all broken links on the web . Crawls of supported "No More 404" sites. ||||| Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards and his wife, Trina, arrive with their son, Eli, at a Baton Rouge news conference, where Edwards announced his comeback bid for Congress. (Sean Gardner / Getty Images / ) He has served in prison, starred in a short-lived reality TV show and delivered enough quotable quips to fill a bookshelf in the public library. Now, in his latest exhibition of life as political performance art, Edwin Edwards — former Louisiana governor, convicted racketeer, celebrated womanizer and, at age 86, new father — announced Monday he would be a candidate for Congress. "I've given a great deal of thought to this ... and I acknowledge that there are good reasons why I should not run ... but there are better reasons why I should," Edwards told reporters in Baton Rouge, La. "I am positive I can run, and I am confident I can win." When last seen on the national stage, Edwards was co-starring in "The Governor’s Wife," an A&E; series focused on his pen-pal-turned-bride No. 3, Trina Scott. Their son, Eli, was born in August, and Edwards, accompanied by his wife, arrived at Monday’s announcement pushing the boy in a stroller. The former four-term Democratic governor served more than eight years in federal prison for fraud, racketeering and extortion in connection with the state's licensing of riverboat casinos. He left prison in 2011 and has steadily maintained his innocence — though he pointed out Monday that nothing in the Constitution prevents a convicted felon from being elected to Congress. Part of a long line of populist, picaresque Louisiana governors, Edwards himself made a reference to his checkered past. "I haven't had this much attention since the trial," he told reporters in making his announcement. He said improving accessibility to healthcare would be a centerpiece of his congressional campaign. He criticized the state’s Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, for refusing to accept expanded Medicaid coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act, more widely known as Obamacare. Edwards served three terms as a congressman before running for governor in 1971. He served two terms in the statehouse in the 1970s and, after a four-year break, was again elected in 1983. During that term, he was acquitted of federal corruption charges but his image was badly tainted. Still, he managed a comeback for a fourth term in 1991, beating Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. The campaign’s indelible bumper sticker read: "Vote for the crook — it's important." The congressional seat that Edwards is pursuing is being vacated by Republican Bill Cassidy, who is running for Senate against incumbent Democrat Mary L. Landrieu. The district is centered in Baton Rouge, the state capital, extending south into coastal Louisiana. It leans strongly toward the GOP and several Republicans have already announced their designs on the seat. David Wasserman, who analyzes congressional races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, described Edward’s candidacy as "more of a side show than a legitimate threat, particularly after redistricting cut out all the African American neighborhoods in Baton Rouge. ... A Republican will eventually win this seat." Even if it is a sideshow, Edwards’ campaign will presumably run longer than "The Governor’s Wife." The reality series was canceled last fall after just three episodes. mark.barabak@latimes.com Twitter: @markzbarabak ||||| Just three years after his release from federal prison, former Gov. Edwin Edwards is throwing his hat into the open race for Louisiana's 6th Congressional District. The 86-year-old Silver Fox, known for his memorable, often shocking quotes and the nearly nine years spent behind bars on extortion, fraud and racketeering charges, made the announcement at a meeting of the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday (March 17). "I acknowledge there are good reasons I should not run. But there are better reasons why I should," said the Democrat, who served an unprecedented four terms as governor. He also put to rest questions over whether his status as an ex-con would keep him from being a qualified Congressional candidate: "Once and for all I'm positive I can run and I'm confident I can win." Edwards said the decision was not an easy one, but he ended up where he was "because I feel, I feel, that I can accomplish something if not immediately then in the long-run to help make my country a better country and properly address the needs of the 6th District." It also wasn't the only race he grappled with entering, Edwards said Monday, making it clear he was at one point deciding whether to challenge U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a fellow Democrat, for her seat. The 6th District seat will be vacant this year because U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, is challenging Landrieu. "She's running her race and I'm running mine," said Edwards. Famously, there is no love lost between the two Democrats. But pundits agree the presence of each of their powerful campaign machines in Louisiana come November will be mutually beneficial for both. "I'd like to run for governor, but there seems to be some question about whether I could," Edwards added. Louisiana law bars convicted felons from running for statewide office for 15 years, unless they receive a pardon. Edwards would be 101 by that time. The Marksville native and arguably Louisiana's most famous Cajun told the assembled press and public Monday that he hopes to serve on the public works and agriculture committees in Congress to address oil and gas industry and infrastructure concerns pertinent to Louisiana. On issues, he said he favors the approval of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline and would like to spur along a study to look at securing funds for high-speed rail between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. He also said he's also been in touch with another famous Cajun -- Lt. Gen. Russel Honore -- to discuss his Green Army's environmental concerns regarding Baton Rouge's aquifer. On the Affordable Care Act, Edwards said he would not have voted it if he had been in Congress at that time because "it is too fraught with pitfalls." "(But) it is the law and we're going to have to deal with it at least until Obama is out of office," he added. Edwards did say, however, that he is in favor of the Medicaid expansion option available under the federal health care law known as Obamacare. "I'm going to work in Congress in an effort to try to override the governor's decision," Edwards said, referring to Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's staunch refusal to opt into the expansion, under which around 242,000 uninsured Louisianians would be covered. <a href="http://polldaddy.com/poll/7887466/">Will you vote for Edwin Edwards or support his campaign now that he's announced his run for Louisiana Congressional 6th District?</a> At one point, a member of the audience asked how he would respond to opponents who say his run will engender negative national attention and be "an embarrassment" for the state. "They said that last time I ran for governor, and I don't know, I hardly think it is an embarrassment to the state. It might be something the state should be proud of because forgiveness, understanding and second chances are important in life and in politics," said Edwards. Edwards also discussed the more than eight years he spent in federal prison; as he has in the past, he denied wrongdoing during his years as governor: "(The trial) was not about Edwin Edwards the governor. It was about Edwin Edwards who was a friend of the people, who for reasons of their own testified falsely about our relationship after I was out of office." The Monday announcement did not come as a surprise, as rumors of his purported run began swirling months earlier. Edwards chances of winning in the heavily Republican district are slim, demographers and pollsters agree. But they don't deny he could make it into a runoff based solely on name recognition. The 6th District was redrawn in 2011, its odd horseshoe shape encompassing parts of southeast Louisiana from Baker, through East Baton Rouge and Ascension Parishes and down to the Houma-Thibodaux area. The field is already bloated with more than 10 Republican candidates, including a state senator and a former coastal adviser to Jindal, having already officially announced their intentions to run, with more expected to jump on in coming months. Edwards filed his candidacy papers Friday, he said, and he's already chosen a treasurer but not a campaign manager. Edwards' sixty year political career began in 1954, when he was elected to the Crowley City Council. He also served in the state Legislature and Congress. He has become a particularly divisive political figure in Louisiana, famous for his populist leanings and larger-than-life persona, infamous for being found guilty on 17 counts of bribery, extortion and fraud charges in 2000. He spent more than eight years in federal prison, where he became acquainted by mail with Trina Scott, a registered Republican 50 years his junior. She and Edwards were married soon after his release in 2011, and the two starred in an ill-fated reality TV show last year. Trina sat patiently with their 1-year-old son Eli during Edwards' speech Monday. The former governor said he and Trina made the decision he would definitely run about a week ago, adding, "no office in the world would attract me if it means separating from my child, my children and my wife." Edwards has two other sons, Stephen and David, and two daughters, Victoria and Anna, from his two previous marriages. While he spent the bulk of Monday's announcement discussing the issues he'd like to focus on during his campaign, it wasn't bereft of a showing of the characteristic Edwards wit. When asked how he would convince Republicans to vote for him, he said, "I'm going to let Trina talk to them." One reporter cited a Louisiana Republican Party statement calling Edwards' run part-and-parcel of his "antics" to remain in the spotlight. "My antics?" Edwards asked, "You mean the things that got me elected so many times?" "I haven't had this much attention since the trial," Edwards quipped when he took the podium. But before he strode away, the inveterate politician in the Cajun Prince had came alive. Employing what some might say is a rather curious Latin turn-of-phrase (considering his checkered past) he asked for the support of those who love him and the reconsidering of those who don't. "'Alea iacta est.' The die is cast. And I hope you will join with me in making this district a better district, because we have that potential." . . . . . . Lauren McGaughy is a state politics reporter based in Baton Rouge. She can be reached at lmcgaughy@nola.com or on Twitter at @lmcgaughy. Find her latest stories on the Baton Rouge hub's Facebook page.
– Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards has decided that neither age—nor his status as an ex-con—is a barrier to a run for Congress. The 86-year-old Democrat, who was released from federal prison in 2011 after serving eight years on fraud and racketeering charges, has entered the race for the state's 6th congressional district and says he's convinced he can win, the Times-Picayune reports. The four-term governor has always maintained his innocence on fraud charges connected to state licensing of riverboat casinos, the Los Angeles Times notes. "I acknowledge there are good reasons I should not run. But there are better reasons why I should," said Edwards, who starred in a reality TV show after getting out of prison. He says he'd really like to run for governor again, but because of his conviction, state law bans him from doing so until he's 101 years old. Analysts say that while Edwards certainly has name recognition on his side, he will struggle to make headway in the heavily Republican district centered on Baton Rouge. "This changes the race. It’s sure to stir up some notoriety ... but I don’t think he has a chance of winning," a political scientist tells the Baton Rouge Advocate.
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Administration refuses to grant waiver for 1920 law to speed transport of salt for icy roads BY: The Obama Administration has not approved a waiver that would allow New Jersey quick access to tons of salt for ice-covered roads at a port in Maine despite the state being at dangerously low levels. Townsquare Media reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) denied the state’s request for a waiver of the Jones Act, a 1920 law requiring that all cargo and passengers moving between points in the United States be transported on American vessels. A waiver would have allowed New Jersey to get the salt within days from a foreign transport in Searsport, Maine. New Jersey Department of Transportation Spokesman Joe Dee told the Washington Free Beacon that a waiver from the Jones Act appears “unlikely.” “We were pursuing a waiver, but we’ve been advised we wouldn’t get one,” Dee said. “It seems unlikely we will get it.” DHS did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The numerous winter storms this year have left New Jersey low on salt to treat their roads. “The recent series of winter storms in New Jersey have reduced the supply of rock salt to critically low levels,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R.) wrote in an executive order prior to the latest Nor’easter that hit the state last week. “Rock salt is an essential to maintaining safe travel on state, county, local, and interstate roads as a result of the dangerous and icy conditions during these winter storms,” Christie wrote. The state is now scrambling to access rock salt. “The supplies are tight. We have enough for another storm or two,” Dee said Friday night. Another storm hit the state on Saturday, dumping several inches of snow during the day and night, leaving roadways slick and icy. Dee said plans now include making multiple trips—as many as four—to transport the salt from Maine to New Jersey. He acknowledged, it will “take us a longer time.” With a waiver the state would have made only one trip to get the 40,000 tons of salt in Maine. Municipalities in the past were able to access the state’s stockpile of salt if needed, but the shortage has made such sharing impossible. “If a county ran out in the past, we would share salt. Unfortunately, we are not in that position,” said Dee. “That’s not an option.” The salt silos in Jersey City were empty. Towns such as Randolph, Fort Lee, and Englewood reportedly had to leave roads untreated. Salting in South Bergen was also curtailed due to its shortage. Monmouth County also ran out of salt as another storm hit on Saturday. Additionally, Morris County was running low and advised its towns to conserve salt. Middletown, located in Monmouth County, was also very low on salt, according to Township Committeeman and former Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger. He said on Saturday the town was much better off than other surrounding municipalities. Middletown was mixing its salt with brine. It also resorted to using sand on it roadways. “We’re doing all of those things to try to stretch out our supplies,” Scharfenberger said. “It is a little scary the prospect of running out. Plowing can only do so much.” Neither Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) nor Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) responded to requests for comment. The Obama Administration came under fire for not giving a Jones Act waiver in the wake of the Gulf Oil spill. However, they did grant a waiver after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D., N.Y.) requested one to allow fuel supplies to be replenished in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. ||||| As winter ice puts lives at risk on New Jersey roads, Townsquare Media has learned that a 1920 federal maritime law stranded a shipment of road salt at a Maine seaport while urgent requests for a waiver were denied by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A salter pre-treats roads in Wall in December. As of February 14, New Jersey has completely run out of road salt for such applications. (Joe Palmer, Townsquare Media NJ) Jim Simpson, head of New Jersey’s Department of Transportation, would confirm only that the state’s salt supply is dangerously low and may only last through two more snowfalls, with one expected Saturday. He also confirmed that federal officials were asked for help concerning a 94-year-old law preventing foreign vessels from moving cargo from one U.S. port to another. Meanwhile, New Jersey has been unable to transport 40,000 tons of available road salt in Searsport, Maine in time to meet the urgent need here. Townsquare Media has learned federal help was actually refused, literally causing New Jersey’s road salt shipment to miss the boat. A foreign transport sitting ready to load in Searsport is now approaching Port Newark empty, because the Department of Homeland Security denied the state’s request for a waiver of the requirement for an American-flagged vessel. Simpson alluded to the situation in an exclusive interview with Eric Scott, aired on New Jersey 101.5 Friday morning but said he was hopeful the federal government would help. But Townsquare Media has learned that the state’s request to Homeland Security, which has granted such emergency waivers in the past, was turned down and New Jersey officials have spend the past week trying to get it reconsidered. The law in question is the 1920 Maritime Act, also known as the Jones Act, a measure originally enacted to protect the American shipping industry from foreign competition. In 2012, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York was able to get Homeland Security to waive the requirement in order to facilitate petroleum shipments to the Northeast during the gasoline shortage. In his interview on the Townsquare Radio Network Friday morning, Simpson said: “I’ve got a shipload of salt, 400 miles from here.” He added: “The only thing that we’ve been able to define as an American flag vessel would take us a month to get the salt here when I can have the salt here in a day and a half.” Further details obtained by Townsquare paint an even stranger picture. The longer, slower solution described by Simpson for getting the road salt from Maine to Port Newark would involve two barges that would not only take at least three weeks to make the trip but would also be able to carry only 10,000 tons each, leaving half the shipment still stuck in Maine. Worse yet, while New Jersey waited unsuccessfully for a federal waiver, at least one available transport ship, under a Marshall Islands flag, was docked in Searsport ready to accept all 40,000 tons. Instead, the “bulk carrier”, called the Anastasia S, is now en route to Port Newark empty. David Matthau contributed to this report. UPDATE: Thomas A. Allegretti, chairman of the American Maritime Partnership (AMP) released the following statement Friday afternoon after reading this report: “America’s domestic maritime industry is responding to a last minute request for road salt to help the people of New Jersey. The industry is joining with other modes of transportation and road salt providers to ensure the state has the resources it needs amid widespread demand. New Jersey has filed a request for a Jones Act waiver for a foreign-flagged vessel and we are confident it will be considered fairly and appropriately in accordance with federal law.” HEAR THE SIMPSON INTERVIEW: Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser. “I’ve got a shipload of salt, 400 miles from here, with a ship sitting empty at the dock that can bring it to Newark and we’re working with the federal government because we don’t have an American flag vessel,” Simpson said. “And there’s this ‘Jones Act’ that’s about a hundred years old that says if you’re moving any products from the United State to the United States on the water, you have to have an American flag on the vessel. And the only thing that we’ve been able to define as an American flag vessel would take us a month to get the salt here when I can have the salt here in a day and a half.” Discussions with federal officials may lead to “a favorable ruling” on the matter Friday, he said. “That’s the kind of stuff that we’re dealing with.” The Jones Act, also known as the Maritime Act of 1920, is a U.S. trade protection measure that has occasionally been waived in emergency situations, such as the 2012 gasoline shortage in the Northeast, according to a report that year by WNYC.org. Read More: Winter is $500M Hit to NJ Economy, Official Says | http://nj1015.com/winter-is-500m-hit-to-nj-economy-official-says/?trackback=tsmclip
– In a season of seemingly endless snow, New Jersey towns are running out of rock salt—and 40,000 tons of the stuff is supposed to be on its way. Trouble is, the shipment is stuck in Maine because the vessel that would carry it doesn't have an American flag, as is required by the 1920 federal Maritime Act, which states that any shipment from one US port to another must be on a US-made ship piloted by a US crew, to help ensure a thriving merchant-marine fleet, New York Times reports. "We were pursuing a waiver" to the law, "but we've been advised we wouldn't get one," a rep for New Jersey's transportation department tells the Washington Free Beacon. The Maine shipment may now arrive in several installments, the transportation spokesman says. One possibility would see a pair of barges carrying the salt in a weeks-long process, says the head of the department, per New Jersey 101.5. Meanwhile the East Coast has been hit by three winter storm systems in one week, and New Jersey officials have barely enough salt for one more storm, the Morning Call reports. The situation is "as frustrating as frustrating can be. People aren't getting the services they need," Jersey City's mayor tells the Daily News. "We need salt and some help with Mother Nature."
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Media caption Victoria Nuland, US state department, says they fear the regime may be planning an attack on al-Haffa The US has expressed fears that the Syrian government "may be organising another massacre" in the town of Haffa in Latakia province, where UN military observers have been denied access. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said it was vital that the observers should be allowed into the town. He and peace envoy Kofi Annan expressed grave concern about violence there. A BBC correspondent travelling with UN observers witnessed sustained and heavy shelling in the old city of Homs. The UN observers are in Syria to monitor the implementation of a putative ceasefire, brokered by Mr Annan, which has all but collapsed. 'Civilians trapped' Annan's six-point plan 1. Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people 2. End to violence by all sides; army troops to stop using heavy weapons and withdraw to barracks 3. Parties to allow humanitarian aid 4. Authorities to free political detainees 5. Authorities to ensure freedom of movement for journalists 6. Authorities to allow peaceful demonstrations "The UN made a particular appeal to be able to get into Haffa because it had heard concerning reports about regime plans," US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing in Washington. "At the same time, if you follow Syrian media, they were claiming that the opposition would cause a massacre." Earlier this month, activists said Syrian government forces killed 108 people in the region of Houla, in Homs province, and 78 people in the village of Qubair, in Hama province. But Ms Nuland downplayed the idea of foreign intervention in Syria, saying the emphasis would remain on using political and economic measures to pressure the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian government blames the violence on foreign-backed armed terrorist gangs. In a statement, Mr Annan, joint envoy for the UN and Arab League, said there were "indications that a large number of civilians are trapped" in Homs and Haffa. Later Mr Ban spoke of the "great danger" to civilians under fire. "The secretary general underlines the importance of unimpeded access by UNSMIS to Haffa, amid reports of a build-up of government forces around the town," he said in a statement. Syrian government helicopter gunships strafed rebel positions in Haffa, UN observers and human rights activists said. Media caption The BBC's Paul Danahar: "I was watching a mortar land pretty much every minute" Heavy fighting was also reported in Rastan and Talbisa, north of Homs city, "with artillery and mortar shelling, as well as firing from helicopters, machine guns and smaller arms", said a statement from the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (Unsmis). A car bomb exploded in the city of Deir al-Zour, killing 10 people, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, quoting sources on the ground. Fighting was also reported in Idlib province. It is impossible to confirm these reports independently, as Syria heavily restricts journalists' freedom of movement. Russia, which supports the Syrian government, called for Iran to take a role in ending the 15-month old conflict. Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected the idea of involving Iran, which she accused of "helping to stage-manage the repression" in Syria. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will travel to Tehran on Wednesday to discuss the initiative, the foreign ministry said. ||||| A U.N. report released Monday includes Syrian government forces and their allied "shabiha" militias for the first time on a list of 52 governments and armed groups that recruit, kill or sexually attack children in armed conflicts. In Syria, it said, children as young as 9 years old have been victims of killing and maiming, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, and sexual violence, and have been used as human shields. "In almost all recorded cases, children were among the victims of military operations by government forces, including the Syrian armed forces, the intelligence forces and the shabiha militia, in their ongoing conflict with the opposition, including the Free Syrian Army," the report said. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's annual report on children and armed conflict during 2011 names 32 "persistent perpetrators" that have been on the list for at least five years, including the security forces of seven countries. That's double the number in 2010, and Ban expressed grave concern at "the unacceptably high, and growing, number" of long-term abusers of children. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the U.N. special representative for children and armed conflict, said that while new crises erupted in 2011 "with a heavy toll on children such as in Syria, and also in Libya, violations against girls and boys have come to an end in other parts of the world." But the so-called "list of shame" with 52 names _ including four new parties in Syria, Yemen and Sudan _ is still too long, she said in a statement. A resolution adopted by the U.N. Security Council in 2005 took the first major step to prevent the victimization of young people in war zones by addressing the exploitation of children as combatants and identifying governments and armed groups that recruit child soldiers. In 2009, the council voted to also name and shame countries and insurgent groups engaged in conflicts that lead to children being killed, maimed and raped. The secretary-general said the United Nations has received reports of "grave violations" against children in Syria since March 2011, when protests against President Bashar Assad's government began. The report quoted a former member of the Syrian armed forces saying that in December, during protests in Tall Kalakh, his commander gave an order to shoot during the break-up of the demonstrations and he saw three girls, who appeared to be between 10 and 13 years old, killed. A former member of the intelligence forces was quoted as saying he witnessed the killing of five children in a secondary school during demonstrations in Aleppo in the last quarter of 2011. The report said the Syrian military and the shabiha used children as young as 8 on at least three occasions last year. In an attack on the village of Ayn l'Arouz in Idlib province on March 9, 2012, it quoted a witness as saying several dozen boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 13 were forcibly taken from their homes and "used by soldiers and militia members as human shields, placing them in front of the windows of buses carrying military personnel into the raid on the village." The United Nations also has collected dozens of accounts of eyewitnesses from children as young as 14 years old who were tortured in detention, as well as from former members of the Syrian military who were forced to witness or carry out acts of torture, the report said. Most child victims of torture described being beaten, blindfolded, subjected to stress positions, whipped with heavy electrical cables, scarred by cigarette burns and in one case subjected to electrical shock to the genitals, the report said. One witness reported seeing a boy about 15 years old die as a result of repeated beatings. Another 15-year-old repeatedly beaten with heavy electrical cables during interrogation reported at least 20 other children his age or younger being held in detention, it said. The report detailed many other serious human rights violations against children across the globe. For example, in Somalia, the U.N. documented 7,799 child casualties of conflict last year, just in the three main hospitals in the capital Mogadishu. It also documented the recruitment of 948 youngsters by the Islamic militant group Al-Shabab and 242 cases of rape and sexual violence. In Afghanistan, the report said 1,325 children were killed or injured in 2011, 30 percent by improvised explosive devices placed by armed groups. It said 316 cases of underage recruitment were reported, the majority by armed groups notably the Taliban as well as the Haqqani network and Hezb-e-Islami. "In 2011, 11 children, including one 8-year-old girl, were killed while conducting suicide attacks" in Afghanistan, the report said. "Some children unknowingly carried explosive packages." In Iraq, the report said 146 children were reportedly killed and 265 injured as a result of violence last year, mainly by armed groups including al-Qaida and the Islamic State of Iraq. The U.N. said 294 children were also indicted or convicted of terrorism-related charges. Since the uprising in Libya began in February 2011, the report said the presence of children in armed forces and armed groups "was broadly reported" along with numerous grave violations. It said child casualties were not systematically document but it said 129 cases of killing and 247 cases of maiming of children were recorded. In Ivory Coast, the U.N. registered 271 cases of sexual violence, including six against boys. On a positive note, the report said parties to conflicts in Nepal and Sri Lanka were taken off the list after they successfully completed Security Council-mandated programs to end the recruitment and use of children. It said five parties in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Chad and South Sudan entered into similar agreements last year.
– The US and UN are warning that the Syrian government may be organizing another massacre, this time in the town of Haffa, where UN monitors have been impeded, reports the BBC. International envoy Kofi Annan says he is "gravely concerned" about the escalation of violence, and reports of mortar, tank, and helicopter attacks on Haffa and its surrounding villages. "A large number of civilians are trapped in these towns," he warned. The Syrian regime is using "new horrific tactics" on rebellious areas, a State Department spokeswoman says, warning: "People will be held accountable." A new UN reports has, for the first time, placed the Syrian government and its allied militias on a list of groups that kill and sexually attack children, AP reports. The report found that in Syria, children as young as nine have been the victims of killing, torture, sexual violence, and arbitrary detention, and have been used as human shields.
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