NATIONAL NEWS

Hospital Pharmacist to Plead Guilty to Attempting to Spoil Hundreds of COVID Vaccine Doses

 

A Wisconsin pharmacist has agreed to plead guilty to charges filed today in federal court that he attempted to render hundreds of doses of COVID-19 vaccine ineffective.

According to court documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Steven R. Brandenburg, 46, of Grafton, Wisconsin, was charged with two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products with reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury. Brandenburg has agreed to plead guilty to the charges, which each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

As detailed in the court documents, while working as a hospital pharmacist in Grafton, Wisconsin, on two successive overnight shifts in late December, Brandenburg purposefully removed a box of COVID-19 vaccine vials manufactured by Moderna—which must be stored at specific cold temperatures to remain viable—from the hospital’s refrigeration unit intending to render the vaccines inert and no longer effective. According to the plea agreement, Brandenburg stated that he was skeptical of vaccines in general and the Moderna vaccine specifically. Brandenburg had communicated his beliefs about vaccines to his co-workers for at least the past two years.

After leaving the vaccines out for several hours each night, Brandenburg returned the vaccines to the refrigerator to be used in the hospital’s vaccine clinic the following day. Before the full extent of Brandenburg’s conduct was discovered, 57 people received doses of the vaccine from these vials.

“Tampering with vaccine doses in the midst of a global health crisis calls for a strong response, as reflected by the serious charges the United States has brought today,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to ensure the public receives safe and effective vaccines.”

“Distributing the COVID-19 vaccine is critical to overcoming this pandemic, which continues to end lives and upend our economy,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew D. Krueger. “As these charges show, the Justice Department will pursue anyone—and especially any medical professional—who tampers with the vaccine.

“The FDA has ensured that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine meets the agency’s rigorous standards for quality, safety, and efficacy,” said FDA Assistant Commissioner for Criminal Investigations Catherine A. Hermsen. “Those who knowingly tamper with this vaccine place American patients’ health at risk. Today’s announcement should serve as a reminder that this kind of illicit tampering activity will not be tolerated.”

“Pharmacists rank among some of the most trusted professionals,” said FBI Milwaukee Special Agent in Charge Robert Hughes. “This individual used his special access to tamper with vials of the much needed COVID-19 vaccine. The FBI takes allegations of consumer product tampering very seriously and will use all available resources to bring those to justice who intentionally put the public’s health at risk.”

This matter was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, the Milwaukee Field Office of the FBI, and the Village of Grafton Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin C. Knight of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and Senior Litigation Counsel Ross S. Goldstein and Trial Attorney Rachel Baron of the Department of Justice Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.

Department of Justice Announces the Use of Body-Worn Cameras on Federal Task Forces

October 29, 2020

Today, the Justice Department announced that it will permit state, local, territorial, and tribal task force officers to use body-worn cameras on federal task forces around the nation. The department’s policy will permit federally deputized officers to activate a body-worn camera while serving arrest warrants, or during other planned arrest operations, and during the execution of search warrants. The policy is the result of a pilot program launched by the department last October.

“After spending a substantial amount of time examining this issue, assessing the results of the pilot program, and taking into account the interests and priorities of all the law enforcement agencies involved, I am pleased to announce that the department will permit the use of body-worn cameras on our federal task forces in specific circumstances,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “The Department of Justice has no higher priority than ensuring the safety and security of the American people and this policy will continue to help us fulfill that mission.”

he Department of Justice, through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the FBI; and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), partners with state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement on hundreds of federal task forces throughout the nation. Together, these task forces work to combat violent crime, stem the flow of illegal narcotics, and arrest dangerous fugitives.

On Oct. 28, 2019, after consulting with a number of state and local law enforcement associations, the Attorney General announced a pilot program to consider the use of body-worn cameras on federal task forces. In January 2020, federal task force officers in several pilot cities began using body-worn cameras on task force operations and concluded the pilot program on Sept. 1, 2020.

 

Ongoing Investigation into Violent White Supremacist Gang Results in Rico Indictment and Additional Charges against Members and Associates

New Charges Include Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Conspiracy, Assault and Kidnapping in Aid of Racketeering, and Accessory to Murder

October 28, 2020

The Justice Department announced today that additional charges have been brought in a superseding indictment against members and associates of a white supremacist gang known as the 1488s. The 1488s have been charged as a criminal organization that was involved in narcotics distribution, arson, obstruction of justice, and acts of violence including murder, assault, and kidnapping.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder of the District of Alaska, Special Agent in Charge Robert Britt of the FBI’s Anchorage Field Office, and Alaska State Trooper Captain David Hanson, Commander of the Alaska Bureau of Investigation, made the announcement.

Two new defendants were added to the recently unsealed superseding indictment. Felicia King, 55, of Wasilla, Alaska, was charged with accessory after the fact for her role in the August 2017 beating, kidnapping, and murder of Michael Staton, aka “Steak Knife.”

Justin Eaton, aka “Skulls” 45, of Anchorage, Alaska, who had been previously charged in a separate indictment as a felon in possession of a firearm, was charged with RICO conspiracy, kidnapping and assault for his role in the April 2, 2017, beating of a former 1488 member.

Original defendants Filthy Fuhrer, (formerly Timothy Lobdell), 42; Roy Naughton, aka “Thumper,” 40; Glen Baldwin, aka “Glen Dog,” 37; Craig King, aka “Oakie,” 53; and Colter O’Dell, 26, were all charged in a RICO Conspiracy. Fuhrer and Naughton also face additional charges for federal kidnapping, as well as kidnapping and assault in aid of racketeering for incidents occurring in April and July of 2017.

In the original indictment, Fuhrer, Naughton, Baldwin, King, O’Dell, and Beau Cook, 32, were charged with murder in aid of racketeering, kidnapping in aid of racketeering, assault in aid of racketeering, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit assault and kidnapping in aid of racketeering. Two other key members, Nicholas M. Kozorra, aka “Beast,” 29, and Dustin J. Clowers, 34, previously pleaded guilty to murder in aid of racketeering in unsealed court documents. Additionally, Cook has pleaded guilty to kidnapping for his role in the Staton homicide.

According to the superseding indictment, the 1488s are a violent prison-based gang operating inside and outside of state prisons throughout Alaska and elsewhere. The 1488s employed Nazi-derived symbols to identify themselves and their affiliation with the gang. The most coveted tattoo of 1488s members was the 1488s “patch” (an Iron Cross superimposed over a Swastika), which could be worn only by “made” members who generally gained full membership by committing an act of violence on behalf of the gang.

According to the indictment, as part of their operations, 1488s members and associates engaged in illegal activities under the protection of the enterprise, including narcotics trafficking, weapons trafficking, and other illegal activities to promote the influence of the gang. The 1488s allegedly had an organizational structure, which is outlined in written “rules” widely distributed to members throughout Alaska and elsewhere.

Members of the 1488s allegedly acted in different roles in order to further the goals of their organization, including “bosses” who had ultimate authority in all gang matters. “Key holders” were allegedly responsible for all gang matters within penal facilities where 1488s had a presence, and in “free world” Alaska (outside of prison). “Enforcers” were allegedly responsible for enforcing the rules and performing tasks as assigned by higher-ranking gang members. “Prospects” for membership were required to familiarize themselves with Nazi-inspired white supremacist ideology. Violence against law enforcement was also a means of gaining standing within the 1488s. Female associates of the gang were referred to as “lady-eights”.

In or about 2016, Fuhrer allegedly became more aggressive in his efforts to impose discipline within the gang. He allegedly believed that members who were defying the 1488 code of conduct were diminishing the power and influence of the gang. As outlined in the superseding indictment, this culminated in the kidnapping and assault of former members on April 2, 2017, and July 20, 2017, and the kidnapping, assault, and murder of Staton on Aug. 3, 2017. These acts were allegedly ordered by leadership of the 1488s acting from within and from outside of the prison system.

United States Seizes More Domain Names Used by Foreign Terrorist Organization

October 21,2020

The United States has seized “Aletejahtv.com” and “kataibhezbollah.com,” two websites that were unlawfully utilized by Kata’ib Hizballah, a Specially Designated National and a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

“Seizures like these are critical to preventing designated entities and terrorist organizations from using U.S. websites to recruit new members and promote their twisted world views,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “While this case is a reminder that terrorists don’t need to step foot in our country to further their aims, today’s actions show that the Department will do what it takes to stop them.”

“We will be steadfast in protecting our electronic infrastructure and commerce system from use by terrorist groups,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak of the Northern District of Georgia. “This seizure shows that we will continue to leverage our national reach to stop these groups from using U.S.-based resources to further their terrorist agenda.”

“The internet is continuously updating with new threats to our nation’s safety, but we will continue to rise and meet this challenge,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “The success of this seizure should serve as a message to others that would threaten the safety of our communities: We will continue to fight terror groups and their propaganda no matter the domain.”

On July 2, 2009, the U.S. Secretary of Treasury designated Kata’ib Hizballah, an Iran-backed terrorist group active in Iraq, as a Specially Designated National for committing, directing, supporting, and posing a significant risk of committing acts of violence against Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces. On the same day, the U.S. Department of State designated Kata’ib Hizballah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization for committing or posing a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism.

On Aug. 31, 2020, pursuant to a seizure warrant in the District of Arizona, the United States seized “Aletejahtv.com” and “Aletejahtv.org.” “Aletejahtv.com” and “Aletejahtv.org,” acted as Kata’ib Hizballah’s media arm and published internet communications such as videos, articles, and photographs. These communications included numerous articles designed to further Kata’ib Hizballah’s agenda, particularly destabilizing Iraq and recruiting others to join their cause. They also functioned as a live online television broadcast channel, “Al-etejah TV.” Portions of the communications expressly noted that they were published by Kata’ib Hizballah.

Within weeks, federal agents located the content from “Aletejahtv.com” and “Aletejahtv.org” on “Aletejahtv.com” and “kataibhezbollah.com,” including the Kata’ib Hizballah flag and the words “Islamic Resistance, Kataib Hizbollah.” The content even included false information about COVID-19 designed to damage perception of the United States in the minds of Iraqi citizens and to destabilize the region to the benefit of Iran.

Federal law prohibits designated entities like Kata’ib Hizballah from obtaining or utilizing goods or services, including website and domain services, in the United States without a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control. “Aletejahtv.com” and “kataibhezbollah.com” are domain names that are owned and operated by a United States company based in Reston, Virginia. Kata’ib Hizballah did not obtain a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control prior to utilizing the domain names.

 

Republican Senator John Kennedy asks Amy Coney Barrett 'who does the laundry in your house' during Supreme Court hearings

October 14, 2020

.Republican Sen. John Kennedy finished his questioning of Judge Amy Coney Barrett during the Senate's Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Wednesday with a personal question.

"It's a sincere question, I'm generally curious, who does the laundry in your house?" Kennedy asked. 

Barrett, who has seven children, laughed and replied, "We increasingly have been trying to get our children to take responsibility for their own, but those efforts are not always successful."

Journalists and others responded by asking whether the same entirely irrelevant question would be asked of a male nominee.

Just a few minutes later, Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn accused Democrats of being skeptical that Barrett could be mother of seven and also lead a demanding career.

"Some of my colleagues on the other side of the dais have seemed to be quite amazed that you could balance career and family," Blackburn said. "And I would think that they would choose to praise you for finding a way."

 

Department of Justice Invests More than $87 Million in Grants to Address School Violence

October 10, 2020

The Department of Justice today announced it has awarded more than $87 million to bolster school security, support first responders who arrive on the scene of a school shooting or other violent incident, and conduct research on school safety.

The 2018 STOP School Violence Act authorized the Justice Department to create a series of grant award programs under a School Violence Prevention Program. This year, the Department made 130 awards to schools, districts and other jurisdictions throughout the United States.

“Only by removing the threat of violence from our schools can we expect our kids to reap the full benefits of their education, and only after making our places of learning safe can we ask our teachers to instruct and inspire as they are trained to do,” said Katharine T. Sullivan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Department’s Office of Justice Programs. “The Department of Justice is committed to securing our schools from danger and giving our kids the support they need to learn, grow and thrive.”

The Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Institute of Justice, within the Department’s Office of Justice Programs, manage the programs and administer the grants, which include funds to:

Train school personnel and educate students on preventing student violence against others and themselves, to include anti-bullying training; implement or improve school safety measures, including coordinating with law enforcement; train law enforcement to help deter student violence against others and themselves; improve notification to first responders through implementation of technology that expedites emergency notifications; develop and operate anonymous reporting systems to encourage safe reporting of potential school threats; train school officials to intervene when mentally ill individuals threaten school safety; provide training and technical assistance to schools and other awardees in helping implement these programs; examine the root causes of school violence; evaluate the effectiveness of the approaches to stopping school violence; and analyze the perspectives of STOP School Violence Act grantees.

 

Fraud Alert: Scammers Claiming to be with DOJ, Preying on Elderly

September 5, 2020

The Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has received multiple reports that individuals claiming to represent the Department of Justice are calling members of the public as part of an imposter scam. The department strongly encourages the public to remain vigilant and not to provide personal information during these calls, which appear to target the elderly.

Reports to the National Elder Fraud Hotline indicate these scammers falsely represent themselves as Department of Justice investigators or employees and attempt to obtain personal information from the call recipient, or they leave a voicemail with a return phone number. The return phone number directs users to a recorded menu that matches the recorded menu for the department’s main phone number. Eventually, the user reaches an “operator” who steers the user to someone claiming to be an investigator. That “investigator” then attempts to gain the user’s personal information.

“Phone scams are an ugly and pervasive act of victimization. The scams being reported to our National Elder Fraud Hotline are especially heinous because they show the perpetrators are preying upon one of the most vulnerable segments of our society – the elderly,” said OVC Director Jessica Hart. “As if this were not despicable enough, the scammers do so posing as employees of the Justice Department, usurping public trust in the agency that serves as a bastion of fairness and lawfulness while these scams exploit the elderly for financial gain. The first step to identifying these criminals is to have their crimes reported.”

Those who receive these calls are encouraged not to provide personal information and to report these scams to the FTC via their website or by calling 877–FTC–HELP (877-382-4357). Fraud can also be reported to the FBI for law enforcement action at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/report-fraud.

The National Elder Fraud Hotline is a resource created by OVC for people to report fraud against anyone age 60 or older. Reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible, and within the first 2–3 days, can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is open seven days a week. For more information about the hotline, please visit https://stopelderfraud.ovc.ojp.gov/.

Nine Charged with $24 Million COVID-Relief Fraud Scheme

August 6,2020

A father and son are among nine people accused of conspiring to submit dozens of fake loan applications for $24 million in federal coronavirus-relief funds, according to federal prosecutors.

The group — led by the owner of a Florida talent agency that managed pro football players — submitted more than 90 applications for federal CARES Act money specifically earmarked to help keep small businesses and their employees afloat during the pandemic, court records say.

The group was successful in getting $17.4 million in fraudulent money through 42 of those applications, according to prosecutors.

Business owners inflated their number of employees and the salaries they need to pay out to get more relief money, according to court records.

Six — including the accused ringleader Phillip Augustin of Coral Springs, Florida, and father-son duo Deon and Abdul-Azeem Levy of Cleveland and Bedford, respectively — are charged in federal court in Cleveland and three in the Southern District of Florida. The charges were unsealed on Thursday.

Augustin, the owner of Clear Vision Music Group, filed for and received an $84,515 loan based on fraudulent information he put in the loan application, court records say. He then developed a template for others to do the same, according to prosecutors.

Augustin, 51, recruited several business contacts, including a pro football player identified in court records only as Person 5, to file fake claims and send him kickbacks, according to court records.

During a six-week span, Augustin was paid more than $900,000 in kickbacks, according to prosecutors.

The Levys paid an $80,000 kickback through a third person, according to court filings.

Abdul-Azeem Levy applied for a $554,232 loan while using the personal information of the owner Apex Now Corp., a construction company in Solon, according to court records.

The application directed the funds to a bank account controlled by Abdul-Azeem Levy. His father had unlawful access to that account, according to prosecutors.

Fifth-Third bank, where Levy set up the account to receive the loan, flagged the payment as suspicious.

An FBI agent posing as bank investigators met with Levy on June 5 to discuss the loan. While he was inside the bank, another FBI agent approached Deon Levy, who admitted he instructed his son how to conduct the scheme, court records say.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker files lawsuit to require face masks in schools

July 17, 2020

.The novel coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 589,000 people worldwide.

Over 13.8 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their nations' outbreaks.

The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3.5 million diagnosed cases and at least 138,359 deaths.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, along with the state health director and the state superintendent, have filed a lawsuit aimed at requiring face coverings in schools.

“As a father, I would not send my children to a school where face coverings are not required because the science is clear: face coverings are critical to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” Pritzker said in a statement Thursday.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday, according to the Illinois attorney general’s office.

The complaint is being brought against three schools that have “announced their refusal” to follow the public health guidance from the various state agencies and the governor's executive orders, according to the complaint.

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigns in wake of fatal shooting

June 13, 2020

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields has resigned, according to city Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Shields had served in the position since December 2016. Shields will continue with the department in a role to be determined.

"It has become abundantly clear that over the last couple weeks in Atlanta is that while we have a police force full of men and women who work alongside our communities with honor respect and dignity," Bottoms said in a statement. "There has been a disconnect with what our expectations are, and should be as it relates to interactions with our officers and the communities in which they are entrusted to protect.

Former Assistant Police Chief Rodney Bryant will serve as interim police chief as the city immediately launches a national search for new leadership to repair trust within the community.

The move comes just hours after a man, identified as Rayshard Brooks, was shot and killed by police at a Wendy's drive-thru after police said he pointed a Taser at an officer while running away from law enforcement.

The shooting comes less than two weeks after six Atlanta police officers were charged for the forceful arrests of two college students sitting in their car on June 2. The two were shocked with stun guns and physically pulled out of the car though they did not appear to be involved in protests in the area.

3 former officers charged in George Floyd's death make 1st court appearance

June 4, 2020.

A Minneapolis judge remanded three of the four former officers involved in George Floyd's death on a million dollars bail during their first court appearance Thursday afternoon.

Kiernan Lane, Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were all charged with second-degree aiding and abetting felony murder and second-degree aiding and abetting manslaughter in the death of the 46-year-old man. Former officer Derek Chauvin was arrested last week and initially charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but those charges were upgraded to second-degree murder Wednesday. He is currently in jail on a $500,000 bond.

Judge Paul Scoggin ordered the defendants could be released on a lower bail amount of $750,000 if they followed specific conditions: Work in no law enforcement capacity, surrender firearms, void firearm permits, no contact with the victim's family and agree to waive extradition should they leave the state.

The former officers didn't enter pleas, but their attorneys each made a case for a lighter bail sentence, citing their ties to the community and cooperation with the investigation. Kueng’s attorney offered his condolences to Floyd’s family.

Their next court appearance is June 29.

Watch:Mother of George Floyd's daughter demands justice for his killing

NYC police cars plow through crowd, mayor calls for investigation

May 31, 2020

New York City's mayor is calling for an investigation after police SUVs overnight plowed through a Brooklyn crowd where protesters were holding a metal barricade.

Video shows one police SUV being blocked by a group of protesters behind a barricade as various items and objects can be seen striking the vehicle. Another NYPD SUV then pulls up alongside the first vehicle before both of them can be seen accelerating into the crowd of people knocking many of them over as the screaming and yelling from the crowd begins to intensify.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "NYPD officers just drove an SUV into a crowd of human beings. They could've killed them ... NO ONE gets to slam an SUV through a crowd of human beings."

There was no loss of life and no major injuries, officials said.

The investigation will be led by the city's corporation counsel and Department of Investigation commissioner.

 

Ex-officer who knelt on George Floyd's neck charged with murder

May 29, 2020.

The former Minneapolis police officer shown on video putting his knee on the neck of George Floyd was arrested on Friday, authorities said.

Derek Chauvin, who was fired on Tuesday along with three other officers involved in the detainment of Floyd, was taken into custody Friday and faces charges of 3rd-degree murder and manslaughter, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced.

Floyd pleaded "I can't breathe," as Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for around eight minutes on Monday night, in an arrest that was videotaped by bystanders. The police department initially said Floyd "physically resisted" the officers and that he died after "suffering medical distress."

Freeman said he anticipated more charges to come, possibly against some of the other three officers.

4 Minneapolis Police Officers Fired Over George Floyd Death

May 26, 2020

Four Minneapolis police officers were fired Tuesday following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died on Monday after an officer kneeled on his neck while he was handcuffed on the ground, shouting that he couldn’t breathe.

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced their terminations during a news conference. He did not publicly identify the officers.

“It is the right decision for our city,” Mayor Jacob Frey said of the firings. “We’ve stated our values and ultimately we need to live by them.”

Bystander video that circulated on social media shows an officer who appears to be white pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck, while Floyd is pinned face-down on the street. Floyd can be heard repeatedly pleading with officer to get up.

“Please man, I can’t breathe,” Floyd says. “I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe.”

Within minutes, the video shows Floyd closing his eyes and no longer speaking. The officer appears to keep his knee on Floyd’s neck, even as onlookers begin shouting that he isn’t moving and demand that officers help him. The video shows a second officer nearby, looking in the direction of onlookers.

Police called for an ambulance but Floyd died shortly after arriving at a hospital, the Minneapolis Police Department said in a press release.

Missouri health officials call for self-quarantine of partiers at Lake of the Ozarks

May 26, 2020

Images of a jampacked pool party at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri over the Memorial Day weekend prompted St. Louis County to issue a travel advisory and the Kansas City health director to call for self-quarantine of the revelers.

The advisory by the St. Louis County Public Health Department cited news reports of large crowds at Lake of the Ozarks, where hundreds of people were recorded squeezed closely together amid the coronavirus epidemic.

"This reckless behavior endangers countless people and risks setting us back substantially from the progress we have made in slowing the spread of COVID-19," Dr. Sam Page, the county executive, said in a statement.

The health department expressed concern in its travel advisory that people from the St. Louis area were at Lake of the Ozarks over the weekend. "Any person who has travelled and engaged in this behavior should self-quarantine for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result for COVID-19," the advisory said.

It also says that employers are already being asked to screen workers for health risks and that they should also ask workers about their recent travel. The Lake of the Ozarks region is about 150 miles west of downtown St. Louis.

Man who recorded Ahmaud Arbery's shooting death on video arrested on murder charges

May 21, 2020

The Georgia man who recorded the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery was arrested Thursday for murder and attempted false imprisonment, authorities said.

William “Roddie” Bryan, 50, is the third person to be arrested in the Feb. 23 death of Ahmaud Arbery, 25.

Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested earlier this month after the video of Arbery’s fatal shooting was released.

The McMichaels have said they believed Arbery was a burglary suspect. Arbery’s family has said he was going for a run when he was shot to death in the coastal city of Brunswick.

A lawyer for Bryan, Kevin Gough, told “TODAY” earlier this month that Bryan had fully cooperated with investigators and was only a witness to the shooting.

Bryan was in his yard when he saw Arbery running, followed by a white pickup truck with the McMichaels in it, Gough said. Bryan followed them because he wanted a photo of Arbery, he said.

"There had been a number of crimes in the neighborhood, and he didn't recognize him and a vehicle that he did recognize was following him," Gough said.

Gough added that Bryan voluntarily went to the local police department and answered questions during a “lengthy” interview without a lawyer.

10,000 people evacuated after Michigan dam fails, governor declares state of emergency for county

May 19, 2020

A breached dam caused by several days of rainfall and rising water has forced the evacuation of about 10,000 people in central Michigan.

For the second time in less than 24 hours, families living along two lakes and a river were ordered Tuesday to leave home. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Midland County following the dam's failure.

"If you have not evacuated the area, do so now and get somewhere safe," she said Tuesday night. "This is unlike anything we've seen in Midland County."

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for locations along the Tittabawassee River after the breach at the Edenville Dam in Midland County, about 140 miles north of Detroit.

"It is possible that flood water moving downstream could be released through the emergency spillway of Sanford Dam leading to a rapid rise of the river downstream in addition to the flooding already underway between Sanford Dam and Midland," the weather service said on its website.

Emergency responders went door-to-door early Tuesday morning warning residents living near the Edenville Dam of the rising water. Some residents were able to return home, only to be told to leave again following the dam's breach.

The evacuations include the towns of Edenville, Sanford and parts of the city of Midland, which has 42,000 people, according to Selina Tisdale, spokeswoman for Midland County.

 

13 People Shot, With One in Critical Condition, at Louisiana Memorial Service

May 17, 2020.

Thirteen people were shot Saturday night as a crowd gathered for a memorial service for a murder victim in Bogalusa, La., according to local police. One individual was left in critical condition because of a gunshot wound.

The Bogalusa Police Department said in a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday morning that the agency started to receive reports of gunshots and victims needing medical attention just after 9 p.m. on Saturday.

When officers arrived, they “observed an extremely large crowd of people gathered in the area for what was believed to be a memorial service for Dominique James,” who was recently murdered. They also located “several victims with gunshot wounds.”

Court Orders Oklahoma Company to Stop Selling Colloidal Silver as Treatment for COVID-19

May 15, 2020

A federal court in Muskogee, Oklahoma, entered a temporary restraining order halting the sale of an unapproved colloidal silver product to treat COVID-19, the Department of Justice announced today.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma entered the temporary restraining order in response to a civil complaint and accompanying court papers filed by the Department of Justice. In its complaint, the department alleges that Xephyr LLC, doing business as N-Ergetics, and its owners Brad Brand, Derill J. Fussell, and Linda Fussell, sell and distribute a colloidal silver product claiming that it will cure, mitigate, or treat coronavirus and its resulting disease, COVID-19, as well as other diseases including pneumonia, AIDS, and cancer. Colloidal silver is a suspension of silver particles in a liquid, and it is not generally recognized as safe and effective by qualified experts for any of the uses for which defendants promote it.

“The Department of Justice takes swift action to protect consumers from unsafe products that are unlawfully sold as COVID-19 treatments,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “We will continue to work closely with the Food and Drug Administration to prevent harm to consumers from unlawful products during this pandemic.”

The department’s complaint alleges that defendants are introducing unapproved new drugs into interstate commerce and that their disease-related treatment claims are unsupported by any well-controlled clinical studies or other credible scientific substantiation. Additionally, the complaint asserts that, because defendants’ products do not have adequate directions for lay users, the products are misbranded.

On March 6, 2020, FDA, jointly with the Federal Trade Commission, issued a Warning Letter to defendants notifying them that they are violating federal law (including the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act) by, among other things, distributing unapproved new drugs and misbranded drugs in interstate commerce. After receipt of this warning, the complaint alleges, the defendants attempted to cloak their claims to prevent liability, while continuing to make the same substantive claims and to sell colloidal silver as a cure, mitigation, or treatment for coronavirus and COVID-19.

Engineer Charged in Texas with COVID-Relief Fraud

May 14, 2020

An engineer has been charged in the Eastern District of Texas with allegedly filing bank loan applications fraudulently seeking more than $10 million dollars in forgivable loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Shashank Rai, 30, of Beaumont, Texas, allegedly sought millions of dollars in forgivable loans guaranteed by the SBA from two different banks by claiming to have 250 employees earning wages when, in fact, no employees worked for his purported business.

Rai is charged by way of a federal criminal complaint with violations of wire fraud, bank fraud, false statements to a financial institution, and false statements to the SBA.

New York City Man Arrested on Fraud Charges for Selling Stolen COVID-19 Testing Services through His Website, YouHealth, Inc., without Sending Promised Test Results

May 8, 2020

PITTSBURGH - A New York resident was arrested and criminally charged for his role in allegedly advertising and selling stolen COVID-19 testing services for $135 to $200, falsely claiming that he was connected to labs that would test the kits, shipping test kits without any prior medical screening, and providing no results to consumers, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today. Additionally, the United States Secret Service, Pittsburgh Field Office Cyber Fraud Task Force, successfully shut down the websites that advertised and sold these stolen test kits. The Department of Justice, under Attorney General William Barr’s recent direction, prioritizes such detection, investigation, disruption and prosecution of illegal conduct related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Henry Sylvain Gindt II, 34, of Queens (New York), New York, has been charged by criminal complaint with committing mail fraud and wire fraud, and conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.

"Let this be a message to anyone who wants to scam our fellow citizens during this pandemic: the Department of Justice will take swift action to disrupt your scheme and then we will arrest you," said U.S. Attorney Brady. "This is why we created our Western Pennsylvania COVID-19 Fraud Task Force. Gindt tried to profit from the pandemic by selling stolen test kits and services without ever delivering the promised results. Instead, we shut him down and now he is facing prison time."

According to the Criminal Complaint, Gindt II founded YouHealth, Inc., a website offering telemedicine and personalized nutrition, wellness and DNA genetics testing. Gindt II illegally obtained stolen COVID-19 test kits from a laboratory employee. He then advertised those stolen testing kit services for $135 to $200 on his YouHealth websites and in unsolicited emails that he sent to consumers in multiple states. As part of his advertising, Gindt II falsely and fraudulently misrepresented that he was affiliated with a certified lab that would test the samples and provide results. Gindt II sold the test kits to consumers – including in Western Pennsylvania – without any prior medical screening. Instead, once the testing kit services (including the nasal swabs used for collection and packaging to send to the lab) were ordered, Gindt would have them overnighted to consumers with a request to then complete a medical questionnaire to screen for COVID-19 symptoms. Gindt II sent the test kits to consumers via FedEx Overnight using the FedEx account in the name of an entity identified in the complaint as "Lab" and an individual identified as "T. A." Gindt II directed consumers to swab themselves and send their test kits to "Lab" for testing. The consumers never received any test results.

On April 15, 2020, the United States Secret Service, Pittsburgh Field Office Cyber Fraud Task Force, successfully shut down the websites for YouHealth.shop and YouHealth.me relating to this investigation.

This case began following a tip to the Western Pennsylvania COVID-19 Task Force from a western Pennsylvania resident who had received an email from henry.gindt@youhealth.me advertising the sale of at-home COVID19 testing services.

Two Charged in Rhode Island with Stimulus Fraud

May 6, 2020

Two businessmen have been charged in the District of Rhode Island with allegedly filing bank loan applications fraudulently seeking more than a half-million dollars in forgivable loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

David A. Staveley, aka Kurt D. Sanborn, 52, of Andover, Massachusetts, and David Butziger, 51, of Warwick, Rhode Island, are charged with conspiring to seek forgivable loans guaranteed by the SBA, claiming to have dozens of employees earning wages at four different business entities when, in fact, there were no employees working for any of the businesses.

Staveley and Butziger are charged by way of a federal criminal complaint with conspiracy to make false statement to influence the SBA and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Additionally, Staveley is charged with aggravated identity theft. Butziger is charged with bank fraud.

“Every dollar stolen from the Paycheck Protection Program comes at the expense of employees and small business owners who are working hard to make it through these difficult times,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Criminal Division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to root out abuse of the important relief programs established under the CARES Act.”

“Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs and have had their lives thrown into chaos because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is unconscionable that anyone would attempt to steal from a program intended to help hard working Americans continue to be paid so they can feed their families and pay some of their bills,” said U.S. Attorney Aaron L. Weisman for the District of Rhode Island. “Attorney General Barr has directed all U.S. Attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of crimes related to coronavirus and COVID-19, and we are doing just that.”

According to court documents unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Providence, Rhode Island, the fraudulent loan requests were to pay employees of businesses that were not operating prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and had no salaried employees, or, as in one instance, to pay employees at a business the loan applicant did not own.

Video Shows Man Told to Wear Mask Wiping Nose on Store Employee's Shirt

may 5, 2020

Police in Michigan have arrested a man they said used a Dollar Tree employee's shirt to wipe his nose after being advised that he had to wear a mask in the store.

The man entered a Dollar Tree store in Holly, about 55 miles northwest of Detroit, at approximately 1:30 p.m. Saturday, police said.

The employee told the man that customers must wear a mask to enter the store to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, a rule posted on signs on the entry doors, according to police.

The man walked over to the employee and wiped his nose and face on her shirt, saying: "Here, I will use this as a mask," police said. He continued to be loud and disruptive before leaving.

The incident was captured on security camera footage that was uploaded to the Holly Police Department's Facebook page. Police had asked the public's help in locating the suspect. On Monday, police said they had made an arrest but did not disclose the suspect's name.

Also on Monday in Michigan, authorities charged a woman, her adult son and her husband in the fatal shooting Friday of a security guard who refused to let her daughter enter a Family Dollar in Flint because she was not wearing a mask.

 

3 Charged in Killing of Store Security Guard Over Virus Mask

May 5, 2020

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A woman, her adult son and husband have been charged in the fatal shooting of a security guard who refused to let her daughter enter a Family Dollar in Michigan because she wasn't wearing a face mask to protect against transmission of the coronavirus.

Calvin Munerlyn was shot Friday at the store just north of downtown Flint a short time after telling Sharmel Teague’s daughter she had to leave because she lacked a mask, according to Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton.

Teague, 45, argued with Munerlyn, 43, before leaving. Two men later came to the store.

Teague; her husband, Larry Teague, 44; and Ramonyea Bishop, 23; are charged with first-degree premeditated murder and gun charges.

Larry Teague also is charged with violating Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive order mandating that all customers and employees must wear face coverings inside grocery stores, Leyton said.

Witnesses identified Bishop as the man who shot Munerlyn in the back of the head, Leyton said.

Sharmel Teague has been arrested. Police were looking for her husband and son.

No information has been released about the daughter, who has not been charged in the shooting.

“It is important that the governor’s order be respected and adhered to, and for someone to lose their life over it is beyond comprehension,” Leyton said earlier Monday in a statement.

 

On Thursday, gun-carrying protesters and other demonstrators rallied inside the state Capitol, calling for coronavirus-related restrictions to be lifted. Some protesters with guns — which are allowed in the statehouse — went to the Senate gallery. Some senators wore bulletproof vests.

As of Monday, Michigan has reported 43,754 confirmed COVID-19 virus cases and 4,049 deaths due to complications from the disease.

 

Protesters, some armed, spill into Michigan Capitol building demanding end to stay-at-home order

April 30, 2020

Hundreds of protesters entered the Michigan State Capitol building Thursday and crowded its halls and staircases demanding that the state legislature not extend Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's coronavirus stay-at-home order.

Numerous protesters, some not wearing masks, got into the faces of state police officers stationed inside the building and shouted to be let into the chambers, which are closed to visitors due to health precautions.

State legislators were meeting to discuss extending Michigan's state of emergency, which was issued on March 10 and was slated to end on Thursday.

"Vote no!" protesters shouted inside the building.

The legislature’s decision won't affect Whitmer's stay-at-home order, which was enacted on March 24 and will remain in effect until May 15. However, it could affect her emergency powers going forward.

Michigan Senator Dayna Polehanki tweeted a photo showing several men, at least one of them armed, on the balcony inside the building, and said that several of her colleagues had donned bulletproof vests.

It is legal in Michigan to carry a firearm in public "as long as the person is carrying the firearm with lawful intent and the firearm is not concealed," according to the state police.

Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for Whitmer, said the governor respects citizens' right to protest, but that they shouldn't be putting themselves or first responders at risk of catching the virus.

"It’s disappointing to see people congregating without masks, and without practicing social distancing. This kind of activity will put more people at risk, and it could mean that more people will die," she said in a statement.

As of Thursday morning, Michigan had more than 40,000 coronavirus cases and more than 3,600 deaths, according to data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

33 Coronavirus-positive immigrant children released from Chicago shelter

April 29, 2020

The 33 minors from a shelter for immigrant children in Chicago , Illinois, who tested positive for coronavirus will be released immediately in response to a recent court ruling, the center said on Wednesday.

The ages of the children at the Heartland center range from earliest childhood to age 17 and, apart from the 33 who tested positive for the coronavirus, there are 36 other immigrant children who are in good health, and will also be released.

Mailee Garcia, director of communications for the Heartland Alliance, said this decision responds to the ruling of Judge Dolly Lee, in California, who ordered the federal government to release all immigrant children.

García indicated that Judge Lee's order applies to all the shelters and social centers in the country where the Office of Refugees and Resettlement (ORR) has sent thousands of immigrant children who were seeking political asylum with their parents.

Garcia added that the main goal now is to reunite minors with their sponsors, who may well be uncles, aunts and even grandparents in many cases "Our main objective is to safely reunite children with a sponsor, and we are working closely with ORR to address these issues quickly, "he said.

Regarding children with coronavirus, García noted that a doctor can authorize them to return with their relatives or sponsors, although none of the children shows symptoms.

"Since the children are now symptom-free of COVID-19, we can obtain medical clearance for their release once ORR approves their sponsorship," said Garcia.

Leaders of the immigrant community welcomed the news that the children will be released, after several protests demanding the minors' departure from the center.

 

Nearly 70 Coronavirus Veterans Die in Massachusetts Nursing Home

April 28, 2020

Nearly 70 residents who fell ill with coronavirus have died at a Massachusetts veterans' home, where state and federal authorities are trying to find out what went wrong during the deadliest outbreak at such a facility in the United States.

As the death toll continues to rise at the state-run Holyoke Soldiers Home, federal authorities are investigating whether residents have been denied adequate medical care and the state attorney's office is weighing the possibility of filing charges.

"It's horrible," said Edward Lapointe, whose father-in-law lives in that nursing home and had a mild case of COVID-19. "Those people never had a chance."

In all, 66 of the resident veterans diagnosed with the virus have died, authorities said Monday, and the cause of another death is unknown. An additional 83 residents and 81 staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The asylum superintendent, who was placed on administrative leave, has defended his response to the situation and accused state authorities of falsely claiming that they were unaware of the extent of the problem at the scene.

Superintendent Bennett Walsh said earlier this month that state authorities knew the asylum was in a "crisis situation" regarding staffing shortages and was alerted early and frequently of contagions at the scene.

Staffing problems that plagued the asylum for years contributed to the virus spreading like fire, said Joan Miller, a local nurse.

Due to understaffing, employees in one unit were constantly on the move to help other units carrying germs, he added. At one point, a unit was closed due to insufficient personnel, and veterans there were transferred to other parts of the building, he said.

"The veterans were on top of each other," he said. "We didn't know who was positive and who was negative, and then they grouped them together and that exacerbated the situation," said Miller, who had a mask and made remarks during a break at the facility.

30 People Intoxicated by Disinfectant After Trump Comments

April 25, 2020

Poisons from disinfectants like Clorox and Lysol increased after Donald Trump suggested that injecting these products could help fight the Coronavirus, New York City reported Saturday, April 25.

Calls to the New York Poison Control Center doubled in just 18 hours after ignorant and dangerous comments by the US president. last Thursday.

The center received 30 calls for exposure to disinfectants, 9 with Lysol, 10 with chlorine and 11 with other cleaning products. Unlike last year they reported 13 cases, 2 specifically on chlorine and none of them related to Lysol.

The President received strong criticism for his wild suggestion and prompted health officials and disinfectant brands to issue statements warning the public not to listen to Trump and for no reason should they ingest cleaning products.

Later Trump said he was being "sarcastic" with his comment, however video evidence shows that the president was being completely serious when he said the concept of injecting patients with disinfectant was "interesting."

Pennsylvania Attorney Pleads Guilty for Role in $2.7 Million Ponzi Scheme

April 23, 2020

An Allentown, Pennsylvania, attorney pleaded guilty today for his role in a $2.7 million investment fraud scheme that victimized his law clients.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Driscoll of the FBI’s Philadelphia Field Office made the announcement.

Todd H. Lahr, 60, of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Edward G. Smith of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud, two counts of securities fraud and four counts of wire fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 3, 2020 before Judge Smith.

According to Lahr’s admissions at the plea hearing, from 2012 through 2019, Lahr conspired with others to perpetrate a securities fraud scheme targeting his own law clients, which involved the fraudulent sale of the securities of two entities, THL Holdings LLC and Ferran Global Holdings Inc. Lahr used investor funds to finance his own lifestyle, paying his home mortgage, his child’s school tuition, utility bills and other personal debts. He perpetuated the scheme by using money that he received from new investors to pay money owed to other investors in the scheme. Total investor losses are estimated to be over $2.7 million, Lahr admitted at the plea hearing.

The FBI investigated this case. Trial Attorney Philip Trout of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Rinaldi of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting the case.

Judge says ICE should ‘substantially’ cut detention center populations, give detainees masks

April 22, 2020

A Miami federal magistrate judge recommended Wednesday that U.S immigration officials “substantially” reduce detainee populations at three South Florida detention centers as COVID-19 positive cases continue to climb behind bars.

In his 69-page recommendation — which still needs to be reviewed by U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke — Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement should be required to prove that it is accelerating the release process for non-criminal detainees in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Those who qualify for release would be subject to detention alternatives like parole, telephone monitoring, physical check-ins or GPS monitoring through an electronic ankle bracelet.

Goodman stopped short of recommending that roughly 1,200 detainees be released from the Krome Processing Center in Miami-Dade and Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach and the Glades County detention center in Moore Haven. A lawsuit filed by immigration advocates sought an order for ICE to release as many as 90 percent of the detainees in the three facitilies. Goodman said the court does not have the authority to issue such an order.

“The law in the Eleventh Circuit (which comprises federal courts in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama) does not permit a detained person to pursue a ‘habeas corpus’ remedy of being released from custody even if cruel and unusual punishment were to be established,” Goodman wrote. “Instead, in our circuit, the remedy is to discontinue the practice or correct the condition causing the unconstitutional punishment.”

Instead of releasing detainees en masse, Goodman said ICE should have to submit twice-weekly reports to the court detailing the number of detainees who were released from each facility.

He also said a “neutral, court-appointed expert” should inspect the three centers. The independent monitor would file a report with opinions on the number of detainees who would need to be released in order “to achieve the most amount of social distancing possible.” They would also file a report on whether ICE is following its own “pandemic response” protocols in accordance with CDC guidelines

Judge Cooke is expected to review the magistrate’s recommendations early next week and make the final decision on whether to issue a temporary restraining order. Responses and objections need to be filed with the court by Sunday.

Texas Bus Hijacking Leaves 2 Officers Wounded and Gunman Dead

April 20, 2020

A gunman hijacked a public bus in Texas on Sunday morning, prompting an hourlong police chase through several cities and a shootout that wounded two officers and killed the gunman, the authorities said.

The gunman got on a Dallas Area Rapid Transit bus around 11 a.m., with one passenger already on board, in Richardson, Texas. Then the gunman opened fire, shattering several windows, and demanded that the driver keep driving, the transit agency said in a statement.

The gunman, whom the authorities later identified as Ramon Thomas Villagomez, did not give a specific destination for the bus driver or provide any explanation for his actions, said Gordon Shattles, a spokesman for the transit agency.

Mr. Villagomez, 31, was a suspect in the murder case of his girlfriend out of San Antonio and the aggravated assault with a deadly weapon of a relative out of Brazoria County, the authorities said.

The driver immediately alerted the transit police without Mr. Villagomez noticing, Mr. Shattles said.

The bus drove through several jurisdictions and cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, including Richardson, Garland, Rowlett and Rockwall, on President George Bush Turnpike — about 30 miles in total, Mr. Shattles said.

Multiple police departments responded to the pursuit, during which gunfire was exchanged.

Two officers, one from the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Department, and another from the Garland Police Department, were shot. Both had injuries that were not life-threatening, the transit agency said. The chase came to an end around noon when the bus drove over spikes on the highway in Rowlett, Texas.

17 Elders Found Dead at New Jersey Rehab Center

April 16, 2020

An anonymous call gave the alert. An elderly man had been found dead in the shed of a residence in Andover, New Jersey . Sussex County Police came immediately and eventually found a total of 17 deceased piled up in a small morgue planned for just four bodies.

"We feel helpless," family members say in a Facebook group in which they try to ask the authorities for explanations and help.

This is the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center nursing home and those 17 deaths bring to 68 the recently deceased residents in its two centers, 26 with a positive for COVID-19, in addition to infecting many nurses, among whom there is concern. There are many deceased, the total is 10% of its 700 residents, of whom no medical explanation has yet been given.

All suggest that the cause of such high mortality is coronavirus, but diagnostic tests have also failed in nursing homes.

"When we arrived we saw that they were overwhelmed by the number of people expiring," Andover Police Chief Eric C. Danielson, unaccustomed to a Dantesque situation like the current one in a small town in the northernmost region, told local media. of the state of New Jersey.

The first thing they achieved was that the bodies were transferred to a refrigerated truck, one of those mobile morgues that proliferate these days of pandemic throughout the United States, especially on the East Coast, and that the authorities provide preventive medical equipment to personnel of the residences in the area.

"Once a person at the residence hall becomes ill, it spreads quite quickly," said Congressman Josh Gottheimer. "We are seeing this across the state."

The discovery in downtown Andover comes when 5,670 people died of coronavirus in nursing homes in the US, according to data from the federal government.

The governor of the state of New Jersey, Philip D. Murphy, has affirmed that once the coronavirus pandemic ends, an investigation will be opened into what has happened in Andover, but that will be too late for the families of those affected.

 

Trump Hotel in Florida Fires 560 Employees

April 15, 2020.

The hotel and golf club in South Florida where President Donald Trump initially wanted to host the Group of Seven summit this year temporarily laid off 560 workers.

In a notification filed with the state of Florida at the end of last month, Trump National Doral Miami noted that it had been forced to suspend operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The property in the Miami metropolitan area has been closed since mid-March and it is not known when it will resume operations, Al Linares, director of human resources, wrote to state and municipal authorities.

The laid-off workers work primarily in the food and beverage area, or are golf assistants, maids, and bellboys. Neither is unionized.

Last year, the White House announced plans to hold the Group of Seven summit in Doral, but backed down after members of both parties voiced concerns that it would violate the clause in the Constitution that prohibits the president from receiving perks or payments from other governments.

Seven Crew Members of a Medical Ship Have COVID-19

April 14, 2020

A total of seven crew members of the US Navy medical ship docked in the port of Los Angeles to free the beds of the hospitals in the area have tested positive for COVID-19 , so they have been isolated, reported Tuesday. the armed institution.

"Seven crew members of the Medical Treatment Center aboard the USNS Mercy have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently isolated from the ship. All those deemed to have been in close contact with the crew members remain in quarantine outside the ship and have tested negative for COVID-19 , ”the Navy explained in a press release.

"The ship follows the protocols and takes all precautions to guarantee the health and safety of all crew members and patients on board," he clarified.

The USNS Mercy , with 1,000 beds and 800 healthcare professionals, sailed last month from the San Diego Naval Base to Los Angeles to decongest the city's healthcare system during the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the first instance, the vessel was intended to accommodate patients admitted to city hospitals for reasons other than a coronavirus infection. Until now, professionals on board the Mercy ship have treated 47 patients in total, a Navy spokeswoman, Lt. Ada Willis, told Efe on Tuesday.

In recent days, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the Mercy ship would also receive uninfected seniors residing in nursing homes, one of the largest sources of infection nationwide.

The USNS Mercy was originally expected to go to the Seattle region, one of the most affected in the nation, but Newsom asked U.S. President Donald Trump to send it to Los Angeles.

According to official data, Los Angeles County has registered almost 9,500 cases of contagion and 320 deaths, while in California, the positives amount to 22,348 and the fatalities to 687.

In the United States, over 23,000 people have died from the coronavirus and more than 592,000 have been infected, figures that place the country as the most affected by the pandemic worldwide.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 in New York exceeds that of the World Trade Center

April 7, 2020

New York State experienced the highest number of deaths in 24 hours from the coronavirus (COVID-19) with a figure of 731, thus exceeding the total number of deaths caused by the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 11 of September.

With deaths across the United States exceeding 11,000, New York still had nearly half the fatalities, 4,889, according to data provided today by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In the previous three days - Saturday through Monday - New York had reported 599, 594, and 630 deaths, respectively.

Cuomo indicated that hospitalizations may have been reduced to some extent because social distancing is working.

But, the New York governor said he is finalizing an executive order to raise the fine to $ 1,000 against people who violate the mandate to just go out and offer or purchase essential services.

Since yesterday, the USNS Comfort hospital ship - which was in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria - had instructions to begin receiving coronavirus patients, a claim made by the governors of New York and New Jersey.

The total number of positive coronavirus cases in the United States today was more than 370,000.

 

Pelosi full steam ahead on crafting 4th coronavirus relief package

April 6, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is forging ahead on her plans to develop another coronavirus-related relief package to address the ongoing public health crisis, including more direct payments to Americans and increased unemployment benefits.

Pelosi, in a letter addressed to House members, said she hopes to craft the legislation and bring it to the House floor for a vote later this month.

Both chambers of Congress are slated to return to the nation’s capital on April 20, but it’s largely dependent on the nation’s stability as the deadly novel virus continues to wreak havoc across the country.

Leaders in both the House and Senate have acknowledged Congress’ return on the 20th is not certain.

“The coronavirus is moving swiftly, and our communities cannot afford for us to wait. House Democrats will continue to work relentlessly and in a bipartisan way to lift up American families and workers to protect their health, economic security and well-being today and throughout this crisis,” Pelosi said Friday.

In the letter sent over the weekend, Pelosi said she wants to double down on the “down-payment we made in the CARES ACT” by passing more legislation aimed at providing relief to ailing communities.

Pelosi said she plans to extend and expand on legislation that will further assist small businesses, including farmers. The legislation will also strengthen unemployment benefits and will include a second round of direct payments to Americans, Pelosi said.

Pelosi acknowledged during a press call last week that she remains in touch with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who worked incredibly closely with lawmakers on Capitol Hill during the last round of negotiations on the $2 trillion stimulus package.

Pelosi said the legislation will also provide more aid to state and local governments, hospitals, community health centers, health systems and health workers, and first responders.

“Our communities cannot afford to wait, and we must move quickly. It is my hope that we will craft this legislation and bring it to the floor later this month,” Pelosi said in her letter.

What’s next for Sprint customers now that the T-Mobile merger has gone through?

April 2nd, 2020

After years of negotiations and legal battles, Sprint and T-Mobile have finally completed their merger into a single carrier. While the shift from four carriers to just three — AT&T, Verizon, and the newly expanded T-Mobile — will have huge implications in the coming months and years, there are more immediate questions for Sprint customers: what will happen next for them in the short term now that their mobile carrier is technically T-Mobile?

The answer, for now, is not much — at least in the short term. T-Mobile has previously said that it will take about three years to fully integrate Sprint into its operations and network setup. That means it’s currently business as usual. Sprint customers will still use a separate Sprint network while existing T-Mobile customers will still use T-Mobile’s.

And of course, there’s the biggest looming issue: what happens in three years? T-Mobile has only promised that prices will stay the same for at least 36 months — but it’s not binding itself to similar rates past that point, which is the same time that it expects to finish fully absorbing Sprint.

At this time, though, the merger’s effects remain mostly on a corporate level, with bigger impacts on executive positions and the stock listing than on an individual level for both Sprint and T-Mobile customers.

In other words, Sprint customers shouldn’t expect to see T-Mobile’s branding pop up in the corner of their phone, and neither network will be leveraging the expanded coverage and speeds promised by the merger just yet.

Similarly, phones, tablets, and other devices will continue to launch separately for each network as they come out — at least for the time being, although there are plans for a more unified hardware setup down the line.

Sprint’s plans will also remain unchanged for the time being, although Sprint customers should eventually get additional benefits, similar to T-Mobile’s plethora of extras that it offers its subscribers. But again, there’s no exact timetable for when these changes will occur or what they’ll look like when they do. Billing and payments for Sprint customers will still be the same as usual, although there may be updated branding on the actual bill they receive in the future.

In a similar vein, Sprint prepaid customers (including Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile), who will eventually be heading to Dish as part of the merger deal, will still remain with Sprint for now. There’s no timetable yet for when that transition will occur, either.

The new T-Mobile also plans to keep its T-Mobile and Sprint locations as they are, which makes sense given that the two customer bases will largely remain separate during this time. Whether that will change in the future is still unclear.

The biggest caveat in all this is that the status quo here is temporary. T-Mobile and Sprint will be integrating much more deeply in the coming months and years, and there’s still a lot we don’t know about what will happen in that time or when these changes will actually occur. Bigger questions, like what T-Mobile and Sprint will be doing with existing and future cell tower integration or whether Sprint will be adopting T-Mobile’s privacy policies and terms of service, also remain unanswered.

‘Postal Service Will Not Survive the Summer.’ Lawmakers Warn it Could Go Bankrupt

March 26, 2020

The U.S. Postal Service could be in jeopardy as the coronavirus spreads, lawmakers say.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and Rep. Gerry Connolly said in a statement that the Postal Service needs “urgent help” amid the coronavirus pandemic, or it could shut down as early as June.

“Based on a number of briefings and warnings this week about a critical fall-off in mail across the country, it has become clear that the Postal Service will not survive the summer without immediate help from Congress and the White House,” the statement said. “Every community in America relies on the Postal Service to deliver vital goods and services, including life-saving medications.

House Democrats introduced a stimulus package that included emergency funds to save the Postal Service from “imminent bankruptcy,” according to the news release.

The Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act would provide a $25 billion emergency appropriation, eliminate the Postal Service’s current debt and require it to prioritize medical deliveries, according to the release.

Shutting down the Postal Service would be detrimental in several areas, according to the release.

It could mean important prescription drugs are delayed or not delivered. Last year, more than one billion shipments of prescription drugs were fulfilled by the Postal Service, according to the news release.

Where people are under shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders, many rely on getting essentials delivered through the Postal Service.

Additionally, in an election year, many people rely on mail-in voting methods to cast a vote. More than 25% of votes in recent elections were distributed through the U.S. mail, according to the news release.

As of Tuesday, there were nearly 51,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins. As of last week, at least 20 postal workers had tested positive for COVID-19, the New York Times reported.

 

About 70 Million Americans Quarantined due to Coronavirus Emergency

March 20, 2020

The increase in the country in the number of deaths and infections of the COVID-19 has led this Friday to New York and Illinois to follow in the footsteps of California and focus on confinement to mitigate the coronavirus, so as far as From this weekend about 70 million people will have to stay at home in what could be the prelude to a national quarantine.

California's highways, among the busiest on the planet, woke up relatively uncrowded and offered a very distant picture of any given morning, following Governor Gavin Newsom's order given last night for Californians to stay home and only basic businesses run. , in addition to hospitals.

On the East Coast, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, ordered this day the closure of all non-essential businesses and asked the population to stay in their homes as much as possible to avoid infections, at a time when this state It is approaching 8,000 cases and the pandemic leaves 35 dead.

As in California, the new restrictions, which take effect on Sunday night and affect 19 million people, exclude supermarkets, pharmacies, transport, clinics, gas stations and banks, in addition to the public transport network, although its use has been restricted.

After California and New York, the Governor of Illinois, Jay Robert Pritzker, announced this Friday the same measure, effective from Saturday and affecting more than 12 million people.

Thus, starting this weekend, at least 70 million people will have to stay home, including residents of the three most populous metropolitan areas in the country: Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.

The measures released today are given when the country has already surpassed the 200 death toll from COVID-19, and registers at least 15,964 cases, according to official information given by the authorities of the country's states and territories.

Washington state continues to have the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities, at 74, followed by New York, at 35. The state with the most reported cases is New York at 7,102, while Washington state has 1,376 and California another 1,057 positives.

Homeless Families In Los Angeles Take Over Vacant Homes As Coronavirus Spreads

March 20, 2020

Homeless families are occupying vacant homes in the Los Angeles area as two major crises collide in California: the years-long affordable housing crisis and the immediate, mounting coronavirus pandemic. 

Starting on Saturday — as cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, ballooned statewide — homeless mother Martha Escudero, 42, and her 10- and 8-year-old daughters moved into a vacant house owned by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in the El Sereno neighborhood of Los Angeles. Ruby Gordillo, 33, and her three kids, ages 8 to 14 — who had been “precariously housed,” living five people to a one-bedroom — also moved in, along with Benito Flores, 73, who had been living in his van for years.

It’s part of an effort they’re calling “Reclaiming Our Homes” — and over the past week, other homeless people organized by the group have moved into 12 vacant houses in the area, the Los Angeles Times reported. Caltrans owns dozens more empty homes in the area, which were bought up under a previous plan to extend a freeway. (That plan was nixed before development began.)

The group is demanding that local and state governments take action immediately to provide housing to homeless families, which are particularly at risk of being exposed to coronavirus.

 

US Researchers Test the First Experimental Coronavirus Vaccine

March 17, 2020

A clinical trial to test a coronavirus vaccine will begin next week, according to a US official.

The first participant will receive the experimental vaccine on Monday in order to test for any potential side effects — but they will not be infected with the virus.

The trial is being funded by the National Institutes of Health and taking place in Seattle, the official told the Associated Press.

Experts say it could take more than a year to develop and fully test a vaccine.

Public beach in South Beach closed, spring breakers scattered under coronavirus order

March 14, 2020.

Three of the busiest blocks of South Beach will be closed to the public beginning Saturday evening under a new emergency measure to tackle the potential spread of the coronavirus.

After Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber declared that spring break in Miami Beach was “over” during a Thursday news conference, City Manager Jimmy Morales enacted stricter measures Saturday to limit the gathering of spring breakers in South Beach by reopening Ocean Drive to cars and banning the congregation of people in Lummus Park.

In an email to the mayor and the City Commission at 2:30 p.m., Morales said that his order would address an unprecedented confluence of public safety issues: public health concerns posed by the spread of the coronavirus to Miami-Dade County and the large influx of spring breakers that “don’t seem to care about viruses.”

The city will close the beach from Seventh to 10th streets at 5 p.m. Saturday with the help of police and civilian ambassadors. Police will stop “any congregation of persons” in Lummus Park at the same time.

Morales’ limited emergency powers, approved by the elected commissioners, will last until March 19. The City Commission voted Friday to extend the powers to 7 days from the usual 72 hours.

The closure of the beaches is the second emergency measure Morales has put into effect since declaring a state of emergency Thursday. On Friday, restaurants and clubs in the city began restricting their occupancy to under 250 guests under directives from Morales. Some of the city’s most popular joints, including Joe’s Stone Crab and The Clevelander South Beach Hotel & Bar, are affected by the order.

Trump bans flights from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days

March 11, 2020

Washington - President Donald Trump announced tonight a 30-day travel ban from Europe to the United States, beginning Friday, seeking to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic into US territory.

The ban will include cargo transportation and excludes the United Kingdom , Trump said, in a message to the American nation from the Oval Office.

In the case of US citizens, Trump argued that they can travel to the United States, as long as they comply with an adequate inspection.

JetBlue Suspends Change and Cancel Fees for New Reservations to Give Customers Booking Confidence as Coronavirus Concerns Evolve

February 27, 2020

NEW YORK--- JetBlue (NASDAQ: JBLU) today announced it will suspend change and cancel fees for new flight bookings starting tomorrow, February 27, through March 11, 2020, for travel completed by June 1, 2020*. The policy is designed to give customers confidence that they will not be charged any JetBlue fees for changes or cancellations later given evolving coronavirus concerns. The move will apply to all fares offered by JetBlue, including Blue Basic, which generally does not allow for any changes or cancellations. Flights booked through JetBlue Vacations will also be allowed changes or cancellations with no fees.

“While authorities have not issued any travel restrictions to the locations we fly, we want to give our customers some peace of mind that we are ready to support them should the situation change,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, JetBlue. “Given our mission is to inspire humanity, we felt this suspension was an important way to live up to our crewmember and customer expectations during this uncertain time. We are committed to the health and safety of both our crewmembers and customers, and we are working directly with health and security officials as well as industry leaders for updates and best practices.”

Customers who book in the next two weeks will receive a full travel credit should they need to cancel their trip, and customers who wish to change their plans can apply the full amount from their original booking to a different itinerary, although fare differences may apply. Customers who have bought a package through JetBlue Vacations can contact JetBlue to understand the cancel and change policies for rental cars, hotels, and other travel products that are part of their package.

Trump sues the New York Times for defamation for an article on Russian interference

.February 26, 2020

New York - The campaign of the President of the United States, Donald Trump , sued The New York Times for defamation and accused the newspaper of intentionally publishing a "false" story related to investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections .

Trump filed the lawsuit in the Manhattan Supreme Court and seeks millions of dollars for damages because, in his view, the New York newspaper published "falsely" that there was a "conspiracy with Russia" as a true fact.

The events date back to March 27 last year and the US president's campaign refers to an article by journalist Max Frankel entitled "The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo" ("The real 'quid pro quo' between Trump and Russia ").

In a statement, Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis explained that they have decided to sue because the New York Times said the campaign had a "general agreement with the oligarchy of (Russian President) Vladimir Putin to help the campaign against Hillary Clinton in exchange for a pro-Russia foreign policy and relief in economic sanctions. "

Frankel's article referred to the investigation of former special advisor Robert Mueller , who tried to document the evidence of a "hacking" campaign by Russia aggravated with social media propaganda that allegedly sought to boost Trump's candidacy in 2016 and harm his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Although the report documented numerous contacts between people associated with the Trump campaign with people linked to Russia, Mueller did not find sufficient evidence to prove a criminal conspiracy between the Trump team and Russia.

Former DEA Agent and His Wife Indicted for Alleged Roles in Scheme to Divert Drug Proceeds from Undercover Money Laundering Investigations

February 23, 2020.

A 19-count indictment in Tampa, Florida, was unsealed today against a former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agent and his wife for their alleged roles to divert drug proceeds from undercover money laundering investigations into bank accounts they, along with family members and criminal associates, controlled.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak of the Northern District of Georgia, Special Agent in Charge James F. Boyersmith of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General Miami Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Michael F. McPherson of the FBI’s Tampa Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Mary E. Hammond of IRS-Criminal Investigation (CI) made the announcement.

The FBI arrested Jose I. Irizarry, 46, and Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry (Gomez), 36, this morning at their residence near San Juan, Puerto Rico. Irizarry and Gomez made their first appearance in U.S. District Court in San Juan today and were released on bond. Their next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 26.

The indictment alleges that while working as an agent for the DEA in Miami and Cartagena, Colombia, Irizarry engaged in an illegal scheme to divert drug proceeds from undercover money laundering investigations into bank accounts controlled by himself and Gomez, their family members, and their criminal associates. To carry out the plot, Irizarry and his criminal associates are alleged to have opened a bank account with a stolen identity and then utilized the account to secretly send and receive drug proceeds from active DEA investigations.

he indictment further alleges that Irizarry and Gomez used drug proceeds to purchase jewelry, a home and multiple luxury vehicles for themselves and their family. As alleged, Irizarry was in personal bankruptcy proceedings for nearly the duration of this criminal conduct and failed to disclose any of his illicit income to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Irizarry is charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, honest services wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit identity theft and aggravated identity theft. Gomez is charged with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

WikiLeaks founder says Trump offered to forgive him in exchange for a favor

February 19, 2020

London - A lawyer from Julian Assange said Wednesday that the founder of WikiLeaks plans to assure during his extradition hearing in England that the government of President Donald Trump offered his pardon if he agreed to say that Russia was not involved in filtering emails from the National Committee Democrat during the U.S. election campaign in 2016.

Assange is trying to avoid being extradited to the United States on charges of espionage. Your full court hearing will begin next week.

At a preliminary hearing, lawyer Edward Fitzgerald said that, in August 2017, the then Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher visited Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Fitzgerald said a statement by an Assange lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, says that "Mr. Rohrabacher went to see Mr. Assange to tell him that, on the president's instructions, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr. Assange. .. claimed that Russia had nothing to do with the leaks "of the National Democratic Committee.

In response to the lawyer's claims, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said: "This is absolutely and completely false."

President Trump "barely knows Dana Rohrabacher, other than being a former congressman. He has never talked to him about this or almost another issue," Grisham said. "It is a complete invention and a total lie. This is probably another endless deception and another total lie" of the National Democratic Committee, he added.

Assange appeared Wednesday at the Westminster Magistrates Court in London via a direct video link from Belmarsh Prison, where he is being held while his extradition case is elucidated.

Developing Story:

 

A rocket attack has hit  into an Iraqi base in the remote province of Kirkuk where US troops are stationed, security sources said.

There are no reports on caualties.

Judge approves merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

February 11, 2020

A federal judge today approved the merger of the Sprint and T-Mobile companies, in a transaction estimated at $ 26,000 million.

In this way, Judge Víctor Marrero rejected the claims of several states that the agreement would mean less competition and higher telephone bills for consumers.

Although the agreement still needs some additional approvals, T-Mobile expects to close it on April 1.

Once that happens, the number of major US wireless companies would be reduced from four to three.

T-Mobile said the agreement would benefit consumers. Marrero said he was not convinced that the agreement would lead to higher or lower quality prices for the industry, as the states insist.

The US Announces Indictment of Four Members of China’s Military for Hacking into Equifax

February 10, 2020

The U.S. Justice Department announced Monday that it has indicted four members of China’s military for the cyberattack against credit ratings agency Equifax in 2017.

The incident led to the loss of personal information belonging to 145 million people, mostly in the U.S. but also in Canada and Europe. A Georgia grand jury returned charges that Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke and Liu Lei committed espionage, wire fraud and other computer crimes on behalf of China’s military, according to Justice Department officials Monday.

“This data has economic value and these thefts can feed China’s ... creation of intelligence targeting packages,” said Attorney General William Barr at a Monday news conference. He included Equifax alongside other cyberattacks that the Justice Department has attributed to the Chinese government, including the hack of more than 78 million records belonging to health insurer Anthem in 2014.

As described in the indictment, the hackers broke into Equifax’s network through a vulnerability in the company’s dispute resolution website. Once in the network, the hackers spent weeks conducting reconnaissance, uploading malicious software, and stealing login credentials, all to set the stage to steal vast amounts of data from Equifax’s systems. While doing this, the hackers also stole Equifax’s trade secrets, embodied by the compiled data and complex database designs used to store the personal information. Those trade secrets were the product of decades of investment and hard work by the company.

 

 

 

 

 

Gunman ambushes NYC police twice in 12 hours, spawns outrage

A gunman was arrested after he ambushed police officers in the Bronx twice in 12 hours, authorities said, wounding two in attacks that brought outrage from officials who blamed the violence on an atmosphere of anti-police rhetoric.

Robert Williams, 45, of the Bronx, was captured after he walked into a police station in the Bronx and started shooting shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday, police said. His shots struck a lieutenant in the arm and narrowly missed other police personnel before he ran out of bullets, lay down and tossed his pistol, officials said.

That attack came just hours after Williams approached a patrol van in the same part of the Bronx and fired at two officers inside, wounding one before escaping on foot, police said.

All of those shot are expected to recover, authorities said.

"It is only by the grace of God and the heroic actions of those inside the building that took him into custody that we are not talking about police officers murdered inside a New York City police precinct,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a news conference.

Williams is being charged with attempted murder, criminal weapon possession and resisting arrest, police said in an email late Sunday identifying him as the suspect. He was hospitalized Sunday evening, the Bronx prosecutor's office said. It wasn't clear whether he had an attorney to speak for him.

Trump said in his State of the Union message that the United States "is stronger than ever"

The president addressed Congress in the middle of a political trial that could culminate tomorrow

February 4, 2020

Washington - Addressing the nation in extraordinary times, President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the United States "is stronger than ever" while delivering his State of the Union speech on the eve of his probable acquittal of political trial and after a chaotic caucus of the Democratic Party in the race to replace it.

Trump, who is the first president seeking his re-election after being subjected to a political trial, received a warm partisan reception in the House of Representatives, where some Republicans chanted "Four more years," while the Democrats were silent.

"The enemies of the United States are fleeing, the assets of the United States are on the rise and the future of the United States is shining," Trump said. "In just three short years, we have destroyed the mentality of an American decline and rejected a decline in the fate of the United States. We are moving at a pace that was unimaginable recently, and we will never return!"

Establishing a criterion for success and then stating that he overcame it, Trump has gone from an inaugural speech in which he criticized the "American massacre" to exalt the "great American return", claiming credit for the country's economic success as the main reason for a second term.

Republican members of Congress applauded almost every sentence of Trump's speech, often standing up to praise him.

The only uncertainty was whether he was going to mention the charges of the political trial against him.

In the speech delivered nationwide, Trump spoke in the House of Representatives. On the opposite side of the Capitol, the Senate is scheduled to absolve him on Wednesday.

During the first part of his speech, Trump highlighted the strength of the economy, including the low unemployment rate and questions about how he has helped working-class and middle-class workers, even though the period of growth began under his predecessor, Barack Obama.

 

 

Watch: Full State of the Union Address

Trump said in his Union state message that the United States "is stronger than ever"

Fugitive Wanted by Iraq for Murder of Iraqi Police Officers Arrested in Arizona

February 4, 2020

A Phoenix-area resident, who is alleged to have been the leader of a group of Al-Qaeda terrorists in Al-Fallujah, Iraq, appeared today before a federal magistrate judge in Phoenix, Arizona in connection with proceedings to extradite him to the Republic of Iraq. He is wanted to stand trial in Iraq for two charges of premeditated murder committed in 2006 in Al-Fallujah.

The arrest was announced by Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey for the District of Arizona.

An Iraqi judge issued a warrant for the arrest of Ali Yousif Ahmed Al-Nouri, 42, on murder charges. The Government of Iraq subsequently requested Ahmed’s extradition from the United States. In accordance with its treaty obligations to Iraq, the United States filed a complaint in Phoenix seeking a warrant for Ahmed’s arrest based on the extradition request. U.S. Magistrate Judge John Z. Boyle issued the warrant on January 29, 2020, and Ahmed was arrested the following day.

According to the information provided by the Government of Iraq in support of its extradition request, Ahmed served as the leader of a group of Al-Qaeda terrorists in Al-Fallujah, Iraq, which planned operations targeting Iraqi police. Ahmed and other members of the Al-Qaeda group allegedly shot and killed a first lieutenant in the Fallujah Police Directorate and a police officer in the Fallujah Police Directorate, on or about June 1, 2006, and October 3, 2006, respectively.

Two people die during a shooting in a dormitory at Texas A&M University-Commerce

February 3, 2020

Two people died and a third was injured in a shooting Monday in a dormitory at a Texas university, police said.

Students and employees were told to take shelter on site as a precaution after the shooting at Texas A&M University-Commerce. The university said there were three shooting victims at the Pride Rock residence, and two people were confirmed dead.

The third victim was taken to a hospital. Classes were canceled for the day. The university is about 65 miles northeast of Dallas.

Larry Cooper III, a freshman who lives in the Pride Rock residence, told the Dallas Morning News that he left his room on Monday just before the on-site shelter was announced. He said he was waiting in a friend's room on the first floor of the residence.

"There are police blocking the doors, but other than that, we are all sitting and waiting," Cooper said.

Last October, two people died and a dozen others were injured in an off-campus shooting at a welcome party and a Halloween party in which Texas A&M-Commerce students participated.

 

DHS Issues Supplemental Instructions For Inbound Flights With Individuals Who Have Been In China

February 2, 2020

WASHINGTON – To protect the American people from exposure to the coronavirus, on Sunday, February 2, 2020, the Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf issued instructions supplementing a decision issued on January 31, 2020, and directed all flights from China and all passengers who have traveled to China within the last 14 days to be routed through one of eight U.S. airports, effective Sunday, February 2nd, 2020, for flights departing after 5:00 PM Eastern. Three additional airports will be added to the list of airports authorized to receive such flights beginning at various times on Monday, February 3, 2020. At these eleven airports, the United States Government has established enhanced screening procedures and the capacity to quarantine passengers, if needed.

Additionally, U.S. citizens who have been in Hubei province within 14 days of their return will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine to ensure they are provided proper medical care and health screening. U.S. citizens who have been in other areas of mainland China within 14 days of their return will undergo proactive entry health screening and up to 14 days of self-quarantine with health monitoring to ensure they have not contracted the virus and do not pose a public health risk. Generally, foreign nationals (other than immediate family of U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and flight crew) who have traveled in China within 14 days of their arrival, will be denied entry into the United States.

“While the overall risk to the American public remains low, funneling all flights with passengers who have recently been in China is the most important and prudent step we can take at this time to decrease the strain on public health officials screening incoming travelers. These steps will also expedite the processing of U.S. citizens returning from China, and ensure resources are focused on the health and safety of the American people,” said DHS Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf. “We realize this could provide added stress and prolong travel times for some individuals, however public health and security experts agree these measures are necessary to contain the virus and protect the American people. To minimize disruptions, CBP and air carriers are working to identify qualifying passengers before their scheduled flights. Once back in the U.S., it’s imperative that individuals honor self-quarantine directives to help protect the American public.”

“The American public can be assured that DHS and its component agencies are taking decisive action to analyze the threat, minimize risk, and slow the spread of the virus by working closely with CDC health professionals and interagency partners involved in this whole-of-government effort,” he added.

DHS and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have coordinated extensively with air carriers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to designate the eleven U.S. airports at which CDC will seek to identify potentially ill persons.

Effective Sunday, February 2nd at 5:00 PM EST, Americans flying to the United States from China will be re-routed to the following airports at no cost to the traveler

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York

Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois

San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington

Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii

Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia

Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia

Effective at 6:30 AM EST on Monday, February 3rd, this list of airports is expanded to include:

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey

Effective at 7:30 AM EST on Monday, February 3rd, this list of airports is expanded to include: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan

 

Gunfire erupts at Mar-a-Lago checkpoint after SUV breaches gate. Two in custody

January 31, 2020

Gunfire erupted near the main entrance of Mar-a-Lago after a black SUV breached two of its security checkpoints midday Friday.

The SUV was being chased by the Florida Highway Patrol as it approached President Donald Trump’s private club and home in Palm Beach around 11:40 a.m., the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.

After it breached the checkpoints heading towards the club, law enforcement opened fire. The SUV fled and was pursued by FHP and PBSO helicopters before being stopped.

Two people were taken into custody, the sheriff’s office said.

“Officials (still trying to determine) discharged their firearms at the vehicle,” the department said in a statement.

It was unclear if anyone was injured or why the vehicle ran the checkpoint. Trump was not there, but was expected to arrive at Mar-a-Lago later Friday. Security at the club is tightened when the president is in town.

There was a heavy police response outside the resort.

British Man Dies in US immigration Detention in Florida

January 27, 2020

A British man has died while being held in US immigration detention in Florida.

The death was first reported by BuzzFeed News, which said the man was 39 years old and that the cause was initially attributed to asphyxiation due to hanging. The incident was reported to have occurred on Saturday last week.

The incident marks the fifth death at a detention center in the 2020 fiscal year, which begins in October 2019. There were eight deaths in Ice detention in the 2019 fiscal year.

The immigration detention population in the United States has soared under the Trump administration. Last year Ice detained 510,854 people, compared with 396,448 in 2018. The administration has also increased its use of detention facilities, mostly run by private security companies, with a new concentration of detention centers opening in the deep south.

Medical provision and mental health care at detention facilities have come under increased criticism under the Trump administration after a spate of high profile deaths since 2017.

At the end of last year, House Democrats on the oversight and reform committee launched an inquiry to investigate a “troubling pattern of abuse and poor treatment” of migrants in custody.

 

Former Commander of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Convicted of Obstructing Justice in Connection with Civilian Death

January 19, 2020

A former Commander of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) was convicted by a federal jury of obstructing justice and making false statements, among other charges, in connection with the death of a civilian at the naval base.

John Nettleton, 54, of Jacksonville, Florida, was convicted of obstructing justice, concealing information, falsifying records and making false statements, all related to his actions during the Navy’s investigation of the death of Christopher M. Tur, the Loss Prevention Safety Manager at GTMO’s Naval Exchange. A sentencing date has not been scheduled

“Captain Nettleton dishonored his oath and impeded the investigation into a civilian's tragic death, preventing much needed closure for the family and friends of the deceased," said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department's Criminal Division.

“Today's verdict demonstrates the department's steadfast commitment to holding accountable those who abuse their positions of public trust and obstruct justice.”

“By deliberately misleading NCIS during the investigation into the tragic death of Mr. Tur, Captain Nettleton delayed justice and wasted valuable Department of the Navy resources,” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew Lascell of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s (NCIS) Southeast Field Office. “NCIS is dedicated to holding those who unlawfully impede investigations accountable for their actions.”

Tur, 42, was found drowned in the waters of Guantanamo Bay on Jan. 11, 2015. An autopsy revealed that Tur had suffered injuries prior to his drowning. At the time of Tur’s death, Nettleton was the Commanding Officer of GTMO. Nettleton was indicted in January 2019.

According to the evidence at trial, Tur confronted Nettleton at a party at the GTMO Officers’ Club on Jan. 9, 2015, with allegations that Nettleton and Tur’s spouse had engaged in an extramarital affair. Later that same evening, Tur went to Nettleton’s residence and a physical altercation ensued that left Tur injured. Tur was reported missing on Jan. 10, 2015, by other residents of GTMO. Nettleton also did not report that Tur had accused him of the extramarital affair, that Nettleton and Tur had engaged in a physical altercation at Nettleton’s residence, or that Tur had been injured. Nettleton persisted in concealment and false statements as the search for Tur continued and then during the investigation into the circumstances of his death.

 

Two Killed in Shooting at a Church in Texas

December 29, 2019

Developng Story

.At least one victim is dead after a gunman opened fire inside a crowded Texas church on Sunday morning before he was shot to death by an armed security guard, officials told said.

The shooting occurred about 11:20 a.m. at the West Freeway Church of Christ in the Fort Worth suburb of White Settlement and was captured on the church's live stream of the service, officials said.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tweets that they "are en route to a reported shooting at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas."

Three people were taken to hospitals, including one who remained in critical condition. Another victim died en route to the hospital, officials said.

The shooter, whose name was not immediately released, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Two people Die in Shooting in Texas While Recording Music Video

December 28, 2019

Houston - Two people were shot and several others wounded by gunfire when a group that recorded a music video was "ambushed" north of Houston, said Ed Gonzalez, chief of Harris County police.

Gonzalez said Saturday that a total of nine people were shot Friday night. Two people died at the scene and two others were hospitalized, one of them in critical condition , Gonzalez tweeted.

The police chief said authorities were notified around 9:30 at night of shooting from a moving car. Agents turned to what Gonzalez described as a residential neighborhood, where a group of men had been recording a music video in a parking lot. The shooting extended several blocks, the officer said, and at the moment it was not clear what the reason was.

"There are other vehicles that were placed there and we think they recorded some kind of music video when suddenly, they were basically ambushed, we believe that by individuals in a car and/or on foot who shot towards the parking area," Gonzalez told reporters. It is not clear how many people could have opened fire.

He described the victims as Hispanic men of just over 20 years. At the moment there was no more information available on the suspects and the police requested that witnesses or any other person who had been injured be presented.

 

Judge Excludes Dallas from Homicide of Black Man

DEcember 26,2019

DALLAS - A federal judge determined that the city of Dallas is not responsible for an off-duty agent killing a man of color in the victim's own apartment last year.

District Judge Barbara Lynn on Monday excluded the city from a civil suit that Botham Jean's 26-year-old family filed after the homicide perpetrated by police Amber Guyger.

With the ruling, the 31-year-old agent becomes the only defendant in the lawsuit, according to which she made excessive use of force and that better police training would have prevented Jean's death.

The decision makes an arrangement with a strong financial sum unlikely.

In his brief ruling, Lynn wrote that he ratified the decision of a magistrate and excluded the city because the claim did not "file a claim on which reparation could be granted."

In October, Guyger was convicted of Jean's murder and sentenced to a decade in prison.

The agent stated at trial that he confused Jean's apartment with hers that was one level below and thought he was an intruder.

Jean, an accountant from the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, ate ice cream when Guyger entered and shot him.

Jean's death attracted national attention because of the unusual circumstances and because it was one of several prominent homicides of black men by white agents.

A lawyer for Jean's family did not respond at the moment to a request to make statements on the matter

Chicago Mass Shooting: 2 in custody, up to 13 shot after Englewood memorial turns 'chaotic', police say

December 22, 2019

Two people are in custody after 13 people were shot including a 16-year-old boy Sunday morning inside and outside near a residence in Englewood on the South Side, Chicago police said.

According to police, around 12:35 a.m. officers were alerted by ShotSpotter technology of shots fired in the 5700 block of South May Street.

"I was awoken by the sound of, seemed like 4, 5, or 6 gunshots and it seemed pretty loud, so it seemed kind of close," Neighbor, Terrence Daniely said. "I didn't see any commotion when I looked out the window but then shortly after I heard the sounds of people screaming and running from a party on the street."

"It was just so many people out, so many cars on the street, and the police response was amazing, it seemed like there were 100 police officers running to the scene," Daniely said.

Chicago Police Chief of Patrol Fred Waller gave an update Sunday morning.

According to Waller, shots were initially fired inside a residence stemming from a dispute when people started to filter outside into the streets.

Once people were outside, police said a person who was inside of the residence also started shooting at people.

"This is an isolated incident that stemmed from inside that party and flowed onto the street," Waller said. "Shots were fired inside, everyone started to leave, and that's when shots were fired outside."

 

 

President Trump Impeached in Historic Vote by Sharply Divided House

December 18, 2019

.Donald Trump became the third sitting president in U.S. history to be impeached, as the House of Representatives approved on Wednesday the two articles of impeachment against him: that he abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election on his behalf, and that he obstructed Congress in its inquiry.

The House approved the first article of impeachment, on abuse of power, by a vote of 230 to 197 at 8:34 p.m. after a daylong debate. Of the 233 Democrats, 228 voted in favor, along with the House’s one Independent. Two Democrats opposed the measure. No Republicans voted in favor.

Eighteen minutes later, the second article, charging obstruction of Congress, passed by a vote of 229 to 198 with three Democrats voting no, and again no Republicans in favor.

Trump came to the stage for a rally in Battle Creek, Mich., just as the vote was being called and told the crowd, “It doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached. The country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong. And we have tremendous support in the Republican Party.”

Moments after the second article was approved, Trump called his impeachment “illegal, unconstitutional and partisan.” Democrats, he said, “are declaring their deep hatred and disdain for the American voter.”

Democrats “have branded themselves with an eternal mark of shame," he said.

Eight hours earlier, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid out the Democratic case: “The president violated the Constitution. It is a matter of fact that the president is an ongoing threat to our national security and the integrity of our elections: the basis of our democracy.”

Pelosi said that Trump “used the power of his public office to obtain an improper personal, political benefit at the expense of America's national security.”

The only other two presidents to be impeached in American history are Andrew Johnson, in 1868, and Bill Clinton, in 1998. Both survived their Senate trials and served out their terms. The House began impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon in 1973, but Nixon resigned before he was impeached.

Trump held a rally in Battle Creek, Mich., and was scheduled to speak around the same time that the House held its final vote on impeachment.

Indonesian Citizen and Three Indonesian Companies Charged with Violating U.S. Export Laws and Sanctions Against Iran

December 17, 2019

Sunarko Kuntjoro, 68, a citizen of Indonesia, and three Indonesian-based companies, PT MS Aero Support (PTMS), PT Kandiyasa Energi Utama (PTKEU), and PT Antasena Kreasi (PTAK), were charged today in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Dec. 10, 2019, with violating U.S. export laws related to U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The charges were announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia, Special Agent in Charge Nasir Khan, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement Washington Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Nick Annan, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations San Diego.

An eight-count indictment returned today charges Kuntjoro and PTMS, PTKEU, and PTAK, with conspiracy to unlawfully export U.S.-origin goods and technology to Iran and to defraud the United States. Kuntjoro and PTMS also face charges for unlawful export and attempted export to an embargoed country, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and false statements. As set forth in the indictment, the U.S.-origin goods were destined for an Iranian aviation business end user, Mahan Air, and the defendants conspired to make a financial profit for themselves and other conspirators, and to evade export regulations, prohibitions, and licensing requirements of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR), the Export Administration Regulations, and the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations (GTSR). The United States Department of Treasury designated Mahan Air as Specially Designated National and Blocked Person (SDN) under the GTSR on Oct. 12, 2011.

According to the indictment, between March 2011 and July 2018, Kuntjoro, the majority owner and President Director of PTMS, conspired with Mahan Air; Mustafa Oveici, an Iranian executive for Mahan Air; and others, including an American person and company. Mahan Air was designated an SDN for providing financial, material and technological support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force. The United States Department of Commerce has placed Mahan on its Denied Parties List and Mustafa Oveici on the Entity List. The conspiracy involved transporting goods owned by Mahan through PTMS, PTKEU and PTAK to the United States for repair and re-export to Mahan in Iran and elsewhere. The conspirators caused the U.S.-origin goods to be exported from the United States without obtaining valid licenses from the United States Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control and the United States Department of Commerce.

Kuntjoro faces statutory maximum sentences of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the charge of conspiracy to violate IEEPA and defraud the U.S. government; a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for each of the individual charges of violating IEEPA; a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine on the charge of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments; and a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the false statement charge. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.

Sources: Trump to Announce Withdrawal of 4,000 Troops from Afghanistan

December 14, 2019

US President Donald Trump is planning to withdraw about 4,000 troops from Afghanistan and will make the official announcement in the next coming days, NBC News reported on Saturday.

Quoting several current and former US officials, the report stated that a timeline for the withdrawal was not defined yet, but it would take a few months to be completed.

On Friday, US Special Envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said that his team was taking "a brief pause" from talks with the Taliban after an attack on a crucial US base earlier this week.

Khalilzad had renewed talks with Taliban negotiators earlier this month on steps that could lead to a ceasefire and a settlement of the 18-year-long war in Afghanistan. But Taliban suicide bombers targeted a key U.S. military base on Wednesday. The attack on Bagram base killed two civilians and wounded more than 70 others.

"I met Talibs today, I expressed outrage about attack on Bagram," Khalilzad wrote on Twitter, adding "we're taking a brief pause for them to consult their leadership on this essential topic.

Trump has made little secret of his desire to bring US troops home from Afghanistan, where they have been deployed since a U.S.-led campaign overthrew the Taliban in 2001.

In September, before negotiations with the Taliban collapsed, Khalilzad said that the United States would withdraw almost 5,000 troops from Afghanistan and close five bases within 135 days under a draft peace accord agreed with them.

Rep. Adam Schiff Submits Pence Aide's Classified Letter To Judiciary Committee

December 11,2019

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has submitted to the Judiciary Committee a classified letter from an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.

Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Pence on Russia, filed additional evidence after her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last month, Schiff said in a note attached to the aide’s written submission. Schiff said Pence’s office failed to declassify the document ahead of the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment markup, which began at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday.

Williams’s submission “contains additional information concerning a September 18, 2019 telephone call between Vice President Mike Pence and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine,” Schiff wrote. The contents of the letWilliams was among the witnesses to be targeted by President Donald Trump for cooperating with the House’s impeachment inquiry.

In a closed-door meeting with House lawmakers in November, Williams testified about Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky, which is at the heart of impeachment proceedings. A rough transcript of the call shows the president sought Zelensky’s help with a corruption probe of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, based on unsubstantiated allegations.

Williams told House Intelligence Committee members that the conversation on which she listened in “struck me as unusual and inappropriate.”

Trump lashed out at Williams and accused her of undermining his presidency.ter have not been made public.

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Nigerian Citizen Extradited in Connection with Prosecution of Africa-Based Cybercrime and Business Email Compromise Conspiracy

December 10, 2019

A Nigerian citizen residing in Accra, Ghana, has been extradited to stand trial for an indictment charging him with wire fraud, money laundering, computer fraud and aggravated identity theft. Assistant Attorney General Brian A Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant of the Western District of Tennessee, and Special Agent in Charge M.A. Myers of the FBI’s Memphis Field Office made the announcement.

On Aug. 23, 2017, a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee indicted Babatunde Martins, 64, and others with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit computer fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Following his extradition, Martins’ initial appearance was made today before U.S. Magistrate Judge U.S. Magistrate Judge Charmiane G. Claxton for the Western District of Tennessee.

The indictment alleges that various Africa-based coconspirators committed, or caused to be committed, a series of intrusions into the servers and email systems of a Memphis-based real estate company in June and July 2016. Using sophisticated anonymization techniques, including the use of spoofed email addresses and Virtual Private Networks, the co-conspirators identified large financial transactions, initiated fraudulent email correspondence with relevant business parties and then redirected closing funds through a network of U.S.-based money mules to final destinations in Africa. Commonly referred to as business-email compromise, or BEC, this aspect of the scheme caused hundreds of thousands in loss to companies and individuals in Memphis.

In addition to BEC, the defendant is also charged with perpetrating romance scams, fraudulent-check scams, gold-buying scams, advance-fee scams and credit card scams. The indictment alleges that the proceeds of these criminal activities, both money and goods, were shipped and/or transferred from the United States to locations in Africa through a complex network of both complicit and unwitting individuals that had been recruited through the various Internet scams. The defendant is specifically alleged to have owned and operated a company called Afriocean LTD that he used in furtherance of these crimes. The defendant, along with his coconspirators, is believed to have caused millions in loss to victims across the globe.

An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Five other individuals have pleaded guilty to being involved in the scheme. Two others, Olufalojimi Abegunde, 33, and Javier Luis Ramos-Alonso, 30, were convicted in March after a seven-day trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Abegunde received a 78-month sentence and Ramos-Alonso received a 31-month sentence for their roles in the scheme. Several individuals remain at large.


Pensacola Shooting Suspect

Watch: Update on Shooting

Pensacola Shooting Suspect was Saudi Aviation Student, US Official Says

December 6, 2019

PENSACOLA, Fla. — An aviation student from Saudi Arabia opened fire in a classroom building at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola on Friday morning, a U.S. official said, an attack that left three dead in addition to the assailant.

he assault was the second at a U.S. Navy base this week and prompted a massive law enforcement response and a lockdown at the base.

The student, who was fatally shot by a sheriff's deputy, was a second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force, said two U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose information that had not yet been made public. The officials said authorities were investigating whether the attack was terrorism-related.

Saudi state media did not immediately report on the shooting. The kingdom has relied on the U.S. to train its military. Base commander Capt. Tim Kinsella confirmed at a news conference that the shooter was an aviation trainee at the base. He would not comment on his nationality or possible links to terrorism.

Twelve people were hurt in the attack, including two sheriff's deputies who were the first to respond, one of whom killed the shooter, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said. One of the deputies was shot in the arm and the other in the knee, and both were expected to recover, he said.

All of the shooting took place in one classroom and the shooter used a handgun, authorities said. Kinsella noted that weapons are not allowed on the base.

The base remained closed until further notice and those still there would be evacuated when authorities decided it was safe to do so, Kinsella said.

Lucy Samford, 31, said her husband, a Navy reservist and civilian worker on the base, was about 500 yards from where the shooting happened. She said she got a call from him a little after 7 a.m. and “one of the first things out of his mouth was, 'I love you. Tell the kids I love them. I just want you to know there's an active shooter on base.'"

Her husband, whom she declined to identify, later told her he was OK.


Leader of a Violent Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization Charged with International Drug Importation Conspiracy and Weapons Use

December 6, 2019

$5 Million Reward for Capture

Fausto Isidro Meza-Flores, also known as “Chapo Isidro,” has been charged in a superseding indictment with a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana for importation into the United States. Meza-Flores, a Mexican national who is believed to currently reside in Mexico, is the leader of the Meza-Flores Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO), a major drug trafficking organization based in Sinaloa, Mexico.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

Fausto Isidro Meza-Flores, 37, is charged in a two-count indictment returned Nov. 26, 2019, alleging that from in or around January 2005, through November 2019, he conspired to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana from Mexico and elsewhere for importation into the United States. Further, Meza-Flores is alleged to have used and carried a machinegun and destructive device during, and in relation to, his drug trafficking crimes.

As part of continuing efforts to disrupt and dismantle the operations of the drug trafficking organizations, the FBI Washington Field Office, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Narcotics Rewards Program, has issued a reward of up to $5 million for information leading directly to the arrest and/or conviction of Meza-Flores. Individuals with information about Meza-Flores or the Meza-Flores TCO should contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov. Tips can remain confidential.

The case is being investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office. This case is also the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state, and local enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle, and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations and enterprises.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

December 3, 2019

Former U.S. President Carter Hospitalized in Georgia

- Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, released from one hospital in Georgia the day before Thanksgiving, was admitted to another over the holiday weekend for treatment of a urinary tract infection, the Carter Center said in a statement on Monday.

"He is feeling better and looks forward to returning home soon," the statement said of Carter, who at age 95 has lived longer after leaving the White House than any former president in U.S. history.

The former peanut farmer and Georgia governor was admitted to Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus, Georgia, over the weekend, the Carter Center said, adding that its next statement would be issued "when he is released for further rest and recovery."

Carter, who resides in Plains, Georgia, was sent home Wednesday from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta following the latest in a string of recent health scares.

He was admitted there on Nov. 11, accompanied by his wife, Rosalynn, 92, for a procedure to relieve pressure from bleeding on the outer lining of his brain - a subdural hematoma - caused by recent falls. Doctors pronounced the surgery a success.

In October, Carter fell twice. The first fall required he receive stitches to his face and the second resulted in a brief hospitalization for a minor pelvis fracture.


Watch: Tmobile 5G Commercial

December 2, 2019

T-Mobile Launches 600MHz 5G Across the US, But No One Can Use it Until December 6th

T-Mobile has flipped the switch on its 5G network, setting it live over areas of the US that it says covers 200 million people. While the network is supposedly live today, no one is going to be using it until later this week: the first two phones to support it go on sale this Friday.

The “nationwide” 5G deployment relies on a slower form of 5G, using T-Mobile’s 600MHz spectrum. This “low-band” 5G essentially takes airwaves like the ones used for LTE and bundles them together with some new technology to deliver faster speeds.

T-Mobile doesn’t offer specifics on what kind of speeds you’ll see on the new network, and the actual improvements will vary a lot by location. “In some places, 600 MHz 5G will be a lot faster than LTE. In others, customers won’t see as much difference,” a T-Mobile spokesperson said.

Because T-Mobile is relying on LTE-like spectrum — which travels relatively far — the carrier is able to deploy it over a wide swath of the country. It’s the first major wireless carrier to claim nationwide 5G coverage.

What T-Mobile isn’t claiming are nationwide offerings for the fastest form of 5G: millimeter wave (mmWave). mmWave relies on much faster airwaves to deliver much faster speeds, but the signal doesn’t travel very far and is easily blocked by almost anything in its path. T-Mobile has already started to deploy mmWave in a few cities, but there’s no word today on whether that’s expanded. mmWave deployments are likely to stay confined to densely populated areas, like cities and sports stadiums, because of its physical limitations.

On Friday, T-Mobile will begin selling the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren Edition for $899.99 and the Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G for $1299.99. Both are capable of connecting to its 600MHz 5G network, and all T-Mobile and Metro plans include 5G access. The phones do not support mmWave.

Eleven Hurt in New Orleans Shooting

December 1, 2019

New Orleans — New Orleans police said 10 people were shot in an early morning shooting on the edge of the city's famed French Quarter. The victims were taken to local hospitals, and two people were listed in critical condition on Sunday afternoon. One of those victims was shot in the chest and the other in the torso.

Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said a person of interest has been detained, but that person is not being named as a suspect, according to CBS New Orleans affiliate WWL-TV.

"We had officers on that very block that thought they were being fired upon," Ferguson said.

"Unfortunately, there were so many people out here we were unable to determine who was actually firing shots at the time."

November 25, 2019

District Court Orders California Firm to Stop Manufacturing and Distributing Adulterated Food

A federal court permanently enjoined a food company in San Francisco from manufacturing and distributing adulterated food, the Department of Justice announced today.

In a complaint filed Nov. 22, 2019 at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United States alleged that Golden Gate Soy Products Inc, violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) by manufacturing and distributing ready-to-eat tofu and other soy-based products, including marinated bean cake, soy milk, and tofu pudding, in a facility with chronic insanitary conditions. The complaint alleged that FDA inspections uncovered the prolonged presence of Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono) at the company’s facility, and that adequate measures were not put in place to reduce the risk of health hazards such as L. mono.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, also named company owners/operators Yong Li Chen and Ling Hong Tang as defendants. All of the defendants agreed to be bound by a consent decree of permanent injunction filed with the complaint.

“Consumers should be able to trust that the food they eat is free of dangerous pathogens, like listeria,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice, working together with the FDA, does not hesitate to take action against food manufacturers and distributors when they fail to comply with consumer safety laws.”

“After documenting a pattern of food safety violations, the FDA worked with DOJ in order to prevent potentially contaminated food from reaching consumers. Listeria is a harmful pathogen and the company failed to take the appropriate corrective actions resulting in this action,” said FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Melinda K. Plaisier. “Americans rely on the FDA to keep their food safe. When a company fails to follow the law, the FDA will take action to protect the public health.”

According to the complaint, three FDA inspections of the defendants’ facility — in September-October 2017, June 2018, and February 2019 — all uncovered violations of FDA food safety regulations. Although the defendants were advised numerous times of their violative practices and the need to take corrective action, inspectors continued to find L. mono in the facility.

The consent decree entered by the court permanently enjoins the defendants from violating the FDCA. Under the order, the defendants may not manufacture or distribute food until they comply with specific remedial measures. Among other requirements, the defendants must hire a qualified independent expert to develop an effective sanitation control program. Before manufacturing or distributing any food, defendants must first receive FDA’s written determination that their manufacturing practices comply with the law.

 

10 shot, 4 dead, as family gathered to watch football game in Fresno

November 18, 2019

Four people are dead after 10 individuals were shot in Fresno on Sunday evening after a family had gathered to watch football, police said. Three people were found dead in the home's backyard, while a fourth died at the hospital.

A suspect sneaked into the backyard of the home and opened fire on those who had gathered there, according to Fresno Police Lt. Bill Dooley.

The shooting took place just before 8 p.m. local time. The victims found in the backyard were between the ages of 25 and 30. No children were injured in the shooting, police said. The shooter was able to escape and police do not know their identity, Dooley said.

It is, however, possible the person was known to the victims. 


The House Intelligence Committee announced Tuesday that it will hear publicly next week from eight officials who have already appeared for closed-door depositions in the impeachment inquiry.

Check out the schedule below:

November 19

Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert.

Kurt Volker, the former US special envoy to Ukraine.

Tim Morrison, top Russia and Europe adviser on the National Security Council

November 20

US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.

Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia

David Hale, the under secretary of state for political affairs November 21 Fiona Hill, a former White House Russia expert 

November 15th,2019

Amid attacks from Trump, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine testifies to influence from 'foreign corrupt interests'

A former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine testified Friday in the second public impeachment hearing, amid real-time attacks by President Trump himself, that she was the victim of a dishonest smear campaign in which one of the president’s personal lawyers worked with corrupt Ukrainian officials to remove her from her position earlier this year.

“Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old, corrupt rules sought to remove me. What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them, and working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a U.S. ambassador,” said Marie Yovanovitch, who served as ambassador from 2016 until her abrupt removal in late April.

“How could our system fail like this? How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government?” Yovanovitch asked the members of the House Intelligence Committee.

The public hearings are part of an investigation led by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., into whether the full House should vote on articles of impeachment and recommend to the Senate that it hold a trial to determine whether the president is guilty of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” as outlined in Article 2, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution.

The Yovanovitch story is important, Schiff said, because she was an obstacle to efforts by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani to set up an “irregular channel” of diplomacy that could pressure the Ukrainians to announce they were investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, a rival of Trump’s for the presidency, and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

“The president’s scheme might have worked but for the man who succeeded Yovanovitch,” Schiff said, referring to Bill Taylor, who replaced Yovanovitch in June as acting ambassador to Ukraine.

Taylor testified Wednesday, in the first public hearing, that he was alarmed as he came to understand how this “irregular channel” — involving Giuliani and several others — was undermining national security by weakening U.S. support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

Taylor also called the withholding of nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine until it announced an investigation of the Bidens “crazy” and “wrong.”

As Yovanovitch spoke to the committee, the president attacked her through his Twitter account, writing, “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.”

“It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors,” Trump added. He said in a subsequent tweet that U.S. foreign policy is “very strong and powerful … much different than proceeding administrations.”

November 14, 2019

U.S. Saugus school shooting in California: What we know now

A shooting at a Southern California high school Thursday has left two students dead and four others wounded, including the gunman.

A student at the school was taken into custody and was being treated at a hospital, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said, adding that the 16-year-old male suspect was in "grave'' condition.

Police officers swarmed Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, upon reports of a shooting around 7:30 a.m. local time.

The incident was the 30th shooting attack at a school this year, according to the gun safety group Everytown.

Here’s what we know so far:

What happened?

A gunman pulled a weapon out of his backpack and opened fire at the school, which has a student population of about 2,500 in grades 9-12 and is located in the William S. Hart district.

Capt. Kent Wegener of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the suspect wounded five students at the school's quad area with a 45-caliber semi-automatic weapon before shooting himself in the head.

Saugus and all other schools in the district went on lockdown. Television images showed victims at Saugus being carried out in gurneys and students later leaving in single file.

Impeachment hearings begin with new evidence of phone call implicating Trump in Ukraine controversy

The first day of public impeachment hearings unearthed new evidence potentially implicating President Trump more directly in a scheme to center American policy toward Ukraine on political investigations, heightening the stakes of upcoming proceedings that will include a set of critical witnesses.

William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine, testified Wednesday about a previously undisclosed July 26 phone call between Trump and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, in which the president asked about “the investigations” he had sought into political rivals.

The call, overheard by one of Taylor’s aides, puts the president more squarely in the middle of the swirling Ukraine scandal that has led Democrats to allege that the White House tried to withhold military assistance and an Oval Office meeting from Ukraine until Kyiv announced investigations into former vice president Joe Biden and his son, as well as an unfounded theory that Ukrainians interfered in the 2016 presidential election to hurt Trump.

“The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about ‘the investigations,’ ” Taylor told lawmakers, adding that he understood that they were following up on the matter a day after Trump spoke with Ukraine’s new leader, Volodymyr Zelensky. “Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.” Taylor said that at the conclusion of the call, his aide asked Sondland what Trump thought of Ukraine and Sondland responded that “President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden.”

Sondland’s attorney said Wednesday that his client will address Taylor’s account when he testifies before Congress next week.

Trump said he had no recollection of the call.

The call, overheard by one of Taylor’s aides, puts the president more squarely in the middle of the swirling Ukraine scandal that has led Democrats to allege that the White House tried to withhold military assistance and an Oval Office meeting from Ukraine until Kyiv announced investigations into former vice president Joe Biden and his son, as well as an unfounded theory that Ukrainians interfered in the 2016 presidential election to hurt Trump.

November 7th, 2019

Democrat Sanders vows to halt immigration raids, deportations if elected president

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders said on Thursday he would put a moratorium on deportations from the United States and end raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on his first day in office.

Sanders said in a statement he would overturn Republican President Donald Trump's border policies if elected and create a "humane, lawful process that protects families and respects human rights."

Trump has made cracking down on illegal immigration a centerpiece of his presidency and accuses Democrats of supporting "open borders." ICE has stepped up its activities, arresting more than 2,300 people in the 2018 fiscal year, compared with just over 300 the year before.

"We will end the ICE raids that are terrorizing our communities," said Sanders, "and on my first day as president, I will use my executive power to protect our immigrant communities and reverse every single horrific action implemented by Trump."

Other Democrats running for president have also proposed immigration reforms like raising the number of refugees the Unites States takes in. Some, including Sanders, have said they would repeal the law that criminalizes crossing the border and has been used to separate migrant children from their families.

The U.S. senator from Vermont is among the top three candidates in the crowded field of Democrats competing to take on Trump in the November 2020 election, but trails former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in most opinion polls.

Sanders suffered a heart attack last month but has bounced back with endorsements from high-profile progressives and rallies of supporters enthusiastic about his agenda of taxing corporations and the wealthy to pay for measures like government-run healthcare.

Sanders, 78, whose father was a Jewish immigrant from Poland, has spoken about immigration on campaign stops, but had not published a set of detailed proposals on immigration until Thursday.

Among his plans are a raft of executive actions he would take on day one of his presidency, like a moratorium on deportations until an audit of deportation policies and practices has taken place.

The proposals also included longer-term reforms, like passing legislation giving a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally and breaking up ICE and the Customs and Border Protection agency to "begin treating immigration outside the context of national security."

November 6th, 2019

Mormon family slaying: Suspect arrested after 9 members of LeBaron family killed in Mexico

Update 4:38 a.m. EST Nov. 6: Mexican authorities have arrested a suspect in connection with the slaying of three women and six children in northern Mexico, The Associated Press reported early Wednesday.

The Agency for Criminal Investigation in Sonora announced in a Facebook post that the suspect, whose name has not been released, was apprehended in Agua Prieta with two bound, gagged hostages. The suspect also had four assault rifles, ammunition and large vehicles, the post said.

A relative of the extended family members killed in a drug cartel ambush in northern Mexico says five children who survived the shooting are in stable condition at an Arizona hospital.

Aaron Staddon of Queen Creek, Arizona, said Tuesday that the children are recovering but that one who was shot in the jaw will need extensive plastic surgery.

He said the family expects the children will transported from a Tucson hospital to a Phoenix facility Wednesday.


BETO O'ROURKE: MY SERVICE TO THE COUNTRY WILL NOT BE AS A CANDIDATE

WASHINGTON - Former Texas Congressman and presidential hopeful, Beto O'Rourke, announced on Friday that he is withdrawing from the Democratic primaries. He is the most high-profile candidate to drop out of the race.

"Though it is difficult to accept, it is clear to me now that this campaign does not have the means to move forward successfully," he wrote on a post on social media.

"My service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the nominee," O'Rourke added. "Acknowledging this now is in the best interests of those in the campaign; it is in the best interests of this party as we seek to unify around a nominee, and it is in the best interests of the country."

US President Donald Trump mocked O'Rourke's announcement. "Oh no, Beto just dropped out of the race for President despite him saying he was 'born for this.' I don't think so!" the president tweeted.

O'Rourke, a three-time representative of Texas's 16th congressional district, criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a few occasions. He was also one of 58 House members who decided to boycott Netanyahu's speech in Congress in 2015

November 1, 2019

U.S. JUDGE ORDERS STATE DEPARTMENT TO RELEASE MORE UKRAINE RECORDS

U.S. federal judge on Friday ordered the State Department to make public certain "readouts or summaries" of the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart at the center of a congressional impeachment investigation.

The order by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper in Washington gave the State Department until Nov. 22 to hand the documents over to American Oversight, a watchdog group that sued for access to them based on a public records law.

Last month, Cooper ordered the State Department to confer with American Oversight and negotiate the release of other categories of Ukraine-related documents, including senior officials' correspondence with Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

American Oversight's lawsuit has assisted congressional investigators, who have also sought documents and testimony from the State Department but been rebuffed.

In an Oct. 30 court filing, the State Department objected to producing readouts and summaries of the July 25 phone call that are currently in the possession of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a close aide, saying "such records have a high likelihood of being classified and/or privileged."

OCTOBER 30, 2019

U.S. HOUSE RECOGNIZES ARMENIAN GENOCIDE, BACKS TURKEY SANCTIONS

The Democratic-controlled House voted 405-11 in favor of the resolution, which asserts that it is U.S. policy to commemorate as genocide the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire.

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to recognize the mass killings of Armenians a century ago as a genocide, a symbolic but historic vote instantly denounced by Turkey.

The Democratic-controlled House voted 405-11 in favor of a resolution asserting that it is U.S. policy to commemorate as genocide the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923. The Ottoman Empire was centered in present-day Turkey.

The vote marked the first time in 35 years that such legislation was considered in the full House, underscoring widespread frustration in Congress with the Turkish government, from both Democrats and President Donald Trump's fellow Republicans.

Shortly after the Armenian genocide vote, House lawmakers from both parties also overwhelmingly backed legislation calling on Trump to impose sanctions on Turkey over its offensive in northern Syria, another action likely to inflame relations with NATO ally Turkey.

The fate of both measures in the Senate is unclear, with no vote scheduled on similar legislation.

Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War One, but contests the figures and denies that the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute a genocide.

Ankara views foreign involvement in the issue as a threat to its sovereignty.

For decades, measures recognizing the Armenian genocide have stalled in Congress, stymied by concerns that it could complicate relations with Turkey and intense lobbying by the Ankara government.

U.S. lawmakers have been fuming about Turkey, however, in recent months, because of its purchase of a Russian missile defense system in defiance of U.S. sanctions and, more recently, its incursion into northern Syria to fight Kurdish forces after Trump abruptly announced he was withdrawing U.S. troops from the area.

Turkey quickly condemned both resolutions, saying the genocide resolution "is devoid of any historical or legal basis," and adding: "As a meaningless political step, its sole addressees are the Armenian lobby and anti-Turkey groups."

Its Foreign Ministry said the sanctions measure, which targets senior officials and the Turkish armed forces, was "incompatible with the spirit of our NATO alliance," and contradicted a ceasefire agreement for northern Syria reached with the Trump administration on Oct. 17.

"We urge the U.S. Congress, not to exploit bilateral issues for domestic political consumption and to act in line with the spirit of our Alliance and partnership," the ministry said in a statement, urging the Trump administration to take action to prevent a further deterioriation in relations.


OCTOBER 28, 2019

Evacuations underway in Los Angeles as Getty Fire explodes to 500 acres

The Getty Fire in Los Angeles erupted early Monday and is forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes as winds reach extremely dangerous levels in Southern California.

Burning in the hills north of Los Angeles' famous Getty Center, the Getty Fire, which started just before 2 a.m. local time, has consumed 500 acres.

The Getty Center and Getty Villa are safe, but many houses were ablaze. Mandatory evacuations are in effect in Los Angeles from the 405 freeway to the ocean -- which spans some of the most expensive real estate in the city. Southbound lanes of the 405 freeway, the busiest highway in the country, are now closed.

In Los Angeles' upscale Brentwood neighborhood, fire crews put out fires on multiple homes early Monday as the sky glowed orange from the flames and dense smoke.

JOHN CONYERS, LONGEST SERVING BLACK CONGRESSMAN, DIES AT 90

OCTOBER 27, 2019

Former Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving African-American congressman in American history, died Sunday.

The Detroit Democrat, who served from 1965 until a sexual harassment scandal led to his resignation, was 90. 

“Former Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan has died at 90,” the journalist Yamiche Alcindor tweeted Sunday afternoon. “I just spoke with his son, John Conyers III who told me his father passed away in his sleep. Rep. Conyers represented the Detroit area for more than five decades before resigning in 2017.” Story Continued Below The Associated Press, citing the Detroit Police Department, reported that Conyers died at his home of what “looks like natural causes.”

Conyers represented Detroit through some of the most difficult years in its history, a time in which the woes of the American auto industry caused the city to go into a steep economic decline. But along with John Dingell Jr., who died earlier this year at the age of 92 having served 59+ years in Congress, he gave Michigan seniority — and two powerful voices on Capitol Hill. Conyers served during his career as chairman of the House Oversight Committee and later the House Judiciary Committee. He was also one of the co-founders of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969.

California Declares State of Emergency

Sunday, October 27, 2019

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — California’s governor declared a statewide emergency Sunday as wind-fueled fires spread across Sonoma County and prompted mass evacuations. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) pledged to deploy “every resource available” as authorities fought blazes on both ends of the state and weather conditions threatened to exacerbate fire threats.

In Sonoma, one of the largest evacuations in the county’s history was underway as ferocious winds and dry air fueled a wildfire that has raged in the region for days. The county sheriff’s office estimated that 180,000 people had been ordered to flee the Kincade Fire, which has spread to 30,000 acres and was only 10 percent contained. Officials rapidly expanded the number of areas under mandatory evacuation orders in the early hours of the morning as gusts as high as 93 mph swept through the hills and valleys north of the San Francisco Bay area.

he fires outside of Healdsburg, Calif., appeared to rapidly intensify overnight, according to the National Weather Service, turning State Route 128 into a hellish gauntlet and consuming the local Soda Rock Winery, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The town of Geyserville, near where the fire started, also suffered damage, Cal Fire spokesman Scott Ross said. Sam Brock ✔ @SamBrockNBC Fire encroaching the highway on 128, both sides, in Sonoma Co. in Healdsburg. Major wind gusts kicking up and and trees and power lines down everywhere. 

Twitter Ads info and privacy 795 people are talking about this In a flurry of predawn alerts, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office told residents in the northern portion of Santa Rosa, as well as areas southwest and northeast of the city, to evacuate immediately. About 200 patients were evacuated from two medical centers in the area, Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, and relocated to safer facilities, according to hospital and local fire officials. Patricia Blanchard said she lost power Saturday night around 8 p.m. Saturday in her small town of Monte Rio.

The outage was soon followed by a visit from a Sonoma County deputy who ordered her to leave immediately. She left her ID and credit cards behind in the rush. AD In Windsor, Calif., just a few miles from the fire, a police car sped north Sunday morning as an officer on a megaphone urged residents to “Go! Go! Go!” Firefighters remained in a “defensive position against Mother Nature" by Sunday morning, said Cal Fire spokesman Jonathan Cox. But evacuations proceeded smoothly, officials said, with few road incidents on the packed highway that served as evacuees’ main thoroughfare to safety. The overnight winds had pushed the Kincade Fire south into some nearby communities, said Cal Fire analyst Steve Volmer, and of utmost concern were new fires in the area that could spring up as a result of the weather. Volmer said authorities were concerned that the fire could travel west of the 101 highway, an area that had not burned for decades and therefore contained “extremely dense” and dry fuels for a raging fire to feast upon. Highway officials closed the 101 near Windsor and Healdsburg because of poor visibility. AD More than 3,000 people were on hand to battle the Kincade Fire, assisted by 50 helicopters and several air tankers that flew suppression missions over the blaze as the weather allowed. The fast-moving flames have consumed 79 structures since the fire’s outbreak last week. The new orders dramatically expand the number of residents who will have to flee the growing fires and could further tax emergency workers trying to help them seek safety. Roughly 175,000 people live in Santa Rosa. In Sonoma County, heavy winds kicked up leaves and knocked down branches as smartphones buzzed with emergency evacuation alerts in English and Spanish. Roads were congested as residents packed up their cars and RVs to head out of the county. Traffic lights at several intersections lost power, further slowing evacuation efforts. A caravan of cars made their way southbound on the 101 freeway Sunday morning as residents heeded the warning. AD Carol and David Pajala had fled Santa Rosa with their golden retriever after the predawn alert came through. They had found shelter at a fairground in Petaluma, a city about 17 miles south, that authorities had established for displaced residents. “This is apocalyptic,” Carol Pajala, 67, said of the massive evacuation effort. At a shelter at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, in Santa Rosa, members of the Red Cross and volunteers served up a breakfast of bagels and other dry items. Evacuees listened to the radio, while the sounds of birds chirping and dogs barking filled the air. Pam Tryph and her partner said they evacuated their Forestville home Saturday night, with a dog and two cats in tow. They had started to prepare for a possible evacuation after they watched the fires the night before, which “looked like lava coming over the crest of the hill,” Tryph said. AD They had time to pack papers, passports, instruments, paintings and sentimental items, such as a needlepoint passed down to Tryph from her great-great-grandmother and a mask that Tryph’s daughter had made in the seventh grade. But not every resident immediately heeded the call to leave. Mike Martinez was still in Windsor on Sunday morning, even as he received endless alerts and the fire approached. “I’ve got a barn, a residence and a lot of equipment a half mile from here,” said Martinez, 69. “I’ve also got a pool and some pumps and, I’m going to try and save it.” California forecasters saw the ‘devil wind’ storm coming. It’s the worst-case scenario for wildfires. The powerful winds could continue until at least the early afternoon. An “extremely critical” fire weather area, the National Weather Service’s highest category, was in effect in several counties north of San Francisco. “This is probably one of the biggest weather incidents in California history,” said Craig Clements, fire meteorologist at San Jose State University. AD Forecasters said low humidity and abnormally dry vegetation had created tinderbox conditions, which, combined with the high winds, were “plenty supportive of extreme fire spread.” Weather Service forecasters predicted that winds would peak between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. local time before weakening some by late afternoon or evening Sunday. They also warned that the dry, gusty winds are likely to continue through Monday morning. California wildfires continue as PG&E gets reprimanded California firefighters continued to battle wildfires at opposite ends of the state, as Gov. Gavin Newsom accused power producer PG&E of mismanagement. (Reuters) Concerns about the fire expanding led Pacific Gas & Electric to conduct a massive power shutdown Saturday evening that will probably mark the largest planned outage in the state’s history. The blackouts, which will affect 38 counties in all, began in Northern California around 5 p.m. local time Saturday and cascaded south through the state throughout the evening, according to a statement from the company. Central California’s Kern County was slated to lose power at 9 p.m. Sunday. Fresno and Madera counties also are expected to lose power at some point, but PG&E hasn’t said when. In total, an estimated 940,000 customers, making up about 2.8 million people, are expected to be without power through the weekend. PG&E said its goal is to restore power to a “vast majority” of customers within 48 hours after the winds have died down. AD The region has experienced two years of incredibly destructive fires. The 2017 and 2018 California fire seasons brought the deadliest blazes in state history. As residents began to receive warnings of the Kincade Fire’s imminent danger, some experienced uneasy flashbacks to the infernos that decimated parts of Northern California wine country two years ago. “All we can do is hope and pray,” said evacuee Riki Sandtree said. “Stuff can be replaced, but your life is your life.”


BERNIE SANDERS REVEALS 100-DAY PLAN TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA

.“Too many lives were ruined due to the disastrous criminalization of marijuana," the Democratic presidential hopeful tweeted when he released his plan.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders released his plan to legalize marijuana in a tweet on Thursday at 4:20 PM. The announcement tweet, which is now pinned to the top of Sanders’ Twitter page, outlines three main points. “Too many lives were ruined due to the disastrous criminalization of marijuana. Today I am releasing my plan to: Legalize marijuana with executive action, Expunge past marijuana convictions, Invest in communities most affected by the War on Drugs,” Sanders tweeted. In the plan, Sanders pledges to legalize marijuana within the first 100 days of his presidency and called the War on Drugs “disastrous,” saying it “has disproportionately targeted people of color and ruined the lives of millions of Americans.” “Today, the government considers marijuana as dangerous as heroin. That’s idiotic. As president I will immediately issue an executive order to declassify marijuana as a controlled substance,” Sanders tweeted.

The first step in his plan is nominating an attorney general, Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary and administrator for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who will “aggressively” work to end the War on Drugs and legalize marijuana. Sanders also declares in his first step that he will issue an executive order “that directs the Attorney General to declassify marijuana as a controlled substance.” Sanders is calling on Congress to act to end the war on drugs, but also makes it clear that he “will not wait for Congress to act.” The next step involves vacating and expunging marijuana-related convictions. “In a Sanders administration we will review all marijuana convictions – both federal and state – for expungement and re-sentencing. All past convictions will be expunged,” Sanders wrote in the plan. He says that states that “develop and operate” the process of expungement will be offered federal funding, citing California’s work with Code for America. The Democratic presidential hopeful says that California is the base for his plan.