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Former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver has been indicted by a grand jury on murder charges for killing 15-year-old African-American student Jordan Edwards.  Police body cam video shows Oliver fired his assault rifle into the moving car that Edwards, his brother and two friends were in as they were driving away from a party on April 29.

Jordan Edwards was shot in the head as he sat in the front passenger seat of the vehicle.  One of the car’s passengers says the officer never even ordered the boys to stop driving before opening fire.

Originally Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber said the officer fired his gun after the car drove “aggressively” toward both officers but he later said he misspoke after reviewing the body cam footage.  Oliver was fired for violating several department policies and procedures in the shooting and charged with murder.  He posted his $300,000 bail that evening.  If convicted of murder, he faces up to life in prison.

Jordan’s parents filed a lawsuit shortly after the shooting against the city of Balch Springs, the Balch Springs Police department, and Roy Oliver, the police officer who shot and killed him.  They claim Oliver used excessive force and lacked proper training to be on duty, also alleging Oliver used a racial slur while detaining Jordan’s stepbrother, Vidal Allen, who was driving the car the night of the shooting.

Shortly after the indictment, the Edwards’ family lawyer, Lee Merritt tweeted  “A murder indictment for Roy Oliver is appropriate but the fact is it’s been +40 years since a cop was convicted in TX.” Merritt also made a statement referring to how he felt the officers and the Balch Springs Police Department handled the events following the shooting improperly. Not only did a cop fire a weapon in a car full of unarmed teenagers unnecessarily, he also suggested that the boys were mistreated instead of being offered proper medical attention – as is protocol.  “They were immediately treated as common criminals by other officers; manhandled, intimidated and arrested while their brother lay dying in the front seat,” Merritt added.

Roy Oliver, who had been with the department for six years, is an Army veteran who served in the Middle East.  He was also indicted last month on two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after allegations that he pulled a gun on a woman and her sister after a road-rage incident two weeks before Jordan’s death. No trial dates have been set.

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cardinal george pell.jpg

 

A senior cardinal and top adviser to Pope Francis will return to Australia to face charges of sexual assault. Cardinal George Pell is the third-highest-ranking official in the Roman Catholic Church.  Pell was charged in his native Australia with multiple counts of sexual assault from years ago.

The charges against Pell were announced in Melbourne by Victoria State Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton.  Pell was ordered to appear in court July 26 to face multiple counts of “historical sexual assault offenses”.  Patton said there are multiple complainants against Pell, but he gave no other details.

It is unclear what the criminal charges against Pell involve, but two men, now in their 40s, have said that Pell touched them inappropriately at a swimming pool in the late 1970s, when Pell was a senior priest in Melbourne.

In 2014, the Vatican admitted nearly 850 priests have been dismissed and more than 2,500 have been disciplined in a sprawling sexual abuse scandal dating back decades.  Cardinal Pell said Pope Francis granted him a leave of absence to return to Australia to defend himself.  The 76-year-old Pell — the highest-ranking Vatican official ever implicated in the scandal and has forcefully denied the accusations.

In a statement read to the press, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the Vatican respected Australia’s justice system but recalled that the cardinal had “openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable” acts of sexual abuse against minors.  He noted Pell’s cooperation with Australia’s Royal Commission investigation of sex abuse and that as a bishop in Australia, he worked to protect children and compensate victims.

Pell’s actions as archbishop came under scrutiny in recent years by a government-authorized investigation into how the Catholic Church and other institutions have responded to the sexual abuse of children. The Royal Commission revealed that 7 percent of priests were accused of sexually abusing children in the past several decades.

Last year, Pell testified to the commission that the church had made “enormous mistakes” in allowing thousands of children to be raped and molested by priests. He conceded that he, too, had erred by often believing the priests over victims who alleged abuse. He vowed to help end a rash of suicides that has plagued church abuse victims in his hometown of Ballarat.

It was unclear if Pell would face a church trial stemming from the accusations. The Vatican has clear guidelines about initiating a canonical investigation if there is a semblance of truth to sex abuse accusations against a cleric. In the case of a cardinal, it would fall to Francis himself to judge. Penalties for a guilty verdict in a church trial include defrocking.

U.S. intelligence contractor Reality Leigh Winner, pleaded not guilty to charges that she leaked a top-secret document to The Intercept. Winner was charged for allegedly leaking a top-secret document claiming Russian military intelligence conducted a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software company just days before last November’s election.

Winner, a National Security Agency contractor and Air Force veteran, was arrested at her Georgia home on June 3 and charged with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to the news outlet The Intercept.  According to the Department of Justice, the 25-year-old printed and improperly removed the classified information on May 9.

The Justice Department announced the case against the contractor, shortly after the national-security news outlet The Intercept published the document that they claim was submitted anonymously.  The document was a May 5 intelligence report from the National Security Agency.  The report described two cyberattacks by Russia’s military intelligence unit, the G.R.U. — one in August against a company that sells voter registration-related software and another, a few days before the election, against 122 local election officials.

The F.B.I. affidavit said reporters for the news outlet, had approached the N.S.A. with questions for their story and, in the course of that dialogue, provided a copy of the document in their possession. An analysis of the file showed it was a scan of a copy that had been creased or folded, the affidavit said, “suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space.”

The N.S.A.’s auditing system showed that six people had printed out the report, including Ms. Winner. Investigators examined the computers of those six people and found that Ms. Winner had been in email contact with the news outlet, but the other five had not.

She appeared in court on June 8 in Augusta, Georgia where prosecutors told a judge Winner had plans to reveal more classified files. A federal judge denied bail to Winner pending her trial on charges she violated the Espionage Act. Espionage Act charges carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, although conventional leak cases have typically resulted in prison terms of one to three years.

The F.B.I. said that at the time of her arrest, that she had confessed to an agent that she had printed out a May 5 intelligence file and mailed it to an online news outlet.  She may face additional charges as an investigation into whether she leaked other documents continues. That investigation was sparked after a conversation between Winner and her mother was overheard by a government official, where Winner said she was arrested for numerous documents.

South Korea’s Constitutional Court removed President Park Geun-hye from office over charges of bribery and corruption. The unanimous ruling strips Park of immunity from prosecution, meaning she could face criminal charges. Ms. Park’s powers were suspended in December after a legislative impeachment vote.

Eight justices of the Constitutional Court unanimously decided to unseat Ms. Park for committing “acts that violated the Constitution and laws” throughout her time in office, Acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-mi said in a ruling that was nationally broadcast that Ms. Park’s acts “betrayed the trust of the people and were of the kind that cannot be tolerated for the sake of protecting the Constitution.”

Ms. Park, 65, now faces prosecutors seeking to charge her with bribery, extortion and abuse of power in connection with allegations of conspiring with her childhood friend, Choi Soon-sil, to collect tens of millions of dollars in bribes from companies like Samsung.

Samsung Group scion Lee Jae-yong was arrested on bribery charges in February.  He is accused of paying $36 million in bribes to President Park Geun-hye’s confidante, Choi Soon-sil, in return for political favors. Those are alleged to include government support for a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015 that helped Mr. Lee, 48, inherit corporate control from his incapacitated father, Lee Kun-hee, the chairman.

Park’s removal capped months of turmoil, as hundreds of thousands of South Koreans took to the streets, week after week, to protest the sprawling corruption scandal and demands for her arrest.  Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn: “In order to stop internal conflicts from intensifying, we should manage the social order and keep a stable government, so that national anxiety and the international society’s concern can be settled.”

Park Geun-hye was the nation’s first female president and the daughter of the Cold War military dictator Park Chung-hee.  She had been an icon of the conservative establishment that joined Washington in pressing for a hard line against North Korea’s nuclear provocations.

After December’s impeachment vote, she continued to live in the presidential Blue House while awaiting the decision by the Constitutional Court. The house had been her childhood home since the age of 9.  She left nearly two decades later after her mother and father were assassinated in separate incidents.

Park is now South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be forced from office.  Her removal comes amid rising tension with North Korea and China.  A new election will be held in 60 days.

The upheaval comes days after North Korea test-fired several ballistic missiles and as the Trump administration began deploying a missile defense system to South Korea. Chinese officials warn the U.S. is escalating a regional arms race.  Park’s conservative party losing power could mean South Korea’s next leader will take a more conciliatory approach toward North Korea.

President Trump has imposed a controversial 90-day ban on travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.  On January 27th, Trump signed the order banning travel from the seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and suspending all refugee admission for 120 days.  Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership saw the final details shortly before the order was finalized.

The result was widespread confusion across the country on Saturday as airports struggled to adjust to the new directives.  Stories of families separated or detained for hours starting circulating news outlets.The policy team at the White House developed the executive order on refugees and visas and avoided the traditional inter-agency process that allowed the Justice Department and homeland security agencies to provide operational guidance.

DHS arrived at the legal interpretation that the executive order restrictions did not apply to people with lawful permanent residence, referred to as green card holders.  The White House overruled that guidance overnight and decided that on a case by case basis, DHS could allow green card holders to enter the US.  The Department of Homeland Security decided that green card holders would be allowed to board international flights but would be considered on a case-by-case basis after passing a secondary screening.

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates announced the Justice Department would not defend Trump’s executive order temporarily banning all refugees, as well as all citizens, from the seven Muslim-majority nations. Just hours after her announcement, President Trump fired her.  Yates had served in the Justice Department for 27 years and Trump had asked her to serve as acting attorney general until the Senate confirmed Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Yates is not the only one to publicly disagree with the executive order.  More than 200 State Department officials and diplomats have signed on to drafts of a dissent memo that condemns Trump’s executive order.  Executives at a growing number of corporations have spoken out against Trump’s immigration ban, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Tesla, Airbnb, Ford and Goldman Sachs.  World-wide protests has erupted across the globe as well.

Then, Federal Judge James Robart, who presides in Seattle, halted the enforcement of Trump’s order Friday night, effective nationwide.  Ruling in a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Washington state and Minnesota who sought to stop the order, he said the states “have met their burden of demonstrating that they face immediate and irreparable injury as a result of the signing and implementation of the Executive Order. ”  He said the order adversely affects residents in areas of education, employment, education and freedom to travel.

The Department of Homeland Security announced it has suspended all actions to implement the immigration order and will resume standard inspections of travelers as it did prior to the signing of the travel ban. They said the Justice Department — which is expected to file an emergency motion to stop the order — needed to challenge the ruling “at the earliest possible time.”

 

Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly has announced she’s leaving Fox network to host her own daytime news show on NBC. At the close of Tuesday’s “Kelly File,” Kelly said she felt a “human connection” to her viewers. “I have grown up here and been given every chance a young reporter could ever ask for,” she said, praising Rupert Murdoch’s family for its kindness toward her.

Kelly’s closing remarks came less than 12 hours after the surprise announcement that she will be giving up her prime-time role at Fox for a multi-year deal that includes several roles at NBC. She will launch a daytime program as well as a Sunday evening news magazine show, and be part of the network’s coverage of major political and breaking-news events.

Kelly told viewers she deeply admires the journalists at NBC, but also said she is “very grateful” to Fox for her 12-year career at the news channel.  Kelly’s contract at Fox was not due to expire for another six months.

Fox News fought hard during talks to keep Kelly, who became a breakout star and whose 9 p.m. show was the second-highest rated in cable news.   Trump’s attacks on Kelly during the campaign helped turn her into an international celebrity as well.   She also just published a best-selling memoir, “Settle for More.”

Fox News had offered Megyn Kelly $25 million a year to stay at the network but money did not appear to be the major factor in her decision.   Kelly stood to make an eight-figure salary wherever she went. As she talked about her decision, it became clear that a top priority was a schedule that would allow her to spend more time with her three young children rather than returning home after their bedtime.

Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, said in a statement: “We thank Megyn Kelly for her 12 years of contributions to FOX News. We hope she enjoys tremendous success in her career and wish her and her family all the best.”

Her departure, coming after that of Greta Van Susteren, also means that Fox faces the prospect of having no female host in prime time. That is a potentially troubling development for the network as its seeks to move past last summer‘s sexual harassment scandal involving its co-founder and former chairman, Roger Ailes, in which many women described experiencing harassment or intimidation.

Company executives said the Murdochs knew Ms. Kelly was a flight risk; their offer included keeping her in prime time but she had made it clear she was seeking a job that would give her more time for her family.  Kelly had spoken with top executives at ABC News, CNN and in the syndication industry, as well as NBC News.  NBC’s offer of a  daytime show would give her a schedule that would allow her to see her children off to school and to have dinner with them and her husband, Douglas Brunt, a novelist.  Those briefed on Kelly’s recent negotiations said once that offer was put on the table, it made the decision to leave Fox after 12 years easy.

The largest police union in the U.S. demanded that Amazon.com stop selling T-shirts and hoodies emblazoned with the phrases “Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” from a third-party vendor that supports the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President Chuck Canterbury wrote in a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to support the union in “increasing the bonds of trust between the men and women of law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

“Commercializing our differences and perpetuating the myths which harm the relationships between the protectors and their communities is wrong at any time of year, but it is especially egregious now,” Canterbury wrote. “I understand that these are third-party sales, but Amazon does have the ability to prohibit the sale of products which are offensive to the public and which may damage your company’s good name amongst FOP members and other active and retired law enforcement officers.”

Walmart removed the “Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter” shirt from its store after the union called it “offensive.” The shirts were being sold through Walmart’s website by Connecticut based retailer Old Glory Merchandise.  Amazon has yet to follow Walmart and remove the shirt.

The FOP, which represents 330,000 members nationwide, said it was opposed to the word “bulletproof,” which it found offensive, and not because the shirt was promoting Black Lives Matter.  Canterbury said he wasn’t surprised that Amazon wouldn’t remove the listing and called the website a “pretty liberal marketer.”  He added that the issue was still important because of the “amount of violence demonstrated at Black Lives Matter marches and the fact that eight police officers had been assassinated while protecting Black Lives Matter protests,” – referring to the police killings in Dallas and Baton Rouge over the summer.

Canterbury said that the union would continue to pressure retailers who sell the Black Lives Matter merchandise until the group makes it clear that don’t approve of anti-police violence.  Amazon has not released any statements regarding the matter other than to say that the seller of the shirt removed the item from its website.  The shirt was still on the Amazon.com website but listed as “no longer available”.

Many have shown skepticism over Amazon’s claim that the seller removed the shirt, saying Amazon bowed to the union’s pressure.  While this particular shirt is no longer available, there is still hundreds of other Black Lives Matter merchandise available for sale through the online retailer.

A Minnesota man Guled Omar, 22, described as a leader of a group of nine who plotted to travel to Syria to fight for the Islamic State group was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a federal judge who said he didn’t believe the man’s tearful apologies and words of contrition.

Two other members of what U.S. District Judge Michael Davis repeatedly called a “terrorist cell” — Mohamed Farah and Abdirahman Daud, both 22 — were sentenced earlier Wednesday to 30 years in prison each.

Guled Omar, 22, drew the longest sentence of the nine defendants who appeared before Davis this week.  “I understand the seriousness of what I’ve been convicted of, and I understand that I will not be able to go home anytime soon,” Omar told the judge as he awaited his sentence, which ended up being less than the 40 years prosecutors sought. “I always had energy for justice as a young man but I lost my way.”  Judge Davis responded to Omar’s tearful plea “Everything you have said here, I don’t believe,” Davis said.

A jury convicted Omar, Farah and Daud in June of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit murder outside the U.S. Prosecutors said the plot involved of a group of friends in the state’s large Somali community who inspired each other to join the militant group. Some of their friends made it to Syria, but the nine who were caught did not.

An emotional Daud begged his fellow young Muslims not to be blinded as he was and fall prey to jihadist ideology.  Farah, whose 20-year-old brother, Adan Farah, was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison, told Judge Davis he now disavows terrorist groups and realizes they don’t stand for peace.

Six other defendants, who pleaded guilty instead of going to trial, were sentenced to terms ranging from time served to 15 years, with long terms of supervised release for all. The two who cooperated with federal investigators got the lightest sentences.

Prosecutor Andrew Winter said Omar’s tears could not be trusted.  “Only when backed into a corner, does he attempt to offer false contrition. You can’t fix manipulative. You can’t fix deceitful. And you can’t fix Guled Omar. He has blood on his hands,” Winter said.

Minnesota has the largest concentration of Somali immigrants in the U.S. — 57,000, according to census data — and the community has been a target for recruiters. The FBI has said about a dozen people have left Minnesota to join militant groups in Syria in recent years. Before that, more than 22 men were recruited to al-Shabab in Somalia since 2007.

Davis, who has handled all of Minnesota’s terror conspiracy cases, said the resilience and vibrancy of Minnesota’s Somali-American community has made the state stronger and that the sentences he handed down were not an indictment of the community.  “I will fight anyone who says Islam is a dirty religion or one of violence. It is not,” Davis said. “I’ve been stern and harsh in my sentencing for good reason, which is to incapacitate this cell.”

Minnesota Mall Stabbings

In St. Cloud, Minnesota, a man in a security guard’s uniform stabbed and injured nine shoppers at a mall on Saturday before he was shot dead by an off-duty police officer. The attacker was later identified as Ahmed Adan, a 22-year-old born in Kenya of Somali descent who has lived in the U.S. for the last 15 years.   Adan reportedly mentioned Allah and asked at least one victim if he was Muslim, the police said. All nine victims were expected to survive.  The wounded include seven men, one woman and a teenage girl, all from the St. Cloud area.

Chief William Blair Anderson of the St. Cloud police said the attack had started around 8 p.m. and played out at different sites within Crossroads Center, including multiple businesses and common areas.  Chief Anderson told reporters at the scene, “It has hit home for us,” adding, “But I want everybody in St. Cloud to know that we will be diligent and we will get to the bottom of this.”  “It’s an awful day, honestly,”

In a phone interview the morning after the attack, Mayor Dave Kleis said the mall, Crossroads Center, was an active crime scene and would remain closed. He praised the off-duty police officer, who he said had “clearly saved lives and protected the other individuals.”

Mr. Kleis, who went to Crossroads Center after the attack, said that “there were a lot of people in that mall and clearly a lot of witnesses,” and that police interviews had stretched well into Sunday morning.  Witnesses and local journalists spoke of a busy, crowded and confusing scene after the attack, as well as a swift police mobilization.

Later that day, the off-duty officer was identified as Jason Falconer, a police officer in nearby Avon, Minn. Video footage of the shooting, which has not been released publicly, showed Officer Falconer confronting the attacker in a Macy’s store and shooting him as he charged with a knife.

Chief Anderson said officers had searched two local residences on Sunday in connection with the case. He said the police had had at least three prior interactions with the attacker, mostly for minor traffic violations.  The investigation is proceeding, and Adan’s family is cooperating. But for now, the chief says this looks like the work of a lone attacker.

Authorities say on the night of the attack, around two hours before the attack, Adan told his family he was going to buy an iPhone 7.  It’s unclear what time he put on a security guard’s uniform-similar to the one he wore while working a previous job at a nearby appliance factory.   Once inside the mall, Adan went on a chaotic stabbing rampage, injuring 10 people before the off-duty police officer shot him in the Macy’s store.

In a public statement on Monday night, Adan’s family said they were experiencing the same “deep shock as everyone else is in the state of Minnesota.”  “We are devastated by the incomprehensible tragic event of last Saturday evening,”

Richard Thornton, the special agent in charge for the F.B.I. in Minneapolis, said the agency was treating it as a potential terrorist act but was still investigating.  An ISIS website claimed responsibility, calling the assailant a “soldier of the Islamic State.”

The faculty union at Long Island University announced an agreement to end a 12-day lockout of professors at the university’s Brooklyn campus.  The agreement comes nearly two weeks after the administration took the unprecedented step of barring them from campus after their contract expired.

As part of the lockout, LIU cut off 400 professors’ email accounts and health insurance and told them they would be replaced. The lockout sparked a wave of protests by both faculty and students, who arrived for the beginning of the school year to find their classes being taught by administrators with no experience in the fields.

On Wednesday, the administration agreed to end the lockout, restore faculty members’ health insurance and permit them to return to their classrooms. Contract negotiations remain ongoing.  A statement from the Long Island Faculty Federation, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, said the lockout is over and a mediator will be used to resolve disputes over a new contract. While that process plays out, the expired contract will be in effect, until the end of May, if necessary. The agreement is similar to one proposed earlier by the union and rejected by the administration. The difference is that the contract extension is for a longer period of time and covers the academic year that just started.

The key issue in the contract negotiations is over how quickly to close a pay gap for faculty members at the two main LIU campuses. The union says the gap is unfair to those who teach in Brooklyn, and the administration says that it can’t afford to close the gap at the speed the union is proposing.

The lockout ended after a day on which students held a mass walkout to protest the lockout of 400 regular faculty members. Students have used social media to share dissatisfaction with last-minute instructor replacements and class cancellations since the lockout began earlier this month over stalled contract negotiations between the university and its faculty union. They shared similar complaints during the walkout. Video footage of the protest shows students exiting the campus via a gate to join their picketing professors on the other side. Long Island University students were joined by student supporters from nearby City University of New York campuses.

After the lockout ended, the university issued a statement from Gale Haynes, vice president, chief operating officer and university counsel, that said the longer time period of the contract extension enabled the administration to support the deal. “The union’s commitment not to strike during this academic year provides us enough runway to reach a reasonable and fair agreement, while providing our students the ability to continue their studies uninterrupted. That has always been our intention. Mediation is a positive step to that end,” Haynes said.

While contract negotiations between faculty unions and administrators are nothing new, the way this was handled is unprecedented in the history of academic labor unions in the United States.  Never before have we seen an administration dismiss all faculty members , replacing them with temporary workers and have administrators teach classes.