Tag Archive: Blue Cross Plan Offerings


 

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A federal grand jury has filed 19 new charges, including 11 counts of hate crimes resulting in death and two counts of hate crimes involving attempted murder, as well as several others. Bowers, the accused gunman in last year’s mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, now faces 63 criminal counts.  The indictment against Bowers cited his online attacks on the Jewish charity HIAS, including posts from the day of the shooting.

On October 27, 2018, eleven Jewish worshipers were shot and killed in what has been described as the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.  Bowers, 46, allegedly opened fire on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people and injuring 7 others.  He had made anti-Semitic comments on the extremist-friendly social network Gab shortly before the attack.  The Tree of Life synagogue housed three congregations and approximately 75 people were inside the building at the time.

As morning services were underway, just before entering, Bowers posted a final message to Gab, once again referencing the conspiracy theory. “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people,” he wrote. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” Bowers entered the synagogue at 9:50am and opened fire.  By 9:54am police began receiving multiple calls from people barricaded in the building reporting the attack.  Survivors say Bowers was shooting for around 20 minutes and at one point yelled “All Jews must die!”

Police arrived at 9:59 am and Bowers fired on police from the entryway, apparently on his way out of the building.  Police returned fire, causing the gunman to retreat into the building.  At 10:30 a.m., tactical teams entered the building and exchanged fire with Bowers.  Bowers was wounded during the exchange and retreated to a room on the third floor of the synagogue.  Two SWAT members were also wounded during the exchange.  At 11:08 a.m., the Bowers crawled out of the room and surrendered.  Bowers was allegedly armed with three handguns and an AR-15.

In his posts on his Gab profile, Bowers called Jewish people “the children of Satan” and in the days before the shooting, Bowers authored increasingly anti-Semitic posts.  On October 10, he posted about the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), a Jewish charity that was hosting charity events for immigrants. One of the events was at the Dor Hadash congregation, which was housed at the Tree of Life synagogue.  Bowers accused HIAS and its associated congregations of bringing “hostile invaders to dwell among us.” The claim is part of a white supremacist conspiracy theory that falsely claims Jewish people are trying to promote immigration to make countries less white. Bowers also posted anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi memes.  He was charged in federal court that month with dozens of offenses including 11 murder charges. Bowers had previously pled not guilty to the charges against him in October. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.bowers.jpg

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Two members of an Illinois militia group admitted to bombing a Bloomington mosque in 2017 in a bid to terrorize Muslims into leaving the United States.  Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris rented a truck and drove more than 500 miles to bomb a Minnesota mosque.  Both men pled guilty to five counts related to the mosque attack, as well as the attempted bombing of an Illinois abortion clinic and other crimes.  A third suspect, 47 year old, Michael Hari, whom prosecutors said directed the bombing, remains in federal custody.

Hari is a former sheriff’s deputy from Illinois who runs a security company and submitted a bid to build President Trump’s border wall.  The plea agreements portray Hari as the ringleader of a militia group called the White Rabbits, which included Hari, McWhorter, Morris and at least five other people. Hari’s trial is set for July.  The plea agreements say the men targeted the mosque to interfere with the free exercise of religion by Muslims and to let Muslims know they were not welcome in the United States.

According to the plea agreements, the men were headed toward Minnesota when Hari told McWhorter and Morris that he had a pipe bomb in the vehicle and they were going to bomb a mosque.  When the three men arrived at Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington on Aug. 5, 2017, Hari gave Morris a sledgehammer and told him to break a window.  McWhorter then lit the fuse on the pipe bomb and threw it inside.   Morris then threw the gasoline mixture inside, causing an explosion, fire and extensive damage.  No one was injured in the attack, which happened just as morning prayers were about to begin, terrifying members of the local Muslim community.

Hari allegedly picked Dar al-Farooq because it was far enough away from the White Rabbits’ central Illinois hometown that he thought they wouldn’t be suspected. He also allegedly believed it was a focal point for terror recruiting, a claim that law enforcement has not substantiated.    Morris’ attorney, Robert Richman, said Morris merely followed the lead of Hari, a man he’d known as a father figure since he was 9.  “Hari essentially weaponized Joe Morris,” Richman said.

McWhorter and Morris also pleaded guilty to their roles in a failed attack on a Champaign, Illinois, abortion clinic in November 2017. A pipe bomb that Morris said he and Hari threw into the clinic did not explode.  Court documents also state that Hari, McWhorter, Morris and others also participated in an armed home invasion in Ambia, Indiana, and the armed robberies or attempted armed robberies of two Walmart stores in Illinois.  Morris and McWhorter also admitted to attempting to extort Canadian National Railway by threatening to damage tracks if the railroad didn’t pay them money.  Morris and McWhorter could each face at least 35 years in prison.  A fourth man, Ellis Mack of Clarence, already pled guilty to two counts in Illinois and is scheduled to be sentenced in April.

 

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A Chicago judge has acquitted three police officers accused of covering up the 2014 murder of 17 year old Laquan McDonald by a fellow officer Jason Van Dyke.  Van Dyke was convicted in October of the second-degree murder of Laquan McDonald, which was captured on an infamous police dashboard camera video.  McDonald was shot 16 times, including numerous times as he lay wounded in the street.  The three police officers — David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney — contradicted what the video showed and prosecutors alleged it was part of a cover-up.  None of them fired any shots that night. Several other officers had witnessed the shooting and given questionable accounts, but a grand jury declined to indict any others.

The acquittal came despite discrepancies between the three officers’ police reports and dash cam video showing that McDonald posed no threat and walked away from officers before he was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke.  Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson rejected the prosecutors’ arguments that the officers had shooed away witnesses and then created a narrative to justify the 2014 shooting, which prompted citywide protests, the firing of the police chief and a wide-ranging federal investigation into the police force.  Prosecutors repeatedly cited the footage as they built a case against the officers on charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice.

Judge Stephenson said that even though the officers’ accounts of the shooting differed from the video, that it did not amount to proof that they were lying. “Two people with two different vantage points can witness the same event,” she said, and still describe it differently.  The judge said that key witnesses for the prosecution had offered conflicting testimony, and said there was nothing presented at trial that showed that the officers had failed to preserve evidence, as prosecutors allege.  Challenging the point that officers had shooed away a witness as part of a cover-up, the judge said it was not obvious that the police had known the witness had seen the shooting.

The witness in question, Alma Benitez, had stopped for a bite to eat at a nearby Burger King, on her way home from her night shift at a sandwich shop.  Benitez was interviewed by television news crews at the scene and featured in several news reports the next day saying McDonald was clearly not a threat to the officer. She told new crews that Van Dyke had no reason to open fire.  “It was super-exaggerated, you didn’t need that many cops to begin with. They didn’t need to shoot him. They didn’t. They basically had him face to face. There was no purpose why they had to shoot him.”

In a federal lawsuit filed in September 2016, Benitez alleges she had tried to take photos and video of the scene with her cellphone but wasn’t sure the recordings worked.  Once police “became aware” she was trying to record the incident, they demanded she surrender her phone and accompany officers to the detective headquarters, where she was detained and questioned for six hours.  Benitez claims she was allowed to leave the station around 4am, only after she demanded to see a lawyer and that she was “threatened and harassed” on multiple occasions after she was featured in news reports.  The suit accuses several officers and detectives of then writing false reports misstating what Benitez and other witnesses at the scene had told them.

Weeks before the city agreed to pay $5 million to McDonald’s estate, a letter written by lawyers representing McDonald’s family alleged that at least two other witnesses to the shooting were treated in similar fashion.  The letter alleged that all three were questioned for hours at the Area Central police headquarters and pressured into changing their accounts to match the official police version.  The letter also reported that Benitez was so appalled by what she witnessed that she actually screamed out ‘stop shooting!’ as Officer Van Dyke continued to discharge his weapon while Laquan was laid in the street.”

 

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A terrorist attack at a luxury hotel and office complex in the Westlands area of Nairobi, Kenya has left 21 civilians dead and dozens more wounded or missing.  Five attackers were also killed during the siege that began around 3pm on Tuesday, January 15th and ended just before 10am the next day.   More than 700 people were safely evacuated during the attack.  In a statement, the Somalia-based Al-Shabab group claimed the assault was retaliation for President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  The attack began at a bank inside the compound after a car bomb explosion ripped through three vehicles in the parking lot, followed by a blast from a suicide bomber in the lobby of the seven-story Dusit Hotel.  The explosion triggered vehicles parked nearby to burst into flames. After the blast the remaining terrorists opened fire on guards, forcing them to open the gates of the complex at 14 Riverside Drive.

Kenyan authorities believe there were four to six attackers armed with guns and grenades.  Security camera footage released to local media outlets showed at least four armed men inside the complex as well as footage of the suicide bomber who calmly walked into the lobby and self-detonated a suicide vest.  The coordinated attack lead to a standoff that continued through the night, with people trapped in various parts of the buildings hours later.  The Recce company, the anti-terrorism unit of the Kenya Police, were sent in to combat the militants.  A member of the British SAS and an unspecified number of United States Navy SEALs, who were in the country to conduct training, also took part in the response.  Australian embassy security detail also exchanged fire with the terrorists as they made their way into the complex.

According to Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett, sixteen Kenyans, one Briton, one American and three unidentified people of African origin are among the dead and twenty-eight others have been hospitalized.  Among the dead was U.S. businessman Jason Spindler, who in 2001 survived the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.  He was co-founder and managing director of I-DEV International, a firm advising on business strategy for emerging markets.  A British man is also among the dead and was later identified by the development organization Gatsby Africa as Luke Potter, head of its forestry and tea portfolio.

A few of the victims identified in the attack were: James Oduor, who worked at one of the offices inside the complex.  Oduor was trapped inside the complex in the hours after the initial blasts and sent out a tweet at 2:05am that read “Waaah. What’s happening at 14 Riverside fam? Any news from out there?”  Another victim, Bernadette Konjalo, worked at the Dusit Hotel, and was shot as she ran away from an armed attacker after helping hotel guests find safety.  Also killed were Kenyan development consultants Feisal Ahmed, 31, and Abdalla Dahir, 33, who worked for Adam Smith International (ASI).  Described as “inseparable buddies’ by friends, the two were killed as they were having lunch at the Secret Garden restaurant in the grounds of the hotel when the suicide bomber struck.  Mr Ahmed’s widow is reportedly seven months pregnant.

After the attack, the militant group Al-Shabab, said “In a response to the witless remarks of US President Donald Trump and his declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” the group targeted “Western and Zionist interests worldwide … in support of our Muslim families in Palestine.”  In 2013, Al-Shabaab militants targeted the luxury shopping center of Westgate, which is 2 miles away from the site of Tuesday’s attack, killing 67 people in a siege that lasted several days. The group also killed nearly 150 people, most of them students, in an attack on Garissa University College in Kenya in April 2015.

 

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In France, the “yellow vest” protesters took to the streets again over the weekend. The protests against a fuel tax erupted on November 17th 2018 when people across France donned high-visibility vests, giving them their nickname the yellow vests, and went out to disrupt traffic.  Similar actions have followed every weekend and while the number of demonstrators has dropped, cities across France continue to see rioting and disruption.  At least six people have died and at least 1,400 have been injured as a result of the unrest.

What began as anger over green tax on vehicle fuel has grown into more general discontent with the leadership of President Emmanuel Macron, who protesters accuse of favoring the urban elite.  The intensity of the protests forced the government to halt the plans for the fuel tax hike but demonstrators called for additional economic reforms, and many for the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron.  While Macron said the tax was necessary to “protect the environment” and “combat climate change”, protesters claimed the decision was yet another sign that the “privileged” president is out of touch with regular folk struggling to make ends meet.

President Emmanuel Macron delivered a national address announcing he would raise the minimum wage and cancel a tax increase on low-income retirees.  He also proposed some social reforms, including an increase in the minimum wage by 100 euros ($113) a month beginning in January that will not cost employers extra and a promise that overtime hours will not be taxed.  While Macron’s announcement appeased some demonstrators, many continue to take to the streets.

Last week, a group of protesters in Paris rammed a forklift into a government ministry building, while violent confrontations between some demonstrators and police took place in the capital.  French security forces fired tear gas and flash-balls after a march through picturesque central Paris turned violent.  Rioters started fires on the prestigious Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris.  Police boats patrolled the river while beyond the Seine, motorcycles and a car were set on fire on the Boulevard Saint Germain.  Riot police and firefighters moved in with a water canon as barricades mounted in the middle of the wide street burned.

A reported 50,000 people across the country came out as the movement is now in its second month of protests.  While the number of rioters has dwindled from the 280,000 that joined the protests in November, the disruption and destruction of property continues.  The march had been declared in advance and approved, in contrast to some illegal December demonstrations that degenerated into vandalism, looting and chaos.

After two months of civil unrest, the government has declared it will crackdown on the disruption.  Prime Minister Philippe said the government would support a “new law punishing those who do not respect the requirement to declare protests, those who take part in unauthorized demonstrations and those who arrive at demonstrations wearing face masks”.  Known troublemakers would be banned from taking part in demonstrations, in the same way known football hooligans have been banned from stadiums.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Tennessee woman who was convicted as a teenager for killing a man while she said she was a sex trafficking victim, was granted clemency.  Cyntoia Brown, now 30, was granted a full commutation to parole by Governor Bill Haslam and will be eligible for release Aug. 7 after serving 15 years in prison.  She will remain on parole for 10 years.  Brown was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery.  In 2006, she was sentenced to life for the death of Johnny Mitchell Allen, who paid Brown for sex.

Her case gained national attention and awareness about the toll of human trafficking.  At the time, Brown had run away from home and was living with her 24-year-old boyfriend, a pimp known as “Kut Throat,” who Brown said raped her and forced her into prostitution.    According to Brown, on the night of August 6, 2004, Brown, then 16-years-old, met Johnny Mitchell Allen, a 43-year-old real estate broker and US Army veteran, in the parking lot of a Sonic Drive-In in Nashville.  Brown agreed to have sex with Allen for $150.  The two then ordered dinner and Allen drove them to his home.

At some point during the evening, Brown shot Allen in the back of the head with a .40-caliber handgun.  Brown said she feared for her life and shot Allen, 43, while in bed with him because she believed he was reaching for a gun.  She then stole $172 in cash, several firearms, and a vehicle, a Ford F150.  She drove the stolen truck to InTowne Suites where she was living with her pimp.

During her trial, prosecutors argued the motive was robbery and say Allen was shot as he slept. Brown’s supporters and lawyer have argued her sentence was too extreme, given her age and circumstances.  Nashville police detective Charles Robinson testified that she told investigators she shot Allen because she feared for her life.  In a letter dated Dec. 12, 2017, Robinson urged Haslam not to grant clemency to Brown.  “First and foremost, Cyntoia Brown did not commit this murder because she was a child sex slave as her advocates would like you to believe. Cyntoia Brown’s motive for murdering Johnny Allen in his sleep was robbery.”  Among the evidence cited by Robinson, was how Allen’s “arms were folded underneath his head and his fingers were interlocked together,” which was inconsistent with Brown telling investigators he was reaching for a gun.

Haslam said in a statement that the decision comes after careful consideration of “what is a tragic and complex case. Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16.  Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life.”

While in prison, Brown has earned a GED and an associate degree in 2015 through the Lipscomb Initiative for Education Program with a 4.0 GPA, Haslam said. Brown said she is scheduled to earn her bachelor’s degree in May.  Brown said she is committed to live the rest of her life helping others, especially young people.  “My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been,” she said.

Brown thanked the governor and her supporters in a statement released by her attorneys.  “Thank you, Governor Haslam, for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance,” Brown said. “I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me.”  Brown said she is grateful for the support, prayers, and encouragement she has received, including from Tennessee Department of Corrections officials.

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According to an investigation by the Reuters news agency, the U.S. pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that some of its talcum powder contained dangerous levels of asbestos, but covered up its findings about the deadly carcinogen. Investigative reporters found documents showing the company knew about traces of asbestos in some of its baby powder as early as 1971.  The report came as Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of lawsuits claiming its talcum powder led to cancer.

The examination of those documents, as well as deposition and trial testimony, shows that from 1971 to the early 2000s, the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, and that company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers fretted over the problem and how to address it while failing to disclose it to regulators or the public.  The documents also reveal successful efforts to influence U.S. regulators’ plans to limit asbestos in cosmetic talc products and scientific research on the health effects of talc.

The earliest mentions of tainted J&J talc come from 1957 and 1958 reports by a consulting lab. They describe contaminants in talc from J&J’s Italian supplier as fibrous and “acicular,” or needle-like, tremolite. That’s one of the six minerals that in their naturally occurring fibrous form are classified as asbestos.  Various reports by scientists at J&J, outside labs and J&J’s supplier yielded similar findings into the early 2000’s. The reports identify contaminants in talc and finished powder products as asbestos or describe them in terms typically applied to asbestos, such as “fiberform” and “rods.”

In 1976, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was weighing limits on asbestos in cosmetic talc products, J&J assured the regulator that no asbestos was “detected in any sample” of talc produced between December 1972 and October 1973. It didn’t tell the agency that at least three tests by three different labs from 1972 to 1975 had found asbestos in its talc – in one case at levels reported as “rather high.”

The World Health Organization recognizes no safe level of exposure to asbestos and while most people exposed never develop cancer, for some, even small amounts of asbestos are enough to trigger the disease years.  Many plaintiffs allege that the amounts they inhaled when they dusted themselves with tainted talcum powder were enough.  The evidence of what Johnson & Johnson knew has surfaced after people who suspected that talc caused their cancers hired lawyers experienced in the decades-long deluge of litigation involving workers exposed to asbestos. Some of the lawyers knew from those earlier cases that talc producers tested for asbestos, and they began demanding J&J’s testing documentation.

Johnson & Johnson is facing around 10,600 liability lawsuits across the United States over its talc products, most involving claims that they caused ovarian cancer, and that the company knew of and concealed risks associated with the products.  They have been fighting the lawsuits for several years with some wins and some loses.  In April, they lost the first trial when a jury in New Jersey awarded $117 million to a man suffering from mesothelioma and his wife.  In May, they lost another trial when a California jury awarded $25.7 million to a woman diagnosed with mesothelioma. Both decisions are under appeal.

 

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Four Missouri police officers have been indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with the assault of a fellow officer who was working undercover.  Officers Dustin Boone, Randy Hays and Christopher Myers with St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department are accused of beating the undercover officer with a riot baton and tampering with witnesses to cover up the incident, according to the Department of Justice. Myers was also charged with destroying evidence. Officer Bailey Colletta was indicted on a charge of providing false statements to a federal grand jury in connection with the incident.

The indictment charges officers Dustin Boone, 35, Bailey Colletta, 25, Randy Hays, 31, and Christopher Myers, 27, with various felonies, including deprivation of constitutional rights, conspiracy to obstruct justice, destruction of evidence, and obstruction of justice.  One of the charges carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The other three carry a maximum of 20 years. All four counts have a maximum of $250,000 in fines.  All four officers have been placed on administrative leave without pay.

In September 2017, the officers were assigned to a Civil Disobedience Team, which conducts crowd control, in anticipation of a protest against the acquittal of Officer Jason Stockley in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith.  Protests broke out in St. Louis and a 22-year veteran of the St. Louis Police Department — referred to in the indictment as L.H. — was in the crowd working undercover as a protester to document crimes among the demonstrators so law enforcement could make arrests, according to the indictment.

The indictment claims the three officers believed Hall was a protester and assaulted him “while he was compliant and not posing a physical threat to anyone.”   The indictment alleges that Boone, Hays and Myers threw Luther Hall to the ground without probable cause and began to kick him and strike him with a riot baton.  Once Myers, Boone and Hays learned that Hall was a police officer, the indictment says, they made false statements justifying the assault, contacted Hall to dissuade him from taking legal action and contacted witnesses to try to influence their testimony.  Myers also destroyed Hall’s cellphone “with the intent to impede, obstruct, and influence the investigation,” according to the indictment.

The indictment also details text messages between Myers, Boone and Hays prior to the incident.  “We really need these f**kers to start acting up so we can have some fun,” Boone texted, after they determined they were going to be on the same team.  “A lot of cops getting hurt, but it’s still a blast beating people that deserve it,” said another text from Boone.  He also remarked that he would be working with a black officer and referred to him as “a thug that’s on our side.”  Hayes also texted Boone “Remember we are in south city. They support us but also cameras. So make sure you have an old white dude as a witness.”

According to the indictment, Officer Colletta — who was in a romantic relationship at the time with Hays,  was on the team that night and offered inconsistent explanations as to why they arrested L.H.  Initially, Colletta said she had never come into contact with Hall that night. Then, she claimed that she witnessed the arrest and saw Hall taken to the ground “very gently.”  Colletta also said the group had “veered off” to arrest Hall, according to the indictment. The next day, she said she learned from her sergeant that they had stopped Hall because he fit the description of a radio dispatch yet in a later statement, she claimed she didn’t recall anyone saying that.

 

 

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Actor and comedian Kevin Hart has stepped down from plans to host the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony, following public outcry over his past homophobic tweets and comedy routines. The Academy named Hart host of the Oscars and less than 24 hours later, Hart was discovered to be rapidly deleting his past anti-gay social media posts amid a growing uproar. Hart initially refused to apologize over the comments, before offering his resignation from the Oscars ceremony with an apology.

Soon after Hart announced he would be hosting the Academy Awards, the actor began to delete a series of old tweets after twitter users began retweeting his past homophobic comments.  One Twitter user wrote, alongside screenshots of Kevin’s past tweets, “I wonder when Kevin Hart is gonna start deleting all his old tweets.”   One of the controversial tweets from 2011 read: “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay’.”  Hart made a similar comment about wanting his son to be heterosexual in a stand-up special in 2010.

Another Twitter sleuth went to the great lengths of searching every time Kevin used the words “Fag,” “homo” or “gay.”  They realized the comedian “seems to have basically stopped tweeting those words after 2011 — i.e. the year his first stand-up movie became a hit.”  While Hart has adamantly denied being homophobic, prior statements about his feelings seem conflicting to some. In a 2015 profile for Rolling Stone, he once said one of his “biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay.”  “Keep in mind, I’m not homophobic… Be happy. Do what you want to do. But me, as a heterosexual male, if I can prevent my son from being gay, I will,” he previously explained.

After the initial backlash, Hart shared an Instagram video where he said, “Stop looking for reasons to be negative…stop searching for reasons to be angry…I swear I wish you guys could see/feel/understand the mental place that I am in. I am truly happy people… there is nothing that you can do to change that….NOTHING. I work hard on a daily basis to spread positivity to all…with that being said. If you want to search my history or past and anger yourselves with what u find that is fine with me. I ‘m almost 40 years old and I’m in love with the man that I am becoming,” he continued. “You LIVE and YOU LEARN & YOU GROW & YOU MATURE. I live to Love…. Please take your negative energy and put it into something constructive. Please…What’s understood should never have to be said. I LOVE EVERYBODY..ONCE AGAIN EVERYBODY. If you choose to not believe me then that’s on you…Have a beautiful day.”

The actor and comedian later announced that he’s dropping out of his scheduled hosting gig at the Oscars rather than issue a formal apology for the series of homophobic, years-old tweets.  “So I just got a call from the Academy, and that call basically said, ‘Kevin, apologize for your tweets of old, or we’re going to have to move on and find another host,’ talking about the tweets from 2009, 2010,” Hart said in a video he posted to Instagram on Thursday night, in which he appeared to be referencing tweets in which he used homophobic slurs. “I chose to pass. I passed on the apology. The reason I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times.”

After the Instagram confession, Hart eventually issued an apology on Twitter stating that he’s sorry for hurting anyone and that he’s “evolving.” He then said, “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”

 

 

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A 26 year old security guard was shot and killed by a police officer outside a bar in the Chicago suburb of Midlothian.  Jemel Roberson was working at Manny’s Blue Room Bar, in Robbins, Illinois, when a fight broke out and security personnel asked a group of men to leave.  Soon after, at least one man returned to the bar and began shooting, injuring some of the people in the bar. Security returned fire and Roberson detained the man.

Jemel Roberson reportedly grabbed and held the suspected shooter to the ground, with his gun in his back.  When police officers from the Robbins and Midlothian police department arrived on the scene around 4am, witnesses say Roberson was immediately shot, despite people at the bar screaming that he was a security guard. According to witness statements given to local outlets, the officer fired even as witnesses were screaming that he was security.  Four other people, including a man believed to be the suspect behind the bar shooting, were injured in the incident.

At the time, Roberson was armed and held a valid gun owner’s license. One patron who witnessed the killing said the cops “saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him.” An autopsy concluded that Roberson’s death was a homicide. Roberson was father of a 9-month-old son named Tristan; his partner, Avontea Boose, is pregnant with their second child. Roberson’s family has filed a federal lawsuit seeking $1 million dollars, calling the fatal shooting “excessive and unreasonable” and says it violated Roberson’s civil rights.

Illinois State Police are investigating the shooting and have said that the officer gave Roberson “multiple verbal commands” to drop his weapon before opening fire. “According to witness statements, the Midlothian Officer gave the armed subject multiple verbal commands to drop the gun and get on the ground before ultimately discharging his weapon and striking the subject,” state police said in a statement.  The agency added that Roberson was not wearing anything that identified him as a security guard though witnesses say he was wearing a hat with the words SECURITY clearly emblazoned on the front as well as a bright orange vest with the words Security on it.  Multiple witnesses have also contradicted the state police account, saying the officer started firing at Roberson before giving him an adequate chance to respond to his verbal commands.

After learning that its officer had shot a security guard, the Midlothian Police Department issued a statement offering condolences to Roberson’s family and calling the shooting “the equivalent of a ‘blue on blue,’ friendly fire incident.”  Midlothian police Chief Daniel Delaney wrote on the department’s Facebook page “What we have learned is Jemel Roberson was a brave man who was doing his best to end an active shooter situation at Manny’s Blue Room.  The Midlothian Police Department is completely saddened by this tragic incident and we give our heartfelt condolences to Jemel, his family and his friends. There are no words that can be expressed as to the sorrow his family is dealing with.”