Father of Atatiana Jefferson Dies of Heart Attack

 

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The father of Atatiana Jefferson has died, less than one month after a police officer killed his 28-year-old daughter by shooting through the bedroom window of her own home.  Atatiana’s father, , 59,  died after suffering a heart attack. The family spokesman said, “I can only sum it up as a broken heart.” Atatiana was his only child and she was killed exactly one month ago, on October 12, by police officer Aaron Dean.  The spokesman, Bruce Carter, said Jefferson had been under a lot of stress since his daughter was killed and was also battling Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which makes breathing difficult.

Jefferson had been embroiled in a family dispute involving his daughter’s funeral and burial arrangements, which were controlled by her aunt, Bonita Body. He argued that as the surviving parent of Atatiana, he should have control of her burial, and was granted a temporary restraining order to postpone the funeral. The service eventually took place on October 24.  “He was battling to be a part of her life to the end,” Bruce Carter, the family’s spokesperson, said. “I think it just got the best of him.”

Lee Merritt, attorney for Atatiana Jefferson’s family, said in a statement they were saddened to learn the news about Marquis Jefferson and “of course” the loss his daughter factored into his death.  “Her death rocked the nation but no one felt it more than the people that were directly tied to her in life,” Merritt said. “Those people haven’t had a chance to grieve like normal families. They have been thrust into a very public, very emotional, very draining fight for justice.”

On October 12, at around 2:30 a.m., Dean had arrived at Atatiana’s Forth Worth residence with another officer in response to a non-emergency “wellness check” called in by a neighbor who noticed Atatiana had left her front door open.  Atatiana was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when she heard noises outside of her home.  According to her nephew, she took her handgun from her purse and pointed it “toward the window” just before getting shot by Dean.  The two men did not identify themselves as police when they approached the window where Atatiana stood.

Body camera footage showed Dean looked inside a window using a flashlight, spotted someone inside standing near a window and said, “Put your hands up — show me your hands.” He shot seconds later.  At no point did he identify himself as an officer and he did not appear to have knocked on the door.  Dean resigned from the police department shortly afterward, and was arrested and charged for Atatiana’s murder. He is currently out on a $200,000 bond.

Dean completed police training at the Fort Worth Police Academy in March 2018 and at the time of the shooting, had been with the department for 18 months. Prior to the shooting, the only entry in his Fort Worth police personnel file was about a traffic collision.  Dean’s training records from his first year on the job note concerns from supervisors which included that he had “tunnel vision” and “needs improvement on communicating with the public and fellow officers.” Dean’s most recent performance evaluation was made in spring 2019, where he received high marks from a supervisor.

GM and UAW Reach Tentative Deal

 

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As the GM strike entered its fifth week, the United Auto Workers union announced that picketing workers can expect an extra $25 a week from the union’s strike fund.  GM, on the other hand, can expect its dealers to face increased difficulty in sourcing certain replacement parts, while others worry about the prospect of subpar inventory.  The UAW’s bargaining team presented a new comprehensive offer to GM as talks continued.  In addition to the slightly boosted strike pay, the UAW also lifted the cap on cash earned at outside jobs. Starting Sunday, workers moonlighting at other jobs can keep the full strike payment, regardless of what they made in their alternate gig. Strike payments are typically clawed back on a dollar-for-dollar basis after the worker passes the $250 threshold.

In addition to a host of other issues, health care sits near the top of UAW concerns in this latest round of talks. With GM looking to downsize in an era of shrinking auto sales and economic uncertainty, offering generous health benefits represents a major cost to each company.  An agreement was reached between GM and the UAW that keeps the previous health care arrangement intact.  The agreement keeps the arrangement where workers cover just 3 percent of their health care costs — an agreement GM briefly abandoned earlier in the bargaining process.  The automakers would undoubtedly seek concessions in other areas but unions are not prone to accept concessions lightly.

In the tentative deal with General Motors, the union won on many of its goals, including a path to permanent employment for temporary autoworkers, a faster route to top pay for workers hired after 2007 and a flattened pay structure for permanent employees, who would reach $32.32 per hour by the end of the four-year deal.  The biggest obvious loss for the union is the continued closure of the Lordstown Assembly plant in Ohio.

The Lordstown Assembly Plant in Ohio is to remain closed, as will transmission plants in Warren and Baltimore; and a parts distribution center in Fontana, California, will close during the term of the contract.  The union said it negotiated assistance packages for workers at Lordstown, Warren and Baltimore transmission plants, including $75,000 payments for eligible production workers and $85,000 for skilled workers who retire.  There are also buyout options for those not eligible to retire.

Some other features of the deal include UAW-represented GM workers will get a bonus of $11,000 upon ratification of the deal and temporary workers will get $4,500.  GM will invest $7.7 billion in U.S. facilities to create or retain 9,000 jobs.  There will be wage increases of 3% in the second and fourth year of the contract, with 4% lump sum payments in the first and third years.  Temporary workers, who have been paid $15-$19 an hour with inferior benefits to permanent autoworkers, get a path to a permanent role starting next year. Part-time workers get a path to regular status starting in 2021. These workers also get improved paid and unpaid time off.  By September 2023, all permanent manufacturing employees will be at $32.32 per hour.

The tentative deal is far from perfect and the UAW is trying to persuade union workers to accept the deal.  Experts said General Motors has lost more than $1 billion in profits, while line workers have lost nearly $750 million in income. With the state of Michigan are losing tax dollars, there’s a growing sentiment that something has to change soon and many hope this deal will finally end the strike.

New Book Reveals Details of Incident That Got Matt Lauer Fired

 

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A new book offers chilling details about an incident that led NBC to fire “Today Show” host Matt Lauer in 2017. Journalist Ronan Farrow wrote in his new book, “Catch and Kill,” that Lauer raped NBC producer Brooke Nevils in a hotel room in Sochi, Russia, in 2014, as they covered the Winter Olympics.  Nevils called the incident “excruciatingly painful”.  We now know it was Nevils’ detailed complaint that led to Lauer’s firing a mere 24 hours of it being filed.  She also described inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace occurring throughout 2014.  News of his firing led to multiple other women coming forward with accusations against Lauer.

Farrow says that he spent years reporting and fact-checking the claims made in his book.  What he found goes against NBC’s statement of not having prior knowledge of Lauer’s behavior before the complaint that led to his firing.   He said years before Lauer’s 2017 firing, over a six to seven year period, there were seven non-disclosure agreements at the network, multiple of which involved Lauer.  Farrow said there were multiple secret settlements and non-disclosures being struck with women at NBC News.

In a letter provided by his lawyer, Lauer denied Nevils’ allegation and painted the picture of an accusation full of contradictions. He said he has shied away until now from speaking out on the “false and salacious allegations” against him to protect his children.  “I have never assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex. Period,” Lauer wrote. “My silence has been a mistake. Old stories are being recycled, titillating details are being added, and a dangerous and defamatory new allegation is being made. All are being spread as part of a promotional effort to sell a book. It’s outrageous. So, after not speaking out to protect my children, it is now with their full support I say ‘enough.”

NBC News Chairman Andy Lack reiterated the findings of the company’s investigation, which found that the company’s leadership and management were not aware of Lauer conduct prior to Nevils’ meeting with human resources.  “Any suggestion that we knew prior to that evening or tried to cover up any aspect of Lauer’s conduct is absolutely false and offensive,” Lack wrote.

After Lauer’s 2017 termination, it was reported that there were multiple incidents of alleged sexual harassment, including that Lauer allegedly gave a colleague a sex toy as a gift and told her he wanted to use it on her. Another woman alleged that Lauer once dropped his pants in front of her in his office and “reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act.” Lauer reportedly had a “button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up,” two accusers told the outlet.  Lauer also sent “lewd messages and revealing pictures” to multiple women, including Nevils.  The messages showed proof of inappropriate sexual behavior on his part.  NBC also received multiple complaints against Lauer after his firing, including one from an ex-employee who alleges that the former anchor summoned her to his office in 2001 and then had sex with her.

Lauer has maintained that while he had extramarital affairs, all the encounters were consensual.  Farrow’s book also says Nevils went on medical leave in 2018 before being paid seven figures and that NBC “proposed a script she would have to read, suggesting that she had left to pursue other endeavors, that she was treated well, and that NBC News was a positive example of sexual harassment.”

 

 

Authorities In 3 States Make Arrests After Threats of Mass Shootings

 

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Authorities in three states say they made arrests that prevented three mass shootings.  In the wake of the latest mass shootings in California and Texas, authorities are on high alert to any potential threats of violence and have been diligently investigating any reports of potential shooters.  The arrests have been made after authorities received tips, prompting investigations and ultimately, the arrests of three men in Connecticut, Florida and Ohio.

In Connecticut, 22-year-old Brandon Wagshol was arrested after authorities said he had expressed interest in committing a mass shooting on Facebook, according to a statement from the FBI and the Norwalk Police Department.  He faces four charges of illegal possession of large capacity magazines and is being held on a $250,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court September 6.  According to the statement, authorities received a tip that Wagshol was trying to buy large capacity rifle magazines from out of state.  As the FBI and the Norwalk Police Department were investigating the tip, they discovered Wagshol was trying to build his own rifle and had allegedly posted on Facebook about his interest in committing a mass shooting, the statement said.

Authorities executed a search warrant at his home and found multiple weapons, including a handgun, a rifle and rifle scope with a laser, numerous rounds of ammunition, body armor, a ballistic helmet and other tactical gear.  Police say some of the weapons were registered to Wagshol’s father but he had access to them.

In Daytona Beach, FL, Tristan Scott Wix, 25, was arrested after his ex-girlfriend alerted authorities that he sent her a series of disturbing texts in which he allegedly threatened to commit a mass shooting, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said.   In the messages, Wix said he wanted to open fire on a large crowd of people.  One message allegedly read “A good 100 kills would be nice.”  According to the sheriff’s office, Wix already had a location in mind, “A school is a weak target.. I’d be more likely to open fire on a large crowd of people from over 3 miles away.. I’d wanna break a world record for longest confirmed kill ever,” another message read, according to the sheriff’s office.  Wix wrote that he wanted to die and “have fun doing it,” authorities said.  Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood said they had recovered a .22-caliber hunting rifle and 400 rounds of ammo in Wix’s apartment. Wix had initially told investigators he did not own any firearms but that he was fascinated with mass shootings, the sheriff’s office said.  Wix was being held without bond Sunday at the Volusia County Branch Jail.

In Ohio, 20-year-old James Patrick Reardon was arrested for allegedly threatening to carry out a shooting at a Youngstown Jewish community center.  An Instagram account belonging to Reardon shared a video that showed a man firing a gun.  The post — which was shown to an officer out on an unrelated call — tagged the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown.  It’s unclear whether the man shooting the gun was Reardon or someone else.  A search warrant was executed and authorities found a cache of weapons and ammunition.  Reardon was arrested without incident and booked into the Mahoning County Jail on one count of telecommunications harassment and one count of aggravated menacing.

Sri Lanka Easter Bombings

 

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The death toll from Easter Sunday’s bomb attacks targeting hotels and churches in Sri Lanka has climbed to 359, as authorities said they defused another bomb in downtown Colombo and arrested more suspects.  Nearly 500 people were injured during the coordinated bombings across the island nation.  Sri Lankan officials say the attacks were a response to last month’s attacks on two mosques by a white nationalist gunman who killed 50 Muslim worshipers in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

Sri Lankan officials say a little-known Muslim organization called National Thowheed Jama’ath carried out the series of Easter Sunday suicide bombings with another Sri Lankan group known as the JMI.  Officials also apologized for failing to respond to multiple tip-offs ahead of Sunday’s eight attacks.  A confidential memo which was ignored, circulated among Sri Lankan security agencies 10 days prior to the attack that warned of a possible attack and gave the names, addresses and phone numbers of some of the suspects.

The first round of deadly attacks hit busy Easter services at Catholic churches in the heart of Sri Lanka’s minority Christian community in and around the capital Colombo, as well as a Protestant church in the eastern city of Batticaloa.  Bombs also exploded in three luxury hotels in Colombo, with another blast striking a hotel near a zoo south of the capital, and a final blast at a private home believed to be tied to the attackers.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena requested Pujith Jayasundara, Sri Lanka’s police chief, to step down over the failure to thwart the Easter Sunday attacks but ath first, the police chief refused.  Sirisena blamed Jayasundara and Hemasiri Fernando, the defense secretary, for not sharing advance warnings of the attacks with him.   Fernando resigned earlier in the week and Jayasundara later resigned.  Police are looking for 140 people with links to the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS), according to President Maithripala Sirisena.

President Maithripala Sirisena has revealed his short and long-term measures to bring back normalcy to the island nation coming to terms with the Easter bombings.  “Every household in the country will be checked. The lists of permanent residents of every house will be established to ensure no unknown person could live anywhere,” he said, pointing out that during the fight against LTTE, similar methods were adopted.  Sirisena acknowledged “a serious lapse” on the part of the country’s defence secretary and top police official, who failed to inform him about an April 4 letter from a “friendly foreign country” warning about a possible attack.

Despite the police having already detained a lot of suspects, they warned that some people believed by authorities to be linked with the attacks were still at large and may possess explosives.  Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has stated that the father of two of Sunday’s alleged suicide bombers, a leading businessman who is active in politics, has been arrested on suspicion of aiding his sons in carrying out the attacks.

 

NY Suburb Issues Ban Against Unvaccinated Children Amid Outbreak

 

 

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A New York City suburb has announced a ban against children who aren’t vaccinated against measles from schools, markets and other public spaces, amidst one of the worst U.S. outbreaks in decades of the sometimes-fatal disease.   Rockland County Executive Ed Day said the ban which went into effect at midnight March 27th, will target parents who refuse to give their children the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella.  “Effective at the stroke of midnight tonight, March 27th, anyone who is under 18 years of age and is unvaccinated against the measles will be barred from public places until the declaration expires in 30 days or until they receive at least their first shot of MMR.”

The order, which will affect an estimated 6,000 unvaccinated children and their families – was put into effect amid an outbreak, which has seen at least 214 people infected with measles since last October.  The outbreak began when an unvaccinated resident became infected while visiting Israel and returned with the disease.  The outbreak has mostly been confined to an area with particularly low vaccination rates, Rockland County’s Orthodox Jewish community- which has 153 confirmed cases-mostly unvaccinated children under the age of 18.   Measles is a highly contagious virus that is prevented with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. The CDC recommends that the two-dose vaccine be given first at 12 to 15 months of age and then between ages 4 and 6.  The outbreak in Rockland County has been the longest outbreak in the United States since before measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

Ed Day said the outbreak will not go on indefinitely. “This is a public health crisis, and it is time to sound the alarm, to ensure that everyone takes proper action to protect themselves and their neighbors; for the health and safety of all of us in Rockland,” he said in a news release.  “Public places include synagogues, churches, schools, restaurants, stores and public buses.  Public places are defined as: a place where more than 10 persons are intended to congregate” the news release says.   Children who are current with the vaccine schedule but not fully vaccinated against measles because they are not old enough are exempt from the order.  The order does not apply to people who are older than 18 because “we did not want to prevent anyone from going to work,” but unvaccinated adults are also encouraged to get vaccinated.

Nearly 17,000 vaccinations have been administered in the county during the outbreak.  “As this outbreak has continued, our inspectors have begun to meet resistance from those they are trying to protect. They have been hung up on or told not to call again. They’ve been told ‘we’re not discussing this; do not come back’ when visiting the homes of infected individuals as part of their investigations. This type of response is unacceptable and irresponsible. It endangers the health and well-being of others and displays a shocking lack of responsibility and concern for others in our community,” Day said.  He also referred to a case where an infected individual who exposed people at a Target store later stopped helping the investigators narrow down when the exposure might have happened. “We’re already seeing that chilling factor of people not cooperating with us, so from our perspective, this gives us more tools to get them to cooperate with our investigators.”

The ban will be enforced the same way any law is enforced, during the investigation into when and where an infected individual was exposed, those who are identified as unvaccinated and people in public places will be referred to the district attorney’s office.  In cases that are referred to the district attorney, Day said the penalty is six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.  “Just to be clear, this is not something we’re looking to do. The emergency declaration, by law, comes with that assigned. It’s the lowest crime there is.  The goal is not to prosecute people. We don’t want to fine people. We want to encourage people to get vaccinated,” he said.

 

Hollywood Actresses and Wealthy CEOs Indicted in College Admissions Scandal

 

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

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

The ringleader of the scam is William Singer, owner of a college counseling service called Key Worldwide Foundation and a company called Edge College & Career Network.  Singer allegedly accepted bribes totaling $25 million from parents between 2011 and 2018 “to guarantee their children’s admission to elite schools.”  Singer, of Newport Beach, California, pleaded guilty in a Boston federal court on charges of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice.

Steven Masera, 69, the accountant and financial officer for the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation, was also indicted.  Mark Riddell, a private school counselor in Bradenton, Florida, and Masera allegedly worked closely with Singer in the scam, according to the indictment.  According to the indictment, Mikaela Sanford, 32, of Folsom, California, another employee of the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation, and David Sidoo, 59, of Vancouver, Canada, were also indicted for allegedly working closely with Singer to facilitate the scam.

Singer would allegedly instruct parents to seek extended time for the children to take entrance exams or obtain medical documentation that their child had a learning disability, according to the indictment. The parents were then told to get the location of the test changed to one of two testing centers, one in Houston and another in West Hollywood, California, where test administrators Niki Williams, 44, of Houston and Igor Dvorskiy, 52, of Sherman Oaks, California, helped carry out the scam, the indictment alleges.  Riddell, 36, allegedly took ACT and SAT tests for students whose parents had paid bribes to Singer.  Singer typically paid Riddell $10,000 for each student’s test.

Singer also allegedly bribed school coaches to give to his clients’ admissions slots reserved for student athletes in sports including crew and soccer. He went as far as to stage fake photos of his student clients engaging in sports they never played, or to digitally place the faces of his clients onto images found online of athletes.

Others charged in the probe include nine coaches at elite schools, two SAT and ACT exam administrators, one exam proctor, a college administrator and 33 parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.  Robert Zangrillo, 52, of Miami, founder and CEO of the private investment firm Dragon Global; Bill McGlashan, 55, of Mill Valley, California, a businessman and international private equity investor; Gordon Caplan, a New York attorney; and Gregory Abbott, 68, founder and chairman of International Dispensing Corp., a New York food and beverage packaging company, and his wife, Marcia Abbott, 59.

Huffman’s husband, actor William H. Macy, was not indicted, but according to the court document he and Huffman were caught on a recorded conversation with a corroborating witness in the case, allegedly discussing a $15,000 payment to ensure their younger daughter scored high on a college entrance exam.  Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli allegedly paid $500,000 to USC to have their two daughters falsely designated as crew recruits, though neither daughter ever participated in the sport.