Tag Archive: hi4e


 

In Chicago, a wave of violence over the long holiday weekend left 102 people shot—with 15 people killed and 86 others injured by gunfire.  Nearly half were shot in a spate of violence as the weekend closed out between 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The weekend began with 19 people shot on Friday night and 23 on Saturday.  Sunday and Monday nights were both relatively quiet, by summer standards, with 17 people shot over the two days, according to Tribune data.

Violence in Chicago has become the standard as the city is plagued with gang activity.  The Chicago Police Department says that it has become standard procedure during long holiday warm weather weekends to put more than 1,300 extra officers on the street.  A total of 159 guns were seized by Chicago police since Friday. The violence this year was largely concentrated in the city’s south and west sides, including districts where the Chicago Police Department have deployed extra resources including hundreds of officers on overtime.

The Chicago Police Department expressed frustrations over the violent long weekend.  They said they are conducting “a very comprehensive review” after experiencing one of its most violent Fourth of July weekends in recent history.  Chief police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said “It’s perplexing, the mood here is frustration.”  “We deployed some very successful tactics over the Memorial Day weekend.” Yet those same tactics did not seem to work as well over the Fourth holiday.”

A lot of the shootings appeared to be over “petty disputes that escalated into somebody pulling out a gun.”  He mentioned some examples: A shooting in Smith Park that started as an argument over where people were sitting; a confrontation between a driver and bicyclists on State Street, with the driver getting a gun from his trunk and officers intervening. He said a “handful” of shootings were “retaliatory .. People drinking all day and then things escalating … It’s just enormously frustrating.”

As part of its review of what happened over the weekend, the department is looking at how amateur fireworks may have interfered with the ShotSpotter system, a relatively new technology the department hopes to expand.  The spotters register a shooting and deploy cameras in the direction of the shots while officers are deployed.  Analysts at the district station look at the data in real time to decide what steps to take next.  Guglielmi called it “micro-deployment.”

The violent weekend brings the total number of people shot in Chicago so far in 2017 to more than 1,800, according to data maintained by the Tribune, still below the 2,035 recorded at this time last year.

 

 

 

Employees at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital in New York are mourning after a doctor killed one of his former colleagues and injured six others in a shooting rampage at the hospital.  Dr. Henry Bello was a family medicine physician at the hospital until he left in April over unspecified “personal problems.”

Authorities said Bello, armed with an AR-15 assault rifle hidden under a lab coat, arrived at the hospital and asked for Dr Kamran Ahmed.  Authorities believe Ahmed was his intended target but fortunately for him, Ahmed had the day off.  Ahmed, who specializes in the early detection and treatment of dementia, said Bello “had a problem with almost everybody, so I’m not the only one. That’s why they fired him, because so many people complained.”

Bello went to the 16th and 17th floors of the hospital and started shooting, killing Dr Tracy Sin-Yee Tam, 32, a family medicine doctor and injuring six others before shooting himself.  Authorities said Bello’s attempted to set himself on fire first before killing himself.   Hospital officials said Tam normally worked in a satellite clinic and was covering a shift in the main hospital as a favor to someone else.

Former co-workers described a man who was aggressive, loud and threatening. Bello warned his former colleagues when he was forced out in 2015  amid sexual harassment allegations, that he would return someday to kill them.  Dr David Lazala, who trained Bello said Bello was always a problem when he worked there.   When Bello was forced out in 2015, he sent Lazala an email blaming him for the dismissal.

Bello sent an email to the New York Daily News just before the shooting where he blamed colleagues he said forced him to resign two years earlier.  “This hospital terminated my road to a licensure to practice medicine,” the email said. “First, I was told it was because I always kept to myself. Then it was because of an altercation with a nurse.”

Bello had a history of aggressive behavior. In unrelated cases, the doctor pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment, a misdemeanor, in 2004 after a 23-year-old woman told police Bello grabbed her, lifted her up and carried her off, saying, “You’re coming with me.” He was arrested again in 2009 on a charge of unlawful surveillance, after two different women reported he was trying to look up their skirts with a mirror. That case was eventually sealed.  It was not immediately clear if the hospital was aware of his criminal history when he was hired.

After the shooting stopped, medical staff at the hospital immediately treated all the patients in its emergency department. One victim was a patient and the five others are medical staff at the hospital, officials said. Two are medical students and the remaining are physicians.

One of the physicians underwent extensive surgeries after suffering gunshot injuries to the hand and another doctor is recovering after being shot in the neck.  Two of the most seriously wounded victims — a medical student who was shot in the brain and a resident who was shot in the liver are both in stable condition.

 

Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial has ended in a mistrial after jurors remained deadlocked on all counts after 52 hours of deliberation.  Cosby faced three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Andrea Constand has accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his home in 2004.  Constand is the former director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University where Cosby was a trustee.

Constand is one of about 60 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assaults dating back decades.  It’s the only criminal case stemming from dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct — all of which the comedian/actor denies.  She says she was “paralyzed” by pills he gave her while he claimed it was just Benadryl and that the encounter was consensual.

Cosby did not take the stand, but his lawyers have maintained the physical contact was mutual and raised questions as to why Constand kept in phone contact with Cosby after the alleged incident.  They also questioned why she did not report it for a year. Prosecutors declined to charge Cosby in 2004 but reopened the case after the scandal erupted two and a half years ago.

The jurors were chosen in the Pittsburgh area and bussed in to Philadelphia for the trial.  After six days of testimony, the jury of seven men and five women began deliberations.  They were soon deadlocked but continued to deliberate, reviewing reams of testimony.  After 52 hours of deliberations, Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill accepted a defense motion for a mistrial.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele immediately announced that he plans to retry the case and ordered that Cosby can remain free on $1 million bail he posted when he was first charged.  Steele later told reporters that there “was no pause or hesitation” in deciding to retry the case and that “we had a significant amount of evidence … now we have to prove (the case) beyond a reasonable doubt.”  Prosecutors will retry him on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, a charge that carries 10 years in prison.

Outside the courthouse, lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents some of the women who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, said that “round two may be just around the corner, and this time, justice may prevail.”  She commended her client Kelly Johnson, the only other accuser allowed to testify at the trial, and thanked all the accusers who have spoken out.  Several of Cosby’s accusers have been attending the trial.

 

cosby trial.jpgBill Cosby’s sexual assault trial has ended in a mistrial after jurors remained deadlocked on all counts after 52 hours of deliberation.  Cosby faced three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Andrea Constand has accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his home in 2004.  Constand is the former director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University where Cosby was a trustee.

Constand is one of about 60 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assaults dating back decades.  It’s the only criminal case stemming from dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct — all of which the comedian/actor denies.  She says she was “paralyzed” by pills he gave her while he claimed it was just Benadryl and that the encounter was consensual.

Cosby did not take the stand, but his lawyers have maintained the physical contact was mutual and raised questions as to why Constand kept in phone contact with Cosby after the alleged incident.  They also questioned why she did not report it for a year. Prosecutors declined to charge Cosby in 2004 but reopened the case after the scandal erupted two and a half years ago.

The jurors were chosen in the Pittsburgh area and bussed in to Philadelphia for the trial.  After six days of testimony, the jury of seven men and five women began deliberations.  They were soon deadlocked but continued to deliberate, reviewing reams of testimony.  After 52 hours of deliberations, Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill accepted a defense motion for a mistrial.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele immediately announced that he plans to retry the case and ordered that Cosby can remain free on $1 million bail he posted when he was first charged.  Steele later told reporters that there “was no pause or hesitation” in deciding to retry the case and that “we had a significant amount of evidence … now we have to prove (the case) beyond a reasonable doubt.”  Prosecutors will retry him on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, a charge that carries 10 years in prison.

Outside the courthouse, lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents some of the women who have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, said that “round two may be just around the corner, and this time, justice may prevail.”  She commended her client Kelly Johnson, the only other accuser allowed to testify at the trial, and thanked all the accusers who have spoken out.  Several of Cosby’s accusers have been attending the trial.

 

To the surprise of other world leaders, President Trump announced that the US will pull out of the Paris global climate pact.  Abandoning the pact would isolate the US from international allies that spent years negotiating the 2015 agreement to fight global warming and pollution by reducing carbon emissions in nearly 200 nations.

The decision means the US will join only Nicaragua and Syria as UN-member countries that aren’t aboard.  The US emits more carbon into the atmosphere than any country except China.  Abandoning the pact was one of Trump’s principal campaign pledges and the decision reverses one of the Obama administration’s signature achievements.  Still, America’s allies have expressed alarm about the likely consequences.

“The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction in terms that are fair to the United States and its workers. So we’re getting out. We’ll see if we can make a deal. If we can’t, that’s fine,” Trump said to cheers during a ceremony in the Rose Garden.

A White House spokesperson said “The accord was negotiated poorly by the Obama Administration and signed out of desperation. The US is already leading the world in energy production and doesn’t need a bad deal that will harm American workers.”

The Paris climate agreement sets a goal for its signatories to keep warming below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), compared with preindustrial times, by 2100, with a goal of keeping global warming to a mere 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.  Each country sets its own voluntary goals for emissions cuts, pledging to become stricter as time goes by and there are no binding rules about how the countries should meet those goals.

When the agreement was signed, the US agreed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to between 26-28% of 2005 levels by 2025. The agreement does not officially go into effect until 2020, but meeting those goals would require all countries to take steps preemptive steps before 2020- like setting standards for vehicle emissions, appliances and power plants.

Critics of the decision to abandon the Paris agreement believe the likelihood of international cooperation on carbon-cutting goals past 2025 is on far shakier ground, and that the US will be forfeiting a seat at the table to shape the climate future.

They also feel it does enormous damage to our international credibility as withdrawal from international negotiations is becoming a pattern.  The United States withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal under Trump’s first executive order.  Trump is also hostile to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), in which members pledge military cooperation with one another.  Many feel it will be harder to negotiate other international issues without trust from other nations.

As part of the “extreme vetting” promised on the campaign trail, the Trump administration has issued a new questionnaire for U.S. visa applicants worldwide that asks for social media handles for the last five years and biographical information going back 15 years.  The administration calls the questions “voluntary” but the new form says applicants who don’t provide the information might see their visas delayed or denied.

Under the new procedures, consular officials can request all prior passport numbers, five years’ worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers and 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment and travel history.  Officials will request the additional information if they determine that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting.

The questionnaire also asks those who have traveled outside their country of residence to provide details for each trip, including locations visited, date visited, source of funds and length of stay.  It also asks for the names and birth dates of any living or deceased siblings, children or spouses (current & previous).

The State Department has stated that the tighter vetting would apply to visa applicants “who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities.”

The new questions were approved on May 23 by the Office of Management and Budget despite criticism from a range of education officials and academic groups.  Critics argued that the new questions would be overly burdensome, lead to long delays in processing and discourage international students and scientists from coming to the United States.

Immigration lawyers and advocates say the request for 15 years of detailed biographical information, as well as the expectation that applicants remember all their social media handles, is likely to catch applicants who make innocent mistakes or do not remember all the information requested.  The Office of Management and Budget granted emergency approval for the new questions for six months, rather than the usual three years.

A proposal to request “social media identifiers” for travelers using the visa waiver program was put forward by US Customs and Border Protection last year and went into effect for for some visa waiver travelers in December 2016.  The new questionnaire applies specifically to visa applicants not using the visa waiver program.

 

 

 

 

Portland Train Stabbing

Two men died and a third is recovering after being stabbed on an Oregon train while defending two teenage girls from harassment.    Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, first-degree assault, three counts of unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of intimidation.

According to witness accounts and the arrest affidavit, Christian boarded a MAX light rail train on Friday, May 26, at 4:19 p.m. at the Rose Quarter stop.  He then went on an anti-Islam tirade directed at two African-American teenagers on board — one who was wearing a traditional Muslim hijab. Christian shouted for the teens to get out of his country and to go home.

After making several threatening comments about “decapitating heads,” several men stepped in to diffuse the situation.  Frightened, the two teens moved to the back of the train while other passengers told him he couldn’t treat people that way.

Videos from the train camera and a passenger’s phone showed Christian “making a sudden move” toward one of the victims, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, of Portland. Namkai-Meche responded by standing up as Christian shouted into his face “Do something!”  Another passenger, 21-year-old Portland State University student, Micah Fletcher stood up as well and Christian shouted “Do something!” as he shoved Fletcher in the chest.

This is when Christian appears to pull a folded knife from his pocket that he concealed in his hand, the affidavit said.  Fletcher shoved Christian so hard the suspect lost his balance. Fletcher told Christian to get off the train and Christian shouted “hit me again”.

Video shows Christian swinging his arm and stabbing Fletcher in the neck.  He then  stabbed Namkai-Meche twice in the neck.  Ricky John Best, 53, of Happy Valley moved forward to intervene and was stabbed in the neck.  Namkai-Meche had sat down to try to stop the bleeding from his wound when  Christian pushed Best into him and stabbed both men again.

When the train came to a stop Fletcher who was clutching his neck, exited the train as passengers on the platform tried to help him.  He was treated for his injuries and released by the hospital. Fletcher said in an interview that his injuries missed being fatal by one millimeter.

Ricky Best fell to the floor and two men rushed over to start CPR but the veteran and father of four, died at the scene.  Namkai-Meche lay on the floor as passengers-including one of the teens he defended-reassured him and tried to stop the bleeding.  He later died at the hospital.

The train video showed Christian grabbing his belongings and a bag dropped by the Muslim teenager and leaving the train while waving his knife as he got off the train.  He threatened several people on the platform with his knife and tossed the teen’s bag onto the freeway as he exited.  Several witnesses followed Christian and directed responding police officers to his whereabouts.

After his arrest, Christian admitted to drinking Sangria before and while on the train.  He has what appears to be an extremist ideology with an affinity for Nazis and political violence, according to his social media postings.

In Montana, tech millionaire Greg Gianforte won a special election for the state’s sole congressional seat just one day after he was charged with assaulting a reporter.   Gianforte body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs to the floor and repeatedly punched him, after Jacobs tried to ask about the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the House health care bill.

More than $6 million was spent by outside groups in Montana’s special election with 90% of the money favoring Gianforte.  He won just over 50 percent of the vote, defeating Democratic challenger Rob Quist, who received 44 percent.  Gianforte addressed the incident during his victory speech “Last night, I made a mistake, and I took an action that I can’t take back. And I’m not proud of what happened. I should not have responded in the way that I did. And for that, I’m sorry.”

Immediately after the violent altercation, the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs, quickly relayed the incident on social media.  “Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs tweeted.  Jacobs  went to a local hospital for an X-ray on his elbow and Gianforte left the event.

Jacobs’ account of the incident was corroborated by Fox News Alicia Acuna, who was in the room to interview Gianforte at the time of the violent attack. Acuna stated that after Jacobs asked Gianforte a question, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck and slammed him to the ground before punching him repeatedly.  “To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies,” Acuna wrote in her account of the attack.

The sheriff’s office released a statement saying it was investigating allegations of assault involving Greg Gianforte but held press conference hours later as news of the assault spread.   Gianforte spokesperson Shane Scanlon released a statement that conflicted with witness accounts “Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office,” Scanlon said in the statement, “the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions.  Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

In audio released of the incident, Jacobs asks Gianforte a question about the latest CBO scoring of the Affordable Health Care Act.  “I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said.  A struggle can be heard on the recording as Gianforte continues “ The last guy who came here did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with the Guardian?”  “Yes! You just broke my glasses, you just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Jacobs can be heard saying as Gianforte repeatedly yells at him to “Get the hell out of here.”

Earlier on the day of the assault, Jacobs had published a story in the Guardian about financial ties between Gianforte and Russian companies under U.S. sanctions.  There is no word on whether his report in the Guardian was a motive in the assault.

 

The state of Arkansas received heavy criticism and sparked new debates over the death penalty after they rushed to carry out an unprecedented series of 8 executions in 11 days during the month of April as its supply of the sedative midazolam was set to expire at the end of the month.  All eight men were convicted of murders that occurred between 1989 and 1999 with some of the crimes described as particularly heinous.  The eight men scheduled for execution were Kenneth Williams, Bruce Ward, Stacey Johnson, Don Williamson Davis, Ledell Lee, Jack Harold Jones, Jason McGehee and Marcel Williams.

Governor Hutchinson signed proclamations setting four execution dates for the eight inmates between April 17 and 27. Two men would be put to death on each of the four dates.  In a statement he said that it was necessary to schedule the executions close together because of doubts about the future availability of one of three drugs the state uses in its lethal-injection procedure.

Arkansas uses a cocktail of three drugs in its lethal injection formula: Midazolam is used to sedate the prisoner, vecuronium bromide paralyzes prisoners and stops their breathing, and potassium chloride stops the heart.  Midazolam is the most controversial of the three since it has repeatedly failed to make prisoners unconscious in other executions, leading to painful deaths.  It is not approved by the FDA to be used as an anesthetic on its own, but doctors do use it combined with other drugs before surgical procedures. That is not the case in prisons.

The hurried schedule hit roadblocks from the moment it was announced as attorneys for the eight men attempted to block the executions- including using the argument that midazolam does not effectively prevent a painful death.  Separate rulings stayed the executions of two of the prisoners, Don Davis and Bruce Ward.  Arkansas appealed the decision in Davis’ case, but the US Supreme Court upheld it.  Then Federal Judge Kristine Baker put a stop to all eight executions on April 15, a decision that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed two days later.  By the end of April, four of the men received stays for various reasons.

Despite the drug shortage and the controversy over its use-  lethal injection remains the country’s primary method of execution.  The drug shortage has spurred some states to begin adapting new and untested combinations of drugs while other states look at other methods of executions.  Utah, Tennessee and Oklahoma added or broadened their abilities to use a firing squad, electric chair or nitrogen gas.

With the month over and the expiration date passing-the freshly stirred dust on the death penalty debate has not settled.  Capital punishment has long been a divisive issue in the United States with support of it declining to a 40 year low.  According to a 2016 Pew Research Center poll, Americans remain split, with 49 percent in favor and 42 percent against it (9% were undecided).

Nationwide, the number of executions has faced a decline as well.  Since 2007, seven states have abolished the death penalty and the governors of four others have issued moratoria on the practice.  Arkansas is currently one of 31 states with courts that still issue death sentences.

 

Five people have died and dozens were injured in a terrorist attack outside the Houses of Parliament in London including a police officer and the attacker.  The attacker is believed to have acted alone but police are investigating possible associates and do not further attacks on the public are planned.  ISIS has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack, calling the attacker “a soldier of Islamic State”.

The attack began when 52 year old Khalid Masood drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge.  He struck and killed three people – two of whom died at the scene and one who later died of his injuries in the hospital.  Masood crashed the vehicle into a wall outside the parliament, where he ran into New Palace Yard.  Armed with two knives, he attacked two police man at the security gates as he tried to enter the building.  There, he stabbed an unarmed police officer multiple times and was subsequently shot by police.

At least 50 people were injured, with 31 requiring hospital treatment. Two victims remain in a critical condition, one with life-threatening injuries. Two police officers are among those still in hospital.  Victims killed in the attack have been identified as 43 year old mother of two Aysha Frade who was hit by a bus while fleeing the attack and 75 year old Leslie Rhode who succumbed to his injuries in the hospital.  Also killed was 54 year old Utah resident Kurt Cochran.  He and his wife, Melissa, were on the last day of a trip to Europe to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Melissa remains in hospital with serious injuries.  Forty-eight year old Police Officer Keith Palmer who was a husband and father, had 15 years of service with the parliamentary and diplomatic protection service.

British-born attacker Khalid Masood was known to police and had been investigated a few years ago by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism but police have said he was not part of any current investigation at the time of the attack. Masood, who was born in Kent, a county east of London, had several aliases including his birth name “Adrian Russell Ajao”.  He  had a range of previous convictions for assaults- including grievous bodily harm, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences. His most recent arrest was in December 2003 for possession of a knife.

London mayor Sadiq Khan, led a vigil attended by thousands in Trafalgar Square where he vowed “Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism”. World leaders condemned the attack and offered condolences. The US president, Donald Trump promised full support by the US government to the UK in responding to the attack.  Leaders of Canada, France, Germany and Spain were among others who sent messages of solidarity.

In the aftermath of the attack, London has been doubled the number of armed police and increased the number of unarmed officers.  Police raided properties in Birmingham — where the culprit’s vehicle was rented from Enterprise — and London.  Defense Minister Michael Fallon described the attack as a “lone-wolf attack” but said investigators were still checking whether others were involved.