Tag Archive: Mark J Shuster Olmsted County


 

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Federal authorities have made an arrest in the pipe bomb mailings four days after the investigation began.  Cesar Sayoc, a 56 year old DJ and former stripper, is accused of sending 13 pipe bombs through the mail to a range of Democrats and critics of the president.  Authorities say Sayoc left a trail of forensic and digital evidence behind that authorities used to track him down and arrest him.  Prosecutors charged Sayoc with five federal crimes and he faces more than 50 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Sayoc, who has a long criminal history, was arrested in Florida after investigators linking DNA found on two bomb packages to a sample that was previously collected by the state of Florida.  They also matched his fingerprints to one from a separate pipe bomb mailing he sent.  Authorities say  he had previously filed for bankruptcy and appeared to be living in his van, showering on the beach or at a local fitness center.

Authorities launched an investigation after packages containing homemade pipe bombs were sent to prominent Democrats.  The packages were sent to Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, George Soros, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Congress member Maxine Waters and former CIA Director John Brennan.  Investigators say the devices may have originated in southern Florida and were sent through the U.S. Postal Service. The 10 packages being examined had a return address for Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and on some of the packages, her last name was misspelled.

CNN had to evacuate its New York office in Manhattan after it received what police described as a “live explosive device.”  The package was delivered by courier to CNN’s offices at the Time Warner Center in New York and was addressed to the former CIA director John Brennan.  The package also contained an envelope containing white powder.   Police are also investigating a suspicious package found early this morning that was mailed to actor Robert De Niro’s restaurant in New York. De Niro has frequently publicly criticized the president.  Two additional packages were intercepted Thursday, headed for former Vice President Joe Biden in Delaware.  Authorities discovered the two packages at post offices in Delaware addressed to the former vice president.  At least one of them had been misaddressed and returned to sender.  No one was hurt in any of the cases.

Authorities say the devices sent to Soros, Brennan and the Democratic officials appeared to be pipe bombs that were rudimentary but functional.  All the explosive devices had similar construction, had timer devices and at least one contained projectiles, including shards of glass.  Sources say the bombs were unstable and could have been set off by handling.  The FBI said all the packages were in manila envelopes with bubble-wrap interior and had six American flag Forever stamps on the envelopes.

Investigators are analyzing the crude devices to reveal whether they were intended to detonate or simply cause fear before the Midterm Election.  Law enforcement officials said that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged to explode upon opening. They are uncertain whether the devices were just poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm.

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A 14-year-long oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico is set to become one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history. The leak is releasing between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day off the coast of Louisiana.  The spill started in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan battered the area resulting in a mudslide that sank an oil production platform.  The platform is owned by Taylor Energy and the oil wells have not been capped and continue to spill into the Gulf.

Taylor Energy kept the spill a secret for six years until environmental groups discovered it while monitoring the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill just a few miles away.  In 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard estimated that 16,000 gallons were flowing from the well into the surrounding water each day.  Just last month, the Department of Justice submitted an independent study that claims previous evaluations of the damage, submitted by the platform’s owner Taylor Energy Co. and compiled by the US Coast Guard, significantly underestimated the amount of oil being leaked.  The study gave a new estimate of between 10,000 and 30,000 gallons of oil leaking from wells around the platform each day.

In the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, 176 million gallons of oil flowed into the Gulf, contaminating 1,300 miles of shoreline and killed thousands of marine mammals and contaminated their habitats.  The spill lasted 87 days and a range of protected species were exposed to oil during the spill.  If the estimates of the Taylor Energy spill are correct then between 81 and 153 million gallons of oil have leaked into the Gulf of Mexico over the last 14 years.  With no plan to stop the flow of oil, the Taylor Energy spill is threatening to overtake BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever offshore oil spill in US history.

Taylor Energy liquidated its oil and gas assets and ceased production and drilling in 2008.  In 2015, Taylor Energy settled a lawsuit with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN).  A complaint filed in relation to the suit, Taylor Energy claimed the sheen at the site of the Taylor spill was “residual” and “there is no evidence to suggest” an ongoing leak. The company also claimed it had been fully compliant with US Coast Guard regulations regarding the spill.

The Taylor Energy oil spill has been well-known to people in the area for years but has never maintained national conversation because it isn’t as “in your face” as the Deepwater Horizon spill.  This leak has managed to fall through the cracks for over a decade and is set to potentially become the worst leak in US history because its effects are not immediately seen and because of flawed estimates when it was discovered.  Companies responsible for significant spills report them to the National Response Center operated by the Coast Guard.  Mandatory reports from the company are then submitted containing regular aerial measurements showing the iridescent sheen on the water that appears to the naked eye.  Estimates of spills are calculated by calculating those measurements with the estimated minimum thickness the oil needs to be to cast such a sheen.

The initial estimates when the leak was discovered in 2010 are based on the reporting from Taylor Energy.  The Department of Justice findings are based on estimates of satellite imagery.  Some of the resulting measurements of the oil leakage were 17 times larger than Taylor Energy’s initial estimates.  The numbers show the volume of the spill is much higher but the environmental impact remains unknown.  There hasn’t been enough public or political pressure for research to figure out the damage of a long-term, chronic leak.

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Russian officials say the gunmen who killed 21 people and wounded 53 more before killing himself at a vocational school in Crimea was an 18 year old student of the school.  The shooter, identified as Vladislav Roslyakov, described as a shy loner, also set off an explosive device.  He committed suicide in the library after the assault at Kerch Polytechnic College.  Officials are still investigating a motive in the attack which is the deadliest instance of school violence in the region since the 2004 Beslan terror attack, which killed 333 people, most of them children.

At first, officials reported a gas explosion at the school but later said an explosive device had ripped through the cafeteria during lunchtime in a suspected terrorist attack.  Eventually, the attack was classified as a mass murder attack at the school carried out by one person.  The Investigative Committee said the homemade explosive device rigged with shrapnel went off in the school lunchroom and a second explosive device was later found and destroyed.

Guns are tightly restricted in Russia. Civilians can own only hunting rifles and smooth-bore shotguns and must undergo significant background checks.  Local officials said Roslyakov had only recently received a permit to own a shotgun which he bought on September 8th.    Officials say Roslyakov bought 150 rounds of ammunition at a gun shop on October 13.  Just four days later on October 17th, he entered the school grounds at about 11:46 a.m. and began his attack.  Several witnesses described the gunman walking up and down the halls at Kerch Polytechnic College and firing randomly at classmates and teachers. He also fired at computer monitors, locked doors and fire extinguishers.  A survivor of the attack said the shooting lasted about 15 minutes.

Security footage at the school shows Roslyakov enter the technical college carrying a sports bag and bypassing security.  He then entered the school’s lunchroom with a rucksack and leaving without it.  The footage captures him going up to the school’s first floor empty-handed just before a fire ball and a massive explosion blows out windows and doors on the ground floor.  Roslyakov is then shown walking towards a female teacher in a corridor and gunning her down, before shooting an approaching student.  A security camera image carried by Russian media showed Roslyakov, calmly walking down the stairs of the school with the shotgun in his gloved hand while wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “Hate.”

A video taken by an unknown survivor of the attack shows a terrified group of students and staff running through a hallway as gunshots and screaming can be heard nearby.  The group talk in whispers as they search for safety, not knowing where the gunmen is.  The video shows them briefly in a classroom and then another hallway.  They approach a stairwell and see a body on the stairs below before turning back down the hall and down another stairwell.  Terrified, they cautiously look down the stairs before making a run through a doorway and to an outside exit.

If you’re thinking some details in this story sound very familiar you are correct.  His outfit resembled that of Eric Harris, one of the perpetrators of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.  The Columbine attackers also tried but ultimately failed to detonate an explosive device in the cafeteria.  Similar to Columbine, Roslyakov also retreated to the school library to commit suicide after the attack.  A friend of the shooter said he had an interest in the Columbine school shooting in the US.  Also leading to speculation that the massacre was a copycat crime is the fact that some Russian news outlets have reported that Roslyakov belonged to a fan club on social media for the columbine shooters.  Russian news outlets have dubbed the shooting the “Russian Columbine,” because of the similarities.

 

NY Limo Crash Leaves 20 Dead

 

 

 

 

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On October 6th, a deadly limo crash in upstate New York killed 20 people, making it the deadliest transportation accident in the U.S. since 2009.  The crash occurred just before 2pm on Saturday in the town of Schoharie, about 25 miles west of Albany.  All 18 people inside the limo, including the driver and 2 pedestrians were killed.

The limousine, a 2001 Ford Excursion, ran a stop sign and crossed the intersection of State Route 30 and State Route 30A, traveling at about 50 mph. The limo struck an unoccupied Toyota Highlander in a parking lot of a local country store, which then hit and killed the two pedestrians.  The limo then barreled through the parking lot before landing in a shallow ravine beyond the road.

The occupants, a group of 17 family and friends, had just set out to celebrate one of the victims, Amy Steenburg’s 30th birthday and were headed to a brewery in Cooperstown.  Among the dead were Amy Steenburg and her husband of four months Axel Steenburg, and her brother-in-law Rich Steenburg who is survived by a 10-year-old daughter and 14-year-old stepson.  Amy’s three sisters and two of their husbands were also killed in the limo crash.  Mary Dyson, 33, one of Amy’s sisters, along with her husband, Rob Dyson, 34.  Amy’s sister Abigail Jackson, 34, and her husband Adam Jackson, 34, left behind two daughters, Archer and Elle, ages 4 and 1.  Amy’s other sister Allison King, 31, was also killed.

Also in the group were newlyweds Erin McGowan, 34 and Shane McGowan, 30; Amanda Halse, 26, and her boyfriend Patrick Cushing, Amanda Rivenburg, Rachael Cavosie, Michael Ukaj, a marine who served in Iraq and Matthew Coons and girlfriend Savannah Bursese.  The limo driver, Scott Lisinicchia, 53 and two pedestrians; 46-year-old assistant professor Brian Hough and his 71 year old father-in-law James Schnurr were also killed.  Hough and Schnurr were standing in the store parking lot talking when they were killed.

The limo involved in the crash, which was owned by Prestige Limousine, had failed a Sept. 4 safety inspection in part due to an Anti-lock braking system (ABS) malfunction indicators for the hydraulic brake system.  The driver, Scott Lisincchia also did not have the appropriate driver’s license required to drive a vehicle that can hold more than 15 people.  Joseph Morrissey, spokesman for the New York State Department of Transportation, said in a statement. “The assertion that the limousine was cleared to be on the road following the September inspection is categorically false.  The vehicle was subject to inspections and the owner was warned not to operate the vehicle; the vehicle was placed out of service.”

Just days after the deadly crash, the operator of the limo company, Nauman Hussain, 28, was arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide.  Hussain’s car was packed with luggage when he was stopped Wednesday on a highway near Albany.  Police say he was charged because he put a defective vehicle back on the road and hired a driver whom he knew was not properly licensed to drive the vehicle.  Hussain pled not guilty was released after posting $150,000 bond that same day.

Hussain’s lawyer, Lee Kindlon, said his client only handled marketing duties and phone calls, while his father, Shahed Hussain, is the owner of Prestige Limousine, and the person responsible for the day-to-day operation of the limo company.  Shahed Hussain is currently in Pakistan.  Police say Nauman Hussain is the one who put the vehicle back on the road despite it failing inspections and hired the driver who did not have proper licensing to operate the vehicle.

 

 

 

 

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Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, 40, was convicted of second degree murder in the 2014 shooting death of 17 year old Laquan McDonald.  Van Dyke is the first Chicago officer to be charged with murder for an on-duty shooting in about 50 years. Second-degree murder usually carries a sentence of less than 20 years, especially for someone with no criminal history but probation is also an option. Van Dyke was also convicted of 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each bullet.

The second-degree verdict reflected the jury’s finding that Van Dyke believed his life was in danger but that the belief was unreasonable. The jury also had the option of first degree-murder, which required finding that the shooting was unnecessary and unreasonable.  Legal experts say Van Dyke will likely be sentenced to no more than 6 years but that because he is an officer, it will likely be in isolation.

The verdict was the latest chapter in a story that shook Chicago residents soon after a judge ordered the release of the video in November 2015.  Protests erupted and continued, demanding accountability for the shooting.  The city’s police superintendent and the county’s top prosecutor both lost their jobs — one fired by the mayor and the other ousted by voters. It also led to a Justice Department investigation that found a “pervasive cover-up culture” and prompted plans for far-reaching police reforms.

The city had been preparing for possible demonstrations in a case that already sparked protests with many downtown businesses and City Hall closing early in anticipation of protests.  Groups of demonstrators took to the streets for several hours after the verdict, chanting, “The people united will never be defeated,” and “Sixteen shots and a cover up.”

Prosecutors in Van Dyke’s trial called on multiple officers who were there that night in an effort to penetrate the “blue wall of silence” long associated with the city’s police force and other law enforcement agencies across the country.  Three officers, including Van Dyke’s partner, have been charged with conspiring to cover up and lie about what happened to protect Van Dyke. They have all pleaded not guilty.

According to testimony, on the night of the shooting, officers were waiting for someone with a stun gun to use on the teenager when Van Dyke arrived.  Former Police Officer Joseph Walsh, Van Dyke’s partner the night of the shooting, testified that Van Dyke said to him “Oh my God, we’re going to have to shoot that guy,” before arriving at the scene.  Van Dyke was on scene for less than 30 seconds before opening fire and the first shot he fired was 6 seconds after he exited his patrol car.

The first responding officer said that he did not see the need to use force and none of the at least eight other officers on the scene fired their weapons.  Video of the shooting shows that Officer Van Dyke was advancing on McDonald, while McDonald was walking away from him when the first shot was fired.  McDonald was shot 16 times in 14–15 seconds and 9 of those shots hit his back as he lay on the ground.  Toxicology reports later revealed that McDonald had PCP in his blood and urine.

Assistant special prosecutor Jody Gleason told the jury that Van Dyke contemplated shooting McDonald before he even encountered the young man, referring to testimony about what Van Dyke told his partner before arriving at the scene.  “It wasn’t the knife in Laquan’s hand that made the defendant kill him that night. It was his indifference to the value of Laquan’s life.”   Van Dyke was taken into custody moments after the verdict was read.  He is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on October 31.

 

 

 

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Turkish officials believe Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.  Khashoggi, a writer for The Washington Post who has written columns critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, entered the Saudi consulate around 1pm on Oct. 2nd and has not been seen since. Khashoggi was there to pick up paperwork he needed for his upcoming wedding to Hatice Cengiz that he had requested the week before.  Centgiz says she watched him enter the consulate but did not see him re-emerge.  Saudi officials have claimed he left the consulate shortly after visiting.

Khashoggi, one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent journalists and a leading critic of Saudi Arabia’s current leadership, wrote columns for The Washington Post and has been a thorn in the side of the crown prince, for some time.  He had been living in self-imposed exile in Virginia after leaving Saudi Arabia last year.  He told friends and reporters that the space for freedom of speech under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was shrinking and he feared for his safety.

A half an hour before Khashoggi arrived for his appointment, Turkish national staff working in the building were told to take the rest of the day off.  Since mobile phones are not allowed inside the diplomatic building, Khashoggi left his iPhone with his fiancée, who was to wait for him outside, and told her to raise the alarm if he did not emerge after more than four hours. He kept his Apple watch on him which was synced to his phone.  Cengiz waited outside until about 1am for Khashoggi to return before contacting Turkish authorities.

During the initial investigation into his disappearance, U.S. intelligence reportedly intercepted Saudi communications regarding a plot to detain Khashoggi and that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, was directly involved – ordering an operation to “lure” Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him there.  CNN later reported that they saw a cleaning crew enter the main consulate building a day before Turkish officials, including a forensics team, arrived to begin their investigation.

Attention has been focused on what officials believe was a hit squad, a 15 person team of Saudi special forces officers, intelligence officials, national guards and a forensics expert that flew in and out of Istanbul the day Khashoggi disappeared.  The details of the alleged hit squad were listed on flight manifests leaked to the press.  The Saudi team is said to have arrived at Atatürk airport on Tuesday last week on two planes, one of which landed in the pre-dawn hours and the second in the early afternoon. The officials checked in to two hotels near the Saudi consulate.

Turkish intelligence believe that Khashoggi was tortured, killed and dismembered inside the consulate on Oct. 2nd.  News sources say Turkish officials have an audio recording of the alleged killing from the Apple Watch he wore when he walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.  The audio recording is described as showing there had been an assault and a struggle inside the consulate as well as the moment that Khashoggi was killed.  Authorities recovered the audio from Khashoggi’s iPhone and his iCloud account.  News sources also alleged Saudi officials tried to delete the recordings by incorrectly guessing Khashoggi’s PIN on the watch.

 

 

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Federal prosecutors in Virginia have charged four white supremacists from California with conspiracy and inciting rioting at the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in August of 2017.   Last year’s protest left activist Heather Heyer dead after white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. plowed his car into a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters.

Benjamin Daley, Thomas Gillen, Michael Miselis and Cole White are all members of a militant white supremacist group from California known as the Rise Above Movement, which espouses anti-Semitic views and meets regularly in public parks to train in boxing and other fighting techniques, according to an affidavit written by an FBI agent.  According to The Anti-Defamation League, the Rise Above Movement members believe they are fighting against a “modern world” corrupted by the “destructive cultural influences” of liberals, Jews, Muslims and non-white immigrants. Members refer to themselves as the mixed martial arts club of the “alt-right” fringe movement, a loose mix of neo-Nazis, white nationalists and other far-right extremists.

U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen said each defendant faces a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted on the two counts they each face: traveling to incite riots and conspiracy to riot.  The affidavit alleges the four men were “among the most violent individuals present in Charlottesville” in August of last year during a torch-lit march on the University of Virginia campus and a larger rally in downtown the following day. It says photos and video footage shows they attacked counter-protesters, “which in some cases resulted in serious injuries.”  The men have also taken part in “acts of violence” at political rallies in Huntington Beach and Berkeley, California, and other places, the affidavit alleges.

Cullen said that the men also engaged in acts of violence in their home state of California at a series of political rallies, dubbing them “serial rioters.”  At a news briefing, Cullen said “This is a group that essentially subscribes to an anti-Semitic, racist ideology, and then organizes, trains, and deploys to various political rallies, not only to espouse this particular ideology but also to engage in acts of violence against folks who are taking a contrary point of view.”

A Los Angeles judge denied bail for Michael Miselis, finding that he posed a risk to the community.  Miselis’ attorney argued for his release, detailing how his client got his master’s at UCLA and worked as an engineer at Northrop Grumman for five years before being dismissed after his connection to Charlottesville became public.  Prosecutor David Ryan argued against bail for Miselis, saying agents found smoke bombs, flares, and thousands of rounds of ammunition, mostly for assault weapons, in his home, where he had a wall hanging that said “88,” a common abbreviation for “Heil Hitler.”  Ryan also said said Miselis, Daley and other members of their group also traveled to Germany and the Ukraine earlier this year and met with members of well-known violent white supremacy groups.

Cullen said investigators sifted through “an incredible volume” of video and still photographs to review the movements of the four men and determine whether they could claim they were only defending themselves after being attacked by others at the rally. He said prosecutors believe there was “no provocation” for them to engage in violence that day.  The four men, he said, made their way to the rally with their hands taped, “ready to do street battle.”  Then they engaged in punching, kicking, head-butting and pushing, assaulting an African-American man, two women and a minister who was wearing a clerical collar, Cullen said.  Cullen also said a significant aspect of the case was that the four men had “extensive and robust” social media profiles and used social media to further their purposes.

 

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Bloomberg revealed a probe was started in 2015 regarding data center equipment run by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Apple may have been subject to surveillance from the Chinese government via a tiny microchip inserted during the equipment manufacturing process at factories run by subcontractors in China.  The chips were used for gathering intellectual property and trade secrets from American companies and may have been introduced by a Silicon Valley company called Super Micro.    Though Apple, AWS and Super Micro deny knowledge of the claims or investigation, a probe that started 3 years ago is still open.

In early 2015, Amazon was looking to expand their web streaming services and began working with Elemental Technologies, based in Oregan.  Elemental, which has government contracts, made software for compressing massive video files and formatting them for different devices. Its technology has been used to communicate with the International Space Station and funnel drone footage to the Central Intelligence Agency.

The chips were discovered after AWS hired a third-party security company to scrutinize Elemental’s products.  The company examined the servers that customers installed in their networks to handle the video compression.  Testers found tiny microchips, not much bigger than a grain of rice, nested on the servers’ motherboards that weren’t part of the boards’ original design.  Amazon reported the findings to the US authorities.  These servers were assembled for Elemental by Super Micro, who has their servers assembled by manufacturing subcontractors in China.

During the top-secret probe, investigators determined that the chips allowed the attackers to create a doorway into any network that included the altered machines. This kind of tampering is especially hard to accomplish because it means developing a deep understanding of a product’s design, manipulating components at the factory, and ensuring that the doctored devices made it through the global logistics chain to the desired location.

Investigators found that the tampered products eventually affected almost 30 companies, including a major bank, government contractors, and Apple Inc.  Apple had planned to order more than 30,000 of its servers in two years for a new global network of data centers.  Three senior insiders at Apple say that they also found malicious chips on Super Micro motherboards.  Apple severed ties with Super Micro in 2016 for what they officially described as unrelated reasons.

Amazon, Apple and Super Micro deny any knowledge of planted chips though six current and former senior national security officials have detailed the discovery of the chips and the government’s investigation.  One government official says China’s goal was long-term access to high-value corporate secrets and sensitive government networks. No consumer data is known to have been stolen.

Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Amazon Raises Wages To $15

 

 

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Online retail giant Amazon says it’s raising its company-wide minimum wage to $15 per hour for all of its U.S. employees.  The announcement comes amid mounting complaints over labor conditions at the company’s warehouses.  The new minimum wage will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees — including part-time and temporary employees — and 100,000 seasonal employees.  Some employees who already make $15 per hour will also see a pay increase.

Employees will lose a perk known as VCP, through which employees are eligible to earn up to 8 percent of their monthly take-home pay.  The average worker can earn between $1,800 and $3,000 a year through VCP, depending on the season, hours worked and the fulfillment center’s volume.  Warehouse workers will also experience a change in their stock options. As a key attractor for prospective Amazon employees, full-time hourly workers usually receive two to three shares a year after a two-year vesting period.  This program will no longer be offered.

Amazon said the effect of the higher pay will be reflected in its forward-looking quarterly guidance.  The company also said it would lobby in Washington for an increase in the federal minimum wage and urge other competitors to raise wages.  “We will be working to gain Congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The current rate of $7.25 was set nearly a decade ago,” said Jay Carney, senior vice president of Amazon global corporate affairs.  Other large retailers like Target Corp raised its minimum hourly wage last year to $11 and promised to raise it to $15 an hour by the end of 2020.  Walmart raised its minimum wage to $11 an hour earlier this year.

The company and CEO Jeff Bezos have been facing criticism for its pay disparity.  Amazon’s starting pay varies by location with some paying $10 an hour and others paying $13.50 an hour but the national average pay for an Amazon employee is $11 an hour.  For 2017, the average annual pay for an Amazon employee was just under $28,500, according to company filings, while Bezos earned $1.7 million.

Last month Amazon became the second company to cross $1 trillion market value.  The company is led by Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man with a net worth of nearly $150 billion, according to Forbes.  Amazon’s pay increase will cost the company $1 billion or less annually and the recent $20 price increase for Prime memberships will generate enough to offset the wage hike.

What do you think of Amazon’s wage increase?  Hit the comments section and let us know!

Bill Cosby Sentenced

 

 

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Comedian Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home 14 years ago.  Cosby, 81, will be eligible for parole in three years and could be released from prison and allowed to serve out the rest of his 10-year sentence under supervision in the community.

Judge Steven O’Neill said the evidence that Cosby planned the drugging and sexual assault of his victim was “overwhelming,” based on Cosby’s own words in a civil deposition.  In the deposition, provided the year after the alleged assault, as Constand pursued a civil suit against him, Cosby admitted that he procured Quaaludes for women he wanted to have sex.  Cosby also admitted that he asked a modeling agent to connect him with young women who were new in town and “financially not doing well.  Judge Steven O’Neill ruled that the 2005 testimony could be presented to the jury in his criminal trial.

Months after his depositions, Cosby settled the case with Constand and the accusations quickly faded. In October 2014, a Philadelphia magazine reporter at a Hannibal Buress show uploaded a clip of the comedian calling Bill Cosby a rapist and commenting on his Teflon image.  The clip went viral and soon after many accusers stepped forward.  More than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault or harassment, stretching back to the 1960’s but Constand’s case was the only one that led to criminal charges against the comedian.  During interviews, all of the women gave similar accounts of blacking out after having a drink supplied by Cosby and later waking up during or after a sexual assault.  Most said they stayed quiet because they never thought anyone would believe them since Cosby was wealthy and at the height of his career.

On April 26, he was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for the 2004 drugging and sexual assault of Andrea Constand. Each charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison but Judge Steven O’Neill said that the charges had been merged into one because they all stem from the same event.  Constand, a 31-year-old Temple women’s basketball official he was mentoring at the time of the assault.  She testified in detail at the trial about losing control of her limbs after taking pills given to her by Cosby, who served on Temple’s board of trustees and was the public face of the university. The pills, Constand said, left her unable to stop him from violating her at his suburban Philadelphia estate.

At the sentencing hearing, O’Neill aid, “No one is above the law, and no one should be treated differently or disproportionally.”  “This was a serious crime,” O’Neill added. “Mr. Cosby, this has all circled back to you. The day has come, the time has come.”  Cosby was also ordered to pay a fine of $25,000 plus the costs of prosecution — a total of $43,611 — as part of the sentence.  Cosby’s attorneys have repeatedly said they plan to file an appeal in the criminal case.