Tag Archive: TX Blue Cross Rate Increases


 

911fundblocked.jpg

 

 

US Senator Rand Paul has blocked passage of a bill to fund healthcare for first responders to the 9/11 attacks. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which serves those who became sick as a result of their work following the 2001 terror attack, is set to run out of funding next year without congressional intervention. Senator Paul’s move came less than a week after the House approved a bill reauthorizing the fund on a vote of 402 to 12.  Senator Mike Lee of Utah also placed a procedural hold on the legislation, further preventing it from passing in the Senate.

The block comes more than a month after an emotional congressional hearing,  where John Stewart, who has been a longtime advocate for the fund, blasted lawmakers for their inaction ahead of a vote on renewing healthcare funding for 9/11 responders.  During his testimony, Stewart became upset several times as he appealed to Congress. “Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders. And in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country, and it is a stain on this institution. And you should be ashamed of yourselves, for those that aren’t here. But you won’t be, because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.”

After that hearing, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the bill which would permanently reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.  Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2010 and the act was reauthorized in 2015 for 90 years. But a portion of the law — the Victim Compensation Fund — was only funded for five years, through the end of 2020.  The fund aimed to provide necessary financial support for the thousands who suffered serious medical issues, including a spate of cancer diagnoses, after the 2001 attacks.  Several more 9/11 first responders have passed away of 9/11 related illnesses since the hearing and hundreds more are still fighting for their lives.

New York City health officials say the number of people who have been diagnosed with 9/11-linked cancers has tripled.  Thousands of first responders rushed to the scene of the attacks and in doing so, exposed themselves to toxic debris in the air, including asbestos, lead, and pulverized concrete, which causes silicosis.  Nearly 5,500 first responders and local residents have now been diagnosed with cancers linked to the toxic smoke and dust of 9/11.  As of September 2018, 2,000 deaths were attributed to 9/11 related illnesses. By the end of last year, many estimate that more people will have died from toxic exposures than were actually killed in the attack.

Mike Barasch, a partner of Barasch McGarry, a law firm that represents roughly 15,000 first responders and survivors of the 2001 attacks including many who testified before Congress, said that he met with Paul and Lee’s staff before the vote and were “assured” that while the two Senators wouldn’t vote for the bill, they also wouldn’t block the bill from passage.  “This is so hypocritical for them to be now saying we are worried about the deficit when both voted in favor for the tax cut,” said Barasch. “This is a moral obligation, Congress must pass this bill.”

The block came just hours before yet another first responder, Kevin Nolan, died from cancer that was diagnosed in the wake of the attacks on September 11th.  Nolan was a retired firefighter and member of Engine Company 79.  He was among the thousands of first responders working at Ground Zero immediately after the terror attacks.

 

Advertisements

 

sadie.jpg

 

Police in Louisiana are releasing new details about the man accused of killing popular Baton Rouge civil rights activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph.  Ronn Jermaine Bell, 38, was arrested on one charge of first degree murder.  According to police, Bell was her tenant and owed her about $1,200 in rent.  Both circumstantial and physical evidence led to his arrest after her body was found in the trunk of her car outside a vacant home about 3 miles away from her home last week. According to the arrest report, Bell admitted to being in the area where her car was abandoned, surveillance cameras place him in the area and his DNA was found on her body.

The death of Roberts-Joseph shocked and saddened the community and sparked a swift and coordinated investigation.  Baton Rouge police credited both the community and detectives in helping find Roberts-Joseph’s accused killer. Police say Bell suffocated the 75-year-old on Friday and then placed her body in the trunk of her own car. According to the East Baton Rouge district attorney, Bell was previously arrested after being accused of raping an 8-year-old girl in 2004. He pleaded guilty to sexual battery and served seven years in prison. He was not on probation or parole but was under indefinite supervision as a sex offender.  Officials say they do not believe Roberts-Joseph knew of Bell’s sex offender status.

Bell was already in jail when he was identified as a suspect in Roberts-Joseph’s murder, for violating sex offender registration requirements.  Bell was booked into jail Monday for not paying the $60 annual registration fee required of all sex offenders. He was then rebooked on Tuesday on the murder charges.  Bell told investigators that the activist had allowed him to stay in the home he was renting as long as he paid her something.  However, in the affidavit, investigators noted that Roberts-Joseph’s own notes suggested that she ” intended to contact the defendant on the day of her murder … in regards to the back payments.”

Roberts-Joseph was considered a local icon in Baton Rouge, where she founded the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African American Museum and hosted the annual celebration of Juneteenth, which she fought to have recognized as a state and national holiday.  She also started the Community Against Drugs and Violence (CADAV), a nonprofit to empower people to combat drugs and street violence in order to create a safer environment for children.

Hundreds gathered in the Louisiana heat at the African American history museum Sadie Roberts-Joseph founded nearly two decades ago to mourn the loss.  Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said “Having known her for decades, she was one of the standout matriarchs of Baton Rouge. She was a part of the fabric of Baton Rouge and we will make her legacy a priority in Baton Rouge because of what she gave to so many here.”

Roberts-Joseph’s daughter, Angela Machen, said that although this experience has been heartbreaking and “heinous,” there has been solace in seeing the community unite to solve her mother’s killing and honor who she was as a person.  “All my mother ever wanted was for this community to come together,” she said. “It’s ironic that this happened in death. What she wanted to happen in life came to fruition in death. We will see to it that her legacy continues.”

 

 

navy seal.jpg

 

 

A seven-member military jury panel has acquitted Navy SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher, 40, on charges of murder, witness intimidation, and assault. The charges stemmed from a 2017 deployment in Iraq during which fellow SEALs said Gallagher stabbed a captive teenage ISIS fighter in the neck. The ISIS fighter, whom Gallagher was treating for air-strike injuries, later died. Three SEALs also said they saw Gallagher shoot two civilians. The jurors found Gallagher guilty of one count related to pictures he took next to the corpse of the Iraqi fighter.

After the verdict was read, Gallagher, his wife and his defense team stood up and began hugging. Gallagher told reporters after the verdict was read: “I’m happy and I’m thankful. I thank God, and my legal team and my wife.”  He still faces the impending sentencing for wrongful posing for photos with a human casualty but his according to his defense attorney Tim Parlatore “We have a sentencing to do, but the maximum sentence on what they’re about to sentence him on is much less than the time that they’ve already had him in the brig, so he is going home.”  The same jury that tried Gallagher sentenced him on July 3, 2019, for posing with the corpse.  The jury gave Gallagher, who served the maximum prison time for this charge, a demotion from Chief Petty Officer (E-7) to Petty Officer First Class (E-6);  a lighter sentence than other potential punishments, such as an other than honorable discharge (OTH).

The jury of five Marines and two sailors — one of whom is a SEAL — had to decide if the boy was stabbed to death, or died from wounds sustained during an airstrike with Gallagher being falsely accused by disgruntled subordinates.  Seven SEALs testified that Gallagher abruptly stabbed the teen prisoner on May 3, 2017, just after he and other medics treated the boy.  Two of them said they witnessed Gallagher, a 19-year-veteran, stab the teen. But one of them, in an admission that stunned the courtroom, Special Operator Corey Scott, who is also a medic, said he was the person who killed the boy when he plugged his breathing tube with his thumb in an act of mercy.

An Iraqi general testified that Gallagher did not stab the boy, and Marine Staff Sgt. Giorgio Kirylo said that he didn’t see any stab wounds on the young ISIS fighter when he moved the corpse to take a “cool guy trophy” photo with it.  Navy Cmdr. Jeff Pietrzyk told the jury that while the detained Islamic fighter was not a sympathetic figure, he was under the control of the U.S. military, which meant he was no longer a lawful target.  Pietrzyk also said that text messages sent by Gallagher prove his guilt. One message said: “I’ve got a cool story for you when I get back. I’ve got my knife skills on.” Another text stated: “Good story behind this. Got him with my hunting knife.”  Pietrzyk then showed a photo of Gallagher holding up the dead prisoner’s head by the hair.  Gallagher’s lawyers said the text was just an example of dark combat humor.

SEAL sniper Dalton Tolbert testified that he does not remember who started a group chat called “The Sewing Circle,” but the purpose of it was to connect with others who were disturbed by what they saw while deployed with Gallagher, and decide how to handle it.  “I shot more warning shots to save civilians from Eddie than I ever did at ISIS. I see an issue with that,” Tolbert wrote in one of the texts.  One of the members of Gallagher’s unit — Alpha Platoon, SEAL Team 7 testified that Gallagher confessed that he killed four women and two other SEAL petty officers told investigators Gallagher bragged about slaying “10-20 people a day or 150-200 people on deployment,” court documents state.

Court records state that one of the SEALS saw Gallagher fire into a crowd of what appeared to be noncombatants multiple times and another states that Gallagher claimed “he averaged three kills a day over 80 days.”  Many of the SEALs that testified said that Gallagher attempted to cover up these alleged crimes by threatening to murder witnesses and embarking on a campaign to identify other whistleblowers, get them blacklisted in the special warfare community and ruin their careers.  But with no body or autopsy evidence, the panel only had testimony of witnesses to review before deciding the fate of a man with a 19 year military career.  Gallagher’s lawyers ultimately tried to prove that some SEALs wanted to derail Gallagher’s advancement to senior chief.  Others were angry that he had been recommended for a post-tour combat valor award — the Silver Star — an honor they thought he didn’t deserve.

 

 

phoenix.jpg

Phoenix’s mayor and police chief have both apologized after a video was released showing officers pointing guns and yelling at a family outside a Family Dollar store, after they say a 4-year-old girl took a doll from the store. The video, recorded by a witness, caused widespread outrage and showed the officers screaming orders at the father, pregnant mother carrying their baby and the young girl.  The police department became aware of the video on June 11th and the officers involved have been assigned to desk duty while their actions are being investigated.  The parents say the police officers violated their civil rights, and are filing a $10 million lawsuit.

On May 29, Dravon Ames and his fiancee, Iesha Harper, said they went on a family outing with their two children, London, 1, and Island, 4. Without their knowledge, Island took a doll from a Family Dollar Store.  A police patrol unit who was responding to the shoplifting report followed the couple’s car. The family entered their babysitter’s apartment complex and were still in the car as an officer approached the vehicle with his gun drawn and yanked open the front door.

“I’m going to put a cap in your a–,” one officer said to Ames as a second policeman, whose weapon was also drawn and pointed at Ames, walked up to the car, the video shows. “I’m going to shoot you in your f—ing face.”  The woman can be heard saying she is unable to hold her hands up because she is holding a child, and that she is pregnant.

The first officer — who has not yet been named by the department — pulled Ames, 22, from the car, pushed his head to the pavement, handcuffed him and yelled that Ames better follow orders, according to the claim. The officer threw Ames against the car, ordered him to spread his legs and “kicked him in the right leg so hard that the father collapsed.” Then, the officer dragged him upright and punched him in the back, the claim said.

Once Ames was handcuffed and inside the patrol car, the officers focused their attention on Harper and the children, according to the claim.  The two officers pointed their weapons at the visibly pregnant 24-year-old Harper and her children, the video shows.  “The first officer grabbed the mother and the baby around both of their necks, and tried to take the baby out of the mother’s hand,” the claim alleged. “He told her to put the baby on the ground, which she was unwilling to do because the baby could not walk, and the ground consisted of hot pavement.”

The officer tried to rip Harper’s youngest child from her arms, the claim stated. After Harper handed the children to a bystander, the officer threw Harper into the police car face first and then handcuffed her.  “I could have shot you in front of your f—ing kids,” he said, according to the claim.  The store manager declined to press charges so neither Ames nor Harper were arrested or ticketed, though they were detained by the police.  The notice of claim alleged that the police officers “committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress, and violation of civil rights under the fifth and 14th amendments of the United States Constitution.”

 

 

 

 

sexual abusesbc.jpg

 

An investigation led by Robert Downen, a Houston Chronicle reporter, reveals 20 years of sexual abuse allegations within the Southern Baptist Church (SBC).  The joint investigation by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News- includes over 700 victims, including many children—some as young as 3 years old.  With about 15 million members, the SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the country and the shocking report has prompted calls for investigations into the church and their role in covering up and enabling the abuse.

Three hundred eighty Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers have been accused of rape, abuse and various forms of sexual misconduct.  Around 220 of those have been convicted of sex crimes or were given plea deals.  Of those 220, 90 remain in prison and 100 are registered sex offenders.  The report also found that members of the church pressured some women to get abortions after becoming pregnant as a result of assault, or threatened to shun them from the church.

The investigation comes as other religious bodies, including the Catholic Church, face accusations of widespread sexual abuse of its members, especially children, over decades.  The investigation of the SBC began because of Debbie Vasquez, who was 14 years old when she was first molested by the pastor of her church and at 18 she became pregnant with the pastor’s child.   In 2008, she and others started asking SBC leadership to track sexual predators and take action against congregations that harbored or concealed abusers but the church’s leaders resisted such reforms.  As a result, Lise Olsen, deputy investigations editor at the Chronicle, says the newspaper created its own database of abusers.

Olsen says it was easier for the abuse to stay a secret because of the church’s culture which does not allow women in leadership positions or condone same-sex relationships.  She says many of the victims are either young women who are told it’s a sin to have sex before marriage, even if you’re forced to by your pastor or they’re young men who are being forced into homosexual acts with pastors and other leaders, and then are stigmatized.  These “purity teachings” leave victims feeling un-empowered to come forward, with some victims losing their faith and even becoming suicidal.

Abusers in religious organizations often don’t just groom victims, they groom communities, preparing them to rise up and protect them.  Those who speak out about sexual abuse in authoritarian religious communities are often shamed in an attempt to quiet them with accusations seeking attention or of trying to bring down a godly man.  They may be told they’re selfish — indulging in their own pain when they should be paying attention to the pain they are causing others, including the people who will turn away from the church and spend an eternity in hell because of the poor light they’ve portrayed the church in.

Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear, who was elected last June, responded to the newspapers’ investigation with a series of tweets:  “The abuses described in this @HoustonChron article are pure evil.”

“There can simply be no ambiguity about the church’s responsibility to protect the abused and be a safe place for the vulnerable. The safety of the victims matters more than the reputation of Southern Baptists.  As a denomination, now is a time to mourn and repent. Changes are coming. They must. We cannot just promise to ‘do better’ and expect that to be enough. “It’s time for pervasive change, God demands it. Survivors deserve it. We must change how we prepare before abuse (prevention), respond during disclosure (full cooperation with legal authorities), and act after instances of abuse (holistic care).”

 

stanlee.jpg

Famed comic book writer Stan Lee, creator or co-creator of some of Marvel’s most well-known and beloved characters, died at the age of 95 on November 12th in Los Angeles.  Lee died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after being rushed there in a medical emergency earlier in the day.  Earlier this year, Lee revealed to the public that he had been battling pneumonia and in February was rushed to the hospital for worsening conditions at around the same time.  Lee was predeceased by his wife 0f 69 years Joan, who passed away in July 2017 at the age of 95.  He leaves behind two daughters, Joan Ceclia and Jan Lee.

Lee has been credited with helping to propel Marvel Comics to the world’s top publisher of comics.  Lee became an assistant in 1939 at the new Timely Comics division of pulp magazine and comic-book publisher Martin Goodman’s company. By the 1960’s, Timely Comics evolved into Marvel Comics and Lee rose through the ranks of a family-run business to become Marvel Comics’ primary creative leader for two decades.  He is credited with leading its expansion from a small division of a publishing house to a multimedia corporation that dominated the comics industry.

Lee became a figurehead and public face for Marvel Comics, making appearances at comic book conventions around America, lecturing at colleges and participating in panel discussions. He served as editor-in-chief and later publisher for Marvel and created or co-created the widely popular characters Black Panther, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and Ant-Man.  Following his retirement from Marvel in the 1990s, he remained a public figurehead for the company, and frequently made cameo appearances in movies based on Marvel characters, on which he received an honorary “executive producer” credit.

In April 2018, The Hollywood Reporter published a report claiming Lee was a victim of elder abuse.  The report alleged that Keya Morgan, business manager of Lee and a memorabilia collector, had been isolating Lee from his trusted friends and associates following his wife’s death.  The report alleges she was attempting to get access to Lee’s wealth, an estimated $50 million.  In August 2018, Morgan was issued a restraining order to stay away from Lee, his daughter, or his associates for three years.

He continued independent creative ventures until his death.  Roy Thomas, who succeeded Lee as editor-in-chief at Marvel, had visited Lee two days prior to his death to discuss the upcoming book The Stan Lee Story.  Thomas said “I think he was ready to go. But he was still talking about doing more cameos. As long as he had the energy for it and didn’t have to travel, Stan was always up to do some more cameos. He got a kick out of those more than anything else.”

 

 

jason.jpg

 

Students at Portland State University in Oregon are calling on administrators to disarm campus police, three months after a pair of officers fatally shot 45-year-old Jason Washington.  The shooting was the first campus officer-involved shooting at PSU.  Washington was shot in June as he tried to break up a bar fight on campus. Portland State University’s Board of Trustees voted in 2015 to arm campus police officers and PSU students are once again demanding they reverse the policy.

The Portland State University Student Union held a rally and a march on campus to demand the disarming of campus police officers. Members followed the march by announcing an occupation for Jason Washington outside the PSU public safety offices.  In 2015, the student union led a year-long campaign that asked the school to reverse its 2015 decision to arm campus police officers.  After a grand jury decided not to charge the officers, the student union said they believe school officials are now open to the idea of disarming officers.  The PSU Board of Trustees released a statement after the ruling that reads, “The board wrestled with the decision to arm campus police in 2014, and we are prepared to wrestle with it again — with open minds — to determine whether the current policy should be continued or changed.”

Police body cam video of the killing shows campus police officers Shawn McKenzie and James Dewey opening fire on Washington, after a handgun Washington was wearing on his hip fell from its holster during a scuffle.  The gun belonged to Washington’s friend, Jeremy Wilkinson, who asked him to hold it just before the fight.  A grand jury declined to indict the officers over the killing after determining the fatal shooting was a lawful act of self-defense and/or the defense of a third person.

Washington, a Navy veteran and postal worker, had met two friends at the Cheerful Tortoise on the afternoon of Thursday, June 28.  Ryan Pratt, one of the friends out with Washington, told officers he met up with Wilkinson at his apartment at 2 p.m. that afternoon and the two of them took an Uber to the Cheerful Tortoise to meet Washington.  After a few drinks, the trio walked to Buffalo Wild Wings and each had 2 shots and a couple beers before heading to the pool hall and betting lounge Rialto at around 7:30pm where they had “one or two beers,” according to Pratt.

Derrial Peterson, the security guard at Rialto, told investigators that Washington appeared to be less intoxicated than Wilkinson and Washington told him that he needs to keep his wits about him because he never knows what is going to happen with Jeremy Wilkinson.  Peterson said he asked the men to leave and overheard Washington chastising his friend about always getting them in trouble and asking why he couldn’t just keep his mouth shut.  The trio returned to the Cheerful Tortoise where they began arguing with people which continued outside.  At this point, Washington took possession of Wilkinson’s gun, holstering it to his hip. Wilkinson said he then began to fight with men outside the bar.  Body camera footage shows the two officers arriving in the midst of the drunken brawl early on June 29.  Washington can be seen with his arms extended, attempting to stop several men from brawling.  As the fight escalates someone can be heard saying “He’s got a gun.” “Drop the gun!” an officer yells several times. “We’ll shoot you!”  One second after that warning, Officer McKenzie shoots.

After the shooting, Wilkinson can be seen in the video, lying next to Washington’s body saying “Holy sh** Michelle’s going to kill me,” referring to Washington’s wife.  Fewer than 30 seconds elapsed between the time Portland State University Police got out of their vehicle and the moment Jason Washington was shot and killed.  The police report shows Washington had sustained gunshot wounds in right knee, his back, left chest, the right side of his neck and left cheek.

youtubeshooter.jpg

 

 

 

Three people were shot Tuesday at the Silicon Valley headquarters of YouTube when a woman opened fire before turning the gun on herself. The violence broke out just after noon in a courtyard outside YouTube’s main building in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno. Police have identified the shooter as 39 year old Nasim Najafi Aghdam.

Aghdam was a frequent uploader to YouTube who’d had videos banned from the streaming service for “multiple or severe violations” of its policy. Beginning in 2010, she posted more than 500 videos, a total of 17 hours about fitness, veganism and animal rights. About a year ago she started expressing her anger with YouTube’s censorship.  “My new videos hardly get views … so this is because I’m being filtered,” Aghdam said in one video.

In one online video, Aghdam accused YouTube of censoring her and depriving her of income from advertising. The woman’s grievances against YouTube appear to focus on censorship and revenue.  “There is no equal growth opportunity on YOUTUBE or any other video sharing site, your channel will grow if they want to!!!!!” one post reads. “Youtube filtered my channels to keep them from getting views!”  Another post accuses “close-minded” YouTube employees of putting an age restriction on videos, saying it’s aimed at reducing views and discouraging the woman from making new videos.

On April 2, 2018, Aghdam was reported missing by her family.  On April 3rd at 1:40 AM, police officers found her sleeping in her car in a Walmart parking lot in Mountain View, 25 miles south of YouTube’s headquarters.  After speaking with her for 20 minutes they did not identify her as a threat or have any reason to detain her.  They notified her family that she had been found.

Later that morning Aghdam practiced shooting her legally purchased 9 MM Smith & Wesson at a gun range in San Bruno.  She then parked near YouTube headquarters and entered the campus on foot.  After walking through a parking garage into a courtyard she opened fire with a handgun, wounding three people before killing herself.  Police say she had no connection to her victims her motive was apparently a grievance with YouTube’s practices and policies.  Two of her victims have been released from the hospital and one was listed in serious condition.

More than 1,100 people work at the YouTube campus in San Bruno, south of San Francisco. Employees there include engineers for the site and sales teams that work with advertisers and content creators.  The company said Wednesday it will increase security at its headquarters and offices around the world.

Ohio State University Attack

On November 28th, an attack on the Ohio State University campus left 11 people injured.   Abdul Razak Ali Artan intentionally rammed his car into a group of people on the Columbus campus, exited the vehicle and began slashing people with a butcher knife.  Ohio State University Police Officer Alan Horujko shot Artan after he failed to obey orders to stop, killing him and stopping the short-lived attack.

The attack lasted less than two minutes but the campus in Columbus, Ohio, remained on lockdown for about an hour and a half as people ran for cover and barricaded themselves in academic buildings and dorms.  Monica Moll, the school’s public safety director, told reporters the attack took place in front of Watts Hall, the location of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, around 9:52 a.m. ET.  Ohio State University’s Buckeye Alert system warned students within minutes of the attack with the message:  Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College.

Artan left his native Somalia with his family in 2007 and spent seven years in a refugee camp in Pakistan. Officials said he came to the U.S. with six family members in 2014 as legal permanent residents and green card holders.  Artan attended community college in Columbus, Ohio, before transferring to OSU this year.

On his first day in August, Artan was interviewed by the campus paper, The Lantern. He complained about what he believed was the media’s negative portrayal of Muslims.  “I wanted to pray in the open,” he was quoted as saying, “but i was kind of scared with everything going on in the media…if people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen.”

A law enforcement source told CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton that Artan had recently posted on Facebook that he was sick of the way Muslims were being treated everywhere.  Authorities believe Artan was inspired by terrorist propaganda from ISIS and deceased Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, two law enforcement sources said.  The sources point to Abdul Razak Ali Artan’s Facebook posts before his short-lived rampage.  The posts referenced Awlaki, who was a leader of al Qaeda in Yemen. Sources also note the style of the attack was encouraged by ISIS in a recent online magazine.

Despite claims from the Islamic State’s purported media wing that Artan was an ISIS soldier, there is no indication so far that Artan communicated with any terror group; evidence points to a lone wolf attack. Investigators are inspecting his computer and cell phone and talking to family and associates, as they try to determine what led him to act. Artan bought knives on the day of the attack, a law enforcement official said.

Two weeks since announcing the start of the operation to liberate the city of Mosul from the Islamic State, the Iraqi army has crossed the city limits, and authorities claim troops are progressing steadily in capturing the city’s dense urban neighborhoods.

The Iraqi military says U.S.-backed Iraqi Special Forces have entered the city limits of Mosul as part of its campaign to retake control of the city from ISIS. The United States is backing the Iraqi army with both U.S. Special Forces on the ground, as well as U.S. airstrikes.  The Iraqi military said recently that it has taken control of Mosul’s television station.  “The security forces liberated the Iraqi Media Network building on the left coast conductor and raised the Iraqi flag over the premises,” an Iraqi official reportedly announced on national television.

Iraqi Media Network is the official means of media for the government and includes satellite channels, radio stations, newspapers and magazines so the importance of recapturing that facility is critical.

The reports have been confirmed that the Iraqi military had entered Mosul’s city limits after liberating the last suburb on the route in.  The progress of the Iraqi troops has been described as moderately paced, with troops entering the neighborhood of Gogjali Tuesday and nearly securing the area before moving deeper into the city.

The troops in Mosul currently are Iraqi Special Forces, not standard troops. Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi told CBS News that they are expecting significant retaliation from Islamic State forces in the city.  ISIS is fighting back and have set up concrete blast walls to block off the Karama neighborhood and our troops’ advance,” he explained. Karama is the next neighborhood after Gogjali en route to the heart of the city.

It has been estimated that there are nearly 8,000 Islamic State terrorists in and around the city that are prepared to keep Iraqi forces at bay. While a coalition of militias are involved in the operation – including U.S. air support, Kurdish Peshmerga troops, and Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) troops – the various factions have agreed that only the official Iraqi military should enter Mosul’s city limits. This caused some early alarm among the Peshmerga, who noted that Mosul’s fall to the Islamic State in 2014 occurred largely because Iraqi soldiers fled the battle.

The Kurdish outlet Rudaw reports that Iraq’s “Golden Brigade” special forces are engaged in heavy “street fighting” with Islamic State terrorists. In addition to attempting to neutralizing the Iraqi military operation, Islamic State terrorists have begun to move thousands of civilians into more secure locations, likely to use them later as human shields, according to the United Nations.  The United Nations is warning as many as 1 million civilians could be displaced amid the fighting for control of Mosul—leading to what could become the largest humanitarian crisis in Iraq’s history.

In addition to moving civilians, it has been reported another sign that the Islamic State appears to believe victory is no longer within reach. “ISIS had suddenly ceased referring to Mosul as the capital of its caliphate through its news media outlets to possibly influence public perceptions about the imminent liberation of Mosul according to the Iraqi satellite TV network, Al Sumaria,” the website Iraqi News has reported.