Tag Archive: www.hi4e.org


 

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The trial has begun for James Fields, the self-described neo-Nazi charged with killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 35 others at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.  Twenty-one-year-old Fields is standing trial for first-degree murder, five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding and failure to stop at the scene of a fatal accident in connection with a car attack on Aug. 12, 2017.  He has entered a not guilty plea and faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted of first degree murder.

Fields is accused of ramming his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.  Video of the incident shows Field’s Dodge Challenger stopping a short distance from those marching in the area reversing, but then accelerating forward into them.  Witnesses say Fields slowly backed up his car in a downtown street then rapidly accelerated, ran through a stop sign and across a raised pedestrian mall, and drove directly into the crowd, hitting numerous individuals including Heather Heyer before ramming into a sedan.  The impact sent people flying through the air.  A few seconds after the initial impact, Fields drove in reverse at a high rate of speed for several blocks- hitting more people.  Pedestrians who had avoided the attack chased Fields along Fourth Street until he turned left and sped off down Market Street.

A Virginia State Police Bell 407 helicopter followed the car and relayed its route to ground units.  A deputy stopped and arrested Fields about a mile from the attack.  Charlottesville Police Det. Steven Young, who arrived at the scene of Field’s arrest, testified that Fields appeared  shocked and repeatedly apologized while sobbing when he was told a woman had been killed.  Young said that the Dodge had holes in the rear window—made by counter-protesters after the initial impact and heavy front-end damage. Young said that the car was “splattered” with blood and flesh with a pair of blue sunglasses stuck in the spoiler on the car’s trunk.   Young also testified that footage from the Unite the Right rally earlier in the day shows Fields chanting homophobic and anti-Semitic slurs as he marched with others.  A short time later, the helicopter footage shows his car driving into the crowd.

Testimony in the trial has largely featured first-hand accounts from people who were injured by the car attack on Fourth Street, by the intersection with Water Street.  Survivors of the deadly crash testified that the mood among counter-protesters was upbeat and celebratory before Fields slammed his Dodge Challenger into another car, triggering a chain reaction that hurled people in different directions.   Witnesses recounted the chaotic scene and testified to a litany of injuries they suffered in the crash, some of which they are still recovering from.

Ryan Kelly, a photojournalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for a photo he took that captured the moment Field’s car made impact with the crowd, also testified in the trial.  He testified that he saw the Challenger slowly backing up the hill. “I thought it was trying to get out of the way,” Kelly testified.  Then, he said he heard tires screech and saw the car speed past him on 4th Street.  “I saw the car accelerate the whole way into the protestors,” he said. “It was going fast into the crowd.”  Survivor and witness Star Peterson is also expected to testify in the trial.  Her right leg was crushed by Fields’ car resulting in her having five surgeries.  She still uses a wheelchair and cane.

Separately, a Virginia grand jury has charged Fields with 30 federal hate crime charges, some of which could result in the death penalty.  He has pled not guilty in those charges as well and no trial date has been set.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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After weeks of denials and shifting narratives on the whereabouts of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the government of Saudi Arabia has finally admitted that Khashoggi is dead.  Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 and was never seen again. Saudi officials now say Khashoggi was killed in a “fistfight” inside the consulate and that 18 Saudis had been arrested in connection with the death.

Turkish officials still maintain that Khashoggi was tortured, murdered and dismembered by a squad of 15 Saudi hit men shortly after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.  They claim that audio and video recordings show Saudi officials used a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi’s body.  They maintain that it was a premeditated hit carried out by a squad of hit men and that one of the men was a forensic specialist specifically brought in to conceal the crime.

CNN aired CCTV footage obtained from the Turkish authorities, showing the Saudi agent Mustafa Mohammed Madani, a member of the 15-man team, leaving the consulate by the back door.  Madani was dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes, aside for mismatched shoes.  He had also put on a fake beard that resembled Khashoggi’s facial hair, his glasses and his Apple Watch.  Madani, who was of similar age, height, and build to Khashoggi, left the consulate from its back door and was later seen at Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, where he went to a public bathroom and changed back to his own clothes and discarded Khashoggi’s clothes.

The body double footage bolstered Turkish claims that the Saudis always intended either to kill Khashoggi or move him back to Saudi Arabia.  Anonymous Turkish officials believe that Madani was brought to Istanbul to act as a body double and that “You don’t need a body double for a rendition or an interrogation. Our assessment has not changed since October 6.  This was a premeditated murder, and the body was moved out of the consulate.”

An anonymous Saudi official claims Khashoggi had been threatened with kidnapping by Maher Mutreb and when he resisted, he was restrained with a chokehold, which killed him.  Madani then left the consulate through the back door dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes.  Khashoggi’s body was rolled up in a carpet and given to a “local cooperator” for disposal.  The official claims it was Mutreb who overstepped by threatening a kidnapping and accidental killing.  The team then filed a false report indicating they let Khashoggi leave after he warned of Turkish police interference.  The official provided Saudi documents indicating the operation was part of a wider initiative to bring expatriate dissidents home and the original plan was to keep Khashoggi in an Istanbul safe house for a period where he would be persuaded to return home or eventually released.  Many have been skeptical of their claims and still believe the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the hit.

Saudi officials again changed their story after Saudi Arabia’s attorney general said that evidence shared by Turkish officials suggests that the killing was premeditated.  They now admit that the killing was premeditated and carried out by a rogue team, still maintaining that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no prior knowledge of the killing.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has directly accused Saudi Arabia of the premeditated murder, calling it a political killing orchestrated by Saudi officials.  Erdogan urged Saudi Arabia to disclose who ordered the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as the identity of a “local cooperator” involved in the murder plot.  He also called for the Saudi suspects to be tried in Turkey.  Erdogan said Turkey has more information about the case than it has shared so far, suggesting he could release more details if the Saudis refuse to reveal vital information.

 

 

 

 

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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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An advocacy group, JOCO United- has recently launched by friends and supporters of the parents of a suicidal teen killed by police during a welfare check.  On Jan. 20, 2018, police were dispatched to the home of 17 year old John Albers at about 5:35 p.m. on a report that he was home alone and suicidal.  Albers had no criminal history but a history of mental health issues, was shot as he was backing the family’s minivan down the driveway by one of the first Overland Park officers to arrive at the home, Clayton Jenison.  Jenison resigned shortly after the shooting for personal reasons.  A month later, after a multi-jurisdictional investigation, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe concluded the officer reasonably feared for his life, deeming the shooting justified.  Dashcam footage was released and shown at the press conference when Howe announced that no charges would be filed.

Howe and Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez said they thought the officer’s actions were not unreasonable and that investigators could not determine if Albers was killed by the first two shots or the subsequent shots.  The release of the video touched off intense debate among the public, especially parents wondering whether calling the police for help with mental health issues was even a safe option.  The video shows two different dashcam recordings of the shooting and begins with the view of a police vehicle as it drives toward the Albers home.  The Albers home comes into view and the family minivan is backing out of the garage into the driveway with Albers at the wheel.  Overland Park Police Officer Clayton Jenison stands to the rear of the van and shouts “Stop!” As the van continues, Jenison fires two shots at it.  The van pauses and then continues backing down the driveway past the police officer, making a U-turn in reverse back toward the house.  The officer shouts “Stop the car!” as another police vehicle pulls up to the entrance of the driveway.  Officer Jenison shoots at the van 11 more times and another officer runs toward the driveway. One of the officers shouts “Shots fired! Shots fired! ”  The van rolls forward into the street and one of the officers shouts “Stop! Stop, John, stop the car!” The van rolls across the street into a neighbor’s front yard as other officers run to the van.  One officer calls for medical assistance “Shots fired, He’s down, we need medical ASAP.”  An officer talks to Albers. “John, John, John, John. God damn it! Glove up, glove up!”  The officer continues talking to Albers. “John, are you all right? Ah, (expletive).

Another video, taken from a dash cam in a vehicle parked on the opposite side of the Albers home, begins before the shooting.  It shows the first two officers arrive first and walk up to the house.  One officer walks back down the driveway while Officer Jenison stays at the front of the house.  Jenison walks into the driveway as the garage door opens.  The van starts backing out of the garage toward the officer.  The officer shouts “Stop!” three times while stepping backward down the driveway and into the grass.  Officer Jenison pulls his gun, firing twice and the van briefly stops in the driveway.  The van continues backing down the driveway and the officer steps to his right to avoid the van. The van makes a U-Turn in reverse into the yard as another police vehicle pulls into the driveway.  Officer Jenison shouts “Stop the car!” and fires 11 more times at the van as it backs up through the yard toward the house.  As other officers run toward the van two officers walk away.  “Hey, deep breaths, man,” one officer says to Officer Jenison. “Deep breaths.  “Come here, buddy, come over here,” one officer says.  Jenison, who sounds obviously shaken says “I thought he was going to run me over, man.” Another officer answers, “I know.”

 

 

 

 

 

Many people were disturbed by the shooting and by the district attorney’s findings, said Mark Schmid of Overland Park, who helped found JOCO United.  “We want to bridge the divide standing between us and the city’s police and political leaders so we can work together.”  One goal is to improve how officers respond to people with mental illness or are in mental distress.  Steve and Sheila Albers told news outlets “People from all walks of life were devastated and shaken by such a senseless act and the exceedingly poor response.” Sheila Albers filed a lawsuit in April, suing the officer who shot her son and the city of Overland Park.  The court documents state that the officer “acted recklessly and deliberately” when he shot and killed Albers, who may not have known police were at his home and was “simply backing his mom’s minivan out of the family garage, Aavehicle passing a police officer does not give that officer an ongoing license to kill an unthreatening citizen.”   The lawsuit is pending.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Starbucks has settled with Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, a pair of black men who were arrested at a Starbucks store on April 12th, after an employee called police claiming they were trespassing. Robinson and Nelson agreed to a settlement with Starbucks for an undisclosed sum and an offer of free college tuition to complete bachelor’s degrees through an online program with Arizona State University that was created four years ago for Starbucks employees. In a separate deal, they each will receive a symbolic $1 each from the City of Philadelphia as well as a promise from officials to establish a $200,000 public high school program for young entrepreneurs.
Business partners Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, both 23, were arrested on April 12 as they sat at the Starbucks waiting for a third man about a real estate opportunity at a Starbuck’s in Philadelphia’s well-to-do Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. The manager of the store called police saying the two refused to leave after not ordering anything. When police arrived, two Starbucks employees told them two men had asked to use the restroom but were told they couldn’t because they hadn’t purchased anything. The men allegedly refused to leave after being asked by Starbucks employees.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross also said the two men refused to leave after being asked three times by police officers. The video of their arrest by Philadelphia police went viral, sparking national debate over racial profiling and set off a wave of civil disobedience protests in Philadelphia. In the wake of the incident, Starbucks says it is closing 8,000 of its stores on May 29 for racial-bias training.

In a statement, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson thanked Robinson and Nelson “for their willingness to reconcile.” “Starbucks will continue to take actions that stem from this incident to repair and reaffirm our values and vision for the kind of company we want to be,” Johnson said.
City spokesman Mike Dunn said the settlement with Philadelphia released the city and its employees from “any and all claims.” Mayor Jim Kenney also lauded the settlement. “Rather than spending time, money, and resources to engage in a potentially adversarial process, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson approached the city and invited us to partner with them in an attempt to make something positive come of this,” Kenney said in a statement. “This agreement is the result of those conversations, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of this effort in the coming months and years.”
Robinson and Nelson, who grew up in an economically depressed section of the city, said the settlements are a good start, aimed at transforming their community and creating the types of opportunities that did not exist when they were younger. Robinson said “We thought long and hard about it, and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see.”

 

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A Pennsylvania court found comedian Bill Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. The 80 year old comedian is facing 30 years in prison and his sentencing hearing is scheduled for this summer. Though he faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele indicated he would not press for that sentence.
Legal experts believe that it is unlikely Cosby will ever be incarcerated and a judge will probably sentence him to home refinement due to his poor health. Legal analyst Areva Martin said the judge’s rulings so far suggest he will give Cosby a much reduced sentence. “I think the fact that the judge yesterday allowed him to walk out of that courtroom, did not remand him immediately to jail, gives us a sense about what this judge is likely to do when he gets to the sentencing hearing,” she said.
Judges can take any number of mitigating factors into consideration when issuing a sentence, she explained. “He will be able to take into consideration Cosby’s age, the status of his health, the philanthropic work that he’s done over the last several decades, the fact that this is his first criminal conviction — all of those will be factors that the judge can take into consideration when sentencing him.”
Constand is the former director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University where Cosby was a trustee and one of about 60 women who have accused him of sexual assaults dating back decades. Constand’s case is the only criminal case stemming from the 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.
He maintains that the sexual encounters were consensual but has admitted to giving them drugs prior to the encounters. In January 2005, in a civil suit Constand filed, she accused Cosby of giving her pills, groping her and assaulting her. Thirteen other women relayed similar claims in court papers and agreed to testify to these claims but the case was settled out of court in 2006. Many of the women gave similar accounts of what happened to them but didn’t come forward for years because they felt no one would believe them over the well-loved actor/comedian.
That changed in October 2014 when comedian Hannibal Burress made fun of Cosby during a stand-up comedy bit and called him a rapist. “People think I’m making it up. I’m like ‘Bill Cosby has a lot of rape allegations,’ (they reply back) ‘No, you do’….That sh*t is upsetting, if you didn’t know about it trust me. Google ‘Bill Cosby rape.
Then in November 2014, Barbara Bowman wrote a Washington Post essay that immediately went viral in which she discussed being raped by Cosby and questioned why it took so long for people to believe her. For months after that essay, dozens of women came forward with similar accusations occurring as far back as the 1960’s.

 

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A federal jury convicted three Kansas militia members were for their role in plotting to bomb a mosque and apartment complex housing Somali refugees.  The plot was thwarted by another member of the group who tipped off federal authorities about escalating threats of violence.  Gavin Wright, Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen were convicted of one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiracy against civil rights. Wright was also convicted of a charge of lying to the FBI. Sentencing is scheduled for June 27.

An FBI informant said they were plotting to use guns and car bombs to mass murder Somalis. The three men belonged to a militia called the Crusaders which was a splinter group of the militia Kansas Security Force.  Testimony and recordings indicate the men tried to recruit other members of the Kansas Security Force to join them.  The men were indicted in October 2016 for plotting an attack for the day after the presidential election in the town of Garden City, about 220 miles west of Wichita.

According to prosecutors, Stein was recorded discussing the type of fuel and fertilizer bomb that Timothy McVeigh used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people. The men discussed obtaining vehicles and filling them with explosives and parking them at the four corners of the apartment complex to create an explosion that would level the entire complex.  They downloaded recipes from the internet and they experimented with and tested those explosives.  Stein was arrested when he delivered 300 pounds of fertilizer to undercover FBI agents to make explosives.  Wright is captured in one recording saying he hoped an attack on the Somalis would “wake people up” and inspire others to take similar action against Muslims.

Defense attorneys argued that the FBI set up the men with a paid informant and all the talk about violence wasn’t serious. They said the men had a right to free speech and association under the U.S. Constitution.  Prosecutors argued that the plot was more than just words and presented enough evidence to convince the jury of a conviction.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the verdicts a significant victory against domestic terrorism and hate crimes.  “The defendants in this case acted with clear premeditation in an attempt to kill people on the basis of their religion and national origin,” Sessions said in a news release. “That’s not just illegal — it’s immoral and unacceptable, and we’re not going to stand for it.”

 

 

 

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One person was killed and seven others sustained minor injuries on a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas when an engine exploded in midair.  The explosion occurred about 20 minutes into the flight, shattering a window that passengers said partially sucked a woman out of the aircraft.  The Southwest plane, a two-engine Boeing 737, made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport at about 11:20 a.m.  Flight 1380 was on its way from La Guardia Airport in New York to Dallas Love Field with 144 passengers and five Southwest employees on board.

It quickly lost altitude after the explosion and violently depressurized after shrapnel from the explosion burst through the window.  Passengers said the window burst and the woman, identified as 43 year old Jennifer Riordan, was partially sucked out of the 10-by-14-inch window head first.  Firefighter Andrew Needum, of Celina, Texas, said he heard a “loud pop” moments after flight attendants had begun to take drink orders. Needum, seated next to his father and son, turned back to see that oxygen masks had deployed in the cabin and there was a commotion a few rows behind him.  When he rushed to row 14, passenger Tim McGinty was trying to pull Riordan back inside the plane. Needum helped McGinty pull Riordan back inside the plane but she was unconscious and seriously injured.

Passenger Peggy Phillips, a retired nurse and an emergency medical technician onboard laid the woman down and immediately began administering CPR, while the pilot urged everyone to brace for an emergency landing.  They continued CPR for the entire 20 minutes until the plane landed safely and airports EMT’s took over.  Philadelphia Department of Public Health spokesman James Garrow said Jennifer Riordan, a mother of two and Wells Fargo executive from Albuquerque, died of blunt force trauma to her head, neck and torso and that her death was listed as an accident.

For that terrifying 20 minutes, passengers and flight crew unsuccessfully tried to plug the hole with luggage and clothing, which was just sucked out of the broken window.  Finally, another brave passenger stood in front of the broken window with his lower back covering the hole to help maintain cabin pressure.  Other terrified passengers spent those minutes thinking they were their last.  Many were scrambling for phones and other electronic devices to record their final goodbyes or purchase wifi to contact loved ones.

Southwest captain Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot with the U.S. Navy, on her final approach to an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport calmly described conditions on the craft to the air traffic controller:

“Southwest 1380, we’re single engine,” said Shults,. “We have part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.” She asked for medical personnel to meet the aircraft on the runway. “We’ve got injured passengers.”

“Injured passengers, okay, and is your airplane physically on fire?” asked the air traffic controller.

“No, it’s not on fire, but part of it’s missing,” Shults said, pausing for a moment. “They said there’s a hole, and, uh, someone went out.”

The National Transportation Safety Board has said the principal culprit of the explosion was a fracture — most likely because of metal fatigue — of one of the 24 fan blades in the engine. When that blade broke away at the fan’s hub, it carried with it parts of the engine cowling and related engine parts.

 

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President Xi Jinping of China is set to rule the country indefinitely after Chinese lawmakers passed changes to the country’s constitution abolishing presidential term limits. The National People’s Congress voted 2,958 in favor of the amendment, two opposed and three abstained. Xi assumed leadership of China’s Communist Party in 2012 and has consolidated power to levels not seen since the era of Mao Zedong. The change in presidency now aligns with other posts Xi holds, as head of the Communist Party and head of the military, neither of which have term limits.
After becoming president in 2013, Mr. Xi fought corruption, punishing more than a million party members. Critics say he has used the anti-corruption purge to sideline political rivals. At the same time, China has clamped down on many emerging freedoms, increasing its state surveillance and censorship programs which critics attain was a move to silence opposition.
The constitutional change officially allows him to remain in office after the end of his second term in 2023. Many believe that now that the constitution has been altered- that Xi Jinping intends to rule for the rest of his life unchallenged. There has been no national debate as to whether a leader should be allowed to stay on for as long as they choose.
The two-consecutive-term limit to China’s presidency was put in place by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982 in order to avoid the kind of chaos and tumult that can sometimes happen when you have a single authoritarian leader, as China had with Mao Zedong. Among many campaigns launched by Zedong were “The Great Leap Forward” in 1957 that aimed to rapidly transform China’s economy from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. This campaign led to the deadliest famine in history and the deaths of more than 45 million Chinese people between 1958 and 1962.
Zedong also initiated the Cultural Revolution in 1966, a program to remove “counter-revolutionary” elements of Chinese society that lasted 10 years and was marked by violent class struggle and widespread destruction of cultural artifacts. It has officially been regarded as a “severe setback” for the Peoples Republic of China.
The National People’s Congress is also likely to confirm China’s new government line-up for the next five years, kicking off Xi Jinping’s second term as president, ratify a law to set up a new powerful anti-corruption agency and ratify the inclusion of the president’s political philosophy in the constitution. His philosophy is officially called “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era”. Schoolchildren, college students and staff at state factories will have to study the political ideology, which the Communist Party is trying to portray as a new chapter for modern China.