Category Archives: Crime

The Battle For Net Neutrality Is In Full Effect

By: Jake Johnson of Common Dreams

“The FCC under Pai is handing over the internet to a few humongous gatekeepers who see the rest of us as products to be delivered to advertisers, not as citizens needing communications that serve democracy’s needs.”

Open internet advocates warned that “we’re running out of time” to save the web from corporate control and called on Americans to make their representatives’ phones “ring off the hook” Tuesday after FCC chairman Ajit Pai unveiled (pdf) his long-awaited plan to scrap net neutrality that critics slammed as “naked corporatism” designed to give a major gift to the telecom industry at the expense of the public.

“The reckless wrecking ball strikes again,” former FCC commissioner and current special adviser at Common Cause Michael Copps said in a statement. “FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s scorched-earth plan for net neutrality displays callous disregard for both process and substance. The chairman’s plan to do away with net neutrality will be a disaster for consumers and yet another handout for big business.”

Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press, said Pai’s plan “makes no sense” for a variety of key reasons.

“It ignores the will of people from across the political spectrum who overwhelmingly support these protections. It ignores the law and the courts, which have repeatedly upheld the 2015 Title II rules. And it ignores the vibrancy of the internet marketplace following adoption of that 2015 order, with incontrovertible economic data showing that both investment in networks and online innovation are flourishing under the very same rules Pai wants to destroy,” Wood said.

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Denver Declares It Illegal To Declaw Cats

By: Chris Morris of Fortune

Denver has taken a stand in the oft-controversial debate over declawing cats, with the City Council unanimously passing a ban on the practice Monday night. Critics have labeled the procedure, which is common in most states, as inhumane.

The city is the first municipality in the country outside of California to ban declawings. (Since 2003, eight cities in that state have prohibited the act.) Public opinion was strongly behind the bill, though some pet owners objected, saying any pain experienced by cats who underwent the procedure was temporary.

The bill applies only to elective declawing. Any medically required procedure is still permitted. The Colorado Veterinary Medical Association opposed the bill, somewhat surprisingly, saying it was an issue that should be left up to cat owners and their pets’ doctors.

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Worth County High School Awarded $3M After Police Abuse Their Civil Rights

By: Chelsea Bailey of NBC

A group of Georgia high school students have reached a $3 million settlement against the Worth County Sheriff’s Office after a judge ruled that law enforcement violated their civil rights by conducting a massive drug search without probable cause.

A judge ordered former Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby and his deputies to pay the staggering settlement to the students.

In April, Hobbs and his deputies spent hours at Worth County High School searching more than 800 students for drugs — and their search turned up empty.

Attorneys from the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Atlanta-based civil rights firm Horsley Begnaud filed a class-action lawsuit against the sheriff’s department on behalf of the students.

According to the suit, deputies “touched and manipulated students’ breasts and genitals” and “inserted fingers inside girls’ bras.” The suit also alleged that the searches revealed the students’ body parts.

Mark Begnaud, who represented the students in the lawsuit, said Hobbs executed the search based on scant evidence and in clear violation of the students’ constitutional rights.

law enforcement beyond just south Georgia — or beyond Georgia — that this abuse of power is just not tolerated,” Begnaud said. “Students don’t shed their constitutional rights when they enter a school.”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order Monday suspending Hobby and appointing a retired deputy sheriff, Bobby Sapp, to serve as interim head of the department.

According to NBC-affiliate WALB, the settlement will now go to U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams for approval.

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Research Shows Correlation Between Cannabis Use And Creativity

By: Eric W. Dolan of Psypost

A new study suggests that differences in personality traits account for the link between marijuana use and enhanced creativity.

“I became interested in this topic upon the realization that a number of my favorite musicians and artists were well known for their cannabis use, and that this cannabis use was commonly thought to have been a cause of the creative success of many artists,” explained study author Emily LaFrance, a graduate student at Washington State University.

“I began to wonder about this commonly held idea – are cannabis users really more creative than non-users? And if so, is this because cannabis use makes them more creative, or is something else causing differences in creativity between users and non-users?”

For their study, which was published in Consciousness and Cognition, the researchers had 412 cannabis users and 309 non-users complete a series of psychological tests.

They found that cannabis users tended to be more extraverted and also tended to be more open to new experiences.

Cannabis users self-reported higher levels of artistic creativity than non-users, but they did not report a higher number of creative works or achievements.

Cannabis users also performed better than non-users on a test of convergent thinking — meaning the creative process of narrowing down potential solutions to find one correct answer.

But the statistical relationship between cannabis use and creativity disappeared when the researchers accounted for the effect of openness to experience. The results suggest that cannabis users’ higher levels of openness to experience are responsible for their enhanced creativity.

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Countries Are Using Digital Disinformation To Manipulate Public Opinion

By: Alex Hern of The Guardian

The governments of 30 countries around the globe are using armies of so called opinion shapers to meddle in elections, advance anti-democratic agendas and repress their citizens, a new report shows.

Unlike widely reported Russian attempts to influence foreign elections, most of the offending countries use the internet to manipulate opinion domestically, says US NGO Freedom House.

“Manipulation and disinformation tactics played an important role in elections in at least 17 other countries over the past year, damaging citizens’ ability to choose their leaders based on factual news and authentic debate,” the US government-funded charity said. “Although some governments sought to support their interests and expand their influence abroad, as with Russia’s disinformation campaigns in the United States and Europe, in most cases they used these methods inside their own borders to maintain their hold on power.”

Even in those countries that didn’t have elections in the last year, social media manipulation was still frequent. Of the 65 countries surveyed, 30, including Venezuela, the Philippines and Turkey, were found to be using “armies of opinion shapers” to “spread government views, drive particular agendas, and counter government critics on social media”, according to Freedom House’s new Freedom on the Net report. In each of the 30 countries it found “strong indications that individuals are paid to distort the digital information landscape in the government’s favour, without acknowledging sponsorship”.

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Louis C.K Releases A Statement After Being Accused Of Sexual Assault

By: The Associated Press

Comedian Louis C.K. released the following statement on Friday following allegations of sexual misconduct in a New York Times report. The statement is unedited except for explicit language:

I want to address the stories told to the New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not.

These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my (penis) without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your (penis) isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.

I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position.

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Falsely Imprisoned Man Learns Law In Prison Library And Uses Knowledge To Free Himself 

By: by ELIZABETH CHUCK and DAN SLEPIAN of NBC

Attorney Jarrett Adams recently helped overturn an innocent man’s conviction — in the same state that, years ago, had sentenced him to prison for a crime he did not commit.

The case was Adams’ first professional win. But it was also deeply personal for the 36-year-old, who spent nearly 10 years behind bars after being wrongfully convicted of sexual assault in a case that Adams, who is black, believes was tainted by racism.

“This is a storybook,” Adams told NBC News’ Lester Holt. “It’s a storybook tale that you wouldn’t believe until you saw it … to have a conviction overturned and in a court, in a state, that I was wrongfully convicted.”

Adams was only 17 when an encounter at a party, an accusation, and a court-appointed attorney put his life on hold.

He had just finished high school on Chicago’s South Side and decided to go to the University of Wisconsin for a party, where he and his friends met a young woman and had what he describes as a “completely consensual encounter from beginning to end.”

Three weeks later, as Adams was getting ready to start junior college in the fall of 1998, he was arrested. An officer informed him that the woman said she was raped, and that he was being charged with a group sexual assault along with two other teenagers.

Adams had never been arrested before. He denied the crime from the start, and thought the misunderstanding would get resolved quickly.

Instead, he was extradited to Wisconsin, where he couldn’t afford legal assistance. A court-appointed attorney chose not to put on a defense, even though there was a witness who could have helped clear Adams: a student living in the dorm who could corroborate Adams’ timeline of events.
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20 Killed In Mass Shooting 

By: Dakin Andone, Kaylee Hartung and Sheena Jones,  of CNN

At least 20 people have been killed in a church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, according to Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt.

Many more have been injured, authorities said Sunday.
The shooter was killed after a brief chase north into neighboring Guadalupe County, according to Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Robert Murphy. It is unclear if the shooter was killed by police or took his own life, Murphy said.

The FBI is responding to the scene of the shooting, according to Michelle Lee, spokeswoman for the FBI’s San Antonio field office.

Local police also have responded to the scene, which occurred at the First Baptist Church, a witness told CNN. The witness, a cashier at a gas station across the street from the church, said she heard about 20 shots being fired in quick succession while a church service was underway around 11:30 a.m. local time.

Sutherland Springs is in Wilson County, about 30 miles east of San Antonio.

Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. told CNN that multiple people were killed and numerous people were injured in Sunday’s shooting.

“My heart is broken,” Gamez said. “We never think where it can happen, and it does happen. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. In a small community, real quiet and everything, and look at this, what can happen.”

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Trump’s Camp Continues To Unravel, Now With Money Laundering and Guilty Verdicts 

By: ADAM GOLDMAN and NICHOLAS FANDOS of The New York Times 

President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was indicted Monday on charges that he funneled millions of dollars through overseas shell companies and used the money to buy luxury cars, real estate, antiques and expensive suits.

The charges against Mr. Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over Mr. Trump’s first year in office.

The two men appeared in the Federal District Court in Washington on Monday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Separately, one of the early foreign policy advisers to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about a contact with a professor with ties to Kremlin officials, prosecutors said on Monday.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was assigned in May to investigate whether anyone close to Mr. Trump participated in a Russian government effort to influence last year’s presidential election. Monday’s indictments indicate that Mr. Mueller has taken an expansive view of his mandate.

The indictment of Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates makes no mention of Mr. Trump or election meddling. Instead, it describes in granular detail Mr. Manafort’s lobbying work in Ukraine and what prosecutors said was a scheme to hide that money from tax collectors and the public. The authorities said Mr. Manafort laundered more than $18 million.

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Au Revoir To Vaping Indoors in New York 

By: BBC

A new rule, which will come into law in 30 days, will mean that the practice will be treated the same as smoking normal cigarettes.

Vaping will be banned in places including restaurants, bars and offices.

New York was one of the first states to ban cigarettes in indoor public spaces in 2003.

Using e-cigarettes has become more popular since tighter restrictions were introduced around real cigarettes.

But this new law will have a relatively small effect.

Many areas of New York State already have a ban in place, including New York City, which has had it since 2013.

The New York Times reports that 70% of municipalities in the state had already prohibited using e-cigs in public indoor spaces.

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