Category Archives: LAW

'Fisk' is currently one of Dictionary.com’s most searched words thanks to an NRA video threatening The New York Times (NYT)

dana loesch

If you don’t know what “fisk” means, you’re not alone. Searches for the word were up 7,643% week-over-week on Friday afternoon, after the National Rifle Association (NRA) posted a video in which it threatened to “fisk” the paper of record, The New York Times.

In less than an hour, “Fisk” quickly became one of the top searches on Dictionary.com.

The video was posted by NRA TV’s Twitter account. In it, NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch says, “We’re going to fisk The New York Times,” while looking into the camera. “In short, we’re coming for you.”

In conjunction with the hashtag #ClenchedFistofTruth, confusion spread through Twitter like wildfire, as many had misheard Loesch as having said “We’re going to fist The New York Times,” which was thought to be a reference to a sexual act.  

Loesch responded on Twitter with several tweets on the topic.

So what does “fisk” mean?

Dictionary.com’s  first definition is for a proper noun referring to a historical figure, James Fisk: “James, 1834–72, U.S. financier and stock speculator.”

Further down, however, is the British definition, likely intended by the NRA: (slang) to refute of criticize (a journalistic article or blog) point by point.” 

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How Michelle Carter urging her boyfriend to kill himself over hundreds of texts led to a jail sentence for involuntary manslaughter

Michelle Carter

What started out as a summer string of text messages led to one teenager’s death and another’s jail sentence.

Massachusetts Judge Lawrence Moniz sentenced 20-year-old Michelle Carter Thursday to a two-and-a-half year jail sentence — only 15 months of which is to be actually spent behind bars — for repeatedly telling her boyfriend to kill himself after finding her guilty of involuntary manslaughter earlier in the year.

Carter and Conrad Roy III had met in 2014 while both were seventeen and taking family vacations in Florida. In the months after, they started sharing stories of profound emotional instability through Facebook and text messages.

Here’s how a relationship that led to one young man’s suicide and another young woman’s jail sentence unfolded:

SEE ALSO: How a chain of text messages led to one teen’s death and another one’s trial

On June 16, a Massachusetts judge found Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter for sending texts that encouraged a young man that she had called her boyfriend to kill himself.

Source: Business Insider

In the summer of 2014, Roy started sending Carter texts in which he shared thoughts about killing himself. Carter first listened to Roy and offered support, but she later started sending messages that said Roy’s family would “get over it.”

Source: Business Insider

“Everyone will be sad for a while but they will get over it and move on,” Carter texted when Roy expressed worries about what his suicide would do to his family.

Source: Business Insider

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Blackwater founder Erik Prince reportedly wants Afghanistan to use his private air force

Erik Prince

Blackwater founder Erik Prince is reportedly trying to convince the government of Afghanistan to use his private air force for close air support and intelligence collection, according to a proposal obtained by Military Times.

The proposal was floated to Afghanistan’s government in March through a company called Lancaster6, led by CEO Christiaan Durrant, an ex-Australian Air Force pilot and former operations director of Frontier Services Group, the firm Prince founded after he sold off his Blackwater empire.

Durrant previously ran FSG’s “special aviation division,” The Intercept reported in 2016.

It’s unclear what Prince’s role is with Lancaster6, although an Afghan military official told The Military Times that Prince personally presented the private air force proposal (Frontier Services Group did not immediately respond to request for comment).

The “turn-key” proposal to the Afghan government included pilots manning small propeller planes, helicopters, light transport aircraft, drones, and A-4 Skyhawk jets — Vietnam-era light attack aircraft that can fire missiles, bombs, and machine gun ammunition. The proposal also said Lancaster6 could provide medical evacuation and door gunners.

The Military Times report comes less than a month after The New York Times reported that Prince had tried to present a plan to the Pentagon that would replace most American troops in Afghanistan with private contractors. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “listened politely but declined” to hear out Prince’s ideas, the Times reported.

Prince in May wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that a private contractor force under the command of a US “viceroy” working in Afghanistan would save money and fix what he called an “expensive disaster.”

Read the full story at Military Times >

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Despite Trump's tough talk on the border, migrants are still making the dangerous trip north

US President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with newly sworn-in White House Chief of Staff John Kelly

President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as White House chief of staff gave the president another occasion to tout his administration’s efforts to lock down the US’s southern border.

“At Homeland, what he has done has been nothing short of miraculous,” Trump said of Kelly. “As you know, the border was a tremendous problem, and they’re close to 80 percent stoppage.”

According to data published by US Customs and Border Protection, the DHS agency tasked with border security, the number of apprehensions and inadmissible persons at the border with Mexico are considerably lower this year in comparison to previous years.

The number for June, 21,659, was down about 52% from the same month last year. The total for the first nine months of this fiscal year, which runs from October to September, was 207,642, down 49% from the 407,742 recorded over the same period last year.

US border patrol immigrant migrant reunite

Kelly reported in April that the number of people caught crossing the border illegally in March, less than 12,500, was the lowest number for that month in more than 17 years. But that decline, and the low numbers in other months this calendar year, came even though the Trump administration made no changes to how the border was patrolled.

Trump’s tough talk, as well as increased arrests of immigrants in the US, was viewed as likely responsible for the declines — a theory supported by the significant increase in apprehensions at the border seen during the months between when Trump won the election and took office.

But migrants, diplomats, activists, as well as analysis of US apprehension data, suggested the numbers could go up again if Trump’s aggressive rhetoric about a border wall and beefed-up border patrol didn’t translate into action.

CBP arrest apprehensions US Mexico southern border

Trump has made moves on those goals — allotting money for both the wall and new DHS hires — but “the numbers have been creeping back up,” Adam Isacson, senior associate for defense oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America, told Business Insider.

Apprehensions were up 9% between May and June this year.

Apprehensions in “the month of June [are] usually lower than May, but it was higher this year,” Isacson added, noting other signs that US authorities were dealing with a growing number of arrivals and apprehensions.

In a mid-July episode of the Green Line podcast, hosted by border-patrol agents Art Del Cueto and Chris Cabrera, Cabrera said that the agency had reopened its central processing facility near McAllen, Texas.

“They opened up this huge building out here in the McAllen area to deal with the unaccompanied” minors and others who crossed the US border in massive numbers in 2014, Cabrera said.

“And then fast forward a couple years, Trump wins the election, and then … January or February it closed down. It just stopped — just because the apprehensions were slowed to a trickle. Now fast forward a couple months, [it’s] opened back up.”

While overall monthly numbers remain lower than in previous years, the declines seen over the first few months of the Trump presidency appear to have stopped.

“So it sounds like what we expected is happening,” Isacson said. “Violence hasn’t stopped pushing people out of Central America. Nor has poverty. Smugglers haven’t gone out of business. So it makes sense that after an initial pause, the flow of migrants would restart.”

San Salvador El Salvador crime scene murder killing victim police

Experts and immigrants themselves said in the months before Trump’s inauguration that tougher border and immigration policies were unlikely to deter some migrants, who would instead elect to take greater risks, whether by attempting to cross harsh terrain along the border or by putting themselves in hands of human traffickers.

“I call it an unfortunate collateral consequence,” Alonzo Peña, former deputy director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told The Guardian in July. “They will put themselves in the hands of unscrupulous criminals that see them as just a commodity.”

The deaths of 10 people found among more than 100 crammed into a sweltering tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas, on July 23 underscore that willingness. (A day later, four Guatemalans, including two children, died trying to cross the Rio Grande River into the US.)

US Mexico border migrants immigrants

In addition to hauling numerous people, tractor-trailers have a logistical advantage for smugglers — getting human cargo past the “two crossings” consisting of the border itself and border-patrol checkpoints farther inland and then transporting them to locations inside the country.

The San Antonio incident illustrates how deadly such truck-borne smuggling attempts can be, and other incidents in Mexico — which has dealt with its own migrant crisis over the last two years — hint at the prevalence of that smuggling method.

san antonio texas memorial smuggling

On July 29, 178 Central American migrants were rescued from a truck in Tantima, in northern Veracruz state, after some of the occupants realized they had been abandoned and escaped to get help.

The next day, 147 migrants — all from El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras — were rescued in Veracruz after smugglers forced them out of the tractor-trailer they were traveling in north to the US border.

Those 325 migrants were “equal to what Border Patrol was apprehending in an entire day at the entire border in April, the month that migration ‘bottomed out,'” Isacson told Business Insider. “That Mexico found that many just in Veracruz seems to indicate that migrants’ and smugglers’ initial post-Trump ‘wait and see’ period is coming to an end.”

SEE ALSO: Trump: The MS-13 gang has turned ‘peaceful parks’ and ‘quiet neighborhoods’ in the US into ‘blood-stained killing fields’

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NOW WATCH: US governors want to stop the relocation of Syrian refugees to the US

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'Irresponsible, unprofessional': NYPD slams Trump comments urging police not to be 'too nice' to suspects

trump police law enforcement

One day after President Donald Trump drew cheers and applause from a crowd of police officers by urging them not to be “too nice” to suspected criminals, the commissioner of the New York Police Department denounced Trump’s comments as sending “the wrong message.”

“The NYPD’s training and policies relating to the use of force only allow for measures that are reasonable and necessary under any circumstances, including the arrest and transportation of prisoners,” commissioner James O’Neill said in a statement.

“To suggest that police officers apply any standard in the use of force other than what is reasonable and necessary is irresponsible, unprofessional and sends the wrong message to law enforcement as well as the public.”

Trump had been addressing law enforcement officials in Brentwood, New York, on Friday when he departed from remarks on his administration’s efforts to dismantle the street gang MS-13, and began discussing the way officers lead suspects into police vehicles.

“When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough,” Trump said. “I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.'”

He continued: “Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over. Like, ‘Don’t hit their head’ and they’ve just killed somebody.

“‘Don’t hit their head.’ I said, ‘You can take the hand away.’ OK?”

Trump’s comments come at a significant moment in police-community relations, particularly in New York City. The NYPD is among many departments across the country that has attracted national scrutiny over its use of force against civilians, particularly African-Americans.

One of the most prominent instances was the death of Eric Garner in 2014, who died after being placed in a banned chokehold by officer Daniel Pantaleo. A grand jury in Staten Island later declined to indict Pantaleo.

O’Neill had declined to send NYPD officials to Trump’s Long Island speech, telling reporters that the department was too busy with promotion ceremonies.

The department has had a rocky relationship with the Trump administration, particularly after Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April called New York City “soft on crime,” prompting O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio to publicly rebuke the comment.

But the NYPD was not the only police department to speak out against Trump’s Friday remarks encouraging violence against suspects. The Suffolk County Police Department, which sent officers to the speech, tweeted afterwards that it maintains strict regulations around the handling of prisoners.

“Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously,” the department wrote. “As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.”

A spokesman for the Gainesville Police Department in Florida also drew widespread praise for his tweet condemning Trump’s remarks:

Watch Trump’s full remarks below: 

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NOW WATCH: ‘What you feel isn’t relevant’: Sen. Angus King grills intel leaders on whether Trump tried to influence them

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Mexico's Sinaloa cartel has reportedly teamed up with a Romanian gang to ship drugs to the UK

Mexico's top drug lord Joaquin

A European branch of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel has formed an alliance with a Romanian criminal group in order to smuggle narcotics into the UK, The Times of London reports, citing Britain’s National Crime Agency.

According to The Times, the Sinaloa branch has linked up with a Romanian gang that operates heavy goods vehicles — cargo vehicles with a total weight over 7,700 pounds — and has the ability to bring significant quantities of cocaine in Britain each week.

“In collaboration with international partners [we] identified a Romanian OCG [organised crime group] with the capability to import large amounts of cocaine into the UK on a weekly basis using HGV transport,” a NCA spokeswoman told The Times.

“Intelligence indicates that the Romanian OCG are still being supplied by a Mexican OCG linked to the Sinaloa cartel. It is assessed that this network of OCGs will continue to supply large volumes of class A drugs into the UK,” the spokeswoman added. “Previous significant interdictions of their supply has not deterred the group from continuing their criminal activity aimed at the UK market.”

There have been reports that the Sinaloa cartel and other Mexican organized-crime groups are active in Europe — Spain in particular — for some time.

UK cocaine seizure drug bust

Mexican investigative outlet Contralinea described Mexican criminal groups making connections with criminal groups around the world, including Europe and the UK, in early 2011. European police agency Europol warned Mexican groups were trying to set up trade routes to the continent in 2013 — but no member state has contacted the agency for assistance, The Times reports.

According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Addiction’s 2016 report, larger Mexican and Colombian criminal groups in Europe have adopted the franchise model — allowing smaller, local partners to use the group’s “brand name” and providing them with drugs, contacts, and transportation — in order to navigate the criminal landscape in Europe.

“This is the new commercial model in Europe and we think that the Mexican and Colombian groups are adapting to it, seeking out established collaborators in Europe,” Europol Director Rob Wainwright said in spring 2016.

The Sinaloa cartel in particular is believed to have sought out a larger share of the European market, trying to replace Colombian groups as the continent’s main provider.

Cocaine use in UK Britain

While the NCA said there was a lack of information on Mexican cartels shipping cocaine to the UK market, the agency suspects “they have proactively sought a position due to the high prices for cocaine in the UK and an opportunity to maximise profits.”

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has estimated that cocaine can typically sell for just under $58,000 a kilogram at the wholesale level. At the retail level, a gram of cocaine can sell for about $59, according to the UNODC, though the price can vary considerably based on factors like purity and location.

While the Sinaloa cartel is considered one of the most powerful criminal groups in the Western Hemisphere and the world, the cartel itself operates more like a federation of allied factions than like a traditional hierarchical cartel with a top-down leadership structure. Cartel leaders like Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman have typically worked in oversight roles, referring disputes.

Mexico Sinaloa state Culiacan shooting killings violence

Guzman’s arrest in January 2016 and extradition to the US this January appear to have set off a fight for control of the organization by internal and external factions.

The cartel’s reputation for violence will raise worry about its effect on Britain’s drug trade, which is already a driver of violence, The Times notes.

An alliance with a Romanian gang involved in the movement of heavy goods vehicles is also likely to draw scrutiny to the Channel tunnel and ferry routes into the country, which see considerable freight traffic.

Central American groups, as well as the Sinaloa cartel and other Mexican groups, have previously formed arrangements with gangs in the port city of Liverpool to bring in drugs by sea, typically from Venezuela and Ecuador, according to The Times. Local gangs would handle distribution from there.

The Netherlands and Spain are the principal transit hubs for cocaine moving to the UK. The UK also had Europe’s highest prevalence of use among people 15 to 34 years old, at 4%, followed by the Netherlands and Spain. Those three countries, plus Ireland, are the only ones in Europe to report prevalence levels above 2.5%.

According to The Times, up to 100 metric tons of cocaine is shipped to the UK each year, and the NCA has intercepted almost 70 metric tons in a single year. In 2015, the most recent year for which there is data, authorities in the UK seized 4,228 kilograms of cocaine, according to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Addiction.

SEE ALSO: Homeland Security chief John Kelly and CIA director Mike Pompeo reportedly flew over Mexican opium fields

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NOW WATCH: Here’s what $1 billion worth of cocaine looks like

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The Justice Department appears to be gearing up for a legal fight with the LGBTQ community

Jeff Sessions

The Department of Justice has argued that a pivotal civil-rights law does not protect a worker’s sexual orientation against discrimination, according to a new legal brief published on Wednesday.

Pitted against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency that oversees discrimination complaints in the workplace, the DOJ argued in its amicus brief that the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit should reaffirm a previous ruling that the protection of “Title VII does not reach discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against its employees on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, is considered to be one of the most significant equal opportunity laws enacted in the US.

The particular case involved Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor who alleged in a 2010 lawsuit that his former employer, Altitude Express, had violated Title VII by firing him for being gay.

The Justice Department and EEOC were invited to argue their claims after the court agreed to listen to outside parties.

“Following one jump, a customer complained that Zarda had disclosed his homosexuality and other personal details during the jump,” a legal brief from the EEOC read. “Zarda was fired soon thereafter.”

The US District Court for the Eastern District of New York first rejected Zarda’s claim by ruling that Title VII does not offer protection on the basis of his sexual orientation.

Zarda died in a base-jumping accident in 2014.

“The sole question here is whether, as a matter of law, Title VII reaches sexual orientation discrimination,” the Justice Department’s brief said. “It does not, as has been settled for decades. Any efforts to amend Title VII’s scope should be directed to Congress rather than the courts.”

“Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII against private employers … the EEOC is not speaking for the United States and its position about the scope of Title VII is entitled to no deference beyond its power to persuade,” the Justice Department’s brief continued.

The new filing comes the same day President Donald Trump said “the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” sparking bipartisan backlash over the surprise announcement.

SEE ALSO: Trump may have announced the transgender military ban to save a bill funding the border wall

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The Trump administration just toughened its crackdown on 'sanctuary cities'

jeff sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions toughened his crackdown on so-called “sanctuary cities” on Tuesday, announcing that certain grant programs for cities and states would be conditional on whether local officials allow immigration agents access to local jails.

Starting in the fiscal year 2017, jurisdictions must allow immigration officers into detention facilities and provide 48-hours’ notice before releasing an inmate who is wanted by immigration agents in order to be eligible for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants.

“So-called ‘sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes,” Sessions said in a statement.

“These policies also encourage illegal immigration and even human trafficking by perpetuating the lie that in certain cities, illegal aliens can live outside the law.”

Sessions cited an incident that happened in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday, in which 10 undocumented immigrants died after being transported in a sweltering tractor-trailer across Texas in an alleged human-smuggling case. Some Republicans have attributed the deaths to cities with “sanctuary” policies they say “entice” immigrants into crossing the border illegally.

Sessions’ announcement on Tuesday marks a significant escalation in the Trump administration’s approach to “sanctuary” jurisdictions, which implement a variety of policies that limit their police departments and jails’ cooperation with federal immigration authorities. For instance, many cities opt not to honor federal requests to detain immigrants in jails unless the requests are accompanied by judge-signed warrants.

Previously, Sessions had only required that localities abide by the federal statute 8 USC 1373, which only requires that local officials not interfere with the exchange of information regarding people’s citizenship or immigration status. But many “sanctuary cities” had argued that they already complied with that statute.

Sessions’ critics have argued that his crusade against “sanctuary” policies will push undocumented communities further into the shadows, discouraging immigrants from reporting crimes committed against them out of fear they will be deported.

The move also comes as Sessions faces increasing public criticism from President Donald Trump over his recusal from the Russia investigation. Trump has now said multiple times he would not have nominated Sessions as attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself, prompting speculation over whether Sessions would resign.

Sessions, however, has said he will remain in the position “as long as that is appropriate.”

SEE ALSO: The botched Texas smuggling operation that killed 10 has become a flashpoint for the immigration debate

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A government agency tricked the Defense Department into handing over $1.2 million in weapons to fake police

Ferguson Cops

To test just how easy it is for cops to get high-tech military equipment, a government agency asked for more than $1.2 million in weapons by pretending to be a fake law enforcement agency — and got it, according to a report published last week.

The Government Accountability Office, the agency tasked with overseeing government abuse, made up a fictitious agency website and address to ask the Department of Defense for more than a million dollars in military equipment.

They received the equipment, which included night-vision goggles, M-16A2 rifles and pipe bomb equipment, from a military warehouse in less than a week.

“They never did any verification, like visit our ‘location,’ and most of it was by email,” Zina Merritt, director of the GAO’s defense capabilities and management team, told The Marshall Project. “It was like getting stuff off of eBay.”

After receiving the weapons, the GAO recommended more tightly regulating transfer of military equipment and conducting a risk assesment test in order to prevent real-life fraud.

The DoD agreed to better monitor transfer of equipment by physically visiting the location of the agency and conducting a fraud assessment in 2018, according to the report.

But Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, told the Marshall Project that cases of possible fraud should not be used as a knock against the program.

“It suggests only that the U.S. military is one of the world’s largest bureaucracies and as such is going to have some lapses in material control,” he said.

GAO’s investigation into the transfer of military equipment came after public outrage over the equipment carried by Ferguson police during protests over the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, according to TMP.

SEE ALSO: Baltimore is reviewing 100 cases after video leaks appearing to show police planting drug evidence

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NOW WATCH: A former member of the KGB explains the most valuable technique for espionage

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Here are all the casualties of the Trump administration so far

michael flynn sean spicer

Sean Spicer, President Donald Trump’s press secretary, resigned on Friday after little more than six months on the job.

Trump’s administration as a whole has been rocked by a series of high-profile exits since he took office in January.

Here are the top-level people who’ve either been fired or resigned from the Trump administration. 

SEE ALSO: Sean Spicer has resigned as White House press secretary

Sean Spicer

Sean Spicer, the embattled White House press secretary, resigned on Friday after telling Trump he vehemently disagreed with the selection of Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director.

Spicer’s tenure as press secretary was marred by controversy and a sometimes-awkward relationship with the president. Spicer will stay in his role until August.

Michael Flynn

Former National Security Advisor Michael resigned in February after serving in the position for less than a month.

Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials about the contents of his phone conversations with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the US. Flynn reportedly discussed the Obama administration’s sanctions against Russia with Kislyak prior to Trump assuming office.

James Comey

Trump fired James Comey as FBI director in May

Comey was handling the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election at the time of his ouster, creating a firestorm of controversy for Trump’s administration. 

Comey was just the second FBI director to be fired by a president, after President Bill Clinton fired William S. Sessions in 1993.

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