Tag Archive for: murder


Police say they are investigating death of Buster Murdaugh’s classmate and rumored lover as a homicide.

Lebanon: Protesters try to storm government HQ amid economic turmoil.



Another “Murdaugh Murder”? Police re-investigating 2015 death of Buster Murdaugh classmate

Earlier this month, disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh was found guilty in the grisly 2021 shooting deaths of his wife Maggie and son Paul. The conviction followed a sensational 6-week trial, attended nearly every day by Murdaugh’s surviving son, Buster. 26. Now Buster himself is facing scrutiny in connection with another mysterious case.

In July 2015, the body of Stephen Smith, 19, was found lying dead in the middle of a rural road, about 15 miles from the Murdaugh estate. Authorities at the time ruled Smith’s death to be the result of a hit-and-run. However, some investigators who attended the scene expressed doubts, saying it looked more as if Smith had been killed elsewhere and dumped in the road.

None of the tell-tale signs of a car having struck a pedestrian were present. There was no broken glass or tire marks at the scene. Smith’s loose-fitting shoes were still on his feet and his phone was still in his back pocket, both of which are unusual in vehicular homicides. There was also no sign Smith had been dragged along the ground.

Nevertheless, the medical examiner ruled it a hit-and-run. When South Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper Todd Proctor went to the pathologist and questioned her conclusions, he said she was combative. “I asked her why she stated that in the report,” Trooper Proctor wrote in his report. “Her answer was ‘because he was found in the road‘.”

Rumors of rumors

It so happened that Smith, a nursing student, had been a high school classmate of Buster’s. Following Smith’s death, rumors circulated around the small town of Hampton, SC, that Stephen, who was openly gay, had been having an affair with Buster.

Other rumors had it that Buster and possibly his brother Paul were involved in Smith’s death. Investigators tried to track down these rumor to their source, but as so often happens in small towns, no one could, or would, say where the rumor began. At that time, the Murdaugh name was a respected and feared on in that area of South Carolina. Investigators now hope that people with knowledge about what happened to Stephen will be more willing to come forward.

Last week, Buster Murdaugh issued a statement attempting to distance himself from Smith’s death and dismissing any suggestion that he and Stephen had a sexual relationship. “These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false,” Buster said. “I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family”.

Smith to be exhumed

Stephen’s mother Sandy has long believed that Stephen died by foul play and that the Murdaughs were somehow part of it. What is certain is that members of the Murdaugh family inserted themselves into the investigation at the crime scene. In fact, the Murdaughs knew Smith was dead before Sandy did. 

In 2021, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) announced it was re-opening the investigation into Stephen’s death “based upon information gathered during the course of the double murder investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh”. SLED has not divulged what that information is or where it came from. Yesterday, SLED confirmed they were investigating Stephen’s death as a homicide but named no person of interest.

The recent spotlight on the Murdaugh clan helped Sandy raise $86,000 on a GoFundMe, far exceeding her goal of $40,000 to have Stephen exhumed for an independent autopsy. But SLED investigators said an exhumation wasn’t necessary for them to believe Stephen was murdered. Despite the initial ruling that Stephen’s death was an accident, State Troopers have long believed otherwise. In fact, SLED said that based on the initial reports, there was no reason to conclude it was a hit-and-run.

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Lebanon: Protestors attempt to storm government in Beirut

Since 2019, the Lebanese pound has lost more than 95% of its value. People who once lived comfortably on an income equivalent to $1000 a month have seen their incomes dwindle to about $50 a month. In February, the inflation rate was at 189.67%. Banks have compounded the misery by severely limiting the amount of cash people can withdraw, despite court orders giving depositors access to their funds. 

Decades of misrule by a corrupt elite has sent Lebanon’s economy into a death spiral. The government in Beirut has reached out to the international community for help in stabilizing their economy. However, they’ve resisted the political and economic reforms demanded by potential lenders, including the IMF.

On Wednesday, a crowd of thousands of retired soldiers and enraged depositors laid siege to the Grand Serail, a 3-story Ottoman era building that serves as the government headquarters. For nearly two hours, protesters hurled stones and attempted to break through the security fence. Police fired tear gas into the crowd, causing some protesters to suffer breathing problems.

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In October 2022, a young Black man went missing after calling to telling his mother white men were chasing him in three trucks. When his body was later found, authorities said they didn’t suspect foul play. His family disagrees. What really happened in Taylorsville, MS?



Black man who said he was chased by whites later found decapitated; Sheriff says ‘no foul play’

Rasheem Carter, 25, a welder from Fayette in Jefferson County, MS, went missing on Oct. 2, 2022, near Taylorsville, MS, in Smith County, where he had undertaken contract work. Carter had previously texted his mother, Tiffany Carter, saying he’d had an altercation with someone at work. The text named a person and said “if anything happens… he’s responsible for it. … He got these guys wanting to kill me”.

On Oct. 1, Rasheem called his mother, telling her that a group of white men hurling racial slurs were chasing him in three trucks. Tiffany told her son to go to the police, believing they would protect him. But that was the last she heard from him.

Rasheem’s skull was found detached from his body. The dome of the skull was removed during autopsy. Photos were released by the family. 

When Rasheem’s remains were found on Nov. 2, dismembered and decapitated, in a wooded area near Taylorsville, Tiffany was in no doubt what happened to her son. But a day later, Smith County Sheriff Joel Houston posted on Facebook that there was “no reason to believe foul play was involved”.  

Rasheem’s remains were found scattered over two acres, and parts of him are still missing. The delay in finding his remains complicates the picture significantly, as there was evidence of animal predation. When a body lies undiscovered for months, animal activity can scatter remains over a wide area. 

An autopsy report by the Mississippi State Medical Examiner’s Office noted injuries. However the report states that the condition of the remains when they were recovered make it difficult to determine when and in what sequence those injuries occurred. For this reason, the examiner was unable to establish a cause and manner of death with any confidence. 

Ben Crump calls for federal investigation

What we have is a Mississippi lynching,” famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump told reporters on Tuesday. Crump, representing the Carter family, is calling for a federal probe into Rasheem’s death. During the press conference, Crump said, “This doesn’t seem like the act of just one individual. It kind of lines up with what Tiffany said. There was a lynch mob of three trucks chasing her son before he went missing.”

“One thing is for certain … This was not a natural killing. This was not a natural death,” Crump said. “This represents a young man who was killed”. Crump and the Carter family believe that the Sheriff’s conclusion that there was no foul play doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, given the other circumstances surrounding the case.

“This was a nefarious act. This was an evil act,” Crump said. “Somebody murdered Rasheem Carter, and we cannot let them get away with this.”

“Nothing to hide” says Sheriff

Carter was in Taylorsville for short-term contracting work. His mother Tiffany says Rasheem was saving money to reopen his seafood restaurant. The restaurant, named for Rasheem’s 7-year-old daughter Cali, had closed during the pandemic. But at the work site, Carter had a disagreement with at least one of his co-workers and fled.

Rasheem had twice visited the Taylorsville Police Department in the lead up to his disappearance. It was around that time Carter texted his mother indicating he was being targeted by at least one individual.

Despite this, Sheriff Houston initially stood by his department’s conclusion that there was no foul play. Earlier evidence “didn’t suggest anything,” he said. However, Houston has since backtracked following a backlash, saying foul play hadn’t been ruled out. “Nothing is being swept under the rug,” Houston said. “There’s nothing to hide.”

“Running for his life”

Carter’s family has also shared an image from a deer trail camera from the day Rasheem went missing. Carter’s mother says she believes her son was hiding from someone, and “running for his life”. Sheriff Houston said the department had reviewed trail camera footage and didn’t find evidence of anyone else in the area.

After months of refusing to share any details of his department’s investigation, either with the public or apparently with the family, Houston gave an interview to NBC. During the interview, he shared details of leads that had been followed and other information about the investigation.

Houston said the department had interviewed “everybody involved” with Carter’s last job. This includes four to five people Carter had mentioned to his mother. These individuals were “ruled out” as suspects in Carter’s death, Houston said, by phone records and GPS coordinates showing that they were at another job site nearly 100 miles away from Taylorsville when Carter was last seen alive.

“His whole demeanor had changed”

A trail camera captured an image of Rasheem on the afternoon of Oct. 2, 2022.

According to Houston, Carter’s colleagues and supervisor said in interviews that Carter “had not been himself” during the week before he went missing. “They said his whole demeanor had changed, they weren’t sure what was going on,” Houston said. “They just said he kept to himself more. He usually joked around, and in the last week or so they weren’t able to do that”.

Houston confirmed that Carter had “a couple of verbal altercations” with at least one co-worker. However, the Sheriff didn’t say what led to the altercation or whether the conflict might have prompted Carter’s change in behavior.

Having ruled out the prime suspects, Houston submitted search warrants to Google, starting in mid-November. Houston hoped this might reveal whether any devices pinged in the area where Carter’s remains were found around the time he went missing. “It’s a last-straw-type deal to determine if anyone else was with him or not,” he said. “It’s not uncommon to use this tool.” But the department has had to revise and resubmit this request several times, most recently last week.

The sheriff also said he would welcome the Justice Department’s involvement, saying he wants justice for Carter’s family “just as much as the family does.”

Carter’s family has dismissed any suggestion that Rasheem was under the influence of any substances at the time of his disappearance. Tiffany Carter also says her son had no history of mental illness that could account for the change in behavior. “I just know what my son told me,” Tiffany said. “I don’t believe anything [police] say. It’s lies after lies.”


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Disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh convicted of killing wife and son, receives 2 life sentences. But this is not the end of the story.


Disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh convicted of killing wife and son, receives 2 life sentences

Last night, after just 3 hours of deliberation, a South Carolina jury found former attorney and volunteer prosecutor Alex Murdaugh, 54, guilty of murdering his wife Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and son Paul Murdaugh, 22, on his 1,700-acre hunting property. The trial had been expected to last for three weeks but stretched on to six. 

The shocking Southern Gothic saga of murder in a small town inspired successful podcasts and two major documentaries (from HBO and Netflix). These chronicled the Murdaugh family’s century-old legacy of power and influence in the Low Country of South Carolina. Three generations of Murdaughs had served as chief solicitor in the region, giving them control over prosecutions and the power of life and death. And it all came crashing down on a muggy night in June 2021.

The murders

The Murdaugh family from left to right: Buster, Maggie, Paul, and Alex.

The story began on June 7, 2021, when Alex called 911 at 10:06pm, saying he’d found his wife and son murdered. What no one knew at the time was that Alex, who was a partner in a prominent century-old law firm founded by his great-grandfather, had been fleecing his personal injury clients of millions of dollars for over a decade.

Prosecutors say Alex feared his theft would be soon be uncovered. In a few days’ time, a financial discovery motion would be filed in a wrongful death suit against Alex. Two years earlier, a drunken Paul had driven a boat into a pier, killing a young woman named Mallory Beach. The state contended that Alex killed Maggie and Paul in hopes that law enforcement would believe their murders were retaliation for “the boat case”. Alex believed the wrongful death suit would then be dropped, and his thefts would remain secret, prosecutors said.

Law enforcement did investigate the “boat case” lead (at Alex’s suggestion) and found no connection. In September, three months after the murders, Alex’s law partners uncovered the fraud and fired Alex. On September 4, Alex hired a hitman to kill him so that his surviving son Buster, then 24, could collect millions in life insurance. At the same time, law enforcement was zeroing in on Alex as the prime suspect in the murders of his wife and other son.

Lies unravel

Charges weren’t filed until July 2022, over a year after the murders. It wasn’t until October of that year that investigators managed to unlock Paul Murdaugh’s phone. There they found a video in which Alex’s voice could be heard. That video placed Alex at the scene of the crime minutes before Maggie and Paul were brutally gunned down.

That video, one juror has said, was the key piece of evidence that sealed Alex’s conviction. During the trial, after denying for months that he’d been present, Alex took the extraordinary step of taking the stand during trial. He admitted that it was his voice on the video and that he had lied repeatedly to investigators. However, he said he left the scene before Paul and Maggie met their gruesome fate.

The juror also said he was unconvinced by Alex’s display of emotion on the stand. “He never cried,” the juror said, “He was just blowing snot“.


After last night’s verdict – a surprise to many, if only for its speed – Judge Clifton Newman set a sentencing hearing for this morning. There were no impact statements from victims during this morning’s hearing. Understandable, as Alex’s son Buster still supports Alex, while it’s unclear where his mother’s family stands. Alex stood and briefly declared that he was innocent and that he would never have hurt Maggie and “PawPaw”.

Judge Newman delivered a powerful summation (opens in YouTube ~20 minutes) before condemning Murdaugh to two consecutive life sentences. Although Alex’s crimes qualified for the death penalty in South Carolina, the state was not seeking that sentence.

Newman (a nephew of the late Civil Rights leader Isaiah DeQuincey Newman) remarked on the fact that for over a century, Murdaughs had prosecuted cases in that very courtroom. Many of those defendants, Newman observed, had received death sentences, likely for “lesser conduct” than Alex’s crimes.

This is far from the end of the story

Alex Murdaugh’s defense team say they plan to appeal, all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary.

There remain 99 separate financial crimes for which Murdaugh has yet to stand trial. Judge Newman will be presiding over all of them. But there’s so much more to the tapestry of crime and privilege that is the Murdaugh family, including two other suspicious deaths. Law enforcement has now reopened their investigations of those deaths due to evidence that emerged while investigating the deaths of Paul and Maggie. Here’s an excellent article (from before this trial) that sums up the other suspicions surrounding the Murdaughs.

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Remains found in landfill search for Savannah toddler Quinton Simon; mom arrested. Over half of Mississippi’s rural hospitals may soon close. Many dead in Indonesia quake, including schoolchildren.




Remains found in landfill search for Savannah toddler; mom arrested

Over a month after 20-month-old Quinton Simon went missing from his Savannah home, a search of a local landfill led by the FBI has located human remains believed to be his.

Quinton’s mother, 22-year-old Leilani Simon, reported him missing on Oct. 5. Leilani initially claimed that Quinton’s father Bubba Moss had come in and taken Quinton. But police confirmed Moss was nowhere near Savannah when Quinton disappeared. Just a few days later, Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley told reporters that repeated searches of the home had yielded evidence that Quinton was dead. Quinton’s mother, Leilani, was named as the prime suspect.

Leilani Simon had lost custody of two of her three children, the youngest being a 4-month-old infant. But she and her boyfriend Daniel Youngkin were living with Leilani’s mother, Billie Jo Howell, who had been awarded custody. Howell was out of town when Quinton disappeared.

The week after the disappearance, FBI specialists in landfill searches flew in from all over the country. They were acting on information that suggested Leilani Simon had dumped Quinton’s body in a particular dumpster in a local trailer park near her home. After weeks of searching a mountain of trash, interrupted by passing hurricanes, the remains were found on Friday.

An FBI lab in Quantico, VA, identified them as human. It will take a few more days to confirm whether the remains are Quinton’s. Police arrested Leilani Simon yesterday on charges of malice murder, hiding the death of another, and making false statements.

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Over half of Mississippi’s rural hospitals may soon close

Mississippi’s rural hospitals were struggling financially before the pandemic, thanks in part to repeated refusal both by former Gov. Phil Bryant and current Gov. Tate Reeves’ refusal to accept Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. Without this expansion, low income people who otherwise would qualify for Medicaid have no insurance. That leaves the hospitals on the hook for uncompensated care.

The pandemic may now be claiming 38 (54%) of Mississippi’s rural hospitals as victims. Rising costs of care and hospitalizations have driven these hospitals to the brink of closure. During the pandemic, many permanent hospital staff nurses left to take better paying jobs as travel nurses, forcing hospitals to increase wages to retain staff.

The Delta will be the hardest hit region in terms of losing healthcare institutions. People in the Delta often have to drive over an hour to receive essential medical care as it is. But other more affluent parts of the state could be losing hospitals and clinics as well. 

Short-term solutions for long-term problems

Some hospitals have only managed to keep their doors open by cutting key departments like maternity care. In 2020, 60% of births in Mississippi were financed by Medicaid. Mississippi already has one of the nation’s worst success rates in prenatal, perinatal and postnatal care. We already lead the nation in rates of fetal mortality, infant mortality and pre-term births. Mississippi also has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.

The Mississippi Hospital Association is attempting to hold off some closures, at least temporarily. MHA has called on the state’s Division of Medicaid work with federal officials to raise cap on Medicaid reimbursement rates. That would at least decrease costs for caring for individuals already covered by Medicaid.

Democratic State Sen. Hob Bryan, says Mississippi’s hospitals are headed for “market failure” without urgent intervention. “What we need is somebody, somewhere in state government, who is charged with figuring what we want health care to look like now and five and 10 years down the road,” Bryan said. “Unless I’m terribly confused, there is nobody in your state government that has that charge”.

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Many dead in Indonesia quake, including schoolchildren

Yesterday afternoon, a magnitude 5.2 earthquake struck Java, Indonesia’s main island. The quake destroyed or damaged 22,000 homes and over 50 schools. When the quake struck at 1pm,schools were still in session. The death toll is currently around 268 people, many of them schoolchildren. That number is likely to rise over the following days and 151 people are still missing. Professional and volunteer rescuers worked long into the night to try to locate any survivors trapped in the rubble. 

Rescue and aid work is difficult as the damage is spread out over a wide area and there have been around 140 aftershocks. Much of the region is without power and landslides have affected roads and other key infrastructure.

Indonesia lies at one edge of the Ring of Fire, a highly seismically active boundary around a tectonic plate which roughly circles the Pacific Ocean. However, in this area of Java, buildings aren’t built to withstand earthquakes of this magnitude. Survivors describe seeing homes simply collapse almost as soon as the earth started shaking. More than 58,000 people have been displaced and some have carried cardboard signs seeking water and shelter.

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Indiana police arrest suspect in 2017 murders of two girls. Supreme Court may strike down race-based university admissions. Brazil votes for leftist Lula as President, ousting Bolsonaro.



Best friends Libby German, 14, and Abby Williams, 13.

On February 13, 2014, at 1:35pm Abby Williams, 13, and her friend Liberty “Libby” German, 14, were dropped off in a wooded area by German’s older sister. The two girls were to enjoy a few hours of hiking in the natural beauty spot near their homes in Delphi, IN. When the two girls failed to turn up at 3:15pm to be picked up by Libby’s father, the girls’ families initially searched the trails themselves before reporting them missing around 5:30pm. It wasn’t until the next day that searchers found the bodies of Abby and Libby. The girls had been murdered, though police have never said how.

It soon came to light that German had uploaded a Snapchat of Abby walking on the Monon High Bridge trail at 2:07. German then captured an image of a stocky man with a blue jacket and beige cap walking towards them on the bridge. Police immediately suspected that the man in the photo was somehow involved in the girls’ deaths. Police later released a haunting snippet of audio German captured on her phone with a man’s voice saying “Down the hill.” 

The case quickly garnered national and international attention as the “Delphi murders”. The man in the photo, the prime suspect in the case, was soon dubbed “Bridge Guy”. 

The investigation

The 2017 sketch of “Bridge Guy” and the updated 2019 sketch at right,

As the community mourned, the hunt for Bridge Guy was on. The investigating team included not only local law enforcement but the Indiana State Police, with assistance from the FBI. Investigators sought help from members of the public and the community, opening tip lines and following leads. Law enforcement initially released a sketch of Bridge Guy, which appeared to show a middle-aged man. This sketch was based on eye witness descriptions. Eventually in 2019, police issued a revised sketch of a much younger-looking man.

In the years since, Investigators have been under heavy scrutiny from the press and members of the public. Doug Carter, Superintendent of the Indiana State Police, became the public face of the investigation and reassured that the team were still following up leads and investigating tips. He explained investigators couldn’t share everything they knew publicly to preserve the integrity of the investigation. 

In a 2019 press conference, Carter shared the chilling revelation that investigators believed the suspect was a local. During the conference, Carter also issued a message, “directly to the killer, who may be in this room. We believe you are hiding in plain sight. For more than two years, you never thought we would shift gears to a different investigative strategy. But we have. We likely have interviewed you, or someone close to you. We know that this about power to you. And you wanna know what we know. And one day, you will”. 

A major development

A still image of “Bridge Guy” captured on Libby German’s phone.

In March of 2022, investigators linked a social media accounted called anthony_shots to a man named Kegan Kline, 29. Libby had apparently communicated with the anthony_shots profile shortly before the murders. Kline used the profile, featuring photos of a male model, to communicate with underage girls and solicit photos from them. Kline is already facing dozens of charges related to child pornography. After much delay, Kline appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing in his child porn case. It’s not clear if there’s any connection, but a stunning breakthrough in the case came only days later.

Last Friday, media outlets reported police had at last made an arrest in the Delphi murders case. Richard Allen, 50, a pharmacy technician in Delphi was in police custody. Allen was indeed hiding in plain sight. He lived only a few miles from the girls’ homes and from the state park where the murders took place. He reportedly is married with two children. A social media image shared by Allen’s wife shows Allen sitting in a Delphi bar with a police sketch of the murder suspect visible over his shoulder (see feature image).

In a press conference today, a visibly emotional Superintendent Carter and other representatives of local law enforcement announced Allen had been charged with the murders of Abby Williams and Libby German. However, the evidence remains under seal by the court as the investigation remains ongoing. Investigators encouraged the public to continue calling in with tips, whether they pertain to Allen or anyone else who might be linked to the case. 

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Supreme Court may strike down race-based university admissions

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing two cases which may unwind decades of affirmative action for racial minorities in university admissions. The plaintiff in both cases is the group Students for Fair Admissions (SFA). Contrary to the name, the plaintiffs aren’t students, but a conservative activist legal group led by Edward Blum. Notably, Blum also brought the Shelby County v. Holder case in 2013, resulting in a decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act.

SFA is suing Harvard University, alleging that Harvard’s process for race-conscious admissions has wrongfully discriminated against Asians. In a separate but linked case, SFA is also suing the University of North Carolina, there alleging that their admissions has wrongfully discriminated against white students. In the Harvard case, Blum argues the university has violated the Civil Rights act, while he argues UNC has violated the 14th Amendment.

What’s at stake in both cases is a policy of creating a racially diverse student body in America’s universities. These policies are meant to ameliorate decades of exclusion of black and brown students from prestigious universities. The Supreme Court has previously upheld these policies. But with the might of their 6-3 majority on the court, conservative Justices have decided to revisit the issue.

Most observers believe that the court is likely to overturn years of precedent upholding affirmative action in university admissions. They also believe such a decision could open the door to overturning affirmative action in employment decisions.

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Brazil votes for leftist Lula as President, ousting Bolsonaro

Brazil’s presidential contest has been called for leftist former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. With just under 51% of the vote (still a difference of about 2 million votes), Lula ousted far-right sitting President Jair Bolsonaro. In his four years in office, Bolsonaro’s governance and rhetoric have been controversial to say the least. Courting far-right nationalist groups, fundamentalist Christians, Bolsonaro has frequently drawn comparisons with Donald Trump. International environmental groups have also called out Bolsonaro for a stunning increase in deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest. His economic policies have also heavily favored large corporations and increased already high rates of poverty in Brazil.

Following his victory, Lula vowed to end hunger in Brazil and to adopt a zero-tolerance policy against rainforest destruction. However, Lula still faces numerous challenges to bringing his vision about. Firstly, Bolsonaro has not conceded the election. During campaigning, Bolsonaro point blank refused to accept the outcome of the vote if it didn’t go his way. Given the fact he also has the support of many militant groups in the country, the succession process may be rocky.

Even if Bolsonaro eventually decides to step aside gracefully, his far-right party still holds considerable sway in Brazil’s congress. In fact, despite Lula’s victory, Bolsonaro’s allies increased their congressional presence from 240 to 249 seats, just under half the body’s total of 513. Left-oriented parties that are natural allies of Lula hold only 141. This means that in order to govern, Lula will have to make concessions to the remaining centrists in congress.

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Biden pardons all prior federal marijuana possession convictions, also to review scheduling. 4 kidnapped family members found dead in CA; suspect in custody. Dems propose bill to withdraw all US military aid from Saudi Arabia after OPEC cuts.




Biden issues pardon for prior federal marijuana possession convictions, also to review scheduling

President Biden has announced a pardon for all previous federal convictions for simple possession of marijuana. Currently, there are no prisoners in any federal prison solely for marijuana possession. But, as Biden says in his statement, “There are thousands of people who have prior Federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions”. 

Biden also acknowledged the racial disparities in marijuana prosecutions and urged state leaders to pardon those convicted on state marijuana possession charges. “As I often said during my campaign for president, no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana. Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. And while white and black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, black and brown people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates”.

HHS and AG to review marijuana scheduling

Biden directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to review the scheduling of marijuana under federal law.

Marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 narcotic under federal law. A Schedule 1 designation means that a drug cannot be prescribed for any medical use and also restricts medical experimentation. Schedule 1 is normally reserved for the most dangerous substances. “This is the same schedule as for heroin and LSD,” Biden says, “and even higher than the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine – the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic”. While Biden seems to now be advocating a more open and less punitive approach to marijuana he emphasized that “even as federal and state regulation of marijuana changes, important limitations on trafficking, marketing, and under-age sales should stay in place”.

While Biden stopped short of fully legalizing marijuana, this will be a welcome move for advocates of legalization and criminal justice reform. Biden’s order should also appeal to many Americans both on the left and right who have long been calling for a more common sense approach to marijuana. A recent poll shows that 60% of voters support legalization of marijuana at the federal level. Polls from last year showed it closer to 70%.

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Four kidnapped family members found dead in California; suspect in custody

On Monday, four family members were kidnapped from their family business, a trucking company, at gunpoint in Merced County, CA. Yesterday evening, police announced that their bodies had been found on a remote farm property. The victims, members of the Sikh community, were 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri, her mother, Jasleen Kaur, 27, her father, Jasdeep Singh, 36, and her uncle, Amandeep Singh, 39. Police have not yet announced a cause of death, but said the four family members were found “relatively close together”.

The first anyone knew that something was amiss was later on Monday when authorities found Amandeep’s truck abandoned and on fire. This led them back to the trucking company and the Singh family. When relatives failed to make contact, they reported them missing. Surveillance video from the trucking company was found showing a masked man leading Jasdeep and Amandeep Singh to Amandeep’s truck, with their hands apparently ziptied. The suspect then returns to the building and brings out Jasleen, carrying baby Aroohi, who join the others in the truck.

Suspect attempts suicide

Police have identified one suspect in the case, Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48. Salgado has a conviction for robbery from 2005 and received parole in 2015. Since then, police say Salgado has not had any major contact with law enforcement.

Salgado first entered the frame in this case when his family members contacted authorities and said Salgado had admitted involvement in the kidnappings. Investigators at first said Salgado matched the description of a person caught on camera using one of the victim’s bank cards. However, there is now some dispute about whether it was Salgado in the ATM footage or a different person. Before police could take him into custody, Salgado attempted suicide. He’s now in critical condition, but has apparently been talking to police. 

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said that investigators were asking Salgado whether he acted alone. Whatever information he has given, Warnke said, “We are going to keep that close to our chest at this point”. Police have previously said they believe a second person was involved.

Many aspects of the case remain unclear. Salgado is at present the only person police have who can shed any light on the sequence of events between the initial kidnapping and the murders.

As yet, no clear motive in the kidnappings and murders has emerged. “We have a whole family wiped out and for what? We don’t know yet,” Warnke said. 

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Dems propose bill to withdraw all US military aid from Saudi Arabia after OPEC cuts

Three House Democrats, Tom Malinowski (NJ), Sean Casten (IL), and Susan Wild (PA) have proposed a bill that would withdraw all US soldiers and weapons, including sophisticated missile defense systems, from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The proposal came after OPEC+ decided yesterday to decrease oil production by between 1 and 2 million barrels per day.

The huge cut stunned global markets. Some analysts believe that the move is designed to boost oil revenue for Russia to continue funding its military actions in Ukraine. The three House members call this out specifically in a statement. “Both [Saudi Arabia and the UAE] have long relied on an American military presence in the Gulf to protect their security and oil fields. We see no reason why American troops and contractors should continue to provide this service to countries that are actively working against us. If Saudi Arabia and the UAE want to help Putin, they should look to him for their defense”.

Biden reportedly considering oil export limits, normalizing relations with Venezuela

Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg reports that the White House has asked the Department of Energy for an impact analysis of a potential ban or limits on exports of US gasoline and diesel. The US is the world’s largest oil producer, but most of it is exported to countries where oil companies can demand higher prices for it. Over the past several months, Biden has repeatedly criticized the US oil sector for failing to use production licenses they hold and for taking advantage of Russia’s war in Ukraine by price gouging American customers. Despite protestations from Big Oil firms, the Department of Energy directive indicates the idea of imposing restrictions on fossil fuel exports may be gaining traction in the White House.

It was also reported yesterday that Biden may be reexamining efforts to normalize relations with Venezuela. Venezuela was once one of the world’s top oil producers, but years of crushing US sanctions on its elected leftist leader Nicolas Maduro has reduced Venezuela’s production capacity and its access to oil markets abroad. US and Venezuelan negotiators took some baby steps towards reversing years of animosity earlier this year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Just days ago, a prisoner swap between the US and Venezuela sparked discussions of closer ties. However, the White House has denied any change in US policy towards Venezuela.


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Ian deaths near 100; FL officials criticized over response. TX: Trial begins for man charged with killing 22 elderly ladies. Fmr. CIA head: US could “take out” Putin’s forces if he used nukes.




Ian deaths near 100 as officials face criticism over response

As of now, 98 people (94 in Florida, 4 in North Carolina) are known to have died as a direct result of Hurricane Ian. Lee County, FL, which contains Ft. Myers and Sanibel island, accounts for 54 of the state’s deaths so far, with 40 confirmed in surrounding counties. Hundreds of thousands in southwest Florida remain without power 5 days after Hurricane Ian made landfall there.

Volunteers and first responders continue rescuing people and recovering deceased victims from Sanibel and Ft. Myers Beach, both barrier islands. Sanibel now has no landward access to the mainland after Ian washed out the causeway. Authorities say it will take a year to rebuild the causeway. Rescuers continue to ferry survivors off the island using swamp boats, some volunteer craft and National Guard helicopters. About 2 feet of compacted sand blankets the island and there is no power and running water. Authorities say the island will be without basic utilities for months.

Lee County’s recovery and relief efforts have been seriously hampered by downed trees and ongoing flooding further north that has made major routeways into southwest Florida impassible. Hours-long lines at the few gas stations that have both gas and the power necessary to pump it have led to flaring tempers. The state has at last managed to open several free food distribution sites in the area.

Evacuation order controversy

Almost immediately after the storm, city and county officials in Lee County have come under fire for their initial emergency response. Some have questioned whether county officials waited until too late to order mandatory evacuations ahead of Ian’s landfall.

Last Monday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued an official warning (as opposed to an advisory) about the possibility of dangerous storm surges in the area. This should have triggered a mandatory evacuation under Lee County’s own emergency management plan. Instead, officials waited until Tuesday morning to issue the evacuation order. Critics of the response question whether this delay resulted in a greater loss of life than might otherwise had been the case. 

City and county officials, and even the state’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, have been quick to dismiss this criticism. Cecil Pendergrass, chairman of the county’s board of commissioners, said that the county didn’t issue evacuation orders until the county was projected to be in the storm’s direct path. Pendergrass instead blamed residents who chose to stay put. “I respect their choices,” Pendergrass said. “But I’m sure a lot of them regret it now”. DeSantis backed up local officials and also laid the responsibility on locals and tourists that didn’t take officials’ warnings seriously enough.

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Florida want to rebuild after Ian, but should they? (opens in new tab). 


Trial begins for man charged with killing 22 elderly ladies in TX

In Dallas today, a capital murder trial opened in the case of Billy Chemirmir, 49. Prosecutors say that in 2018, Chemirmir followed Mary Brooks, 87, from a grocery store to her home, where he then smothered her to death and stole her jewelry. At the time, police first believed that Ms. Brooks had died of natural causes.  That was until another similar attack occurred.

This time the victim was Mary Annis Bartel, then 91. Bartel actually survived and described the attack to police, saying a man had forced his way into her home in an independent living community, tried to smother her and then made off with her jewelry. Bartel said that when she saw her assailant’s green rubber gloves, she knew she was in “grave danger”.

Police caught up with Chemirmir the next day at his apartment complex, where he was holding jewelry and cash. He’d also just discarded a large red jewelry case. Documents in the case led police to the home of Lu Thi Harris, 81. Police found Harris dead. Chemirmir received a life sentence for Harris’ killing earlier this year. At trial, prosecutors proved that Chemirmir had followed Harris home from a Walmart and smothered her before stealing her jewelry. 

Police then began re-examining the deaths of older women in the area in which family members claimed jewelry was missing. In all, Chemirmir is now charged in the killings of 22 elderly women in the Dallas area. Chemirmir maintains his innocence, claiming that he made a living selling jewelry and as an at home caregiver.

One of the women Chemirmir is suspected of killing was the widow of an elderly man he’d cared for as an in-home caregiver.

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Fmr. CIA head: US could “take out” Putin’s forces, Black Sea fleet if he used nukes

Some may remember retired 4-star Gen. David Petraeus’ brief tenure as CIA director from 2011-2012, or at least its salacious end. Throughout his military career, Petraeus has had a knack for courting the press. In his (somewhat forced) retirement, Petraeus has largely kept his head down, with one or two exceptions.

Then yesterday, ABC’s Jon Karl invited Petraeus to give his analysis of the current situation in Ukraine, and in particular Russia’s strategic situation. After describing Putin’s military and territorial losses in Ukraine as irreversible, Petraeus said that Putin’s recent annexation of Ukrainian territories, disastrous mass conscription and veiled threat of a nuclear attack were “desperate”.

While Petraeus said Putin’s nuclear threat had to be taken seriously, he also suggested that such an attack might galvanize the US and NATO to enter the conflict. Petraeus said a hypothetical nuclear attack by Putin “cannot go unanswered” and theorized that US and NATO forces would “take out” all of Putin’s conventional soldiers on the ground in Ukraine and in Crimea, as well as his Black Sea fleet.

Petraeus said that the US would likely not respond with its own nuclear strike. However, Petraeus doesn’t account for what would stop Putin from launching a nuclear strike against the US or other NATO countries should they officially volunteer themselves into the conflict.

Former Putin confidant: Putin fighting for his life; will use nukes if all else fails

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Russian oligarch and one-time collaborator of Putin’s, offered a comparatively sober and sobering assessment. Khodorkovsky suggests that if Putin loses in Ukraine, “he is going to lose power, and also possibly his life”. In this context, Khodorkovsky sees no reason to doubt Putin’s sincere willingness to use any means at his disposal to achieve his objectives. If the current mobilization of 300,000 troops doesn’t accomplish this, the use of a tactical nuke “will be on the agenda,” Khodorkovsky said.

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Suit: Memphis PD failed to investigate rape of black woman by man who later killed Eliza Fletcher. Senate GOP votes to keep political donors secret. Russians protest, flee Putin’s Ukraine draft.



Suit: Memphis PD failed black woman raped by man who later killed Eliza Fletcher

One year ago yesterday, Alicia Franklin agreed to meet a person she’d been talking to for weeks on a dating app called Plenty of Fish. Her correspondent, who used the handle “Cleo”, asked Franklin to meet him at an apartment complex where he claimed he worked. When Franklin arrived, she found that the complex was abandoned. “Cleo” then forced her inside his car and raped her at gunpoint.

After her assailant left, Franklin did exactly what women are supposed to do in that situation. She immediately drove herself to a hospital, then to a rape crisis center where she underwent a rape kit and reported the assault to police. Franklin gave police extensive details about her attacker: his name, his phone number, what car he drove, his Plenty of Fish account and other information.

“They had more than enough evidence that night when they interviewed me to get him off the streets” Franklin said. “But they didn’t”.

Franklin, now 22, says that she took police to the scene of the crime. However, police didn’t collect any evidence at the scene. They didn’t even brush her phone, which her attacker handled, for fingerprints. When they asked her to identify her attacker, they showed her a decade-old photo of him, which she failed to identify.

Police didn’t ask for Franklin’s rape kit to be expedited either, consigning it to a years-long backlog. For months, Franklin pressed police for updates on her case and was given the runaround.

“I was just an average black girl in the city of Memphis, you know,” Franklin said. “I just think it wasn’t a priority”.

Eliza Fletcher disappears

It wasn’t until the disappearance of Eliza Fletcher, a 38-year-old white school teacher and heiress, that Cleotha Abston was taken into custody. Police finally ordered Franklin’s rape kit to be expedited for analysis. It matched Cleotha Abston. When Fletcher’s body was later found, Abston was charged with murder and aggravated kidnapping. He was also at long last charged with Franklin’s rape.

Franklin is now suing the city of Memphis police. Her attorneys say that if police had made Franklin’s assault a priority, it would have saved Eliza Fletcher’s life. “I didn’t want to believe it because I just never thought that my case would have [been] tied to [Fletcher’s] case. I was shocked,” Franklin said. “I’m still kind of trying to process everything”.

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Senate GOP votes to keep political donors secret

Today, Senate Republicans voted unanimously to allow organizations that spend millions on elections to keep their donors secret. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) advanced a bill that would require political action committees (PACs) to disclose the identities of donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle. The vote was 49-49 with all Democrats voting ‘yes’ and all Republicans voting ‘no’. One Democrat and one Republican were absent for the vote. 

Sources say Schumer likely didn’t expect the bill to pass but wanted to have Republicans on record as supporting “dark money” in politics. Numerous efforts to combat dark money have failed in the years since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling made nearly unlimited anonymous campaign contributions possible. Since then, Schumer said, dark money “has disfigured our democracy almost beyond recognition”.

The bill’s author Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) noted that between 2006 and 2020, political spending by groups with anonymous donors increased from $5 million to more than $1 billion. Additionally, between 2008 and 2020, political spending by billionaires has increased from $17 million to $1.2 billion. 

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Russians protest, flee Putin’s draft to fight in Ukraine

Protests erupted in cities across Russia after President Vladimir Putin called up 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine. According to Amnesty International, police arrested over 1300 people that took part in the protests. Taking part in anti-war and anti-military demonstrations have been made criminal offenses in Russia since the Ukraine invasion. While Putin purported to only be drafting men with military experience, some students (normally exempt from the draft) with no military experience have already been called up.

Many young men are looking for other ways to avoid the draft, including medical excuses. Others who haven’t been called up yet are fleeing the country. Long lines of cars formed overnight at the crossing into neighboring Georgia. Other border crossings into Finland also saw increased traffic overnight. Air ticket sales to Istanbul, Belgrade or Dubai saw price increases and some sold out completely.

Russian forces in Ukraine have been plagued by morale problems since the invasion began, and the problem has only gotten worse over time. Some Russian combatants have even willingly turned themselves over to Ukrainian authorities. 

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In memoir, wife in Till murder says she didn’t want him killed. Biden to meet with Saudi Crown Prince despite human rights criticism.



In memoir, wife in Till murder says she didn’t want him killed

In 1955, near Money, MS, Carolyn Bryant (now Donham) accused black teen Emmett Till of whistling at her. Two days later, her husband and brother-in-law kidnapped and lynched him, leaving his body in a creek. An all-white jury later acquitted the two men of Till’s murder, though they later confessed in a magazine interview. Bryant-Donham was never charged for her role in the affair. She’s now in her late 80s and was last known to be living near Raleigh, NC.

Over a decade ago, author Timothy Tyson interviewed Mrs. Bryant-Donham about the murder. During that interview, Tyson obtained an unpublished manuscript of Bryant-Donham’s memoir, titled “I am More Than A Wolf Whistle”. The memoir is in Bryant-Donham’s words but compiled by her daughter-in-law. It purports to offer Bryant-Donham’s full account of the events surrounding Till’s murder.

Following that interview, Tyson provided a copy of the memoir to the FBI, then submitted it to University of North Carolina archives with the understanding that it would not be made public for decades. However, Tyson had a change of heart after the recent discovery of the original unserved warrant ordering the then-Mrs. Bryant’s arrest in Emmett Till’s kidnapping in the basement of the Leflore County, MS, courthouse. Tyson says the discovery prompted him to end the archival agreement and release the manuscript early.

“The potential for an investigation was more important than the archival agreements, though those are important things,” Tyson said. “But this is probably the last chance for an indictment in this case”.

What’s in the memoir?

The 99-page manuscript contains some statements which contradict known evidence and others which simply strain credulity.

The story began in 1955 when 14-year-old Emmett Till of Chicago came to visit his Mississippi relatives. He encountered then-Mrs. Bryant at the store she ran with her then-husband, Roy. At the time, Mrs. Bryant accused Till of grabbing her and making sexual advances. In the memoir, Bryant-Donham claims she screamed for help after her encounter with Till. This contradicts statements from witnesses who heard no scream.

Speaking of the night of Till’s kidnapping, Bryant-Donham claims that she did not ride with her husband Roy and Roy’s half-brother J.W. Milam to Till’s uncle’s house. This contradicts the account of Till’s uncle, who heard a woman’s voice say “that’s him” when Roy and Milam presented Till for identification.

Instead, the memoir claims that Roy and Milam brought the boy to her in the middle of the night. “I did not wish Emmett any harm and could not stop harm from coming to him, since I didn’t know what was planned for him,” the manuscript reads. “I tried to protect him by telling Roy that ‘He’s not the one. That’s not him. Please take him home’”. Bryant-Donham then makes the extraordinary claim that Till spoke up and identified himself!

Bryant-Donham then offers the following sentiments. Firstly, she says she “always felt like a victim as well as Emmett” and “paid dearly with an altered life” for what happened to him. Secondly, she says, “I have always prayed that God would bless Emmett’s family. I am truly sorry for the pain his family was caused”.

Will there be an indictment or investigation? 

In 2017, Tyson claimed that Bryant-Donham had recanted her claim that Till had sexually harassed her. On this basis, the Justice Department reopened the investigation. However, Bryant-Donham told the FBI she’d never recanted her accusation. Since Tyson could not produce the recordings to back up his claim, the DOJ closed the investigation last year.

Tyson says Bryant-Donham’s statements exonerating herself should be taken with “a good-sized shovel full of salt”. He’s particularly skeptical about Till identifying himself to Roy and Milam. “Two big white men with guns came and dragged him out of his aunt and great-uncle’s house at 2 o’clock in the morning in the Mississippi Delta in 1955,” Tyson says. “I do not believe for one minute that he identified himself”.

Till’s family says Mississippi authorities should re-investigate the case, execute the original warrant, and possibly indict Bryant-Donham. Warrants of this type never expire and this one was never served. At the time, the local sheriff said he didn’t want to “bother” Mrs. Bryant as she had two young boys to raise.

Keith Beauchamp, a filmmaker and one of those who recently uncovered the warrant, says the memoir shows that Bryant-Donham, “is culpable in the kidnapping and murder of Emmett Louis Till and to not hold her accountable for her actions, is an injustice to us all”. 

At present, there doesn’t seem to be much official appetite for an investigation or an indictment. But with growing public attention, that could change.

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Biden to meet with Saudi Prince despite human rights criticism

Yesterday, while meeting with newly-minted Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, President Biden reiterated that the US may use military force to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Today, Biden is meeting with Palestinian leaders before heading to Saudi Arabia for his first official visit since taking office. This will be the first official meeting between a US President and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (or MBS) since the brutal 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey. MBS is widely believed to have ordered and orchestrated Khashoggi’s murder.

During his campaign, Biden rejected the idea of visiting Saudi Arabia, let alone meeting the Crown Prince, because of Khashoggi’s murder and other human rights violations Saudi Arabia is engaged in. However, Biden changed his tune once gas hit $5 a gallon in the US. MBS has consistently rejected calls to increase his country’s oil output. Biden may be hoping to smooth over the apparent diplomatic friction.

It’s also likely that MBS has other goals in mind, aside from having Biden kiss the ring. Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen, its impoverished neighbor to the south, for 8 years. During that time, the Kingdom has also been blockading Yemen, causing dire food and medicine shortages. The blockade itself is in violation of international law. Biden cited this as his reason for not selling offensive weapons to the Kingdom, in contrast to Trump who sold them billions of dollars’ worth of weapons. However, Biden has been selling them defensive weapons, many of which can be used offensively. MBS may be hoping that rising oil prices may induce Biden to sell him more weapons.

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Bipartisan gun control bill moves forward. Murder conviction overturned in case of GA man who left son to die in hot car. Afghanistan: At least 1000 dead after 6.0 magnitude earthquake.




Bipartisan gun control bill moves forward

A group of Republican and Democratic Senators has released the full text of the new gun control legislation. The Senate also voted to fast track voting on the bill. In addition to all Senate Democrats, 14 Republicans voted to fast track the bill, suggesting it has enough support to overcome a Republican filibuster. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has also said that she will move for a swift vote once the bill arrives in her chamber.

What’s in the bill?

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act does include financial incentives for states to pass “red-flag laws”. These laws allow law enforcement to temporarily confiscate guns from individuals who are adjudicated mentally ill or who have expressed intent to harm themselves or others. However, if a state chooses not to pass a red-flag law, they can still get money for other “crisis management” programs. The bill also provides funding for community mental health programs and in-school resources.

The legislation will also close the “boyfriend loophole”. Until now, only people convicted of domestic violence against a marriage partner banned from buying a gun. Now that will also apply to people convicted of domestic violence against a dating partner. 

Also included in the bill is expanded background checks for gun purchasers between the ages of 18 and 21. Juvenile records will now also show up in background checks for people in this age group.

The bill does not include many of the measures that a majority of Americans (both Republicans and Democrats) support. For example, it does not establish universal background checks or close the “gun show loophole”. It also does not ban high-capacity magazines or end sales of military-style assault rifles. Nor does it raise the legal age to purchase such weapons.

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Murder conviction overturned in case of GA man who left son to die in hot car

In June 2014, Justin Ross Harris, then 33, was supposed to drop his 22-month-old son Cooper off at daycare on his way to work. Instead, with Cooper strapped into a rear-facing child seat inches behind the drivers seat, Harris pulled into the parking lot at his workplace and got out of the car at 9:25am. A little after noon, Harris returned to the car and opened the drivers side door to leave some lightbulbs he’d bought after lunch. By then, Cooper had already been in the car for over 3 hours in 92-degree heat.

Then at 4:16, Harris pulled into a mall parking lot after leaving work, having discovered his son dead in the backseat. He got out of the car and frantically yelled for passers by to call for help. A witness said Harris made three phone calls (none to 911) and never attempted CPR on Cooper, contradicting Harris’ later statement to police. Harris also neglected to mention his visit to the car after lunch during his interrogation.

Police were immediately suspicious about Harris’ behavior when they arrived to the scene. One moment he would be wailing frantically, and the next he’d be dead calm. He told officers he’d simply forgotten Cooper was in the backseat. As they put him in the back of the squad car, Harris complained about how hot it was.

Infidelity and Google searches on hot car deaths

After Harris’ arrest, police searched his home computer. They found that he’d been contacting women (and some underage girls) online and meeting them for sex. They also discovered that Harris had researched how long it takes a child to die in a hot car just days before Cooper’s death.

At his trial, prosecutors argued that Harris was unhappy in his marriage and intentionally killed his young son to free himself. The jury convicted Harris of “malice murder” (equivalent to first degree murder) in Cooper’s death and seven other charges. A judge later sentenced Harris to life in prison on the murder charge plus 32 years for the other charges.

Today, in a 6-3 decision, Georgia’s Supreme Court overturned the murder conviction against Harris. This means that Harris is entitled to a new trial on the murder and child cruelty charges. The majority ruled that the inclusion of the evidence of Harris’ infidelity was “extremely and unfairly prejudicial” and “improperly admitted”. The three dissenting judges wrote that the state was “entitled to introduce, in detail, evidence of the nature, scope, and extent of the truly sinister motive it ascribed to Harris”. 

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Afghanistan: At least 1000 dead after 6.0 magnitude earthquake

At about 1.30 am local time this morning, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck rural parts of Afghanistan and also shook part of neighboring Pakistan. Most people were in bed as their houses tumbled in on top of them. Many of the homes in this part of Afghanistan are mud-built. Since the area is remote, it took hours for rescue crews to arrive with heavy equipment to search for any survivors.

The latest information we have says that at least 1000 people were killed and about 1,500 injured, but the death toll is expected to rise higher. Rescuers have yet to reach some of the affected villages.

Images from local news shows rows of destroyed homes in numerous villages. Rescue and recovery efforts are ongoing. The country’s ruling Taliban government has sought UN assistance in assessing damage and aiding those affected. Several foreign governments have offered assistance. 

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NEMiss.News Shooting Fatality


Union County Coroner Pam Boman pronounced Joseph Williams, age 37, dead at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County. The coroner said Williams died of a single gunshot wound.

Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards told NEMiss.News that the 911 call center received a call about the shooting about 2 o’clock. When Sheriff’s Deputies arrived at 1253 CR 167, the residence of Joseph Williams, others at the scene had already put Williams in a private motor vehicle and transported him to Baptist Hospital in New Albany.

The Sheriff said witnesses present at the shooting site in the Jericho community gave them the name of Gregory Damon Richardson, age 39, AKA “Boogie.” A BOLO (Be On Look Out) was immediately put out for Richardson and the motor vehicle he was driving. Deputies of Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson quickly spotted Richardson and took him into custody in Verona, a town immediately south of Tupelo.

The Lee County Sheriff turned Richardson over to Union County Deputies. He was transported back to Union County where he is now in custody at the county jail on Carter Ave.

Sheriff Edwards said Williams had been shot once in the chest with a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. Richardson, the alleged shooter, had previous felony arrests including one in Union County in Dec. 2020 for possession of methamphetamine. Edwards said Richardson would be charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and with the murder of Williams.

Edwards said Joseph Williams, the man killed today, is the same Joseph Williams that fled the scene when April Nickole Rodgers is believed to have shot and killed Nathan Knight in the Alpine community on March 7, 2022.

Alpine murder in early March: https://newalbanyunionco.com/a-woman-in-the-alpine-community-of-northeast-union-county-to-be-charged-in-monday-shooting-death/

Crime Stoppers of North East Mississippi and the Tupelo Police Department need your assistance in locating the person responsible for murder.

On Feb. 5, Jermaine Berghuis, victim pictured aboveTup, was shot multiple times on Lakeview Drive. On March 8, Mr. Berghuis died as a result of the gunshot wounds.

Since that time the Tupelo Police Department has been actively pursuing this case.

The investigators assigned to this case are asking anyone with information pertaining to this case to contact Tupelo Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division or to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-773-TIPS (8477).