Review Category : National News

US authorities debating charges against Wikileaks’ Assange

Carl Court/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — U.S. authorities have been engaged in discussions over whether to seek charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The debate over charges was first reported by CNN.

Officials have been debating whether Wikileaks — the organization which has shared troves of confidential materials, often received via persons sharing it illegally — should be viewed as a journalistic enterprise, as Assange claims, or as a group that illegally aided and abetted the widespread disclosure of sensitive information.

The matter was previously considered by the administration of President Barack Obama, but charges were never brought.

In March, Wikileaks released files it said originated from the CIA and detailed the agency’s ability to secretly gain access to internet-connected consumer products.

Last week, CIA Director Mike Pompeo took aim at the organization, describing it as a “hostile” intelligence-gathering service that at times is “abetted by state actors like Russia.” He further identified Assange as a “fraud” and “coward.”

“I am quite confident that had Assange been around in the 1930s and 40s and 50s, he would have found himself on the wrong side of history,” said Pompeo.

Assange is currently living in the Embassy of Ecuador — the country that granted him asylum in 2012 — in London, where he has avoided extradition to Sweden over sexual assault charges.

President Donald Trump’s personal opinion of Wikileaks has varied over time. During the presidential campaign, he praised the organization as it released the purported emails of the Democratic National Committee, at one point calling it a “treasure trove.” But Trump has also criticized the actions Wikileaks’ sources such as Chelsea Manning, whom he has called a “traitor.”

During the first three months of his presidency, Trump has identified the leaking of sensitive information as one of the federal government’s most serious problems. He has repeatedly implored the intelligence community to find “leakers” who have provided information on surveillance activities involving his associates that have ensnared his administration in controversy.

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2 Seattle officers shot while responding to robbery, suspect at large

tonda/iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) — Two Seattle police officers were shot Thursday while responding to a robbery at a 7-Eleven, according to the city’s police department.

The two officers, one male and one female, were brought to the Harborview Medical Center. The hostpial tweeted that the male officer was upgraded to serious condition, and that the female officer remained in satisfactory condition. One officer suffered a shot to the chest, but was wearing a vest sustained minor injuries. The other officer was shot in the chin and in the rib cage.

Condition update: Male officer has been upgraded to serious condition; female officer remains in satisfactory condition. @SeattlePD

— UW Medicine (@UWMedicine) April 20, 2017

Officers responded to a robbery on the 600 block of First Ave. shortly after 1 p.m. local time and identified the three suspects involved with the robbery.

A fight had ensued being the two officers and three suspects and at one point at least one of the suspects fired shots. The suspects, two males and one female, then fled. The female suspect is in custody, another male suspect was apprehended after barricading himself in a nearby building. One of the two suspects contained has “significant injuries,” according to police.

Police initially said they were looking for a possible third suspect, but later tweeted, “Detectives have determined 3rd person initially believed to be suspect was not involved in incident. All suspects in custody.”

“Our hearts and our thoughts are with those officers and their families,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said.

Police are advising people to stay out of the area near Madison Street and Western Ave in downtown Seattle. A large police presence is in the area as it is “still an active crime scene.” Several blocks in the area are still closed to traffic while the investigation is ongoing.

One of the old federal buildings in the area is blocked and people in the building are still sheltering in place until police rend it safe.

The following roadways are closed due to major @SeattlePD incident. Avoid the area and use alternate routes. pic.twitter.com/agmENwqQpH

— seattledot (@seattledot) April 20, 2017

— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) April 20, 2017

More #Seattle PD, SWAT, ATF on scene pic.twitter.com/Sj7cSFTjnX

— Grady Gausman (@GradyGausman) April 20, 2017

Bomb squad now here as well. #Seattle pic.twitter.com/JFUI6wIHbh

— Grady Gausman (@GradyGausman) April 20, 2017

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Family’s custom soccer jerseys show off their co-parenting skills

Jupiterimages/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Alex and Clara Cazeau and Ricky and Emilee Player are a blended family raising Maelyn Player, 4, the daughter of Clara Cazeau and Ricky Player.

The four parents unintentionally showed off their co-parenting skills at Maelyn’s soccer game by wearing customized jerseys identifying them each as mommy, daddy, stepdad and stepmom.

“When I was younger my brother played baseball and my mom would get us shirts made so I wanted to do the same thing when Maelyn started playing her first sport,” Clara Cazeau, 26, told ABC News. “I didn’t think it was going to be anything different.”

A photo of the foursome posing with Maelyn on the soccer field is earning praise after Emilee Player posted it on Facebook. The photo has now been shared more than 85,000 times.

“I wanted to send a message that, because of us, I know that co-parenting can work,” said Emilee Player, 23. “I wanted other people to see it because we’ve been doing this for three years now so it’s our normal life.”

She added, “I think it’s pretty cool that we’re there for our daughter.”

Maelyn’s parents, Ricky Player and Clara Cazeau, split in 2013 when she was just 8 months old. The pair, who both live in Columbus, Georgia, made a commitment immediately to still raise Maelyn in a family unit.

“We just want Maelyn to see that she has two loving parents,” said Ricky Player, 27, who also has an infant daughter with his new wife. “We do a week on and a week off and Clara still comes over on my weeks and sees Maelyn and I do the same for her.”

Ricky Player and Clara Cazeau both met their new spouses while working at the same restaurant in Columbus.

“I came when [Maelyn] was just turning 2,” said Clara’s husband, Alex Cazeau, 21, who is stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. “I love her and treat her as if she’s my own.”

The key to successful co-parenting, according to all four parents, is to act as a team and put the child first.

“Try to stay strong and to put your differences aside, with your ex or the new spouse,” advised Clara Cazeau. “Everyone has to be 100 percent in or it’s not going to work.”

Ricky Player said his daughter can “sense the love” she gets from all four family members, while his wife offered more advice from the perspective of a stepparent.

“We have an understanding in terms of major life events and decisions, that Alex and I kind of step down and Clara and Ricky make those decisions,” Emilee Player said. “Her parents are going to know what’s best for her at all times and we all want what’s best for Maelyn.”

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Missing Tenn. student Elizabeth Thomas found, former teacher Tad Cummins arrested in California

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Thinkstock(YREKA, Ca.) — Former Tennessee teacher Tad Cummins, who is accused of kidnapping his 15-year-old student, has been arrested in northern California, according to the Tennessee Bureau of
Investigation.

Authorities said the student, Elizabeth Thomas, has been “safely recovered.”

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to ABC News on Thursday that it had located Cummins’ vehicle. Siskiyou County is nestled in the northernmost part of California in the Shasta
Cascade region along the Oregon border.

Cummins, a 50-year-old married father and grandfather, was wanted on allegations of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. An Amber Alert had been issued for Thomas.

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Video shows Kansas City International Airport confrontation with pilot, passenger

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Surveillance footage shows the tense moments leading up to an altercation last week between a pilot and a passenger in a Missouri airport.

The video shows two men entering the Kansas City International Airport through an American Airlines gate on April 12. One man is wearing a pilot’s uniform and the other is wearing a blue shirt, later identified by authorities as a passenger named Edward Foster.

Foster appears to follow the pilot through the airport, arguing with him.

Foster told authorities the altercation began when the pilot, who was traveling as a passenger on the same flight, was “taking up to much room on the aircraft and being disrespectful,” according to an incident report filed by the Kansas City International Airport Police Department.

This caused Foster to follow the pilot “outside the secure area” in an attempt to take a photo of his badge with his cellphone, the incident report stated.

The video shows Foster’s cellphone being knocked out of his hand as the pilot tries to block his badge. That’s when Foster grabs the pilot by the shoulders and pushes him away, causing the pilot to trip over his own luggage.

After the physical altercation, the pilot tried to leave the concourse to meet his wife waiting outside in a car. Foster followed him, talking to the pilot and trying to take a photo of the license plate, before airport police intervened, according to the incident report.

Police said the incident was captured on video from the security cameras in the airport and the footage was saved for further review.

Although the pilot walked away from the altercation, he “suffered lacerations to both legs and bruising to his forearm,” according to the incident report. The pilot’s name was not included in the report.

Foster, 49, has been charged with “intentionally inflicting injury” upon the pilot. His court date is set for May 16, according to court documents. Foster could face a fine or up to 180 days in jail.

It’s the latest incident of the unfriendly skies. Last week, a video that quickly went viral captured the moment when a bloodied passenger was yanked from his seat on a United Airlines flight and dragged down the aisle.

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Migrant workers are making thousands trimming marijuana in California

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — They sit for hours at a time, hunched over tables with scissors in one hand and marijuana in the other. The work is tedious, but it pays well -– for now. This once mostly black market trade is slowly becoming more regulated, hindering the flow of quick, under-the-table cash.

Time melds together, the sound of snipping and sticky scissors clinking as they are dipped in jars of alcohol, before they get back to grooming the weed.

Most people sitting around this table in Mendocino County are migrant workers. They flood into the region during the cannabis harvest in the fall. They are the trimmers –- those hired to cut marijuana for hours on end. Many trimmers in the county looking for work this season have come from all over the U.S. and from all over the world, including Spain, France, Portugal and Switzerland.

“You want to get all the big leaf, and all the leaf, off the flower stuff so it shows in a beautiful way,” said cannabis farmer Tim Blake. “You really want to trim it perfectly if you’re going to sell it.”

Blake, 60, is a self-described activist who has been growing cannabis for 45 years.

Blake’s 155-acre farm is located across the road from his dispensary, Healing Harvest Farms, in Laytonville, California. The farm is home to 99 marijuana plants that look more like trees, standing between 6 and 13 feet tall. On average, he said, they produce 400 pounds of weed annually.

The towering plants are harvested every fall. Before the weed is sold, it has to be cut, dried and trimmed.

“The very best flowers are always going to be trimmed by hand,” Blake said.

“Why do we trim? It’s obviously financial motivation, for sure. It’s not fun work,” said Bishma, 31, who has been trimming weed for eight years. He goes by Bishma in Mendocino, but declined to give ABC News his legal name.

California passed Proposition 64 in 2016, which legalized recreational marijuana for the state. But even before that, Blake’s medicinal marijuana farm was legal under state and county ordinances.

“It’s not like a free for all, grow wherever you want, whatever you want,” said Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman. “We certainly have limits and conditions and ordinances. Our citizenry understands that if they don’t want law enforcement to come to their house … then all they have to do is comply with the law.”

Blake, like other growers in the county, is restricted to 99 plants and has to undergo inspections on his property.

“For the most part, the federal government has said that if the state law is complied with, that the federal government will not get involved with,” Allman said prior to the 2016 presidential election.

However, despite the medicinal measures Blake has followed, and the recreational law that passed in California in 2016, the future is still uncertain when it comes to marijuana and legalization under the Trump administration.

In February, press secretary Sean Spicer spoke about differences between recreational and medicinal marijuana and said, “I do believe you will see greater enforcement of [federal restrictions on recreational use].”

A recent Yahoo News/Marist poll titled “Weed and the American Family” reported that 52 percent of Americans ages 18 or older have tried marijuana in their lifetime. It also found that “there is overwhelming support for the legalization of medical marijuana” with 83 percent of Americans behind it, and that a majority of Americans, 56 percent, “think marijuana use is socially acceptable.”

Marijuana laws in the United States currently differ state to state and county to county. Even though Prop. 64 passed in California, the state is still in transition when it comes to recreational marijuana. But there is a strong sentiment from people in the business that as laws evolve to legalize recreational weed, it will have an impact when it comes to trimming and money.

The first person who hired Bishma to trim paid him in cash –- no taxes. And as a self-proclaimed world-class trimmer, he brags about how fast he is, which means he can earn more.

“Really slow trimmers can make as little as $100 a day, if they’re not any good,” Blake said. “A really great trimmer can make up to $400 a day, or $450 a day. An incredible trimmer can make $500 a day in product.”

Trimmers working on Blake’s farm this year said they were hoping to make anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 during the harvest, depending on who you asked.

But as laws evolve and marijuana becomes more of a regulated industry, so does the business.

Blake said he always only hires trimmers who are American citizens, and in the past has had them work for barter, trimming in exchange for medicinal marijuana. But, for the first time this year, he said they will receive monetary compensation and be expected to pay taxes.

“I don’t think we’re going to get paid as much as we used to, or even still getting now, because taxes are coming in now,” Bishma said. “We never had taxes before, ever, nothing.”

“Trimmers are going to get paid through salaries,” Blake said. “It’s going to be the end of the gold rush for trimmers.”

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US Navy makes distributing nude photos without consent a punishable offense

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Navy announced on Wednesday new regulations that make it a punishable offense for sailors and Marines to post nude pictures of service members online without consent.

The new regulations are a direct result of the recent scandal involving male Marines and sailors who posted nude photos of female Marines online. Engaging in such activity now carries the potential for criminal charges.

On Tuesday, Acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley announced the new regulations in a Navy-wide written message. The new rules went into effect immediately and will be formally included in the next printing of the Navy’s regulations.

“The wrongful distribution or broadcasting of an intimate image is prohibited,” under the new regulations.

The online posting of intimate photos is considered “wrongful” if done without the consent of the person in the image, and if the intent of the posting is to “to realize personal gain;” “to humiliate, harm, harass, intimidate, threaten, or coerce the depicted person;” or if it is done “with reckless disregard as to whether the depicted person would be humiliated, harmed, intimidated, threatened, or coerced.”

“The addition of Article 1168 ‘Nonconsensual distribution or broadcasting of an image’ to Navy Regulations serves to underscore leadership’s commitment to eliminating degrading behaviors that erode trust and weaken the Navy and Marine Corps Team,” the Navy’s chief spokesperson, Rear Admiral Dawn Cutler, said in a statement.

Cutler said the new regulations provide commanders “another tool to maintain good order and discipline by holding Sailors and Marines accountable for inappropriate conduct in the nonconsensual sharing of intimate imagery.”

She continued, “This article adds the potential charge of Article 92 ‘Failure to obey order or regulation’ to the possible charges that can be used against an alleged perpetrator. Each case of alleged misconduct will be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances.”

The military online nude photo sharing scandal came to light in March when it was disclosed that a link to possibly hundreds of explicit photos of female Marines had been posted on the Marines United Facebook page by current or former male Marines. While that page had 30,000 members, a subsequent review determined that only a small number of individuals were actively involved in sharing nude photos of female Marines.

The scandal led the military services to scour other websites for illicit photos of female service members that may have been posted without their consent.

General Robert Neller, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, told a congressional committee that the sharing of explicit photos online is an example of broader cultural problems in the Marine Corps that needed to be addressed.

Neller also made an impassioned plea for potential victims of the photo sharing to step forward to help investigators

The Marine Corps soon updated their social media policy to make cyberbullying a punishable offense.

Earlier this month Navy investigators announced that 27 individuals were involved in criminal activity in the posting non-consensual nude photos of female Marines online. Of those, 15 are active duty U.S. military personnel — 14 in the Marine Corps and one in the Navy.

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Fresno police chief releases new details in ‘hate crime’ shooting rampage that killed three

JANIFEST/iStock/Thinkstock(FRESNO, Calif.) — Police in Fresno, California revealed new details Wednesday on the “hate crime” shooting that killed three people in just minutes on Tuesday morning and what allegedly inspired the suspect to commit the murders.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said in a press conference Wednesday that suspect Kori Ali Muhammad — born Kori McDonald — was inspired to carry out the attack after learning on local news that he was the suspect of another murder at a local motel.

That’s when Muhammad — armed with a revolver — decided that he was going to kill as many white males as possible, Dyer said, adding that the Muhammad told investigators that he did not like white men. Muhammad has also written anti-government sentiments on social media as well as posts saying that he does not like white people, the police chief said Tuesday.

Around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, Muhammad fired 17 shots in about three minutes, Dyer said.

During the shooting rampage, Muhammad fired several times at two Hispanic women in a car, but he stopped shooting once he realized they were Hispanic and let them go, Dyer said. Muhammad also fired at a group of men at a bus stop and chased after one man, who was the heaviest and oldest of the group. That man became his final victim, Dyer said.

Muhammad was arrested shortly after the shooting and has since given detectives several hours of interviews describing his actions, Dyer said. The suspect lead detectives through the murder scenes and explained to investigators what he did and why, laughing while he made the descriptions, Dyer said.

Muhammad was already wanted for allegedly murdering a Motel 6 security guard who was identified by Dyer Wednesday as 25-year-old Carl Williams. The murder occurred last week, Dyer said.

Muhammad fired at Williams because he said the security guard disrespected him, Dyer said.

Muhammad led investigators through the crime scene at the motel as well as the locations from Tuesday’s shootings, Dyer said.

Muhammad told detectives that he is Muslim but hadn’t been to mosque in 20 years and prays to numerous gods, Dyer said. The suspect also said that he had been practicing voodoo rituals and is not a terrorist or affiliated with any terror groups.

Dyer said that officers witnessed Muhammad yell “Allahu akbar” at the scene of the shooting. Dyer described Muhammad as a “racist” rather than a terrorist.

On Tuesday morning, Muhammad had gone to buy items to practice voodoo rituals when he went to Starbucks instead, Dyer said. While there, he used Stabucks’ Wi-Fi to watch a broadcast from ABC Fresno station KFSN, which identified him as a suspect in Williams’ murder.

Police were alerted to the scene Tuesday through ShotSpotter, a gunfire locator that detected multiple gunshots in the same vicinity, Dyer said Tuesday. Dyer played audio of the shots fired recorded by ShotSpotter during today’s press conference.

Muhammad did not run from Fresno police officers because he said he respected them, according to the police chief. Muhammad said he didn’t want police to be forced to shoot him and that he is not a coward.

Once he saw the officers on the scene, Muhammad got on the ground, Dyer said Tuesday.

Dyer identified the victims of Tuesday’s shooting, which included 37-year-old Mark Gassett, 58-year-old David Jackson and 34-year-old Pacific Gas and Electric Company worker Zachary Randalls. Dyer showed pictures of Randalls’ family photos with his children after identifying him.

Randalls was driven to police in a PG&E truck, Dyer said Tuesday.

It is unclear if McDonald has entered a plea or retained an attorney.

The gun has not been located after it was wrapped in clothing and picked up by someone on the scene, Dyer said, describing the man who took it as Hispanic.

Dyer asked for the man who took the gun to turn himself in immediately. The man fled from the scene after taking the gun, the police chief said.

Muhammad spoke to his mother Tuesday night after he was arrested, Dyer said.

During the rampage, Muhammad shot at a resident who he encountered in the neighborhood multiple times but missed, Dyer said Tuesday. He then shot and killed the man he encountered next.

Muhammad dropped shell casings and reloaded his gun before setting of to Catholic Charities on North Fulton Street in Fresno, where he shot and killed a man he encountered in the parking lot, Dyer said Tuesday.

Aaron Van Curen, who lives near Catholic Charities, said he didn’t believe what he was witnessing when he heard multiple gunshots. Gassett was killed near his home, Van Curen said. Once he saw that the shooter had left the scene, he went outside to feel for a pulse, and “there wasn’t one,” he said.

“He was obviously dead at that point…” Van Curen said, adding that he then waited for police to arrive.

Dyer said Tuesday night that he did not believe the murders were related to terrorism and that the shootings were “solely based on race.”

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Eric Frein found guilty on all counts in 2014 shooting that killed Pennsylvania state trooper

ABC News(MILFORD, Pa.) — A jury convicted Eric Frein on 12 counts Wednesday, including first degree murder and attempted murder in the shooting of a pair of Pennsylvania State Troopers in 2014.

Frein shot the two officers in September 2014 before fleeing into the woods. He was captured about seven weeks later by U.S. Marshals outside an abandoned hangar in the Pocono Mountains.

The 34-year-old survivalist killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson and shot and wounded Trooper Alex Douglass more than two years ago. He had hidden supplies in the woods before the shooting. Police found two pipe bombs, an AK-47, ammunition and various food and other supplies that they believed belonged to him.

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