Mystery Sting Targets U.S. Senator for Dirt on Russia Sanctions

A staffer for the senator responded to the email and proposed a date and time for a phone call between Shaheen and Rinkevičs. The supposed Latvian official, who called himself “Arturs Vaiders” and listed his job title as the “second secretary of the state protocol,” agreed.

But before the call could take place, Shaheen’s office contacted the Latvian embassy to confirm Vaiders’ bona fides. The embassy responded that the outreach attempt was fake.

Mystery Sting Targets U.S. Senator for Dirt on Russia Sanctions



Pennsylvania’s bail system keeps poor people in jail

Fishman and other reformers say pretrial incarceration has cascading effects on defendants, causing them to lose their jobs and housing, and breaking up their families. People jailed before trial are more likely to plead guilty and receive harsher sentences. And those who scrape together the money to post bail often do so by borrowing from relatives and friends, creating additional financial stress.

…The whole philosophy behind [reform] is that our traditional system in the United States of requiring cash bail is unfair to those who are indigent, who are living on the margins,” said Judge Stephen Baratta, who spearheaded Northampton County’s initiative during his recently ended tenure as the court’s president judge.

…“It seems anomalous that in our system of justice, the access to wealth is what often determines whether a defendant is freed or must stay in jail,” Circuit Judge Michael Chagares wrote. “Further, those unable to pay who remain in jail may not have the ‘luxury’ of awaiting a trial on the merits of their charges; they are often forced to accept a plea deal to leave the jail environment and be freed.”

…Even for those lucky enough to afford bail, posting it can be expensive. Lehigh County Chief Public Defender Kimberly Makoul said bail amounts that seem insignificant to many people are astronomical to her office’s clientele — even if just a few hundred dollars.

Given the court fees that accompany bail, some of the money is never returned, regardless of whether the accused makes all of his or her court dates — and even if there’s ultimately an acquittal.

For someone posting $10,000 in cash in Northampton County, court fees total $180. For someone posting a bond for that amount, the fees total $200. And that’s not counting the private fees that someone using a bail bond company must pay to the bondsman.

Lehigh County’s fees reach $248 for someone posting $10,000 cash, and $300 for someone relying on a bond.

There’s no evidence that monetary bail makes people more likely to show up in court, Cherise Fanno Burdeen, CEO of the Pretrial Justice Institute, said. Steps as simple as sending low-level offenders text messages to remind them of court dates can improve appearance rates. For higher-risk offenders, electronic monitoring, regular check-ins with court officials, and orders to stay away from victims are effective alternatives to bail, she said.

Northampton County has initiated bail reform to jail fewer defendants before trial. Before it was implemented, pretrial services director Nina Reynard tracked 51 low-risk defendants in February 2017. Her findings:

*They spent an average of 16.5 days in Northampton County Jail before posting bail or resolving their cases.

*It cost $97,000 to incarcerate them before trial

*All but four ultimately received sentences that didn’t call for incarceration, for instance probation or fines.

Pennsylvania’s bail system keeps poor people in jail – The Morning Call


For Hawaiians, Defending ‘Aloha’ and ‘Poke’ Is About More than Just Food

“You can understand how your use of “Aloha” and “Aloha Poke” is confusingly the same as Aloha Poke’s ALOHA POKE ® trademark,” the letter read. “While we do not seek to interfere with your business or your practice of selling poke cuisine, Aloha Poke cannot let these uses continue without harming its valuable trademark rights in and goodwill associated with its [r]egistered [t]rademarks.”

The main issue here isn’t that Aloha Poke Co. is using the word “Aloha,” which the restaurant’s operators don’t seem to understand and have no claim to, other than thinking that Hawaii culture is cool. (And based on its heavily garnished Instagram photos of raw fish packed alongside ingredients like pineapple, seaweed salad, and jalapeño, it appears they don’t really understand what authentic “poke” is supposed to be either.) The real problem arose when this Chicago restaurant said that no other restaurant can use these two Hawaiian words.

For Hawaiians, Defending ‘Aloha’ and ‘Poke’ Is About More than Just Food – MUNCHIES


Popular plant linked to Lyme disease is now banned in Maine

Because of its invasive nature, starting this year, Japanese barberry cannot be sold in Maine.

Fish said it’s preventing native plants from growing and doesn’t provide the food or habitat wildlife needs.

…Studies suggest Japanese barberry may be fueling the spread of Lyme disease.

“They’re definitely a tick magnet . They’re very much a tick magnet and they not only are a tick magnet; they’re a mouse magnet and mice is where Lyme disease is reservoired,” Fish said.

Popular plant linked to Lyme disease is now banned in Maine | WGME


Video: Louisiana man dies after officers put him in choke hold

A criminal justice expert says Avoyelles Parish law officers who wrestled a Marksville man off a tractor while serving an arrest warrant last year used too much force, needlessly escalating a confrontation that ended with the man’s death. [They also] acted negligently by failing to administer aid once Armando Frank was unconscious.

…A forensic pathologist hired by the parish had said in a report that manual strangulation was the primary cause of Frank’s death. The video shows Spillman mount the tractor behind Frank and apply a choke hold while another officer tries to pull him down. For a time, Frank is doubled-over while resisting. Officers had to carry Frank to a patrol car after his body went limp.

…“His level of resistance starts out as passive. It doesn’t go to active and aggressive until he’s physically assaulted by these deputies,” Gregory Gilbertson, director of the criminal justice program at Centralia College in Centralia, Washington, said Thursday.

…Gilbertson said Frank’s questions as to what he was being arrested for, and who signed the warrant, were reasonable.

“There’s no exigent circumstance here,” Gilbertson said Thursday. “He’s not attempting to flee, he’s not assaulting anybody, he’s sitting on a tractor and he’s asking reasonable questions they are refusing to answer.”

…The report by Youngsville pathologist Christopher Tape labels the death a homicide for “medicolegal purposes,” noting that officers compromised Frank’s breathing for more than six minutes by placing him in neck holds and pressing him from behind. The report, which relies on an autopsy and body camera video, also notes that officers did not attempt to resuscitate Frank.

…Tape’s review of body camera footage highlights several points at which Frank struggled to breathe — points that Spillman’s narrative and the Sheriff’s Office’s reports do not include. Louisiana State Police also investigated the incident, but State Police spokesman Scott Moreau referred all questions to the Sheriff’s Office, which he said is the lead agency in the investigation.

Spillman’s neck hold on Frank was temporarily interrupted by the errant stun gun strike, Tape notes, at which point Frank could be heard breathing heavily. The struggle continued once Frank was off the tractor, with Frank coughing as he was pressed onto the tractor from behind, according to Tape’s report.

Less than half a minute later, Frank “can be heard to be coughing and gasping,” Tape wrote, and law enforcement continued pressing him against the tractor for another 78 seconds. During this time, Frank said “let me up” three times “in an increasingly deep and strained voice,” Tape wrote, adding that this was Frank’s “last verbal communication.”

Video: Louisiana man dies after officers put him in choke hold; experts disagree on excessive force or not | Crime/Police |

Until officers of the law are held legally responsible for murders like these there is no law and order.