Clicky

Vegas Shock: 'Possessed' Murder Suspect Ate Man's Face, Eyeball and Ear
Connect with us
Citizen Frank

Published

on

A man has been accused of killing a convenience store customer before ‘eating’ his face in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Colin Czech, 29, reportedly tackled Kenneth Brown to the ground on Las Vegas Boulevard near Charleston Boulevard just before 5am Sunday.

CBS Austin reported that a 7-Eleven employee told police a man had punched a customer in the parking lot before tackling the man and smashing his head on the concrete.

About 45 minutes later, police received another call from witnesses reporting a man fitting the same description now at a bus stop ‘eating’ another man’s face.

‘One of the males was unresponsive and bleeding from the head,’ the police said.

The victim, identified by the broadcaster as Kenneth, was taken to hospital having sustained a large cut to his face and missing an eye and an ear.

‘He was later pronounced deceased by medical personnel,’ the police added.

Officers found Czech with ‘biological matter in his hair, mouth and on his clothing’, according to arrest documents obtained by CBS affiliate KLAS.

Czech was taken into custody at the Clark County Detention centre on an open murder charge at 5.57am.

He claimed he was homeless, had been awake for ‘five days straight’ because he was ‘possessed’ and that Kenneth had attacked him.

He used his ‘teeth to eat [Kenneth’s] eyeballs and ears’, he told detectives, the documents said.

Appearing today at Las Vegas Justice Court this morning, Czech’s lawyer told Judge Amy Chelinin that he believes Czech is incompetent to stand trial.

Chief Deputy Public Defender David Westbrook said he intends to request a medical examination for Czech.

He told the court: ‘I’ve spoken to him, and I’ve determined that he is incompetent.’

He had failed to appear in court on Monday.

Advertisement
Read 11 Comments
  • Avatar Randall Parker says:

    A man’s gotta eat! It’s time to bring back the cheap all-you-can-eat buffets to Las Vegas.

    I wonder what drug(s) he was on to cause him to become a zombie.

  • Avatar Sicsam says:

    Give him the death penalty…he does not belong in society.

  • ⬇️ Top Picks for You ⬇️

    News

    Rioters Set Fire to Israeli Embassy in Mexico

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Rioters on Tuesday set fire to the Israeli Embassy in Mexico during a protest ostensibly against the Israeli military operation in the southern Gazan city of Rafah.

    Masked protesters threw stones at security forces who had created a barricade preventing access to the diplomatic mission in the Mexico City’s Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood.

    Around 200 people participated in the “Urgent Action for Rafah” demonstration, dozens of whom attempted to break down the barriers, according to AFP.

    Video posted to social media showed fires raging outside the embassy complex.

    There were unverified reports of several people injured in the chaos.

    Watch:

    The riot came after Mexico filed a declaration of intervention in South Africa’s “genocide” case against Israel at the International Court of Justice.

    The ICJ, the principal United Nations judicial arm, located in The Hague, issued a 13 to two ruling on Friday that the Jewish state must “immediately halt its military offensive and any other action in the Rafah governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

    On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the IDF would continue to press its offensive in Rafah in order to free the hostages held by Hamas and destroy the Palestinian terrorist group.

    Israeli officials insist that the military operations in the enclave are being conducted in conformity with Friday’s ICJ ruling.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    WATCH: Biden Snaps at Reporter Over Kamala Harris Question: ‘Did You Fall on Your Head?’

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    President Biden lashed out Wednesday at a reporter who asked if he planned to complete a full second term or hand over power to Vice President Kamala Harris sometime before January 2029 — before speaking to a rally at a half-full school gym.

    “Are you OK?” the 81-year-old president shouted in response across the tarmac at Philadelphia International Airport, pointing his finger at his head.

    “Are you all right? You’re not hurt, are you?” Biden added, addressing the pool reporter who asked the question.

    The reporter then asked if the president could “approach,” due to the difficulty in hearing the answer.

    “I said, are you OK? Did you fall on your head or something?” Biden shouted again across the tarmac, drawing laughter from his entourage, which included Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.)

    Watch:

    Republicans regularly argue that a vote for Biden is akin to voting for Harris to take over in the Oval Office, since Biden will be 86 even if he manages to complete a full term — and polls show most Americans are concerned about his ability to complete an eight-year presidency.

    Biden returned to his birth state for a rally with Harris, 59, at Girard College targeting black voters ahead of his Nov. 5 rematch against former President Donald Trump.

    “If he [Trump] wins a second term, he’s gonna go even further,” Harris said in her warm-up remarks.

    “Who sits in the White House matters.”

    The president slammed his predecessor as “clearly unhinged” and told his audience that Trump “wanted to tear gas you” during Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.

    At one point, Biden mused about what Trump would have done “if black Americans had stormed the Capitol” during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots.

    “Because black Americans voted, Kamala and I are president and vice president!” Biden declared before vowing to “sign the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and make Roe v. Wade the law of the land again” in a second term.

    A Biden campaign official estimated that the Girard College event drew 1,000 attendees, who filled about half of the prep school gymnasium’s floor and seating areas.

    It was not immediately clear why attendance for the event was limited, though other public events featuring Biden have been dogged by hecklers denouncing his support for the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Poll: RFK Jr. Hurts Trump Numbers — Biden Leads with All 5 Candidates Included

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are tied (42%-42%) in a head-to-head matchup in Virginia, while Biden holds a two-point lead (40%-38%) when other candidates are included, according to the Roanoke College Poll. The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research (IPOR) at Roanoke College interviewed 711 likely voters in Virginia between May 12 and May 21, 2024. The survey has a weighted margin of error of 4.24%.

    2024 General Election

    Although only 2% of likely voters say they are undecided at this early point in the campaign, another 14% (two-way) to 20% (five-way) say they will vote for a candidate other than Biden or Trump (Kennedy 8%; Stein 3%; West 1%; Other 8%). This is the first time the Roanoke College Poll has shown the candidates tied, although the polls in February 2024 and November 2023 showed them within the margin of error.

    Two-thirds (64%) of likely voters are very certain of their vote choice, and another 28% are somewhat certain. Just over half (52%) are very enthusiastic about voting, and another 27% are somewhat enthusiastic. Still, one in five are either not too (14%) or not at all (7%) enthusiastic. The economy dominates among the most important issues, being cited by 44% of respondents. Immigration (14%) and abortion (13%) were chosen more frequently than foreign affairs (8%) and crime (5%).

    A majority of likely voters (63%) think that Biden legitimately won the election in 2020, but one-third (34%) say he won because of election irregularities. Nearly three-fourths (73%) think that Trump legitimately won in 2016, but 21% think he won because he colluded with Russians. As expected, partisans see those elections differently with 94% of Republicans saying Trump won legitimately, compared to 53% of Democrats, while 91% of Democrats say Biden won legitimately, while only 29% of Republicans agree.

    There is concern for potential violent protests regardless of who wins the presidency in November. Although more are concerned about potentially violent protests by Trump supporters if Biden wins (36% very concerned; 31% somewhat concerned), there is also concern about violent protests by Biden supporters if Trump wins (19% very concerned; 29% somewhat concerned). Democrats were much more concerned about Trump supporters’ reactions (54% very concerned; 30% somewhat concerned), while Republicans were about equally concerned regardless of who wins.

    Respondents are more likely to view the Trump years as mostly good for the country (44% mostly good; 33% mostly bad), and they see the Biden years more negatively (25% mostly good; 47% mostly bad). Republicans are very enthusiastic about the Trump years (87% see them as mostly good), while half (50%) of Democrats think of Biden’s years as mostly good. About equal numbers of likely voters think Biden and Trump mostly tell the truth and mean what they say (37% for each) rather than just saying things to get elected (59% for Biden; 58% for Trump).

    Job Approval, Favorable/Unfavorable, and Directions of Virginia and Nation

    Evaluations of the direction of the country and the commonwealth are mostly unchanged since February and are similar over several years. A small majority (53%) thinks that Virginia is headed in the right direction, while 70% think the country is on the wrong track. Job approval for President Biden (35%), Gov. Glenn Youngkin (52%), and Congress (19%) are likewise barely changed from February. Biden’s 61% disapproval rating ties his all-time Roanoke College Poll disapproval high from February. Youngkin’s ratings have been steady for a year, while Congress continues to inch its way back up to approval near 20%.

    Favorability ratings for federal officials and institutions generally continue in negative numbers with Donald Trump (36% favorable/57% unfavorable) and Joe Biden (36% favorable/58% unfavorable) leading in the wrong way. The U.S. Supreme Court fares slightly better with 44% favorable and 48% unfavorable. U.S. Senator Tim Kaine breaks the underwater trend with 43% favorable and 39% unfavorable, but those ratings are lower than the last time he ran for reelection. Youngkin’s ratings remain steady (49% favorable/40% unfavorable), continuing a long-term trend of Virginians holding more positive views of governors (Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative).

    Regarding the events of Jan. 6, 2021, a plurality of respondents (44%) think it was an insurrection. Another 30% see it as a riot, similar to other riots, and 22% view it as a mostly peaceful protest where a few people became violent. In comparison, 14% of those polled see the social justice protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in 2020 as insurrections, while 51% think they were riots, and 22% view them as mostly peaceful protests.

    Except for the direction of Virginia, each of these ratings are the result of major perception gaps between Democrats and Republicans. Overall, Democrats think the country is headed in the right direction, approve of the job being done by Biden, disapprove of Youngkin’s performance, and are negative regarding Congress. Republicans are the opposite of each, other than being even more negative toward Congress. The same is true for favorability ratings of public figures and the Supreme Court. Independents are typically between the two, sometimes closer to Republicans and sometimes closer to Democrats.

    Political Anxiety

    IPOR continues to track political anxiety in the commonwealth, which tends to remain more stable overall, while anxiety waxes and wanes among partisans as their party is in or out of power. The overall index of 94.84 is down from its all-time high of 121.15 in November 2023, mostly because of a decrease in anxiety among Democrats.

    Most respondents trust the government in Washington to do what is right only sometimes (57%) or never (22%). While a majority (51%) thinks that ordinary citizens can influence the federal government, almost the same number (48%, just below the all-time high of 49%) think that citizens can’t influence the government.

    A majority (61%) also thinks their side has been losing more than winning on important issues. Half (50%) of likely voters are dissatisfied with how the federal government is working and another 21% are angry. Half (50%) also think the country’s best years are behind us, while 45% think the best years lie in the future. This question has trended more negatively in the past several years. A large majority (86%) sees the nation as divided regarding the important issues facing it.

    Analysis

    “These results suggest that Virginia could be ‘in play’ in November,” said Dr. Harry Wilson, senior political analyst for IPOR and Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Roanoke College, “but five months is an eternity in politics. This tie or two-point lead seems dramatic, but they are within the margin of error of the results of the February 2024 and November 2023 Roanoke College Polls. Still, it seems that Trump is narrowing Biden’s lead, which has all but disappeared.”

    “Both candidates are polling very well among their partisans, and there is a miniscule number of undecided voters before the parties officially nominate the candidates. This suggests that those voters who say they will vote for another candidate will possibly swing the election one way or the other. Do they vote for a third-party candidate? Do they move to one of the major party candidates? Or do they decide to abstain from voting?”

    “While Biden and Trump are viewed negatively about equally, it is not good news for Biden that Trump’s years as president are seen more positively and that the economy (which other polls show as a weakness for Biden) is by far the most important issue.”

    “While it isn’t anything ‘new,’ we continue to see evidence that Democrats are from Mercury and Republicans are from Neptune (or Pluto if you prefer the demoted planet). Or vice versa. They view American politics through very different lenses or, perhaps, from different planets. It’s difficult to find consensus on anything when two-thirds (67%) of Republicans think Biden’s win was illegitimate and 41% of Democrats think Trump’s victory was illegitimate.”

    Methodology

    Interviewing for the Roanoke College Poll was conducted by The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research (IPOR) at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, between May 12 and May 21, 2024. A total of 711 completed interviews came from random telephone calls to 423 Virginians, and 288 responses were drawn from a proprietary online panel of Virginians. Interviews were conducted in English. Cellphones constituted 63% of the completed phone interviews.

    The landline sampling frame was created by random digit dialing, with area code and exchange coverage made proportional to population density in Virginia, and services from iconectiv, LLC used to remove numbers that had been ported to a cellular provider. Marketing Systems Group provided the cellular dialing frame using a combination of random digit dialing and randomly selected numbers with a Virginia billing zip code to ensure representation. Lucid, LLC facilitated the online panel with completion time and attention check questions used for quality control. IPOR regularly uses bootstrap analysis of post-survey results to control for quality within the blended frames.

    Questions answered by the sample of 711 respondents are subject to a weighted error margin (including design effect) of plus or minus 4.24% at a confidence level of 95%. This means that in 95 out of 100 samples such as the one used here, the results should be at most 4.24 percentage points above or below the figure obtained by interviewing all Virginians with a home telephone or a cellphone. Where the results of subgroups are reported, the error margin is higher.

    Quotas were used to ensure that different regions of the Commonwealth were proportionately represented. The data were statistically weighted for gender, race and age. Weighting was done to match Virginia data in the 2022 one-year American Community Survey (ACS). The design effect was 1.331.

    A copy of the questions and all toplines may be found here.

    Go deeper ( 6 min. read ) ➝

    News

    House COVID Committee Wants Access to Fauci’s Phone, Email Records

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic will send a letter Wednesday to Dr. Anthony Fauci requesting access to his email and cell phone for any information that relates to COVID-19 origins, EcoHealth alliance and their investigation.

    The Daily Caller first obtained a copy of the letter, which was sent by Republican Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup, the chairman of the select subcommittee. In it, he mentions the testimony of Fauci’s senior advisor at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. David Morens and how the doctor recently testified before the subcommittee after they uncovered evidence that suggests he intentionally obstructed their investigations into the origins of COVID-19 to protect Fauci.

    In June 2023, Morens appeared to attempt to avoid potential Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by using his personal email instead of his work email, a letter from Wenstrup reads. Lawmakers have also questioned if he destroyed federal records, according to the letter.

    Newly uncovered emails suggest Morens also contacted Dr. Fauci by his email, according to Wenstrup’s new letter. When the select subcommittee asked Dr. Morens about this at his hearing last week, specifically if he sent any Covid info to Fauci’s email, he responded by saying: “I don’t remember.”

    “As you know, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic (Select Subcommittee) is investigating the origins of COVID-19. This investigation includes EcoHealth Alliance, Inc.’s (EcoHealth) activities at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), failures to monitor and enforce conditions required in EcoHealth’s grant, facilitation of gain-of-function research, and efforts by government and non-government officials to obstruct and delay our oversight efforts,” Wenstrup writes in the letter.

    “As a part of the probe, we are reviewing thousands of communications from your former Senior Scientific Advisor, Dr. David Morens. The Select Subcommittee possesses communications from Dr. Morens in which he suggests he sent you official congressional correspondence related to COVID-19 to your personal e-mail account and that he had a ‘secret back channel’ to you,” the letter continues.

    READ THE LETTER HERE:

    “This testimony in addition to the documents in possession of the Select Subcommittee require we request documents and communications in your personal custody and control. Accordingly, the Select Subcommittee requests the following documents and information in your custody or control, including any responsive records retained in your personal e-mail(s), cell phone(s), or other electronic device(s) as soon as possible,” Wentrup added.

    Wenstrup calls for a response to the letter by June 12 at the latest.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    House Ethics Committee Opens Investigation Into Dem Rep. Henry Cuellar

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegations that include accepting bribes, money laundering and abuse of office, the panel announced Wednesday.

    It creates fresh political peril for the already embattled South Texas Democrat as he defends himself from a federal criminal indictment.

    Cuellar has denied the charges and said he plans to continue to seek re-election in November.

    Reps. Michael Guest (R-Miss.) and Susan Wild (D-Pa.), the chair and ranking member of the Ethics Committee, said in a statement that the panel voted “unanimously” to form a subcommittee to investigate Cuellar.

    Such a vote is required by House rules within 30 days after a member is indicted.

    Guest and Wild said the probe will look into allegations that Cuellar accepted bribes and received improper gifts, acted as a foreign agent, violated federal money laundering statutes, misused his office for personal gain and lied on financial disclosure forms.

    The subcommittee will be led by Guest and Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-Md.), with Reps. Ben Cline (R-Va.) and Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) also serving.

    “I respect the work of the House Ethics Committee,” Cuellar said in a statement.

    “As I said on May 3rd, I am innocent of these allegations, and everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas.”

    Cuellar is facing prosecution by the Justice Department for allegations he took nearly $600,000 in bribery payments from an Azerbaijan-controlled oil company and a Mexican bank.

    Cuellar is accused of influencing legislation and pressuring executive branch officials on behalf of the bank and the government of Azerbaijan in exchange.

    The indictment has been met largely with silence from Cuellar’s colleagues, with retiring Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) still the only one who has called on him to resign.

    Wild and Guest said they are “aware of the risks associated with dual investigations.”

    They said the committee is in communication with the Justice Department to “mitigate the potential risks while still meeting the Committee’s obligations to safeguard the integrity of the House.

    While Cuellar already faces substantial legal risk, the committee probe could imperil him politically.

    The Ethics Committee often hands down perfunctory punishments, but its probes can be damning on the campaign trail.

    The panel also proved potent last year when its bombshell report against former Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) precipitated his expulsion in an overwhelming bipartisan House vote.

    Cuellar is up for re-election in a competitive district – though one that still leans Democratic.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Harvey Weinstein May Face New Charges as More Accusers Come Forward, New York Prosecutors Say

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Manhattan prosecutors told a judge Wednesday they are evaluating more claims of sexual misconduct made against Harvey Weinstein and could potentially seek a new indictment against him before his scheduled retrial on rape and sexual assault charges.

    Assistant District Attorney Nicole Blumberg said during a court hearing that additional people have come forward with assault claims and prosecutors are currently assessing which fall under the statute of limitations.

    She said some potential survivors that were not ready to step forward during Weinstein’s first New York trial may now be willing to testify.

    When asked by Judge Curtis Farber whether there was a possibility of prosecutors filing a new indictment, Blumberg replied: “Yes, your honor.”

    Blumberg said prosecutors would be in a better position to update the court on the direction of the case at the end of June.

    Farber set the next hearing date for July 9. The retrial on the rape charge is tentatively scheduled for some time after Labor Day.

    Weinstein’s lawyer, Arthur Aidala, told reporters outside the courthouse after the hearing that his client was confident no additional accusers would be found to bolster the prosecution’s case.

    “He knows he’s never done anything like this,” Aidala said of Weinstein.

    Weinstein, appearing in the same New York City courthouse where former President Donald Trump is on trial, entered the court in a wheelchair, as he has during other recent court hearings since his 2020 conviction was tossed out.

    Weinstein has suffered from medical problems throughout his time in jail, his lawyers have said. He is currently at the city’s Rikers Island jail complex.

    Earlier in the hearing, Farber addressed a letter from prosecutors last week requesting the court to remind Weinstein’s lawyers not to discuss or disparage potential witnesses in public ahead of the retrial.

    Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office argues that Aidala made statements earlier this month that were meant to intimidate Miriam Haley, a former TV and film production assistant who Weinstein was convicted of sexually assaulting.

    Aidala, Weinstein’s lawyer, apologized to the judge, saying he didn’t intend to intimidate anyone.

    But he said his client is also entitled to a “vigorous defense,” and that it is the defense’s position that “lies were told at the last trial, and will be told at this one.”

    Aidala argued lawyers for Weinstein’s accusers have been holding press conferences criticizing Weinstein throughout his legal ordeal.

    “Who gets to stand up for Harvey Weinstein?” he asked in court. “Who gets to be his voice?”

    Farber, in response, directed both sides to “refrain from pandering to the press,” saying the case will “not be decided in the court of public opinion” but in the court of justice.

    Haley didn’t attend Wednesday’s hearing and has expressed reluctance about going through the trauma of testifying again.

    Her lawyer Gloria Allred said outside the courthouse that her client hasn’t made a decision yet about whether she’ll participate in the retrial.

    But Allred called on Aidala to apologize to Haley for the “unwarranted, vicious and false” attack on her, made in the courtroom earlier Wednesday. Aidala declined, speaking to reporters later.

    Speaking outside of court on May 1, Aidala said Haley lied to the jury about her motive in coming forward and that his team planned an aggressive cross-examination on the issue “if she dares to come and show her face here.”

    Weinstein’s original trial was held in the same courtroom where Trump is on trial now, but the two men were unlikely to bump into each other. Weinstein is in custody and was brought to and from the courtroom under guard. He appeared in a courtroom on a different floor than where Trump is currently on trial.

    At his 2020 trial, Weinstein was convicted of raping Jessica Mann, an aspiring actor, and of sexually assaulting Haley. But last month New York’s highest court threw out those convictions after determining that the trial judge unfairly allowed testimony against him based on allegations from other women that weren’t part of the case. Weinstein, 72, has maintained that any sexual activity was consensual.

    The New York ruling reopened a painful chapter in America’s reckoning with sexual misconduct by powerful figures. The #MeToo era began in 2017 with a flood of allegations against Weinstein.

    Weinstein, who had been serving a 23-year sentence in New York, was also convicted in Los Angeles in 2022 of another rape and is still sentenced to 16 years in prison in California.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝

    News

    VIDEO: Mexican Mayoral Candidate Murdered at Campaign Rally

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    One mayoral candidate was murdered and another shot and wounded in Mexico on Tuesday as violence continues to spread ahead of Sunday’s elections.

    According to local media reports, Ricardo Arizmendi, a candidate for mayor in the city of Cuautla in the central state of Morelos, was killed after being shot in the head at his place of work by two men who escaped on a motorbike.

    Meanwhile, in the western state of Jalisco, Gilberto Palomar, a mayoral candidate for the municipality of Encarnacion de Diaz was shot and injured inside a home along with two aides.

    Rising violence ahead of weekend vote

    Violence often spikes in the run-up to Mexican elections and this year has been no exception with 22 candidates murdered since campaigning started last September, according to government figures.

    Outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has deployed over 27,000 troops and national guard members to provide security during the elections. Mexicans will be voting not only for a new president, but also members of Congress, several state governors and around 20,000 local officials.

    Lopez Obrador said that the aim of the security operation was for Mexicans to be able to vote “calmly, safely and without fear” and expressed confidence that the election would be “clean, free and, above all, peaceful.”

    Go deeper ( < 1 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Judge Is Left Speechless When Suspended Driver Joins Zoom Court Hearing While Driving

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Footage from a Michigan court hearing went viral after the defendant Corey Harris, who had a suspended license, joined the Zoom call while clearly behind the wheel.

    District Judge Cedric Simpson of Ann Arbor is seen in the video reacting with disbelief as Harris dials in, his seatbelt visible across his torso and his car obviously in motion.

    ‘Mr. Harris, are you driving?’ Simpson asked the defendant.

    ‘Actually, I’m pulling into my doctor’s office,’ Harris replied. ‘So just give me one second…I’m parking right now.’

    The footage from the Zoom call shows the legal teams in court standing in shock, while those at the back of the room do their best to contain their laughter.

    The judge, bewildered and bemused, then asked if Harris was stationary, to which he replied, ‘just give me a second.’

    For your first offense, one instance of driving on a suspended license in Michigan can lead to a $500 fine and up to 93 days in jail.

    A second offense could mean one year in jail and an $1000 fine.

    In an attempt to lessen Harris’s inevitable citation, his public defender requested an adjournment for ‘possibly up to four weeks if the court would allow.’

    But Simpson said, astonished: ‘Okay, so maybe I don’t understand something. This is a driving while license suspended [case], and he was just driving, and he didn’t have a license.’

    ‘That is correct your honor,’ the public defender admitted in defeat.

    ‘I don’t even know why he would do that,’ the judge said.

    ‘Defendant’s bond is revoked in this matter,’ he declared. ‘The defendant is to turn himself into the Washtenaw County Jail by 6pm today.’

    ‘Oh my God,’ Harris replied, shocked that they would deliver a verdict that fast without hearing his side of the argument.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Supreme Court Justice Alito Rejects Calls to Recuse from Trump, Jan. 6 Cases

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Wednesday declined to step aside from two pending cases relating to former President Donald Trump and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol following recent news reports about contentious flags flown at his private properties.

    In letters to members of Congress calling for his recusal, Alito said that the two incidents involving flags at his home in Virginia and a vacation property in New Jersey first reported by The New York Times “do not meet the conditions for recusal” set out in the Supreme Court’s newly adopted ethics code.

    Alito said that in both instances “a reasonable person who is not motivated by political or ideological considerations or a desire to affect the outcome of Supreme Court cases” would conclude that no recusal was required. One letter was sent to Democratic senators while the other was sent to Democrats in the House of Representatives.

    He added he had no involvement in the decision to fly either flag, saying they were raised by his wife, Martha-Ann Alito.

    In the first incident, neighbors said that an upside-down U.S. flag was flown in early 2021 just after Jan. 6 and the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

    In the other incident, a flag linked with conservative Christians bearing the motto “Appeal to Heaven” was flown at the vacation home the following year.

    The Supreme Court is currently weighing two cases that touch upon Jan 6: Trump’s presidential immunity claim in his election interference case, and an appeal brought by a man prosecuted for his role on the day itself. Rulings are due by the end of June.

    Under the Supreme Court’s ethics rules, individual justices have a final word on whether to step aside from cases.

    The ethics code was adopted last year after several allegations of ethics lapses, mostly against Alito and fellow conservative Justice Clarence Thomas.

    Alito cited the code in his letters, noting that a justice is presumed to be impartial and only needs to step aside if an “unbiased and reasonable person” aware of the facts would doubt that the justice could “fairly discharge his or her duties.”

    In explaining in more detail the flying of the upside-down flag, Alito said his wife was “greatly distressed” because of a “very nasty neighborhood dispute” that he was not involved with. The New York Times had new details on that dispute in a story published on Tuesday.

    “A house on the street displayed a sign attacking her personally and a man who was living at the house trailed her all the way down the street and berated her in my presence using foul language, including what I regard as the vilest epithet that can be addressed to a woman,” Alito wrote.

    He added that once he became aware of the flag, he asked his wife to take it down but “for several days, she refused.”

    The New York Times account differed somewhat, with a neighborhood couple saying they had called the police at one point because they felt that Martha-Ann Alito was harassing them. The Times also reported that the confrontation between the Alitos and the neighbors happened weeks after the upside-down flag was already taken down.

    As for the second flag, Alito said he could recall it being flown by his wife but was not aware of its meaning or any connection with the “stop the steal” effort to overturn the 2022 election results.

    In both cases, Alito stressed that his wife is a private citizen who has her own free speech rights.

    “My wife is fond of flying flags,” he added. “I am not.”

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝

    News

    First Day of Deliberations Ends Without a Verdict

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    The judge overseeing the hush money case against Donald Trump dismissed the jury on Wednesday afternoon after no verdict was reached on Day One of deliberations in the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president.

    Deliberations started in the late morning after state Judge Juan Merchan delivered lengthy instructions to the 12-person jury. They deliberated for about 4 1/2 hours.

    Court will reconvene Thursday morning, when jurors will re-hear portions of testimony they requested to review as well as Merchan’s jury instructions, which took him about an hour to read to them Wednesday morning. It was not immediately clear if the instructions will be read again in their entirety. The request for testimony and instructions came by way of notes from the jury Wednesday afternoon.

    A verdict could come as soon as Thursday, though deliberations could easily extend into next week or beyond.

    It’s the suspenseful denouement to one of the highest-profile trials in recent memory, and one that could carry enormous stakes for this year’s presidential election.

    Attorneys on both sides delivered lengthy closing arguments Tuesday that stretched into the evening, when Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told the panel: “You, the jury, have the ability to hold the defendant accountable.”

    Merchan instructed the jury to set aside their personal feelings when considering whether Trump is guilty, reminding them that, as with all criminal trials, it’s the prosecution’s duty to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

    “The defendant is not required to prove that he is not guilty,” Merchan said.

    He also instructed the jurors not to draw any inferences either way from the fact that Trump did not testify, and he reminded the jury that a decision of guilt must be unanimous among all 12 members.

    Jury deliberations happen entirely behind closed doors, and the only hints of jurors’ thinking come from notes they submit to the judge.

    The jury on Wednesday submitted two such notes — announced by a loud buzzer in the courtroom, which can also signal that the jury has reached a verdict.

    One note asked that the jury instructions be read again, while the other requested specific portions of testimony delivered by former Trump attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen and former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker.

    Some legal analysts saw the requests as a good sign for the prosecution, since their case rests heavily on the testimony of Pecker and Cohen, but others cautioned against trying to infer anything from jury notes.

    Trump, wearing a navy suit and yellow tie, retained his now-familiar pose throughout most of the day, with his eyes closed and head tilted softly back, though he appeared to grow restless at times.

    Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records relating to a hush money payment Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign. Prosecutors allege Trump reimbursed Cohen through a series of payments that were falsely listed as legal expenditures.

    This article was updated.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Google’s Algorithm Exposed: 14,000 Search Ranking Features Leaked

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Rand Fishkin along with Mike King may have published one of the biggest data leaks outside of the Department of Justice reveal around Google Search and its internal ranking features and signals. The document was from an anonymous source (no longer anonymous, see below) but verified by Rand Fishkin and contains a ton of details on how Google Search reportedly works.

    More importantly, it seems to contradict a number of the Google statements made over the past two decades from numerous Google Search employees, as I covered here over the past.

    I have not gone through it all yet but I felt it was important for you all to read this yourself, you can see the details at these headlines:

    Rand wrote, “Many of their claims directly contradict public statements made by Googlers over the years, in particular the company’s repeated denial that click-centric user signals are employed, denial that subdomains are considered separately in rankings, denials of a sandbox for newer websites, denials that a domain’s age is collected or considered, and more.”

    Mike King wrote, “I have reviewed the API reference docs and contextualized them with some other previous Google leaks and the DOJ antitrust testimony. I’m combining that with the extensive patent and whitepaper research done for my upcoming book, The Science of SEO. While there is no detail about Google’s scoring functions in the documentation I’ve reviewed, there is a wealth of information about data stored for content, links, and user interactions. There are also varying degrees of descriptions (ranging from disappointingly sparse to surprisingly revealing) of the features being manipulated and stored. You’d be tempted to broadly call these “ranking factors,” but that would be imprecise.”

    Aleyda Solis has a quick summary on X where she summed up part of the leak:

    • There are 14K ranking features and more in the docs
    • Google has a feature they compute called “siteAuthority”
    • Navboost has a specific module entirely focused on click signals representing users as voters and their clicks are stored as their votes
    • Google stores which result has the longest click during the session
    • Google has an attribute called hostAge that is used specifically “to sandbox fresh spam in serving time”
    • One of the modules related to page quality scores features a site-level measure of views from Chrome

    I have not had time to go through everything yet, I will do that over the next several days.

    I have also not seen any Googler publicly comment on this yet – I know it is new and I don’t know if we will see any Googler comment on this.

    This reminds me a bit like the Yandex search ranking leak.

    Here are some posts on social about this – again, this has only been out for a few hours and no one but Rand and Mike had any real time to process this in super detail.

    I am looking forward to really digging in on this.

    Update: I briefly went through those two stories and dug a bit into the actual API documentation and honestly, based on everything I’ve followed over the past 20+ years around Google Search – these really look legit. Some of the specifics in these docs I heard both on and off the record as real ranking features, some are no longer used from what I understand and some I do not know how they are used (i.e. directly for ranking or after the fact ranking validation). It is worth digging through these docs in detail, in my opinion.

    Update 2: The source of the leak has spoken out – Erfan Azimi emailed me this video:

     

    Go deeper ( 4 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Trump ‘Considering Role for Elon Musk in His Administration’

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Former President Donald Trump is considering appointing Elon Musk to help advise him in the White House after the pair patched up their relationship in recent months.

    The 45th president has not ironed out the details and a position might not materialize, the Wall Street Journal reported — but the two have been in talks about how the tech mogul could give “formal input” on issues like the border, the economy and preventing voter fraud.

    Their initial icy relationship has been thawing recently, and Musk — the world’s third-richest man — is now in direct phone contact with Trump; the pair talk “several times a month,” according to the outlet.

    Musk, alongside billionaire investor Nelson Peltz, has also spoken to Trump about an effort Musk launched to convince business leaders not to support President Biden in November.

    “President Trump will be the only voice of what role an individual plays in his presidency,” senior Trump adviser Brian Hughes told The Post.

    “But it has been widely reported and is demonstrated in a number of ways, that many of the nation’s most important leaders in technology and innovation are concerned with the damage done to their industry by Biden’s failures to handle our economy and his moves to overburden innovators with government bureaucracy and unrelenting regulation.”

    Musk, the owner of the social media platform X and the founder of Tesla and Space X, has previously said he would not give money to either candidate and has been openly anti-Biden.

    But, the South African-born billionaire has painted himself as largely an independent.

    Musk became a US citizen in 2002.

    After Trump scored victories on Super Tuesday and became the presumptive Republican nominee, Musk had a meeting with the former president at Mar-a-Lago, the Wall Street Journal reported.

    Trump confirmed the meeting in March, telling CNBC that they did in fact meet, but not revealing what the conversation was about.

    “Look, I’ve been friendly with him over the years. I’ve helped him when I was president. I helped him. I’ve liked him,” Trump said.

    The conversations between Musk and Trump have included topics like immigration, tech and science like the US Space Force, according to the WSJ — topics that Musk has been vocal about on X.

    “America will fall if it tries to absorb the world. That is why I am banging the drum so much about this issue,” Musk said about immigration in March.

    Trump has courted wealthy donors to contribute to his campaign, and even if Musk — worth an estimated $202 billion — doesn’t contribute financially, his massive influence on social media — 185.1 million followers on X — could sway voters in Trump’s favor.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Federal Grand Jury to Hear from Diddy Accusers: Report

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Federal investigators are preparing to bring accusers of music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs before a federal grand jury, two sources familiar with the probe tell CNN — signaling the US Justice Department is moving toward potentially seeking an indictment of Combs.

    Possible witnesses have been notified by investigators that they could be brought in to testify in front of a federal grand jury in New York City, according to one source. Bringing individuals who have filed civil lawsuits against Combs before a grand jury would mark a significant escalation in the government’s ongoing investigation involving the producer and Bad Boy Records founder.

    Combs has been named in eight civil lawsuits since November – seven directly accusing him of sexual assault. One of the eight lawsuits, filed by former girlfriend Cassie Ventura, has been settled. Another lawsuit accused his son Christian Combs of sexual assault, and Sean Combs is accused of aiding and abetting.

    These potential witnesses have not yet been prepped for testimony, both sources told CNN, cautioning that HSI investigators are still in the process of gathering evidence and questioning potential sources of information in their federal probe into Combs.

    One source said investigators are being thorough and taking their time to ensure that an indictment, should there be one, is “bulletproof.”

    Grand juries comprised of ordinary citizens are critical tools used by prosecutors, providing both an investigative function in approving the subpoenaing of documents and witnesses, and a vote on whether to criminally charge suspects. The use of a grand jury signals a particular case has moved beyond the preliminary stage where investigators generally assess whether possible violations of the law are believed to have been committed.

    Feds have interviewed multiple Combs accusers

    Combs’ homes in Los Angeles and Miami were searched back in March. At that time, CNN reported that the rapper and entrepreneur was the target of a federal investigation carried out by a Department of Homeland Security team that handles human trafficking crimes, and the ongoing investigation included a focus on sex trafficking, according to law enforcement sources.

    Now, additional sources told CNN that the majority of the plaintiffs who have filed civil suits against Combs have been interviewed by federal investigators.

    Combs has vehemently denied claims from many of the civil suits but has not responded to all of the allegations. In December 2023, after four lawsuits had been filed against him, Combs posted a fierce denial on his social media, writing that “sickening allegations” had been made by accusers “looking for a quick payday.” “Let me be absolutely clear: I did not do any of the awful things being alleged.”

    CNN previously reported in March, per a law enforcement source, that the investigation stems from many of the sexual assault allegations put forth in several of the civil lawsuits against Combs. CNN has learned that the scope of the investigation is much larger, focusing on sex trafficking, money laundering and illegal drugs.

    In addition to human trafficking, HSI also investigates narcotics smuggling and other organized criminal activity.

    “It’s much bigger than just these lawsuits,” one of the sources familiar with the scope of the investigation said.

    Federal investigators are now “digging deeper,” and some of the accusers have been questioned numerous times, a source said. A second source corroborates this current state of the investigation.

    Accusers who have spoken to federal agents during the investigation have been actively cooperating with investigators, with some handing over evidence they believe may be helpful in the probe, one source said. Investigators are also bringing in new individuals for questioning, including corroborating witnesses of accusers.

    Evidence includes video from Combs’ residences

    Federal agents are in possession of video taken inside of Combs’ recently searched residences, a source said. It’s unclear whether the video was seized during the raids, or whether investigators obtained video from individuals they have been questioning.

    “They are contacting people that they’ve found on the tapes,” a source told CNN.

    At least one male sex worker, who claims he has been victimized by Combs, has been questioned during the investigation, one source said, adding that this individual was seen in footage that is in possession of the federal investigators.

    In some of the lawsuits against Combs, accusers have alleged that they were informed, after the fact, that they were recorded having sex without giving their consent to be filmed. Combs has not responded to this specific accusation, but he dismissed all alleged wrongdoing in a blanket denial he posted in December 2023.

    In some of the civil suits, Combs is alleged of drugging multiple accusers. In the two most recent lawsuits filed against Combs within the past week, former fashion student April Lampros and former model Crystal McKinney both accused Combs of drugging them. In Lampros’ suit, she claims that Combs forced her to take ecstasy and then demand she have sexual intercourse with one of his former girlfriends before raping her.

    Combs was also accused in a civil suit filed last November of “intentionally drugging” and sexually assaulting Joi Dickerson-Neal back in 1991, when she was a college student. Though his legal team has filed a motion to dismiss portions of this suit, Dickerson-Neal also accused Combs of “revenge porn,” claiming that Combs secretly recorded the sexual assault. Days later, a male friend revealed to Dickerson-Neal that he had viewed it, according to her claim.

    Combs’ team did not respond to specific allegations of drugging or secret recordings, but a spokesperson at the time said the complaint was “made up and not credible,” discrediting the accusations as “purely a money grab.” In their motion to dismiss, which is still pending, attorneys for Combs called Dickerson-Neal’s allegations “false, offensive, and salacious.”

    Go deeper ( 4 min. read ) ➝

    News

    UPDATE: Building Explosion Kills Bank Employee and Injures 7 Others in Ohio

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    A massive explosion blew out much of the ground floor of an apartment building, killing a bank employee and injuring several other people. Police and emergency officials initially blamed natural gas, but the fire chief later said the cause is under investigation.

    The blast happened around 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, collapsing part of the ground floor of Realty Tower into its basement and sending the façade across a street where both sides had been blocked off by orange construction fencing. The 13-story building has a Chase Bank branch at street level and apartments in upper floors.

    Speaking at a news conference Wednesday, city officials said the state fire marshal’s office was leading the investigation into the cause, and it wasn’t known when a determination may be made.

    The bank employee, 27-year-old Akil Drake, had been seen inside the building right before the blast, the Youngstown Police Department said Wednesday. Youngstown Fire Chief Barry Finley said in a news conference Tuesday that firefighters rescued several people and cleared the building to ensure no one else was hurt.

    Finley said Wednesday that two people — Drake and a woman whose name has not been released — were initially unaccounted for after the blast, so firefighters and other emergency responders remained on scene for several hours to locate them. Finley said the woman was found in a hospital where, for unknown reasons, she had been registered under another name.

    Drake’s body was eventually found in a basement.

    “We were not going to leave there until we found him. His family deserved closure,” Finley said.

    JPMorgan Chase mourned his loss and said it would work with local officials. “Our hearts go out to their family as well as our injured employees, their families and others affected by this tragedy,” a company statement read.

    Police and the Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency said there was a natural gas explosion, but the fire chief later said it was too early to say.

    “We have no idea what caused the explosion. We know that there was an explosion and it did a lot of damage to the bottom of the building,” Finley said Tuesday. He said none of the apartments in the building are habitable.

    Seven injured people were taken to Mercy Health Hospital in Youngstown. Finley said one woman remained in critical condition Wednesday.

    The blast shook downtown Youngstown, a city of about 60,000 residents. Bricks, glass and other debris littered the sidewalk.

    Watch:

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Police Arrest Illegal Immigrant for 10th Time in 10 Months

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Chicago police have reportedly arrested an illegal immigrant for the tenth time since he traveled to the city last year, according to court records and police.

    Carlos Mavarez Viloria, a resident of downtown Chicago’s Standard Club migrant shelter, is currently incarcerated in the Cook County Jail, authorities and filings reveal, CWB Chicago reported.

    Each time Viloria was arrested, he was reportedly released from custody. However, he faces a felony charge and is being held in jail, according to the outlet.

    The authorities first arrested Viloria on July 12, 2023, when he allegedly stole 10 Major League Baseball hats, a backpack, watches and food from a Walmart, amounting to around $193, CWB Chicago noted. A warrant was reportedly issued for his arrest when he missed his court appearance.

    Chicago law enforcement arrested him the day after for allegedly attempting to shoplift t-shirts worth approximately $158, the outlet reported. He reportedly received a seven-day sentence for the Walmart incident, though the other case was dismissed.

    Police detained Viloria for alleged possession of a crack pipe a month after, the outlet reported. Prosecutors reportedly dropped the charge and the evidence was ordered destroyed by a judge.

    Viloria had several other arrests for various alleged offenses, including shoplifting, threatening a store clerk with a firearm, resisting arrest, selling clothes without a permit and others, according to the outlet

    The latest arrest that led to his incarceration came when sheriff’s deputies apprehended him for multiple alleged shoplifting cases filed by a TJ Maxx, court records reveal, the outlet reported. Viloria allegedly fought at least two deputies, pulling one to the ground and injuring another, according to the outlet. He reportedly faces charges of felony aggravated battery of law enforcement, resisting arrest, reckless behavior and shoplifting.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Kentucky Prosecutors Drop All Charges Against Golfer Scottie Scheffler

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    All charges against top golfer Scottie Scheffler were dropped Wednesday after a Kentucky prosecutor said the high-profile arrest amounted to a “big misunderstanding.”

    Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell told the court that the evidence against Scheffler doesn’t even meet the lower standard of “probable cause.”

    “Therefore based upon the totality of the evidence, my office cannot move forward in the prosecution of the charges filed against Mr. Scheffler,” O’Connell told the court, dropping all charges.

    The world’s No. 1-ranked player was arrested May 17 outside Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville during the PGA Championship.

    He was accused of failing to follow orders from police who were investigating a fatal accident outside the club earlier that morning. The golfer allegedly dragged Detective Bryan Gillis, who was trying to stop Scheffler’s car about 6 a.m., police said.

    But Scheffler insists he was following police directions on how to enter the club ahead of that day’s second-round action and said his arrest was because of miscommunication.

    “He’s glad it’s over,” the golfer’s defense attorney Steve Romines told reporters outside court.

    The golfer had considered filing a civil lawsuit against Louisville authorities but Romines said his client didn’t want that “distraction.”

    “Litigation is a distraction for anyone,” Romines said. “And the truly historic season he is having right now, being involved in litigation would be a distraction. ”

    Scheffler was led away in handcuffs that day and booked into custody on allegations of second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from officers directing traffic.

    “Mr. Scheffler’s characterization that this was a ‘big misunderstanding’ is corroborated by the evidence,” O’Connell said. “Mr. Scheffler’s actions and the evidence surrounding their (Scheffler and Gillis) exchange during this misunderstanding do not satisfy the elements of any criminal offenses.”

    The prosecutor noted that he does not believe Gillis did anything wrong.

    “Detective Giillis was concerned for public safety at the scene when he initiated contact with Mr. Scheffler,” O’Connell said.

    Scheffler said he doesn’t hold a grudge against Gillis.

    “As I stated previously, this was an unfortunate misunderstanding,” her said in a statement he posted on social media Wednesday. “I hold no ill will toward Officer Gillis. I wish to put this incident behind me and move on, and hope he will do the same.”

    Police said they respected the prosecutor’s decision.

    “We respect the judicial process,” according to a statement by the Louisville Metro Police Department. “LMPD will remain focused on our mission to serve the city of Louisville and mitigate violent crime.”

    So far, there is no known video of any interaction between Scheffler and Gillis with the Louisville police already conceding that the detective did not turn on his body-worn camera, in violation of agency policy.

    The confrontation with police unfolded about an hour after a shuttle bus struck and killed Louisville resident John Mills, who was working for one of the vendors at the tournament, officials said.

    Scheffler that day was booked into custody a little before 7:30 a.m. but was released and made his tee time about 2 1/2 hours later.

    He shot a 5-under 66, his second best day of his four in Louisville, on his way to an eighth-place finish.

    Scheffler, who was not in court Wednesday, would happily play in town again, his attorney said.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

    News

    RESULTS: Texas Runoff Elections

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Following Texas’ primary elections held in March, a handful of congressional races remained unresolved because candidates failed to clear the threshold necessary to clinch their respective party’s nomination outright.

    On Tuesday, runoff elections in the Lone Star State were held to finalize the field before November’s general election which will determine the U.S. House majority, currently narrowly controlled by Republicans.

    Most runoffs are in no-incumbent primaries, such as in the 12th Congressional District where a Republican runoff will determine which GOP candidate will advance to November’s ballot in a bid to replace retiring Rep. Kay Granger.

    In the 23rd Congressional District, however, GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales faces a challenger who forced the race into a runoff.

    Most polls in Texas close at 8:00 p.m. ET with results expected to start reporting in shortly thereafter.

    7th Congressional District (GOP Runoff)

    12th Congressional District (GOP Runoff)

    23rd Congressional District (GOP Runoff)

    28th Congressional District (GOP Runoff)

    29th Congressional District (GOP Runoff)

    31st Congressional District (Dem Runoff)

    32nd Congressional District (GOP Runoff)

    35th Congressional District (GOP Runoff)

    Go deeper ( < 1 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Trump Trial Moves Toward End: 5 Takeaways on the Closing Arguments

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    The moment of truth is near for former President Trump, after defense lawyers and prosecutors delivered closing arguments Tuesday in his New York case.

    The court’s day was prolonged well past its usual end time in order to hear summations in full — first from Todd Blanche in Trump’s defense and then from prosecutor Joshua Steinglass, who went on for nearly five hours.

    Judge Juan Merchan is expected to give instructions to the jury Wednesday, after which the matter will rest in the jurors’ hands.

    Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

    Those charges stem from a $130,000 payment made to porn actor Stormy Daniels in the final stretch of the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump denies the affair and knowledge of the payment.

    Here are five takeaways from Tuesday.

    Trump team takes hard aim at Cohen’s credibility

    Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who made the payment to Daniels to keep her from going public about the Trump affair, was always going to be a flawed star witness for the prosecution.

    Cohen, who was later reimbursed from Trump’s personal bank account and from a Trump trust, served time in prison after pleading guilty in 2018 to tax evasion, violating campaign finance laws and lying to Congress.

    The prosecution contends the reimbursements were falsely classified as legal expenses to conceal their true nature — part of a hush-money deal with Daniels. Prosecutors also say this was done to affect the election’s outcome, not merely to save Trump personal embarrassment, and therefore amounts to election interference.

    Trump’s team argues the money paid to Cohen, who in the past said he would take a bullet for Trump but has also become an aggressive critic of the former president, was indeed for legal services.

    Blanche sought to take a sledgehammer to Cohen’s credibility Tuesday.

    The Trump attorney’s most memorable line came when he accused Cohen of being “the MVP of liars.”

    Later, modifying a well-known acronym, Blanche called Cohen “the GLOAT: the greatest liar of all time.”

    The soundbites were aimed at making the broader case that it would be unjust to convict Trump based upon Cohen’s tarnished word.

    But there was one instance when Blanche seemed to overreach. It came when the attorney told the jurors they should not send Trump “to prison” based upon Cohen’s words.

    The jury only decides whether to convict or acquit. In the event of a conviction, the sentence will be a matter for the judge.

    After the jury was ushered out, Merchan told Blanche his statement was “highly inappropriate.” When the jury returned for the afternoon session, the judge told them to disregard Blanche’s comment.

    Prosecution tries to stem doubts over Cohen

    The prosecution knows the stakes when it comes to Cohen’s testimony, so Steinglass tried to shore up jurors’ faith in the former Trump lieutenant, even while acknowledging his flaws.

    He defended Cohen’s stated desire to see Trump convicted, saying that given Cohen’s legal troubles, it was natural he would want to see Trump pay a price.

    Steinglass defended the basic veracity of Cohen’s testimony while also arguing the case did not rest upon him.

    He told the jurors that whether they liked Cohen was irrelevant.

    “It’s whether he has useful, reliable information to give you … and the truth is that he was in the best position to know,” the prosecutor said.

    “This case is not about Michael Cohen. It’s about Donald Trump.”

    Defense tells jurors not to see case as Trump ‘referendum’

    The question of how jurors will separate their feelings about Trump from the facts before them has hung over the case since the beginning.

    Jury selection was aimed, in part, at weeding out potential jurors who had especially strong feelings toward the former president.

    In his summing up, Blanche urged the jurors not to weigh the case as “a referendum on the ballot box — who you voted for in 2016 or 2020, who you plan on voting for in 2024.”

    He added: “The verdict you have to reach has to do with the evidence you heard in this courtroom.”

    More flashbacks to the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape

    The trial has at times served as a reprise of the chaotic final stretch of the 2016 campaign.

    To that effect, the lawyers’ summations made starkly different characterizations of the threat posed to Trump’s campaign by the release of the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape.

    The tape, which emerged about one month before Election Day but dated from years previously, featured Trump boasting about how his fame enabled crude behavior toward women, including grabbing them by their genitals.

    Steinglass, for the prosecution, said the tape’s release caused “pandemonium” within the Trump campaign.

    Blanche, for Trump, said it was not a “doomsday event.”

    The issue is important because the more severe the impact of the tape, the greater Trump’s political motivation to silence a new lurid allegation from Daniels.

    A cameo appearance by Robert De Niro

    President Biden’s campaign made its most assertive effort yet to wring political advantage from the trial.

    Actor Robert De Niro — a longtime Trump critic who narrates a new Biden campaign ad — appeared near the courthouse, along with two former Capitol Police officers who were present during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, Harry Dunn and Michael Fanone.

    Most of the star power resided with the 80-year-old De Niro, who warned that Trump would “never leave” if he is reelected in November, and who cast the former president as a danger to the U.S. and the world.

    Jason Miller, a top Trump aide, shot back, calling De Niro a “washed-up actor.”

    Go deeper ( 4 min. read ) ➝

    News

    Israeli Tanks Reach Center of Rafah; Will Fight Outward

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tanks reached the center of the town of Rafah on Tuesday. according to multiple media outlets, indicating that Israel intended to fight outwards toward the periphery rather than closing in from the outside.

    The Wall Street Journal reported:

    Israeli tanks advanced farther into Rafah on Tuesday, according to witnesses, as the Israeli military said it was expanding operations in the southern Gaza city amid growing international condemnation.

    The tanks passed near the Al-Awda mosque, a central Rafah landmark, Palestinians in the city told The Wall Street Journal. The Israeli military didn’t comment on the specifics of its push into Rafah, but Israel’s Army Radio said the military had added a brigade to the five operating in the city and troops were engaging in close-quarters combat with Hamas.

    The tactic of penetrating to the heart of an enemy city and fighting back out was pioneered by Israel in the West Bank during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, and later became a model of urban counter-terror warfare.

    The idea is to confuse enemy fighters by attacking them from the rear.

    Israel also (controversially) uses armored bulldozers in its attacks on terrorists in urban centers, carving out corridors for troops and vehicles to avoid booby-trapped pathways.

    There is another advantage in the present setting to starting the fight from the center of Rafah: it allows more civilians to escape.

    Already, close to one million Palestinians are estimated to have fled to nearby towns and camps.

    Finally, with international pressure against the Rafah operation building, Israel may also be looking to speed up its tactics, going straight to the heart of the city rather than fighting small, drawn-out skirmishes on the outskirts.

    Go deeper ( < 1 min. read ) ➝

    News

    US Military Suspends Aid Shipments to Gaza After Pier Damaged

    Citizen Frank

    Published

    on

    New problems are mounting for the Biden administration’s $320 million floating Gaza aid pier which was already facing setbacks, despite becoming operational less than two weeks ago.

    The U.S. military was forced to halt aid shipments to Gaza on Tuesday after the floating pier was damaged by bad weather over the weekend. The damage sustained from the bad weather is only the latest in a string of logistical and operational problems that have plagued the pier since it was constructed in mid May.

    The JLOTS pier was a “horrible idea,” Michael DiMino, senior fellow at Defense Priorities and former CIA and defense official, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “It’s a horrible idea due to the challenges that we just saw basically wreck the whole project.”

    “It was never a sound plan to begin with… whether it’s accidents, or logistical hurdles, or risk to our troops and all these problems that have come to fruition. I don’t think that there should be any effort to try to continue this, or salvage it, or fix it,” DiMino said, pointing to safer, more effective methods of delivering aid to Gaza. “I think now is an opportunity to say this failed. Let’s wrap this up before we continue to tempt fate.”

    Getting aid into Gaza via the JLOTS system requires several steps. Aid is first delivered by vessels to the floating pier roughly two miles off the Gaza coastline, where it is facilitated by U.S. officials. It is picked up by loading vessels and transferred back to a separate causeway pier attached to the shores of Gaza, then trucked by various aid groups to warehouses for distribution.

    Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh confirmed that U.S. aid deliveries had been halted after rough weather and choppy waters broke the causeway pier apart on Tuesday, rendering it useless for the time being. The pier will be removed from the coast of Gaza and towed northbound to Israel for repairs; it will take “at least over a week” to fix the pier before it can be re-anchored, Singh told reporters.

    “We had a perfect storm of high sea states… creating not an optimal environment to operate this JLOTS pier,” Singh said Tuesday, responding to a question as to whether the pier is too fragile to withstand tough conditions. “Hopefully weather conditions won’t hinder it anymore [once it is operational again].”

    The pier can only be operated during favorable sea conditions, in a maximum of three-foot waves and wind speeds not higher than 15 miles per hour. Aside from the minimum week timeline, reconstruction efforts cannot take place if sea conditions are poor, possibly adding further delays.

    The incident comes just a day after a separate stint of bad weather unmoored four U.S. Army vessels supporting the JLOTS system and sent them floating away from the operational site off the coast of Gaza. Two vessels floated north and were beached in Ashdod, Israel, while the other two anchored on the Gaza coast near the causeway. One of the vessels has been recovered, and the other three will be recovered by Thursday, Singh told reporters during Tuesday’s press briefing.

    A video from the incident appears to depict U.S. soldiers from one of the beached vessels in Gaza stranded on the shores while awaiting rescue, despite the Biden administration’s promise that there would be no U.S. “boots on the ground” in the region during JLOTS operations.

    “This is amateur hour. It’s unacceptable that there’s so little planning that appears to have gone into this, to the point where half a dozen U.S. troops are washed ashore in a war zone surrounded by Hamas,” DiMino told the DCNF.

    That problem was proceeded by another incident last week in which three U.S. troops suffered injuries during JLOTS operations. While exact details haven’t been disclosed — other than that it was a non-combat incident — two of the troops suffered minor injuries and the third was critically injured and subsequently evacuated to an Israeli hospital for emergency care; he is still in critical condition, Singh said Tuesday.

    Days after the JLOTS system was constructed, shipments that made it to the shores of Gaza via the causeway and floating pier were quickly stolen from trucks by crowds of hungry civilians, creating security concerns among aid groups responsible for distribution. The United Nations and U.S. have discussed alternate routes for trucks to transfer aid to warehouses in lieu of the episode.

    There are also security concerns for the U.S. troops supporting the JLOTS operations. Pentagon officials, including Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, have admitted there is a baseline risk that Hamas operatives on the ground in Gaza could stage an attack on the causeway or fire at troops offshore.

    More broadly, only a fraction of the aid needed to address the humanitarian needs of the millions of Palestinians in Gaza can be delivered via the JLOTS system, even when fully operational. U.S. officials have said that roughly 90 trucks worth of aid will be delivered to Gaza via JLOTS in the interim, and eventually up to 150 trucks once the system is at full capacity.

    But the UN previously told the DCNF in a statement that hundreds of trucks of aid are needed on a daily basis.

    “That makes the pier a relative drop in the bucket at best — a waste of $320 million American taxpayer dollars and the futile deployment of 1,000 U.S. service personnel,” Shoshana Bryen, senior policy director at the Jewish Policy Center, previously told the DCNF.

    It is far safer and more effective to deliver aid to the Palestinians through other methods, chiefly by truck convoys through border crossings in Egypt to the south and Israel to the west, of which there are several. The international community has expressed concern that Israel and Egypt are not allowing enough aid to enter through these crossings, though Israel counters that it is already going to great lengths to ensure delivery; Egypt refused to allow hundreds of trucks worth of aid to enter Gaza through the Rafah border crossing until recently.

    Go deeper ( 4 min. read ) ➝
    Advertisement
    Advertisement

    Trending Today

    >