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Black Cat

Assange's Ecuador Bid Sparks Wacky Escape Ideas

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© Agence France-Presse/Carl Court
Julian Assange wants to go to Ecuador to avoid being sent to Sweden
London - It sounds like a brainteaser: how could WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange get from Ecuador's embassy in London onto a plane to its capital Quito, without setting foot on British territory?

When he walked into the embassy on Tuesday seeking political asylum, the Australian ex-hacker pinned his hopes on Ecuador as his ticket out of extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning over sex crime allegations.

But legal experts say the dramatic escape bid has lured 40-year-old Assange, who had exhausted his British legal options -- into an apparent dead end.

Britain's Foreign Office says that as long as the anti-secrecy campaigner stays in the embassy, which occupies a flat in London's plush Knightsbridge district, he is beyond the reach of the police.

But if he steps outside, he faces immediate arrest by the police for having breached bail conditions, which include staying at his bail address between 10:00 pm and 8:00 am. And Scotland Yard officers are guarding the exits.

Eagle

High Court Splits its Verdict on Arizona Immigration Law

supreme court bldg
© AFP/Getty Images/File Win McNamee
Washington - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld the main provision of Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigrants but threw out three other parts, handing partial victories to President Barack Obama in his challenge to the law and to the measure's conservative supporters.

In an important test of whether federal or state governments have the power to enforce immigration laws, the top U.S. court unanimously upheld the statute's most controversial aspect, a requirement that police officers check the immigration status of people they stop, even for minor offenses such as jay-walking.

But in a split ruling, the court also struck down other provisions of the southwestern U.S. state's 2010 law, the first of its kind in the country, that the Obama administration had challenged in court. The votes on those provisions were 5-3 or 6-2, with the more conservative justices in dissent.

These three provisions required immigrants to carry immigration papers at all times, banned illegal immigrants from soliciting work in public places, and allowed police arrests of immigrants without warrants if officers believed they committed crimes that would make them deportable.

Wreath

Truth Dies in War - Eyewitness version of Houla massacre

Houla massacre
© onpointpolitics.com
The Houla massacre is a turning point in the Syrian conflict. Supported by the accounts of UN observers, the Western public blames the Syrian army for the bloodbath. This version can be doubted based on reports from eye-witnesses, according to whom the civilians were killed by Sunni rebels.

The Houla massacre was a turning point in the Syrian drama. The worldwide outrage was great as 108 people, among them 49 children were killed in Houla on May 25. Calls for a military intervention to put an end to the bloodshed in Syria became louder and the violence in the country has unrelentingly increased ever since. Based on Arabic news channels and the UN observers visit on the next day, world opinion almost unanimously accuses the regular Syrian army and the regime-affiliated Shabiha for the mass murder.

The German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) questioned this version on the basis of accounts from eye-witnesses. The newspaper had reported that the killed civilians were Alawites and Shiites. They were intentionally killed by armed Sunni insurgents in Taldou, a town in the plains of Houla, as violent clashes broke out between the regular Syrian army and units of the [so called] Free Syrian Army at checkpoints around the village. This account was taken up by many media outlets worldwide and rejected by many as incredible. Therefore four questions arise: Why does the world opinion so far follow another version? Why does the context of the civil war make this doubted version plausible? Why are the witnesses reliable? What other facts support this version?

Bizarro Earth

Maine prepares for zombie attack

Zombie
© AFP Photo / Kimihiro Hoshino
Emergency officials in Maine have taken part in a training exercise in preparation for a zombie apocalypse. This comes just weeks after the federal government publicly denied the existence of zombies.

­Around 100 emergency responders from eight different counties participated in the event in the quiet city of Bangor.

The premise: an unknown virus originating from Jamaica has reached Maine, turning the infected into zombies. Once infected, the virus quickly spreads to the brain, and turns the host into a full-fledged zombie, who has only one thing on its mind: biting other people.

The officials were armed with two would-be vaccines - one to prevent the infection from reaching the brain, and one to bring the zombies back to life.

"We have identified in several states, particularly Texas, New York, Illinois outbreaks of these civil disturbances and biting," one official said. "And in conjunction with that there are also widespread power outages."

Attention

Kenya Brings Explosives Charges Against Two Iranians

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© Agence France-Presse
Mombasa's firemen inspect the scene of a grenade attack
Nairobi - A Kenyan court charged two Iranian nationals with illegal possession of explosives Monday, a day after a grenade attack on a bar in the southern city of Mombasa that killed three people.

The Iranians, whom police said they arrested last week over suspected links to a terror network planning bombings in Mombasa and Nairobi, are accused of possessing 15 kilos (33 pounds) of the powerful explosive RDX, according to the charge sheet presented in court.

The pair, Ahmed Mohamud and Said Mausud, were "armed with intent to commit a felony known as grievous harm", the charge sheet said.

The two men, who were not represented by a lawyer, denied the charges.

Pistol

3 Policemen Shot to Death at Mexico City International Airport During Drug Investigation

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© The Associated Press/Alexandre Menghini
Mexico's Federal Police officers arrive to the scene where a shooting took place in Mexico City's international airport on Monday, June.25 2012.
Mexico City - Drug trafficking suspects opened fire in a crowded food court at Mexico City's international airport on Monday, killing three federal policemen who were on an anti-narcotics mission as panicked witnesses dove for cover.

A witness said the shooters also wore police uniforms, and the federal Public Safety Department said it was investigating whether the attackers were active-duty police, former officers or impostors. Criminals in Mexico sometimes use false police uniforms.

The slain agents had gone to the airport "to detain suspects linked to drug trafficking at Terminal 2," the Department said in a statement. "Upon seeing themselves surrounded by federal police, they (the suspects) opened fire on the officers."

Two officers died at the scene and another died later of his wounds at a local hospital.

No suspects had been arrested following the shooting, which took place shortly before 9 a.m. (10 a.m. EDT; 1400 GMT). The federal Attorney General's office said that its organized crime unit had opened an investigation into the case.

Eagle

Hundreds of Florida Killers Could Get New Sentences Under Supreme Court Ruling

Supreme court
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws, including one in Florida, that mandate life sentences for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder.


Hundreds of convicted murderers in Florida will likely get a chance to convince a judge that their life prison terms should be reduced because they were juveniles when they killed.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday in two cases, Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Arkansas, struck down laws in 28 states that mete out mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for minors convicted of homicide.

The ruling, hailed by civil-rights activists, doesn't mean Florida judges can't still impose a life sentence on youths for first-degree murder - but they must now at least consider a defendant's age.

"Kids are different. They are very impulsive. They follow other people. They don't have a full understanding of the consequences of what they're doing," said Miami-Dade Assistant Public Defender Stephen Harper, who has worked on the issue and estimates some 225 Florida convicts could get new sentences. "The court found it is important for a judge to consider all these factors."

Monday's opinion follows the high court's 2010 decision, based on a Jacksonville case, that ruled that sentencing minors to life without the possibility of parole in non-homicide cases constituted "cruel and unusual punishment."

Heart - Black

Unanswered Question Remains about Sandusky Case

sandusky
© marsme1551
Jerry Sandusky has molested his last troubled boy. He is going to jail for life. But a larger question remains after Sandusky's conviction.

How did Jerry Sandusky get away with his conspicuous deviant behavior all of these years when so many people in authority knew about it?

A Pennsylvania jury found the former high profile assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University (PSU) guilty of forty-five charges of sexual abuse on June 20, 2012. The jury deliberated only twenty hours to reach the verdict. This answered the most fundamental question about Sandusky's behavior: Was he a child molester? Yes, beyond a reasonable doubt responded the jurors with their guilty verdict.

Light Sabers

Googler Wants Error 451 for Government Censorship

It's a government censorship-related error honoring the late Ray Bradbury.
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© Unknown

In an interview with The Guardian, Google employee Tim Bray said that he's recommending to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to use error code 451 when a website is blocked by the government.

For those who don't recognize the symbolism, the number pays homage to the late Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451 which was first published in 1950. The story warned of a dystopian world defined by government-imposed censorship which arrived in the form of burning any house that contained books.

"We can never do away entirely with legal restrictions on freedom of speech," Bray said. "On the other hand, I feel that when such restrictions are imposed, they should be done so transparently; for example, most civilized people find Britain's system of super-injunctions loathsome and terrifying."

"While we may agree on the existence of certain restrictions, we should be nervous whenever we do it; thus the reference to the dystopian vision of Fahrenheit 451 may be helpful," he added. "Also, since the Internet exists in several of the many futures imagined by Bradbury, it would be nice for a tip of the hat in his direction from the Net, in the year of his death."

Grey Alien

Would Finding Aliens Shatter Religious Beliefs?

Aliens
© Columbia Pictures
When we meet them, will they remind us of . . . us? Here, human-like aliens from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Santa Clara, California - The discovery of life beyond Earth would shake up our view of humanity's place in the universe, but it probably wouldn't seriously threaten organized religion, experts say.

Religious faith remains strong in much of the world despite scientific advances showing that Earth is not the center of the universe, and that our planet's organisms were not created in their present form but rather evolved over billions of years. So it's likely that religion would also weather any storms caused by the detection of E.T., researchers say.

"I think there are reasons that we might initially think there are going to be some problems," said Doug Vakoch, director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, Calif. "My own hunch is they're probably not going to be as severe as we might initially think."

Vakoch spoke Sunday (June 24) at the SETICon 2 conference, in a panel discussion called "Would Discovering ET Destroy Earth's Religions?"