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Fri, 02 Jun 2023
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Black Cat

U.S. spy-satellite agency failed to report criminal employees: Child sex abuse and other criminal activities revealed

intelligence satellite
© Reuters / Luke MacGregor
The agency that controls US intelligence satellites failed to inform law enforcement when some employees and contractors admitted during lie detector tests to child abuse crimes, according to the intelligence inspector general.

The US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which operates surveillance satellites for the US intelligence community, was also found in other cases to have delayed reporting to authorities admissions of criminal activity uncovered during security clearance polygraph tests. Two inspector general reports released Tuesday found these delays possibly imperiled evidence in investigations or even endangered children.

In one case, an NRO legal counsel advised employees against reporting admissions by a government contractor of child molestation, viewing child pornography, and sexting with a minor, according to the Office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General.

"Doubt we have enough to interest the FBI," the NRO's then-assistant general counsel told another agency official in an email, adding, "the alleged victim is fourteen years old and fully capable of calling the police herself."

The NRO employee reported the confession anyway, revealing that the girl was still in contact with the contractor who had admitted to the crimes. The US Department of Justice was not informed of the confession for nearly five weeks, according to McClatchy news service.

Overall, 30 individuals of the 30,000 who took the NRO polygraph tests from 2009 to 2012 confessed to child abuse or possessing child pornography, the inspector general found. The inspector general's office referred for investigation seven confessions related to child pornography or child abuse that the NRO failed to report.

Meanwhile, in some reported cases, delays as long as several months meant "individuals could continue the criminal activity or tamper with or destroy evidence in the interim," said the inspector general's office.

Cell Phone

Parents spend 11 hours a day with electronic devices - less face to face communication with children

parent with phone
It's not just our kids getting too much screen time these days. Parents are also guilty of spending too much time on their electronic devices.

Researchers at the Boston Medical Center observed 55 different groups of parents and young children eating at fast food restaurants. The study found the majority pulled out their mobile devices right away, and, in turn, their kids tended to act up more.

"It's just normal childhood behavior," said parenting coach Toni Schutta. "If I can't get your attention in a positive way, I'm going seek it in a negative way."

Suzanne Ferguson, of Minneapolis, said she and her husband used to be smartphone addicts, checking their emails around their kids.

"We were the couple that would go out to eat at dinner and both be on our own phones before we had kids," she said. "We're very much attached to our phones."

Schutta says parents spend, on average, 11 hours a day using electronic devices. All that time takes away from face to face communication, which helps kids learn behavior.


Texas county to feed feral hogs to the hungry at local food banks

feral hogs
© ABC News
Texas County to Feed Feral Hogs to the Homeless
Authorities in Texas have signed off on plans to control the growing feral hog population that includes trapping and cooking the critters to feed to the hungry at local food banks.

The pigs will be trapped at George Bush Park and Congressman Bill Archer Park in Harris County, Texas, where they are threatening native wildlife and vegetation, according to Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack who came up with the plan and called it a "gift from God," according to ABC News affiliate KTRK-TV in Houston.

"There may be as many as 8,000 to 10,000 feral hogs in each of the reservoirs," said Mike McMahon with the Harris County Commissioner's Office, which today approved the purchase of four four-acre metal pens to trap the hogs.

After being captured, the pigs will be taken to a processing plant, J&J Packing Co, where they'll be inspected by a Department of Agriculture officer before being slaughtered. The meat will be sent to the Houston Food Bank.

Heart - Black

Cop's wife kills bicyclist, then sues him for 'emotional distress'

Brandon Majewski
© Image from facebook.com
A Canadian woman who hit three teenage boys - killing one and seriously injuring another - is now suing the deceased child, his family, and the two other teenagers she struck for more than $1 million.

In October 2012, 17-year-old Brandon Majewski was out with his friends Richard McLean and Jake Roberts, both 16, when they decided to hop on their bikes and go out for a hot dog. On their way, Sharlene Simon, 42, struck all three of the boys with her SUV. Majewski was severely injured, and died just two hours later.

Majewski's father, Derek Majewski, acknowledged to the Toronto Sun that the boys shouldn't have been out so late - it was past 1 a.m. at the time of the collision - but said they are "good kids" and should not have been hit by the vehicle. Now that the woman behind the vehicle is suing his dead son for emotional issues, anxiety, and trauma, he was not shy about expressing his anger.

"I feel like someone kicked me in the stomach - I'm over the edge," the dead boy's father, Derek Majewski, said to the Toronto Sun. "Sometimes, it makes my blood boil."

The family's attorney, Brian Cameron, expressed similar shock over receiving news of the lawsuit.

"In my 14 years of doing this, I've unfortunately represented far too many people who have lost children being hit by motorists, (and) I've never seen this," Cameron told Toronto's CTV News Channel. "I've never even heard of this ... I was shocked when I got the claim."


More than 4% of death row inmates in the US may be innocent

Death Row
© Greg Smith/Corbis
Mistake? Defendants on death row have access to more legal resources and scrutiny than other criminal defendants, giving researchers a window into the false conviction rate of the population.

One in 25 criminal defendants who has been handed a death sentence in the United States has likely been erroneously convicted. That number - 4.1% to be exact - comes from a new analysis of more than 3 decades of data on death sentences and death row exonerations across the United States.

"This was a very carefully done and carefully considered approach," says statistician Bruce Levin of Columbia University, who was not involved in the new study. "The analysis was quite sophisticated, and the authors were transparent about both their assumptions and methods."

Putting a number on the rate of false convictions among criminal defendants in the United States is complicated by the fact that many false convictions are never identified and there's no central, national database that tracks most types of criminal cases.

A number of lawyers and judges, however, have publically claimed that the false conviction rate for all crimes is almost negligible - including a written comment by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in a 2006 concurring opinion, citing a rate of 0.027%. But such assumptions usually take the total number of all exonerations in the country and divide it by total number of felony convictions - an incorrect calculation because most false convictions, especially for more minor felonies, are never revealed.

To calculate a more accurate false conviction rate, Samuel Gross, a law professor at the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor and a former criminal defense lawyer, decided to focus on one small subset of criminal cases: those that result in death sentences.

Eye 2

Sick Hacker breaks into internet connected/wireless baby room monitor system to terrify infant


Chilling: A Cincinnati couple awoke at midnight to hear a man's voice coming from the baby monitor in the room of their daughter Emma (pictured)
Baby monitors offer parents comfort in knowing their children are safe in their cribs. But what one Ohio family experienced with their unit was so terrifying it could lead you to rethink your own wireless security.

Heather and Adam Schreck were in for a surprise earlier this month when they say they awoke in the middle of the night to a hacker's voice coming from their 10-month-old daughter's monitor.

"All of a sudden, I heard what sounded like a man's voice but I was asleep so I wasn't sure," Heather Schreck told WXIX-TV.

When she looked at her phone to check the camera, Heather said it was moving on its own. And that's when the most terrifying thing happened.

Light Sabers

Hitler parallel debate rages in Washington Post

© Reuters/Stelios Varias
The head of a prominent Russian think tank is battling it out on the pages of the Washington Post over what he calls "disturbing" views attributed to him regarding the historical nature of Hitler's Nazi regime and recent events that transpired in Crimea.

The whole firestorm erupted over an article written by Andranik Migranyan, who heads up the New York office of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, for Izvesti earlier this month.

Dismissing critics who had likened Russian President Vladimir Putin to the notorious Nazi leader, Migranyan said: "One must distinguish between Hitler before 1939 and Hitler after 1939. The thing is that Hitler collected [German] lands. If he had become famous only for uniting without a drop of blood Germany with Austria, Sudetenland and Memel, in fact completing what Bismarck failed to do, and if he had stopped there, then he would have remained a politician of the highest class."

Several weeks later, Washington Post opinion writer Richard Cohen pounced on Migranyan's position and its "chilling content."

Eye 2

Neo-Nazis march in Lvov 'in honor' of Ukrainian Waffen SS division created to destroy Poles and Russians

© RIA Novosti
Ukrainian ultra-nationalists carry emblems of 14th SS-Volunteer Division "Galician" as they march in the center of the western city of Lviv on April 27, 2014 to mark the 71st anniversary of 14th SS-Volunteer Division "Galician" foundation.
Hundreds took part in a march to mark the anniversary of the formation of the Ukrainian SS division, which fought for the Nazi's against the Soviet Union during World War II, in the city of Lvov in the western Ukraine.

Around five hundred neo-Nazi supporters took to the streets in the center of the city on Sunday to celebrate the creation of the 14th SS-Volunteer Division 'Galician' on April 28, 1943.

Many of the participants wore embroidered national Ukrainian shirts and held SS Galician divisional insignias (a yellow lion and three crowns on a blue background) in their hands.

The demonstrators made their way from the monument to the Ukrainian nationalist icon of Stepan Bandera, and to the local cemetery where a memorial to the Galician soldiers is erected.


North Carolina clergymen, citing religious freedom, sue state for right to perform same-sex marriages

© Shutterstock
In a twist on the conservative argument over the separation of church and state, a group of clergymen filed suit in North Carolina today challenging state laws that make it illegal for them to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples within their congregations.

The clergymen, representing the United Church of Christ, as well as Lutheran, Baptist, and Unitarian congregations jointly filed a federal challenge to Amendment One - recently passed by voters - in Western District of North Carolina.

The addition to the North Carolina Constitution prohibited the state from recognizing or performing same-sex marriages or civil unions.

The 2012 initiative was approved by voters 61% to 39%.


Parents arrive for appointment with school principal - met by cop

© Image courtesy of the Finney family
Tracy and Macy Finney
Two Georgia parents who are refusing to allow their children to participate in the state's standardized tests were confronted by a police officer and told they were trespassing on school grounds when they attempted to meet with administrators and express their opposition to the exams last week.

Mary and Tracy Finney oppose their children taking the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and had initially sent an email to administrators asking if they could opt out.

"To my knowledge, there is not an opt-out option for the CRCT since these tests are mandated by state law," West Side Elementary School principal Karen Smits wrote back in an email, according to the Marietta Daily Journal. "I have forwarded your email to our Superintendent, Dr. Lembeck, and Associate Superintendent Dayton Hibbs for further guidance. Someone will be in touch soon."