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Fri, 17 Nov 2017
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Court rules that K-9 cop mauls are legal

A disturbing and reckless precedent was just set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which held that the U.S. Constitution does not necessarily require cops to stop a K9 from tearing an innocent person to shreds. Seriously.

According to the ruling in the case of an innocent homeless man being mauled nearly to death by a K9, police officers who deliberately allow their K9 to maul innocent people will be immune from liability and victims will have zero recourse.

As Slate reports:
The grisly facts of the case are uncontested. One night in 2010, Officer Terence Garrison and his police dog, Bikkel, were tracking a robbery suspect in High Point, North Carolina. Bikkel led Garrison to an abandoned house, then attacked a man crouched behind a bush near the front stoop. Garrison quickly realized that the man did not match the physical description of the suspect. (In fact, he was Christopher Maney, a homeless man accused of no crime.) But Garrison decided that the man might still be dangerous, so he demanded that Maney show his hands before calling off Bikkel. But Maney was using his hands to try to protect himself against the dog and pleaded with Garrison to stop Bikkel's attack, insisting that he had done nothing wrong. After allowing the mauling to continue for 10 seconds, Garrison finally told Bikkel to stop. He then put Maney in handcuffs and called medical support.

Blackbox

Michigan residents sue city a 3rd time over mosque approval

© Shannon Stapleton / Reuters
A newly-filed federal lawsuit on behalf of residents in Sterling Heights, Michigan, is the latest chapter in a fight over the proposed construction of a mosque in a residential area of the suburban Detroit city.

The lawsuit comes three weeks after the city of Sterling Heights settled two lawsuits - one levied by the US Department of Justice - that challenged the city's rejection of a new mosque.

The suing residents, which include a group of Chaldean Christians and a city planning commissioner, said in the lawsuit that the city ignored their objections over the mosque's construction proposal while acting with favoritism toward Muslims, the Detroit News reported. Plaintiffs said a major issue centers around zoning restrictions in the residential neighborhood where the American Islamic Community Center (AICC) plans to build its 20,500-square-foot mosque. The plaintiffs claim religion is not their reason for the lawsuit.

Comment: For more on the particulars of this case, check out the plaintiffs' complaint here.


Dollar Gold

Impression management: LA County sheriff to spend $300k on gold belt buckles for deputies

© Patrick Fallon / Reuters
Amid a staffing shortage and regular budget deficits of $250 million, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on cosmetic changes for his deputies' uniforms.

McDonnell insists the change is important to maintaining the professional appearance of the LA County Sheriff Department's deputies. Changing the color of the belt buckles from silver to gold will make all the little pieces of brass in the uniform, such as the tie clips, lapel pins and six-pointed star badges all the same color, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

The move has generated strong criticism from deputies and others, who argue that it is a gross misuse of taxpayer funds. For the past few years, the department has experienced a staff shortage with around 1,000 professional staff and 300 deputy positions unfilled in order to overcome a recurring annual budget deficit of $250 million. As a result, many deputies are asked to work back-to-back shifts.

Chess

Petition to block Scottish independence referendum reaches 100k signatures, forcing Parliament to debate

© Russell Cheyne / Reuters
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
A petition to stop Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon from calling another independence referendum has passed the 100,000 mark, meaning Parliament now has to debate it.

The petition calls on Westminster to block Sturgeon from triggering a repeat of the 2014 vote as it claims Scotland is "suffering hugely" from the leader's focus on getting independence.

Sturgeon announced on Monday she will be calling for a second independence referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 as she claims Westminster's plan to go for a 'hard Brexit' will "damage the economy and change the very nature of our society and country."

As 62 percent of Scottish voters cast ballots to stay in the EU, the first minister said she has a duty to stand up for Scotland's interests. She said she would seek approval in the Scottish parliament next week for another referendum and secure the country's future membership of the EU.

Cult

Self-proclaimed sorcerer and two others arrested for raping underage girl, claiming it would cleanse her of 'negative forces'

© Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters
A 69-year-old 'wizard' and two other men have been arrested in the northern Italian city of Turin for raping an underage girl. They claimed it would cleanse her of "negative forces.'"

Paolo Meraglia, who claimed to be a sorcerer, abused the victim for months in a Turin attic before she informed police. Meraglia was arrested, along with the victim's 19-year-old ex-boyfriend, his mother, and a 73-year-old friend of the self-confessed sorcerer, who police said also took part in the abuse.

Turin police officers charged the three men with gang rape on Monday, reported The Local. The offenses were compounded by the fact that the victim was "semi-sedated" at the time the abuse took place.

Bulb

World-renowned author: UK should build museum that educates people on British Empire's murderous rule in India

© ROHIT JAIN PARAS/AFP/Getty Images
Indian politician and writer Shashi Tharoor reminded how Britain suppressed liberal Hindu texts during occupation
A world-renowned author is calling for museums in London and India to demonstrate Britain's role in reducing the country to one of the "poorest, illiterate and diseased places on earth".

Shashi Tharoor wants an "enduring reminder" to educate school children about how the British Empire killed millions, created famine and orchestrated a "divide and rule" campaign.

In an article for Al Jazeera, he said that India was one of the world's richest countries before British rule, producing 27 per cent of the world's gross domestic product in 1700.

Britain reduced it "over two centuries of looting and exploitation, one of the poorest, most diseased and most illiterate countries on Earth," added the 61-year-old MP, who chairs the Indian parliament's foreign affairs committee.

Red Flag

Judge finds Border Patrol in civil contempt for destroying video files of its holding cells

© Mike Blake / Reuters
A federal judge in Arizona has found that the Border Patrol in Arizona violated court orders by not properly preserving video files relating to a lawsuit alleging the agency was detaining illegal immigrants under inhumane conditions.

On Monday, US District Judge David Bury partially granted a motion to hold the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector in civil contempt over video files the agency was ordered to turn over last August, according to the Associated Press.

Bury found that the video files from the Tucson Sector's hold rooms were "irreparably" damaged, containing data that either could not be viewed or was missing entirely.

In January, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), along with the the National Immigration Law Center and other rights groups filed a motion, asking the judge to hold the Border Patrol in civil contempt for destroying and failing to preserve the video files, which they called "the most critical evidence" in the case.

Handcuffs

U.S. Coast Guard confiscates 4.2 tons of cocaine in Puerto Rico, largest seizure in the Atlantic in over two decades

© Mike Blake / Reuters
The US Coast Guard seized the biggest boatload of cocaine in nearly two decades when some $125 million worth of the drug was unloaded in Puerto Rico. Four men will be prosecuted for trafficking in the District Court of the US Virgin Islands.

The US Coast Guard at San Juan, Puerto Rico, confiscated 4.2 tons of cocaine from a fishing boat in international waters — the largest maritime seizure in the Atlantic since 1999.

The bust was a collaboration between multiple international agencies in the South American and Caribbean region, including the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Barbados DEA office, Caribbean Corridor Strike Force and Operation Caribbean Guard.

Bomb

Dozens killed in suicide blasts at Justice Palace and restaurant in Damascus

© AFP
A second bomb has struck Damascus just hours after a reported suicide attack at the Justice Palace in al-Hamidiyeh, Damascus, which killed at least 31 people.

State-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reports that a second suicide bomber set off an explosive device inside a restaurant in the al-Rabweh area, killing several people.

Sana reports the attacker was being chased by security agents when he ran into the restaurant and detonated a suicide vest.

Hours before, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device inside the main building of the Justice Palace, according to reports.

Eye 1

Marine Corps to 'change social media rules' after nude photo scandal

Following a scandal exposing the online distribution of nude photos by military men, the Marine's top officer sent senior corps leaders a "White Letter" directing them to reinforce proper conduct to their troops and to support the women who experienced online harassment after photos were shared without their permission.

Commandant Gen. Robert Neller's two-page letter comes a week after the discovery of Marines United, a 30,000-member Facebook group in which Marines would share nude and compromising pictures of former girlfriends and female colleagues, sometimes including the woman's name, rank and duty station.

Days after Marines United was discovered, a similar military message board was found on AnonIB, a site notorious for posting nude celebrity photos. This indicated that the issue spread beyond the Marines into other branches of the military.

Comment: Further reading: