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Wed, 20 Nov 2019
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Prison officers responsible for guarding Epstein decline plea deal

Epstein prison guards plea deal

The existence of the plea offer signals the Justice Department is considering criminal charges in connection with Epstein's death.
Federal prosecutors offered a plea deal to two correctional officers responsible for guarding Jeffrey Epstein on the night of his death, but the officers have declined the offer, people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

The existence of the plea offer signals the Justice Department is considering criminal charges in connection with the wealthy financier's death at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York in August. The city's medical examiner ruled Epstein's death a suicide.

The guards on Epstein's unit are suspected of failing to check on him every half hour, as required, and of fabricating log entries to show they had. As part of the proposed plea deal, prosecutors wanted the guards to admit they falsified the prison records, according to the people familiar with the matter. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to publicly discuss the investigation.

The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan had no comment on the plea offer.

Comment: It appears the guards are somewhat unwilling to serve as patsies for Epstein's 'suicide'.


Julian Assange's lawyer says his health is 'significantly and seriously deteriorating' as he remains effectively isolated

Julian Assange lawyer Jennifer Robinson
© Dominic Lorrimer
Julian Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson at Parliament House in July.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange remains ill and effectively isolated in a high-security prison alongside inmates facing charges for violent offences and terrorism, his lawyer Jennifer Robinson told a Sydney audience on Friday night.

"I was with Julian on Tuesday... and his health is obviously significantly and seriously deteriorating," said Ms Robinson, a prominent human rights advocate and barrister who has defended Mr Assange since 2010.

Ms Robinson was in Sydney as a guest of the global association of Writers, PEN International, which was marking its Day of the Imprisoned Writer in support of free speech.

She said that during his seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Mr Assange had not been able to access proper sunlight or space to exercise and the UK had refused permission to let him access outside medical care, forcing him to "choose between his right to asylum and his right to health".

Mr Assange, 48, has now completed his sentence for breaching bail as a result of that asylum. He is being held in Belmarsh Prison outside London as the British government considers an extradition application from the United States over allegations he conspired to break into a classified Pentagon computer. Should he be convicted he faces 175 years in prison. His hearing will be heard in February.



The Harvard walkout: Why 'Israeli officials will be speaking to empty venues'

Dani Dayan
Dani Dayan, Israel's NYC counsel-general
On Wednesday, around 100 students staged a dramatic walkout during an event at the Harvard Law School, where Dani Dayan, Israel's consul-general in New York City, was scheduled to speak.

Just as Dayan was about to begin his address, protesters who had taken up most of the mid-section of the auditorium, stood up, lifted placards that read "Settlements are a war crime", then turned their backs on Dayan, and walked out in silence.

As the venue emptied, Dayan could be heard muttering: "I remember doing this in kindergarten." But it was the protesters' silent action that carried beyond the auditorium. Dayan was left to speak on "The Legal Strategy of Israeli Settlements" to a mostly empty venue.


Iraqi protesters now control strategic bridges, aim to seize the Green Zone

Iraqi demonstrator
© Alaa al-Marjani/Reuters
Iraqi demonstrator carries a tear-gas canister during protests in Baghdad.
Anti-government protesters have seized control of a strategic square and two bridges in central Baghdad as they moved closer toward their goal of seizing the heavily fortified district that is the seat of the Iraqi government. Security officials and demonstration leaders said an activist involved in the protest movement was shot dead early on November 16 in northwestern Baghdad.

Protesters demanding the government's resignation have sought to cross the strategic Jumhouriyya and Sinak bridges to get to the fortified Green Zone but have been pushed back by riot police using tear gas and stun grenades.

At least 320 protesters have been killed by security forces over the past month since the protests began over corruption, worsening living conditions, a lack of jobs, and poor basic services.

Iraq has a population of nearly 40 million people and is the world's fifth-largest oil producer and exporter, but overall poverty rates are estimated at above 20 percent of the population.

Comment: See also:


Hong Kong: Protesters hurl petrol bombs at volunteers clearing roadblocks, shoot arrows at police

HongKong Protesters
© Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters/Stringer/Hong Kong Police Force/AFP
HongKong Protesters
Demonstrators in Hong Kong attacked common citizens who attempted to free the roads from barricades amid a new round of clashes with police.

A fierce street battle erupted outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) on Sunday, as protesters threw bricks at police, which responded with tear gas and water cannons. The officers were trying to remove the barricades erected by the demonstrators earlier this week, and urged them to stop placing metal spikes on the roads in hopes of piercing the police vehicles' tires.

Comment: See also:
Report: US NGOs and a local tycoon are funding Hong Kong protests and paying students to do it


Baghdad Green Zone hit by another rocket, home to foreign embassies and govt buildings

greenzone gate
© AP/Hadi Mizban.
Iraqi forces on guard as vehicles move towards the gate to the Green Zone.
In recent weeks the Iraqi capital has been rocked by several rocket attacks, with one instance of projectiles targeting the US Embassy in the city's Green Zone and other missiles hitting the area near Taji Camp where US military personnel are stationed.

On Sunday, Baghdad's Green Zone, which is home to foreign embassies and government facilities, was targeted in a rocket attack, according to Reuters. Two police sources told the news agency the attack resulted in no serious damage or casualties. Other sources pointed out to Reuters that aerial bombardment sirens went off once the rockets hit the area.

A source in the Iraqi security forces said that at least three shells exploded near the green zone, adding that there was no information about casualties.

The green zone was recently targeted in an attack on 30 October, when two rockets struck a mere 50 meters from the US Embassy's gates. According to media reports, the attack resulted in the death of an Iraqi security officer. The zone, also known as the International Zone, has been the centre of diplomatic missions since the 2003 American invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Comment: See also:


Bloomberg apologizes for 'stop and frisk' police practice

former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
© AP Photo/John Locher
In this Feb. 26, 2019, file photo, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at a news conference at a gun control advocacy event in Las Vegas. Tennessee’s top election officials say Bloomberg has requested a petition that would require securing 2,500 signatures from registered voters in less than a month if he wants to qualify for the state’s Democratic presidential primary ballot. The secretary of state’s office confirmed Wednesday, Nov. 13, that Bloomberg requested the ballot petition earlier this week.
Michael Bloomberg on Sunday reversed his longstanding support of the controversial "stop-and-frisk" police strategy ahead of a potential Democratic presidential run, a policy he embraced as New York's mayor even though it disproportionately impacted people of color.

Addressing a black church in Brooklyn, Bloomberg said the practice often led to the disproportionate detaining of blacks and Latinos. He added that he "can't change history" but now realizes "I was wrong."

If anyone was wrongly stopped by police, "I apologize," he said.

Bloomberg's reversal is a notable recognition of the power and importance of black voters in the Democratic Party and the fact that his record on stop-and-frisk could be one of his biggest vulnerabilities should he launch a White House run.


Bolton dorm students 'ignored fire alarm because it goes off all the time'

Dorm fire university of Bolton
The University of Bolton was on fire last night
'If it had gone up in the middle of the night everyone would have slept through the alarm. We have slept through them before'

Students have described how they ignored the fire alarm before a blaze which wrecked a Bolton tower block - because 'it goes off all the time'.

Not all the 211 students who lived in The Cube, near Bolton town centre, have yet been accounted for, fire chiefs say.

Dozens fled for their lives after fire ripped through The Cube student accommodation on Friday night.More than 200 firefighters were scrambled to the scene, rescuing one of the stricken students from an aerial platform.

That student and another were treated at the scene by paramedics. There are no reports that anyone suffered serious injuries.

Comment: Many were wondering if the cladding material, implicated in the fatal Grenville Towers fire, was part of the problem, although the fire brigade has stated it was a different material.
Some witnesses have claimed Grenfell-style cladding was responsible for the ferocity of the blaze.

The fire brigade has confirmed the building did have cladding but not the same type on the doomed tower block where 72 people died in 2017.

Mr Burnham told Sky News: "It does not have the ACM cladding which is now banned, but it does have a type of cladding which does cause concern.

"There will be many people living in buildings with this cladding today who will be very worried."

The Fire Brigades Union has now called for a complete overhaul of UK fire safety after the flames spread "extremely rapidly" through the building.

Cladding fears

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: "This terrible fire highlights the complete failure of the UK's fire safety system.

"It's deeply troubling to see fire spread rapidly up a building's exterior again - a shocking indictment of the government's shameful inaction after Grenfell. This is not how any building should react to a fire in the 21st century, let alone a building in which people live.

"We need to end the deregulation agenda and the disastrous cuts to our fire and rescue service. It's time for a complete overhaul of UK fire safety before it's too late."

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service firefighters are still working to extinguish the final pockets of the blaze but it is now under control.


Two Arkansas chemistry professors arrested on charges of making meth

Dr. Terry Bateman
© Clark County Sheriffs Office via AP
Dr. Terry Bateman is seen in an undated photo provided by the Clark County Sherrifs Office. Officials say two chemistry professors in Arkansas have been arrested on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine and using drug paraphernalia. The Clark County sheriff’s office says 45-year-old Terry David Bateman and 40-year-old Bradley Allen Rowland were arrested Friday, Nov. 15. 2019.
Two Arkansas college chemistry professors have been arrested on charges of making meth, in an apparent case of life imitating art.

The Clark County sheriff's office says Henderson State University professors Terry David Bateman and Bradley Allen Rowland were arrested Friday on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine and using drug paraphernalia.

Russian Flag

Putin's bikers invade Antarctica, occupy abandoned base... all just to unfurl a giant Russian flag

Russian flag
© "All worlds"
The Night Wolves bikers, known for their association with the Russian president, have joined with another patriotic group to bring a huge national flag to Antarctica - a mission that saw them sheltering at an abandoned polar base.

Photos show the massive Russian tricolor, measuring a whopping 1,423 square meters unfurled, amid the desolate Antarctic desert. The tiny human figurines seen in the shots are members of the notorious motorcycle club and the 'All Worlds' patriotic organization.

Russian media learned of the mission's success on Saturday from Yury Volkov, the head of All Worlds.