WikiLeaks source Manning sentenced to 35 years

first_imgFORT MEADE, Maryland – A military court sentenced U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning to 35 years in jail Wednesday for passing WikiLeaks the biggest leak of official secrets in United States history.Manning could be freed on parole within a decade and his lawyer David Coombs said he would ask President Barack Obama to pardon him “or at the very least commute his sentence.”An emotional Coombs read a message Manning addressed to Obama: “If you deny my request for a pardon I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society.”The White House sidestepped the appeal.“If there is an application that’s filed by Mr. Manning or his attorneys, that application will be considered … like any other application,” spokesman Josh Earnest said.Manning supporters protesting outside Fort Meade, the U.S. Army base that hosted his trial, were dismayed at the sentence, despite it being much lower than the 60 years demanded by prosecutors.But Manning’s most high-profile champion, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, declared Wednesday’s ruling a “significant tactical victory” for his anti-secrecy cause.He said Obama’s administration had intended to intimidate other “people of conscience,” like fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, and that this had “spectacularly backfired.”“As a result, there will be a thousand more Bradley Mannings,” Assange said in London, where he is holed up in the Ecuadoran Embassy to avoid questioning in a Swedish sex crime inquiry.WikiLeaks recently also lent its support to Snowden, a former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who passed secret documents to Britain’s Guardian newspaper.Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia as he flees a U.S. bid to prosecute him.Manning appeared ashen-faced moments before he heard his fate in a courtroom at Fort Meade, which is located in Maryland, close to the U.S. capital.Military judge Col. Denise Lind delivered her verdict in a less than two-minute statement in which she said the soldier would be demoted to the Army’s lowest rank.He is to serve his sentence in military custody before being dishonorably discharged.Under military law, Manning is eligible for parole on completion of one-third of his sentence. His jail time will be shortened by a total of 1,293 days for time already served.Manning’s sentence will automatically be reviewed in the Army Court of Criminal Appeal.The baby-faced private was convicted of espionage and other crimes last month, having earlier admitted being the source of hundreds of thousands of battlefield reports from the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and confidential diplomatic cables.Publication of the documents caused deep embarrassment to the United States and rankled allies, prompting warnings from U.S. officials that troops and intelligence sources had been jeopardized.Army lawyers had pressed for a much longer sentence, arguing that significantly more jail time would send a message to people contemplating the theft of classified information.Coombs, however, had appealed for leniency. He said Manning had expressed remorse, cooperated with the court and deserved a chance to have a family and one day walk free.Manning was a junior intelligence analyst at a U.S. base near Baghdad when he handed over the data – about 700,000 documents – to WikiLeaks.He was arrested in Iraq in 2010 and has since been held in military custody.The most notorious material that he brought to light was graphic cockpit footage of two U.S. Apache attack helicopters opening fire and killing 12 people in Baghdad in 2007.Manning, a hero to supporters who regard him as a whistleblower who lifted the lid on U.S. foreign policy, said he had been offended by the callous remarks of the pilot.Though found guilty of 20 of the 22 offenses leveled against him, Manning was cleared of the most serious charge, that of “aiding the enemy” – in this case, Al-Qaeda.The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday’s sentence was sad for Manning but also sad “for all Americans who depend on brave whistleblowers and a free press for a fully informed public debate.”“When a soldier who shared information with the press and public is punished far more harshly than others who tortured prisoners and killed civilians, something is seriously wrong with our justice system,” they added in a statement.Expert witnesses testified during the sentencing phase of Manning’s trial that the soldier was confused about his gender and sexuality and under enormous psychological stress at the time he committed the leaks. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

FIFA President Blatter assures rivals that Uruguay will play in the World

first_imgFIFA President Joseph Blatter probably figured he’d be hearing a question from the press about Uruguay’s World Cup status during his visit to Costa Rica on Thursday. When the time came to make the address, Blatter turned toward the president of the Costa Rican Football Federation, and smirked.“Do you all think that Uruguay will be punished?” Blatter asked the media Thursday afternoon. “No Uruguay will play in the World Cup, and will be in your group.”Speculation arose earlier this week that the Uruguayan squad — who Costa Rica plays in its World Cup opener on June 14 — could be disqualified from the tournament due to a dispute between Uruguay’s president and the Uruguayan Football Association about fan violence and stadium security. On Monday,  the entire board of the football association resigned. Then Uruguayan newspapers began publishing stories about how President José Mujica’s squabbling with the board could be seen as government “interference with football affairs,” an offense that could lead to sanctions from FIFA.But Blatter quashed the possibility (hope?) that the 2010 semifinalists would be taken out of Group D — a fierce group that also includes European powerhouses England and Italy in addition to Costa Rica and Uruguay. He said that in the morning FIFA received a report that the government was adopting measures to guarantee security in the stadiums.“The problem of Uruguayan football is resolved,” Blatter said.Blatter is in Costa Rica for the Under-17 Women’s World Cup final Friday. During a press conference at the Hotel Real InterContinental in Escazú, Blatter touched on a range of FIFA-related topics. He jested about Costa Rica’s “easy” World Cup group that features three former World Cup champions. He pledged that Brazil 2014 will be a grand tournament despite setbacks regarding stadium construction.The FIFA president chose not to comment on the blizzard game between Costa Rica and the United States that took place last year, and still appears to strike a nerve with Costa Rica supporters. He said the issue is in the past, and both teams should be pleased about qualifying for Brazil 2014. Blatter also declared his satisfaction with Costa Rica’s hosting duties during this current World Cup.“Costa Rica showed the quality that makes up women’s football,” Blatter said. “As for hospitality, it was exemplary. The 15 other teams that participated depart receiving exceptional treatment in Costa Rica.”Japan and Spain will meet in the Under-17 Women’s World Cup final on at 5 p.m. Friday in the National Stadium. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica’s first World Cup opponent Uruguay could lose spot in the tournament Uruguay star Luis Suarez could miss Costa Rica match after knee operation Injured Uruguay star Suárez in camp; England crushes Peru; key Italian player breaks leg Against the odds, Costa Rica plot 1990 repeat in Brazillast_img read more

Costa Rica mens football team enters friendlies with major questions to answer

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica falls to Brazil in Oscar Ramirez’s coaching debut Costa Rica suffers upsetting 1-0 loss to South Africa La Sele announces 23-man roster for Copa América tournament Copa America Group A: Costa Rica faces stiff opposition Two former world champions await as Costa Rica’s national football team looks to regain its giant-killer form that spurred it through last year’s historic World Cup run.With its best player stuck in unprecedented contract drama in Spain and a head coach that was named to the position just two weeks ago, “La Sele” enters this week’s friendlies against Brazil and Uruguay void of continuity and filled with unknowns. For his first game as head coach, Óscar Ramírez gets the worst welcome gift ever with five-time champion Brazil on Saturday. The defensive-minded Ramírez will be charged with wrapping up the Brazilians’ aggressive attack, led by Barcelona striker Neymar.Brazil’s 23-year-old captain will present major problems for a team that has been largely without a defensive identity for the past year. How Ramírez plans to stop one of the world’s best scorers with so little time to prepare may be the most interesting side note to Saturday’s action. And alongside Neymar, Brazil also brings star defenders David Luiz and Marcelo, as well as 32-year-old legend Kaká, who could be seeing his last action with Brazil’s national team.Ever since its disastrous exit at home in the World Cup, the Brazilians have stormed back to a 12-1-1 record, although their last game ended in a surprising loss in penalty kicks to Paraguay in June’s Americas Cup. Ticos llegaron a apoyar a #LaSele en el entrenamiento de esta mañana en la Universidad de MontClair.— FEDEFUTBOL (@FEDEFUTBOL_CR) September 2, 2015 Así entrenó #LaSele esta mañana en la Universidad de MontClair— FEDEFUTBOL (@FEDEFUTBOL_CR) September 2, 2015center_img Uruguay’s attack will be without its best talents in Edinson Cavani and Luis Suárez. Suárez, who is one of the world’s top strikers, is suspended from international play by FIFA after his infamous bite of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in the World Cup. However, “La Celeste” is bringing its first-team defense to Costa Rica with experienced leaders like Maxi Pereira, captain Diego Godín, and Martín Cáceres.If Brazil gives Ramírez a chance to see where his undermanned defense can match up against the world’s best, then Uruguay will give him a clearer idea of how his offense can do against Uruguay’s respected backline. The coach made a bit of a surprise when he called up Saprissa forward Daniel Colindres, 30, and Alajuelense midfielder Ariel Rodríguez, 28, to La Sele instead of younger talent.With known commodities like captain Bryan Ruíz, Celso Borges, and Joel Campbell already in place, all eyes will be on the new call-ups. Ramírez also selected his former player Ronald Matarrita, a 21-year-old midfielder with Alajuelense, to have the chance to take part in his first action with La Sele.Costa Rica and Uruguay will kick off at 8 p.m. local time. Tickets, which are still available on, start at ₡8,000 ($16). Facebook Comments For Costa Rica, the loss of Bryan Oviedo makes Ramírez’s job to retool a broken defense even harder. Though Oviedo’s knee injury is only supposed to keep him out for two weeks, injuries have been a reoccurring theme for the 25-year-old Premier League defender who missed last year’s World Cup and July’s Gold Cup while sidelined with ailments.And without star goalkeeper Keylor Navas, the margin for error or miscommunication in the backfield shrinks to zero. Esteban Alvarado is a capable goalie, as he showed when put in place for Navas during the Gold Cup, but the Ticos’ defensive losses may prove too significant against an always dangerous Brazilian frontline.On its own front, Costa Rica is also without budding star David Ramírez, who is suspended two games by the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) after officials said he pushed referee Eric Boria in the Gold Cup quarterfinal match with Mexico. Boria was part of the officiating crew, along with Walter López, that granted Mexico a last-minute penalty kick on a controversial call that boosted the Mexicans past Costa Rica.Saturday’s meeting with Brazil, which kicks off at 2 p.m. Costa Rican time, will be the first time La Sele has taken the field since the dramatic loss. Óscar Ramírez and company will then turn around to host Uruguay on Tuesday at the National Stadium, which will mark the third time the two countries have played in the past 15 months, with the two others resulting in Costa Rican victories.last_img read more

Slothy Sundays A dangerous dump

first_imgRelated posts:Slothy Sundays: A topsy-turvy world Slothy Sunday: Sloths, sloths everywhere Slothy Sunday: A baby sloth is born Slothy Sunday: High-tech backpacks key to saving baby sloths Sloths have little reason to leave the safety of the rain forest canopy, but once a week the sluggish mammals descend to the base of their favorite tree in order to defecate. This puts them at risk of being attacked by predators.The exact reason why sloths make this dangerous journey is still a mystery, but researchers believe that it may help maintain the algae gardens in their fur.Check out 11 other lesser known sloth facts.This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5 % Club. If only 5 percent our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.Support the Tico Times Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Coffee expo showcases vandola the Costa Rican coffee pourover brewer

first_imgALAJUELA — Over the course of three days, the south side of the City Mall is turning visitors’ attentions to chocolate and coffee. Jacob Spetzler / The Tico TimesThe Costa Rica Coffee & Chocolate Expo consists of presentations, vendors and a barista competition. The vendors are set up in a triangle — among them are the coffee and chocolate experts, as well a series of tables housing everything from tamales, to colorful candies, to homemade honey and artisan wood.In the center of the triangle stand a series of presenters discussing the finer points of coffee brewing and roasting. A small crowd, tiny cups of coffee in hand, gathers by the stage tolerant about creating the absolute best cup of joe. The true thematic center of the expo, though, is the vandola. Invented by a local coffee shop owner, Minor Alfaro, it’s a play off of the traditional Costa Rican coffee brewing methods that have been employed for centuries.Alfaro created the first vandola four years ago, and it has quickly gained attention among baristas and others in the coffee industry. He says it has taken hold across the world — from Costa Rica, through Central America, to Europe — because it produces coffee with excellent flavor. Minor Alfaro with a vandola pour-over brewer. Jacob Spetzler / The Tico TimesWhen asked what makes the vandola special, Alfaro points to its clay composition. The vandola is similar to the glass Chemex, but Alfaro says the glass doesn’t do coffee’s flavors any favors. On the other hand, Alfaro says clay enhances and improves coffee’s flavor, texture and smell.The other important design piece, Alfaro says, is the small hole located beneath the handle that allows for the coffee to oxygenate in a way that other brew methods don’t, creating the intricate retronasal flavors — flavors you can only sense through your nose. And, in terms of practicality, clay keeps the coffee hotter for longer.During Saturday’s barista competition, the vandola was used exclusively. One of the event’s organizers, Maureen Monge, said that a reason for the competition was to present the vandola as a legitimate form of coffee brewing.Behind closed doors, several San José baristas will be judged on their ability to make the best cup of coffee, earning points based on criteria that include acidity and flavor balance. Sunday, the results of the competition will be released alongside several talks from Alfaro and others touting the vandola as an excellent tool for brewing coffee. Besides the vandola, the expo is meant as a sort of industry mixer. “It’s a great way for those involved in the Costa Rican coffee industry to meet one another and learn more about coffee,” said Karla Leal, a coffee shop representative. And if that knowledge sharing results in better coffee? Well, that’s a benefit for just about everyone. Coffee, anyone? The Costa Rica Coffee & Chocolate Expo is in search of the country’s best. Jacob Spetzler / The Tico TimesThis story was updated Sunday, May 12 to clarify Alfaro’s comments about the differences between glass and clay coffeemakers.  Related posts:Hurricane Otto caused $15 million in losses for Costa Rican coffee sector Starbucks introduces exclusive coffee from its Costa Rica farm Chanel’s new anti-aging serum contains Costa Rican green coffee Starbucks investigating climate-change resistant coffee in Costa Rica Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Russian parliaments upper house OKs protest bill

first_imgAssociated PressMOSCOW (AP) – The upper chamber of Russia’s parliament on Wednesday approved a bill that raises fines 150-fold for people taking part in unsanctioned rallies. The legislation, which passed in the lower chamber only after unprecedented debate, now needs only President Vladimir Putin’s signature to become law.The measure has been seen as the Kremlin’s harsh response to a series of street protests against Putin’s 12-year rule and is part of a broader crackdown on the opposition since he returned to the presidency in May. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements The Federation Council voted 132-1 to support the bill after a short debate. The only vote against came from the mother of Ilya Ponomarev, an opposition lawmaker in the lower chamber who has joined the protest movement.On Tuesday, members of the lower chamber debated the bill for some 11 hours before the Kremlin’s United Russia party rammed it through at midnight. The opposition factions in the State Duma had put forward several hundred amendments in an unprecedented attempt to stymie the bill’s passage, reflecting a new willingness to stand up to the Kremlin.The bill would jack up fines from the current 2,000 rubles to 300,000 rubles ($9,000).Sergei Lisovsky, one of the few upper chamber members to express concern about the bill, said it imposes disproportionally high fines on protesters but does not provide for higher penalties for police brutality.“We’re talking about citizens of our country here, and we must listen to them,” said Lisovsky. “Where is the liability for the police who can potentially do more harm to our society?”The Kremlin wants the new bill to become law by next Tuesday when the opposition plans a major protest in Moscow. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Top Stories Sponsored Stories How men can have a healthy 2019center_img Alexei Kudrin, a former deputy prime minister who expressed sympathy with the opposition movement last winter, said in a statement on Wednesday that the bill violates the constitutional right of assembly. He urged a review.Along with higher fines, the new bill would punish organizers of “large-scale public gatherings” if they disrupt public order. Kudrin, who is believed to maintain strong ties to Putin, said that this provision was so open to interpretation that it would allow authorities to fine a bride and groom if some of their guests started a fight.Opposition activists have not yet received official permission for Tuesday’s planned protest.Rally organizer Alexei Navalny, a key opposition figure, said in his blog on Wednesday that Moscow authorities have rejected their proposal to march on the central Tverskaya street. City Hall claimed that the street as well as many other central locations would be booked for Russia Day, a national holiday.Navalny said that Moscow authorities and police “are doing their best to provoke a conflict” by rejecting the rally application. Navalny said that the opposition would agree to any location inside the central Garden Ring road, but he said that with or without permission the rally would go ahead. Comments   Share   (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

Ecuadors freepress watchdog under assault

first_imgAssociated PressQUITO, Ecuador (AP) – Not all journalists are created equal in the eyes of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.To the leftist leader, Australian-born Julian Assange is a truth-teller who deserves praise and protection as he knocks down the walls of government secrets. Correa has even offered asylum to the founder of the website Wikileaks and sheltered him for the past month inside Ecuador’s Embassy in London from arrest on sex crime allegations. Ricaurte said he gets continual threats via email and sarcastic comments posted on his website demanding a share of his alleged “million-dollar” U.S. Embassy payments.Those threats led to fears of violence against him in June while he was waiting for a cab in Quito and was pushed violently from behind by a man who screamed: “U.S. Embassy informant! Traitor!” By the time he recovered his balance and reached for his cellphone to take a photograph, the man was gone.Ricaurte said the special broadcasts Correa uses to denounce him are abusive. Other Latin American leftist leaders, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, have employed such broadcasts during crises. President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina uses them several times every week.Ricaurte criticized Correa’ successful criminal libel suit last year against the main opposition newspaper, El Universo, and three of its top journalists, including columnist Emilio Palacio, who repeatedly called him a dictator. Correa later forgave the paper the $42 million damages award and pardoned the journalists, but he’d made his point. Palacio was granted U.S. political asylum last week.Now, a proposed Radio and Television Law would partition Ecuador’s radio and TV broadcast spectrum into three: one-third for the state, one-third for “community media” and one-third for private companies. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “An independent press doesn’t exist, not from the state-government media and not from the private media because the private media have always had what we call a double dependency: political and economic power,” said Cerbino.Press freedom advocates such as the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists believe that restrictions on the press in Ecuador will soon resemble those in Venezuela.The press committee’s Americas director, Carlos Lauria, said that while other popularly elected leftist-run governments have also shown intolerance, Ecuador and Venezuela are most “notorious” in “suffocating the institutions of democracy, including the press, in an attempt to control the flow of information and suppress dissent.”So far this year, the Correa government has shut down 20 TV and radio stations, most of them small and provincial, for alleged administrative transgressions. Eight were opposition stations.Correa has repeatedly accused Ricaurte of working for the American government. While his foundation gets 15 percent of its funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, it also receives funding from donors including the U.N. agency UNESCO, the nongovernmental Panamerican Development Foundation and the Andean Community of Nations trade grouping. Journalist Cesar Ricaurte, however, is another story for the 49-year-old president.Correa has been fighting a running battle with Ricaurte, head of the country’s main press freedom organization Fundamedios, and calling him a tool of the opposition media and the U.S. government.Just this year, the president has used nine special government broadcasts to pre-empt all regularly scheduled TV programming to condemn Ricaurte. His alleged crime? Telling the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that Correa is a bully who tries to silence journalists he dislikes.That disparate treatment points to what critics say is Correa’s hypocrisy when it comes to press freedoms in this tiny South American country. But Correa’s views on freedom of speech have far surpassed the country’s borders as he allies with Assange in the face of U.S. and European pressure.Assange’s publishing of U.S. diplomatic cables delighted Correa by fortifying his claim that Washington continues to behave imperiously in the Americas. “Your WikiLeaks have made us stronger,” Correa told Assange in May when the Australian ex-hacker interviewed the president for his Kremlin-funded TV program. “Welcome to the club of the persecuted.” Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories In announcing the asylum in August, Ecuador said it had grounds to believe that Assange faced political persecution for publishing a quarter-million cables and thousands of other sensitive U.S. documents.Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning. His supporters claim the intention is to ship him to the United States to face trial.“We haven’t said that everything that Assange has done, at least I haven’t said it, has been in favor of free expression,” Correa said recently. “He could have committed an infraction. But he should be judged with due process.”But when it comes to Ricaurte and Ecuador’s opposition media, Correa says too many journalists serve special interests and have immense, unchecked power.Correa’s press secretary, Fernando Alvarado, did not make himself available for an AP interview despite numerous requests. Alvardo has repeatedly accused journalists of being political and in June said government ministers should talk only to state-owned domestic media.“Forget the vision of evil politicians persecuting heroic journalists, who defend freedom of expression with their lives,” Correa recently told a group of international journalists based in Ecuador. “More often, it is honest politicians persecuted by media and corrupt journalists.” While Correa champions Assange’s right to publish another government’s secrets, his government has taken steps to make it less likely that will happen in Ecuador, in part through several laws recently passed by the ruling party-controlled National Assembly.They include the Law of Citizen Participation, which converts freedom of the press from a human right into a state-regulated public service. An anti-monopoly law severely restricts investment in news media, and prevents media owners from holding a financial stake in other industries. A new so-called “Democracy Code” prohibits “biased” reporting of election campaigns and allows candidates to sue reporters who allegedly violate the law.Ricaurte, who was honored in August by the Inter-American Press Association with its top press freedom prize, says the Democracy Code will make coverage of elections impossible. Presidential elections are scheduled for February, but Correa has not said whether he will run again.Mauro Cerbino, a professor at the FLACSO university in Quito, said that Latin America’s leftist governments aren’t the only ones to blame for curbs on the region’s press freedoms. Many news media around the region represent vested interests and often distort the truth for political ends, he said. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectcenter_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix ErrorOK ErrorOK Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Venezuela already has such an arrangement, with the “community media” almost exclusively pro-government.Argentina’s Fernandez hasn’t gone that far. But a friendly Congress did enact a law designed to break up media monopolies, and journalists for Argentina’s opposition media have been roughed up by pro-government demonstrators.“Freedom of expression is very much threatened and as time goes on it is deteriorating even more rapidly,” Ricaurte said.___Associated Press writers Frank Bajak in Lima, Peru, Michael Warren in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jorge Rueda in Caracas, Venezuela, and Carlos Valdez in La Paz, Bolivia, contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 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FBI hair analysis problems reveal limits of forensic science

first_img Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of WASHINGTON (AP) — Kirk Odom was convicted of a 1981 rape and robbery after a woman identified him as her attacker and an FBI specialist testified that hair on her nightgown was similar to hair on Odom’s head.But DNA testing some 30 years later affirmed what Odom long had maintained: The hair wasn’t his; neither was the semen left on a pillowcase and robe. A felony conviction that imprisoned him for decades was overturned in 2012 by a judge who declared it a “grave miscarriage of justice.” “I was hoping that I was going to go home that day,” Odom, recalling his trial in Washington, D.C., said in an interview. Instead, “they sentenced me to 20 to 66 years in prison.”His experience is but one example of flawed forensic science from the pre-DNA era, a simmering problem that now appears far more widespread than initially thought. The Innocence Project, which works to exonerate the wrongly accused, has identified 74 overturned convictions in which faulty hair evidence was a factor. Now, a new disclosure by the FBI that experts gave erroneous testimony on hair analysis in more than 250 trials before 2000 suggests that number could rise dramatically.Defense lawyers say the latest revelations — on top of established concerns about bite mark identification and arson science — confirm fears about the shortcomings of old-fashioned forensic techniques and could affect thousands of cases. Advancing technologies have put such techniques under more scrutiny, including from judges, and highlighted the limits of once-established practices.“There are forces converging at the moment that are finally bringing some recognition to the failings of many venerable techniques,” said Chris Fabricant, director of strategic litigation at the Innocence Project. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes The FBI still considers microscopic hair analysis valid, but has also acknowledged its scientific limitations and uses it now in conjunction with more scientifically reliable DNA testing.The Justice Department in 2012 embarked on a review of criminal cases following high-profile exonerations in which microscopic hair analysis was used. The government has identified nearly 3,000 cases in which FBI examiners submitted reports or may have testified in trials involving hair analysis.The government provided an astonishing update last month when it revealed that of the 268 trials reviewed as of mid-March, investigators found erroneous statements from FBI experts in nearly all of the cases — including in death-penalty prosecutions. The review is limited to cases dating before 2000 in which FBI examiners provided evidence. But the number of affected cases would almost certainly be much higher if the review took into account cases involving state examiners who were trained by the FBI.Still, no one knows how many defendants have been wrongly convicted because the existence of flawed testimony — often just one element of a prosecution — does not establish innocence.“What it does mean is that those cases need to be looked at very closely to see what role hair played in the case,” said Norman Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 0 Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Check your body, save your life A 2013 Associated Press investigation concluded that at least 24 men convicted or charged with murder or rape based on bite-mark evidence — the practice of matching teeth to a flesh wound — were exonerated since 2000. Meanwhile, some high-profile criminal cases involving arson science have come under renewed scrutiny amid debunked fire investigations. Last year, a Pennsylvania judge threw out the conviction of a Korean immigrant who had spent 24 years in prison for his daughter’s death.When subjective speculation is injected into a trial under the guise of science, “then a real perversion of justice is what happens,” Fabricant said.Microscopic hair analysis, which involves comparing hair specimens through a microscope, has for decades been an established FBI practice and passed along at seminars to hundreds of state-level examiners.But critics say the technique lacks objective standards, with limitations that have led experts to overstate its evidentiary value too often.Though this kind of evidence may be used to include or exclude individuals who could be a potential source of hair, critics note that there’s no way to conclusively know how common or rare the specimen is because no national database of hair specimens exists. A 2009 report from the National Academy of Sciences described as “highly unreliable” testimony purporting to identify a particular defendant through hair analysis. Advocates say they are working to ensure that individuals potentially affected have opportunities to challenge their convictions. They’ve also encouraged states to do their own audits because most of the prosecutions were local cases. The Justice Department has said it will waive procedural objections, including statute-of-limitations claims, in federal cases.Odom, 52, always maintained his innocence, saying he was home asleep at the time the assault occurred. But the hair evidence and eyewitness identification proved persuasive, and Odom spent more than 20 years in prison before being released on parole in 2003.The big break came when the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, which has focused attention on the flawed science and ultimately established Odom’s innocence, reopened his case following the earlier exoneration of another local man because of faulty hair evidence.DNA testing on evidence pulled from storage showed that the hair on the woman’s garment could not have come from Odom. The conviction was thrown out — a relief for a man who had been a registered sex offender and whose travel had been hampered.When the call came that he’d been cleared, Odom was on a nighttime plumbing job, “and I just yelled out in happiness. It was a very joyful moment.” Top Stories In this photo taken April 30, 2015, Kirk Odom speaks to The Associated Press at his home in southeast in Washington, Thursday, April 30, 2015. Odom was convicted of a 1981 rape and robbery after a woman identified him as her attacker and an FBI specialist testified that hair on her nightgown was consistent with hair on Odom’s head. But DNA testing some 30 years later affirmed what Odom long had maintained: The hair wasn’t his, nor was the semen left on a pillowcase and robe. A felony conviction that imprisoned him for decades was overturned in 2012 by a judge who declared it a “grave miscarriage of justice.” (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility ___Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

FDA Inadequate cleaning testing at Ohio ice cream plant

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The Food and Drug Administration released the results of its investigation after a Freedom of Information request from The Associated Press. The report says Jeni’s managers did not have an adequate sampling and testing program and were not sufficiently sanitizing some surfaces, including the floors.Listeria can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Top Stories Top holiday drink recipes Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility WASHINGTON (AP) — A government investigation of Ohio-based Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams says there was inadequate testing and cleaning in its Columbus plant before listeria was found in some of its ice cream.The ice cream company recalled all of its products last month. There are no illnesses connected to the recall, and Jeni’s says it is making ice cream again and re-opening shops Friday after intensive cleaning.center_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

Austrian police arrest 3 for smuggling people into US

first_imgVIENNA (AP) — Austrian police have detained three suspects for allegedly smuggling people onto flights bound for the United States or Britain.State Prosecutor Friedrich Koehl says investigations focus on at least 11 cases between last fall and February.The suspects worked for a private security company hired by Austrian Airlines and were in charge of controlling passports and tickets.Koehl said Tuesday that their acquaintances would purchase tickets, go to the departure gate and then give their boarding passes to those being smuggled. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories He says investigations began after a person traveling illegally was returned to Austria from the U.S., and someone asked by the smugglers to cooperate in the scheme by buying a ticket went to the police.The suspects were not identified in keeping with Austrian confidentiality laws.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

Ethiopia Partial results show ruling coalition in huge win

first_img Sponsored Stories 4 must play golf courses in Arizona 0 Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Men’s health affects baby’s health too The ruling coalition won all 23 parliamentary seats from the capital, Addis Ababa, according to the tally by Ethiopia’s election commission.Final results are expected on June 22.The European Union said the elections were orderly but unfair.“Arrests of journalists and opposition politicians, closure of a number of media outlets and obstacles faced by the opposition in conducting its campaign have limited the space for open debate and had a negative impact on the overall electoral environment,” the European Union said in a statement.Similar concerns were raised by the United States. The State Department said the U.S. “remains deeply concerned by continued restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties, and independent voices and views.”It also said U.S. diplomats were denied accreditation as election observers.In 2010, Ethiopia’s ruling coalition won 99.6 percent of all parliamentary seats in a sweeping victory that human rights groups said was the result of a state campaign to quell dissent. Only one opposition lawmaker made it to parliament in that election.Some opposition leaders have alleged their members were harassed and beaten while trying to vote on May 24. The government denied the charges. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has led the country since 2012.Ethiopia’s economy has grown at an average of 11 percent over the last decade, more than double the rate for sub-Saharan Africa, according to United Nations figures. The growth is fueled in part by huge public expenditure on energy and infrastructure projects that attract private investment.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia’s ruling coalition won a sweeping victory in parliamentary elections, according to partial results released Wednesday. Western countries said the vote was peaceful but criticized what they described as restrictions on civil liberties.Early results from the vote Sunday showed the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front winning at least 442 seats in the 547-seat federal parliament. Top Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

Taiwan stands up to China with World War II military parade

first_img Sponsored Stories Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall After losing the civil war, the Nationalists rebased in Taiwan in the late 1940s, and their constitutional Republic of China government has governed the western Pacific island since then.China’s Communists also claim sovereignty over Taiwan and insist that the two sides eventually reunify, though opinion polls on the island show most Taiwanese prefer self-rule.Taiwan’s effort to cast the war in its favor comes as it seeks to avoid being eclipsed internationally by China, which has eight times more diplomatic allies.“It’s because the rest of the world is ignoring the Republic of China, so they want their contribution to be well recognized,” said Kweibo Huang, associate professor of diplomacy at National Chengchi University in Taipei. “At least there’s a domestic outcome, which is that everyone in Taiwan shares awareness as a nation or a sovereign state.”China will offer a three-day public holiday in September to mark the war anniversary, and the official Xinhua news agency says the government will hold its first World War II memorial parade that month.Beijing had invited Taiwan representatives, but the island government said in April that officials would be banned by law and that any private citizens should attend with caution. Comments   Share   TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan marched out thousands of troops and displayed its most modern military hardware Saturday to spotlight an old but often forgotten claim that its forces, not the Chinese Communists, led the campaign that routed imperial Japan from China 70 years ago.The military staged an unusually large two-hour parade of homegrown missiles, Apache attack helicopters and a mountain bike team designed for stealth missions, followed by awards for aged World War II veterans in their attire from the 1940s.center_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies China and Taiwan split during civil war in 1949 and today’s China — more militarily and economically powerful than Taiwan — claims that the Chinese Communists had directed the resistance against the Japanese. Mainland officials have argued that the Communists’ advice and fighting skills were crucial to the victory.Taiwan’s Nationalist Party ruled all of China when Japan invaded parts of the country from 1931, forming a central stage of the Asian World War II theater. In one attack, the Japanese massacred between 40,000 and 300,000 Chinese in what has become known as the Nanjing Massacre.Officials in Taiwan say that the Communist forces had a minor role in fighting the Japanese alongside the Republic of China troops, and that during China’s eight-year resistance against Japan they were mainly building up their own ranks and fighting a civil war they would eventually win.“The war of resistance was led by the Republic of China and Chairman Chiang Kai-shek was the force behind it,” Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said in a speech after the parade, referring to the old Nationalist government’s strongman. “No one is allowed to distort that.” Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories last_img read more

Virgin Jetstar and Tiger battle it out in the Gold Coast

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=ada84479″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Virgin Blue, Jetstar and Tiger Airways are battling it out to become the Gold Coast’s major domestic airline.Each carrier is currently dominating a specific route out of the Gold Coast — Virgin claims the Sydney route, Tiger Airways has the numbers in Adelaide and Jetstar is ahead for Melbourne travellers. Tiger Airways have announced daily flights between the Gold Coast and Sydney, effective from December 15, to gain an increased market share.  Virgin Blue and Jetstar both revealed that they were also looking at opportunities to increase market share out of the Gold Coast because it was a ‘key port’.Tourism Queensland projections show Tiger Airways is just ahead of Jetstar on the Adelaide route — capturing 39 per cent of the market by offering 1260 seats in its daily service. Jetstar offers 1239 seats a week on this route, while Virgin Blue lags with just 742 seats a week on its daily service.The route to Sydney is dominated by Virgin Blue with 52 per cent in its 13,140 seat capacity on 80 flights a week. This trumps Jetstar’s 43 per cent (10,668 seats on 56 flights). Tiger’s new daily service will offer 1260 seats.Jetstar wins the Gold Coast to Melbourne route with a 47 per cent share (8658 seats) ahead of Virgin Blue (5904 from 35 weekly flights) and Tiger (3780 from 21 flights).last_img read more

World Travel Award nomination goes to FCm Travel

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X Flight Centre’s corporate arm FCm Travel has just been nominated for not one, but two World Travel Awards under the Australasia sub-region.The awards in contention are ‘Australasia’s leading business travel agent’ and ‘Australia’s leading business travel agent’, and winners will be revealed at a gala event in New Delhi on the 14th of November.“We’ll be keeping a close eye on the results, which no doubt will be hotly contested in both categories,” said Rob Flint, FCm Travel Executive GM Asia.“Testament to our success is the fact that FCm’s operations across the Asia region are expected to be one of the biggest drivers of growth for our company worldwide.”The official online voting form is available to 183,000 registered travel agents and professionals worldwide through the World Travel Awards website. <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>last_img read more

Promising tourism outlook profits Thai Airways International

first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A Thai Airways International’ shares gained almost four per cent following the news of forecasted growth in Thailand’s visitor arrivals.As Thailand returns to normalcy after months of anti-government demonstrations, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) upgraded its 2011 visitor arrivals forecast to 15.5 million, adding Bt600 billion to the economy.As faith in Thailand’s recovering tourism industry returned over the past month, Thai Airways International’ shares gained more than 13 per cent, reported the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.However, in the absence of real political reform, investors run the risk of further civil unrest affecting the airline’s future share prices, said Reuters.“No one really knows when there’ll be attacks and gunfire in the streets again; people see more risk,” Aberdeen Asset Management Fund Manager Adithep Vanabriksha told the news service.”We could see some peace and quiet for a while and everything looks fine. But who can tell you what will happen in three, four or five months? There are more questions and concerns,” said Adithep, who manages $727 million in Thai assets.In June, Thai Airways International admitted that its second quarter revenue and cabin load factor would be hurt by the recent turmoil in Thailand.April’s cabin load factor was 72 per cent but this dropped to 56.8 per cent in May, Thai Airways International President Piyasvasti Amranand told reporters.Before the demonstrations began, the airline was aiming for a 2010 cabin factor of 75 per cent.Thai Airways International is due to announce their second quarter results in August.last_img read more

Civil union law set to boost LGBT travel to Hawaii

first_imgA new law legalizing civil unions in Hawaii is expected to lead to an upsurge in gay and lesbian travel to the state, meaning a windfall for the islands’ hotels, resorts and event planners. News of the legislation, which came into effect on January 1, has seen a spike in the number of hotels actively reaching out to the gay and lesbian community, as same-sex couples look to the state to formalize their relationships, according to The Maui News. Chuck Spence, owner of the Maui Sunseeker LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Resort in Kihei told the newspaper forward bookings at his property had risen by 50 per cent over the year before.”We’ve had 10 ceremonies booked so far,” he said.”Already we’ve also seen an immediate boost in bookings, and not just because of civil unions, but because the law also opens up the perception by the gay and lesbian community that Hawaii is truly a welcoming state.” Among the resorts looking to lure same-sex couples their way is the Grand Wailea, whose managing director Matt Bailey said that reaching out to gay and lesbian travelers not only made good business sense, but was also “the right thing to do”. “Maui has a nurturing and welcoming environment, with a small-town feel and open-mindedness to it,” he remarked. “I wish I could say it was all altruistic, but we’re not trying to make a political statement.”State Senator Roz Baker, who represents West and South Maui said she hoped the law would add to the appeal of Hawaii as a destination for couples.”The wedding business has always been good to Maui,” she commented.”Let’s face it, too, nowhere is the weather nicer in January, or are there as many beautiful places to visit year round, than in Hawaii.” Maui hopes to lure LGBT travelers to its sun-drenched shores (image Hawaii Tourism Authority) Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

Centara named as best hotel chain in Asia

first_imgSource = Centara Hotels & Resorts The summit, which brings together the leading hotel investors and operators and which is part of the Asia Hotel Forum, was held in Beijing in 2011. Attending the summit were hotel investors, owners and operators, investment and financing agencies, law firms, travel institutions, developers, and government representatives. The awards are selected by a panel of judges with the Best Chain Hotels Group being the top accolade. “The award represents not only the achievements of Centara Hotels & Resorts as a brand, but also the dedicated efforts of everyone who works for the company.” “We are especially proud to receive this award, as it reflects the opinion of our peers in the industry,” says Suthikiati Chirathivat, Chairman of the Board, Centara Hotels and Resorts.   Centara Hotels & Resorts is Thailand’s leading operator of hotels, with 38 deluxe and first-class properties covering all the major tourist destinations in the Kingdom.  A further 17 resorts in the Maldives, Philippines, Vietnam, Bali Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Mauritius Indian Ocean, brings the present total to 55 properties.  Brands and properties within Centara ensure that specific categories such as couples, families, individuals, and meetings and incentives groups will all find a hotel or resort that is appropriate to their needs.  Centara operates 25 branches of Spa Cenvaree, one of Thailand’s most luxurious and innovative spa brands, and the company’s Kids’ Club is available at all the family-friendly resorts to ensure that the youngsters and teens are taken care of. Centara Hotels & Resorts also operates two state-of-the-art convention centres in Bangkok, and one in Udon Thani in northeastern Thailand.last_img read more

Las Vegas holds trade show crown

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Local creativity on new and existing trade shows has helped Sin City maintain its lead as the number one travel show destination, according to Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s Cynthia Guerrero.Speaking to e-Travel Blackboard at the destination’s Come Play showcase in Sydney last week, the Group’s sales executive explained that the city’s MICE appeal was based on its room inventory, venue space as well as its attraction supply.“We have the rooms to host, which is a benefit but it’s not only the room inventory, we have the venues – it’s a service that we can give,” she said.“As well, Las Vegas is great for attracting events because there’s so many things you can do – you can get caught up in gaming, attractions and shows.”Experiencing a 8.8 percent jump in convention attendance last year to up to 4.9 million, Ms Guerrero said the destination was always keen to build on its figures and was focusing on offering already established events a creative Las Vegas twist.“We try to see how we can do shows differently here – so we’ll bring international shows to the US,” she explained. “For example IMEX America is replicated but with a Vegas spin. “It’s like a hybrid project and it lets us get out there and think outside the box.”Ms Guerrero said she also expects the under construction viewing attraction, the Las Vegas High Roller to also play a role in drawing in convention attendance.Offering a view exceeds the height of the London Eye, the new attraction is expected to open by 2013 with pods holding up to 40 people. “It will revitalise the culture of the strip,” she concluded. Also speaking to e-Travel Blackboard last week, Nevada Commission on Tourism deputy director Larry Friedman said that the region’s EST was bringing in the travellers – particularly those eager to see Nevada’s quirkiest, loneliest and loveliest.last_img read more

Princess Cruises partners with Aussie chef

first_imgSource = Princess Cruises Princess Cruises today announced a new exclusive partnership with esteemed restaurateur, New York Times bestselling author and television personality Chef Curtis Stone.This collaboration will serve up new culinary offerings designed by Chef Stone, dedicated to fresh flavorful cuisine, ultimately creating memorable experiences as guests travel the world.Internationally known, Chef Stone began his cooking career at the age of 18 in his homeland of Australia and later honed his skills at Michelin-starred restaurants in London.Curtis is also a New York Times bestselling author, having written six cookbooks, his most recent Good Food, Good Life.Guests will be invited to enjoy three special offerings developed by Chef Stone, available only on a Princess cruise vacation, including:“Crafted by Curtis” menu items available in the main dining room across the entire fleetA new specialty restaurant concept and menu designed by Chef StoneA special Chef’s Table by Curtis Stone experience“Crafted by Curtis” menu items offered in the main dining rooms will debut aboard Golden Princess in the fall and roll out fleet-wide through the end of 2015.Chef Stone’s first restaurant at sea will debut in December aboard Emerald Princess, sailing from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean and Ruby Princess, sailing from Los Angeles on cruises to Hawaii and Mexico.The rollout will continue on Coral Princess cruising the Panama Canal and then Sun Princess, which will bring Chef Stone’s restaurant to his home country, Australia.Curtis Stone’s Chef’s Table experience will debut across the fleet beginning in early 2016.“We take tremendous pride in preparing and serving our guests freshly made dishes served with passion and care,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president.“This partnership will appeal to Princess guests around the world and most certainly to those enjoying Australia-based cruises since Chef Stone hails from Oz and is incredibly popular in his homeland.”“Princess Cruises is known for visiting great worldwide destinations – I’m set on bringing a new culinary experience to the sea to enhance and complete a cruise vacation,” said Chef Curtis Stone.“It’s important to me that guests have the experience that I would want and food that I’d be thrilled to eat myself, at sea or anywhere else in the world,” added Stone. Find out morelast_img read more

Outrigger Resorts joins Global Hotel Alliance

first_imgOutrigger Resorts, the premier beachfront resort brand of Outrigger Enterprises Group, has joined Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) as the growing alliance expands its footprint in new markets, including Outrigger’s home base of Hawaii, plus Fiji, Guam and Mauritius, while strengthening its presence in the Maldives and Thailand, adding a total of nine premier resorts to GHA’s network of 33 independent brands and over 550 hotels.Based in Honolulu, Outrigger Resorts is part of Outrigger Enterprises Group, one of the largest and fastest growing privately held leisure lodging, retail and hospitality companies operating in the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.As part of its unique hospitality offering, the values-based company extends exceptional hospitality and authentic cultural experiences, incorporating local traditions and customs into the guest experience at each of its properties worldwide.Chris Hartley, GHA’s CEO, who was in Honolulu to make the announcement at Outrigger’s recent global leadership conference, is thrilled to add another iconic hotel brand to its portfolio, with its own rich history and unique culture.“GHA is about bringing together fiercely independent brands, many of which have been privately held for generations, and giving them the ability to thrive on their individuality in a rapidly consolidating hospitality market,” Mr Hartley said.“Outrigger fits that mould perfectly and will benefit from our shared loyal customer base of over seven million DISCOVERY members, many of whom are in Outrigger’s key feeder markets.”David Carey, president and CEO of Outrigger Enterprises Group, is excited about the opportunity that GHA membership represents for the brand.“Outrigger’s existing loyal guests return to our hotels because they love the authentic local experience and signature amenities we offer at some of the most iconic beachfront destinations in the world,” Mr Carey said.“GHA’s DISCOVERY loyalty program and distribution network give us access to millions of new, like-minded loyal customers, from similar brands to ours, which will extend our reach within our key feeder markets, and into new markets that are not cost-efficient for us to exploit alone.”The integration of Outrigger Resorts into GHA will be completed later in the year, at which time DISCOVERY members will be recognised and rewarded across the Outrigger Resorts portfolio of premiere beachfront properties. Global Hotel AllianceSource = Global Hotel Alliancelast_img read more