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Homeland Security institutes new airline measures as substitute for laptop ban

Foreign flights arriving into U.S. airports will have to undergo new security screenings of their passengers and any electronic devices that the passengers are carrying, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told the Center for New American Security that the new procedures replace the in-cabin laptop ban that the agency was considering earlier this year.
“These measures will be both seen and unseen, and they will be phased in over time,” he said, adding that “inaction is not an option.”
He said that DHS will encourage airlines to implement advanced new checkpoint screening technology, deploy more explosives-detecting dogs, and more closely scrutinize passengers incoming from other countries and any laptops or other electronic devices they are carrying onboard. Those airlines that ignore these directives or are slow to adopt them may be forced to accept other, more restrictive measures, including an all-out ban on in-flight laptops on their planes. And airlines that are really uncooperative might be banned from flying into the United States altogether.
The United States currently bans in-flight laptops from flights that originate in 10 airports in the Middle East, and Kelly had drawn rounds of complaints from airlines in April when he said that it was “likely” that his agency would expand the laptop ban to other airports elsewhere. He went a step further in May and said that the government might ban laptops from all incoming flights worldwide. Airlines criticized the ban proposal, which they said would inconvenience passengers and possibly cause a reduction in ticket sales.


Minnesota girl shoots and kills boyfriend in failed video stunt

Monalisa Perez of Minnesota, 19, has been arrested after shooting her boyfriend Pedro Ruiz III, 22, in the chest during a video stunt gone awry.

The criminal complaint alleges that Perez shot Ruiz with a powerful gold Desert Eagle .50 caliber handgun as he attempted to block the bullet with a hardcover encyclopedia, according to NBC News. The failed stunt was part of an effort aimed at expanding the couple’s following on YouTube, court documents said.

When the bullet, which was shot from about a foot away, traveled through the book and killed Ruiz, Perez called 911 to report she had accidentally shot her boyfriend.

Ruiz reportedly convinced Perez to try the stunt after practicing shooting books himself.

“Me and Pedro are probably going to shoot one of the most dangerous videos ever. HIS idea not MINE.” wrote Perez in a tweet less than two hours before Ruiz’s death.

The couple have a three-year-old daughter and Perez currently is pregnant with their second child, according to their YouTube videos, which they had been making together since May for a channel they called La MonaLisa.

“Imagine when we have 300,000 subscribers,” Perez said to Ruiz in one of their videos. “They’ll be like, ‘Oh my god, hi!’”

Perez has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and could face up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $20,000.

Local officials say they will not be releasing the video of the shooting.


Global plastics waste could be as destructive as climate change, ecologists warn

Forty years of campaigns promoting recycling haven’t put a dent in the nonstop growth rate of human plastics consumption, according to ecologists who forecast that the world will buy and discard half a trillion bottles a year by 2021. They warn that plastic waste tonnage is steadily building up in the world’s oceans and coastal ecosystems and will imperil the health of plants, animals, and humans across the globe.
Euromonitor International’s global packaging trends report states that consumers worldwide bought 480 billion plastic bottles in 2016, a sharp increase from the 300 billion they bought a decade ago. At the current growth rates, the world will go through 583.3 billion a year in another four years.
“The plastic pollution crisis rivals the threat of climate change as it pollutes every natural system and an increasing number of organisms on planet Earth,” said Hugo Tagholm of the marine conservation group Surfers Against Sewage.
Fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 made it into recycling bins. The majority ended up in landfills or in the ocean: Between 5 million and 13 million tons of plastic leak into the oceans each year, where they are ingested by birds and sea life.
Plastics are making their way into our bodies, as well. Researchers at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom researchers reported finding plastic in about a third of fish caught in British waters. And scientists at Ghent University in Belgium recently calculated that people who regularly eat seafood swallow up to 11,000 tiny fragments of plastic every year.
“Current science shows that plastics cannot be usefully assimilated into the food chain. Where they are ingested they carry toxins that work their way on to our dinner plates,” Tagholm said.


Ohio woman dies two years after being set on fire by ex-boyfriend

Judy Malinowski, a 33-year-old mother of two daughters, has died — losing her struggle to hang on after her ex-boyfriend drenched her in gasoline and set her alight two years ago.

The incident occurred Aug. 2, 2015, at a Gahanna, Ohio, gas station when Michael Slager allegedly poured gasoline on Malinowski following an argument, according to an eyewitness, as reported by While Slater claimed the horrific fire accidentally started when he tried to light a cigarette, security cameras suggested he intentionally doused her with gas and then set her on fire.

Malinowski suffered burns over 90 percent of her body. She lost her ears, parts of her fingers, and the ability to walk. She also experienced severe damage to her trachea and could not speak above a whisper.

“Nearly 23 months ago, a very evil man set our daughter on fire,” wrote Malinowski’s parents on Facebook. “She gave it her all, for herself, her kids, her sister and brothers, her friends, her grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins and her parents… Today was the day the good Lord took her from us. I know, she will be watching over us with that vibrant smile and personality. I pray, her story got out and will save lives.”

Slager was sentenced to 11 years in prison after pleading no contest to felony assault, aggravated arson, and possession of criminal tools. Because that was the maximum sentence he could receive, Malinowski and her family pushed for ‘Judy’s Law,’ which would impose tough enhanced penalties for assaults resulting in permanent disability or disfigurement.

On Tuesday, Judy’s Law unanimously passed Ohio’s Senate Judiciary Committee and could be voted on by the full Senate as early as Wednesday. Then Sub H.B. 63 will go to Gov. John Kasich for his signature.

Business NONE NWT_Energy TECH TECH_Technology

China ramps up battery production

The world’s electric-vehicle market could be awash in new Chinese batteries after Chinese companies complete a planned expansion of lithium-ion battery manufacturing to more than 120 gigawatt-hours of battery power a year by 2021, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence report. Bloomberg states that this would be enough to power 1.5 million Tesla Model S cars or 13.7 million Toyota Prius hybrids.

This production ramp-up will push China’s share of global lithium-ion battery production to 65%, up from 55% today. The United States, by comparison, produces only 10% of the world’s lithium-ion batteries.

The lithium-ion battery is a widely popular battery of choice for home electronics, aerospace applications, and cars. It creates an electric charge using a positive metal oxide, a negative carbon electrode, and an electrolyte conductor.

The market is on a fast growth trajectory and is expected to continue growing as electric vehicles become more common on the world’s roadways and as power companies establish new battery-storage facilities to receive and store electric power from solar and wind-energy installations.

China’s new factory plans coincide with Tesla’s recently announced goal of building four new lithium-ion battery factories by the end of 2017. One of these will be based in Nevada and will be the largest lithium-ion battery factory on Earth. It will roll out 35 gigawatt-hours’ worth of batteries a year—it will still be dwarfed by China’s new factory output.

Tesla first announced the “gigafactory,” as it calls the Nevada site, around three years ago. And when it did, it inspired new completion, said Simon Moores, managing director at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.
“The Gigafactory announced three years ago sparked a global battery arms race,” said Moores. “China is making a big push.”


Civil rights era victim Emmett Till memorial vandalized

A historical marker memorializing the 1955 killing of 14-year-old African American Emmett Till in Mississippi has been vandalized.

Till was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered after Carole Bryant, a 21-year-old white shopkeeper, told people Till whistled at her, according to ABC News.

Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J.W. Milam were acquitted in the murder by an all-white jury. Later, however, both men confessed in an paid interview with Look magazine.

The vandalized marker stands outside the long-defunct Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market in Money, Mississippi, where Carole Bryant once worked. Someone scratched it with a blunt instrument in May and then last week a tour group found that vinyl panels containing information about Till had been peeled off the back.

“Who knows what motivates people to do this,” said Allan Hammons, in the ABC News report. “Vandals have been around since the beginning of time.”

Hammons, whose public relations firm put up the marker, said it originally cost more than $8,000 and will require at least $500 to repair.

Another Till memorial, near the place where his body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River, has repeatedly been damaged by firearms.

Carolyn Bryant divorced and remarried to become Carolyn Donham. In 2008, she told Duke University researcher Timothy B. Tyson that she falsely testified that Till had physically threatened her. The interview was revealed in Tyson’s book ‘The Blood of Emmett Till,’ which was published this year.


Three Chicago policemen charged in Laquan McDonald shooting case

Three current or former Chicago cops have been indicted on charges of criminal conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and official misconduct in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald on the night of Oct. 21, 2014.

The grand jury indictment stems from an alleged cover-up by police officers to protect the shooter, Officer Jason Van Dyke, special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes said in an announcement Tuesday.

Dashcam video was released in November 2015 that showed Van Dyke firing his weapon 16 times as McDonald was walking away. Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder.

Detective David March and patrol officers Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney are accused of filing false reports to protect Van Dyke and failing to contact witnesses who would contradict official version of events.

“This indictment alleges that these defendants lied about what occurred during a police-involved shooting in order to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth,” said Holmes, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times. “This indictment makes clear that it is unacceptable to obey an unofficial code of silence.”

This is the first time Chicago police officers have been criminally charged for covering up a colleague’s misconduct.

“This is at least as important as prosecuting the individual officer in the fatal shooting for murder,” said University of Chicago Law School professor Craig Futterman, in the Sun-Times report. “If we want that culture (of silence) to end, and police officers want it to end, we have to know that there are consequences when officers lie.”


Supreme Court rejects appeal by gun rights advocates

In a 7-2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to California’s limits on carrying concealed firearms in public.

The 2nd Amendment case was brought by gun rights advocates who argued that the state of California wrongly denied permits to law-abiding gun owners to carry weapons outside the home.

The ruling lets stand a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision last year holding that the “2nd Amendment does not preserve or protect a right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public,” according to The Los Angeles Times.

Judge William Fletcher of the Ninth Circuit cited English history going back to 1541.

“Based on the overwhelming consensus of historical sources, we conclude that the protection of the 2nd Amendment — whatever the scope of that protection may be — simply does not extend to the carrying of concealed firearms in public by members of the general public,” wrote Fletcher for a 7-4 majority.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra welcomed the high court’s ruling, saying it is a victory for gun safety.

“[The decision] leaves in place an important and commonsense firearm regulation, one that promotes public safety, respects 2nd Amendment rights and values the judgment of sheriffs and police chiefs throughout the state on what works best for communities.”

In a separate action, the high court let stand a decision that restored rights of gun ownership to two Pennsylvania men who were convicted years earlier of misdemeanors.


Supreme Court takes up same-sex-wedding-cake case

A Colorado cake-shop owner who was found guilty of discrimination over his refusal to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple is taking his case to the Supreme Court. The justices agreed on Monday to hold hearings on it when they begin their next term in October.

The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. V. Colorado Civil Rights, pits Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips against a gay couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, who sued him in 2012 when he balked at providing a cake for their wedding. Craig and Mullins argued in their initial lawsuit that under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), Phillips is required to provide them his business just as he would any other customer who walked into his store.

“This has always been about more than a cake,” Mullins said in a statement at the time. “Businesses should not be allowed to violate the law and discriminate against us because of who were are and who we love.”


Phillips countered that his rights to freedom of religion and freedom of speech absolve him of any obligation to bake the couple a cake, and that he was not violating the anti-discrimination law because he declined their request on religious grounds and not simply because they were gay. The Colorado Court of Appeals sided with the couple, and Phillips appealed to the Supreme Court.


The justices’ ruling could have ramifications for all states that have legal injunctions against businesses that discriminate against gays and lesbians—and on the other hand, states that have enacted or are considering enacting “freedom of religion” laws that allow businesses to turn away certain customers for religious reasons.


This is not the first time that this issue has reached the Supreme Court. Two years ago, the justices received but turned down an appeal from a New Mexico wedding photographer who objected to being forced to provide photography services at a gay wedding.


Escaped Arkansas inmate captured after 32 years

An Arkansas prison inmate was has been on the lam for 32 years is back in police custody.

Stephen Dishman, who was convicted in Washington County on burglary charges in 1984, would have been released from prison in 1991 and was eligible for parole in 1987, said Solomon Graves, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Correction, in an email to The New York Times.

Dishman, now 60, was arrested at his quiet Springdale home over the weekend, reportedly based on information provided to law enforcement by an informant who had met Dishman some five years after his escape.

Why the tipster chose now to come forward to the police or what the person’s relationship was to Dishman is still unknown — as are details about how Dishman had been getting along through the years or who may have been helping him.

Spokeswoman for the Arkansas State Police, Trooper Elizabeth S. Chapman, said in an email to the Times that the matter is being investigated.

“Special agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division have begun to question individuals who may have known Dishman by another name,” Chapman wrote.

One of Dishman’s neighbors, Arthur Galloway, said he learned about the arrest in the Monday newspaper. He said Dishman lived with a friend and that both suffered from health problems, adding that the two were “nothing but nice” and “people you would be thankful to have as neighbors.”

Dishman likely will have to serve the remaining six years of his prison sentence and possibly more time for escaping.