Friday, 23 June 2017

'No stained garment, no smoking gun, nothing,': Cosby juror explains why he wasn't convinced by the plaintiff

Bill Cosby trial June 2017

One of the jurors in Bill Cosby's trial said that he did not find the accusation of rape convincing because the accuser had worn a bare midriff and had no "stained garment" to show.

Last December, famed comedian Bill Cosby was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault in relation to allegations that he drugged and molested Canadian basketball player Andrea Constand in 2004.

On June 17, the judge in Cosby's case declared a mistrial after the 12-person jury spent six days and more than 50 hours trying to decide whether Cosby was guilty or innocent of sexual assault. Once the case went public, more than 60 women have come forward with similar accusations of sexual assault against the comedian.

"She was well-coached," the juror, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Inquirer and The Daily News. "Let’s face it: She went up to his house with a bare midriff and incense and bath salts. What the heck?"

The juror then added that Cosby had already "paid dearly" with his ruined reputation and should not be made to go through another trial. That said, he still refused to say whether he wanted to find Cosby guilty or innocent.

The juror also said that, at one point, 10 out of the 12 jurors believed Cosby was guilty before three jurors changed their minds and the judge had to announce a mistrial. Throughout the deliberations, jurors had difficulty with legal terms such as "reckless" and "severely impaired," with the juror adding that the language describing the counts of assault was "too legal."

Even though Cosby's defense lawyer spent just six minutes to say that the relationship was consensual, the juror still said that he found Cosby more convincing than the prosecution, which spent five days laying out extensive evidence from the police, legal experts and Constand herself. 

He said that Constand should have only seen Cosby at his home if "she was dressed properly and left the incense in the store" and was influenced to go to push forward on the trial years later by her mother.

"No stained garment, no smoking gun, nothing," he said, adding that you could draw little from evidence from decades ago.

He further added that the accusations of 60 women who have since come forward with similar accusations had played no role in his deliberations — he thought many of them made up their claims to get attention.

“This is ridiculous, unbelievable,” he said. “I think more than half jumped on the bandwagon."

While the courthouse said that he was proud of having done his civic duty, he does not plan on paying attention if there is a second trial.

"They should’ve left it closed," he said.

SEE ALSO: Bill Cosby's jury again asks the definition of 'reasonable doubt' after being deadlocked for 5 days

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'I'm right here with you': 4-year-old comforts distraught mother in new video from Philando Castile shooting

philando castile diamond reynolds daughter

A newly released video shows Philando Castile's girlfriend and her 4-year-0ld daughter sharing an emotional moment in the back of a police car moments after Castile was fatally shot.

In the video, released this week by Minnesota police, Castile's girlfriend Diamond Reynolds can be seen crying and shouting from the backseat of the squad car. 

"It's OK, I'm right here with you," Reynolds's daughter can be heard saying.

"Mom, please stop cussing and screaming 'cause I don't want you to get shooted," the girl says later.

The release of the video comes less than a week after officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter in Castile's death. Yanez claimed he felt he was in life-threatening danger when he shot the black motorist during a traffic stop in July 2016. 

Reynolds streamed the moments immediately after the shooting in a Facebook Live video. The shooting sparked protests around the country and renewed a debate over police violence against minorities.

At one point in the video, Reynolds asks an officer to uncuff her.

"You're not hurt, and your daughter's not hurt, is that correct?" the officer asks.

"We're not hurt, but mentally we're scarred forever," Reynolds responds.

Watch the video below:

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A new Netflix documentary about the Gawker vs. Hulk Hogan trial will change how you see the case

Nobody Speak John Pendygraft Sundance Institute

Any documentary filmmaker would like to delve into the trial between Hulk Hogan and Gawker: a high-profile case filled with sex, betrayal, and outlandish courtroom testimony.

But director Brian Knappenberger also saw something more troubling beneath the surface. The case was also a fight against the freedom of the press. Regardless of what you may think of Gawker's content, ruling against the site in this case could open the floodgates for silencing other media whenever it runs a negative story on a person with influence.

It was a scary thought to Knappenberger. And then it became a reality.

Currently on Netflix, Knappenberger's latest documentary, "Nobody Speak: Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and Trials of a Free Press," is a fascinating look at the story behind the Hogan win against Gawker for posting a sex tape of the former pro wrestler. The $140.1 million verdict in favor of Hogan led to Gawker closing its doors and its publisher Nick Denton going into personal bankruptcy.

Peter ThielBut two months after the verdict, it was revealed that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel was responsible for financing Hogan's case against Gawker. It was also revealed that the major motivation for Thiel to do that was less because he was sympathetic to what Hogan was going through and more that he wanted Denton and Gawker to feel his wrath after the site ran a story in 2007 outing him as being gay.

"This notion of a nine-year grudge and this epic tale of revenge was so spectacular," Knappenberger told Business Insider at this year's Sundance Film Festival. "That's when I really started work on the movie."

Knappenberger — who previously made the movies "The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz," on internet activist Aaron Swartz, and "We Are Legion," about the hacker group Anonymous — got in touch with Denton and Gawker editor-in-chief (who also posted the Hogan sex tape video) A.J. Daulerio to be in the film as well as Hogan's lawyer David R. Houston.

They all took some convincing to come on camera and talk for the movie, according to Knappenberger, but at the end of the day they agreed because they all wanted to tell their sides of the story.

Brian Knappenberger Alberto E Rodriguez Getty final"The Gawker guys were angry," he said. "They wanted to talk, and David Houston wanted to tell his story."

There was also a time that Knappenberger thought he would get Hogan to participate, but ultimately Hogan declined.

"They didn't want him to say something that would hurt the settlement," Knappenberger said of Hogan. "But even if we got him now I would add him in the film."

In many ways, "Nobody Speak" portrays Hogan in a sympathetic manner, basically as the pawn in Thiel's mission to destroy Gawker (Knappenberger said he also tried to get Thiel to be in the movie, but Thiel declined Knappenberger's numerous requests). And the movie shows how other people with money and influence can and do silence the media.

Knappenberger also showcases what happened to the Las Vegas Review-Journal at the end of 2015. The paper's staff was suddenly told that the paper had been sold, though they were never told who the new publisher was. A group of reporters found that the son-in-law of Las Vegas casino titan Sheldon Adelson was a major player in the purchase of the paper. According to the movie, Adelson had a vendetta with the paper's columnist John L. Smith, who wrote unflattering things about him in a 2005 book. Smith was even ordered after the paper was bought that he was never to write about Adelson in any of his pieces. 

For Knappenberger, there's no other way to look at it: The suppression of the media by billionaires is happening. But it was the election of Donald Trump as president that influenced the movie the most.

"It went from cautionary to holy f---," Knappenberger said. "Things that seemed lighter before now seemed serious."

Donald TrumpKnappenberger said the making of "Nobody Speak" was a fast process that constantly changed, but it's the ending that has become the most nerve-wracking, as he's gone through numerous versions to paint a most up-to-date picture of Trump's dislike toward the media.

"What we've seen is disturbing," he said of Trump. "Calling reports scum, calling them vile, slime, it's just a regular feature in his speeches. The blacklisting of the press... This is a clear intimidation of the press. I think all of that is scary."

Knappenberger said he doesn't see the press lying down and playing dead, but he hopes the new administration will be a wake-up call to the media to be on their game.

"The press should be adversarial, should be confrontational, should be questioning those in power, that's the role of the press," he said.

And that's why Knappenberger believes the loss of Gawker is such a huge blow for journalism. As one former Gawker editor says in the movie, "If you're not pissing off a billionaire, what's the point?"

"Yeah, they insulted people, but why is there not a place for that in this media environment?" Knappenberger said. "This is free speech. We protect hate speech. We protect a lot that one side or the other doesn't like. Thiel's response that Gawker is a 'singular, sociopathic bully' is absurd. That is only true if you live in a world without Facebook or Twitter."

When speaking to Knappenberger before the movie's world premiere at Sundance, the director wasn't too nervous about Thiel or Adelson's representatives showing up with legal papers. "We're ready for it," he said (none were ever given). But he added, the bigger issue is getting people to understand that the loss of the free press is "the most important thing facing our country."

"Lots of other films at Sundance have legitimate causes and important things and I wouldn't say this is more important than those causes," he said, "it's just that you can't do anything about those causes unless you have this first. Free speech, First Amendment rights. Without that, there's no democracy."

 

SEE ALSO: Al Gore has a triumphant new documentary about climate change and Trump that you need to see

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Obama reportedly directed the NSA to infect Russia with cyber weapons to cause ‘pain’

nsa Michael Rogers

The National Security Agency infected key Russian networks with remotely-controlled "implants" that would cause "pain and discomfort" if they are ever used, according to a new report in The Washington Post.

The Post report, which focuses on Moscow's interference in the 2016 presidential election and the Obama administration's response, said the program was a covert action that would allow the US to retaliate if Russia carries out similar behavior in the future.

"Implants are a term used by the intelligence community for malicious code and backdoors," David Kennedy, a former Marine intelligence specialist and founder of TrustedSec and Binary Defense Systems, told Business Insider. "Essentially [it is] the ability to implant code that goes undetected."

Though the report says Russia would feel "pain" if the infected networks were "disrupted," it's not clear whether the implants were designed to affect infrastructure, similar to how the NSA carried out a successful operation called "Olympic Games" (more commonly referred to as the Stuxnet attack) that set back Iran's nuclear program.

Regardless, the US certainly has the capability to affect an adversary's physical world — the power grid, telephones, and internet — through cyber means. In Iran, for example, the NSA carried out another operation called "Nitro Zeus," which used cyber implants to give the US access into Iran's air defense systems so it could not shoot down planes, its command-and-control systems so communications would go dead, and infrastructure like the power grid, transportation, and financial systems.

“It seems pretty reasonable to think that there are things out there today that we haven’t seen that are much more advanced [than Stuxnet]," Liam O'Murchu, a director at Symantec who helped discover the Stuxnet virus, told Business Insider last year.

The Russia operation, still in its early stages, was signed off on by President Obama in the waning days of his administration. President Trump has not changed or stopped the operation, according to officials who spoke with The Post.

SEE ALSO: A Canadian sniper shot an ISIS fighter from over 2 miles away

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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Trump called Mexico the 2nd-deadliest country in the world, but the numbers say differently

Donald Trump

  • President Donald Trump asserted that Mexico was ranked the "second deadliest country in the world" on Thursday evening and cited "drug trade" as the cause.
  • When homicide numbers are compared on a per-capita basis, Mexico's number of homicides per 100,000 people puts it on somewhat different ground, pushing it to the middle of the pack in Latin America.
  • The Mexican government was previously critical of the report, saying "Violence related to organized crime is a regional phenomenon" that goes beyond Mexico's borders.

President Donald Trump on Thursday evening tweeted that "Mexico was just ranked the second deadliest country in the world, after only Syria. Drug trade is largely the cause. We will BUILD THE WALL!"

Trump was likely referring to a recent study by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies that named Mexico the second-deadliest conflict zone in the world, behind Syria and ahead of Iraq.

The president retweeted a link to a CNN story about the report when it came out in early May.

However, that study was highly disputed, and a number of factors undercut the assertion. (It should also be noted that a wall would not stop much of the drug flow into the US, and that drug-related violence in Mexico has largely not spilled over into the US.)

According to the IISS report, Mexico's nearly 23,000 intentional homicide victims in 2016 fell short of the 50,000 seen in Syria and exceeded the 17,000 recorded in Iraq and the 16,000 registered in Afghanistan. The next country in the ranking — Yemen — was below 10,000 victims, and the following two, Somalia and Sudan, were both below 5,000.

As Trump said, organized crime related to the drug trade is behind much of Mexico's violence, and the IISS ranking put Mexico on its list because, in its estimation, criminal violence in the country had reached "a level akin to armed conflict."

Mexico Playa del Carmen nightclub shooting police

While Mexico did indeed have 23,000 intentional homicide victims in 2016 (and looks set to exceed that this year), not all of those deaths were related to organized-crime-related violence. According to research by the Justice in Mexico project, only about one-third to half of those deaths appear to be related to organized crime.

The IISS told Business Insider that it did not assess a more precise tally of organized-crime-related deaths because the Mexican government does not release it. (Indeed, it has been several years since such a figure was made public.) "If they released this number monthly, or at least annually, we would be happy to use it," the think tank said.

Moreover, the comparison made by the IISS is based on absolute numbers. By that measure, other countries in Latin America — one of the most violent regions of the world — are close to or surpass Mexico.

The basis of the measure on absolute numbers was also disputed by a number of observers, as homicide comparisons are more often made based on per-capita numbers — typically the number per 100,000 people.

Ciudad Juarez Chihuahua Mexico crime violence homicide drug cartel killings

Measuring homicides by absolute numbers puts Mexico close to or behind other countries in Latin America.

In Venezuela, one nongovernment organization counted more than 28,000 violent deaths in 2016, more than 18,000 of which the government there classified as homicides. In Brazil, the last several years have seen total homicide counts close to 60,000. Colombia recorded about 12,000 homicides in 2016, its lowest tally in 32 years.

By comparison, the US had 15,700 homicides in 2016, according to the FBI.

When homicide numbers are compared on a per-capita basis, Mexico's homicide rate puts it on somewhat different ground.

Homicide rates in Latin America

It falls to the middle of the pack just in Latin America. Comparatively, Mexico's 2014 homicide numbers put it behind all the countries of the Northern Triangle — Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala — as well as Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and small countries like the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Mexico's official per capita homicide rate in 2016 was 17 per 100,00.

The IISS also told Business Insider in a statement that inclusion on the list was based on three criteria:

"1-Sustained wide-ranging threat to state authority through years (not just spikes) from well-armed groups. 2-Groups control territorial spaces in several cities or rural areas 3- armed forces deployed frequently or permanently."

By those standards, other countries in the region likely deserve inclusion but didn't make the list. In Brazil, large armed gangs fight each other and have retaliated against police operations with public violence, and in Venezuela, organized armed groups challenge the state's control in some areas.

brazil

Those two countries and the countries of the Northern Triangle — which also deals with powerful criminal groups like MS-13 and Barrio 18 — have all, like Mexico, deployed their militaries and militarized police forces to combat violence.

"They cite countries like Brazil, which have higher homicide rates per 100k inhabitants. The rate is a different measure, which is usually released much later in the year and is not doable for the ACD/ACS (since many conflict countries are measured in absolute number of fatalities, not rate per 100k)," the IISS told Business Insider in a statement when asked about these criticisms.

"Plus, we don’t follow Brazil, Venezuela and others because they don’t quite fit the criteria above," the statement said. "There, criminal violence is much more fragmented and involves a great deal of micro-criminality, rather than heavy-calibre clashes for territories that we see in Mexico."

The Mexican government was critical of the report when it was first issued in May.

"Violence related to organized crime is a regional phenomenon" that goes beyond Mexico's borders, it said in a statement. "The fight against transnational organized crime should be analyzed in a comprehensive manner."

Members of the military police carry out a routine foot patrol at El Pedregal neighbourhood Tegucigalpa, Honduras, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera

Other experts who study crime and violence criticized the comparison.

"Equating these [countries] with Syria is analytically lazy and lends itself to the wrong policies," Tom Long, a professor at the UK's University of Reading, said on Twitter. "They aren't mainly political conflicts."

"Yes there's tragedy in Mexico, but not accurate to suggest it's like Syrian war," Brian J. Phillips, a professor at the CIDE in Mexico City, said on Twitter, "and per capita other countries have much more violence."

While the report itself was enough to elicit frustration in Mexico, Trump's retweet of a Drudge Report tweet linking to a CNN story about the report added to the ire.

"I hope these morons are happy," Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope tweeted. "Their idiotic report was already retweeted by @realDonaldTrump."

SEE ALSO: No, Mexico isn't more dangerous than Iraq and Syria

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Judges uphold ruling that 'Making a Murderer' subject Brendan Dassey should be freed

brendan dassey

CHICAGO (AP) — The confession of a Wisconsin inmate featured in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer” was improperly obtained and he should be released from prison, a three-judge federal appeals panel ruled Thursday.

Brendan Dassey was sentenced to life in prison in 2007 in photographer Teresa Halbach’s death on Halloween two years earlier. Dassey told detectives he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape and kill Halbach in the Avery family’s Manitowoc County salvage yard. Avery was sentenced to life in a separate trial.

A federal magistrate judge ruled in August that investigators coerced Dassey, who was 16 years old at the time and suffered from cognitive problems, into confessing and overturned his conviction. The state Justice Department appealed the ruling to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a move that kept Dassey, now 27, behind bars pending the outcome.

A three-judge panel from the Chicago-based 7th Circuit upheld the magistrate’s decision to overturn his conviction. State attorneys’ only recourse now is the U.S. Supreme Court. They could also elect to re-try Dassey.

Avery and Dassey contend they were framed by police angry with Avery for suing Manitowoc County over his wrongful conviction for sexual assault. Avery spent 18 years in prison in that case before DNA tests showed he didn’t commit the crime. He’s pursuing his own appeal in state court.

Their cases gained national attention in 2015 after Netflix aired “Making a Murderer,” a multi-part documentary looking at Halbach’s death, the ensuing investigation and trials. The series sparked widespread conjecture about the pair’s innocence and has garnered them a massive following on social media pushing for their release.

Authorities who worked on the cases insisted the documentary is biased. Ken Kratz, the prosecutor, wrote in his book “Avery” that Dassey was “a shuffling, mumbling young man with bad skin and broken-bowl haircut” who could have saved Halbach’s life but instead involved himself in her rape and murder and Avery is “by any measure of the evidence, stone guilty.”

SEE ALSO: 'Making a Murderer' subject Brendan Dassey's homicide conviction has been overturned

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'He already paid a price and suffered': One Cosby's jurors explains his thinking on the mistrial

Cosby

One of the jurors in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial told a reporter that the comedian had "already paid a price and suffered."

Back in 2015, famed comedian Bill Cosby was charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault in relation to allegations that he drugged and molested a Canadian basketball player in 2004.

On June 17, the judge in Cosby's case declared a mistrial after the 12-person jury spent six days and more than 50 hours trying to reach a unanimous decision.

The case, which led to dozens of women coming forward with similar accusations of being given drugs and then assaulted, led to a sharp divide between those who chose to believe the victims and Cosby supporters. 

Aaron Martin, a reporter for WPXI news station in Pittsburgh, tweeted that one of the jurors in the case told him that "whatever the man did, he's already paid a price and suffered."

According to Martin, the juror, who wished to remain anonymous, said that at one point the jurors were divided 10-2 before some had changed their minds. He did not reveal whether most felt that Cosby was guilty or innocent.

Benedict Morelli, a trial attorney who represented Tracy Morgan in the case against Wal-Mart, told Business Insider that despite the court's best efforts, celebrity status often ends up influencing the outcome of such trials.

"It's very, very hard for juries to work on cases where someone is loved by so many people," Morelli said in an earlier interview.

After the judge declared the mistrial, Cosby’s publicist said that his client has been “restored” by the legal system. “Mr. Cosby’s power is back,” said Andrew Wyatt. “It’s back. He has been restored.”

SEE ALSO: Bill Cosby chanted 'Hey, hey, hey!' in Fat Albert's refrain as he exited the courthouse of his sexual assault trial

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