The Jury Talks Back

3/20/2018

Explosion in Austin Tonight

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 7:07 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This time at a Goodwill Store:

Another explosion occurred in Austin on Tuesday evening, hours after one package exploded and another containing an explosive device was intercepted by law enforcement at FedEx facilities near that city and near San Antonio, authorities said.

The Austin Fire Department said on Twitter shortly after 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET) that it was on the scene at a “reported package explosion” and that there was “one reported injury and crews evacuating building.”

Austin emergency management said medics transported a man in his 30s, and the injuries are not expected to be life-threatening.

Austin Police Dept. said that at this time they don’t believe this bomb is related to the string of bombs that have recently exploded in the city:

There was no package explosion in the 9800 block of Brodie Ln. Items inside package was not a bomb, rather an incendiary device. At this time, we have no reason to believe this incident is related to previous package bombs.

Note: If this is connected to the serial bomber, this will be the sixth bombing since March 2. Early Tuesday morning, a package moving through the FedEx ground sorting center in Schertz exploded.

As it stands now:

Four bombs have killed two people and injured others in Austin since March 2, with the most recent on Sunday believed to have been triggered by a tripwire that injured two people, authorities have said. In most of those bombings, packages left on doorsteps or in front yards exploded, officials said.

This notes a significant change in how authorities are looking at things:

“With this tripwire, this changes things,” Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio division, said at a news conference on Monday, referring to the previous day’s explosion. “It’s more sophisticated, it’s not targeted to individuals.

A child could be walking down a sidewalk and hit something.”

Law enforcement believe the serial bomber is sophisticated and organized:

Danny Defenbaugh, a former FBI bomb technician who helped supervise more than 150 bombing investigations including the 1995 Oklahoma City attack, said such serial campaigns are unusual and can take years to solve.

“In my experience, you are looking beyond a person who simply searched the Internet for how to build these things,” Defenbaugh said.

Defenbaugh said the devices involved in the explosions — and the range of apparent sophistication — probably has investigators trying to narrow a field of possible suspects who have some formal engineering experience in the military, law enforcement or from other sources.

“That fact that someone could build these devices, including the one with the tripwire mechanism, and not blow himself up, that means something,” Defenbaugh said. “That’s why they have hundreds of people working on this.”

Weldon Kennedy, a former FBI deputy director, called the Austin serial bombings “highly unusual’’ and a challenge for the army of federal and local authorities who have descended on central Texas.

There are currently 350 FBI agents in Austin, as well as additional bomb squads.

Additionally, Gov. Abbott has released emergency funds to purchase x-ray machines to be used to help inspect packages:

Texas Governor Greg Abbott today announced an additional release of $265,000 in emergency funding to help assist bombing investigations in Austin after four attacks this month in that city. The money will be used to purchase technology that will aid law enforcement in assessing package safety.

The Emergency funding will be made available “for the Austin Police Department (APD) and the Texas Ranger Bomb Response Team to purchase seven portable x-ray systems for use in bomb detection and responding to suspicious package investigations,” the governor’s office said in a news release Monday. “These x-ray systems are used by bomb technicians on-scene and provide clear visual evidence for rapid assessment of a package’s safety.”

According to the release, several of these units are already in use by “Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians.”

Prayers for the families who have lost their loved ones, and for anxious residents. Also, prayers that law enforcement locate and arrest the suspect before anyone else is killed.

–Dana

President Trump Congratulates Putin On His Unsurprising Election Win

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 4:20 pm

[guest post by Dana]

As we learned earlier this week, Incumbent President Vladimir Putin was re-elected by a wide margin. In his post, our host said: I’m looking forward to Trump issuing his congratulations. Well, here you go:

President Trump on Tuesday congratulated President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on his recent re-election victory, but failed to ask him about either the fairness of the Russian vote, which Mr. Putin won with a lopsided margin, or about allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. Trump also did not raise Russia’s apparent role in a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil — an act that prompted the United States to join with Britain, France and Germany in denouncing the Russian government for violating international law.

Instead, in his phone call with Mr. Putin, the president focused on what the White House called “shared interests,” including North Korea, Ukraine and the escalating arms race between the United States and Russia. He said he and Mr. Putin were likely to meet soon to discuss those issues.

Trump later said that he was pleased with the conversation he had with Putin:

[I]n his phone call with Mr. Putin, the president focused on what the White House called “shared interests,” including North Korea, Ukraine and the escalating arms race between the United States and Russia. He said he and Mr. Putin were likely to meet soon to discuss those issues.

“We had a very good call,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, where he was meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. “We will probably be meeting in the not-too distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control.”

White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders defended the President’s call, and avoided making an assessment of whether the election was fair:

“We’re focused on our elections,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday when asked if Trump felt Russia’s election, which excluded several Putin critics and sparked accounts of potential vote tampering, was “free and fair.”

“We don’t get to dictate how other countries operate,” she said. “What we do know is that Putin has been elected in their country, and that’s not something that we can dictate to them, how they operate. We can only focus on the freeness and fairness of our elections.”

This is not how it has always been:

That attitude is a departure from decades of U.S. foreign policy, in which a succession of administrations have freely criticized anti-democratic events and elections in other nations.

As recently as March 2017, for example, the State Department issued a statement condemning Putin’s government for cracking down on peaceful anti-Putin protests, which the statement called “an affront to core democratic values.”

Gary Kasparov refused to play along:

kasparov

Some Capitol Hill reactions were less than enthusiastic. From John McCain:

An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin’s regime.

McCain also tweeted:

That #Putin had to work so hard to drive voter turnout shows the Russian people know his claim to power is a sham. The US stands with all Russians yearning for freedom. #RussiaElections2018

From Mitch McConnell, who although agreed that a president can call whoever he wants, felt this was not something he’d have chosen to do:

“When I look at a Russian election, what I see is a lack of credibility in tallying the results. … Calling [Putin] wouldn’t have been high on my list.”

Ironically, the President’s call was made on the same day that the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report with recommendations on how to safeguard future U.S. elections from hackers and others attempting to manipulate elections. Including Russia:

“The Russians were relentless in attempting to meddle in the 2016 elections, and they will continue their efforts to undermine public confidence in Western democracies and in the legitimacy of our elections,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said at a news conference Tuesday.

To consider:

Trump is not alone in congratulating Putin — leaders in France, Germany and elsewhere have done so this week, as Barack Obama did in 2012. But past administrations certainly have seen it as America’s role to call balls and strikes when it comes to elections abroad, and weigh in when democratic institutions are being undermined. A departure from that approach would be welcomed not only by Putin, but other leaders of pseudo democracies around the world.

–Dana

Melania Trump Holds Event on Cyberbullying

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:30 am

No, it’s not a “how to” you big silly. She’s opposing it.

Melania Trump today holds her first event on her signature issue: cyberbullying. Fox News reports:

Melania Trump is hosting executives from major online and social media companies to discuss cyberbullying and internet safety, more than a year after saying that would be her issue as first lady.

The meeting Tuesday marks her first public event on the topic, a choice some observers have questioned given that her husband often berates people on Twitter.

Amazon, Snap, Facebook, Google and Twitter are among the companies that are expected to attend the meeting.

The event is reportedly part of a symposium including numerous speakers on topics that touch our lives. O.J. Simpson will speak about anger management, Martin Shkreli will offer thoughts about public service, and (in something of a diplomatic coup) Kim Jong-un will address the conference about ways to best deliver food to the poor.

There is this one lunatic on Twitter with a huge following who tweets a lot of nasty personal insults. If only Melania Trump had some influence over that guy.

But I suspect she’s not spending a lot of personal time with that particular Twitter user these days, for whatever reason.

Anyway, good luck to Mrs. Trump in her noble crusade against cyberbullying. Maybe once she conquers that, she can take up the cause of reading, or promote the importance of wedding vows, or the need to be modest, or crusade on behalf of women who have been belittled because of their looks.

That would be a powerful message coming from a physically attractive First Lady, no?

There’s truly no limit to the causes she can take up once she finishes conquering cyberbullying today. Three cheers to you, Melania!

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

California City Says No To State’s Sanctuary City Law

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 9:29 am

[guest post by Dana]

A California city voted to opt out of the state’s sanctuary city law, SB-54, because they believe it puts them at odds with the Constitution:

Orange County’s second-smallest city voted Monday night to exempt itself from California’s so-called sanctuary law, which limits cooperation between local agencies and federal immigration authorities.

The Los Alamitos City Council voted 4-1 following more than two hours of heated testimony from residents on both sides of the issue.

Mayor Troy Edgar said he hoped mayors in other cities consider similar local legislation. And his message was clear: “As the mayor of Los Alamitos, we are not a sanctuary city.”

The council went one step further. The majority also voted to direct the city attorney to write an amicus brief to a federal lawsuit filed earlier this month against California, alleging that three of the state’s laws are unconstitutional. One of those laws was the same one the Los Alamitos council looks to opt-out of: the “California Values Act,” which limits cooperation between law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities.

Councilman Warren Kusumoto accused state legislators of “bullying us into violating our oath of office.” He explained that the ordinance was “…our way of going on record saying we’re going to comply with the U.S. Constitution.”

–Dana


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