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'This is huge': Locust swarms destroy crops in East AfricaThe hum of millions of locusts on the move is broken by the screams of farmers and the clanging of pots and pans. The worst outbreak of desert locusts in Kenya in 70 years has seen hundreds of millions of the bugs swarm into the East African nation from Somalia and Ethiopia. “Even cows are wondering what is happening," said Ndunda Makanga, who spent hours Friday trying to chase the locusts from his farm.


 

Photos from the Lunar New Year show how coronavirus turned China's biggest party into a washoutHere are photos comparing last year's celebration — complete with Chinese lions, historical dances, and family time — to this year.


 

Protest violence won't work, leading Hong Kong activist saysEscalating protest violence is not the way to bring about change, Hong Kong democracy activist Jason Ng has said, urging demonstrators to embrace non-violent means in the struggle to throw off a feared tightening of Beijing's control. With the movement in a less frenetic and ferocious stage after seven months of unrest, Ng, who is also a lawyer, said people in Hong Kong were taking time to process what had happened and reflect on the way forward. Speaking to AFP in an interview in Barcelona, Ng said he hoped the protests would return to the non-violent ethos that had characterised the Umbrella Revolution, the mass pro-democracy demonstrations of 2014.


 

UK to use high tariff threat to raise pressure in trade negotiations: The TimesJohnson and his cabinet ministers discussed using tariffs as "leverage" in an effort to accelerate trade talks at a meeting this week which could result in taxes of 30% on some types of French cheese and 10% on German cars, the newspaper reported. The UK will largely replicate the EU tariff schedule which will be published and lodged at the World Trade Organisation, according to the newspaper.


 

China virus toll hits 41; Australia reports first four casesThe death toll from China's coronavirus outbreak jumped on Saturday to 41 as the Lunar New Year got off to a gloomy start, with Hong Kong declaring a virus emergency, scrapping celebrations, and restricting links to mainland China. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Saturday declared a virus emergency in the Asian financial hub, with five confirmed cases, immediately halting official visits to mainland China and scrapping official Lunar New Year celebrations. Inbound and outbound flights and high speed rail trips between Hong Kong and Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, would be halted, and schools, now on Lunar New Year holidays, would remain shut until Feb. 17.


 

Two pedestrians killed by snowplow in KansasThe two victims were struck by a snowplow north of the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan, authorities said.


 

Before March for Life, Betsy DeVos stirs controversy by comparing 'choice' of slavery, abortionBefore March for Life, Betsy DeVos invoked Abraham Lincoln, suggesting his anti-slavery view is similar to anti-abortion stances. Historians disagree.


 

US military investigating after finding Pornhub video of Navy service members shot through peepholeThe Navy is reportedly investigating videos found on the website Pornhub that they believe show unsuspecting service members through a peephole in a bathroom.The videos were discovered earlier this month by an agent from the Naval Criminal Investigative Series, according to a report by NBC News.


 

Tennessee governor signs anti-LGBT adoption billTennessee has become the latest state to assure continued taxpayer funding of faith-based foster care and adoption agencies even if those organizations exclude LGBT families and others based on religious beliefs. Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill Friday without fanfare or an official announcement, making it the first law to be implemented in Tennessee this year. Some faith-based agencies had already not allowed gay couples to adopt.


 

Recording Appears to Reveal Trump Giving Order to Fire Amb. Yovanovitch: ReportA recording appears to reveal President Trump telling associates to fire former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch during a private dinner, ABC News reported on Friday.The recording was reportedly made by Igor Fruman, a business associate of Lev Parnas and one of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's main contacts in Ukraine. Fruman made the recording at an April 30, 2018 dinner at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., which was attended by Parnas and Trump. The identities of other people present for the conversation were not immediately clear."Get rid of her!" says a voice on the recording that likely belongs to Trump. "Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it."Trump made the remarks after Parnas and Fruman apparently said that then-ambassador Yovanovitch was bad-mouthing him."The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She's still left over from the Clinton administration," Parnas appears to say (Yovanovitch in fact had served since the Reagan administration). "She's basically walking around telling everybody 'wait, he's gonna get impeached, just wait.'"A copy of the recording was handed over to federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York."Every President in our history has had the right to place people who support his agenda and his policies within his Administration," the White House said in a statement regarding the recording.Yovanovitch was not fired until a year later, in May 2019. The former ambassador testified in House impeachment hearings that Parnas and Fruman were trying to oust her "because they wanted to have business dealings in Ukraine, or additional business dealings."Parnas, Fruman and Giuliani had coordinated some of their efforts with former top Ukraine prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko. Lutsenko reportedly offered Parnas damaging information on Joe and Hunter Biden, if Parnas would work to oust Yovanovitch. The former ambassador had been critical of Lutsenko, while Lutsenko disliked her support for a semi-independent anti-corruption organization based in Ukraine.President Trump is currently the subject of a Senate impeachment trial over allegations he withheld military aid from Ukraine to pressure the country to investigate corruption allegations against Joe and Hunter Biden.


 

Sluggish storm to keep dumping snow over MidwestA slow-moving storm already responsible for dumping more than half a foot of snow on parts of Missouri and Iowa will continue to produce fresh powder over a portion of the Midwest as it sluggishly drifts eastward through Saturday.As snow returns to Chicago and Milwaukee and reaches Detroit, air and ground travel disruptions are likely to mount. This satellite loop from Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, shows the organized storm swirling over the middle of the nation. (NOAA / GOES-East) The storm became better organized late this past week as it managed to attach to the upper part of the atmosphere. Rather than remaining weak and taking a swift eastward track, spreading snow over huge swath from the Plains to the Northeast, the storm matured and stalled over the Mississippi Valley for a time.The result was a swath of light to moderate snowfall from part of northern Arkansas to northern Michigan. The swirl of snow near and north and west of the center of the storm has held together and will drift eastward through Saturday. "Up to a few additional inches of snow is forecast to fall on portions of northern and western Illinois, central and southeastern Wisconsin and northern Michigan," AccuWeather Meteorologist Courtney Travis said.This is on top of what has already fallen, bringing the storm total to 6-10 inches with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 12 inches in portions of the area.CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE ACCUWEATHER APP"An advancing cold pocket of air with moisture is forecast to produce snowfall in the 1- to 3-inch range from central Illinois to northern and central Indiana and the northwestern and central parts of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan on Saturday," Travis added.Americans who live in this zone, including in Indianapolis and South Bend, Indiana; Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Flint, Michigan; and Champaign, Illinois; may yet have enough snow to sweep off of their cars and shovel.Up to a few more inches of snow is likely to fall on Chicago.Meteorologists urge motorists to use caution on Saturday morning across the region, as untreated roadways are likely to be slippery.Even though blustery conditions will develop as the storm moves along this weekend, the air is of Pacific origin and not from the Arctic. Aside from snow showers near the old center of the storm, lake-effect snowfall is likely to be minimal in the storm's wake.Saturday night, slightly colder air with snow showers will continue to advance eastward along with the old storm center. Motorists around Detroit and Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio, could encounter slippery conditions with a coating of snow possible. By Sunday, the main focus of snow showers will retreat to the central Appalachians and around the eastern Great Lakes.Temperatures are likely to be above average during the last few days of January and the first few days of February for the North Central states. Highs will generally average within a few degrees of freezing in the northern tier to the lower 40s over portions of the central Plains and the Ohio Valley.Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.


 

America's B-25G Bomber Was The Air Force's Very Own Flying TankAnd it shot like one too.


 

Philippine President Duterte threatens to end military deal with U.S.Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned the United States on Thursday he would repeal an agreement on deployment of troops and equipment for exercises if Washington did not reinstate the visa of a political ally.


 

'Serious safety risk': Man arrested after pointing laser at planes, temporarily blinding one pilotTwo planes were struck by a laser, temporarily blinding one pilot, as they flew into Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on Wednesday night.


 

Damaged By Drone Strike: Suleimani's Sainthood Is Now Being QuestionedIran’s brand is thinning among the Shi’a and Suleimani’s departure creates breathing room for the Shi’a in the region.


 

Collins sent note before chief justice's admonishmentSupreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts's admonishment of House impeachment prosecutors and President Donald Trump's defense team followed a handwritten note by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Collins penned a note after House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler's comment about a "cover-up" by Senate Republicans for Trump, her spokeswoman confirmed. Senate rules ban senators from impugning one another.


 

This Is What Skiing in Africa Looks Like


 

In southern Poland, archaeologists discover WW2 plane wreckArchaeologists have discovered the wreck of a U.S.-made bomber flown by the Soviet Red Army in World War Two, along with the remains of four crewmen killed when it crashed in southern Poland, private broadcaster TVN reported. Marta Wrobel in the town of Bierun during the war and told TVN that the blast from the crash had been powerful enough to blow out windows and doors. The remains of the four Soviet crewmen who perished in the crash will be laid to rest at a nearby Red Army cemetery.


 

Belarus' leader blasts Russia for pushing merger of 2 statesThe president of Belarus on Friday accused Moscow of pressuring his country to merge with Russia and vowed not to let it happen. The statement comes amid stalled talks on further strengthening economic ties between two countries, seen in Belarus as Moscow's plot to swallow its post-Soviet neighbor.


 

US Vice President Pence to Pope Francis: You made me a heroU.S. Vice President Mike Pence met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, discussing the anti-abortion march in Washington and telling the pontiff, "You made me a hero" back home by granting him a private audience. Pence was beaming after the meeting, which appeared to be particularly cordial. The hero description apparently referred to Pence's Catholic family upbringing.


 

Greta Thunberg says climate demands 'completely ignored' at DavosTeenage climate activist Greta Thunberg on Friday said calls to the corporate elite meeting in Davos to immediately disinvest in fossil fuels had been ignored. Of course these demands have been completely ignored. Thunberg was a highlight of the 50th edition of the conference, drawing massive attention including barbs by US Secretary Steven Mnuchin who on Thursday told the teen to go "study economics".


 

A 36-Year-Old Man Is the Youngest Fatality of the Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak So FarThe 36-year-old man from Hubei province was not reported to have any prior medical conditions, according to local health authorities


 

The West Blames the Wuhan Coronavirus on China’s Love of Eating Wild Animals. The Truth Is More ComplexThe Wuhan coronavirus is believed to have originated from a market that sold wild animals.


 

This Simulation Proves How Deadly a Real War With North Korea Would BeA terrible idea.


 

March for Life 2020: I'm a single-issue, pro-life voter. What's wrong with that?At the ballot box, voters aren't choosing a pope or pastor, but a politician who can impact public policy. It makes sense to vote on the issues.


 

No qualms for India's hangman before first job of executing rapistsPawan Kumar feels zero sympathy for the four men he is due to hang next month for a 2012 gang rape and murder that appalled India. The group set to meet their demise before dawn on February 1 - although it may be delayed - were convicted for a brutal crime against Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old student. Angry demonstrations by tens of thousands of people broke out across the vast South Asian nation, sparking soul-searching about the plight of Indian women and leading to heavier sentences for sex crimes.


 

China seals off more cities as virus toll climbsChina sealed off millions more people near the epicentre of a virus outbreak on Friday, shutting down public transport in an eighth city in an unprecedented quarantine effort as the death toll climbed to 26. While the World Heath Organization held off on declaring a global emergency despite confirmed cases in half a dozen other countries, China expanded a lockdown now covering some 26 million people and cancelled some Lunar New Year celebrations to prevent the disease spreading further. The virus that emerged in the central city of Wuhan has now infected 830 people, the national health commission said.


 

Lindsey Graham is offering unsolicited legal advice to Trump's teamSen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a juror in President Trump's impeachment trial, is offering free legal advice to his counsel, if they want to accept it.So far, the House impeachment managers have "done a good job" of "painting ... a tapestry, taking a series of events and telling a story," Graham told reporters on Thursday. When Trump's legal team starts delivering his defense on Saturday, they will "start pulling on the threads."Graham also thinks Trump's attorneys will need to shift the focus to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company, and is in the center of a debunked conspiracy theory being peddled by Trump allies, including Rudy Giuliani. Graham said Trump's team needs to "really go hard at the idea that when they tell you there's not a scintilla of evidence, groundless, baseless, phony accusations regarding the Bidens, I would challenge that very hard."More stories from theweek.com Trump debuts official Space Force logo — and it's literally a ripoff of Star Trek 14 dead, hundreds injured after 6.7 earthquake in eastern Turkey Donald Trump and the moral decline of the pro-life movement


 

The FBI reportedly stopped a Saudi plot to kidnap a YouTuber on US soil after he criticized Mohammed bin Salman for Jamal Khashoggi's killingAbdulrahman Almutairi used social media to criticize the Saudi government. It appears to have almost cost him his life.


 

Italy's Crazy World War II Strategy of "Human Torpedoes"Was it successful?


 

Virologist who helped identify SARS on coronavirus outbreak: 'This time I'm scared'Experts are seeing shocking similarities between the coronavirus that has now spread beyond China and the SARS outbreak of 2003.Like the infectious pneumonia that has killed at least 17 people, SARS was caused by a coronavirus that originated in China. But when one of the virologists who helped identify the SARS virus visited Wuhan, where this virus originated, he didn't see nearly enough being done to fight it. People were out at markets without masks, "preparing to ring in the New Year in peace and had no sense about the epidemic," Guan Yi of the University of Hong Kong's State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases told Caixin. Airports were hardly being disinfected, Guan continued, saying the local government hasn't "even been handing out quarantine guides to people who were leaving the city."The city did disinfect the market where the virus has been traced to, but Guan criticized Wuhan for that, saying it hurts researchers' abilities to track down the virus's source. "I've never felt scared," Guan told Caixin. "This time I'm scared."A case involving the coronavirus was identified in Washington state on Wednesday, and cases have also been identified in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. A total of 639 cases were confirmed in China.More stories from theweek.com Trump debuts official Space Force logo — and it's literally a ripoff of Star Trek 14 dead, hundreds injured after 6.7 earthquake in eastern Turkey Donald Trump and the moral decline of the pro-life movement


 

New Moon Photos! Get Your New Moon Photos Here!


 

Donald Trump is suddenly scared of Mike Bloomberg — as he should beMike Bloomberg probably isn’t going to win the Democratic nomination for president. But he might beat Donald Trump anyway. The reason? Well, there are a couple billion of them — namely, the $2 billion Bloomberg plans to spend on Democrats' behalf.


 

Family receives remains of 6 killed in El Salvador massacreEl Salvador's forensic institute on Thursday turned over to family members the remains of six of the more than 200 rural residents killed by soldiers in August 1982 El Calabozo massacre. Juana de Jesús Bonilla Realegeño cried over the caskets of her parents, three sisters and a sister-in-law. The remains were exhumed late last year and will be buried in El Calabozo, where soldiers are accused of burning homes and killing mostly women, children and the elderly over several days during the country's civil war.


 

Parishioner Who Stopped Texas Church Shooter Criticizes Bloomberg on Gun-Control EffortsThe armed parishioner who took down a shooter at a Texas church in December criticized former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's gun control efforts on Wednesday."Mr. Bloomberg, had we operated by his standards or his wishes, the carnage would have been significantly greater because the individual still, after the shooting, still had seven live rounds in his gun and three more in his pocket," Jack Wilson said in an interview on Fox News. Wilson, a member of West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, fired a single round at an armed intruder on December 29, killing the assailant.Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey hit back at Wilson in a Thursday appearance on Fox."Mr. Bloomberg supports his right to carry a gun," Sheekey said. "We salute him. But the question is, should anyone who is criminally insane be able to get a gun? I would say no."Earlier in January, while speaking about the Texas incident, Bloomberg appeared to criticize policies that loosen restrictions on gun control."Somebody in the congregation had their own gun and killed the person who murdered two other people, but it is the job of law enforcement to have guns and to decide when to shoot," Bloomberg said. "You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place."Bloomberg has been heavily involved in gun-control efforts over the years. His proposals for the 2020 presidential election include universal background checks and "red flag screening" measures. In 2013, Bloomberg founded Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit that advocates for stricter gun control measures.


 

Want To Start A War With America? Go Try To Sink An Aircraft CarrierIran and China shouldn't test their luck.


 

In Trump impeachment trial, Nadler presses case by quoting Lindsey Graham — from 1999Rep. Jerry Nadler employed a video clip of Sen. Lindsey Graham during Thursday’s testimony of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to make the case that a president need not have committed a crime in order to be removed from office.


 

Ghislaine Maxwell: Hackers 'breached' computer belonging to Jeffrey Epstein associate, attorney saysLawyers for the woman accused of procuring underage girls to have sex with Jeffrey Epstein told a judge that hackers “breached” her computer after a court failed to redact her email address in filings it released last year.Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyer Ty Gee said in a December letter to Judge Loretta A Preska that, “despite the Second Circuit’s best efforts, it made serious mistakes” when redacting thousands of pages of records associated with a defamation lawsuit filed by one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre.


 

Greta Thunberg fires back after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says she isn't qualified to lecture the US on climate change"Is she the chief economist or who is she? I'm confused," Mnuchin joked about the Swedish teenager's call for America to quit fossil fuels.


 

White House breaks silence on Jeff Bezos phone-hacking scandal, calls Saudi Arabia an 'important ally'The White House weighed in on reports that Saudi Arabia hacked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' phone, saying it takes the situation seriously.


 

These gun enthusiasts at the Virginia rally carried more firepower than many US troops"This sends a strong visual message," a man holding a .50 caliber rifle said. Attendees also came with an armored vehicle and a grenade launcher.


 

Victims' bodies still at New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel months after collapse* Wind blows tarp off one of two bodies amid ruins * Unstable building to be imploded in MarchThree months after the partial collapse of the Hard Rock hotel construction site on the tip of New Orleans’s historic French Quarter, a macabre reminder of the tragedy that claimed three lives was visible to passersby this week.Among the collapsed building’s twisted remains and rubble, the dangling legs of a wedged corpse were revealed to the public after a tarpaulin sheet covering the body was blown away by wind.The gruesome sight came as city officials are scrambling to dismantle the 18-storey, 350-room hotel, which remains an eyesore and still holds the trapped remains of two workers, Quinnyon Wimberly and José Ponce Arreola.After images of the exposed corpse provoked outrage on social media, city firefighters installed a new tarp on Wednesday afternoon. As of Thursday morning the covering remained intact, as police maintained a heavy presence around the collapsed building.The mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, urged members of the public and the media not to photograph or share images of the body.“To be clear: capturing or sharing images of the victims in such a condition is irresponsible, it is indefensible, and it is not who we are as New Orleanians,” a statement from the mayor’s office read. “We urge news outlets, residents, and social media users to have nothing to do with making a tragic situation needlessly worse.”Cantrell has faced significant criticism for her handling of the saga and it remains unclear if the collapse is being criminally investigated. Last week, city officials announced new plans to implode the building by mid-March, after the firm that owns the site – 1031 Canal Street Development – had lobbied for a gradual demolition process that would have extended into next year.The mayor’s office said on Wednesday that “respectful recovery of the remains” is still a “top priority” but that the building’s continued instability had made recovery “extremely difficult and very dangerous”. One of the bodies is trapped over 11 storeys above street level.A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office declined to comment further on Thursday.The city is preparing for the annual Mardi Gras season, which draws about a million tourists to New Orleans in February and brings in about $400m to the local economy.The collapse has also drawn attention to the plight of the city’s undocumented community after one worker, Delmer Joel Ramírez Palma, was deported to Honduras by federal authorities, having been hospitalized due to injuries sustained during the incident.Ramírez Palma had alerted authorities to dangers in the construction process before the collapse and was interviewed by Spanish language TV in the aftermath. He had lived in New Orleans for 18 years.Several lawsuits have been filed against the project’s developers and contracts, citing allegations of negligence. Plaintiffs include both bystanders and workers injured during the collapse.


 

Ex-Maryland police officer has been charged with raping and attempting to transmit HIV to a woman he pulled overA Maryland Grand Jury has indicted former police officer Martique Vanderpool on charges that he raped and attempted to expose a woman with HIV.


 

'She's not a good girl': Victim's family hits out as Michelle Carter let out of jail earlyMichelle Carter will be released from jail for good behaviour after serving a majority of her 15-month sentence, in a decision that sparked an angry reaction from the family of the man she urged to kill himself.Carter, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for urging Conrad Roy III to kill himself in 2014, is getting out about three months early, with jail officials saying that state law mandates early release in cases of good behaviour. She will now serve five years of probation.


 

Successor to slain Iran general will be murdered if he kills Americans: U.S. envoyThe successor to the Iranian commander killed in a U.S. drone strike would suffer the same fate if he followed a similar path by killing Americans, the U.S. special representative for Iran said, according to the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.


 

Mother says she sang to her three children as she smothered themA young mother in Arizona has reportedly told police that she killed her three children before placing them in the living room as if they were sleeping.Other family members were in the home at the time.


 

'The new evidence raises deeply troubling questions': did Arkansas kill an innocent man?Revealed: two years after Ledell Lee was executed, damning evidence emerges that experts say could prove his innocenceThe day before Ledell Lee was executed on 20 April 2017, he talked to the BBC from death row. He said that while he could not prevent the state of Arkansas from killing him, he had a message for his executioners: “My dying words will always be, as it has been: ‘I am an innocent man’.”Almost two years after Lee was strapped to a gurney and injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs, it looks increasingly likely he was telling the truth: he went to his death an innocent man. New evidence has emerged that suggests Lee was not guilty of the brutal murder of a woman in 1993 for which his life was taken.The deceased inmate’s sister Patricia Young lodged a lawsuit on Thursday with the circuit court of Pulaski county, Arkansas, petitioning city authorities and the local police department in Jacksonville to release crime scene materials to her family.The ACLU and the Innocence Project, who are investigating the case on the family’s behalf, believe state-of-the-art forensic examination of the materials, including DNA testing and fingerprint analysis, could definitively prove Arkansas did indeed execute an innocent man.An 81-page filing in the lawsuit provides damning new evidence that key aspects of the prosecution case against Lee were deeply flawed. The complaint includes expert opinion from a number of world-leading specialists who find glaring errors in the way forensic science and other evidence was interpreted.The lawsuit also includes a bombshell affidavit from Lee’s post-conviction attorney who admits to having struggled with substance abuse and addiction throughout the years in which he represented him.Lawyers who prepared the filing, led by Cassandra Stubbs of the ACLU and the Innocence Project’s Nina Morrison, conclude: “It is now clear that the state’s forensic experts from trial misinterpreted the evidence in plain sight, and their flawed opinions were further distorted by the state in its zeal to convict [Lee] of the crime. The new evidence raises deeply troubling questions about the shaky evidentiary pillars on which the state executed Ledell Lee.”Innocence has always been the achilles heel of America’s death penalty: how to justify judicially killing prisoners who may have been wrongfully convicted. The question is far from academic: since 1973 no fewer than 167 death row inmates have been exonerated.The most harrowing question is whether innocent prisoners have been executed before the flawed nature of their convictions emerged. In recent years, there have been several cases that, with near certainty, suggest that innocent men have been put to death.They include Cameron Todd Willingham executed in Texas in 2004 for allegedly having caused a fire that killed his three young daughters. After the execution, further evidence emerged that conclusively showed that he could not have set the fire.The Columbia Human Rights Law Review carried out a groundbreaking investigation in which it concluded Carlos DeLuna was innocent when he was executed – also by Texas – in 1989. The six-year study discovered that the convicted prisoner had almost certainly been confused with another man, a violent criminal who shared the name Carlos.Now Ledell Lee looks as though he may be added to the grim rollcall of the wrongly executed. He relentlessly insisted he was not guilty from the moment he was arrested less than two hours after the brutally beaten body of Debra Reese was discovered in her home in Jacksonville on 9 February 1993.The difficulties with the case against Lee began almost immediately. He was picked up nowhere near the crime scene and was not in possession of any possessions that could be linked to the break-in at Reese’s home.The only evidence against him was inconclusive at best. There were two eyewitnesses, but they gave conflicting reports of the suspect’s identification.> In recent years, there have been several cases that, with near certainty, suggest innocent men have been put to deathThe crime scene was shocking, with blood splattered over the walls and floor. Yet when Lee was arrested on the same day detectives could find no blood on his clothes or body including under his fingernails and nothing was found in a forensic search of his house.Given the paucity of evidence, it is not surprising that it took two trials to find Lee guilty and sentence him to death. The first trial collapsed after the jury was unable to reach a verdict.The ACLU and Innocence Project took up Lee’s case very late in the day having been asked to get involved shortly before his scheduled execution date. What they discovered when they opened the case records astounded even these experienced death penalty lawyers.Very quickly they established there were major problems with the prosecution case against Lee. One area that especially concerned them was the inadequacy of Lee’s legal representation, both during the second trial in which defense attorneys inexplicably failed to call alibi witnesses that could have placed Lee elsewhere at the time of the murder, and in terms of the help he received at the appeal stage of his case.At one post-conviction hearing, a lawyer working for the state of Arkansas approached the judge and raised concerns about Lee’s attorney, Craig Lambert. “Your honor, I don’t do this lightly, but I’m going to ask that the court require him to submit to a drug test,” the counsel said. “He’s just not with us … His speech is slurred.”In an affidavit obtained since Lee’s execution, signed by Lambert in October, the lawyer admits: “I was struggling with substance abuse and addiction in those years. I attended inpatient rehab. Ledell’s case was massive and I wasn’t in the best place personally to do what was necessary.”Partly as a result of poor legal representation, terrible errors were made in Lee’s defense – both at trial and for years afterwards during the appeals process. The complaint goes into detail about these “deeply troubling” shortcomings.One of the key examples relates to the marks found on the victim’s cheek. The state’s experts mistakenly interpreted the marks as having come from a pattern on a rug in Reese’s bedroom where she had been beaten to death with a wooden tire club.In fact, the filing says, the pattern on the body’s cheek did not match that on the rug. Instead it was consistent with the murderer stomping on Reese’s face directly with his shoe.That is critically significant because the shoes that Lee was wearing that day, which the state used during the trial as evidence against him, were incompatible in the composition of their soles with the injury pattern on Reese’s face.To establish this point, an affidavit is provided by Michael Baden, former chief pathologist for New York who is recognized internationally as a leading forensic pathologist. He concludes: “The soles of Mr Lee’s sneakers have a much more closely spaced pattern than was transferred in the cheek imprint.”That inconsistency is just one of many that were uncovered when Baden and four other specialists were invited to review the case.Lee was executed in a flurry. When the state of Arkansas realized its supply of one of its three lethal drugs, the sedative midazolam, was about to expire at the end of 2017 with no hope of replacing it due to a global ban on medicines being sent to the US for use in executions, it went into overdrive.It announced plans to kill eight prisoners in 11 days.The declaration prompted revulsion from around the US and the world and accusations that the state was engaging in conveyor-belt executions. It was in that climate that attempts by the ACLU and the Innocence Project to have materials gathered at the crime scene of Reese’s murder released for DNA testing fell on deaf ears.Though the lawyers presented a strong argument that DNA testing could be crucial in casting doubt on Lee’s conviction and pointing towards the real killer, a federal district court denied the request on grounds that Lee had “simply delayed too long” in asking for the materials.It is too late now for Lee. But his lawyers hope that it is not too late to get to the bottom of the case posthumously.The city of Jacksonville is in possession of a rich array of crime scene materials including “Negroid” hairs collected from Reese’s bedroom and fingernail scrapings likely to contain DNA from the actual killer – Lee or otherwise.“This evidence can now be tested with state-of-the-art methods unavailable at trial, and compared to Mr Lee’s unique DNA profile,” the filing says.After a welter of legal challenges, Arkansas succeeded in killing four prisoners in one week, including the first double execution held in the US in a single day since 2001. The first of the four to die was Ledell Lee.Should Arkansas now agree belatedly to hand over the crime scene materials for testing, he may yet be proven to have been, just as he always said he was, an innocent man.


 

'His intention was to kill everyone in the home except himself': Utah boy, 16, charged with killing mother, 3 siblingsA 16-year-old boy was charged Wednesday after being accused of carrying out what appears to be the worst mass shooting in Utah in 13 years.


 

A University of Minnesota student was arrested in China and sentenced to 6 months in prison for tweeting cartoons making fun of President Xi JingpingAccording to Chinese court documents obtained by Axios, 20-year-old Luo Daiqing was arrested after returning to Wuhan for summer break.


 

These 9 Dining Chairs Are Sculptural, Surprising, and Downright Sleek


 


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