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Elijah McClain: Colorado to review black man’s death in custody

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Colorado is to re-examine the death of a young black man in police custody after growing outrage and a petition signed by more than two million people.

Governor Jared Polis said confidence in law enforcement was “incredibly important now more than ever”.

Elijah McClain died after being put in a chokehold and injected with ketamine in Denver last year.

His case is among several to receive renewed attention following the death of George Floyd last month.

Mr Floyd’s alleged murder by Minneapolis police has prompted a wave of demonstrations worldwide against police brutality and institutional racism.

On Thursday, New York police said an officer who appeared in footage to use a banned chokehold during an arrest in Queens on Sunday had been arrested and charged with strangulation.

New York police banned the chokeholds in 1993 and earlier this month Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation making their use a crime.

What did Governor Polis say?

In a series of tweets, he said he had heard from many Coloradans who had “expressed concerns with the investigation of Elijah McClain’s death”.

“A fair and objective process free from real or perceived bias for investigating officer-involved killings is critical,” he said.

“As a result, I have instructed my legal council to examine what the state can do and we are assessing next steps.”

Nearly 2.7 million people have signed a petition demanding justice and calling for a more in-depth investigation be held.

What happened to Elijah McClain?

The unarmed 23-year-old was walking in the Denver suburb of Aurora on 24 August last year when he was stopped by three white police officers.

A district attorney report later said there had been an emergency call about a “suspicious person” matching his description.

There was a struggle after Mr McClain resisted contact with the officers, who wanted to search him to see if he was armed, the report says. On body cam footage Mr McClain can be heard saying, “I’m an introvert, please respect my boundaries that I am speaking”.

One of the officers then says “he is going for your gun” and they wrestle him to the ground and put him in a chokehold.

The report says Mr McClain lost consciousness, was released from the chokehold and began to struggle again.

The officers called for assistance, with fire fighters and an ambulance responding. A fire medic injected Mr McClain with 500mg of the drug ketamine to sedate him.

Mr McClain was then put in “soft restraints” on a stretcher and put inside the ambulance. The medic who had administered the drug then noticed that Mr McClain’s chest “was not rising on its own, and he did not have a pulse”. He was declared brain dead on 27 August.

Mr McClain’s family allege that the officers used excessive force for about 15 minutes as Mr McClain vomited, begged for them to stop and repeatedly told them he could not breathe. The officers also threatened to set a police dog on him, the family said.

The family’s lawyer Mari Newman said footage of the incident showed that “the police were nothing short of sadistic, brutalizing and terrorising a gentle, peaceful man as he lay there begging”.

An coroner’s autopsy found the cause of death to be undetermined.

Who was Elijah McClain?

Ms Newman described him as an “angel among humans” who played his violin to animals at a shelter who were waiting to be adopted “so they wouldn’t be lonely”.

His mother Sheneen McClain wrote on a fundraising page that he “brought joy to everyone who met him. The world is a darker place without him”.

She said he loved running because of the sense of freedom it gave him, enjoyed drawing and had taught himself to play the piano, guitar, cello and violin.

He was “changing this world, one by one, wherever he went with acceptance of ourselves and what makes us happy”, she said.

What happened to the investigation into his death?

In October, Mr McClain’s family demanded an independent investigation and for the officers to face murder charges.

But in his November report, Adams County District Attorney Dave Young said he would not charge the officers.

“Based on the investigation presented and the applicable Colorado law, there is no reasonable likelihood of success of proving any state crimes beyond a reasonable doubt at trial,” he said.

In January the city of Aurora launched an external investigation but earlier this month fired the lawyer leading it, a former police officer specialising in use of force cases, after concerns were raised about his neutrality.

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Officials told US media they were now launching a new review of the case and were “considering a panel of experts from across the country”.

In a statement to CBS news, McClain family lawyer Mari Newman said Aurora “has no intention of taking responsibility for murdering an innocent young man. Its entire effort is to defend its brutality at all costs, and to lie to the public it is supposed to serve”.

Meanwhile District Attorney Young this month told Colorado Politics he was “not going to open up an investigation because people are signing a petition”.

Earlier this month Aurora police banned the chokehold used on Mr McClain. New rules also say officers must intervene if they see a colleague using excessive force.

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Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-53182122

BBC

News outlets will digitally watermark content to limit misinformation

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BRAZIL - 2020/06/15: In this photo illustration the Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone and a red alerting word "FAKE NEWS" on the blurred background. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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In the run-up to the 2020 US election, a group of major media organizations will once again work together to try and clamp down on fake news. The Trusted News Initiative (TNI) is a coalition of blue-chip publishers and Microsoft which have pledged to work together to tackle disinformation. And, this year, the team will try using a new verification technology, dubbed Project Origin, to try and watermark legitimate content. That way, it’s hoped, scammers can’t mock up a headline and pass it off as real news as easily as they once did.

“Brand marks, styles and other traditional indicators of trust,” says the BBC in a statement, “they are no longer enough to ensure content legitimacy.” That’s why Project Origin will attach a “digital watermark” to stories from TNI partners that shows them that the news has come from an official source. The idea is both to help people find trusted news, but also to filter out faked content. Unfortunately, there’s no word on how this will work yet — the standards for Project Origin have yet to be published.

TNI Members include the BBC, NYT, CBC and the WSJ as well as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, with the AP and Washington Post joining this year. It’s likely that Google and Facebook will have to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility after being willing incubators of fake news for so long. Sadly, Project Origin isn’t going to be standard from now on, and instead will run in the month just before the 2020 election. That means that malign actors have got from now until early October to get their material in front of people. 

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/bbc-fake-news-111000601.html

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Stephanie Winston Wolkoff: Melania Trump’s former aide to publish book

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A former aide to Melania Trump has written a memoir about her 15-year friendship with the US first lady.

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s book, Melania and Me, is due out on 1 September.

In 2018, Ms Winston Wolkoff was reportedly forced out of the White House, amid allegations that she had been profiteering from President Trump’s inauguration.

But the former aide has said she was “thrown under the bus”.

She denied claims her company received $26 million (£20 million) in payments to help plan the 2017 ceremony and surrounding events, saying her firm “retained a total of $1.62 million”.

“In her memoir, Wolkoff chronicles her journey from their friendship that started in New York to her role as the First Lady’s trusted advisor to her abrupt and very public departure, to life after Washington,” according to a description of the book published by Vanity Fair.

The book, which will be on sale ahead of the November presidential election – when Mr Trump will take on Democrat nominee Joe Biden, is the latest controversial memoir involving the Trumps.

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new book, The Room Where It Happened, portrays a president ignorant of basic geopolitical facts and whose decisions were frequently driven by a desire for re-election.

He accuses Mr Trump of wanting help from China to win re-election, while offering approval for China’s plan to build forced-labour camps for its Muslim Uighur minority. He also backs up Democrat allegations that sparked impeachment efforts against the president.

Meanwhile, the president’s niece, Mary Trump, is due to publish Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man later this month.

An Amazon blurb for the book says the author will set out how her uncle “became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security and social fabric”.

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Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-53315986

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US to withdraw visas for foreign students if classes moved fully online

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Foreign students will not be allowed to stay in the US this autumn if their universities have moved classes fully online, unless they switch to a course with in-person tuition.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said people could face deportation if they do not comply with the rules.

Many universities are moving classes online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is not clear how many students will be affected.

Large numbers of foreign students travel to the US to study every year and are a significant source of revenue for universities as many pay full tuition.

Harvard has announced all course instruction will be delivered online when students return for the new academic year, including those living at the university.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which is run by ICE, had permitted foreign students to continue with their spring and summer 2020 courses online while remaining in the country.

But Monday’s announcement said foreign students who remain in the US while enrolled in online courses and fail to switch to in-person courses could face “immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings”.

The rule applies to holders of F-1 and M-1 visas, which are for academic and vocational students. The State Department issued 388,839 F visas and 9,518 M visas in the fiscal year 2019, according to the agency’s data.

According to the US Commerce Department, international students contributed $45 billion (£36 billion) to the country’s economy in 2018.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-53315651

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