Day: March 16, 2019

New Zealand mosque shooter charged with 1 murder, more to follow

A white supremacist suspected in shootings at two mosques that killed 49 people during midday Friday prayers posted an anti-immigrant manifesto online and apparently used a helmet-mounted camera to broadcast live video of the slaughter on Facebook.

Brenton Harrison Tarrant appeared in court Saturday morning amid strict security and showed no emotion when the judge read him one murder charge. The judge said “it was reasonable to assume” more such charges would follow.

Two other armed suspects were taken into custody while police tried to determine what role, if any, they played in the cold-blooded attack that stunned New Zealand, a country so peaceful that police officers rarely carry guns.

It was by far the deadliest shooting in modern New Zealand history.

“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, noting that many of the victims could be migrants or refugees.

She pronounced it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

Tarrant, who police say carried out at least one of the shootings, posted a jumbled, 74-page manifesto on social media in which he identified himself as a 28-year-old Australian and white supremacist who was out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.

The gunman also livestreamed in graphic detail 17 minutes of his rampage at Al Noor Mosque, where, armed with at least two assault rifles and a shotgun, he sprayed worshippers with bullets over and over, killing at least 41 people. Several more people were killed in an attack on a second mosque in the city a short time later.

At least 48 people were wounded, some critically. Police also defused explosive devices in a car.

Police did not say whether the same person was responsible for both shootings. They gave no details about those taken into custody except to say that none had been on any watch list. During the Saturday morning hearing, a man who was not in court was charged with using writings to incite hatred against a race or ethnicity, but it was not clear if his case was related to the mosque attacks.

Tarrant’s relatives in the Australian town of Grafton, in New South Wales, contacted police after learning of the shooting and were helping with the investigation, local authorities said. Tarrant has spent little time in Australia in the past four years and only had minor traffic infractions on his record.

On Saturday, outside one of the two mosques, 32-year-old Ash Mohammed pushed through police barricades in hopes of finding out what happened to his father and two brothers, whose cellphones rang unanswered. An officer stopped him.

“We just want to know if they are dead or alive,” Mohammed told the officer.

In the aftermath, the country’s threat level was raised from low to high, police warned Muslims against going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand, and the national airline cancelled several flights in and out of Christchurch, a city of nearly 400,000.

New Zealand, with a population of 5 million, has relatively loose gun laws and an estimated 1.5 million firearms, or roughly one for every three people. But it has one of the lowest gun homicide rates in the world. In 2015, it had just eight gun homicides.

Before Friday’s attack, New Zealand’s deadliest shooting in modern history took place in 1990 in the small town of Aramoana, where a gunman killed 13 people following a dispute with a neighbour.

On Saturday, the prime minister said the “primary perpetrator” in the shootings was a licensed gun owner and legally acquired the five guns used. Ardern said the country’s gun laws will change as a result of the carnage, but she did not specify how.

New Zealand is also generally considered to be welcoming to migrants and refugees. On Saturday, people across the country were reaching out to Muslims in their communities on social media to volunteer acts of kindness _ offering rides to the grocery store or volunteering to walk with them if they felt unsafe. In other forums, people discussed Muslim food restrictions as they prepared to drop off meals for those affected.

The prime minister said the attack reflected “extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand.”

Immigrants “have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home,” Ardern said. “They are us.”

At the White House, Trump called the bloodshed “a terrible thing” but rejected any suggestion the white nationalist movement is a rising threat around the world, saying it is “a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”

Tarrant, in his rambling manifesto, deemed Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity.”

Facebook, Twitter and Google scrambled to take down the gunman’s video, which was widely available on social media for hours after the bloodbath.

In the video, the killer spends more than two minutes inside the mosque spraying terrified worshippers with gunfire. He then walks outside, where he shoots at people on the sidewalk. Children’s screams can be heard in the distance as he returns to his car to get another rifle. He walks back into the mosque, where there are at least two dozen people lying on the ground.

After going back outside and shooting a woman there, he gets back in his car, where a song can be heard blasting. The singer bellows, “I am the god of hellfire!” and the gunman drives off before police even arrive.

The second attack took place at the Linwood mosque about 5 kilometres (3 miles) away. Mark Nichols told the New Zealand Herald that he heard about five gunshots and that a worshipper returned fire with a rifle or shotgun.

The footage showed the killer was carrying a shotgun and two fully automatic military assault rifles, with an extra magazine taped to one of the weapons so that he could reload quickly. He also had more assault weapons in the trunk of his car, along with what appeared to be explosives.

His manifesto was a welter of often politically contradictory views, touching on many of the most combustible issues of the day, among them the Second Amendment right to own guns, Muslim immigration, terrorist attacks and the wealthiest 1 per cent.

He portrayed himself as a racist and a fascist and raged against non-Westerners, but said China is the nation that most aligns with his political and social values.

The gunman said he was not a member of any organization, acted alone and chose New Zealand to show that even the most remote parts of the world are not free of “mass immigration.”

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By The Wall of Law March 16, 2019 Off

AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT

New Zealand mosque shooter broadcast slaughter on Facebook

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — A white supremacist suspected in shootings at two mosques that killed 49 people during midday Friday prayers posted an anti-immigrant manifesto online and apparently used a helmet-mounted camera to broadcast live video of the slaughter on Facebook.

Brenton Harrison Tarrant appeared in court Saturday morning amid strict security and showed no emotion when the judge read him one murder charge. The judge said “it was reasonable to assume” more such charges would follow.

Two other armed suspects were taken into custody while police tried to determine what role, if any, they played in the cold-blooded attack that stunned New Zealand, a country so peaceful that police officers rarely carry guns.

It was by far the deadliest shooting in modern New Zealand history.

“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, noting that many of the victims could be migrants or refugees.

___

Mosque shooter a white nationalist seeking revenge

SYDNEY (AP) — The gunman behind at least one of the mosque shootings in New Zealand that left 49 people dead on Friday tried to make a few things clear in the manifesto he left behind: He is a 28-year-old Australian white nationalist who hates immigrants. He was angry about attacks in Europe that were perpetrated by Muslims. He wanted revenge, and he wanted to create fear.

He also, quite clearly, wanted attention.

Though he claimed not to covet fame, the gunman — who authorities identified as Brenton Harrison Tarrant — left behind a 74-page document posted on social media under his name in which he said he hoped to survive the attack to better spread his views in the media.

He also livestreamed to the world in graphic detail his assault on the worshippers at Christchurch’s Al Noor Mosque.

That rampage killed at least 41 people, while an attack on a second mosque in the city not long after killed several more. Police did not say whether the same person was responsible for both shootings. Tarrant appeared briefly in court on Saturday morning amid tight security and showed no emotion as the judge read the charge against him.

___

Trump issues first veto after rebuke of border order

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unbowed by a congressional rebuke, President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency on Friday in a demonstration that he is not through fighting for his signature campaign promise, which stands largely unfulfilled 18 months before voters decide whether to grant him another term.

Trump rejected an effort by Congress to block the emergency declaration he’d used to circumvent lawmakers as he tried to shake loose funds for his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The monthslong confrontation now moves to the courts, but not before marking a new era of divided government in Washington and Republicans’ increasing independence from the White House.

“Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution,” Trump said, “and I have the duty to veto it.”

A dozen defecting Republicans joined Senate Democrats in approving the joint resolution on Thursday as both parties strained to exert their power in new ways. It is unlikely that Congress will have the two-thirds majority required to override Trump’s veto, though House Democrats will try nonetheless on March 26.

Despite the reproach, Trump seized the opportunity to publicly rebuff Congress and show his commitment to the border wall. In embracing the opportunity to deploy the constitutional power of the veto for the first time, he treated the occasion with all the traditional pomp of a bill-signing.

___

Midwest flooding forces evacuations, closing of road, river

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Flooding in the central U.S. on Friday swamped small towns, forced some residents along waterways to evacuate, threatened to temporarily close a nuclear power plant and shut down stretches of a major river and an interstate highway, foreshadowing a difficult spring flooding season.

The high water, prompted by a massive late-winter storm, pushed some waterways to record levels in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. The flooding was the worst in nearly a decade in places, though the situation was expected to improve quickly in many places over the weekend, according to Mike Gillispie, National Weather Service hydrologist in Sioux Falls.

But in eastern Nebraska, flooding worsened Friday and remained a big concern in the lower Missouri River region — which is a major source for the Mississippi River — with the weather service issuing warnings of high water along the river and its tributaries from southeastern South Dakota to St. Louis in Missouri.

About 45 miles northwest of Omaha, the town of North Bend — home to nearly 1,200 along the banks of the Platte River — emergency workers used boats to evacuate residents. Also Friday afternoon, officials asked residents of Valley, home to nearly 1,900 people just west of Omaha, to evacuate. Within hours of that request, anyone left in the city found all access in and out cut off by floodwaters from the Elkhorn River.

Officials in eastern Nebraska said more than 2,600 people living along the Missouri, Platte and Elkhorn rivers there had been urged to evacuate, as waters breached levees in several rural spots.

___

After massacre, Trump downplays white nationalism threat

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump played down any threat posed by racist white nationalism on Friday after the gunman accused of the New Zealand mosque massacre called the president “a symbol of renewed white identity.”

Trump, whose own previous responses to the movement have drawn scrutiny, expressed sympathy for the victims who died at “places of worship turned into scenes of evil killing.” But he declined to join expressions of mounting concern about white nationalism, saying “I don’t, really” when asked whether he thought it was a rising threat around the world.

“I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess,” Trump said. “If you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet. But it’s certainly a terrible thing.”

Trump was asked about white nationalism and the shooting deaths of 49 people at mosques in Christchurch after he formally vetoed Congress’ resolution to block his declaration of a national emergency at the Mexico border. His veto, aimed at freeing money to build more miles of a border wall against illegal immigration, is expected to survive any congressional effort to overturn it.

Questioned about the accused gunman’s reference to him, Trump professed ignorance.

___

New Zealand shooter steeped attack in dark internet culture

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The suspected New Zealand shooter carefully modeled his attack for an internet age. He live-streamed the massacre, shouted out a popular meme slogan and published a long, rambling manifesto replete with inside jokes geared for those steeped in underground internet culture.

All that makes Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the man charged with murder for the attack Friday on mosques in Christchurch, the latest person to allegedly commit mass slaughter alongside a targeted appeal to online communities that breed extremism.

Prior to killing six people in Isla Vista, California, in 2014, Elliott Rodger posted an online video and circulated a lengthy document full of grievances. He was later found to have ties to a misogynistic online group known as “incels,” or “involuntary celibates,” who sometimes call for violence against women. Last year, Robert Bowers, the man charged with killing 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue, posted threats on Gab, a social media site popular with white supremacists.

Recruitment with and proliferation of extremist ideals is nothing new — in person or online. People who want to discuss such ideas are bound to find each other, said Daniel Byman, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute. But whereas small groups might have once met up in real life, now people can go online and find large groups to reinforce and encourage their ideas almost instantly.

People do things online that they might be hesitant to do in real life, Byman said. That can range from harmless acts, such as emailing someone you would be too intimidated to approach at a party, to sharing, building on and encouraging extremist views and violence.

___

Students globally protest warming, pleading for their future

WASHINGTON (AP) — Students across a warming globe pleaded for their lives, future and planet Friday, demanding tough action on climate change.

From the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, angry students in more than 100 countries walked out of classes to protest what they see as the failures by their governments.

Well more than 150,000 students and adults who were mobilized by word of mouth and social media protested in Europe, according to police estimates. But the initial turnout in the United States did not look quite as high.

“Borders, languages and religions do not separate us,” eight-year-old Havana Chapman-Edwards, who calls herself the tiny diplomat, told hundreds of protesters at the U.S. Capitol. “Today we are telling the truth and we do not take no for an answer.”

Thousands of New York City students protested at locations including Columbus Circle, City Hall, the American Museum of Natural History and a football field at the Bronx High School of Science. Police said 16 protesters were arrested on disorderly conduct charges for blocking traffic at the museum.

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O’Rourke apologizes for teen writings, rhetoric toward wife

FAIRFIELD, Iowa (AP) — Democratic presidential contender Beto O’Rourke on Friday acknowledged making mistakes as a teen and as a candidate, responding to criticism of his campaign rhetoric toward his wife as well as writings he produced online when he was young.

During a taping of the “Political Party Live” podcast in Cedar Rapids, he addressed criticism of his campaign-trail joke that his wife, Amy, has raised their three kids “sometimes with my help.” O’Rourke made the comment at multiple campaign stops during his first swing through Iowa, including earlier Friday, eliciting laughs each time, but he also drew criticism as being insensitive to the challenges faced by single parents raising children.

O’Rourke said the criticism of his “ham-handed” attempt to highlight his wife’s work in their marriage was “right on.”

“Not only will I not say that again, but I will be much more thoughtful in the ways that I talk about my marriage,” he said.

O’Rourke, 46, also said he was “mortified” when he reread the violent fiction he wrote as a teen, which received fresh attention Friday after a Reuters report outlined his involvement in a hacker group as a teen. O’Rourke wrote a handful of posts on the group’s message board under the name “Psychedelic Warlord,” including a fictional piece he penned when he was 15 about children getting run over by a car.

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Are eggs good or bad for you? New research rekindles debate

The latest U.S. research on eggs won’t go over easy for those who can’t eat breakfast without them.

Adults who ate about 1 1/2 eggs daily had a slightly higher risk of heart disease than those who ate no eggs. The study showed the more eggs, the greater the risk. The chances of dying early were also elevated.

The researchers say the culprit is cholesterol, found in egg yolks and other foods, including shellfish, dairy products and red meat. The study focused on eggs because they’re among the most commonly eaten cholesterol-rich foods. They can still be part of a healthy diet, but in smaller quantities than many Americans have gotten used to, the researchers say.

U.S. dietary guidelines that eased limits on cholesterol have helped eggs make a comeback.

The study has limitations and contradicts recent research, but is likely to rekindle the long-standing debate about eggs.

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Woods cards highest score ever at 17, makes cut at Players

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Tiger Woods paused on the ninth green and stared at a nearby leaderboard.

His name would have been on it if not for one hole.

Woods hit two balls in the water at the par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass — the first time he’s done that in 69 rounds at The Players Championship — and carded a quadruple-bogey 7 in the second round Friday. It was his worst score at the famed island green and matched his highest on any par 3 in 24 years on the PGA Tour.

Woods rebounded with two birdies on the front side, leading to a 1-under 71 and leaving him at 3-under 141 for the tournament.

He was nine shots behind co-leaders Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy, but felt he was still within range heading to the weekend.

The Associated Press

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By The Wall of Law March 16, 2019 Off

Trent Butt Convicted Of Murdering 5-Year-Old Daughter, Quinn

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A Newfoundland mother sobbed Friday after a jury convicted her estranged husband of first-degree murder in the death of their five-year-old daughter.

The jury returned Friday afternoon with the verdict against Trent Butt — it carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

It prompted cheers and sobs in the packed courtroom in provincial supreme court in St. John’s, N.L.

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A Newfoundland mother sobbed Friday after a jury convicted her estranged husband of first-degree murder in the death of their five-year-old daughter.The jury returned Friday afternoon with the verdict against Trent Butt — it carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.It prompted cheers and sobs in the packed courtroom in provincial supreme court in St. John's, N.L.His estranged wife, Andrea Gosse, tearfully hugged family members, friends and Crown lawyers, as others wiped away tears."It felt like it took forever, but we got justice for Quinn," Gosse said between sobs, a memorial pin over her heart showing her daughter's smiling face."I can't explain it, I have never felt this type of emotion in my life," she said. "But this is what he chose to do to our life."The Crown had argued that Butt killed Quinn in 2016 in a calculated plan to inflict suffering on Gosse.Surrounded by her family on the courthouse steps, Gosse said she hopes the verdict brings changes that could help the next child like her daughter.Gosse said the verdict may not mean closure for her right away, but she sees it as a new chapter to grieve and talk about her daughter's death, now that the emotional trial is over.Butt will be sentenced April 23. He had previously pleaded guilty to arson, having set his Carbonear, N.L., home on fire after the murder.Crown prosecutor Lloyd Strickland said the guilty verdict offers some relief in the tragic case, the disturbing details laid out over the course of the highly publicized trial."There's no happiness to be taken from any of this," Strickland said. "The verdict doesn't obviously take away the pain and it doesn't bring Quinn back, but I suppose there's satisfaction knowing this stage, the trial stage, is over."No one at the murder trial disputed that Butt killed their daughter Quinn at his home in April 2016, before attempting to take his own life. The jury was asked to decide whether the death was planned and deliberate, which would mean Butt was guilty of first-degree murder, or if he was guilty of a lesser charge.Butt testified at trial that he did not remember killing Quinn, but said he found himself over her body and concluded he must have suffocated her.The jury, which began deliberations Thursday, had asked Friday to hear Butt's testimony again, and to view a security video taken from his house.The video from the night in question showed Butt moving his truck and later putting something in it. Quinn's voice is heard on the tape after Butt moved the truck.In closing arguments on Thursday, the Crown pointed to the security video as evidence that the killing was premeditated. The Crown noted that Butt moved the truck before Quinn was killed, suggesting he had been planning to set fire to his home, presumably with Quinn inside.Butt left a suicide note in the truck saying he had killed Quinn and himself to keep her apart from her mother.The story has haunted the small province in the nearly three years since Quinn's death.The provincial RCMP issued a statement Friday expressing condolences to the family and commending the work of first responders who worked on the difficult case."The local volunteer firefighters who were among the first on scene, the paramedics, the health professionals at Carbonear General Hospital - you all were outstanding and provided professional and compassionate care during a very difficult and emotional time," the statement from Cpl. Peter Gosse read.After Friday's verdict, Butt faced the judge, a few feet away from Gosse and the crowd gathered behind him in the courtroom.Gosse said she had little left to say to Butt after the conviction."What else to say? Was it worth it?"Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

His estranged wife, Andrea Gosse, tearfully hugged family members, friends and Crown lawyers, as others wiped away tears.

“It felt like it took forever, but we got justice for Quinn,” Gosse said between sobs, a memorial pin over her heart showing her daughter’s smiling face.

“I can’t explain it, I have never felt this type of emotion in my life,” she said. “But this is what he chose to do to our life.”

The Crown had argued that Butt killed Quinn in 2016 in a calculated plan to inflict suffering on Gosse.

Surrounded by her family on the courthouse steps, Gosse said she hopes the verdict brings changes that could help the next child like her daughter.

Andrea Gosse (right) is hugged by a supporter as she leaves the courthouse on Friday.

Gosse said the verdict may not mean closure for her right away, but she sees it as a new chapter to grieve and talk about her daughter’s death, now that the emotional trial is over.

Butt will be sentenced April 23. He had previously pleaded guilty to arson, having set his Carbonear, N.L., home on fire after the murder.

Crown prosecutor Lloyd Strickland said the guilty verdict offers some relief in the tragic case, the disturbing details laid out over the course of the highly publicized trial.

“There’s no happiness to be taken from any of this,” Strickland said. “The verdict doesn’t obviously take away the pain and it doesn’t bring Quinn back, but I suppose there’s satisfaction knowing this stage, the trial stage, is over.”

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A Newfoundland mother sobbed Friday after a jury convicted her estranged husband of first-degree murder in the death of their five-year-old daughter.The jury returned Friday afternoon with the verdict against Trent Butt — it carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.It prompted cheers and sobs in the packed courtroom in provincial supreme court in St. John's, N.L.His estranged wife, Andrea Gosse, tearfully hugged family members, friends and Crown lawyers."It felt like it took forever, but we got justice for Quinn," Gosse said between sobs, a memorial pin over her heart showing her daughter's face."I can't explain it, I have never felt this type of emotion in my life," she said. "But this is what he chose to do to our life."Surrounded by her family on the courthouse steps, Gosse tearfully said she hopes the verdict brings changes that could help the next child like her daughter.Gosse said the verdict may not mean closure for her right away, but she sees it as a new chapter to grieve and talk about her daughter's death, now that the emotional trial is over.Butt will be sentenced April 23. He had previously pleaded guilty to arson.No one at the murder trial disputed that Butt killed their daughter Quinn at his Carbonear, N.L., home in April 2016, before setting the house ablaze.The jury was asked to decide whether the death was planned and deliberate, which would mean Butt was guilty of first-degree murder, or if he was guilty of a lesser charge.Butt testified at trial that he did not remember killing Quinn, but said he found himself over her body and concluded he must have suffocated her.Crown lawyer Lloyd Strickland said the killing was a calculated plan to inflict suffering on his estranged wife.The jury had asked Friday to hear Butt's testimony again, and to view a security video taken from his house.The video from the night in question showed Butt moving his truck and later putting something in it. Quinn's voice is heard on the tape after Butt moved the truck.In closing arguments on Thursday, the Crown pointed to the security video as evidence that the killing was premeditated. The Crown noted that Butt moved the truck before Quinn was killed, suggesting he had been planning to set fire to his home, presumably with Quinn inside.Butt left a suicide note in the truck saying he had killed Quinn and himself to keep her apart from her mother, Butt's estranged wife Andrea Gosse.After closing arguments and the judge's charge Thursday, jurors deliberated for about four hours before retiring for the evening.They returned to the courthouse at 9 a.m. local time on Friday and re-entered the courtroom to ask the judge their question a little over two hours later. They returned with a verdict by mid-afternoon.Butt's lawyer, Derek Hogan, had argued there was no way to know Butt's thought process on the night Quinn was killed.Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

No one at the murder trial disputed that Butt killed their daughter Quinn at his home in April 2016, before attempting to take his own life. The jury was asked to decide whether the death was planned and deliberate, which would mean Butt was guilty of first-degree murder, or if he was guilty of a lesser charge.

Butt testified at trial that he did not remember killing Quinn, but said he found himself over her body and concluded he must have suffocated her.

The jury, which began deliberations Thursday, had asked Friday to hear Butt’s testimony again, and to view a security video taken from his house.

The video from the night in question showed Butt moving his truck and later putting something in it. Quinn’s voice is heard on the tape after Butt moved the truck.

Trent Spencer Butt walks into the defendant's box at St. John's Supreme Court on Thursday.

In closing arguments on Thursday, the Crown pointed to the security video as evidence that the killing was premeditated. The Crown noted that Butt moved the truck before Quinn was killed, suggesting he had been planning to set fire to his home, presumably with Quinn inside.

Butt left a suicide note in the truck saying he had killed Quinn and himself to keep her apart from her mother.

The story has haunted the small province in the nearly three years since Quinn’s death.

The provincial RCMP issued a statement Friday expressing condolences to the family and commending the work of first responders who worked on the difficult case.

“The local volunteer firefighters who were among the first on scene, the paramedics, the health professionals at Carbonear General Hospital – you all were outstanding and provided professional and compassionate care during a very difficult and emotional time,” the statement from Cpl. Peter Gosse read.

After Friday’s verdict, Butt faced the judge, a few feet away from Gosse and the crowd gathered behind him in the courtroom.

Gosse said she had little left to say to Butt after the conviction.

“What else to say? Was it worth it?”

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By The Wall of Law March 16, 2019 Off

W.S. Merwin, prize-winning poet of nature, dies at 91

NEW YORK — W.S. Merwin, a prolific and versatile master of modern poetry who evolved through a wide range of styles as he celebrated nature, condemned war and industrialism and reached for the elusive past, died Friday. He was 91.

A Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate, Merwin completed more than 20 books, from early works inspired by myths and legends to angry protests against environmental destruction and the conflict in Vietnam to late meditations on age and time.

He wrote rhymes and blank verse, a brief report on the month of January and a book-length story in verse about colonialism and the birth of modern Hawaii. Like his hero, Henry David Thoreau, he was inspired equally by reverence for the planet and anger against injustice.

He died in his sleep at his home on the Hawaiian island of Maui, according to publisher Copper Canyon Press and the Merwin Conservancy, which the poet founded.

“He is an artist with a very clear spiritual profile, and intellectual and moral consistency, which encompasses both his work and his life,” fellow poet Edward Hirsch once said of him.

Merwin received virtually every honour a poet could ask for — more, it turned out, than he desired. In protest of the Vietnam War, he declined a Pulitzer in 1971 for “The Carrier of Ladders,” saying he was “too conscious of being an American to accept public congratulation with good grace, or to welcome it except as an occasion for expressing openly a shame which many Americans feel.”

William Stanley Merwin was born in New York City in 1927. He soon moved to Union City, New Jersey, living for years on a street now called “W.S. Merwin Way,” then to Scranton, Pennsylvania.

In a long, autobiographical poem, “Testimony,” he remembered his father as a weary, disappointed man, subsisting on “pinched salaries” and “travelling sick with some nameless illuminating ill.” His mother was orphaned early in life and grieved again when her baby, a boy she meant to name after her father, died “when he had scarcely wakened.”

In a household as grim as an abandoned parking lot, the way out was pointed by words, which seemed to float around Merwin like magic bubbles. He would try to memorize scripture he heard his father recite and fairy tales his mother told him. By age 13, he was already composing hymns.

He received a scholarship from Princeton University, becoming the first family member to attend college, and began meeting some of the great poets of the present and future. Galway Kinnell was a classmate at Princeton and John Berryman a teacher.

After graduating, he lived in Spain and tutored the son of Robert Graves. In London, he became friends with Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes and remained close through the collapse of their marriage and Plath’s suicide, in 1963. Merwin’s then-wife, Dido Merwin, would allege that Plath had a crush on him.

Merwin’s promise was obvious. His first collection, “A Mask for Janus,” was selected by W.H. Auden for the coveted Yale Series of Younger Poets competition and was published in 1952. Throughout the 1950s, he wrote poems and plays, including a verse production of “Rumpelstiltskin.”

Times spent in Boston with Robert Lowell convinced him to concentrate on poetry, and by the end of the decade, he was regarded as a highly talented artist immersed in Old English literature, his verse likened by The New York Times to “a broad river flowing through peaceful land.”

By the early 1960s, he was marching against nuclear weapons and throwing off the rules of grammar, inspired by his “growing sense that punctuation alluded to an assumed allegiance to the rational protocol of written language.”

Meanwhile, Vietnam and urbanization darkened his vision. “I/can hear the blood crawling over the plains,” he wrote in “The Child.” In “The Crust,” the downfall of a tree is a metaphor for the severing of civilization:

and with the tree

went all the lives in it

that slept in it ate in it

met in it believed in it

In the 1970s, he settled permanently in Hawaii and studied under the Zen Buddhist master Robert Aitken. Divorced years earlier from Dorothy Jeanne Ferry and from Dido Milroy, he married his third wife, Paula Schwartz, in a Buddhist ceremony in 1983. She died in 2017.

Merwin’s work became sparer, rooted in the Hawaiian landscape and his personal past — how it’s often forgotten, how it’s never understood at the moment it’s lived, how words themselves were imperfect bridges to lost time.

Hillel Italie, The Associated Press

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By The Wall of Law March 16, 2019 Off

031519-Dismembered_Teen

031519-Dismembered_Teen

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. — A Pennsylvania man should be put to death for killing and dismembering his girlfriend’s 14-year-old daughter as part of a rape-murder fantasy he and the teen’s mother shared, a prosecutor declared Friday as he described how the victim fought for her life.

Jacob Sullivan, 46, pleaded guilty to all charges last month in a case that raised questions about the child welfare system’s failure to protect Grace Packer, who spent years in an abusive home before she was raped, drugged, bound and gagged for hours and then, finally, strangled in the attic of a suburban Philadelphia home in 2016.

Prosecutors said Grace’s adoptive mother, Sara Packer, plotted the crime with Sullivan and watched him violate and kill her daughter. Sara Packer, a former foster parent and county adoptions supervisor, agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence and is scheduled to testify at the penalty phase of Sullivan’s trial, which opened Friday outside Philadelphia. It’s expected to last several days.

In his opening statement, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said he would be asking the jury to impose the death penalty for Sullivan’s “awful, unspeakable, heinous crimes.” Sullivan and Packer “decided together that Grace was not worth the air she breathed,” Weintraub said.

Sullivan’s lawyer, Jack Fagan, asked jurors to spare Sullivan’s life, saying he should get the same sentence as Sara Packer. Fagan said Packer was controlling and manipulative, hated Grace long before she met Sullivan online in 2013, and masterminded the rape and murder plot.

“Sara Packer was the driving factor in the intent, the planning and the execution of what happened to her daughter,” he said.

The defence plans to call Packer as a witness.

The jury that will decide Sullivan’s sentence must be unanimous to impose the death penalty; otherwise Sullivan will get life without parole. Even if he’s sentenced to death, it’s unclear whether the punishment would ever be carried out. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on capital punishment in 2015. Pennsylvania last carried out an execution in 1999.

Sara Packer and her husband at the time, David Packer, adopted Grace and her brother in 2007. The couple cared for dozens of foster children before David Packer was sent to prison for sexually assaulting Grace and a 15-year-old foster daughter at their Allentown home, about an hour outside Philadelphia.

Sara Packer lost her job as a Northampton County adoptions supervisor in 2010 and was barred from taking in any more foster children.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services launched an investigation after Grace Packer’s murder but its findings have not been made public.

On Friday, Weintraub said Grace’s short life was a series of terrible misfortunes, culminating in her agonizing death.

“What is the worst thing you can think of you can do to a child?” he asked the jury. “Because in this courtroom, we are going to check all of those boxes.”

Sullivan has admitted he punched and raped Grace, bound her hands and feet with zip ties and stuffed a ball gag in her mouth. Prosecutors said Sullivan and Packer also gave her what they intended to be a lethal dose of over-the-counter medication and left her to die in a sweltering attic.

Grace eventually managed to escape some of her bindings and spit the gag out, but was unable to make it out of the house before Sullivan and Packer returned the next day — some 12 hours later — and Sullivan strangled her.

The couple stored her body in cat litter for months, then hacked it up and dumped it in a remote area where hunters found it in October 2016, prosecutors said.

Abington Township Detective Cindy Pettinato, who investigated Grace Packer’s disappearance, testified Friday that Sara Packer seemed unconcerned her daughter was gone, quickly ridding the house of her daughter’s belongings.

Amy Adam, Grace’s guidance counsellor, said the teen got excellent grades but required emotional support. She said that a few months before Grace’s death, Sara Packer had threatened to send her to foster care or to a residential centre. That prompted Grace to write a “good-bye letter” to her family, Adam said.

The letter was displayed for the jury.

“I know that you guys are at your breaking point and I understand,” Grace wrote. “I love you guys I always have and I always will.”

@repost Fast Divorce

Via Filing for Custody

source https://canoe.com/news/crime/sicko-could-be-executed-for-teens-rape-murder-dismemberment

By The Wall of Law March 16, 2019 Off