NEWSSTAND

Mother of MS-13 Victim Killed at Daughter’s Memorial

The mother of a teenage girl who was killed by MS-13 died after being struck by an SUV at her daughter’s memorial on Friday. Evelyn Rodriguez, 50, organized the vigil to mark the anniversary of the day a motorist found her daughter’s body in the woods.

Rodriguez lost her daughter, Kayla Cuevas, to gang violence in 2016. The grieving mother had organized a small memorial event in her neighborhood last weekend, and someone drove up, got out of the car, and started popping balloons. Rodriguez and Manny Cuevas, Kayla’s father, tried to stop the woman from destroying a tribute to their late daughter. Instead, the driver got back behind the wheel of a Nissan Rogue and hit Rodriguez.

Why would someone kill Evelyn Rodriguez?

Rodriguez, 50, spoke out against MS-13 after losing her daughter to the gang in 2016. Just before a memorial service for her daughter, Rodriguez lost her own life to senseless violence.

According to local residents, the furious driver has been trying to sell a nearby property. She was unsuccessful; potential buyers repeatedly turned away after finding out about the horrors that happened in Brentwood. The driver stole photos of Kayla, popped balloons, and swiped candles from the memorial site. According to police, the suspect, “attempted to leave the scene and her vehicle struck Rodriguez.”

The Suffolk County Police department is investigating this case as a homicide. EMTs took Rodriguez to Southside hospital in Bay Shore after the accident. Despite attempts to save her, she was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

Terror from MS-13

Rodriguez came to national prominence after the tragic deaths of her daughter Kayla and Kayla’s best friend, Nisa Mickens. Two gang members beat the girls and killed them, following a string of murders in their Long Island neighborhood. President Donald Trump invited Rodriguez and other Angel Moms to attend the State of the Union address in January.

Two members of MS-13, Selvin Chavez and Enrique Portillo, allegedly killed Kayla and Nisa. Both men have MS-13 affiliations. While driving around the neighborhood looking for targets, they saw the two girls walking at night. After gang leaders authorized the hit, the Chavez and Portillo men pulled their vehicle alongside the girls. The two men jumped out of the car with machetes and baseball bats, and then beat the girls to death.

Local law enforcement is cracking down on gang activity after several years of violence. Governor Mario Cuomo calls “thugs” who are getting bolder. In the meantime, however, parents are afraid and looking for answers to the crime wave that is settling in the area—brought by a violent Latin American gang.

Suspect Accused of Defacing Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery

Police in Somerville, Massachusetts are investigating an alleged defacement of a WWII Veterans Memorial Cemetery. A local citizen, George Gatteny, saw a young man pull out a handful of American flags planted by a statue. Then, the suspect allegedly threw the flags on the ground and urinated on them. The male suspect was accompanied by a woman who may have been standing guard while he defaced the memorial.

Gatteny, horrified by the incident, posted about it on Facebook.

Disrespect to Our Veterans

The City of Somerville Department of Veterans Services condemned the vandalism. On its public Facebook page, a department representative wrote, “It breaks my heart and sickens me that someone would desecrate and defile such a hallowed and sacred place. This cemetery contains the remains of heroes killed in action from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and one hero how died in the Beirut bombing in 1982.”

The department also thanked Gatteny for speaking up about this dramatic, and frankly disgusting, action. The Somerville police took a witness statement from Gattney, and they are currently investigating the incident. In the meantime, Gatteny advised outraged neighbors to let the police handle this, and not take matters into their own hands. Neighbors are furious that someone would urinate on the American flag and use a veterans’ cemetery as a toilet.

Disrespect for veterans rarely rises to this level of disgust. However, veterans face other challenges every day.

What do you think about the status of veterans in America today?

Should America treat its veterans with more respect?

Officer Shoots, Kills Man in Apartment She Thought was Hers

A Dallas police officer returned home from her shift last night and shot a man she mistakenly believed to be inside her apartment. The officer, who has not yet been named publicly, entered the wrong apartment building. She drew her weapon and then shot a man in his home.

Dallas Police Shooting

The officer somehow entered the wrong apartment in her apartment building. That unit she entered belonged to 26 year old Botham Shem Jean. Thinking he was an intruder, the officer shot him. She immediately called dispatch for help. When officers and EMTs arrived, the shooter told them she had thought the apartment was hers.

EMTs took Botham Shem Jean to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His mother, heartbroken and devastated, told NBC News that her son “did no one any wrong.” Jean attended Harding University in Arkansas, where he participated in campus ministry. His mother expressed shock at how the officer could enter the apartment and not realize her mistake. She said, “Somebody has to be crazy not to realize that they walked into the wrong apartment. He’s a bachelor. Things are different inside.”

Community Reacts

The Dallas Police Department placed the officer on administrative leave. A spokesperson for the department says that they have placed the officer on administrative leave. Both the police department and the Dallas District Attorney’s office plan to investigate this incident.

This Dallas police shooting left neighbors terrified in their own homes. One told Dallas News, “This area appealed to me because it always seemed so safe, and so far it has been. But I won’t be leaving my door unlocked anymore, that’s for sure.”

 

Tom Frieden, Former CDC Director, Arrested for Sexual Misconduct

NYPD officers arrested Tom Frieden on Friday morning amid allegations that the former CDC Director groped a woman in New York late last year. The former health care leader will appear in court later today. Authorities have charged him with forcible touching, sex abuse, and harassment.

Frieden Accused

An unnamed woman has accused the former CDC director of grabbing her buttocks in Brooklyn Heights last year. The woman reported the incident to police last month. According to New York’s ABC affiliate station, the incident took place in Frieden’s home, and the two knew each other prior to the alleged groping. Authorities have not released details about their relationship, if one existed.

His Political Past

Frieden served as New York City Health Commissioner from 2002-2009. As commissioner, he cracked down on tobacco use and created a diabetes registry In 2009, the Obama administration tapped him to run the CDC. He oversaw the agency during the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2015. Frieden also managed the CDC’s effort to stop the Zika virus in 2016. He resigned from his post at the CDC on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration.

After resigning from the CDC, Frieden took a job at a global health nonprofit organization called Resolve to Save Lives.

Sessions OUT? Sen. Lindsey Graham Says So

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters this morning that President Trump may replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions. According to Graham, Trump may call for Sessions’ resignation after the midterm elections.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Graham called the change “very likely.” At the same time, he warned against firing Sessions before Election Day. Calling it “a nonstarter,” Graham noted that Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings take priority for Senate Republicans.

This afternoon, Trump said his appointee “never took control” at the Department of Justice. He added, “Clearly, Attorney General Sessions doesn’t have the confidence of the president.” Graham did not name potential replacements for the Attorney General spot, but he did note that “I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice.”

Sessions Speaks Out

Following Trump’s rebuke and Graham’s prediction, Sessions himself issued a blunt statement.

“While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

Sessions continued, “However, no nation has a more talented, more dedicated group of law enforcement investigators and prosecutors than the United States.”

In direct opposition to Trump’s remark, Sessions said, “I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in.”

He also claimed “unprecedented success at effectuating the President’s agenda.”

Public Criticism

Many Americans have grown frustrated with Sessions’ support for civil asset forfeiture and imminent domain. As attorney general, he has also neglected to reform the criminal justice system. Voters on both sides have long argued in favor of eliminating mandatory minimum sentences. Instead, Sessions insists on continuing drug war policies.

Trump and his most ardent supporters continue to criticize sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation. That controversial move paved the way for Robert Mueller to take over the investigation.

Should the Senate face another hotly contested confirmation hearing, political news will heat up right before the midterms.

 

Paul Manafort Found Guilty on 8 Charges

A jury in Alexandria, Virginia found former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort guilty on 8 charges. The jury failed to reach an agreement on 10 additional counts, leading the judge to declare a mistrial on those charges. The former lawyer and lobbyist faces a maximum of 80 years in prison.

Manafort and Crime

Manafort was found guilty of 5 counts of tax fraud, 2 counts of bank fraud, and 1 count of hiding a foreign bank account. In September, he will face a second round of charges in D.C. courts. At the upcoming trial, prosecutors will try to prove that Manafort lied to the F.B.I. and laundered money. Manafort could receive another 20-year prison sentence if found guilty.

He purchased $1.3 million worth of rugs, allegedly in a money laundering scheme. Additional luxury purchases, including a $15,000 ostrich jacket, caught the attention of investigators searching for shady dealings. Manafort bought the jacket during a $102,000 shopping spree. This alone is not illegal. However, a pattern of big-ticket purchases could signal an attempt to hide ill-gotten money.

Trump Reacts

After the jury convicted Manafort, President Trump spoke at a rally in West Virginia. He skipped over the news about Manafort and Michael Cohen. Instead, Trump talked about his biggest hits, including China, Nancy Pelosi, NFL protesters, and foreign trade. He called for a 25% tax on cars made in the European Union.

The next morning, Trump made kind remarks about his former campaign manager. On Twitter, he wrote, “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!”

Minutes later, Trump lamented that the jury failed to decide on 10 charges in the case. As President, Trump has the power to pardon any American citizen convicted of a crime. What do you think?

Should Donald Trump pardon Paul Manafort?

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If you feel strongly about this issue, we encourage you to start a petition today!

Body of Mollie Tibbetts Found in Iowa

Two sources have told Fox News that a body, believed to be missing Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, has been found dead in Iowa. Tibbetts, a psychology student at the University of Iowa, went missing in mid-July. Authorities released no details about where or how the body was found.

Tragic Disappearance

Mollie Tibbetts was last seen running alone near Brooklyn, Iowa, on the evening of July 18th. Her boyfriend of two years, Dalton Jack, describes Brooklyn as a small and very safe town. Jack received a Snapchat from Tibbetts later that night, which appeared to show her somewhere indoors. Tibbets was staying in Brooklyn to dog-sit while her boyfriend and his brother were traveling.

When Tibbetts did not show up for work at a child care center the next day, coworkers noticed she had not called out sick. They contacted Jack, who contacted her family. The family reported her missing hours later.

The search for Mollie captured headlines across the nation. People sent in more than 2,300 tips to law enforcement authorities. The police interviewed neighbors and narrowed their search to 5 locations around Brooklyn.

Grieving Family and Friends

Mollie’s father, Rob Tibbetts, suspects that Mollie may have gone to help a friend. He told Fox News, “It’s totally speculation on my part, but I think Mollie is with someone that she knows, that is in over their head.” He continued, “You can’t do anything there [in Brooklyn] without someone seeing it.”

Tibbetts’ mother, Laura Calderwood, believed that someone might have abducted her daughter. Authorities interviewed both Dalton Jack and his brother. They do not suspect either one of harming Tibbetts.

Authorities have not yet arrested anyone in connection with this case. The $400,000 reward for information about Tibbett’s location has now become a reward for information leading to the perpetrators. Police tried to use her FitBit and cell phone to find her location.

Vice President Mike Pence met with Tibbetts’ parents and offered his condolences. On August 15th, he tweeted, “I cannot imagine what the family of Mollie Tibbetts is going though…I just want her family to know that they’re on the hearts of every American.”

Law enforcement agencies will address the media at a press conference at 5:00 PM ET.

Trump Calls Mueller’s Team “Thugs,” Alleges Midterm Shenanigans

President Donald Trump lashed out at Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller in a series of tweets. He called his team of investigators “thugs” and accused them of causing drama that would tilt the midterm elections in the Democrats’ favor.

He began with:

“Disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller and his whole group of Angry Democrat Thugs spent over 30 hours with the White House Councel [sic], only with my approval, for purposes of transparency.”

“Anybody needing that much time when they know there is no Russian Collusion is just someone … looking for trouble,” he continued. “They are enjoying ruining people’s lives and REFUSE to look at the real corruption on the Democrat side – the lies, the firings, the deleted Emails and soooo much more! Mueller’s Angry Dems are looking to impact the election. They are a National Disgrace!”

The Investigation Continues

The tweets come in the wake of speculation by the New York Times. They reported White House Counsel Don McGahn was cooperating with investigators. He also agreed to answer extensive questions from the Mueller team. The NYT piece also got a mention from the President. Trump tweeted The Times piece was “implying that because White House Counsel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to [the Mueller team].”

Rudy Giuliani told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Trump had okayed McGahn’s participation. His team believes that fully cooperating would help bring the investigation to a close. Now, however, Giuliani says that decision may have been the wrong one, and that he will protect Trump from being “trapped into perjury,” even while telling the truth.

“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd replied that “truth is truth.” Giuliani disagreed, saying later on Twitter that he was referring to “the classic ‘he said, she said’ puzzle.”

“Sometimes,” continued Giuliani, “further inquiry can reveal the truth, other times it doesn’t.”

Steele “Afraid” of Being “Exposed,” According to DOJ Email

Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr wrote that Michael Steele felt “afraid they will be exposed” after President Trump fired James Comey. Ohr, a former Associate Deputy Attorney General, served as a major contact for Steele even after the F.B.I. stopped using him as a source.

In an email, he wrote that Steele felt “very concerned (abt) about [former FBI Director James] Comey’s firing” because he feared someone getting “exposed.” To this day, it remains unclear who was under threat of exposure and why.

Ohr and Steele

Bruce Ohr may have acted improperly while employed at the Department of Justice. After the F.B.I. stopped using Steele as a source, Ohr helped him keep in contact with several government officials. When Peter Strzok testified, we learned that the F.B.I. received documents from Ohr. The contents of those documents remain unclear.

In November 2016, the F.B.I. stopped using Christopher Steele to seek out and compile information. However, Steele still kept in contact with multiple government officials. Evidence suggests that Ohr served as the former British spy’s backchannel by facilitating his connection to government officials.

Weeks after the election, Ohr wrote that Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson gave him a USB drive. The two corresponded in the months leading up to the election. Previously, Simpson testified that they only communicated afterwards.

Ohr’s connections to the dossier run even deeper. His wife, Nellie, worked at Fusion GPS while the company worked on the project.

Political Ramifications

President Trump has repeatedly called the Russia investigation a “witch hunt.” In addition, he calls it a hoax. As for Ohr, the Department of Justice reassigned him to a different division. Despite his questionable behavior and personal ties to Fusion GPS, he remains employed in the federal government.

 

F.B.I.’s Strzok Fired, Starts GoFundMe Fundraiser

The F.B.I. fired Peter Strzok, its former head of counterintelligence, on Friday. Just afterwards, Strzok started a GoFundMe which has since raised nearly $400,000 as of the morning of August 15th.

Strzok’s attorney, Aitan Goelman, released a public statement Monday morning. In it, Goelman alleges that political motivations caused F.B.I. Deputy Director David Bowdich to fire Strzok. The attorney also claims that Bowdich to “overrule[d]” the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility with his decision to fire Strzok.

Strzok became a household name in late 2017, after texts between him and his lover, F.B.I. attorney Lisa Page, became public. In the texts, the two agents discuss stopping Trump and ensuring that Hillary Clinton wins the presidency. Strzok still claimed that the investigation was unbiased, but his personal motivations drew concern from the public.

Another Clinton Investigation?

The government revoked Strzok’s security clearance in June, but he remained employed at the F.B.I. until mid-August. President Trump publicly asked why the firing took so long.

Trump tweeted, “Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI – finally. The list of bad players in the FBI & DOJ gets longer & longer.” He went on to ask, “will [the Russia probe] be dropped? It is a total Hoax.”

Strzok had worked on the Trump-Russia collusion investigation before his anti-Trump texts made headlines. On Saturday, Trump called Strzok, Page, former FBI Director James Comey, and other former officials “clowns and losers.”

However, the ramifications of F.B.I. corruption are far worse than Twitter insults. Biases in the intelligence community have made many question the validity of the Clinton email investigation.

The F.B.I. now faces the challenge of recovering its reputation and restoring public trust. Trump knows all too well that the intelligence community will suffer for their actions. He tweeted, “many of the great men and women of the FBI have been hurt” by the conduct of Comey, Page, Strzok, and others.

Strzok’s Money Making Scheme

The disgraced F.B.I. operative wrote a long plea for money on GoFundMe, where he is raising money to assist with legal fees and lost income. He calls himself “a proud husband and father,” though his extramarital affair with Lisa Page suggests otherwise. The fundraiser spins the disgraced agent as a pillar of integrity who suffered politically motivated attacks.

Though he called Trump voters “ignorant hillbillies,” the agent insists his investigation was unbiased. On the GoFundMe page, he writes, “Pete’s personal views never once influenced his professional actions.”

Thousands of people believe him and want to assist with legal fees. The campaign has raised nearly $400,000, with a goal of half a million dollars.

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