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2022-10-18 11:31:06

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I watched a lot of TV in the 1970s, '80s and '90s. A LOT of TV.
I even co-wrote two books highlighting the shows and trends of those decades.

And I have to say, most of the shows that ate up my
time back then are best left to memory. For every awesome show
like Mystery Science Theater 3000, there were a lot more like Manimal. 

That's why I was wary of Netflix's reboot of
true-crime show Unsolved Mysteries, which I loved
back in the day. Sometimes fond TV memories are best left in the past,
you know? I for one did NOT need a Melrose Place remake
with Ashlee Simpson, not that anyone asked me. 

But I'm here to say the Unsolved Mysteries reboot sucked me in from the first minute.

While I hesitate to say it's better than the Robert Stack
original, it's that rare remake that uses all the improvements
made in television since its first run to evolve
into a fresh, modern and fascinating version of its old self.
The interviews are longer and more in-depth.
The re-enactments are judiciously used and aren't cheesy.
The cases are well-chosen and get plenty of time. If you found yourself sucked into
the podcast Serial, you've found your summer TV obsession.

The original Unsolved Mysteries ran from 1988-1999 on various networks, and was brought back
twice in the 2000s. Actors (including, once, a young Matthew McConaughey) reenacted cold
cases and urged viewers with any knowledge to help solve the mysteries.

The original version also threw in the occasional freaky UFO or ghost story, maybe just to remind you you weren't watching PBS.
As a kid, sitting in my parents' Minnesota farmhouse, I was fascinated.

The first six episodes of the current Unsolved Mysteries reboot became available July 1, with
six more to come. The new show is being overseen by executive producer Shawn Levy of Stranger Things fame,
in association with the original production company for Unsolved Mysteries,
Cosgrove-Meurer Productions. Producers Terry Dunn Meurer and
John Cosgrove, who created the show, are involved with
the new reboot, and their 1980s baby is in good

There's no host, and that's just fine -- the late, great
Robert Stack's powerful and unmistakable voice could never be imitated.
Instead, the show is presented like mini documentaries on each
case, focusing on only one case per episode, not three like the old show did.
That gives the creators plenty of time to dig in to
each cold case, and damn if they haven't found some mind-blowing ones.
(Some spoilers ahead.)

New batch of mysteries
In the first episode, a likable guy named Rey Rivera vanishes from his Baltimore-area home in 2006,
and is eventually found dead in an unused part of a local hotel.
But his injuries are odd, his cell phone is unbroken and it seems unlikely a suicidal jump could have landed him in the spot where his body was found.
Then there's the bizarre note found taped to his computer,
which his wife insists isn't a suicide note, though it certainly seems to show a
rambling thought process, and maybe a man not in his right mind.
And then there's his mysterious best friend and employer, who won't talk
to the police. All the ingredients for a tantalizing cold case.

2 Days. "Mystery on the Rooftop" is the story of a beloved Baltimore man, his suspicious death, and a family searching for
answers. What happened to Rey Rivera? #unsolvedmysteries #suspicious

— Unsolved Mysteries (@Unsolved) June 29, 2020

The other cases are consistently intriguing too. Hairdresser Patrice Endres disappeared from her salon in 2004,
and her body was found nearly two years later. Alonzo Brooks was last seen at a
party in rural Kansas, also in 2004, and his body was found nearby a month later.
Young mother Lena Chapin went missing in 2006, shortly after she implicated her own mom in the murder of the mom's ex-husband.
In Unsolved Mysteries, families are not always like the Waltons.

"No Ride Home" and completely alone, a young
Black man goes missing in rural Kansas. What happened to
Alonzo Brooks the night of April 3, 2004? The FBI recently announced a $100k reward for information leading to an arrest and
conviction of Alonzo's death. #unsolvedmysteries

— Unsolved Mysteries (@Unsolved) July 1, 2020

The show even goes international. For an episode that's
almost entirely in French with English subtitles, a
noble family is murdered, apparently by a father who won't fess up to money issues,
and seems to have either killed himself or gone on the lam.

"House of Terror" was how media outlets described the events uncovered at 55 Shuman Boulevard.
How could the home of a noble-French family turn so horrific?

#unsolvedmysteries #murdermystery

— Unsolved Mysteries (@Unsolved) July 4, 2020

Only episode 5 felt out of place. Like Unsolved Mysteries occasionally did in the old days, this episode wanders into the world of aliens and the paranormal, focusing on a
1969 UFO. It's the oldest case in the new batch, and
definitely the least consequential. I made myself watch
the entire episode to be fair to the show, but by the end, I
still didn't care about what may or may not have happened in Massachusetts 50
years ago. But I should expect more off-the-wall episodes -- executive producer Terry Dunn Meurer told Variety a ghost story
is among the upcoming shows.

"Berkshires UFO" made a quiet Massachusetts town question the existence of extraterrestrial life.

What events unfolded on that September night in 1969?
#unsolvedmysteries #ufos

— Unsolved Mysteries (@Unsolved) July 2, 2020

Social media detectives
One of the best things about the return of Unsolved Mysteries in this era of social media is the fact
that the investigation doesn't end when the episodes
do. Netflix has put materials relating to each case on a public
drive. The drive includes photos of the evidence, unseen video snippets, interviews and more.
Now you can look at that bizarre note Rey Rivera left taped to
his computer, or check out a closeup of Patrice Endres' missing wedding ring.
I'm hoping Netflix adds more to this, because even though there are numerous clips for each case, nothing I
saw there was earth-shattering -- guess if it was, they'd have included it in the episode.

And one of the best things about the new show is that if
a case sparks your interest, social media gives you an easy way
to dig deep and learn more, as well as keep up on any new discoveries.
There's long been a subreddit about Unsolved Mysteries, and the new episodes are being discussed in detail there now.
If Facebook is more your thing, there are numerous Facebook groups discussing the rebooted show and its individual
cases, as well as other unsolved mysteries from around the world.

Each case demands answers. You can help. Join the Netflix Unsolved Mysteries Facebook Groups to discuss the case and theories with fellow
armchair detectives: #UnsolvedMysteries

— Unsolved Mysteries (@Unsolved) July 3, 2020

Producer Terry Dunn Meurer told USA Today viewers started sending in tips on the various cases within 24 hours of Netflix premiering the new show, specifically about the
Brooks, Rivera and Chapin cases. Brooks' case was even reopened
by police in June, Dunn Meurer told Variety.
And Redditors have come up with a variety of theories about the  murdered French family,
a truly haunting episode that put me in mind of 1971's infamous family killer John List, who was eventually caught thanks
to another TV show, America's Most Wanted.

Kudos, too, to the show for paying homage to its past in a classy
way that doesn't feel like a desperate nostalgia grab.

A photo of longtime host Robert Stack, who died in 2003,
floats like a benevolent ghost through the opening credits, and the memorable and spine-chilling theme
music is updated but still recognizable.

Like many, I fell headlong down the Tiger King rabbit hole in April, when a quarantined world discovered Joe Exotic and his menagerie of
messed-up pals. And like Tiger King, Unsolved Mysteries instantly soared
to the top of Netflix's most-watched list upon release. 

Unsolved Mysteries is another perfect show for those of us spending most of our time at home due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Businesses in my region may still be closed, jobs and stocks may be uncertain, but leave it to Netflix to remind
us that somebody out there always has it worse -- with the added benefit that ordinary viewers might be able to turn detective
and help a grieving family get justice. 

I still don't know about that UFO episode, but E.T., if you're watching,
phone home and explain what your 1960s cousins were up to.

The remaining six Unsolved Mysteries episodes will premiere on Netflix later
in 2020.

2022-10-15 09:12:13

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Heading to Thor: Love and Thunder, aka Thor 4, tonight at the movies? According to Thor actor Chris Hemsworth, it's a
"wacky romantic comedy set in space." For the
less well-versed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,
it sounds like you don't really need to know
many specifics before going in.

Except maybe you should be primed with a different kind of knowledge.
Let's run through the basics -- particularly where Thor is
in the journey of life -- before addressing the best way to approach watching Love and Thunder.

What happened to Thor before Love and Thunder?

Let's go through the key takeaways from Marvel movies Thor
has made appearances in.

Marvel Studios

Thor (2011)

The movie that kicked off the adventures of Thor, the god
of thunder.

Key takeaways:

Astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and mentor Dr.
Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) find Thor when he's exiled on Earth

Thor leaves his new love Jane to defeat Loki on Asgard

Loki apparently dies after being rejected by his father and intentionally falling into an abyss

But psych! Loki appears in a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, where
he's interested in the Tesseract, aka a containment vessel for
the Space Stone

JAY MAIDMENT; Jay Maidment

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

In Thor 2, Jane travels to Asgard and meets the parents.

Key takeaways:

Thor's mother Frigga is fatally stabbed while protecting Jane from the ruler of
the Dark Elves

Loki is killed while helping Thor fight the Dark Elves

But psych again! Loki is alive and impersonating his adoptive
father Odin, the king of Asgard

Thor remains on Earth with Jane until the events of Avengers:
Age of Ultron (2015)


Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The first Thor movie directed by Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit,
Hunt for the Wilderpeople).

Key takeaways:

It's revealed that Jane and Thor have broken up

Odin dies of old age

Hela (Cate Blanchett), the god of death and Thor's sister, is
killed in the destruction of Asgard

Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) was one of the warriors sent by Odin to kill Hela, but
all her warrior companions died. Valkyrie is
now dealing with PTSD

Marvel Studios

Avengers: Infinity War (2019)

Thor briefly teams up with the Guardians of the Galaxy and commits his greatest

Key takeaways:

Loki is killed by Thanos (Josh Brolin)

The Asgardians, including Heimdall (Idris Elba), on Thor's ship are killed

Thor is rescued by the Guardians of the Galaxy

Thor creates battle-axe Stormbreaker using a blazing neutron star

Thor severely wounds Thanos, but not enough to
prevent him from using the Infinity Stones and deleting half the population of the universe

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

The movie that introduces us to "Dad Bod" Thor.

Key takeaways:

Thor finally takes his revenge on Thanos, decapitating him
when the Avengers locate him on an uninhabited planet

Five years pass and Thor is an alcoholic, drinking and playing
video games in New Asgard on Earth

After helping to restore the population of the universe, Thor appoints Valkyrie as the
new king of Asgard (she'd already been doing those duties)

Suffering a midlife crisis, Thor joins the Guardians.
"It's time for me to be who I am, rather than who I'm supposed to be."

And this is where we find Thor at the beginning of Thor:
Love and Thunder. His parents, brother and sister
dead, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery, the first time in a thousand
years he has no path.

Some advice on watching Thor: Love and Thunder
According to director Taika Waititi, Thor 4 is as if "10-year-olds told us what should be in a movie and we said yes to every single thing." He also said that, "If you wrote down all the elements of this film, it shouldn't make sense."

Basically, what's happening here, is that this section is an extra primer for what
to expect from Thor: Love and Thunder as a Film (capital "F").

The advice: Don't watch Thor: Ragnarok, the popular third Thor
movie, before the latest. Allow your expectations to be free from
the influence of great Films that came before.

Here's one more Waititi quote (via Empire) to prepare you:

"It's almost like it shouldn't be made. If you walked into a room and said, 'I want this and this and this.' Who's in it? These people. What are you going to call it? Love And Thunder. I mean, you'd never work again. Maybe I won't after this."

Related stories

'Thor: Love and Thunder' -- Here's When to
Expect the Marvel Flick on Disney Plus

Christian Bale's 'Thor: Love and Thunder' Villain Took Inspiration From the 'Exorcist' Theme Song

'Thor: Love and Thunder' Early Reactions -- Natalie Portman Steals the

2022-10-09 07:42:31

Chaos erupted outside the White House on Saturday following another night of Black
Lives Matter protests that saw police clash with demonstrators,
striking them with rubber bullets and detonating stun grenades,
as they moved to clear out crowds. 

Hundreds of protesters had gathered at Black Lives Matter Plaza to rally against police brutality and racial injustice, following another week of unrest triggered by the police
shooting of black man Jacob Blake in Wisconsin last Sunday. 

Members of the Metropolitan Police Department were out in force as demonstrators marched towards the White House chanting, 'No
cops, no KKK, no fascists'.

Shortly before midnight, tensions between protesters and law enforcement boiled over,
as police officers in riot gear began charging at protesters to move them out of
the area. 

Scroll down for video 

WASHINGTON, DC: Chaos erupted outside the White House
on Saturday after police officers in riot gear deployed tear gas canisters and fired rubber bullets at
protesters as it they moved to disperse crowds 

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Police charge at protesters to move them out of the area.

They've detonated at least 8 stun grenades so far and used
chemical irritant. You can see an officer shoving protester to the ground here:

Protests 2 blocks from White House.

Police continue charging at protesters, using what appears
to be tear gas, smoke + stun grenades.

Officers were seen deploying tear gas grenades, pepper spray and using flash bang devices to disperse crowds.  

Videos shared on social media showed protesters retaliating, with some throwing projectiles at
cops and playing loud music. 

In , one man was seen picking up a tear gas canister from the ground and hurling it
back at police.   

The confrontation then took a violent turn as cops began firing rubber bullets into
the crowd, injuring protesters as well as members of the press, according to one reporter. 

At one point, cops targeted a white BLM van on the street,
smashing its windows and arresting the passengers inside.

It is unclear why they were detained.  

The protest in Washington was just one of several across the country on Saturday as demonstrations against police brutality and racism continue three months
after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 

In Portland, Oregon, where violent protests have broken out every night since May 25, one man was shot dead
after a large caravan of Trump supporters and BLM protesters
clashed in the streets.

The man was pictured wearing a Patriot Prayer baseball cap, appearing to
show support for the far-right group which is frequently present
during Portland protests.  

Meanwhile in Kenosha, Wisconsn, the latest flash point for unrest following the
police shooting of Jacob Blake last Sunday, protests were relatively peaceful following a rally earlier in the day that saw thousands of
people march to the county courthouse to demand change. 

BREAKING: DC Cops just smashed the windows out on the BLM van and arrested
the occupants—right after clearing Black Lives Matter Plaza
with gas + rubber-coated steel bullets, leaving multiple protesters
serious injured

PORTLAND, OREGON: A man was shot and killed in Portland on Saturday night amid deadly clashes between Trump fans and BLM activists

PORTLAND, OREGON: Medics tried unsuccessfully to save the man,
who was shot on the corner of Southwest 3rd Avenue
and Alder Street.

He was reported to be wearing a Patriot Prayer baseball cap, showing allegiance to the far-right group

PORTLAND, OREGON: A Trump supporter caravan was organized on Facebook,
with 2,500 people intending to attend.

Around 1,000 showed up (pictured) 

Crowds took to the streets chanting, 'seven bullets, seven days' - a reference to the number of times Blake was shot - as they marched toward the court, where speakers encouraged protesters to vote for change in November,
and to push for legislation in Wisconsin that would lead to police reform.

But unlike last week's demonstrations in the city, most people on Saturday dispersed from the protest
before the 7pm curfew. 

More than an hour later, law enforcement officers, including some wearing U.S.

Marshals Service identification, surrounded about a dozen people who remained outside the courthouse and made several arrests. 

As night fell, National Guard troops and police officers in riot gear remained outside the fenced area surrounding several government buildings that have been at the center of the unrest over the past week. 

During the rally earlier, Blake's father, Jacob Blake Sr, called on protesters to
refrain from looting and vandalism, which had overshadowed peaceful protests
before a tense calm set in the past three nights. 

'Good people of this city understand.

If we tear it up we have nothing, Blake Sr said. 'Stop it.
Show 'em for one night we don't have to tear up nothing.' 

He gave an impassioned call for changing a system he described as fostering police brutality and
racial inequities.

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: Police arrested several people outside the Kenosha County
Courthouse on Saturday after following a day of largely peaceful protests

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: Law enforcement officers are seen standing guard as
several people were arrested after the start of a city-wide curfew outside of the Kenosha County Courthouse on Saturday

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: About 1,000 people joined a mile-long march in Kenosha on Saturday,
chanting 'Black Lives Matter' and 'No Justice, No Peace', a week after the police shooting of Jacob Blake 

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: Protesters marched with Blake's family towards
the courthouse where speakers encouraged the crowd to vote for change in November, and to push
for legislation in Wisconsin that would lead to police reform

'There were seven bullets put in my son's back...

Hell yeah, I'm mad,' said Blake Sr. 'What gave [police] the right
to attempted murder on my child? What gave them the right to think that my son was an animal? 

'What gave them the right to take something that was not theirs?

I'm tired of this,' he added.  

Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey and two other officers were responding
to a domestic dispute call last Sunday when Sheskey shot 29-year-old Blake in the back. 

Blake Sr told reporters on Saturday that his son is heavily sedated,
but he has regained consciousness.

'He's in a lot of pain,' he said.

'I just wish I could pick my baby up and make it all right.' 

He called for Sheskey to be charged and for the other two
officers at the scene to be fired.

Several of Saturday's speakers encouraged the crowd to vote for change in November, and to
push for changing legislation.

'Justice is a bare minimum,' Lt Governor Mandela Barnes said.

'Justice should be guaranteed to everybody in this country.'

Blake Sr asked those at the rally to raise their fists with him saying: 'We
are not going to stop going in the right direction. We're going to the
top ... we're gonna make legislation happen because that's the only thing that they recognize,' he said. 

'We all have a knee on the back of our necks, every day,' he added, referring to the death of George Floyd, who died on May
25 after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into
his neck.  

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: Jacob Blake Sr (pictured) gave an impassioned call for changing a system he said fostered police brutality.

He also called on protesters to refrain from looting and vandalism, which had
overshadowed peaceful protests

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: Police officers in riot gear patrol the area following
a rally in Kenosha.

Earlier this week, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers approved a request for an additional 500 National Guard troops to be deployed 

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: The commander of the National Guard said Friday that more
than 1,000 Guard members had been deployed to help keep the peace, with more on the way

One of Blake's sisters, Letetra Widman, said
she felt recharged 'to stand up not just for Jacob, but for all the people who have
not gotten justice.'

Captured on cellphone video, the shooting sparked new protests against racial injustice and police brutality months after Floyd's death touched off a wider reckoning on race.





Man 'in a Patriot Prayer hat' is shot dead in Portland...
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Tensions escalated on Tuesday night after two protesters were killed by an armed civilian who claimed to have been defending
the city. 

The commander of the National Guard said Friday that more than 1,000 Guard members had been deployed to help keep the peace, with more on the way. 

Following the rally, White House spokesman Judd Deere told reporters Saturday night President Trump will visit Kenosha on Tuesday to meet with law
enforcement and survey damage from recent demonstrations that
turned violent.

Trump, who toured hurricane-ravaged areas of Louisiana and Texas earlier Saturday, had told
reporters that he 'probably' would visit the city.

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: Protesters hold up placards at the Kenosha
rally on Saturday.

One protester had a sign reading: 'Why did Jake [Blake]
get shot in the back while Kyle [Rittenhouse] got a thank you?' 

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: Blake's shooting sparked new protests against racial injustice and police brutality months after Floyd's death touched off a wider reckoning on race

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: Family members of Jacob Blake march with supporters to the Kenosha County Courthouse 

KENOSHA, WISCONSIN: Protesters, many of whom wore t-shirts
expressing support for Black Lives Matter Movement,
gathered around as the family of Jacob Blake spoke out against his shooting

Asked to weigh in on Tuesday's shootings in which 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was charged,
Trump demurred and said 'it's under investigation' and that 'we are looking at it very,
very carefully.'

Aniyah Ervin, a 16-year-old from Kenosha who
is black, said Saturday that the week has been surreal. 

Although she protested against racial injustice over
the summer, she said there had been a feeling that police brutality was
not a problem in Kenosha.

But, she said, Blake's shooting 'shows it can happen anywhere.'

Will Turner, who is black, said he brought his two children from Madison for
the march to 'show them the power of peaceful protesting.'

Investigators have said little about what led to
Blake's shooting. 

The Kenosha police union said Blake had a knife and fought with
officers, putting one of them in a headlock as two efforts to stun him with a Taser were unsuccessful.

State investigators have said only that officers found a knife on the floor of the car.

In the cellphone video recorded by a bystander, Blake walks
from the sidewalk around the front of an SUV to his driver-side door
as officers follow him with their guns drawn and shout at him. 

As Blake opens the door and leans into the SUV, an officer grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire.

Three of Blake's children were in the vehicle.

The man who recorded the video, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he heard police yell
at Blake, 'Drop the knife! Drop the knife!' before gunfire
erupted. White said he didn't see a knife in Blake's hands.


2022-10-07 09:56:26

SANTIAGO, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Located at the tip of South America,
where the Pacific and Atlantic oceans meet, Cape Horn in Chile is the closest land mass to Antarctica and home to a unique
ecosystem that scientists say is a natural laboratory
to study climate change.

Ricardo Rozzi, director of the almost-completed Cape Horn International Center (CHIC), said the
area has at least 10 features - including the world's southernmost forest - which make the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve ideal to monitor plant
and animal life on a warming planet.

" in the north are coming south, but what happens to the ones here in the south? Do they vanish? Do they not vanish?" Rozzi said.

"That's the primary function of the center, to be a 'sentinel' for climate change."

Aside from researching the under-studied subantarctic region, Rozzi said the center will observe
plant and animal life, glacier retreat and give recommendations to the state for preservation and sustainable tourism.

Preserving the region is essential, scientists say, because its
pristine ecosystems give it a unique vantage point to measure global alterations that result from human action or presence.

"We can study the effects of global changes here, because there aren't any big changes yet," said Andres Mansilla, a
professor at Magallanes University and researcher at CHIC.

"So it's a great opportunity for us to use pristine ecosystems that haven't been interfered with, to see how climate change is affecting them."

The CHIC is 90% complete and will be inaugurated in November.

The research center spans 2,582 square meters, cost about
$16 million and will host a visitor and education center in addition to its research facilities.
(Reporting by Reuters TV Writing by Alexander Villegas Editing
by Matthew Lewis)


2022-09-29 07:09:10

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz's attorneys said on Wednesday
that they will not present the gunman's brain exam that supports
their statement that the mass murderer suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome.

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October to 17 counts of first-degree
murder for the school shooting in Florida - the trial is
only to decide whether the former Stoneman Douglas student is sentenced to death or life without parole. 

Attorney Casey Secor said he will not show jurors
Cruz's contentious 'quantitative electroencephalogram' or qEEG tests
conduct last year that are supposed to be useful to support the theory that the shooter's lifelong mental and emotional problems stem from
fetal alcohol syndrome. 

Cruz's attorneys say the condition is one factor that led
to his February 14, 2018, attack at Parkland's Marjory
Stoneman Douglas High School that left 14 students and three staff members dead. 

Secor told Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer that the test is unproven, but did
not elaborate further on the decision.

'We are not relying on those types of scans and comparisons,' Secor said.

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz's brain exam that is supposed to show the gunman suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome will not
be shown in court per his attorney's request 

 Cruz's attorney said the test was unproven and didn't give further
explanation. Meanwhile, the test are supposed to
support the theory that the gunman's syndrome is what led him to committing
the massacre

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas
Cruz (left) is pictured above with his defense attorney Casey Secor 

The qEEG analysis has been around for decades and has helped medical professionals diagnose brain ailments.

Doctors take the results of the patient tested and compare the results to brainwaves from a normal or 'neurotypical'

The test can't make a diagnosis, but it can support findings based
on the patient's history and behavior.

Cruz's prosecutors and other critics argue the tests
have never been proven to be valid and two exams on the same person can have widely different

That's what happened with Cruz.

Cruz is seen inside the school in February 2018 in an image released during the investigation. The building's interior has been left nearly intact
since the shooting: Bloodstains still smear the floor, and doors
and walls are riddled with bullet holes

Surveillance video shows Cruz inside the school in 2018.

Jurors were supposed to take a look at Cruz's brain exam
to see if fetal alcohol syndrome led him to committing the horrible

People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
after the shooting

Photos shown in court of Nikolas Cruz during his arrest shortly after the shooting when police arrested him
on the afternoon of the 2018 shooting

The defense will still have evidence about Cruz's troubled life and emotional and mental problems that
they can present to the seven-man, five-woman jury and 10 alternates.

Lead defense attorney Melisa McNeill and her team will try to persuade the jurors that the mitigating circumstances of
Cruz's life outweigh the aggravating factors prosecutors presented during their case,
which began July 18 and rested August 4. 

Attorney's have statements by his late birth mother that she abused alcohol
and cocaine during pregnancy.

They also have reports giving circumstantial evidence
of his mental illness. 

Cruz got kicked out of preschool for hurting other children. During his years in public school, he spent significant time at a center for students with emotional issues.

He also received years of mental health treatment.

Then there are his life circumstances. Cruz's adoptive father died
in front of him when he was 5, he was bullied by his younger brother and his brother's friends, he was allegedly abused sexually by
a 'trusted peer,' he cut himself and abused animals, and his
adoptive mother died less than four months before the shooting.

His youth will also be an issue - he was 19 when the shooting happened.

A vote for death must be unanimous or else Cruz gets life.

A juror also can vote for life out of mercy for

Judge Elizabeth Scherer will make the final decision on whether Cruz is sentenced
to life in prison or death 

The defense will be trying to overcome the horrendous evidence that
was laid out by the prosecution, capped by the jurors' August 4 visit to the three-story building that Cruz stalked
with his AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle for seven minutes, firing about 150 shots down halls and into classrooms. 

The jurors saw dried blood on floors and walls, bullet holes
in doors and windows and remnants of Valentine's Day balloons, flowers
and cards.

They also watched video of Cruz calmly ordering an Icee minutes after the shooting and, nine months later, attacking a jail guard.

Nikolas Cruz poses for a mugshot photo after being arrested February 14, 2017 in Parkland, Florida.

17 people were killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas
High School

Prosecutors also presented graphic surveillance videos of the massacre; gruesome crime scene and autopsy photos
from its aftermath; emotional testimony from teachers and students who witnessed
others die; and four days of tearful and angry statements from parents, spouses and other family members
about the victims and how their loved one's death affected their lives. 

Two of Cruz's public defenders in early August were seen in the court room wiping tears
while listening to the parents of the Parkland massacre
victims sob about how the gunman ruined their lives and stolen their children's. 

Assistant Public Defenders Tamara Curtis and Attorney Nawal Najet Bashiman were both
visibly upset during the victim impact statements.

Meanwhile, Cruz remained emotionless throughout the hearing.

The lawyers cried during the testimony of Luke Hoyer's mother Gina.

She said he was her 'miracle baby' and her 'Lukey Bear', who had
yelled down that Valentine's Day morning to thank her for the card and Skittles she'd placed in his bathroom.

The gifts stayed there for a year.

His father, Tom, said he never saw his son that morning, but yelled up
'Have a good day' as he hurried to work.

'That is the kind of exchange you have when you think you have
tomorrow,' he said.

The parents had been asked to speak as part of the sentencing phase
of Cruz's trial, where a jury will decide if he should be sentenced to
death or life in prison without parole. 

Attorney Nawal Najet Bashiman wipes away tears
while listening to parents tell of their grief in court.

The jury listening to those parents' victim impact statement
will decide whether to sentence Cruz to life in prison or death

A sign reading '1240 west facing window' and five bullet holes can be seen in a third floor window of
the building, which has remained sealed since the massacre
on February 14, 2018

Annika Dworet, her husband Mitch sitting somberly at her side, told
the jurors about their son Nick, who was 17 when he died.

A star swimmer, he had accepted a scholarship to the
University of Indianapolis and was training in hopes of competing for his
mother's native Sweden in the 2020 Olympics.

His younger brother, Alex, was wounded in the shooting.

'He was always inclusive of everyone. On his last evening with us, he spent time speaking to the younger
kids on the swim team, giving them some pointers.'

Now, she said, the family will always live 'with excruciating pain'.

'We have an empty bedroom in our house. There is an empty chair at our dining table.
Alex will never have a brother to talk or hang out with. 

Annika Dworet wipes away tears as her husband, Mitch, looks towards the defendant after
giving their witness impact statement during the penalty phase of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas
High School shooter Nikolas Cruz 

Theresa Robinovitz, the grandmother of one of the kids killed,  said that anger she feels 'has replaced
the pure joy of living each day'

2022-09-27 22:36:15

Sept 25 (Reuters) - Mohammad Rizwan scored a fluent 88
and Haris Rauf and Mohammed Nawaz took three wickets each as Pakistan edged
England by three runs in a rollercoaster finish
to the fourth Twenty20 in Karachi on Sunday
to square the seven-match series at 2-2.

In a topsy-turvy contest, Liam Dawson threatened to snatch victory from Pakistan when he took 24
runs over off Muhammad Hasnain in the 18th over, but the hosts held
their nerve with a gritty bowling display at the death.

Rauf (3-32) removed Dawson (34) and Olly Stone off successive deliveries in the penultimate over before Pakistan ran out Reece Topley to claim an unlikely win,
triggering euphoric scenes at the National Stadium.

Earlier, Rizwan lived up to his billing as the world's top-ranked T20 batsman, hitting nine fours
and a six in his 67-ball knock as he shared a 97-run stand for the opening wicket with captain Babar Azam and put his side on track
for a big total.

The Pakistan middle-order, however, faltered again with Shan Masood (21)
and Khushdil Shah (2) falling cheaply as England restricted
the hosts to 166-4 despite a late flurry from Asif Ali
(13 not out).

England got off to a horror start when they lost their
first three wickets in the first two overs - two of them going to Hasnain (2-40) - before the in-form pair of Ben Duckett and Harry Brook
set about to revive the chase.

Duckett perished for a well-struck 33, but Brook (34) and skipper Moeen Ali (29)
kept England in the hunt before Nawaz (3-35) and Mohammad Wasim (1-30) delivered a double blow to put
Pakistan in command.

The teams now head to Lahore for the fifth game
on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by
Hugh Lawson)

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2022-09-26 15:44:28

HOUSTON (AP) - A NASA researcher and Texas A&M University professor
pleaded guilty to charges related to hiding his ties to a university created by the Chinese government while accepting federal grant money.

Zhengdong Cheng pleaded guilty to two counts - violation of NASA
regulations and falsifying official documents - during a hearing in Houston federal court
on Thursday.

Cheng's conviction was part of a program called the China Initiative,
which was first started under the Trump administration. But in February, the Justice
Department abandoned the program after complaints it chilled academic collaboration and contributed to anti-Asian bias.

The department had also endured high-profile
setbacks in individual prosecutions, resulting in the dismissal of multiple criminal cases against academic researchers
in the last year. The Justice Department said it planned to impose a higher bar for such prosecutions.

Cheng had originally been charged with wire fraud, conspiracy and false
statements when he was arrested in August 2020.

But he pleaded guilty to the new charges as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sentenced Cheng to the time he had already served during his pretrial
incarceration - about 13 months.

Cheng also agreed to pay restitution of $86,876 and pay a
fine of $20,000.

Philip Hilder, Cheng's attorney said the professor was "relieved that this unfortunate chapter of his life is behind."

But Hilder was critical of the China Initiative program, saying while its original purpose was "to fight economic espionage ... that was not the case in his matter."

"The China Initiative ... has now been phased out as a Justice Department priority. The overall mission stays the same, to ferret out economic espionage, but the focus is to target wrongdoers by their deeds and not by their ethnicity," Hilder said.

Prosecutors accused Cheng, who was hired by Texas A&M in 2004,
of concealing his work in China even as his team of researchers received nearly $750,000 in grant money
for space research.

NASA is restricted from using funds for any collaboration or coordination with China, Chinese institutions or any Chinese-owned company.

But, prosecutors say, Cheng violated those restrictions by maintaining multiple undisclosed associations with
China, including serving as director of a soft matter
institute at a technology university in Guangdong, China,
that was established by China´s Ministry of Education.

"Texas A&M and the Texas A&M System take security very seriously, and we constantly are on the look-out for vulnerabilities, especially when national security is involved," John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M System, said
in a statement Friday.

"We will continue to work with our federal partners to keep our intellectual property secure and out of the hands of foreign governments who seek to do us harm."

Cheng was fired from Texas A&M shortly after his arrest.
Texas A&M is located about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Houston.

Hilder said Cheng loves academia but is evaluating his options on what he does next.

"He´s a proud, loyal United States citizen and he looks forward to getting back to being a productive member of our society," Hilder

In a tweet Friday, FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge James
Smith said his agency "prioritizes investigating threats to academia as part of our commitment to preventing intellectual property theft at U.S. research institutions and companies."

In February, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen told reporters he believed the initiative was prompted by genuine national
security concerns.

He said he did not believe investigators had targeted professors on the basis of ethnicity,
but he also said he had to be responsive to concerns he heard,
including from Asian American groups.


Follow Juan A.
Lozano on Twitter at website

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