Archive for March, 2019

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Suspect in Laos plot detained in Thailand; suspects plead not guilty in California
March 30, 2019

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A suspect whom police believe to be connected with the alleged plot by Hmong Americans to overthrow the government of Laos has been captured and detained in Thailand, police said yesterday.

The man was identified as Sha Wang Lee, 53. He was arrested on Monday while trying to cross the border into Laos in northern Thailand‘s Nan Province. Police said he was carrying an expired United States passport that showed his hometown as Fresno, California. He also had a military-training certificate signed by Vang Pao.

Royal Thai Police Captain Sitthinan Sithkamjorn told the Associated Press that the man was taken to the U.S. embassy in Bangkok.

Kathleen Boyle, an embassy spokeswoman, said she could not comment on the case because of privacy concerns.

Sittihinan said the man would be detained in Thailand for overstaying his visa if he was not deported to the U.S.

Also on Monday, Vang Pao and nine others accused in the plot pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges in U.S. district court in Sacramento, California. They are charged with violating the Neutrality Act, which makes it a crime to conspire to overthrow a foreign government that is on friendly terms with the United States, as well as conspiracy to kill, kidnap and maim, and conspiracy to export munitions without a license. They could face life in prison if convicted.

Vang Pao, 77, is a former general in the Royal Lao Army who led U.S.-backed Hmong forces against the communists in the Laotian Civil War, or “Secret War” that paralleled the Vietnam War. After the war, Vang Pao immigrated to the U.S.

Among the suspects is Harrison Jack, 60, a former California National Guard colonel and U.S. Army Ranger who ran covert operations during the Vietnam War. The others charged are all Hmong-American men, many of them prominent members of Hmong community in California’s Central Valley. They were Lo Cha Thao, 34; Youa True Vang, 60; Hue Vang, 39; Chong Yang Thao, 53; Seng Vue, 68; Chue Lo, 59; and Nhia Kao Vang, 48. An 11th suspect, Dang Vang, 48, was arrested last week and had already pleaded not guilty.

U.S. authorities arrested Vang Pao and nine others in a sting operation set up by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), in which the defendants met at a Thai restaurant in Sacramento with a man they believed was an arms dealer but was in fact an undercover ATF agent.

After leaving the restaurant, they examined a truckload of weapons that contained AK-47s, M-16 rifles, C-4 explosives, anti-tank rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and Claymore mines, according to the federal indictment.

Their plan was, authorities say, to ship the weapons to Thailand, where they would then be smuggled into Laos and used to blow up government buildings in the Laotian capital, Vientiane.

The court has refused to grant bail to any of the defendants, saying those pose too great a danger and flight risk.

About 1,000 Hmong people rallied on the Sacramento district courthouse steps, calling for the release of Vang Pao. Waving American flags, signs and posters of Vang Pao, among their chants was “Free Vang Pao! Freedom Now!”

Another rally by around 1,500 Hmong people was held on the steps the state capital in Sacramento, where demonstrators demanded that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speak about the case.

“We want Arnold to come out and say something!” protest leader Vanmong Xiong of Sacramento was quoted as saying by the Sacramento Bee. “Arnold has the power to talk to President Bush, and Bush should dismiss it [the case]!”

According to Xiong, about 8,500 Hmong refugees from the Secret War are still in Laos, on the run in the mountain jungles, fleeing from the persecution of the communist government that has ruled the country since 1975.

“Who paid for this?” he thundered. “The taxpayers of the U.S.! We pay Laos to murder our men, women and children in the jungle!”

Laotian Ambassador to the United States Phiane Philakone, was interviewed by the Sacramento Bee, saying there are no human rights violations against the Hmong in Laos, and he invited reporters to go see for themselves.

Simply referred to as The General by admirers in the Hmong community, Vang Pao is viewed as a folk hero by Hmong-Americans of his generation.

In Wisconsin, home to many Hmong war refugees, an elementary school was to be named after Vang Pao. On Monday in Madison, Wisconsin, the school board voted 7-0 to remove Vang Pao’s name from the school, which is under construction.

Board members apologized to the Hmong community, but said the move was needed to defuse dissension in the community, and that the time was not right to name a school after Vang Pao.

“We have to make sure that there’s not a lot of controversy surrounding a school that children will attend,” board president Arlene Silveira was quoted as saying by WISC-TV.

The board had approved the name unanimously earlier this year, but the name had sparked controversy even before Vang Pao’s arrest, with opponents cited allegations of Vang Pao’s involvement in drug trafficking and war crimes during the Secret War.

Now there is uncertainty about what to name the new school.

“I think it is painful, but there’s hope that the school board members are thinking about changing its policy and with that discussion we hope that the intention is to work with us again,” Hmong community leader Koua Vang, executive director of United Refugee Services, was quoted as saying by WISC-TV.

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Judge jails ‘monstrous’ London serial killer Stephen Port
March 30, 2019

Sunday, November 27, 2016

More than a year after he was first charged, a judge on Friday sentenced London serial killer Stephen Port to life imprisonment without parole for four murders and a host of poisoning and sexual offences, calling him “wicked and monstrous”. Port was convicted of the murders on Wednesday.

Chef Port, 41, was first charged on October 18 last year and made his first court appearance the following day. He initially faced four counts of murder and four of “administering a poison with intent to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm”. Two days later a provisional trial date was set in April but Port did not end up entering his pleas of not guilty until July 25.

The truth sounded like a lie, so I lied to make it sound like the truth

Delays were caused by post-charge investigations. By then Port was also facing the remaining charges; six more of administering a poison, seven of rape, and four of assault by penetration. These charges involved eight additional [alleged] victims. The poisoning charges were changed to “administering a substance with intent to stupefy / overpower to allow sexual activity” by the time of the trial.

The case revolved around allegations Port drugged, raped, and murdered men at his London flat. The prosecution told jurors Port’s modus operandi was to arrange to meet gay men via Grindr and other gay dating sites, then administer sometimes-lethal overdoses of recreational drug GHB.

Three of the deaths occurred in 2014. Anthony Patrick Walgate, 23, was found dead on June 19, 2014 in Cooke Street. Port lived in Cooke Street. The other three victims were found in the vicinity of St. Margaret’s Church on North Street. Gabriel Kovari, 22, was discovered dead on August 28, 2014. Daniel Whitworth, 21, was found dead the following month on September 20, 2014. Fourth victim Jack Taylor, 25, was found a year later on September 14, 2015.

The Metropolitan Police has referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) concerning what police called “potential vulnerabilities in [our response] to the four deaths.” Police only linked the deaths less than a week before Port’s arrest.

Detectives released security footage of Taylor’s movements, with an officer telling the press “the man captured on CCTV may well be the last person to talk to Jack.” Shortly after Port was charged police again appealed for anybody with knowledge of him “no matter how insignificant” to come forward in what local press called a “highly unusual” move.

The ten male jurors and two women were warned at the opening of the trial to face potentially graphic evidence in “a cool, dispassionate and analytical manner” by Jonathan Rees QC, prosecuting. He told the court Port satisfied his “appetite for penetrating drugged young men”. The case was tried before Mr Justice Openshaw, who sentenced Port on Friday, at the Old Bailey, a famous London courthouse. Port was represented by David Etherington QC.

CCTV of Port and Taylor at Barking Train Station featured in the trial. After exchanging Grindr messages the duo agreed a meet for September 13, 2014; the day prior to Taylor’s body being found. The meeting was set for 3:00 at the station; Port is seen walking to the scene while Taylor arrives in a taxi. By 7:20 Port had blocked Taylor’s Grindr account and later that day deleted his own account.

I just thought he was disgusting and vile. He thought it was fine. He thought it was funny.

A rubbish collector found Taylor’s body, propped up and with his clothing ridden up as if he had been dragged. A bottle and bag of drugs were on his body, as was a syringe.

Port contacted Walgate on website Sleepyboys. Walgate worked as a prostitute and had notified a friend of the planned night “in case I get killed”. Port left the corpse outside his flat before phoning 999. Initially he denied knowing Walgate but later told police Walgate took drugs voluntarily while alone in the flat. Port, who said he “panicked” after returning from work to find Walgate dying, was imprisoned for eight months and released on licence after three in 2015 for lying in the investigation.

The prosecution told jurors Walgate was too cautious to consume drugs and it must have been Port who slipped him GHB, which led to death. Port’s 999 call was played to jurors; he hangs up early after saying he has to go to his parked car and the operator calls back to ask further questions. In the call Port says the man has apparently collapsed, is possibly drunk, and is a stranger to him.

Port was to tell police he slapped the man’s face and heard a “gurgling noise” in response, but a statement from the first paramedic on-scene stated the body was already cold when help arrived. After being alerted to the death by the ambulance service police tracked down Port. Pathologist Olaf Biedrzycki testified at the trial that Walgate’s death was due to GHB overdose, his underwear was both inside out and back to front, his fly was down, and there were fourteen injuries to the body.

Port’s police statement was that he had also propped the man into a sitting position, which was how paramedics found him. He said after ending the call he went to sleep rather than waiting for the ambulance. Walgate’s top was raised suggesting dragging of the body, and there were drugs in a holdall beside the body. After the trial the BBC reported a nearby CCTV camera was not working.

The bodies of both Kovari and Whitworth were found in the same spot as each other in St Margaret’s churchyard, about 500m (1600 feet) from Port’s home, within a month of each other. Both were found by Barbara Denham who testified she walked her dog at least once a day through the area. Like Walgate, both men were found sitting. Like Walgate, a bottle of GHB was with Whitworth’s body. Both of their clothing had again ridden up suggesting dragging. Whitworth was on a blue sheet; Port’s semen was on the sheet, which had come from his flat.

Whitworth’s body bore an apparent suicide note in which he seemed to blame himself for Kovari’s death, saying he had injected Kovari with GHB. The note said he could not confess to police for fear of his family seeing him going to prison. The note said “please do not blame the guy I was with last night, we only had sex and then I left, he knows nothing of what I have done.”

Rees told jurors an expert in handwriting analysis had ruled out Whitworth as the author and found it to be written by Port in what Rees called a “wicked” bid to frame Whitworth. Rees also said Port’s DNA was on the bottle of drugs on Whitworth’s corpse. Police initially accepted the note as genuine and did not investigate further; no effort was made to find who “the guy I was with last night” might be. The note was written on paper traced to Port’s flat, and in a plastic sleeve also traced to the flat.

Rees said the man was Port, the two having met via Fitlads, and that “cruel and manipulative” Port deleted his Fitlads account shortly after the meet. Rees also said Kovari told friends he had found a flat in the Barking area of London five days before he was found dead, alleging this was Port’s flat. Port’s defence was Whitworth had dictated the note to him.

Whitworth’s boyfriend, Ricky Waumsley, told the court Whitworth’s behaviour was inconsistent with guilty or suicidal thoughts. Waumsley also testified Port had never to his knowledge taken recreational drugs aside from experimenting with cannabis during a holiday in Amsterdam.

Katie Impey, a friend of Whitworth, said the deceased’s mother committed suicide and thereafter Whitworth viewed taking one’s own life as “the most selfish thing anyone could ever do, and you should never do it, so I know he didn’t kill himself.” Impey also spoke of the final conversation she had with her friend in which he spoke of a new romantic interest called Gab. “He was really excited. He said ‘I’ve met someone, he’s really artsy, he’s really cute, I don’t know how I’m going to tell Ricky’.”

The trial featured five months of content from a Facebook account named Jon Luck. Port’s computer was used to access the account, and Port admitted he was the user. The account was used to exchange messages with Kovari’s boyfriend Thierry Amodio, with Port pretending to be a Californian student who knew Kovari.

Port, via the Jon Luck account, told Amodio he spent two days with Kovari and that Kovari attended a drugs-fueled orgy with a man named Dan. Amodio was seeking information on his partner’s death; Port wrote “I hope he wasn’t murdered or anything like that as that would be awful.” After Amodio assured him this was unlikely Port replied “Thanks god for that I would hate anyone who could hurt him”.

Around the time of Whitworth’s death Port informed Amodio he had discovered Dan and Kovari had attended a party where young men were raped whilst drugged. Posing as Luck he said he had “been expecting [police] to come to my door any second cuss of my DNA and my messages on [Kovari’s] phone.” When Amodio told Port he’d been visited by police probing Whitworth’s death Port replied “OMG your joking[…] please don’t let them arrest me.”

please do not blame the guy I was with last night, we only had sex and then I left, he knows nothing of what I have done

Port would also press Amodio for information on police investigations and suggested Dan had accidentally killed Kovari with an overdose and then “did same to himself” because he “could not live with the guilt”, an apparent reference to Daniel Whitworth’s death. Amodio tried to get “Jon Luck” to contact police but this was never successful. Port told a neighbour Kovari died of infection in Spain after travelling to join somebody Kovari had met online.

Kovari had in fact moved from Spain to London, having been living with his Spanish boyfriend Thierry Amodio. After initially failing to find a place to live Kovari met John Pape. Pape allowed Kovari to stay with him, which he did for several weeks before securing a rented room with Port in the Barking area of London. Turning down an offer to stay longer, Kovari moved in with Port on August 23, 2014.

The same day Kovari sent another friend a map showing Port’s Cooke St home as his new abode. The next day Port invited friend and neighbour Ryan Edwards to meet Kovari. On August 25 Kovari texted Edwards “Stephen is not a nice person”. The same day Kovari messaged the friend he sent the map to, saying “I’m fine.”

Pape texted Kovari on August 26, asking “Hey, hows it going in Barking?” There was no reply. A text from Edwards to Port the same day asked “How is Gabriel?” Port responded Kovari had already moved out to live with “some soldier guy he had been chatting to online” in the area. The body was found two days later. The corpse was clad in sunglasses and Kovari’s possessions were in two bags beside him.

The first alleged victim to give evidence, a nineteen-year-old student when he encountered Port, told jurors he met Port via Grindr and accepted a glass of wine at Port’s flat. After noticing a bitter taste and sludge at the bottom of the glass, the complainant said he felt ill and upon sipping a second drink containing vodka he “felt so dizzy. I was ricocheting off the walls. The room was tilting.”

The man told the court he fell asleep and awoke naked on his front with Port raping him, describing himself as “half asleep, half aware of what was happening” before passing out again. He said he left the flat after coming round in the morning, still feeling the effects. The witness claimed that while he was considering having sex with Port when he arrived he did not at any stage consent.

The next alleged victim to give evidence, also a student, told the court he met Port via Fitlads. The witness said they met at Port’s flat on several occasions. He said he declined alcohol because he was Muslim but on his fourth visit he accepted a glass of coke. He said swallowing it caused an instant burning sensation like acid, but Port pled ignorance and they met a fifth time. On that occasion Port gave the man what he said was ‘poppers’, and a massage, according to the witness.

The witness said he fell asleep and on waking was given a glass of what Port claimed was water, which instantly knocked him out. “The next thing I remember I was on the floor screaming and shouting. It was like I was going mad.” The witness claimed he was naked and confused, not even recalling his own name.

Port drove the man to nearby Barking Rail Station. The victim was “screaming and shouting” and described Port “kind of dragging me along and holding me up.” Police and ambulance attended, with British Transport Police Constable Alesha Owers testifying Port seemed “worried and jittery” and accepted he had taken meth. Port claimed the man had turned up at his door and Port was helping him get home.

The witness did not give a statement to police, telling the trial he did not want his family to discover the encounters and simply wished to be home. He says on arriving he telephoned Port. “I was shouting at him: ‘What did you give me? What the hell did you give me, because it certainly wasn’t poppers?'[…] I got the impression it was a normal thing what happened to me.”

The witness added he had one final meeting with Port at the accused’s flat. Port, he claimed, apologised to him but still did not say what substance was involved.

He said, ‘I’m going to sit down here for a bit, I’m feeling tired.’

A transgender man in his early twenties told the court he met Port via Facebook and they met for sex because the witness was angry his boyfriend had cheated on him. The man said after consensual sex and drinking he passed out and Port filmed himself raping the complainant.

The witness claimed Port showed off the video the following morning: “I just thought he was disgusting and vile. He thought it was fine. He thought it was funny.” The witness told the court he “felt angry because you don’t carry on having sex with someone when they pass out. I said, ‘you’re disgusting.'”

Another man, now 24, told the court he met Port via Gaydar when he was 16 and grew close to Port as the man had few friends. He said Port pressured him into taking mephedrone and he passed out, wakening to find himself on his back with his legs over Port’s shoulders and Port raping him. He said he returned a week later, at which time Port again gave him mephedrone and raped him, as well as non-consensually injecting drugs into him. He told the court Port was “god in his flat”, someone “you did not argue with”. He told the Old Bailey “I didn’t feel like I was being treated like a person.”

The court was played six homemade sex tapes from Port’s phone, with police and prosecutors alleging they showed Port raping an unconscious 24-year-old man. The six were amongst over 80 sex tapes in total Port had made involving himself. The alleged victim testified that while he and Port had consensual sex and sniffed poppers after meeting via Manhunt he did not consent to any activity in the videos.

At least three other men can be seen or heard in the videos. Port sniffs a bottle in one video and tells an unidentified man “you fuck him”. In another an unidentified voice says “I’ll leave you guys to carry on, I have got work in the morning.” Port then says to a second man “Shall we do more stuff?” “Yeah babe” comes the reply.

Two of the rape charges are sample counts relating to the videos. Sample counts are a method by which prosecutors can try multiple similar crimes based on a single count. Port routinely browsed the Internet for rape-themed pornography.

Stephen Port’s own sister, Sharon Port, was a prosecution witness. She spoke of a conversation with her brother — who smiled when she entered court to testify against him — the day before Slovakian national Kovari’s body was found. Speaking quietly, she said she had rung him and found him “very distressed”; he said there was a corpse in his flat.

Sharon Port testified that the conversation left her with the understanding the pair had been doing drugs together and Kovari expired. She said she urged Stephen Port to alert the police; the following day, she drove from her Essex home to visit him after he became unresponsive to messages. She described her brother as quiet, and saying he had been released on police bail to return in a month or two.

You try to manipulate the evidence to fit the facts as you know them to be and you have done this throughout this case

Kovari’s body was found that day. Sharon Port said Stephen didn’t mention the incident again at the time.

After Rees finished, defence lawyer Etherington questioned her further. During this she added that in March 2015, when he was imprisoned for lies to police after the first death, Stephen told her that the conversation had not referred to a body at all. Instead, he was talking about another man altogether.

Two former partners of Port testified early in the trial. Both said the accused wore a wig to help him feel confident about his appearance, and one further said both would watch ‘twink’ porn together. In the gay community, slender young men are sometimes referred to as twinks. The man also testified Port “never tried any sexual acts I wasn’t happy with.” The court also heard Port was a prostitute and sometimes wore the wig to meet men. Port was said to have called Kovari his “new Slovakian twink flatmate” who was “quite cute, tall and skinny” to friends.

Port’s sister, during her evidence, spoke of a bullied, quiet schoolboy who revealed his sexuality at 26. She said their mother did not approve. She also testified she was wholly unaware of Port’s drug use until the August 2014 phone call and even after did not know which substances were involved.

Port gave evidence in his own defence. Starting on October 27 he spoke of his version of the deaths. He started with the death of Walgate, confirming he offered the student £800 to spend the night with him. Port claimed Walgate visited the bathroom during sex, returning “high and very rampant.” Port testified he was unaware what Walgate had taken but spoke of his own experiences with GHB, which he said “could knock you out” before reawakening aroused. Port said he used it to have “hyper high” sex and in one relationship it was normal for him to have sex with his partner while the latter was unconscious through GHB use.

Port claimed Walgate became unwell and slept at the flat; Port went to work that morning and returned to find the deceased still there and woke that night to discover the “very rigid” body. Port said he “just panicked” when he carried Walgate’s corpse outside to call an ambulance, lying about the circumstances because he was “in shock”.

The next day Port confirmed Kovari shared his flat and said the pair went to a party to take drugs and have sex. He said his “friend” Kovari left early with ‘Dan’.

Port testified he realised weeks later Dan was Daniel Whitworth, whom he had met online. He spoke of Kovari and Whitworth having sex at the party with several onlookers but said he would not be able to find where the party was held and did not know who lived there. He said Kovari and Whitworth went to his flat “to get a bit more privacy”.

Rees asserted Port was “caught out” in a lie. The prosecution claimed Whitworth could be placed in a pub elsewhere when the alleged party happened and Rees said Port’s account amounted to the pair getting “coy and bashful” after public sex. Rees asked Port to explain Whitworth’s presence “in two places at once”. “I’ve no idea. I just know it was as I remember it,” said Port.

Port said Whitworth later recounted to him a story in which Whitworth and Kovari had sex at St Margaret’s. After both passed out, Whitworth claimed he was unable to rouse Kovari and could not revive him.

“He said he panicked. He was going to call an ambulance but did not know what to do, so he left him.” Port said he reassured a worried and guilt-ridden Whitworth and urged him to go to police. Port and Whitworth had sex with drugs at Whitworth’s suggestion, Port said, before Whitworth dictated the suicide note.

“I thought it was just the [drugs] talking and he was just getting his emotions out of his system,” Port told jurors. “I didn’t believe he was actually going to do it. I would have stopped him. I would have done anything to prevent him doing it.” Port said he added the line reading “please do not blame the guy I was with last night.”

one of the most dangerous individuals I’ve encountered

Rees accused Port of manipulating evidence, saying he left a hoodie belonging to Kovari on Whitworth’s body alongside a bottle of GHB. Port countered he only agreed to write the suicide note because Whitworth promised sex in exchange for it. Port testified they did not in fact have sex because Whitworth gave him a drink laced with GHB, causing Port to fall unconscious.

“You are not suggesting he may have drugged you Mr Port?” asked Rees. “You are not suggesting he may have taken advantage of you whilst you were drugged?” Port confirmed this was possible, leading to Rees asking “Why did you raise the suggestion this young man may have raped or sexually assaulted you? Against this dead boy?” Port answered “I wouldn’t have minded if he did.”

“Come on, Mr Port!” Rees retaliated. “That’s not true, is it? You ‘top’ other people, they don’t top you. So you would have minded if he raped you whilst you were unconscious.” Port’s response was “It’s just a shame we didn’t get to do more together.” Rees later said “You just cannot bring yourself to accept the truth of what is going here. To the families. Lie after lie, that’s what’s being played out here in this court.”

He also recounted his time with Taylor. The pair met on Grindr and Port testified Taylor accepted a suggestion to get “mega high”, before the two left for “fresh air” and had “rampant” sex at St Margaret’s. Port described this in detail: “I realised our height difference was quite significant[…] It was a bit of a struggle at first, I had to hold him around the chest. Then we just had sex like that for two hours.”

Port testified he suggested going back to the flat; “He said, ‘I’m going to sit down here for a bit, I’m feeling tired.'” Port said he left around 2:30 in the morning and never saw Taylor again but he was “very much alive” at this point. He testified he left as he had a new job to go to the next day and did not expect anything further as Taylor “was not happy being gay.”

Port spoke of his previous accounts to police, especially his denials of knowing Taylor and Kovari while being uncertain if he knew Whitworth. He said “The truth sounded like a lie, so I lied to make it sound like the truth.” Under cross-examination from Rees, he also admitted his version was hard to accept and appeared as if he was a “determined liar to save your own skin”.

“The essence of it is, you like playing God and manipulating and controlling young men”, Rees told him in front of jurors. “The key to this case is you like penetrating young men who are unconscious. That is at the heart of this case, isn’t it? You try to manipulate the evidence to fit the facts as you know them to be and you have done this throughout this case.”

Rees asked “Do you agree it is never too late to tell the truth? Do you agree it would be a good thing for the families of the four dead men to learn the truth about what happened to them?” Port responded “of course.” After agreeing all four deceased met similar deaths shortly after being in his company, Port was asked “I know it’s very late in the day, Mr Port, would you care to change any part of your account you have given to the jury?” “No,” he replied.

The jury began deliberations on Monday last week, deliberating for over 28 hours. They faced a question of intent. The prosecution had to prove intent to cause very serious harm for a murder conviction. The prosecution case was Port administered GHB in a bid to cause comas, and Walgate’s death at least was likely unexpected. The jury had to decide if a coma met the test; if not, they could convict on alternative charges of manslaughter. The jury unanimously convicted Port of three murders, and by an 11–1 majority of Walgate’s murder.

Port was simultaneously convicted of most other charges and on Wednesday Mr Justice Openshaw informed jurors a 10–2 verdict would be acceptable for the remaining counts. Port was ultimately convicted of all charges against six surviving victims. He was also convicted of offences against a seventh but acquitted of raping him. The jury acquitted him of two rapes relating to an eighth man.

During Port’s trial one of his drug dealers, Peter Hirons, 48, separately pleaded guilty at Snaresbrook Crown Court to supplying ?MDMA, crystal meth, mephedrone, brephedrone, chloromsthcathinone, and GBL, the last being metabolised into GHB when ingested. He also admitted possessing £6,060 of drug-dealing proceeds. He was jailed for two and a half years. Gerald Matovu appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, charged with supplying Port with mephedrone and GHB.

If four young well-off women had been murdered in Mayfair, I believe the police would have made a public appeal much sooner and mounted a far more comprehensive investigation

Lead investigator DCI Tim Duffield called Port “one of the most dangerous individuals I’ve encountered”. Victims’ relatives clapped, cheered, and yelled as Port was sentenced.

Police were criticised early in the case after the LGBT website Pink News revealed a friend of Kovari had contacted them after the death. Pink News in turn contacted the Metropolitan Police but received assurances police did not view the death as suspicious. The revelations coincided with the police appeal following Port’s initial charges. “This appeal should have been made in June and August last year after the first two killings”, said human rights activist Peter Tatchell at the time. “If the police had done that, the killer may have been caught and some of these men might still be alive.”

Following murder convictions it was revealed Taylor’s family triggered the homicide investigation themselves after pressuring police. Taylor’s relatives have indicated they intend to sue the police. The IPCC probe is examining possible failings by seventeen officers. In July the IPCC appealed for anybody who raised concerns with police prior to the launch of the murder investigation to contact them, and revealed they had met with London’s LGBT community.

On Wednesday the IPCC reiterated its call for witnesses, revealing seven Metropolitan Police officers had been informed they faced gross misconduct probes and ten more faced less-serious misconduct probes. Officers under investigation rank from constable to inspector. British Transport Police are not under investigation.

IPCC Commissioner Cindy Butts said “It is important we establish whether the police response to the deaths of all four men was thorough and appropriate in the circumstances, including whether discrimination played any part in actions and decisions[…] our investigators are continuing to work hard to scrutinise the police response to the tragic deaths of these four young men.”

Tatchell accused police of “class, gender and sexuality bias” and called the verdict “no compensation for the loss of four young gay men who had their lives, hopes and dreams cut short.” “If four young well-off women had been murdered in Mayfair, I believe the police would have made a public appeal much sooner and mounted a far more comprehensive investigation”, he said on Wednesday. Tatchell said police could have prevented some murders; Taylor’s family agreed. “We do believe Jack would still be here if they had done their job” they said. “The police should be held accountable for Jack’s death. We do understand it’s not them who took Jack’s life, but Stephen Port would have been stopped.”

“This has been an incredibly detailed and wide-ranging inquiry with detectives not only investigating these crimes but providing full support to all the families and victims” said Stuart Cundy, a Metropolitan Police Commander. “Throughout this case we have worked very closely with the LGBT community” he added. Cundy claimed none of the surviving victims had been in touch with police prior to Port facing murder charges.

A Metropolitan Police statement said the force takes “Offences against members of the LGBT community[…] extremely seriously.” The force said it had 900 hate crimes investigators in addition to 150 specialist LGBT officers.

Cundy however acknowledged “potential missed opportunities” to catch Port. He said he has written to the deceaseds’ families, apologising. “I have offered to meet them if they would like to do so, both now and at the conclusion of the IPCC investigation.” He said police were co-operating with the IPCC probe.

When Port was arrested for perverting the course of justice police seized his laptop, but did not examine it. Detectives took advice from homicide specialists but a murder investigation was not launched and Port was released on bail while the Crown Prosecution Service considered charging him. Port murdered Kovari and Whitworth while on bail.

Port’s laptop, when eventually examined, showed Port first looked at Walgate’s escorting ad on June 13, 2014. On the same day he also sought out gay rape pornography. Searches included “sleeping boy”, “unconscious boys”, “drugged and raped”, “taking date rape drug”, “gay teen knocked out raped” and “guy raped and tortured young nude boy”. Friends of Walgate pressed police to examine the laptop, with one alleging police told her it was too expensive.

We can’t rule out the fact there may be other victims out there who suffered at Port’s hands and have yet to come forward

Amodio emailed a detective about the Jon Luck communications. Over several exchanges the detective asked Amodio to get Luck to contact him, but police did not take it upon themselves to trace Luck. Had they done so they would have found Port. Amodio also linked the deaths of Kovari and Whitworth to the earlier death of Walgate, but the detective told him the first death was “nothing about Gabriel or Daniel.”

Whitworth’s death also caused his friends to press police for further action, but police again did not treat the death as suspicious despite seeking advice from homicide specialists. Port’s DNA was on the blanket with Whitworth’s body; police already had his DNA from arresting Port during the Walgate investigation. Police did not trace his movements or investigate the man referred to in the apparent suicide note.

DCI Tony Kirk said to press the two deaths were “unusual and slightly confusing” but not murders. A pathologist found Whitworth had “bruising below both arms in the armpit regions which is unlikely to have been caused accidentally and may have resulted from manual handling of the deceased, most likely prior to death.” At inquest coroner Nadia Persaud recorded open verdicts and advised police to perform additional forensic tests, but this was not done.

Port was finally caught after Taylor’s murder when the victim’s older sisters linked his death to the other three. While pressing police to take action, they learned of CCTV showing Taylor and an unidentified person. Taylor’s sisters convinced police to release the footage in a bid to trace the man; when this was done, another officer recognised Port from the footage. He was arrested and the case became a murder probe.

Police are re-examining a further 58 fatal GHB overdoses from June 2011 to October 2015. “We can’t rule out the fact there may be other victims out there who suffered at Port’s hands and have yet to come forward,” Cundy said. “We would appeal for them to contact us as soon as possible.”

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Bowler Brett Lee to miss first Ashes Test
March 28, 2019

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Australia’s cricketer Brett Lee is out of the first Ashes test match – which starts on July 8 in Cardiff – with a torn muscle in his left side. He is also doubtful to play the second Test at Lord’s, which begins on July 16. It will be at least two weeks before he can start training in the nets again.

“I am very very disappointed and gutted that I will not be there for the first Test match but I will find a way to bounce back,” said Lee. “I still see myself hopefully playing a major role for Australia through the end part of the series, whether that’s the second, third, fourth or fifth Test match depending on how things go.”

The fast bowler complained about soreness in his left side after playing the England Lions at Worcester. Scans on Monday revealed he has a tear to his rib muscle. Other reports have described the injury as a strained abdominal muscle.

Kevin Pietersen commented on Lee’s absence saying it was “a huge, huge, huge loss” for Australia.

Australia now have to choose which player to pick as a replacement for Lee. Two likely options are spinner Nathan Hauritz or pace bowler Ben Hilfenhuas.

England will start their campaign on Wednesday to attempt to regain the ashes after Australia completed a 5-0 whitewash last time.

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Rower Tuijn halfway across Pacific in record attempt

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Rower Tuijn halfway across Pacific in record attempt
March 28, 2019

Monday, July 9, 2007

Dutch adventurer Ralph Tuijn has reached the halfway point of his attempt to be the first person to row across the Pacific Ocean unaided.

The 16,000 kilometre journey from the coast of Peru to the seaside city of Brisbane, Australia, the widest section of the Pacific, has never been crossed absolutely unaided by a rower, and Tuijn says just nine people have rowed it even with assistance.

Tuijn reached the central point of his crossing, an insignificant point of water in the ocean, 111 days after setting off from Peru in March. He has been making good progress, and has since cut his estimated time of arrival in Brisbane by a month.

The Dutchman, who now expects to reach his destination on October 20, has kept in touch with those tracking his movements through daily internet postings from his laptop computer, including his wife Winnie. His boat, the Zeeman Challenger, is a seven-metre custom plywood vessel.

Tuijn has overcome a variety of obstacles to reach the halfway point. He is suffering from the constant attention of sharks, who often bump his boat and disrupt his attempts at sleep. One particular shark, dubbed ‘Gomulka’ by Tuijn, has been trailing the adventurer’s boat for extended periods.

He has also accidentally burnt himself when he spilled hot water on his foot whilst trying to make coffee, apparently also from a shark ‘bump’. He is also forced to manually pump water for cooking and drinking after his automatic water pump broke down not long into his journey.

“Physically everything feels great and I can’t help feeling that I could do this for 500 days, but mentally it’s still hard to be on your own for such a long time”

His vessel has no motors or sails, but relies on his physical rowing power to move. The boat does have a solar power system to provide energy for his laptop, a telephone and a global positioning system.

Tujin, who is raising money for a children’s home in Mumbai, India, is rowing at an average speed of 58 kilometres each day. His diet consists of freeze-dried foods and fish, which are keeping him physically well-conditioned despite tiring mentally.

Tuijn is a serial adventurer and experienced rower. He has rowed across the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, as well as cycled across Russia and the icy terrain of Greenland.

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Family Coalition Party candidate Kristen Monster, Willowdale

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Family Coalition Party candidate Kristen Monster, Willowdale
March 28, 2019

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Kristen Monster is running for the Family Coalition Party in the Ontario provincial election, in the Willowdale riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed her regarding her values, her experience, and her campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

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Mozilla to fix Firefox security hole in patch

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Mozilla to fix Firefox security hole in patch
March 27, 2019

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Mozilla Foundation announced today a plan to patch vulnerability in Mozilla Firefox 1.5 in late January or early February 2006.

Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering of the Mozilla Foundation, states “it’s a low-severity issue, but we will address it anyway.”

Packetstorm Security posted that Firefox 1.5, released on November 30, has vulnerability in its history.dat file, such that Firefox becomes very slow after restarting from a visit to a website exploiting the vulnerability. A URL of a few million characters takes advantage of the vulnerability. History.dat stores the user’s recently visited sites. Initially Packetstorm posted that a tailored URL could crash Firefox. When attempting to recreate the problem, Mozilla engineers found that the browser works slowly and takes an extremely long time to load a website, but does not crash.

If one does encounter the problem after visiting an exploiting website, clearing out the history will fix it.

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Gay Talese on the state of journalism, Iraq and his life

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Gay Talese on the state of journalism, Iraq and his life
March 26, 2019

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gay Talese wants to go to Iraq. “It so happens there is someone that’s working on such a thing right now for me,” the 75-year-old legendary journalist and author told David Shankbone. “Even if I was on Al-Jazeera with a gun to my head, I wouldn’t be pleading with those bastards! I’d say, ‘Go ahead. Make my day.'”

Few reporters will ever reach the stature of Talese. His 1966 profile of Frank Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, was not only cited by The Economist as the greatest profile of Sinatra ever written, but is considered the greatest of any celebrity profile ever written. In the 70th anniversary issue of Esquire in October 2003, the editors declared the piece the “Best Story Esquire Ever Published.”

Talese helped create and define a new style of literary reporting called New Journalism. Talese himself told National Public Radio he rejects this label (“The term new journalism became very fashionable on college campuses in the 1970s and some of its practitioners tended to be a little loose with the facts. And that’s where I wanted to part company.”)

He is not bothered by the Bancrofts selling The Wall Street Journal—”It’s not like we should lament the passing of some noble dynasty!”—to Rupert Murdoch, but he is bothered by how the press supported and sold the Iraq War to the American people. “The press in Washington got us into this war as much as the people that are controlling it,” said Talese. “They took information that was second-hand information, and they went along with it.” He wants to see the Washington press corp disbanded and sent around the country to get back in touch with the people it covers; that the press should not be so focused on–and in bed with–the federal government.

Augusten Burroughs once said that writers are experience junkies, and Talese fits the bill. Talese–who has been married to Nan Talese (she edited James Frey‘s Million Little Piece) for fifty years–can be found at baseball games in Cuba or the gay bars of Beijing, wanting to see humanity in all its experience.

Below is Wikinews reporter David Shankbone’s interview with Gay Talese.

Contents

  • 1 On Gay Talese
  • 2 On a higher power and how he’d like to die
  • 3 On the media and Iraq
  • 4 On the Iraq War
  • 5 State of Journalism
  • 6 On travel to Cuba
  • 7 On Chinese gay bars
  • 8 On the literary canon
  • 9 Sources

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Seeds placed in Norwegian vault as agricultural ‘insurance policy’

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Seeds placed in Norwegian vault as agricultural ‘insurance policy’
March 25, 2019

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a vault containing millions of seeds from all over the world, saw its first deposits on Tuesday. Located 800 kilometers from the North Pole on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, the vault has been referred to by European Commission president José Manuel Barroso as a “frozen Garden of Eden“. It is intended to preserve crop supplies and secure biological diversity in the event of a worldwide disaster.

“The opening of the seed vault marks a historic turning point in safeguarding the world’s crop diversity,” said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust which is in charge of collecting the seed samples. The Norwegian government, who owns the bank, built it at a cost of $9.1 million.

At the opening ceremony, 100 million seeds from 268,000 samples were placed inside the vault, where there is room for over 2 billion seeds. Each of the samples originated from a different farm or field, in order to best ensure biological diversity. These crop seeds included such staples as rice, potatoes, barley, lettuce, maize, sorghum, and wheat. No genetically modified crops were included. (Beyond politics they are generally sterile so of no use.)

It is very important for Africa to store seeds here because anything can happen to our national seed banks.

Constructed deep inside a mountain and protected by concrete walls, the “doomsday vault” is designed to withstand earthquakes, nuclear warfare, and floods resulting from global warming. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called it an “insurance policy” against such threats.

With air-conditioned temperatures of -18 degrees Celsius, experts say the seeds could last for an entire millennium. Some crops will be able to last longer, like sorghum, which the Global Crop Diversity Trust says can last almost 20 millenniums. Even if the refrigeration system fails, the vaults are expected to stay frozen for 200 years.

The Prime Minister said, “With climate change and other forces threatening the diversity of life that sustains our planet, Norway is proud to be playing a central role in creating a facility capable of protecting what are not just seeds, but the fundamental building blocks of human civilization.” Stoltenberg, along with Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, made the first deposit of rice to the vault.

“It is very important for Africa to store seeds here because anything can happen to our national seed banks,” Maathai said. The vault will operate as a bank, allowing countries to use their deposited seeds free of charge. It will also serve as a backup to the thousands of other seed banks around the world.

“Crop diversity will soon prove to be our most potent and indispensable resource for addressing climate change, water and energy supply constraints and for meeting the food needs of a growing population,” Cary Fowler said.

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Dozens killed after gunmen storm Turkish wedding reception

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Dozens killed after gunmen storm Turkish wedding reception
March 25, 2019

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

As many as 45 people have been killed and six others were injured after at least four gunmen with grenades stormed a wedding reception in the village of Bilge located in Turkey. Many of those killed were women and children. The attack is not believed to be related to terrorism.

“According to our investigations so far nothing indicates that this is a terror attack but a larger investigation is being run by the regional prosecutor,” said the interior minister of Turkey, Besir Atalay. The attack is believed to be part of an ongoing blood feud between two families. Al Jazeera says the attack may also be related to rival gangs of village guards.

According to one unnamed witness as quoted by Reuters, “a few people” wearing masks entered the house where the reception was being held, “spraying the place with bullets” and began to shoot people, with the attack lasting at nearly 15 minutes. At least 200 people were believed to have been attending the reception.

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French workers use threats in compensation demand

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French workers use threats in compensation demand
March 24, 2019

Friday, July 17, 2009Following similar threats by workers at New Fabris and Nortel, workers at JLG in Tonneins, France, threatened to blow up several platform cranes. The JLG factory announced in April 2009 that it will fire 53 of its 163 workers by the end of 2009, while the remaining 110 jobs will not be secure over the next 2 years.

JLG Tonneins was acquired in 2006 with its parent JLG Industries, a maker of aerial work platforms, by the U.S.-based Oshkosh Corporation. Despite being hugely profitable in the past, production has been much reduced since 2008 with the contraction of the construction industry and lower demand for its products. Despite excellent past results the new American management demanded sweeping cuts at the company.

In the view of locals, “the company’s actions are a disgrace given the expensive perks, such as official cars, for its corporate fat cats, compared to the sacrifice, silence, and dignity demanded by the company of those it has made redundant.”

The management offered severance pay of 3,000 (US $4,200), however the workers demanded a severance package commensurate with “the wealth that their labor has generated.” Worker’s delegates requested a “supra-legal” payment of € 30,000, on Thursday 16 of July the management responded with a counter offer of € 16,000. On Thursday night the worker’s actions secured the € 30,000 settlement initially demanded.

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