May 20, 2018
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Ohio panel sticks to ‘White Only’ pool sign ruling

From wire reports

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Cincinnati landlord who claimed a black girl’s hair products clouded an apartment complex’s swimming pool discriminated against the child by posting a poolside “White Only” sign, an Ohio civil rights panel said Thursday in upholding a previous finding.

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission voted 4-0 against reconsidering its finding from last fall. There was no discussion.

The group found on Sept. 29 that Jamie Hein, who is white, violated the Ohio Civil Rights Act by posting the sign at a pool at the duplex where the teenage girl was visiting her parents.

The parents filed a discrimination charge with the commission and moved out of the duplex in the racially diverse city to “avoid subjecting their family to further humiliating treatment,” the commission said in a release announcing its finding.

An investigation revealed that Hein in May posted on the gated entrance to the pool an iron sign that stated “Public Swimming Pool, White Only,” the commission statement said.

Several witnesses confirmed that the sign was posted.

Hein told the commission she received the sign from a friend, and Ronnell Tomlinson, the commission’s housing enforcement director, said at Thursday’s hearing it was an antique. The sign says “Selma, Ala.,” at the bottom, followed by the date “14 July 31.”

Marine says he would have leveled Iraqi home

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A squad mate of a Marine sergeant on trial for killing unarmed women and children in Iraq testified Thursday that if he had to do it again, he would have called in an air strike to level a house where the group gunned down six people, including a man in a wheelchair.

Former Sgt. Hector Salinas testified at the court-martial of Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich that he believed small arms fire had come from the direction of the home shortly after a roadside bomb hit a convoy, killing a Marine.

Salinas said he didn’t know at the time that there were women and children inside the dwelling.

The Marines stormed two homes for 45 minutes, killing unarmed men, women and children. They found no weapons or insurgents, squad members have testified.

Wuterich, the squad leader, faces nine counts of manslaughter and other charges stemming from attacks that killed 24 Iraqis in the town of Haditha in 2005.

Military prosecutors have implicated the Camp Pendleton Marine from Meriden, Conn., in 19 of the 24 Iraqi deaths. He is the last defendant in one of the biggest criminal cases against U.S. troops from the war. One squad member was acquitted. Six others had their cases dropped. Salinas was never formally charged.

The issue at the court martial is whether Wuterich reacted appropriately as a Marine squad leader in protecting his troops in the midst of a chaotic war or went on a vengeful rampage, disregarding combat rules and leading his men to shoot and blast indiscriminately at Iraqi civilians.

Wuterich has said he regretted the loss of civilian lives but believed he was operating within military combat rules.

Defense: Bomb case built on ‘conspiracy of lust’

PHOENIX — A defense attorney in the trial of twin white supremacist brothers charged in the bombing of a black city official criticized on Thursday the use of an attractive younger woman as a federal informant, calling her a “trailer-park Mata Hari” who dressed in revealing clothes to get the men to open up to her.

Deborah Williams told jurors in Phoenix federal court that the government can only prove that her client, Dennis Mahon, was involved in “a conspiracy of lust” — not a conspiracy to send the package that exploded in the hands of then-Scottsdale diversity director Don Logan in 2004.

The informant, identified as Rebecca Williams in court records, moved into a trailer at a campground in Catoosa, Okla., where the brothers were staying after the bombing.

She dressed in shorts and tank tops and displayed a Confederate flag and later sent the men at least two racy photos of herself, taken by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives unbeknownst to the brothers.

One photo showed her in a leather jacket, fishnet stockings and a thong that completely exposed her buttocks, along with a note that said, “Thought you’d love the butt shot,” court records said. The other showed her in a revealing white bikini top with a grenade hanging between her breasts as she posed in front of a pickup truck and a swastika.

Dennis Mahon opened up to her as the government recorded their conversations. Mahon showed her how to make bombs and bragged about bombing a Jewish community center, an Internal Revenue Service building, an immigration facility, and an abortion clinic, according to court records. He also talked to her about the Scottsdale bombing, telling her that he didn’t do it but convinced white police officers to do it.

Russian spacecraft turned space junk to crash soon

MOSCOW — A Russian spacecraft designed to burnish the nation’s faded space glory in a mission to one of Mars’ moons has turned into one of the heaviest, most toxic pieces of space junk ever.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos’ latest forecast has the unmanned Phobos-Ground probe falling out of Earth’s orbit Sunday or Monday, with the median time placing it over the Indian Ocean just north of Madagascar. It said the precise time and place of its uncontrolled plunge can only be determined later, and unless someone actually spots fiery streaks in the sky, no one may ever know w here any surviving pieces end up.

Space experts agree it’s unlikely to pose big risks.

At 14.6 tons, including 12 tons of highly toxic rocket fuel, the Phobos-Ground is one of the heaviest spacecraft ever to plummet to Earth, considerably larger than the two defunct satellites that fell to Earth last fall and landed in the water. It’s cylindrical and about the size of a van.

Roscosmos predicted that only between 20 and 30 fragments of the Phobos probe with a total weight of up to 440 pounds will survive the re-entry and plummet to Earth.

Russia’s Phobos-Ground probe was launched in November, and a glitch left it stranded in orbit around Earth instead of bound for Mars to collect soil samples.

Roscosmos insists all the fuel will burn in the atmosphere and pose no danger, and some experts in Russia and the West share that forecast.

Dutch nursery cares for slew of orphaned seal pups

AMSTERDAM — Storms that have lashed the Dutch coast this year have created a wave of orphaned baby seals — some so young their umbilical cords are still attached — wrenched from their mothers and washed up on beaches and dikes.

An existing seal nursery near the northern city of Groningen has been so inundated with pups and older seals in recent weeks it has erected a temporary tent to house them in tanks and baths while they are nurtured back to health. They will eventually be returned to the wild.

Storms and high tides create problems for seals because the sand banks where they bask remain underwater, said Lenie ‘t Hart, who founded the nursery formally known as the Seal Rehabilitation and Research Center.

American volunteer Torrey Utne, of Boston, Massachusetts, said Thursday that in the last 10 days, more than 100 seals have been brought to the center for treatment and it now houses some 350 of the marine mammals.

Many of them are young pups known as “screamers” for their high-pitched whining.

“They are little babies missing their moms pretty much, so it sounds like babies crying,” said 23-year-old Utne, who has been working at the nursery since late last year.

Many of the animals are young, gray seals separated from their mothers. But others are older seals weakened by a virus or lung worms — a parasite that destroys the animals’ lungs if left untreated — who were buffeted by storm-tossed seas.

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