Federal Government

Federal government executes inmate who blamed murder victim for using witchcraft on him – CNN

(CNN)The federal government on Tuesday executed an inmate who raped and murdered a 30-year-old nurse in Georgia 19 years ago and blamed the victim for using witchcraft on him.

William Emmett LeCroy, 50, was found guilty in March 2004 of carjacking resulting in death by a jury in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
LeCroy’s attorneys Tuesday appealed to the US Supreme Court for a stay of execution, but in the first order since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, the court denied the request.
A pool reporter said he was pronounced dead at 9:06 p.m. ET.
According to the US Department of Justice, LeCroy killed Joann Lee Tiesler in 2001 while he was trying to flee the country.
Tiesler’s father, Tom, said Tuesday in a written statement that “justice was finally served.”
“I regret that it took nineteen years to get to this point but it has brought some needed closure to Joann’s family and friends,” he said.
When a prison official leaned over him Tuesday night, gently pulled off LeCroy’s mask and asked whether he had any last words for assembled witnesses, LeCroy responded calmly and matter of factly: “Sister Battista is about to receive in the postal service my last statement,” according to the pool reporter.
The pool reported that LeCroy kept his eyes open as the lethal injection was administered. His eyelids began to slowly close as his midsection quickly began to heave uncontrollably for a minute or two. After several more minutes, color drained from his limbs, his face turned ashen and his lips were tinted blue.

LeCroy told psychiatrist that victim had placed a spell on him

The Department of Justice said LeCroy broke into Tiesler’s home while the nurse was away, and then “attacked her, bound her hands behind her back, strangled her with an electrical cord, and raped her. Then he slashed her throat with a knife and stabbed Tiesler, 30, in the back five times,”.
According to an appellee’s brief filed in 2013, LeCroy’s attorneys hired a psychiatrist to evaluate LeCroy. During the exam, LeCroy told the psychiatrist, “he believed that Joann Tiesler was the babysitter who sexually abused him twenty years before and that he blamed the babysitter for many of the problems that he had had as an adult.
“Because of his beliefs in witchcraft, defendant (LeCroy) came to believe that the babysitter had placed a spell on him, and that he would have to force the babysitter (Ms. Tiesler) to reverse the spell.”
LeCroy — who was on supervised probation release after 10 years in state and federal prison for child molestation, statutory rape, burglary and aggravated assault — stole Tiesler’s vehicle and headed to the Canadian border where he was arrested, the release says.
“His conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal, and his requests for collateral relief were rejected by every court that considered them,” the release adds.
It was the sixth federal execution since the Justice Department ended a 17-year hiatus on the practice in July.
Attorney General William Barr said in 2019 executions would resume under the Trump administration.
“The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system,” he said.
Under Barr’s direction, the Federal Execution Protocol Addendum replaced a procedure using three drugs with one, pentobarbital, according to a news release.

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Federal Government

Federal Government Relaxes Rules on Feeding Low-Income Students – The New York Times

Under pressure from Congress, the Agriculture Department agreed to extend special rules making it easier for schools to provide subsidized meals, but only through December.

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Kate Taylor

The Agriculture Department, under pressure from Congress and officials in school districts across the country, said on Monday that it would allow schools to provide free breakfast and lunch to any child or teenager through the end of 2020, provided funding lasts. Advocates for the poor hailed the announcement as an important step to ensure that more needy children are fed during the coronavirus pandemic.

It was a partial reversal by the department. Previously, the agency had said that when schools returned to session, whether remote or in-person, it would require them to resume serving meals only to students enrolled in their district — and to charge students who did not qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

But the department’s announcement on Monday still fell short of what advocates and many officials had been pushing for, namely to extend the special rules through the end of the school year, in 2021.

When schools shut down in the spring because of the coronavirus, the department authorized districts to distribute subsidized to-go meals to any child or teenager under 19. The change was intended to make it easier to get meals to low-income children while they were stuck at home — even if that meant offering free meals to everyone. Some districts offered meals at curbside pickup, while others brought them to bus stops or delivered them to students’ homes.

Officials in districts where schools started remotely in August said that going back to the regular rules had created hurdles for low-income parents and had led to huge drops in the number of subsidized meals they were serving, resulting in children going hungry. Unlike in the spring and summer, some parents had to go to each school where they had a child enrolled, rather than a single location, to pick up meals. And parents could no longer get meals for siblings below school age.

Lisa Thrower, a school nutrition director in Yuma, Ariz., said that in the spring, demand was so high for grab-and-go meals in her district, where three out of four students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, that her staff could barely keep up. But since school started with remote instruction on Aug. 4, the number of meals the district was distributing had fallen to less than a tenth of what it was providing in April and May.

On Monday, Ms. Thrower said she was “elated” that the Agriculture Department had changed its policy, but wished the change had come sooner.

“I think it’s great for all food service operators,” she said, “especially those who haven’t started school yet, because I wouldn’t wish this nightmare on any of them.”

About 20 million children in the United States normally receive free lunches at school, and two million more receive meals at reduced prices, making the school lunch program the nation’s second-largest nutrition assistance program, after food stamps. (Children living in households with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level qualify for free meals. Those in households with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the poverty level qualify for reduced-price meals, which cannot cost more than 30 cents for breakfast or 40 cents for lunch.)


Credit…Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald, via Associated Press

When schools closed their doors in March, many children lost access to that critical source of nutrition. Then the Agriculture Department, using powers granted by Congress in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, issued waivers giving schools and community organizations significant flexibility in how they could distribute meals.

With a substantial number of schools, including almost all major urban districts, returning to school this fall with remote instruction only, members of Congress from both parties had urged the Agriculture Department to extend the special rules through the end of the school year. Of particular interest was allowing schools and community organizations to continue operating their summer nutrition programs, which fed all children under 19 without charge.

But Sonny Perdue, the secretary of agriculture, had asserted that his department had neither the money nor the authority to do that. Democrats disputed that, asserting that providing meals under the special rules had not cost any more than the standard school breakfast and lunch program, and that, in any case, Congress had given the department additional funding.

Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, accused Mr. Perdue of using the issue to pressure schools to reopen physically, as President Trump has pushed them to do.

Part of what was at stake for school districts was financial. Many school food programs, which rely on economies of scale to stay solvent, had already seen major declines in participation after schools closed in the spring; further drops could have threatened their very existence.

Speaking at an elementary school in Georgia on Monday morning, Mr. Perdue repeated his argument that his department did not have the authority or the funding to extend the special rules through the end of the school year, and said he did not think it was appropriate to provide free meals to all students on a permanent basis.

But he said the department had listened to the concerns of school officials around the country and, after carefully analyzing the available funding, decided it could likely extend the special rules through the end of the calendar year. He said schools should prepare to return to the pre-coronavirus rules in January if Congress does not provide additional funding.

Ms. Stabenow and Representative Robert C. Scott, a Democrat of Virginia and the chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, issued statements saying they were pleased by the change while exhorting the department to further extend the special rules.

“After a summer in which as many as 17 million children went hungry, the federal government should be doing everything in its power to address our nation’s child hunger crisis,” Mr. Scott said. He called the extension of the special rules through December “a temporary solution that will expire long before the child hunger crisis ends.”

The Agriculture Department has declined to answer questions about how much extending the rules through the end of the school year would cost. Asked about the cost of extending the program through this year, Mr. Perdue on Monday would only say, “It’s expensive.”

In Yuma, Ms. Thrower’s excitement was tempered by concerns about how quickly she could make parents aware that they could now come and get free meals for all of their children. And she wondered if the department was planning to make the change retroactive, so that her district could reimburse families who had been paying $1.50 a day per child over the last month.

“We finally are getting the word out to families that they do owe money when they come,” she said. “But now we’re going to say, ‘Hey, guys, guess what? It’s free now.’ So I think confusion will set in.”

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Government top-secret

Go read how the US government built a top-secret iPod right under Steve Jobs’ nose – The Verge

For a period of time starting in 2005, Apple allowed two US government contractors to work in its offices to develop a custom version of the iPod — but exactly what that iPod would do was a mystery, and remains so today, as shared in this fascinating story by former iPod engineer David Shayer that you should go read.

The story starts off like a novel:

It was a gray day in late 2005. I was sitting at my desk, writing code for the next year’s iPod. Without knocking, the director of iPod Software—my boss’s boss—abruptly entered and closed the door behind him. He cut to the chase. “I have a special assignment for you. Your boss doesn’t know about it. You’ll help two engineers from the US Department of Energy build a special iPod. Report only to me.”

That first paragraph sets the tone for the whole story, which has an abundance of cool details that only add to Apple’s legendary mythos of secrecy. For example:

Only four people at Apple knew about this secret project. Me, the director of iPod Software, the vice president of the iPod Division, and the senior vice president of Hardware. None of us still work at Apple. There was no paper trail. All communication was in person.

As for what the engineers were actually working on, here’s how Shayer describes it:

They wanted to add some custom hardware to an iPod and record data from this custom hardware to the iPod’s disk in a way that couldn’t be easily detected. But it still had to look and work like a normal iPod.

Shayer says he didn’t know what that custom iPod would be used for. But he guessed that they were “building something like a stealth Geiger counter,” which could have theoretically allowed people to record radioactivity levels while appearing to use a normal-looking iPod.

It all sounded like something out of a spy movie, but former iPod chief Tony Fadell says it’s all real. He should know: Fadell was vice president of iPod at the time.

Absolutely spot on David Shayer…

This project was real w/o a doubt.

There was whole surreal drama & interesting story about how this project was kicked off & then kept secret.

The Case of the Top Secret iPod

— Tony Fadell (@tfadell) August 18, 2020

You should take a few minutes to read Shayer’s whole story on TidBITS.

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Allowed Government

UK Government: EPL Allowed to Restart in June Without Fans Amid COVID-19 – Bleacher Report

NORWICH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15: The Premier League logo on a flag during the Premier League match between Norwich City and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road on February 15, 2src2src in Norwich, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The English Premier League will be allowed to resume the 2019-20 season from June 1 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to ESPN.

A report Monday from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson states that “cultural and sporting events [can] take place behind closed doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact.”

That permits the league to begin without spectators starting in June.

The Premier League’s clubs will vote on an official return within the next few days.

France’s Ligue 1 wiped out the remainder of the 2019-20 season in April and named Paris Saint-Germain the champions. The Bundesliga in Germany is set to return Saturday behind closed doors, while Spain’s La Liga is planning a return in June.

Financial considerations were likely a determining factor for the Premier League in attempting to finish out the campaign rather than focus on 2020-21.

The Athletic reported in March that a failure to complete the season would constitute a breach of contract with its television partners, resulting in a £762 million hit.

Sam Wallace @SamWallaceTel

If the Premier League season is not completed, many clubs may not survive – and the financial aftershock will ripple downwards. The game has to try to restart

The competition has been on hold since March 13. Leicester City defeated Aston Villa 4-0 in the last match played. Many have wondered about the fate of the 2019-20 campaign, particularly as it regards the state of the table.

Liverpool have a commanding lead in first place, but handing them the title in the same fashion as PSG would be a somewhat deflating outcome for supporters, who have waited 30 years to see their side win the league. Meanwhile, relegating Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City would be unfair since they wouldn’t have had the luxury of a full season to retain their places in the Premier League.

BBC Sport’s Simon Stone reported some clubs were expressing the belief that relegation should be eliminated if matches had to be staged in empty stadiums.

Brighton & Hove Albion chief executive Paul Barber was among those concerned about the adverse effect of losing any home-ground advantage.

“The disadvantages of us not playing the league’s top teams in our home stadium and in familiar surroundings, even with 27,000 Albion fans very unlikely to be present at the Amex, are very obvious,” Barber said.

West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady proposed in March to void the entire season, an idea that gained little traction.

She subsequently backtracked slightly on the position:

Lady Karren Brady @karren_brady

My point was safety of fans, players, staff come 1st & if the remaining games just cannot be played the only fair & reasonable thing is to declare season null and void. Who knows who would have gone down or come up if the PL/EFL games have not actually been played in full? 2/2

Still, there appeared to be little in the way of progress throughout spring.

The Premier League issued a statement April 5 to say it wouldn’t kick off in early May and would “only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so.” It added:

The restart date is under constant review with all stakeholders, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we work together through this very challenging time. The Premier League is working closely with the whole of professional football in this country, as well as with the Government, public agencies and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the game achieves a collaborative solution.

UEFA postponed Euro 2020 for one year, which opened up the summer months for domestic competitions to draw to a close.

The Mirror‘s David Maddock reported April 5 the Premier League had been in discussions with government officials about a returning in June. Games would be staged behind closed doors, and television partners would agree to broadcast more games to appease supporters.

Maddock also alluded to “extensive measures to keep the players in a sterile environment as much as possible, limiting contact with the wider public.”

The domino effect of such a lengthy delay presents obvious logistical hurdles to resolve. ESPN FC’s Mark Ogden reported clubs were concerned next season won’t start until at least mid-September, which would require significant changes to the fixture calendar.

Ogden wrote the involved parties were hopeful of having a week or two between the end of this season and the start of the next one by late August or early September. In addition, games behind closed doors might have to be a reality for the entire 2020-21 campaign.

Monday’s development represents a step toward the Premier League’s return, yet the matter is far from resolved.

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