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Two signs posted on the door of a nondescript dental office here asked passers-by to mourn the death of Cecil, a lion who was lured off his sanctuary and killed during a game hunt this month in Zimbabwe.

“WE ARE CECIL,” one read; “#CatLivesMatter,” read another. Nearby was a sign with a darker message for the dentist who said he killed the cat: “ROT IN HELL.”

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In the hours since Dr. Walter J. Palmer apologized for killing the lion, he has gone from a dentist and longtime hunting enthusiast to a villain at the center of a firestorm over the ethics of big-game trophy hunting.

“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study, until the end of the hunt,” Dr. Palmer said in a statement. “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”

The outrage and attention surrounding the lion’s death online caused Dr. Palmer to keep his office closed on Wednesday as he joined an ever-expanding group of people who have become targets of Internet vigilantism, facing a seemingly endless shaming until the next issue comes along.

After Zimbabwean officials identified Dr. Palmer as the hunter, activists used search engines to find his contact information and social media to share information about his business and his family, stirring a fever pitch of anger strong enough to effectively dismantle his digital life. Angry people sent a surge of traffic to Dr. Palmer’s website, which was taken offline. Vitriolic reviews flooded his Yelp page. A Facebook page titled “Shame Lion Killer Dr. Walter Palmer and River Bluff Dental” drew thousands of users. Dr. Palmer’s face was scrubbed from industry websites.

Even a local crisis management expert was pulled in to the fray. The specialist, Jon Austin, who operates a Minneapolis-based communications firm, said in an email that he had been asked only to circulate Dr. Palmer’s initial statement.

On Wednesday, Mr. Austin ended his involvement with the matter, but not before his own Yelp page was flooded by angry commenters.

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At Dr. Palmer’s office here, a memorial to the lion sprung up with red roses and more than a dozen plush toys, many of them jungle animals, strewn outside the locked front door.

“Murderer! Terrorist!” one protester, Rachel Augusta, screamed into a megaphone.

No one answered repeated knocks and doorbell rings at Dr. Palmer’s large, stucco house in an affluent neighborhood. And his neighbors would not talk.

Trophy hunting, undertaken by wealthy hunters who pay tens of thousands of dollars for licenses to kill protected animals for trophies and sport, has long been a subject of global debate. Hunting advocates and some conservationists argue that, if done responsibly, the selling of expensive licenses to big-game hunters can help pay for efforts to protect endangered species.

A 2009 study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimated that trophy hunters killed around 600 lions a year. Last October, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the African lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, a move that would also establish guidelines for permitting the importing of lion trophies. That proposal is under review.

Cecil had been closely studied by researchers at the University of Oxford since 2008 as part of efforts to study a decline in Africa’s lion population and to better understand the threats the animals face. The university’sWildlife Conservation Research Unit said in a statement that Cecil’s adult “brothers” and cubs would probably be killed by other male lions seeking dominance in the community.

Debates over trophy hunting have long been held among conservationists and animal rights activists without reaching the mainstream. When a Texas man reportedly paid $350,000 to hunt and kill a black rhinoceros in Namibia this year, the furor largely stayed within that community. But the death of Cecil, a 13-year-old lion who wandered out of his sanctuary in a national park in Zimbabwe, struck a chord.

Dr. Palmer had paid around $54,000 to hunt the animal, according to news reports, and in 2009, he paid $45,000 at an auction to help preserve an elk habitat in California. He was profiled that year in The New York Times when he shot and killed an elk from 75 yards with a compound bow in pursuit of a bowhunting record.

According to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, the lion was shot with a crossbow after he was lured out of the sanctuary, following the scent of food. Cecil, well known to those who visited Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe for his jet black mane, was only injured by the arrow. The hunters tracked him for about two days before he was killed with a gun, conservation officials said. He was beheaded and skinned, his corpse left to rot.

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Two Zimbabwean men, a farm owner and a professional hunter who are accused of helping Dr. Palmer, appeared in court on Wednesday on poaching charges. Zimbabwean officials said Dr. Palmer was also being sought on poaching charges.

Erin Flior, who specializes in crisis management at the public relations firm Levick, said that frequent cases of widespread social media outrage had made digital crisis and reputation management a growing specialty. She recalled cases in which clients had to move or consider changing their names.

“The fact that it crosses my desk at all means it happens too much, in my opinion,” Ms. Flior said. “It really tends to be instances where a very educated, tech-savvy crowd has jumped on board that those kind of instances get taken to that level where personal information is being released.”

JULY 29, 2015

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A minor actress from Texas was sentenced Wednesday to 18 years in prison for sending ricin-tainted letters to President Obama, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and the head of his gun-control group.

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Shannon Guess Richardson, 36, was also ordered to pay $367,000 restitution as part of a plea bargain for pleading guilty in December to one count of developing, producing, possessing and transferring a biological agent for use as a weapon. She bought the materials — castor bean seeds and lye — online.

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The FBI arrested her in June 2013 after she was indicted by a federal grand jury. She gave bith the next month while in jail.

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Richardson mailed three letters in May 2013 from her home in New Boston, near Texarkana, and then drove to a Shreveport, La., police station to implicate her estranged husband, who had filed for divorce. She told the FBI she did not think the letters would be opened because of security measures.

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“What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what ive got in store for you mr president,” read the letter to Obama. “You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face.”

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A former Dallas beauty queen, she had bit parts in TV series and film, including The Vampire DiariesThe Walking DeadFranklin & BashAll My Children and The Blind Side.

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Richardson apologized Wednesday before being sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider.

“I never intended for anybody to be hurt,” she said. “I’m not a bad person. I don’t have it in me to hurt anyone.”

“I do love my country, and I respect my president,” she added.

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Schneider said Richardson’s actions “put many lives in danger and threatened public officials at the highest level of government. The defendant claims that she did not intend to harm anyone, but certainly her actions could have had grave consequences.”

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Ricin is a biological toxin that can be fatal if inhaled or swallowed. There is no antidote or cure.

 

* Text by USAToday, July 16, 2014

A Boyle Heights farmers market for medical marijuana users has been temporarily shut down by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge.

The judge’s ruling Tuesday grants a temporary restraining order sought by Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer to stop the California Heritage Market operations, saying it failed to comply with the city’s voter-approved law regulating marijuana dispensaries.

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“The bottom line is that we argued successfully that this so-called farmers market was an attempt to make an end-run around the will of the people,” Feuer said. “The court saw through this subterfuge.”

Los Angeles voters passed Proposition D last year, establishing legal parameters under which marijuana dispensaries could do business in the city.

The court’s ruling, Feuer said, supports the “spirit and the letter of Proposition D.”

The cannabis market opened to a booming business over the Fourth of July weekend, attracting hundreds of customers and an array of growers offering marijuana buds with airy names such as Blue Dream and Banana Kush along with marijuana-infused balms, sunblock, lollipops, tea and even a waffle mix.

Customers, who were required to show their IDs and prove they could legally buy pot, said they appreciated being able to cut the “middleman” out of the equation and buy their product at a discount straight from the growers.

Jamie Brown of First Choice Farms said he found the marketplace to be “absolute genius,” a place where customers could find out about different strains of marijuana.

But the temporary injunction issued Tuesday halts all that for now by restricting the market’s operators from setting up booths and advertising it, according to legal documents. Police and fire officials must also be granted access to the site.

“The court was very clear: There could be no multiple vendors selling at this site, only bona fide employees,” Feuer said.

The market — which attracted both old and young, tattooed and clean-cut — was held over the Fourth of July weekend in a warehouse directly behind the West Coast Collective dispensary in an industrial zone in Boyle Heights.

The following weekend, the market opened again.

Proposition D, Feuer said, does not allow multiple, independent vendors to sell on one site.

“That’s essentially what this business model was,” Feuer said.

But attorney David Welch, who represents the Progressive Horizon collective, said Feuer’s argument doesn’t make sense.

He said a farmers market is no different from a dispensary in that they both sell goods from a variety of vendors.

“Their arguments are basically a misunderstanding on how this business operates,” he said.

The city’s actions, Welch said, were essentially proving that “you can’t actually open a marijuana dispensary” in Los Angeles.

A hearing is scheduled Aug. 6 to determine whether the market will be permanently closed.

 

* Veronica Rocha, latimes, July 15, 2014

As an increasing number of Washington-area residents forgo their vehicles and choose to bike or walk to work, tensions between drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have escalated, with reports of terrifying encounters: drivers intimidating cyclists, cyclists antagonizing drivers, pedestrians at the mercy of both bikers and drivers.

The one thing that all three agree on: D.C. police are not doing enough to enforce the rules for any of the groups.

“There hasn’t been much priority to enforce those laws,” said Joe Reiner, a member of the nonprofit organization All Walks DC, which promotes pedestrian safety. “Cars and bikes are speeding through pedestrian crosswalks ignoring that pedestrians have a right of way. This is an issue that we really need to have the police do better with.”

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While D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier has expanded the city’s lucrative traffic-camera program to catch speeders and red-light runners, critics say that has led to the department becoming too dependent on automated enforcement and moving away from officers on the streets monitoring behavior such as distracted driving, bicyclists running red lights and pedestrians obstructing traffic.

“The things that actually kill people is what we should be targeting with enforcement, and that can’t be done with cameras,” said Greg Billing, advocacy coordinator for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA). “When you have an officer whose job is community policing and responding to dispatch, they don’t get around to traffic enforcement, because it’s not a priority.”

D.C. police deny that there are too few officers out monitoring the roads. They say officers are out ticketing drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians violating traffic laws. Police, however, declined to provide statistics about citations issued to motorists and pedestrians, saying a reporter would need to submit a Freedom of Information Act request.

Earlier this month, police did provide some information on citations issued to bicyclists, and data shows a decline in tickets issued so far this year compared with previous years. The precipitous drop comes even as there are more cyclists on the roads, something that even bike advocates say is an indication of a lack of enforcement.

Police this year have issued 63 tickets to bicyclists and users of other personal modes of transportation, such as Segways. Last year, the department issued 203 citations, less than half the number issued in 2012, when 446 citations were issued.

“We have a higher support of bicycle enforcement than there’s been in a long time,” said Sgt. Terry Thorne of the D.C. police. “We have campaigns that work on education and enforcement of any traffic issue.”

Police conduct stings targeting violations related to pedestrian crosswalks and motorists parking in bike lanes, Thorne said. When cyclists complained about illegal U-turns across the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lane, police spent time at an intersection issuing warnings and citations, he said.

Data on the number of citations issued is not a good measure of enforcement, which often includes verbal warnings, Thorne said. The department recently announced plans to start regular pedestrian safety stings at busy and dangerous intersections. Police will hand out safety tips, warnings and citations to violators, including drivers, bikers and pedestrians.

But it is not just about the number of tickets issued, transportation advocates say — it is about changing the culture on the roads. What they want is enforcement that is equitable among all users to make sure everyone is safe and follows the rules.

 

“There has to be more officers getting out of the cars,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend, adding that D.C. police have to “not just rely on automated enforcement to enforce traffic laws and traffic safety in the city. . . . All of us are violators from time to time, and there should be equity in handing out tickets. That is not only fair for all of us, it will make our roadways safer.”

Looking west

Some advocates say a specialized police division to oversee traffic enforcement would help. D.C. police officials say, however, that a centralized unit dedicated solely to enforcement would not be enough to address traffic safety citywide.

Other cities such as Portland, Ore., have such units. That enforcement strategy, along with other city initiatives, are viewed as instrumental in making Portland one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States. In general, officials there say, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers have learned to coexist peacefully; pedestrian and cyclist fatalities are down, and behavior has changed. Studies suggest that 94 percent of Portland cyclists now stop at red lights, for example.

“It is reasonable to expect that you are going to have some continued stress,” said Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Portland-based Bicycle Transportation Alliance. “But the more people biking, the safer it gets, the more cars will get used to seeing them.”

Portland began installing bike lanes about two decades ago, and since then the city has adopted a series of policies that have made the transition easier, officials said. The city has installed separate traffic signals for bikes and invested in signage that is more visible to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

There also are special green “bike boxes” where bicyclists wait during red lights. Bicyclists stop inside the green box, while drivers stop at the white line behind the box. (The District has begun adding them, as well.)

“There is always a learning curve when you introduce something new. People do learn by seeing all the people bicycling. They figure it out over time,” said Roger Geller, bicycle coordinator with the Portland Bureau of Transportation. “The challenge really is to create conditions so that motorists become aware of people bicycling.”

Officials with the District Department of Transportation, which oversees the city’s road infrastructure, say they work closely with police and groups such as WABA as they plan bike lanes and changes in road patterns. DDOT’s long-range transportation plan envisions 200 miles of on-street bicycle facilities, greater transit use and more pedestrian access, but it also emphasizes that its success depends on having a clear education campaign and enforcement strategies.

Bicycle boom

Because the District is still a young bike city, confusion and frustration are to be expected, transportation officials say. It has been only in the past five years that biking has taken off as a popular mode of transportation. The first protected bike lane opened on 15th Street NW in 2009, and there are now about 60 miles of bike lanes. Capital Bikeshare, which launched in 2010, puts more than 2,500 bikes on District and suburban streets.

The growth corresponds with an increase in the number of crashes involving cyclists and pedestrians, AAA’s Townsend said. The city recorded nearly 600 crashes involving bicyclists and 988 involving pedestrians last year, according to data from the region’s Street Smart campaign, which promotes road safety and awareness. Those numbers were up slightly from 2012 but have increased steadily over the past five years; in 2009, there were 312 crashes involving cyclists and 657 involving pedestrians.

Last year, the city recorded 12 pedestrian and two cyclist fatalities, up from eight pedestrian fatalities in 2012. No cyclists were killed in 2012, according to Street Smart.

Residents say more needs to be done to discourage bad behavior, such as pedestrians who are so distracted by their cellphones that they do not pay attention to what is going on around them and drivers who fail to keep a safe distance — at least three feet — when overtaking or passing cyclists.

“People are genuinely ignorant of the rules,” said Elizabeth Lyttleton, 37, a stay-at-home mother in Northeast Washington who rides her bike daily with her 22-month-old daughter in tow. She said she regularly has to remind drivers of the three-foot rule. “They often tell me, ‘How am I supposed to know that?’ I say, ‘I don’t know how you are supposed to know that, but you should.’ We need a lot more education and enforcement across the board. A civility campaign would be nice.”

Tyler Lopez, a Dupont Circle resident who walks to work at Georgetown University, said the sudden spike of bike traffic has created new challenges for pedestrians.

“I have seen plenty of cyclists that do follow the rules, but I think there is a significant minority of cyclists who feel that they are entitled to do whatever they want on the road or the sidewalk,” he said.

Motorists and cyclists say that nothing prepared them for the new hazards on the roads they now share.

“This is really about a culture shift for all users of the road,” said Sam Zimbabwe, a director of policy and planning at DDOT.

“We are a city where people are in a hurry and people are trying to get from place to place as quickly as they can, and that sort of is at odds with being respectful and following the rules,” Zimbabwe said. “Enforcement needs to be targeting those who are causing a problem. If 99 percent of the people are obeying the laws, we don’t want to vilify those people or make them feel persecuted. We want to address the 1 percent.”

 

By Luz Lazo , July 15, 2014

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Luz Lazo writes about transportation and development. She has recently written about the challenges of bus commuting, Metro’s dark stations, and the impact of sequestration on air travel.

 

The details uncovered by investigators portray Alix Catherine Tichelman as a callous, calculating killer. Her mugshot reveals piercing, haunting eyes. And her social media trail portrays a troubled soul who battled addiction and body image issues.

The 26-year-old California call girl was indicted yesterday for allegedly leaving a Google executive for dead on his yacht after injecting him with a fatal dose of heroin.


Alix Tichelman of Folsom, Calif., confers with public defender Diane August during her arraignment in Santa Cruz Superior Courton July 9, 2014, in Santa Cruz, Calif. (Shmuel Thaler/Santa Cruz Sentinel via AP)

Shortly before Thanksgiving last year, police found Forrest Timothy Hayes, 51, dead on his yacht — named “Escape” — in the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor. The yacht’s security cameras show Tichelman injecting Hayes with heroin. He slips into unconsciousness, but she doesn’t call 911. She did, however, collect her belongings — the heroin and needles— casually sidestepping Hayes’s body. “At one point, she steps over the body to finish a glass of wine,” police said, adding that Tichelman did one last thing before fleeing the boat: She closed the blinds, ensuring that no one would see the body from the outside.

She showed no regard for him,” Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark told the Santa Cruz Sentinel on Tuesday. “She was just trying to cover her tracks.”

Hayes and Tichelman met, according to investigators, through the Web site “Seeking Arrangement,” which promises to help “Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies or Mommas both get what they want, when they want it.”

According to news reports, Hayes worked at Google’s innovation lab, where “moon shot” projects like self-driving cars and Google glass are dreamed up. An obituary written by his family describes Hayes as a beloved husband and father of five who enjoyed spending time with his family and on his boat. On a Web site that has since been taken down, friends and family shared fond memories of him, the Associated Press reported.

Tichelman’s life online tells a different story, not of a loving family but of destruction and an intense self-loathing disguised as bravado with a bustier and sultry makeup (check out her YouTube makeup tutorial at the end of the story).

 “Selling my soul would be a lot easier if i could find it,” she wrote on Twitter in July 2012. “I have always been attracted to the darker side,” she said in an interview with fetish magazine fiXE, according to news.com.au. “My parents said by the time I was there I was an intense child, and already liked horror movies.”

She appears to have struggled with addiction for years. On her Instagram account, she posted a photo in May, 2013 with the tagline: “My eyes are red red red … combination of the glitter eyeliner and the medical grade I’ve been smokin on.” And in a note titled “heroin” posted on her Facebook page almost exactly a year before the alleged murder she wrote:

this private downward spiral-this suffocating blackhole
makes you feel so warm inside,
yet makes your heart so cold.
each day takes it’s toll,
your thoughts become emotionless,
your soul feels too old.
the demons whispers to me ever so lightly,
he never let’s go of his hold,
taking everything from me,
I’ll end up dying alone.

In another note titled “Thinspiration,” she revealed a struggle with body image and possibly child sex abuse: “I will be thin and pure like a glass cup. Empty. Pure as light. Music. I move my hands over my body – my shoulders, my collarbone, my rib cage, my hip bones like part of an animal skull, my small thighs. In the mirror my face is pale and my eyes look bruised. My hair is pale and thin and the light comes through. I could be a lot younger than twenty four. I could be a child still, untouched.”

In photos posted on her Facebook page in 2012, Tichelman vacillates between skinny and emaciated. In one of them she boasts “size zero … no more size two for me.” She idolized Kate Moss, who also appears several times in her timeline photos. Her Facebook and Instagram photos, a combination of provocative professional model shots and sexy selfies, reveal a scantily clad split personality: a goth in fishnet thigh highs, a pinup girl in panties, heroin chic.

Tichelman doesn’t say much about her family. The notes section of her Facebook page includes a novel-in-progress about a girl named Kat (her middle name is Catherine). It’s not clear whether it’s autobiographical, but the tale tells of an alienated teenager who turns to heroin to escape a broken home where an alcoholic mother entertains “random men.”

Alix Tichelman

According to USA Today, Tichelman’s parents now live in Folsom, Calif., where her father Bart is the chief executive of a tech company, SynapSense Corp. He took the job in November 2012, a year before the alleged murder, after working with Renewvia Energy Corp., a solar power project developer in Atlanta. Tichelman was living in Folsom at the time of her arrest but previously lived in Atlanta, according to her social media accounts.

Two years ago, she posted often about a boyfriend named Dean, who gave her a black and white diamond ‘promise ring’ on June 22, 2012. There are pictures of the them together playing with baby monkeys.

In her last post on Jan. 11, 2013, she counted among her blessings “a great boyfriend, nice house, monkeys, loving family … doesn’t get any better than this I don’t think.”

USA Today identified the boyfriend as Dean Riopelle, 53, who died Sept. 24, 2013, after a heart attack, according to a newspaper obituary. Riopelle owned a nightclub called “Masquerade” and was known as “Monkey Man” because he raised monkeys on his property, according to an Atlanta indie weekly

The details of Tichelman’s tale continue to unravel. Investigators suspect she was involved in an incident in another state similar to Hayes’s alleged murder on the yacht. Santa Cruz police arrested Tichelman on the Fourth of July after an officer posed as a potential client willing to pay $1,000 for her sexual services. She appeared in Santa Cruz Superior Court on Wednesday on eight felony and misdemeanor charges including manslaughter and prostitution. Her arraignment has been postponed until July 16. Assistant District Attorney Rafael Vazquez said the investigation is ongoing and more serious charges may be filed, the AP reported.

 

This section of Graphic Humor in political-economic, national or international issues, are very ingenious in describing what happened, is happening or will happen. It also extends to various other local issues or passing around the world.

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There are also other non-political humor that ranges from reflective or just to get us a smile when we see them.

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Anyone with basic education and to stay informed of important news happening in our local and global world may understand and enjoy them.

Farewell!.

CTsT

 

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