Monthly Archives: April 2017

What’s For Dinner: Kuku Sabzi Is A Persian Herb Frittata Worth Making

If you?ve got some of your favorite herbs and greens sitting in the fridge, put them to use in this recipe, stat. This Persian herb omelet, known as kuku sabzi, uses less egg than your typical frittata ? the egg acts more like a binder to keep all the important ingredients together, which in this recipe is the greens, obviously.

Kuku is a traditional part of the Norooz, the Persian New Year, because it is a celebration of new spring greens. And that is exactly the kind of recipe we can all use right now, as we transition out of winter into spring. 

Watch the video above to see how it?s done. Or get the written Kuku Sabzi recipe from Bon Appetit.

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Lawsuit Accusing Trump Of Inciting Rally Violence Gets Green Light From Judge

A Kentucky federal judge has ruled that a startling lawsuit accusing then-candidate Donald Trump of inciting violence at a campaign rally last year can proceed. The suit was brought by three protesters who say they were roughed up by three men provoked by Trump. The Trump supporters were also sued. 

Trump told the audience at the time to ?get ?em out of here,? referring to the protesters ? two women and a teenage boy ? at a rally at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville last March. The confrontation that followed was caught on video that went viral.

Trump?s attorneys argued that the suit should not be allowed to go forward because his speech was protected under the First Amendment ? and that he didn?t intend for violence to occur.

U.S. District Judge David Hale ruled that the protesters? injuries may have been a ?direct and proximate result? of Trump?s actions, and that there is no First Amendment protection for speech that incites violence.

?It is plausible that Trump?s direction to ?get ?em out of here? advocated the use of force,? Hale wrote in his ruling issued Friday. ?It was an order, an instruction, a command. Trump?s statement at least implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action.?

One of the men accused in the attack said in a letter cited by the judge: ?Trump kept saying, ?get them out, get them out,? and people in the crowd began pushing and shoving the protesters. I physically pushed a young woman.?

Plaintiffs Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah and Henry Brousseau are suing Trump and the Trump campaign for incitement to riot, negligence, gross negligence and recklessness, and are seeking unspecified damages.

The judge dismissed part of the suit claiming that Trump and the campaign were ?vicariously liable? for assault and battery. Hale said that the men who apparently attacked the protesters ? who are also being sued ? were not employed by the Trump campaign, nor were they under Trump?s direct control.

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Protester Dies In Paraguay Clashes After Congress Re-election Vote

A protester was killed in Paraguay and two top government officials were fired after violent clashes overnight sparked by a secret Senate vote for a constitutional amendment that would allow President Horacio Cartes to run for re-election.

Activists streamed into Paraguay?s capital on Saturday from the landlocked country?s interior in a sign the protests may resume after the country?s Congress was stormed and set on fire.

Firefighters managed to control the flames on the building?s first floor on Friday. Thousands of protesters rioted in other parts of Asuncion and elsewhere in the country into the early hours of Saturday.

Reports of damage and injuries proliferated. At Congress on Saturday, charred debris and glass from broken windows littered the steps.

Rodrigo Quintana, 25, was killed by a rubber bullet fired by police at the headquarters of a liberal youth activist group, the Paraguayan opposition and a prosecutor said.

?We have a commitment to the blood Rodrigo spilled … we will continue the fight,? opposition Senator Miguel Saguier said at a press conference.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement an investigation would be opened into Quintana?s death. Interior Minister Tadeo Rojas was later fired by Cartes along with the national police chief, Crispulo Sotelo.

?We are working to identify the people responsible for the events,? the new interim interior minister, Lorenzo Lezcano, told a news conference.

Around 200 protesters were detained, police said, and shops and government buildings were vandalized.

Several politicians and journalists were injured, local media reported, and the government said several police were hurt. One member of the lower house of Congress, who had been participating in protests that afternoon, underwent surgery after also being hit by rubber bullets.

Meetings for the Inter-American Development Bank?s (IADB) annual board of governors went ahead as scheduled in a rare high-level international event in Paraguay.

IADB President Luis Alberto Moreno called for peace and dialogue and said Paraguay would continue to be a vital partner of the regional bank.

While Paraguay has long suffered from political uncertainty and violence, the soy- and beef-exporting country has attracted investment in agriculture and manufacturing sectors in recent years as Cartes offered tax breaks to foreign investors.

?I think this is a very unfortunate event but I do not see that it will have consequences for the economy,? Finance Minister Santiago Peña said.

Violent upheaval in the country of 6.8 million is a concern for its much larger neighbors Brazil and Argentina, which have increasingly looked to Paraguay for business opportunities. 

CLOSED-DOOR VOTE

The region is already worried about unrest in Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday moved to quell protests and international condemnation. The pro-government Supreme Court revoked its controversial annulment of the opposition-led congress.

Cartes called for calm and a rejection of violence in a statement released on Twitter on Friday night. He promised the government would do its best to maintain order.

Paraguay?s Senate voted on Friday during a special session in a closed office rather than on the Senate floor. Twenty-five lawmakers voted for the measure, two more than the 23 required for passage in the 45-member upper chamber.

Opponents of the measure, who claim it would weaken Paraguay?s democratic institutions, said the vote was illegal.

The proposal will also require approval by the House, where it appeared to have strong support. A vote which had been expected early on Saturday was called off until the situation calmed down, said the chamber?s president, Hugo Velazquez.

A popular referendum would also be required to change the law prohibiting re-election, passed in 1992 after the brutal dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner fell in 1989.

(Additional reporting by Luc Cohen and Mariel Cristaldo, writing by Caroline Stauffer and Hugh Bronstein; editing by G Crosse and Mary Milliken)

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Venezuela Rocked by Political Chaos

President Nicolas Maduro asked the Supreme Court in a late-night speech to review a ruling nullifying the lawmaking body after that decision set off a storm of criticism from the opposition and foreign governments.

Golden State Warriors rally past Houston Rockets

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors held the Houston Rockets scoreless for almost seven minutes of the fourth quarter Friday night, enabling the two-time defending Western Conference champions to overcome a four-point deficit en route to a 107-98 victory.

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House Republicans earlier this week passed a bill to scrap regulations preventing internet service providers from sharing customers? personal information, including their web browsing history, without their consent.

Understandably, people aren?t exactly thrilled about the prospect of ISPs profiting off their browsing histories, and are raising hell about it. But AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, having lobbied for exactly that outcome, seem startled by the blowback, as indicated by blog posts the companies published about privacy Friday. 

Put another way: The farmer has decided to spend less time watching the hen house, and the foxes feel they?ve been unfairly maligned, despite having a well-deserved reputation for eating chickens. Oh, and the foxes paid the farmer to look the other way.

Pity the poor foxes.

Comcast struck a conciliatory tone in its blog, with the company?s chief privacy officer Gerard Lewis assuring readers the company does not ?sell … broadband customers? individual web browsing history.?

?We did not do it before the FCC?s rules were adopted,? Lewis writes, ?and we have no plans to do so.? Not having current plans to do so, of course, does not mean they will never do so.

Lewis adds that Comcast has ?committed not to share our customers? sensitive information (such as banking, children?s, and health information), unless we first obtain their affirmative, opt-in consent.?

As with his first reassurance, there?s a caveat here: Mainly, this only applies to select categories of information deemed ?sensitive.? In the next sentence, Lewis elaborates that ?other, non-sensitive data? is indeed used to send targeted ads. To his credit, Lewis provides a link for customers to opt out of receiving those ads, though it?s unclear if opting out of the ads means they cease collecting ?non-sensitive? data.

Lewis closes with a pledge to ?revise [Comcast?s] privacy policy to make more clear and prominent that, contrary to the many inaccurate statements and reports, we do not sell our customers? individual web browsing information to third parties and that we do not share sensitive information unless our customers have affirmatively opted in to allow that to occur.?

In striking contrast to Comcast?s attempts at reassurance, AT&T executive Bob Quinn came out swinging, accusing those critical of Congress? recent regulatory rollback of having a ?fact-free debate.?

Quinn argues that ISPs safeguarded customer data just fine before the FCC introduced these rules, which he casts as the Obama administration putting its ?hand on the scales to pick winners and losers in the marketplace.?

The real problem, Quinn says, is that ?other internet companies, including operating system providers, web browsers, search engines, and social media platforms? are collecting and using customer information in shady ways.

That may well be true, but his argument doesn?t quite pass the smell test. Quinn is effectively saying, ?We totally don?t collect and profit from your personal information? ? while also saying, ?It?s not fair that other companies on the internet get to collect more information than we do.?

Verizon (which owns Huffington Post parent company AOL) also published a similar letter on the topic Friday, defending both its privacy record and using the same tired line about regulatory ?consistency? to defend Congress? rollback this week.

?Let?s set the record straight,? writes chief privacy office Karen Zacharia. ?Verizon does not sell the personal web browsing history of our customers. We don?t do it and that?s the bottom line.

?Consumers benefit and innovations flourish when there is one consistent consumer privacy framework that applies to all internet companies and users in the internet ecosystem.?

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Orange County Sheriff’s Department Admitted To Cultivating ‘Hundreds Of Jailhouse Informants,’ Lawyer Says

LOS ANGELES ? A notorious jailhouse informant program in Orange County has been maintained and promoted for decades by the OC Sheriff?s Department, whose leadership and staff were committed to illegally concealing it ? those are the explosive allegations from Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders stemming from his review of more than 5,600 internal sheriff?s department documents.

The trove of documents still remains under seal from the public, but Sanders outlined his extensive findings in a blistering motion filed Thursday in the ongoing case against Scott Dekraai, Sanders? client. Dekraai pleaded guilty to killing his ex-wife and seven other people at a Seal Beach hair salon in 2011, in what remains the deadliest mass shooting in county history.

Dekraai still awaits the penalty phase of his case, which has stalled because of egregious misconduct from prosecutors and sheriff?s deputies in their use of jail informants. 

According to Sanders? latest brief, it appears the government deception was far worse than previously understood.

OCSD stopped calling informants ?informants? and started calling them ?sources of information? in order to mislead, according to Sanders.

The new document trove, along with OCSD policy manuals Sanders had previously obtained, reveal that the sheriff?s department changed official vernacular inside the agency in an attempt to ?create cover for false testimony [by their deputies] about the use of informants.? 

Sanders says deputies were ordered to stop calling informants ?informants? and instead call them ?sources of information.? Sanders argues the agency later changed its policy manuals to suggest that ?informants? and ?sources of information? were two different categories of inmates.

Sanders calls the switch ? which allowed deputies to deny a jailhouse informant program existed during the Dekraai hearings ? a ?shameful ?inside joke?? played on Dekraai, his defense team and the court.  

The sheriff?s department currently denies that an informant program exists ? but it admitted to cultivating ?hundreds? of informants a decade ago, Sanders says. 

While the pile of evidence that a jail informant program exists in the county has only grown in the years since Dekraai?s case began, the sheriff?s department has continued to deny it.

?The deputies in the jail are not conducting investigations … we don?t have our folks working informants,? Sheriff Sandra Hutchens has said.

But the cache of documents Sanders reviewed contains numerous internal memos circulated widely among command staff within the OCSD describing the ?need to develop and cultivate informants, the importance of utilizing informants and the details of what informants were sharing,? Sanders notes.

The documents Sanders has examined suggest that the sheriff?s department has ?likely managed well over a thousand informants over the past several decades.?

Sanders cites an email from the document trove that reveals the Special Handling unit, which formerly oversaw inmates and informants inside county jails, claimed that nearly a decade ago it had already ?cultivated hundreds of jailhouse informants.?

Sanders says that according to the contents of the document trove, numerous high-ranking staff members reporting to Sheriff Hutchens are ?fully knowledgeable? about the jailhouse informant program. Those include newly named OCSD public information officer Lt. Lane Lagaret, who previously served as a special handling unit supervisor during the controversial period that produced the once-secret deputy log.

Sanders specifically cites an email that was allegedly once posted on the wall of the special handling unit?s office, sent to Lagaret by deputies under his command, which Sanders says ?emphasized? the role of deputies in their ?cultivating and managing? informants in the jail. The contents of that email is redacted from Sanders? brief as it remains under seal.

The Huffington Post contacted Lagaret about Sanders? allegations against OCSD. Lagaret said he?d heard about the brief, but had not read it. 

?I am not going to make a statement in reference to the brief or any of its contents,? Lagaret said. ?In reference to the email Sanders is referencing, I haven?t read the brief and do not know of any email he references.? 

HuffPost asked for a copy of the email and forwarded the section of the brief describing the email to Lagaret so he could review the allegations, but Lagaret declined to comment further.

?I don?t intend to comment on what he wrote until called upon to do so in court,? Lagaret said.

There are likely still countless key documents missing.

Sanders says the recent trove of documents, along with other internal records he?s obtained, reveals the ?true scope of the jailhouse informant effort? and indicates the presence of far more internal OCSD documentation surrounding their informant effort than has been turned over or even known to exist.

These new documents reference other kinds of logs beyond the special handling log ? module deputy logs, sergeant activity logs, daily briefing logs, administrative segregation logs, none of which have been turned over to the court.

In the Dekraai case, the more than 1,000 pages in the special handling log that OCSD turned over represents just seven of the 65 months Dekraai has spent jailed in the county.

Deputies who have testified in the Dekraai case committed ?flagrant perjury,? the public defender says.

Three OCSD special handling deputies ? Seth Tunstall, William Grover and Ben Garcia ? have all testified about their understanding of an informant program during special evidentiary hearings in the Dekraai case. And the testimony of all three has continued to be undermined by new documents and prior testimony Sanders found from other cases. 

In a 2015 ruling, Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals called out Tunstall and Garcia for having ?either intentionally lied or willfully withheld information? during their testimony in the Dekraai case. But Sanders says the newly discovered testimony, as well as previously hidden documents, shows that all three deputies committed ?flagrant perjury? in their testimony.

In a 2013 statement Tunstall made in a search warrant for a different case, the deputy wrote that he had ?cultivated, interviewed and supervised numerous confidential informants? and that one of the duties of his unit included ?developing? informants. In 2015, though, he disavowed his earlier admissions, claiming he had used the ?wrong? words. 

But Sanders cites testimony given by Tunstall in two prior cases elicited by Assistant District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh, in which Tunstall freely admitted his duties included developing informants. Sanders also cites a letter Tunstall wrote in support of the outstanding work of one his best jailhouse informants. 

In Garcia?s original testimony in 2014, he never mentioned an entire jail records system that special handling deputies use to track inmates and informants. In 2015, when questioned about why he didn?t bring up the system, he claimed he couldn?t talk about it in court because that?s how the deputies were trained. 

But Sanders located testimony from Garcia in a separate 2009 homicide case in which he appeared to speak openly about the tracking system, how it was used to document the movements of inmates, and how that information was compiled within a computer database.

During Grover?s 2014 testimony in the Dekraai case, he downplayed his work with informants, saying he spent ?less than zero? time working with informants. ?That?s not my focus,? he said. ?That?s not my scope. I generally am consumed with administrative duties.?

But the once-hidden special handling log contains daily entries by Grover depicting his interaction with informants over nearly five years. Sanders also obtained an internal performance evaluation of Grover in which Grover ?proudly wrote of his efforts with informants.? In that record, Sanders says, his first major accomplishment he wanted to discuss with his supervisor involved a jailhouse informant. Further, a newly discovered slideshow presentation regarding informant use appears to have been created by Grover and directs those who view it to contact him. 

Sanders also cites a key email written by Grover before his testimony in the Dekraai case, stating that OCSD was no longer calling informants ?informants.?

OCDA delayed the release of additional deputy logs in order to ensure a death sentence in a separate murder case, Sander says.

In June, after years of denials, the OCDA?s office finally acknowledged that an informant program does indeed exist and that sheriff?s deputies actively ?recruited and utilized? informants and rewarded them for information. The admission followed the discovery of the 1,000-page special handling log that shed new light on the scope of the informant program inside county jails. 

But Sanders says a series of emails discovered in the new document cache indicate that the OCDA took possession of still more deputies? logs in June 2016 and decided to delay their release to the court until December 2016.

Sanders argues that a deeply troubling but ?likely? explanation for the delay was related to the timing of the sentencing in a separate murder case ? that of Daniel Wozniak, whom Sanders also represents. According to Sanders, the mere existence of these logs would have impeached testimony in hearings held earlier in the Wozniak case. 

By withholding the log until after Wozniak?s case was completed in September 2016, it helped to ?ensure that a death sentence … would be imposed? on Wozniak without the issue emerging or the case being delayed, Sanders says.

When asked about the allegations, OCDA directed The Huffington Post to a December 2016 OCDA press release about the special handling log. The release does not address the allegations of intentional delay.

OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has maintained that no one in his office intentionally behaved inappropriately in relation to the jailhouse informant program. OCSD argues similarly and that it has taken steps to create more robust ways of documenting and managing inmates.

The Justice Department announced in December that it was investigating allegations that the informant program used by the sheriff?s and district attorney?s offices had violated defendants? rights. 

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced this week that he will continue to seek the death penalty against Dekraai, despite his case being tainted by government misconduct. 

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Secret Service Laptop Holding Trump Tower Floor Plans Stolen From Agent’s Car

A laptop computer containing Trump Tower floor plans and other sensitive intelligence was stolen from a Secret Service agent?s parked vehicle in New York, authorities said.

The theft occurred Thursday morning in Brooklyn, according to CBS News. The Secret Service confirmed the theft.

?Secret Service issued laptops contain multiple layers of security including full disk encryption and are not permitted to contain classified information,? the Secret Service said in a statement.

It?s unclear whether the theft was random, or whether the agent was targeted, according to CBS New York.

NYPD detectives are searching for the laptop. A police source told the New York Daily News that ?it?s a very big deal? and ?they?re scrambling like mad? to catch the thief.

Along with Trump Tower floor plans, the laptop contained sensitive information about the investigation into Hilary Clinton?s campaign emails. Sensitive documents also were taken from the agent?s car, according to CBS2 News, which didn?t elaborate.

The theft adds to a string of recent embarrassments for the Secret Service. Two agents face an internal investigation after allegedly taking a photo of Trump?s sleeping grandchild during a protective detail last week. A week ago, a White House intruder was able to stay on the grounds for 15 minutes before Secret Service agents finally caught him.

The Secret Service ranked dead-last in a 2016 employee survey of 305 federal agencies for employee satisfaction, according to The Washington Post. 

Authorities said they are looking for a white man wearing dark clothing.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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