Top 5 Live-WURD Monday May 18
1. FBI experts to examine Amtrak train’s windshield
The National Transportation Safety Board is tapping FBI experts to investigate whether a mark on the windshield of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 was made by a hurled projectile — or even a bullet — before it derailed in Philadelphia last week, killing eight and injuring more than 200.
“The FBI will be on the scene (Monday) to assist us to identify what that may have been,” NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
At least two other trains — a regional Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority train and an Amtrak Acela — reported being struck with projectiles in the area near the crash site.
SEPTA passenger Alfred Price told CNN he heard a loud boom before the train he was riding on came to a stop, and the engineer, who appeared shaken, told passengers something had hit the train. A photo of the front of the SEPTA train shows a circular crack on the windshield.
2.Death Penalty For Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
After listening to testimony from 63 witnesses and deliberating since Wednesday, a jury of seven women and five men in Boston gave convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the death penalty.
There was no visible reaction from either Tsarnaev or his legal team. The jury sentenced Tsarnaev to die on counts 4, 5, 9, 10, 14 and 15. Those counts, all of which are tied to the use of the bomb, include the following:
Count 4: Use of a weapon of mass destruction
Count 5: Possession or use of a firearm
Count 9: Bombing of a place of public use
Count 14: Malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive.
Seventeen of the 30 charges against Tsarnaev carried the possibility of the death penalty. The jurors had to vote for death on only one charge.
3. Accused in sting case cites race bias
Charles Peruto, the defense lawyer for State Rep. Louise Williams Bishop, who was arrested in a corruption sting, wants the charges against her dismissed, saying she was targeted because she is African American.
To make his case, Peruto cites Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s repeated statements that the case may have been tainted by racial prejudice.
Peruto noted that Kane, in defending her decision to not pursue the sting, said the lead investigator in the case had said he had been directed to target blacks.
Kane spokesman Church Ardo said last week that the attorney general’s views on the sting had not changed.
“She stands by her opinion about the merits of the case – or lack of merits, as the case may be,” Ardo said.
4. Abu Sayyaf, key ISIS figure in Syria, killed in U.S. raid
U.S. special operations forces killed a key ISIS commander during a raid in eastern Syria overnight Friday to Saturday — securing intelligence on how the terror organization operates, communicates and earns money, U.S. government officials said.
The ISIS commander, Abu Sayyaf, was killed in a heavy firefight after he resisted capture in the raid at al-Omar, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement.
The officials identified Sayyaf’s captured wife as Umm Sayyaf, an Iraqi. She is now being held in Iraq.
The U.S. government did not release Sayyaf’s real name, but Hisham Alhashimi, an Iraqi writer and researcher specializing in ISIS and other security threats, identified one possibility as Nabil Saddiq Abu Saleh al-Jabouri, a close associate of chief ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani. Iraqi officials could not be immediately reached to confirm or deny Alhashimi’s claim.
5. Maryland Chooses Jail Over Schools for Baltimore Youths
Two days after Maryland officials approved spending $30 million of taxpayer funds on a shiny new jail for Baltimore youth caught in the snare of the criminal justice system, Gov. Larry Hogan removed $11.6 million from the city’s school budget and reallocated it to the pension fund for state employees, The Baltimore Sun reported.
The budget decisions reflect a pattern in Maryland and across the U.S. of prioritizing spending on incarceration over education—calling to mind what’s become known as the “school-to-prison pipeline”—and the elderly over the young.
On the heels of violent unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, which focused attention on the city’s racial and economic inequities, Hogan’s choice to defund education has garnered criticism.
“Given how the needs of our children have been highlighted by the events of the past few weeks, I hoped that the governor would have agreed with the general assembly that these dollars are critical for expanded educational opportunities,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said at a news conference following Hogan’s announcement.
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon