Meldungen (Feeds)

Top Republicans Pretend Donald Trump Didn’t Just Say U.S. Muslims Shield Terrorists

The Intercept - Engl. - Ça, 15/06/2016 - 20:42

The Intercept asked prominent Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday if they reject Donald Trump’s conspiracy theory that American Muslims are shielding terrorists.

Trump said in a speech Monday that Muslims “have to work with us. They know what’s going on. They know that [the Orlando shooter] was bad. They knew the people in San Bernardino were bad. But you know what? They didn’t turn them in.”

Despite the fact that Trump’s speech was covered by CNN, NBC, MSNBC, Fox News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere, many lawmakers pled ignorance about his remarks.

“Honestly, I do not know what Mr. Trump said because I’ve been working on the defense bill,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told us. “But are American Muslims cooperating with law enforcement authorities?” we followed up. “You can say whatever you like, sir, but I have not seen any of it,” he said, and ducked into an elevator.

McCain has condemned anti-Muslim conspiracy theories in the past, even among his supporters. During the 2008 presidential election, McCain was praised for telling a crowd of supporters that then-Sen. Obama was “not an Arab” and “a decent family man and citizen.” McCain was booed by his supporters.

Sen. Mark Kirk, R.-Ill., also refused to comment. “I didn’t see Donald Trump’s speech,” he told us. We asked him if he thinks Muslims are cooperating with law enforcement, and he repeated himself, then entered an elevator, leaving us behind.

Kirk is in a tight Senate race against Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D.-Ill., who criticized him for his previous support of Trump. Last week Kirk rescinded his endorsement of Trump over comments Trump made about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. But Kirk previously came under fire in 2005 for saying that he is “O.K. with discrimination against young Arab males from terrorist-producing states.”

Sen. Bob Corker, R.-Tenn., refused to say anything about Trump’s remarks other than that he was “somewhat discouraged by the direction things are going, in the campaign itself.”

“I don’t feel like I have to respond to everything that’s being said out there,” Corker said.

You would think this would be an easy conspiracy theory for Republican lawmakers to reject: the bigoted accusation that 3.3 million American Muslims are identifying and shielding terrorists in their midst. But you’d be wrong.

Some lawmakers expressed uncertainty.

Rep. Peter King, R.-N.Y., the powerful former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee called it a “difficult question,” and said “we’ll talk some other time.” In 2011, King received backlash from the Muslim community for saying that “80 percent of Mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams.”

“I have to make that assumption, I don’t know,” Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said, when asked whether American Muslims were cooperating with law enforcement. “You’re asking me for a definitive answer. I have no basis to make that answer. I don’t know.”

When confronted with Trump’s words, Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., repeatedly stated that he didn’t see the speech so he didn’t want to comment. After being asked whether Muslims in particular are cooperating with law enforcement, he offered the non-answer: “All law-abiding Americans are cooperating with law enforcement.”

Some Republicans cautiously stood by Trump’s remarks.

“I’m certain not everyone is cooperating. I do agree not everyone is cooperating,” Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Tex., said. We followed up by asking if it’s true that Muslims are systematically teaming up to withhold information from law enforcement. “I don’t have any facts to judge the truth of that statement. I don’t have enough facts to judge whether that’s true or not,” he concluded.

“I haven’t heard what he said, or any details about it,” said Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga. Asked whether he thought American Muslims were cooperating, Loudermilk said “I think that it’s segmented. Some are. Some aren’t.”

Only one lawmaker interviewed by The Intercept was willing to plainly reject Trump’s remarks. Senator Jeff Flake, R.-Ariz., who has called on members of his party to withhold endorsements from Trump. When asked whether American Muslims are withholding information about terror plots, Flake said “I see no evidence of that.” He went on to denounce an immigration ban on Muslims entering the United States.

“That’s why I’ve always said that a ban on Muslims, a religious test, it’s wrong. It’s constitutionally inconsistent,” Flake said. “More than that, it’s the opposite strategy we should employ if we want to win the war on terrorism, and identify the .001 percent of those who want to do us harm. The last thing we want to do is go out and offend the 99.99 percent of those Muslims that feel the same way that everybody else does.”

The idea that American Muslims are systematically shielding terrorists is unfounded. The community has actually been active in preventing terrorism. In the 12 years that followed the September 11 attacks, almost two out of every five Al Qaeda plots in the United States were prevented thanks to tips generated from American Muslims, according to a database compiled by the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

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The post Top Republicans Pretend Donald Trump Didn’t Just Say U.S. Muslims Shield Terrorists appeared first on The Intercept.

Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 32016-Die 360-Grad-Nato

Hintergrund.de - Ça, 15/06/2016 - 19:47

Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 3/2016

Die 360-Grad-Nato

Jürgen Wagner

Anmerkungen und Quellen

(1)  Nach der endgültigen Entscheidung beim NATO-Treffen im Mai 2016 dürfte auch Montenegro in absehbarer Zeit beitreten.
(2)  Offiziell übernahm die NATO erst ab 2003 das Kommando des NATO-Einsatzes in Afghanistan, zuvor wurde der Einsatz von einer Ad-Hoc-Koalition angeführt.
(3)  Popularisiert wurde der Begriff vom Neuen Kalten Krieg vor allem von Lucas, Edward: The New Cold War: Putin's Russia and the Threat to the West, New York/Basingstoke 2008.
(4)  The New Strategic Concept: Active Engagement, Modern Defence, Speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the German Marshall Fund of

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Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 32016- Postwachstum

Hintergrund.de - Ça, 15/06/2016 - 19:47

Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 3/2016

Postwachstum

Philipp Koebnik

Anmerkungen und Quellen

 (1)  Vgl. Muraca, Barbara, Wie alles anfing. Die ersten radikalen Wachstumskritiker gab es in Frankreich, von dort sprang der Funke auf südeuropäische Länder über, in: Atlas der Globalisierung – Weniger wird mehr, hg. von Le Monde diplomatique / Jenaer Kolleg Postwachstumsgesellschaften, Berlin 2015, S. 108-111; Schmelzer, Matthias Passadakis, Alexis, Postwachstum – Krise, ökologische Grenzen und soziale Rechte, Attac Basis Texte 36, Hamburg 2011, S. 58-66.
 (2)  Vgl. Latouche, Serge, Es reicht! Abrechnung mit dem Wachstumswahn, München 2015, S. 24-26.
 (3)  Vgl. Fücks, Ralf, Öko-Biedermeier vs. ökologische Moderne: Die grüne Revolution, in:

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Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 32016-Der kalkulierte Mensch und die berechnete Demokratie

Hintergrund.de - Ça, 15/06/2016 - 19:47

Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 3/2016

Der kalkulierte Mensch und die berechnete Demokratie

Andreas von Westphalen

Anmerkungen und Quellen

(1)          Zitiert nach: Eli Pariser: Filter Bubble, S. 244.
(2)          Evgeny Morozov: Smarte neue Welt, S. 248.
(3)          Eli Pariser: Filter Bubble, S. 11.
(4)          Eli Pariser: Filter Bubble, S. 10.
(5)          Vgl. Kai Schlieter: Die Herrschaftsformel, S. 148.
(6)          Eli Pariser: Filter Bubble, S. 118.
(7)          Eli Pariser: Filter Bubble, S. 16.
(8)          Eli Pariser: Filter Bubble, S. 55.
(9)  

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Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 32016-Höchstmaß an politischer Subversion

Hintergrund.de - Ça, 15/06/2016 - 19:47

Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 3/2016

Höchstmaß an politischer Subversion

Matthias Rude

Anmerkungen und Quellen

(1)          In seiner Dissertation aus dem Jahr 1841. – Karl Marx: Differenz der demokratischen und epikureischen Naturphilosophie nebst einem Anhang, in: Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels: Werke. Ergänzungsband, Erster Teil, Berlin 1968, S. 257-373, S. 263.
(2)          Alle drei dienten als Vorbilder für Mary Shelleys Figuren. Byrons Freund Matthew Gregory Lewis veranstaltete in der Villa Diodati eine Lesung aus Goethes Faust; Pechmann schreibt dazu: „Mary Shelley kannte also Goethes Figur des Gelehrten Faust, dessen Unzufriedenheit mit einer Welt, die seinem Streben Grenzen setzt, ihn

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Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 32016-Nachgehakt: Schuss vor den Bug?

Hintergrund.de - Ça, 15/06/2016 - 19:47

Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 3/2016

Nachgehakt: Schuss vor den Bug?

Hubert Beyerle

Anmerkungen und Quellen

(1) Larry Elliot, Dan Atkinson: Europe isn’t Working, Yale University Press, 2016

 

DuPont May Dodge Toxic Lawsuits By Pulling a Disappearing Act

The Intercept - Engl. - Ça, 15/06/2016 - 18:59

Sometime back in the early 1980s — Craig Skaggs can’t recall the exact year — a DuPont executive vice president ordered a thorough review of the company’s waste sites. A new hire named Martha Rees was given the job of compiling a list of all the places the company had manufactured, used, and dumped chemicals. “She was this young attorney that had been assigned this grunt work, really,” said Skaggs, who worked in government affairs for DuPont from 1974 until 2001. “And she’d come to my office frequently.”

It was a different era back when Rees started writing what would become known as “the Rees Report.” Love Canal, the environmental disaster in Niagara Falls, New York, in which a school was built on top of a toxic dump, had awakened Americans to the idea that industrial chemicals might be dangerous. Judging from Rees’s assignment, DuPont, which jointly owned a company that played a bit role in the Love Canal disaster, seems to have taken notice, too.

But appreciation of the extent of the harm posed by DuPont’s chemical plants dawned slowly, according to Skaggs. Back when the project began — and quickly expanded from a memo to a report to a “whole filing system” — the dangers of environmental waste were still remote and abstract enough for at least some at the company to joke about. “We used to call it a barrel of di-double-do-bad,” Skaggs said of the waste, which he recalls as being subject to the out-of-sight, out-of-mind treatment. “It was, take it to the dump, just dump it behind the building.”

Tracking the contents of all these barrels, pits, dumps, leaks, landfills, spills, and waste streams over time was a monumental task. Even back in the 1980s, the company, which was founded in 1802, had an environmental trail that defied cataloguing. “There were waste sites from the ’50s and ’40s,” said Skaggs, who remembers there being 113 plants at the time — and the waste sites as being far more numerous. “Waste would be hauled off in drums and taken to these sites and buried. And often, these sites were owned by other people.”

Rees was meticulous, combing through legal files within the company, interviewing employees who might know about older waste sites, and researching property records for evidence of the company’s disposal records over the years, according to Skaggs. “It was a huge thing,” he said, admiringly. “She did a great job.”

Martha Rees, who according to her LinkedIn profile retired from the company in 2015, did not return repeated calls inviting her to participate in this article. In response to inquiries about the Rees Report, DuPont spokesperson Daniel Turner wrote in an email, “It is hard to comment on the recollections of a former DuPont employee only to say that the employee may be mistaken.”

More than 30 years later, the question of how many waste and cleanup sites the company created in its more than two centuries of operation has taken on new urgency. Early this month, a trial got underway in Ohio over the industrial chemical PFOA (also known as C8). The trial is the fourth of six bellwether personal injury cases against DuPont stemming from a massive class-action lawsuit.

Last July, DuPont spun off its “performance chemicals” division, forming a new company known as Chemours, along with responsibility for a large portion of its environmental liabilities, including litigation over PFOA. Then, in December, DuPont announced plans to merge what was left of its company with another chemical giant, Dow, and to divide the resulting corporate colossus into three separate entities.

Source: Sec filings, Ycharts as of Dec. 31, 2015.

Graphic: The Intercept

Together, the moves leave those struggling with DuPont’s environmental legacy with lots of questions. So even as they’re litigating the case of David Freeman, an Ohio man who developed testicular cancer after drinking water contaminated with PFOA, attorneys have also been asking the court to compel DuPont to demonstrate its ability to cover any awards to Freeman and other plaintiffs.

In particular, they want to know “where the liabilities and obligations of DuPont will fall” if the merger takes place. In their most recent legal brief in what is known as the Leach case, submitted on May 11 to Federal Judge Edmund Sargus, lawyers reiterated fears that the proposed Dow-DuPont merger “may be an attempt to extinguish DuPont’s liability” for claims related to PFOA. “DuPont reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from the manufacture of C-8 at its Washington Works plant and is now taking the position that not one Leach class member is entitled to compensation for injuries linked to their exposure to C-8.”

In its own brief, filed on May 4, DuPont said there had been no decision yet as to how the emerging companies will handle the costs in the PFOA cases and called the plaintiffs’ request for documents premature as well as “improper and intrusive.” DuPont’s lawyers also said that the plaintiffs’ accusations that the company was dodging its responsibilities were “merely speculative.”

Those awaiting their day in court said they were worried not just that DuPont would try to duck out of its financial responsibilities, but that the company might disappear entirely. While DuPont has repeatedly promised that it will cover its liabilities, plaintiffs’ lawyers responded that those assurances are meaningless “if DuPont fails to exist, which is likely after the impending merger.”

“I’m afraid DuPont will vanish,” said Rob Bilott, the attorney who oversees the class-action suit.

A Financially Shaky Spinoff

The company DuPont spun off in July, Chemours — meant to rhyme with “Nemours,” as in DuPont’s founder, Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours — assumed a heavy load from its corporate parent. The assets it inherited — including 37 active chemical plants and DuPont’s fluorochemical division — accounted for just 19 percent of DuPont’s $35 billion in sales in 2014. Chemours also assumed 62 percent of DuPont’s environmental liabilities, including 174 polluted sites.

As part of the agreement, Chemours assumed legal responsibility for DuPont’s costs in “product liability, intellectual property, commercial, environmental and anti-trust lawsuits,” according to the filings. But some fear that Chemours will be unable to fulfill those obligations. Jeffrey Dugas, a spokesperson for Keep Your Promises DuPont, which represents people living near DuPont’s West Virginia plant who were exposed to PFOA, saw the spinoff as a deliberate dodge. “It looked to us like another way for DuPont to avoid paying the people of the mid-Ohio valley what they were owed,” said Dugas. “All of a sudden these massive liabilities are being transferred to a poorly capitalized company.”

Chemours’s first year has been financially shaky. Since opening at $21.00 a share a year ago, the company’s stock has fallen to $8.34. While DuPont has promised to cover some of the new company’s liabilities if necessary, that promise won’t necessarily cover all the company’s costs, as Chemours spelled out in its February SEC filings. “DuPont has agreed to indemnify us for such liabilities, but such indemnity from DuPont may not be sufficient to protect us against the full amount of such liabilities, and DuPont may not be able to fully satisfy its indemnification obligations.”

One financial website recently put Chemours’s chances of bankruptcy at 50 percent. Another, Citron Research, went further, concluding in early June that Chemours is “a bankruptcy waiting to happen,” and likening DuPont’s “dump-off” of liabilities to its treatment of PFOA itself. “While chemical giant DuPont has spent 60 years dumping waste around its facilities, they have spent the past 11 months dumping this ‘toxic spinoff’ on Wall Street.”

With Chemours’s creation, DuPont was “diabolically using the legal system to avoid liability,” according to Citron, which spelled out the gambit this way: “Create a bad entity that is designed to fail, so the good entity can be spared the reputational and liability damage.” The financial website predicted that it will take Chemours 18 months to go bankrupt, “just long enough for the new Dow/DuPont to split into three companies, and create separate entities that will all fight for indemnification from this financial toxic dumpsite of liabilities.”

Citron, which has been publishing for 15 years, concluded that the spinoff amounted to “complete securities fraud” and that Chemours is “the most morally and financially bankrupt company that we have ever witnessed.”

A February announcement that DuPont would also indemnify the individual members of Chemours’s board, ensuring that none of them faced personal financial consequences, was no doubt a relief to the executives, including CEO Mark Vergnano, whose current salary is about $1.33 million before stock options. But it rattled some close to the PFOA litigation. “It’s not right that individuals in a corporation can make decisions that endanger millions of people and then walk away,” said Paul Brooks, a West Virginia doctor who helped tally the health consequences of the chemical.

In an email, DuPont’s Daniel Turner wrote, “DuPont remains committed to continuing to fulfill all of its environmental and legal obligations in accordance with existing local, state and federal regulatory guidelines. The indemnification provision we agreed to with Chemours does not take away any valid legal claims that plaintiffs have against DuPont for pre-spin operations or the right to collect from DuPont if DuPont is found liable in any related action.”

The statement also said that “under state and federal law, most, if not all of the Chemours active environmental remediation responsibilities are guaranteed by surety bonds or other forms of insurance that name the government as the beneficiary. Should Chemours fail to perform, the government may step in and use these funds to complete any required remediation.”

Chemours declined a request to comment for this story.

A Coming Together of Equals

If all goes according to plan, a unified DowDuPont could emerge as soon as October. Though the mega-company is anticipated to have a combined market capitalization of $130 billion, it may be hard for plaintiffs to access any of that money.

“Moving assets around can make it more difficult to recover,” said Lawrence A. Hamermesh, a professor of corporate law at Delaware Law School. The merged entity assumes the debts of the original companies that formed it, said Hamermesh. And depending how Dow DuPont chose to organize those debts, “it could get complicated.”

It could become more complicated still after DowDuPont splits into three separate companies — one for agricultural chemicals; another for “specialty products” such as Kevlar, Tyvek, and food additives; and a third that will specialize in chemicals used in cars, food packaging, and pharmaceuticals.

“With all these spinoffs and individual companies, it’s possible that the company that carries through all of this could end up having very few assets,” said Hamermesh.

It’s possible, too, that Chemours’s financial woes could derail the planned merger altogether, according to Donald Baker, an anti-trust attorney hired by Keep Your Promises DuPont. Since the merger has been envisioned as a coming together of equals, in which the shareholders of each company would take a 50 percent stake in the combined company, a financial failure at Chemours could alter that equation. “If Chemours went under, then some of the assignments to Chemours might be set aside as fraudulent for purposes of bankruptcy law,” said Baker. If that happened, “the Dow shareholders might feel that giving DuPont 50 percent or close of the combined company wasn’t worth it because DuPont was responsible for this big turd.”

Significant Environmental Liabilities

The exact size of that turd is subject to both interpretation and change. Last July, DuPont counted 171 contaminated Chemours sites; Chemours has since upped the number of sites to 174. Citing “adverse” circumstances, Chemours also acknowledged that the bill for its environmental burdens might be $611 million higher than its first estimate of $290 million.

One reason for the upward revision could be the ballooning exposure of PFOA litigation. In October, DuPont was found liable for $1.6 million in the first of more than 3,500 personal injury claims relating to the chemical. In February, the company settled another PFOA case for an undisclosed amount. And starting in May 2017, 40 more claims over DuPont’s PFOA liability are slated for trial.

The EPA’s recently revised health advisory, which lowered the amount of PFOA acceptable in drinking water from .4 to .07 parts per billion, may also affect the calculations. According to Chemours’s latest SEC filings, three of the sites where it used or made PFOA are subject to the new lower levels. And “EPA has determined that additional public water systems and private residential wells around” two of those sites may have to be filtered.

Among the other legal burdens assumed by Chemours is the cost of litigation over benzene, a carcinogen contained in some of DuPont’s paints. In December, a Texas jury awarded $8.4 million to a painter who developed leukemia after using the paints for years. And at least 27 more benzene cases, expected to cost the company between $200 and $300 million, were pending as of December, according to Chemours’ SEC filings. The spinoff company also faces some 2,180 upcoming suits over asbestos; 83 pending cases over silica, which also causes a deadly lung disease when inhaled; and four over butadiene, a known carcinogen that DuPont used to make neoprene.

Chemours is also obligated to clean up Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, where DuPont manufactured explosives from 1902 until 1994, and where lead salts, mercury, volatile organic compounds, explosive powders, chlorinated solvents, and detonated blasting caps still contaminate groundwater and soil. Chemours’ SEC filings estimated that the remediation, which began in 1985, may cost as much as $116 million to finish. And some residents fear that number is too low. Lisa Riggiola, a former Pompton Lakes city council member, said that for years, she and others in the community have been asking for a full inventory of the chemicals DuPont used and dumped in their hometown so they can understand the full extent of the contamination.

“We’ve never we seen it,” said Riggiola. “We still don’t know everything we need to know about the site.”

No doubt a detailed report on DuPont’s historical production sites would be helpful in determining the true scope of DuPont’s and Chemours’s liabilities. But Dupont’s Turner says the “Rees Report” that Skaggs remembers is nowhere to be found. “To the best of our knowledge we have found no evidence for a ‘Rees Report’ regarding ‘waste sites,’” he wrote in an email.

For his part, Craig Skaggs is confident his recollection of the report Martha Rees began compiling 30 years ago is accurate. “I’m sure it still exists somewhere,” said Skaggs. “And I’m sure it’s retained by the legal department.”

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The post DuPont May Dodge Toxic Lawsuits By Pulling a Disappearing Act appeared first on The Intercept.

Will the Supreme Court Crack Down on Louisiana’s Rogue Prosecutors?

The Intercept - Engl. - Ça, 15/06/2016 - 18:29

In a Louisiana case now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, lawyers for a death row inmate named David Brown are asking the justices to put a stop to what the outspoken jurist and author Alex Kozinski has called an “epidemic” of prosecutorial misconduct. One of the most common forms of such misconduct is the withholding of evidence that might exonerate or mitigate the guilt of a defendant. Failure to turn it over, according to the court’s seminal 1963 decision Brady v. Maryland, is a violation of due process. Brown’s lawyers argue that nothing less is at stake in their client’s case than the future of Brady and the right to due process in criminal proceedings.

Although prosecutors have bristled at Kozinski’s charge, there is certainly plenty of evidence to back up his claim. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, a project at the University of Michigan Law School, 933 of the nearly 1,800 exonerations to date involve official misconduct by prosecutors, police, or other government officials. Thirty-five of those exonerations come from the state of Louisiana alone, where prosecutors have a dismal record of complying with their legal obligations. According to Pace University School of Law professor Bennett Gershman, a leading expert on prosecutorial misconduct, many of Louisiana’s prosecutors “have an incomplete and even warped understanding of the Brady rule, and their enforcement of their Brady duty is deficient.” In Kozinski’s estimation, it is the duty of the courts to solve the misconduct problem. “Only judges can put a stop to it.”

A prisoner, far right, behind layers of razor-wire fencing at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, La., on April 22, 2009.

Photo: Judi Bottoni/AP Images

A Gruesome Discovery

On the evening of December 28, 1999, six inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola, embarked on a plan to break out of the notorious prison. The plan was relatively straightforward: One or more of the plotters would don uniforms stolen from guards and then lead the remaining inmates out of the prison camp and into the parking lot where they would steal a car and flee. But almost immediately, things went sideways.

Prison guard Captain David Knapps happened to be leaving an employee bathroom as the inmates were moving through the prison hallway. One of the prisoners, a man named Barry Edge, struck Knapps over the head with a mallet. When Knapps fell to the floor, a second inmate asked David Brown to help drag Knapps back into the bathroom and out of sight. Knapps was bleeding, but he continued to kick at Brown. Brown later said he told the guard to relax and that “nothing’s going to happen to you. Nobody’s going to hurt you. Just be cool, you know. Relax a little.” He offered Knapps some water, he said, and then left the bathroom, leaving the guard behind with Edge and another inmate.

Outside the bathroom, the situation quickly devolved into chaos. Additional guards came into the hall and the inmates tried to round them up. Brown admitted to tying together the shoelaces of two guards and attempting to gag one in an effort to incapacitate them. Several of the inmates eventually gave up, while others had to be subdued by the prison’s tactical assault team. Brown recalled sitting down and putting his hands up in surrender. Guards killed one inmate, who was allegedly wielding a shank, before corralling and cuffing the others.

Then there was the gruesome discovery inside the employee bathroom. Knapps was dead; he’d been beaten and repeatedly stabbed. Blood was everywhere. Brown said he was shocked — when he’d last seen Knapps, the guard was injured but very much alive.

Five of the inmates — known as the Angola Five — were eventually indicted for capital murder. The state sought the death penalty against each. By the time Brown’s trial began in October 2011, he was the third to be tried for the crime. One of the inmates, Jeffrey Clark, had already been sentenced to death and a second inmate had been given a life term. But it wasn’t exactly a slam-dunk death case for the Louisiana prosecutors. The five defendants were responsible for the plot to break out of prison and thus could be held responsible for Knapps’s murder. But when it came to punishment, there was no clear indication of which inmate dealt the fatal blows, nor was there an independent eyewitness or other exacting evidence that could definitively demonstrate how things went down or who was responsible for what.

Brown claimed he had absolutely nothing to do with the murder and that in devising the escape, the conspirators never intended to hurt anyone. Even so, Brown was found guilty and sentenced to die.

Inmates are let outside at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, La., Sept. 9, 2013.

Photo: Angel Franco/The New York Times/Redux

We Didn’t Have to Kill Him

As it turns out, however, an important piece of evidence existed that could have helped to corroborate Brown’s account: a 37-page statement provided by an Angola inmate named Richard Domingue that was never turned over by prosecutors to Brown’s lawyer. Domingue was friends with Edge, the inmate who Brown said remained in the bathroom with Knapps. According to Domingue, Edge bragged that he and conspirator Clark were responsible for Knapps’s death. According to the statement, as related in court filings, Edge told Domingue that he and Clark decided to kill him. “We didn’t have to kill him,” Domingue recalled. “He said we could have let him live. He said we did it. We made a decision to kill him to help our self.”

The statement was taken by prosecutors Hugo Holland and Tommy Block — the same pair who handled all the Angola Five cases — and was obtained months before Brown was ever tried. But Brown’s appeal attorneys only found out about the statement some four months after Brown was convicted, when the prosecutors sought to introduce it as evidence at Edge’s capital trial.

In 2012, Brown’s court-appointed appellate lawyers filed a motion seeking a new trial for Brown, claiming that the state improperly withheld the Domingue statement in violation of Brady v. Maryland, which requires the state to turn over evidence that is material to a determination of guilt or punishment. The Angola Five prosecutors had clearly violated that mandate, Brown’s lawyers argued.

In September 2014, Judge Jerome Winsberg, who presided over each of the Angola Five prosecutions, entertained the motion and heard testimony from Domingue. Three months later, Winsberg affirmed Brown’s conviction — there was plenty of evidence of guilt — but granted him a new punishment hearing. “The jury did not have the benefit of all of the evidence in the case that could have been presented,” Winsberg ruled.

The state appealed the decision and the reviewing courts, including the Louisiana Supreme Court, overturned Winsberg’s ruling, concluding that Brown had failed to demonstrate that the outcome of his trial would have been different if he’d been able to present Domingue’s statement.

Brown’s appeal attorneys argue that Louisiana’s prosecutors and appeals courts simply misunderstand and misinterpret their Brady obligations. In their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, the lawyers note that the evidence withheld from Brown is almost identical in nature to what was improperly withheld by the state in the original Brady v. Maryland case.

The exterior of the Supreme Court of Louisiana in New Orleans, Aug. 24, 2007.

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

A Perverse Message to Prosecutors

In 1958, John Brady and Donald Boblit hatched a plan to steal a car from a Maryland man, William Brooks. In the course of the robbery, Brooks was killed. Brady and Boblit were tried for the murder and both were sentenced to death. At trial, in an effort to avoid the death penalty, Brady claimed that it was Boblit who’d actually killed Brooks; the jury didn’t buy it. What Brady didn’t know at the time was that prosecutors had withheld from his defense a statement Boblit provided to police in which he admitted strangling Brooks. The Supreme Court ruled in Brady’s favor: “The suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment,” Justice William Douglas wrote for the majority.

Brown’s attorneys argue that the duty of the Louisiana prosecutors to turn over Domingue’s statement is equally unambiguous. In an email to The Intercept, Pace’s Gershman wrote that if the Supreme Court fails to act in Brown’s case, it would send a “perverse message to lower courts and prosecutors that constitutional rules can be violated with impunity, and that there are no consequences, or any real accountability, for prosecutors who violate the rules.”

Louisiana’s prosecutors have repeatedly suppressed such evidence, and its courts have affirmed this conduct time and time again. According to a friend-of-the-court brief filed on behalf of Brown by several prominent legal ethicists — Ellen Yaroshefsky from Cardozo School of Law, Bruce Green from Fordham University, and Lawrence Fox from Yale — the federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have had to intervene in Louisiana cases involving Brady violations at least 19 times since 1980. The Supreme Court’s most recent intervention came in March, when it ruled it was “beyond doubt” that evidence withheld by prosecutors “undermines confidence” in the conviction of a defendant named Michael Wearry.

Yet neither the state’s courts nor its prosecutors seem to have learned the lessons of those cases. “Efforts to hold Louisiana prosecutors to account for withholding exculpatory evidence have failed,” the ethicists wrote. “We believe that when courts do not enforce Brady, they not only damage the integrity of the proceedings at issue, but also undermine public confidence in the legal system.”

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Die AfD als Partei des (alten) deutschen Militarismus

IMI Tübingen - Ça, 15/06/2016 - 13:35
Die rechtspopulistische „Alternative für Deutschland“ wurde in Vergangenheit vor allem für ihren gegen die EU gerichteten Nationalismus, sowie ihren flüchtlingsfeindlichen und antimuslimischen Rassismus kritisiert. Die militärpolitischen Positionen der Partei blieben von ihren Kritiker*innen dagegen bisher weitgehend unbeachtet. Dabei wünscht sich (…)

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Lager für Europa (II)

German Foreign Policy - Ça, 15/06/2016 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Die Kooperation der EU mit Libyen zur Flüchtlingsabwehr führt "direkt oder indirekt zu schockierenden Menschenrechtsverletzungen". Dies erklärt die Menschenrechtsorganisation Amnesty International in einem aktuellen Bericht zur Misshandlung von Flüchtlingen durch die libysche Küstenwache und in libyschen Haftzentren, in denen Flüchtlinge interniert werden. Brüssel unterstützt Libyens Küstenwache mit dem Ziel, sie in die Lage zu versetzen, eine weitaus größere Zahl an Flüchtlingen abzufangen; diese werden nach ihrer Festnahme gewöhnlich in Haftzentren verbracht. In den oft dramatisch überfüllten Lagern herrschen fürchterliche Lebensbedingungen. Amnesty hat jetzt außerdem zum wiederholten Male Fälle brutaler Misshandlungen von Flüchtlingen durch Lagerwachen bis hin zu kaltblütigem Mord dokumentiert. Der deutsche UN-Sonderbeauftragte für Libyen, Martin Kobler, hat kürzlich ein libysches Flüchtlings-Haftzentrum besucht; er fordert, die Lage zu entschärfen, indem Flüchtlinge in größerer Zahl in ihre Herkunftsländer zurückgebracht werden. Entsprechende Maßnahmen sind in Vorbereitung.

Despite Orlando Killer’s Desire to Glorify ISIS, Discussion Moves on to His Sexuality

The Intercept - Engl. - Sa, 14/06/2016 - 21:47

As the first details about the massacre in Orlando trickled out on Sunday, Ali H. Soufan, a former counterterrorism agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, watched the media coverage unfold in a familiar way.

Soufan, who now runs a consulting firm, told The Intercept that before it became known that the killer, in a call to the police during the attack, had dedicated his rampage to the leader of the Islamic State militant group, news reports focused on the timing and location of the shooting spree. An attack on an LGBT club during a month dedicated to expressing pride in that community — and the gunman’s personal profile — seemed strongly suggestive of a hate crime.

“He was not very religious, according to his ex-wife, mentally unstable, a wife beater, an abuser, and his father indicted that he was homophobic,” Soufan noted. “The coverage could been all about this, if he didn’t make that call from the bathroom before he goes down.”

“Look at what happened here,” Soufan said. “This is basically a mass shooting. Since Sandy Hook we’ve had about a thousand mass shootings, with more than a thousand people killed — and most of that didn’t get the same coverage as this because the killer said ‘This is ISIS.'”

Soufan observed that subsequent claims of responsibility for the attack on Islamic State channels on social media offered no evidence that the killer had been directed by or even made contact with anyone from the militant group, and seemed to just cite his dedication of the rampage to the group’s leader during a rambling conversation with a 911 operator.

So far, pro-IS accounts are repeating claims by US media that shooter gave bayaat to the terror group during the attack. Circular reporting.

— Ali H. Soufan (@Ali_H_Soufan) June 12, 2016

So, terror groups don't have to coordinate/direct ops anymore. It only takes a last minute phone call from a wannabe to declare allegiance.

— Ali H. Soufan (@Ali_H_Soufan) June 12, 2016

That seemed to be enough, Soufan noted, for some cultural commentators and opportunistic politicians to treat the deranged gunman’s shooting spree, which was possibly inspired by online calls to violence from the group, as identical to a terrorist attack planned and executed by the insurgents fighting to control Iraq and Syria.

“This falls into the trap of ISIS,” Soufan told The Intercept. “We’re talking about them even though they had nothing to do with it.”

“There is no indication whatever that he coordinated the attack with ISIS, that he had pledged allegiance before the attack, or that he had been in touch with ISIS,” Soufan said. “ISIS is getting a lot of publicity with no apparent connection to Omar Mateen.”

In an initial briefing on the attack, Soufan’s consulting firm, The Soufan Group, highlighted the way in which the killer’s own confused statements to the police dispatcher changed the focus of reporting. “The rush by law enforcement and intelligence officials to mitigate and investigate the attack is more than matched by the race to affix the cultural narrative, and therefore the meaning, of the attack.”

That reading was echoed by Charlie Winter, a senior research associate at Georgia State University’s Transcultural Conflict and Violence Initiative. “I think in the aftermath of an attack like this, nuance is everything,” Winter said in an interview with The Intercept. “Approaching this without nuance, we fall into the trap of taking ISIS at their word, and regurgitating its propaganda narrative.”

Winter added that “the framing occurs in the immediate aftermath of an attack,” when, he noted, there is always a high degree of uncertainty and initial reports can be marred by the rush to fit a spasm of violence into a known category. “It was decided early on that this attack would be viewed through an ISIS lens,” Winter noted.

Then, late Monday, a new frame appeared, as reports surfaced that raised the possibility that the gunman might have had more complex reasons for his choice of target than he was willing to admit to the 911 operator. At least four regular customers of Pulse, the nightclub where the massacre took place, told the Orlando Sentinel on Monday that Mateen had himself been a frequent patron. One of them, Ty Smith, who goes by the name Aries, said that he had seen Mateen drinking at the bar at least a dozen times. Smith’s partner, Chris Callen, who performs under the name Kristina McLaughlin, said that Mateen had “been going to this bar for at least three years.”

What happens on the right if Mateen really was motivated by his tortured sexuality and not his religion?

— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) June 14, 2016

He was clearly radicalized and swore allegiance to ISIS, but that may not be the sole cause. Many things can be true simultaneously.

— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) June 14, 2016

Within hours, more witnesses confirmed that they recognized Mateen and several people said that he had been in regular contact with them, for at least a year, on gay dating apps.

Former Pulse security guard tells ABC News she is "100% sure" she had thrown the #Orlando shooter out of the club multiple times in the past

— Michael Del Moro (@MikeDelMoro) June 14, 2016

As the Los Angeles Times reported, while it is possible that Mateen could have been spending time in the LGBT club in preparation for his attack, at least some of the people he interacted with saw him as a member of the community.

Kevin West, a regular at Pulse nightclub, said Omar Mateen messaged him on and off for a year before the shooting using the gay chat and dating app Jack’d.

But they never met – until early Sunday morning.

West was dropping off a friend at the club when he noticed Mateen – whom he knew by sight but not by name – crossing the street wearing a dark cap and carrying a black cellphone about 1 a.m., an hour before the shooting.

“He walked directly past me. I said, ‘Hey,’ and he turned and said, ‘Hey,’” and nodded his head, West said. “I could tell by the eyes.”

The idea that the killer might have been just posing as a gay man was undercut by a subsequent report in the Palm Beach Post that one of his former classmates said that Mateen had asked him out on a date a decade ago, when the two men were studying to be police officers and were part of a social circle that revolved around visits to four other LGBT bars.

Just as the initial coverage might have been marred by a rush to describe the killer’s motives as fitting neatly into the single category of terrorist attack, as more information comes out, there is a risk of over-correction — ascribing the rampage solely to rumors of his repressed sexuality and ignoring the fact that the threat from ISIS has mutated now that the group has used the web to encourage attacks by sympathizers in far-flung locations.

That Mateen reportedly pledged allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State in his calls to the police — and also said that “America needs to stop bombing ISIS in Syria,” according to a survivor of the hostage siege who overheard the conversation — suggests that he was at least aware of the militant group’s directions for carrying out such attacks. (The F.B.I. reopened an investigation into Mateen in 2014 after an acquaintance said that Mateen had mentioned watching video sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011. In one of his sermons, Awlaki had argued that the killing of Americans by Muslims required no special sanction.)

On Monday night in France, another attacker who appears to have been inspired rather than directed by ISIS, made sure to dedicate the killing a French police officer and his partner to the militant group in a chilling video streamed live on Facebook.

Au début de son Facebook live, le tueur de #Magnanville commence par prêter allégeance à Abu Bakr al Bagdadi pic.twitter.com/HGRa946gpz

— David Thomson (@_DavidThomson) June 14, 2016

As simplistic recipes for tackling such violence are being offered, it seems vital to instead embrace the complexity of each individual narrative that leads to an atrocity.

Online, as Charlie Winter noted, ISIS supporters “are being quite vocal that they want this to be an act of terrorism” motivated by U.S. foreign policy, and they are seeking to downplay the clearly homophobic nature of the violence.

By initially taking the troubled and confused Mateen at his word, and focusing so much attention on what he reportedly said in his phone calls to the police during the attack, Winter suggested that the media, investigators and politicians had helped frame his shooting spree as part of a political struggle. “That was absolutely what he wanted to happen and that completely changed how the attack was framed and how the attack’s going to be understood,” Winter said.

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Orlando Shooter Wasn’t the First Murderer Employed By Global Mercenary Firm

The Intercept - Engl. - Sa, 14/06/2016 - 19:44

The man who shot over 100 people and killed 49 in an Orlando nightclub Saturday worked at a retirement home as a security guard for G4S – a giant, often controversial global contracting corporation that provides mercenary forces, prison guards and security services. G4S is one of the world’s largest private security companies, with more than 620,000 employees and a presence in over 100 countries.

G4S confirmed in a statement that Omar Mateen had worked for the company since 2007, and said it was “shocked and saddened” by the shooting. A later statement said that Mateen was subject to “detailed company screening” in 2007 and again in 2013, “with no adverse findings.”

But one of Mateen’s former coworkers told the New York Times that he “saw it coming,” that Mateen “talked about killing people all the time,” and that he was “always angry, sweating, just angry at the world.”

The coworker, who said he quit his job due to harassment from Mateen, explained that he “complained multiple times” to G4S, because Mateen didn’t like “blacks, women, lesbians, and Jews.”

Yet G4S continued to employ Mateen, who was able to obtain a “security officer” license to buy firearms in addition to his state license and conceal carry permit.

Mateen was even allowed to work at G4S while under FBI investigation. According to the FBI, Mateen was suspected of involvement in terror in 2013. The FBI investigation included the use of paid informants, recording conversations, following him, electronic surveillance, and interviewing him three times, FBI Director James Comey said on Monday. The investigation was closed because it produced no hard evidence of terrorist complicity.

G4S’s statement says that Mateen was subject to “checks from a U.S. law enforcement agency with no findings reported to G4S.” But according to the New York Times, the investigation took place because of “reports from [Mateen’s] coworkers, that he… suggested he may have had terrorist ties.”

G4S has previously been accused of improperly vetting its employees. In 2009, Danny Fitzsimons, a former British paratrooper and employee of a G4S subsidiary, killed two colleagues in Iraq, claiming to be “the antichrist” and saying he “must satisfy” his “bloodlust.” An official investigation concluded that his employer did not properly vet his psychological health.

In 2007, G4S signed contracts with five Israeli prisons and “interrogation centers,” leading to accusations that it was complicit in torture and the imprisonment of children. In 2010, three G4S security guards killed an Angolan national during a deportation flight from the U.K., by restraining him in an asphyxiating position.

In January, five G4S officers were arrested after a BBC expose revealed systematic abuse and neglect at a G4S-run youth jails.

G4S has also become a focal point for the Israel-focused Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement over its partnerships with Israeli prisons and military checkpoints. Activist pressure has led to divestment from the company by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Methodist Church, and UNICEF in Jordan. G4S has since announced that it would end its Israeli prison contracts.

In 2002, G4S acquired the United States-based Wackenhut Corporation, a private security and prison contractor with a deeply troubled history, including the widespread sexual assault of inmates at a Texas detention center in 1999.

Wackenhut went on to win a contract to guard the U.S. Embassy at Kabul, worth $189 million over five years. In 2009, the Project on Government Oversight sent a letter to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with photographic evidence that embassy guards had created a “Lord of the Flies environment,” at the embassy, said to include guards and supervisors “peeing on people, eating potato chips out of [buttock] cracks, vodka shots out of [buttock] cracks… [drunken] brawls, threats and intimidation from those leaders participating in this activity.”

Nevertheless, Wackenhut was hired by the U.S. government and BP in 2010 to manage perimeter security for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf Coast.

In 2011, G4S won a contract to provide security for the 2012 London Olympics – only to overcharge the British government and provide understaffed security.

On the news that Mateen worked for G4S, the company’s stock dropped 6.6 percent, wiping out $280 million in company value.

Top Photo: FBI agents seen outside of Pulse nightclub after the fatal shooting in Orlando, Florida.

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How the FBI’s Pursue-Every-Lead Policy Allowed the Orlando Shooting

The Intercept - Engl. - Sa, 14/06/2016 - 18:27

The FBI first discovered Omar Mateen, the man who would kill 49 and injure more than 50 others at a gay nightclub, when he boasted of a friendship with terrorists.

Mateen told one of his co-workers at a private security firm in 2013 that he knew Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Mateen’s co-worker reported that information to the FBI.

Federal agents were already investigating Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s links to Ibragim Todashev, an Orlando man who was shot and killed during a scuffle with an FBI agent.

A link between the Boston Marathon bombers and another Florida man sounded plausible. Agents took the tip seriously and interviewed Mateen on two separate occasions.

Their conclusion: Mateen was spinning fantasies and wasn’t a threat. His file was closed.

If the investigating agents were required to close Mateen’s file, the reason wasn’t due to lack of legal authority. The bureau forces agents to close assessments because agents are pursuing thousands of assessments nationwide under a policy to pursue any and all leads, no matter how ridiculous they are.

The caseload can be overwhelming for FBI offices.

Jeff Danik, who recently retired after 29 years with the FBI, worked in the bureau’s counterterrorism section in South Florida. He didn’t investigate Mateen — but he knew the agents based in Fort Pierce who did.

“These guys do not let things get away from them in investigations,” Danik said. “They pushed it as hard as they could.”

The problem, Danik said, was the FBI’s bureaucracy. FBI brass want agents to show immediate results. “If you cannot come up with articulable facts in a short period of time, you’re required to shut these cases down,” Danik said.

The FBI later reopened its investigation of Mateen, because agents were concerned about his connections to Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, whose alias was Abu Hurayra al-Amriki. Abu-Salha joined the Nusra Front and became the first American suicide bomber in Syria. Before his death, he recorded a video in which he burned his U.S. passport.

“I went back to my home state, which is Florida,” Abu-Salha said in the video. “I stayed with my friend’s family. And it was no good. The reason I had to stay with them is that the state I was in, I finally realized I was being watched.”

Abu-Salha said he knew he was under FBI surveillance in Florida, and he was. Federal agents began investigating everyone he made contact with, including Mateen. But agents concluded that Abu-Salha’s contact with Mateen was minimal and that Mateen was not a threat.

Mateen’s FBI file was closed again.

Two years later, Mateen legally purchased an AR-57 assault rifle and a handgun, then opened fire on a crowded nightclub in Orlando.

Mateen’s transformation from not being a threat in the FBI’s view to carrying out the worst mass shooting in U.S. history can be attributed to what the FBI calls “quick flash to bang.”

“If the bureau had looked at someone for 60 or 90 days while they were a casual observer of the jihadi world, then they’re going to conclude this guy doesn’t have a big touch,” Danick, the former FBI agent, said. “Then two months later a triggering event.”

A “quick flash to bang” might never be detectable in the FBI’s view. But Danik cautions that he believes the FBI’s “quick flash to bang” theory also allows federal agents an easy out — a pass for failing to stop someone like Mateen. “It’s an excuse for agents,” Danik said. “Hey, quick flash to bang. That’s why we didn’t get him.”

Michael German, a former FBI undercover agent who is now a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, agreed that Mateen might have fallen through the cracks not because the FBI didn’t have the authority and resources to investigate him sufficiently, but because the bureau has a history of arbitrarily limiting agents.

“They’re imposing rules and restrictions that don’t actually exist [in the law],” German said. “There actually isn’t a time limit on assessments.”

Already, in the wake of the Orlando shooting, there are calls to provide the FBI with more resources and greater investigative powers. But neither is a problem for the FBI, in German’s view.

“I would simply suggest we take time to examine how the authorities and resources have already been used by the FBI,” he said. “Checking somebody’s work is the only way to make sure they’re doing it correctly.”

He also questioned the effectiveness of the bureau’s pursue-every-lead counterterrorism policy.

“There needs to be a reasonable threshold before they initiate investigations,” German said. “Right now, there really isn’t one.”

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UEFA: EM-Ausschluss auf Bewährung für Russland

Hintergrund.de - Sa, 14/06/2016 - 17:25

(14.06.2016/hg/dpa)

Russland hat von der UEFA die Dunkelgelbe Karte bekommen und spielt bei der Fußball-EM in Frankreich nur noch auf Bewährung. Sollten die Fans des kommenden WM-Gastgebers nochmals durch Gewaltakte wie beim Auftaktspiel im Stade Vélodrome in Marseille gegen England auffallen, wird das russische Team disqualifiziert. Das entschied die Disziplinarkommission der Europäischen Fußball-Union am Dienstag in Paris. Zudem wurde eine Geldstrafe in Höhe von 150 000 Euro verhängt. Russische Anhänger hatten am Samstagabend englische Fans im Stadion kurz vor Ende des Spiels attackiert und zuvor Feuerwerkskörper abgebrannt.

Der russische Fußball-Verband könnte gegen das Urteil Berufung einlegen, will dies nach Aussage seines Vorsitzenden

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Orlando-Attentat: Motiv des Täters noch unklar – Massaker wird Wahlkampfthema

Hintergrund.de - Sa, 14/06/2016 - 17:25

(14.06.2016/hg/dpa)

Die Suche nach dem Motiv des Todesschützen von Orlando wird immer komplizierter. US-Medien berichteten am Dienstag, der Attentäter Omar Mateen sei häufiger Besucher des vorwiegend von Homosexuellen frequentierten Nachtclubs gewesen, in dem er 49 Menschen tötete. Zugleich berichtete die Washington Post unter Berufung auf frühere Mitschüler Mateens, dieser habe bereits im Jahr 2001 die Anschläge vom 11. September bejubelt und Reaktionen auf die Taten veralbert.

In der Nacht zum Sonntag hatte der 29-jährige in einem Schwulenclub in Orlando (Florida) 49 Menschen getötet und 53 verletzt, bevor er von der Polizei erschossen wurde. Von den Verletzten befanden sich am Montag noch fünf

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