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'A Border Agent Took My Sister and Me Into a Closet and Sexually Assaulted Us,' say teen sisters

Two sisters who were trying to escape violence and poverty in Guatemala for a better life “became so desperately lost trekking across the Texas desert that when they saw a U.S. Customs and Border Protection truck, they waved for help,” reports the Los Angeles Times. An officer in that truck later confined them by force, and sexually assaulted them, one by one.

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What's the difference between a CEO and a president?

Christopher Brown is a gonzo cyberpunk writer who delves into the real-world story of Saddam Hussein's Frank Frazetta collection, but by day he's a high-powered lawyer who's worked in government and the private sector (it's the intersection of these two Browns that penned his outstanding, forthcoming debut novel, Tropic of Kansas, which you should pre-order right now). Read the rest

Bavarian intelligence agency says Scientologists secretly took over one of the world's top art galleries

Bavaria's Verfassungsschutz -- "Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution" -- says that the Haus der Kunst, one of the world's top contemporary art galleries, was infiltrated by Scientologists who rose through the ranks, illegally discriminated against non-Scientologists when hiring, and waged psychological warfare against staff who were not members of the cult. Read the rest

Saudi King brings 506 tons of luggage on 9-day trip

There's carry-on and checked baggage, but what do you call luggage that weighs 506 tons, including two Mercedes limousines and two elevators? It's just a nine-day trip to Indonesia, but Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul Aziz isn't leaving any of his creature comforts behind.

According to the Washington Post:

The Saudi royal is expected to bring 459 metric tonnes (506 U.S. tons) of cargo with him on his trip — including two Mercedes-Benz s600 limousines and two electric elevators... The Jakarta Post reports that the Saudi group will total about 1,500 people, including 10 ministers, 25 princes and at least 100 security personnel.

But apparently this isn't excessive, relatively speaking.

While the Saudi king's colossal cargo hold may seem large, it is not necessarily out of scale with other world leaders. When President Barack Obama visited sub-Saharan Africa in 2013, he was accompanied by 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines, and hundreds of U.S. Secret Service agents tasked with helping secure locations in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.
It'll be the first time in 46 years that the King has traveled to Indonesia, and with that kind of packing checklist, it's a wonder he travels at all. Read the rest

Federal magistrate judge in Illinois rules that being forced to unlock your phone with a fingerprint could violate your rights

M. David Weisman, a magistrate judge in Illinois's Eastern Division, denied a federal warrant application that would have allowed law enforcement officers to force suspects to unlock their mobile devices with a fingerprint, ruling that the suspects' Fourth Amendment (undue search and seizure) and Fifth Amendment (self-incrimination) rights protected them from being forced to unlock their devices. Read the rest

American airbase personnel sent erroneous "Missile inbound -- seek shelter" warning

Last Tuesday, all wing personnel on the US Spangdahlem Air Base received a warning: "MISSILE INBOUND. SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY!" The warning was recalled eight minutes later. Read the rest

Chris Christie vetoes unanimous bill that would make NJ cops disclose what they seize through asset forfeiture

Civil asset forfeiture is the bizarre American practice of seizing peoples' property without charging its owner: instead the property is charged with being the ill-gotten gains of a crime, and if the owner doesn't pay their property's legal bills, the police get to keep or sell the property. Read the rest

Echoing Infowars, Trump lies that 'very dishonest' U.S. press are covering up terror attacks

President Donald Trump went full Alex Jones Infowars conspiracy theory wingnut today, saying the American news media are conspiring to cover up a vast series of Islamic terrorist attacks in which innocent God-fearin' Americans have been killed.

Statements like this from authoritarian leaders are the sort of thing you hear when a regime is preparing to institute martial law. Perhaps that is where America is now headed. Hope not.

Today's wackadoodle Trump camp statement was yet another nutty lie, just like Trump's long-running racist birther campaign against President Barack Obama, whom we miss terribly, please for the love of God make this descent into national insanity stop.

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6 killed in terror attack on Quebec mosque

Two suspects are in custody after gunmen opened fire in a Quebec mosque, killing six and injuring eight. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned it as an act of terrorism aimed at the Muslim community.

"It is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence. Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear," Trudeau said in a statement.

The identities of the suspects have not yet been released. Nor have authorities identified a motive in the attack on some 40-50 worshipers gathered at the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre. Mass shootings in Canada are rare, reports USA Today.

It comes amid heightened tensions worldwide over President Trump’s ban on admitting refugees and travel restrictions on certain Muslim countries.

"Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country," Trudeau said in his statement. "Canadian law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of all Canadians, and will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance."

At least one news outlet mistakenly reported that two white supremacists were identified as the shooters, sourcing the details to a fake Reuters Twitter account. CBC News reports that the attackers were masked, had Québécois accents, and yelled "Allahu akbar" as they fired upon praying congregants. A witness told them that...

"... the bullets hit people that were praying. People who were praying lost their lives. A bullet passed right over my head.

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Chopper's 'Rogue One' cameo

My favorite Star Wars characters are the droids, and the best of them all is cantankerous C1-10P, or Chopper from Star Wars Rebels. Seems someone agrees with me, as Chopper was the one Rebels character to make the jump to live-action in Rogue One.

MovieWeb shares more backstory:

StarWars.com caught up with Lucasfilm Story Group's Matt Martin to chat about the exciting Easter eggs scattered through the movie's two hour runtime. He actually had the prevlage of operating Chopper while the droid's scene was shot on Yavin 4. He says this about the experience.

"It was really surreal. I wasn't actually there for the purpose of operating a droid. The Rogue One production team asked to have Chop shipped over and we were more than happy to do so. An animated character in a live action movie...and it's OUR Chopper! Awesome! A few weeks later I was sent over to help produce some behind-the-scenes content for StarWars.com and it happened to be when they were shooting in the Yavin set. I saw my buddy Chopper sitting there with all the other droids, as well as some of my friends who were brought onto the production to build and operate the droids. When Chopper was called in for one of the scenes, Lee Towersey on the droid team just handed me Chop's control and said, "You know how to do this, right?" You can't really tell since it's so brief in the film, but the scene was actually really intense.

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Department of Energy tells Trump they will not name climate policy personnel

The Department of Energy has rebuffed Donald Trump's demand for the names of employees and contractors involved in shaping and executing government climate policy -- which was widely viewed as a prelude to a politicized purge, to be carried out by Trump's climate-denying DoE leadership. Read the rest

Judge Reinhold arrested at Dallas airport for refusing a second TSA screening

Actor Judge Reinhold was flying out of Dallas Love Field on Thursday and his bag set off an "alarm" on a TSA scanner, so security personnel demanded to pat Reinhold down; Reinhold objected that he'd already passed through the naked scanner and didn't believe he should have to get a government-mandated genital massage as well. Police were called and he was arrested. Read the rest

As North Dakota governor orders "emergency evacuation" at Standing Rock, Water Protectors ask court for an injunction

Jack Dalrymple, the Republican governor of North Dakota, has ordered an "emergency evacuation" on the unceded treaty lands owned by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, where protesters have endured potentially lethal, unconstitutional violence from law enforcement, including the use of water cannons as antipersonnel weapons in subzero temperatures and the use of tear-gas cannisters as projectiles fired into crowds of protesters. Read the rest

Woman wins $43 million on a slot machine, receives steak dinner instead of cash jackpot

Katrina Bookman was excited when her slot machine hit the jackpot: $42,949,672.76. Resorts World Casino in New York was happy to take her money while she was putting it into the machine, but weren't as happy about giving her the prize. MACHINE R BORKED, they told her.

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Crowdfunding a bike-lock that squirts vomit-inducing antipersonnel gas when cut

The Skunklock is a $109 crowdfunded gadget that contains pressurized vomit-inducing gas the creators call "Formula D_1," and which is intended to induce immediate vomiting when inhaled, as well as difficulty breathing, "A lot of similar symptoms to pepper spray." Read the rest

By stealing from innocents, Chicago PD amassed tens of millions in a secret black budget for surveillance gear

Since 2009, the Chicago Police Department has seized $72M worth of property from people who were not convicted of any crime, through the discredited civil forfeiture process, keeping $48M worth of the gains (the rest went to the Cook County prosecutor's office and the Illinois State Police) in an off-the-books, unreported slush fund that it used to buy secret surveillance gear. Read the rest

Company suspected of blame in Office of Personnel Management breach will help run new clearance agency

In 2014, the US Office of Personnel Management was hacked (presumably by Chinese spies), and leaked 22,000,000+ records of Americans who'd applied for security clearance, handing over the most intimate, compromising details of their lives (the clearance process involves disclosing anything that could be used to blackmail you in the future). This didn't come to light until 2015. Read the rest

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