A special counsel in charge of investigating the city’s water crisis said that local officials could possibly face involuntary manslaughter charges after at least nine people died after contracting Legionnaires’ disease. Some authorities believe that the outbreak could be linked to contamination due to city officials switching the water supply to the Flint River, exposing thousands to water that contained dangerously high amounts of lead because of pipes used by the city. In a statement to Detroit News, Todd Flood said, “We’re here to investigate what possible crimes there are, anything to the involuntary manslaughter or death that may have happened to some young person or old person because of this poisoning, to misconduct in office. We take this very seriously.” There’s no word yet on when the investigation will be complete. Discuss
Late last month, according to several sources, the U.S. Olympic Committee started telling members of Team USA who are concerned about the Zika virus outbreak that they can think about skipping this summer’s olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Reuters quoted the president of U.S. Fencing—one of the dozens of sports federations—saying that the olympic committee told them that no athlete should go to Rio "if they don't feel comfortable going. Bottom line." He also said the committee particularly emphasized women who are pregnant. So far, according to health experts, more than 5,000 cases of birth defects in Brazil have been traced back to Zika. Discuss
In Corpus Christi, Texas—of course—a group called the Corpus Christi Cross Project recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for a cross. But not just any old church-building cross. No, this one will be the tallest in the Western hemisphere and the second largest in the world (the tallest is in Madrid, Spain). According to pastor Rick Milby, who is heading up the project, the cross will stand at 210 feet high and 95 feet wide. It will be made of 5/8" thick steel plate and mounted to a steel-and-concrete foundation—which extends some 48 feet into the ground. Mills said the cross “will be visible up to five miles away by land, and 10 miles away by air.” Discuss
A 21-year-old man in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, allegedly planned to attack a Detroit-area megachurch in the name of ISIS. Federal authorities arrested the guy, Khalil Abu-Rayyan, back in the fall, not on terrorism charges, but on unlicensed gun and marijuana possession. According to Breitbart, the FBI has been investigating Abu-Rayyan since May of last year because of communication—phone and social media—expressing support of ISIS. The Detroit Free Press even reported that some of Abu-Rayyan’s posts include “videos of a Jordanian pilot burned alive, Christians being beheaded, and men being thrown from buildings in executions.” And in some online chats with undercover agents, he also relayed that he was planning to shoot up a 6,000-member church. He told the agent, “It’s easy and a lot of people go there. Plus people are not allowed to carry guns in church. Plus, it would make the news. Everyone would’ve heard.” Apparently, Abu-Rayyan’s plan was thrown off when his dad found the guns and ammo he was going to use. He told the undercover FBI agent, “Honestly, I regret not doing it,” Abu-Rayyan added. “If I can’t do jihad in the Middle East, I would do my jihad over here.” Discuss
Last year, at least 149 individuals—who, on average, served 14 years in prison—were exonerated for crimes they didn’t commit. It’s the highest number ever recorded according to the National Registry of Exonerations. Nearly 40% of those were falsely convicted in homicide cases. The Registry first began assembling records in 1989. As University of Michigan law professor and registry editor Samuel Gross, told CBS News, in 2015, the rate of exonerations was nearly three a week and the overall annual number of exonerations since 2011 has doubled.
The Registry said that the reason for the rising numbers is most likely because of the work of “conviction integrity units,” established by district attorneys to review cases. Gross told Reuters, “There is a coming to terms that this is a regular problem, not just something that happens once in a while and unpredictably. But progress so far is a drop in the bucket.” Five the individuals exonerated in 2015 had been sentenced to death. Most of the exonerations—nearly 75%—included some sort of official misconduct in the cases. Discuss
On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of the most important speeches in modern history. The 17 minutes that he took to the podium during the March on Washington would go on to change the course of American history, and continues to inspire advocates of justice, human rights and racial reconciliation to this day. Watching the speech is a powerful reminder of why Dr. King’s legacy as a civil rights icon and social justice leader must never be forgotten, Discuss