8th federal execution since July scheduled for Nov. 19

The Justice Department has scheduled for Nov. 19 the execution of a Black death-row inmate who helped kidnap and kill a Texas teenager in 1994

CHICAGO — A Black death-row inmate who was convicted of kidnapping and killing a Texas teenager in 1994 has been scheduled for execution in November, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

If the lethal injection goes ahead as scheduled Nov. 19, Orlando Hall would be the eighth person executed this year as part of the Trump administration’s resumption of federal executions after a nearly two-decade pause.

Hall, 49, was one of five men who prosecutors said kidnapped 16-year-old Lisa Rene from her home in Arlington, Texas, to get revenge on her two brothers for a botched $5,000 marijuana deal. Over two days, she was taken to Arkansas, gang-raped, bludgeoned with a shovel and buried alive.

Hall’s lawyers said in a statement that their client is scheduled to die by lethal injection Nov. 19 at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. The Department of Justice confirmed that information.

Last week, Christopher Vialva, 40, another Black federal death-row inmate, was put to death at the same facility for killing a religious couple visiting Texas from Iowa.

Hall’s attorneys, Marcia A. Widder and Robert C. Owen said Hall was sentenced to death on the recommendation of an all-white jury. The lawyers said the selection of those jurors displayed racial bias. Vialva’s lawyer, Susan Otto, also said race played a role in landing her client on death row.

Prosecutors say Rene was dragged from the family’s apartment as she pleaded with a 911 operator. “They’re trying to break down my door! Hurry up!” she said, according to a recording of the call.

Hall’s lawyers said he never denied his role in Rene’s killing and that Hall’s expressions of remorse showed he “is not among the ‘worst of the worst’ for whom the death penalty is properly reserved.”

Jurors who decided his fate, they contend, weren’t aware of the severe trauma Hall experienced growing up and how he had once saved his 3-year-old nephew from drowning by leaping from a balcony to rescue the boy at a motel pool.

“Had jurors known these facts about Mr. Hall, there is every reason to believe they would have spared his life, despite his admitted involvement in a terrible crime,” the lawyers’ statement said.

Vialva’s Sept. 24 execution was the seventh federal execution since July and the second in that week. Five of the first six to die were white, which critics argued was a political calculation to avoid uproar. The sixth was Navajo.

Questions about racial bias in the criminal justice system have been front and center since May, following the death of George Floyd after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on the handcuffed Black man’s neck for several minutes.

A recent report by the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center said Black people remain overrepresented on death rows and that Black people who kill white people are far more likely to be sentenced to death than white people who kill Black people.

Of the 55 inmates currently on federal death row, nearly 50% are Black, according to center data updated Wednesday; round 40%, are white and some 12% Latino. There is one Asian on federal death row. Black people make up only about 13% of the population.


Balsamo reported from Washington, D.C.


Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mtarm


Prospective Node Operators Stake $125M in ETH to Participate in NuCypher Encryption Network

Encryption startup NuCypher has finished distributing its network’s native token, NU, to over 2,000 prospective node operators who staked more than $125 million worth of ether (ETH) during the month of September. NuCypher’s system will hit Ethereum’s mainnet on Oct. 15.

Primarily marketed as a solution for developers building decentralized applications (dapps), NuCypher helps firms encrypt data before they upload it to decentralized storage networks, while also retaining control over who can read the data once its uploaded (using an advanced form of flexible cryptography called proxy re-encryption). 

On the other side, participants who run the network’s nodes earn fees in return for performing cryptographic functions and maintaining the network. To participate, nodes need to stake NuCypher’s token, NU. The company needed a way to distribute NU to entities it might reasonably expect to participate once it goes live, and the solution it came up with was called “WorkLock.”

Under NuCypher’s WorkLock token distribution program, participants looking to run nodes were required to lock in a minimum of 5 ether (worth roughly $2,000 depending on when the ETH was committed). It also requires the staked ETH stay locked for a minimum of six months, starting the day the mainnent launches. The onerous collateral requirement levied on aspirant node operators was meant to dissuade users from claiming NU tokens and not participating in the network.

While participants can choose to stay or leave with their escrowed ETH after the six months pass, if they attempt to withdraw earlier or act maliciously, they would have to forfeit the staked ETH. 

“What it allows you to do is stake or escrow ETH into this WorkLock smart contract. You lock it up for six months from mainnet launch and that grants you this new stake that you can use to operate a new NuCypher node,” co-founder MacLane Wilkison said in an interview.

Last October, NuCypher announced the completion of a  $10.7 million token sale from investors such as Polychain Capital, Bitmain, CoinFund, Arrington XRP Capital, Notation Capital and others.

Wilkinson founded the company alongside Michael Egorov, who also founded the popular automated market maker for stablecoins Curve.

MakerDAO Adds Chainlink, Compound, Loopring as Collateral Options

The MakerDAO community has voted to add support for a trio of new tokens for the decentralized finance (DeFi) loans that generate DAI stablecoins.

Vaults are now open for deposits of Chainlink’s LINK, Loopring’s LRC and Compound’s COMP. Community members pitched proposals to add the tokens this summer and voted for their integration via Maker’s on-chain governance platform this week.

Counting this new crop of collateral options, MakerDAO has added 11 new DAI vault pairs this year. The other tokens, MANA, WBTC, ZRX, KNC, TUSD, PAX, USDC and USDT, were added partly in response to DAI losing its $1 peg, as the extra collateral was meant incentivize collateralizing more DAI to drive its price down.

In a recent bid to rectify DAI’s peg instability during DeFi’s yield farming craze, the Maker community voted in a proposal to lower the collateralization requirements for DAI’s primary USDC vault to pump more DAI into the market. Since the proposal’s implementation, DAI’s price has dropped to $1.01.

Speaking to CoinDesk about proposals to keep DAI’s peg steady, MakerDAO founder Rune Christensen said there is “no other option but to onboard more collateral.”

Currently, USDC is the most popular collateralization option for DAI with 372 million USDC locked. 

Judge Rules Kik’s Token Sale Violated US Securities Law

A U.S. judge ruled Wednesday that Kik violated securities law when it raised $100 million via a token sale in 2017.

Judge Alvin Hellerstein, a U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York, wrote that in his view, Kik’s “token distribution event” (TDE) satisfied the three prongs of the Howey Test, referring to the Supreme Court case used as a standard for determining whether the sale of something is a securities sale. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which filed the suit against Kik last year, maintained that the messaging platform’s Kin token sale was an unregistered securities offering while Kik claimed it was not.

“Kik concedes that its issuance of Kin through the TDE involved an investment of money by which participants purchased or acquired Ether and exchanged Ether for Kin. Thus, the parties agree that the first element of the Howey test is satisfied,” he said in the 19-page ruling. “The parties dispute whether the second and third elements are satisfied. I hold that that they are.”

Initial coin offerings (ICOs) and token sales have been treated as unregistered securities sales for the most part by the SEC, which has filed suits against numerous startups and companies, including Telegram, another messaging company that raised a mammoth $1.7 billion.

Many of these cases use Howey, which says something might be a security if there is an investment of money in a common enterprise, with the expectation of profit, primarily from the efforts of others.

Judge Hellerstein wrote Wednesday that Kik “extolled Kin’s profit-making potential,” satisfying one of the prongs, and that Kik “pooled proceeds from its sales of Kin in an effort to create an infrastructure for Kin, and thus boost the value of the investment.”

This satisfies another prong, he said.

In a statement, Kik CEO Ted Livingston said he was “disappointed in this ruling,” and that the company is considering its options, including a potential appeal.

“To be clear, Kik has always supported the Commission’s goal of protecting investors, and we take compliance seriously. In preparing for the sale of Kin, Kik retained sophisticated counsel (both in the United States and internationally) to analyze the law as we understood it, and we continue to believe that the public sale of Kin was that of a functional currency and not a sale of securities,” he said.

Livingston added that the ruling would not impact kin.

Kik general counsel Eileen Lyon took aim at the SEC in a statement, saying the agency “should engage in proper rulemaking, including the opportunity for public commentary, rather than force our industry to hunt for regulatory clues among the SEC’s conflicting statements, Commissioner and staff speeches, no-action letters, closed-door meetings with the SEC and nonprecedential settlements.”

The parties have until Oct. 20 to file either a joint proposal for providing relief to Kik’s investors, or a document explaining their positions on how to proceed.

Missing man’s body found 1,500 feet underwater in Lake Tahoe

Officials say the body of a New Jersey man who went missing in California’s Lake Tahoe in mid-August was recovered more than 1,500 feet underwater

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The body of a New Jersey man who went missing in California’s Lake Tahoe in mid-August was recovered more than 1,500 feet (457 meters) underwater, officials said.

Authorities began a missing person investigation on Aug. 10 after a boat rented by 29-year-old Ryan Normolye of Closter, New Jersey, washed ashore in Glenbrook, Nevada without him in it, KCRA-TV reported.

Search crews found Normolye’s approximate location using his phone’s GPS data, but his body wasn’t found until Sept. 26, officials said Monday. First responders from Tahoe’s police and fire departments, the Douglas County Sheriff’s and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office started another search operation after Normolye’s family enlisted the help of Bruce’s Legacy.

Bruce’s Legacy is a nonprofit organization that specializes in underwater body recoveries.

Normolye’s body was 1,565 feet underwater when crews pulled him out Sept. 27, officials said. Keith Cormican, founder of Bruce’s Legacy, said this is the deepest recorded recovery in the United States and Canada.

Officials believe Normolye might have drowned failing to catch up to his boat he jumped off, which was left slightly in gear, moving forward at a slow speed. His phone had a recording of him jumping off.


California wildfire evacuees return home to find devastation

Wildfire evacuees in California wine country are returning to what’s left of their homes

SANTA ROSA — Nikki and Kevin Conant returned to their home in California’s wine country Wednesday to find only the charred remains of their home and wine-barrel repurposing business.

“It was like a part of me is gone, burnt up in the fire. Everything we built here, everything we made here is gone,” Nikki Conant said.

The couple, both 52, were preparing to evacuate Sunday when they saw an orange glow in the hills near their Santa Rosa rental home. Within 45 minutes, they could hear the trees crackling and propane tanks exploding as the blaze reached their community. They jumped in their car, and for what seemed like an eternity they were in bumper to bumper traffic.

“I thought we were going to burn alive. I really did. It was horrible,” Nikki Conant said.

Nikki sobbed when she spotted her burned chicken coop —her twelve beloved chickens all died in the fire. The couple repurposed old wine barrels into custom-made art and furniture, and all their tools were gone.

The Conants are among more than about 70,000 people under evacuation orders in the wine region north of San Francisco where the Glass Fire has incinerated at least 80 homes along with winery installations and other buildings.

Some residents say they are getting fed up with the annual evacuations and fire fears and are thinking of leaving California. But despite their harrowing experience, the Conants said they plan to remain in the area.

Their landlord already told them the home will be rebuilt and offered them to stay a trailer on the land while the house is finished, Nikki Conant said.

“This is home,” she said. “I was born and raised here, my family is here. I don’t have the heart to just give up and leave the area.”

Flames on Wednesday continued to tear through the region’s rolling pastures, tree-covered hills and wineries amid hot and dry weather.

Heavy winds that spread new fires this week in the Napa and Sonoma wine country were reduced to breezes. But they were expected to return late Wednesday amid extreme heat and low humidity in weather conditions expected to last through Friday. Officials said they were requesting more fire crews to join 2,000 firefighters battling the blaze that has charred 76 square miles (197 square kilometers) with almost no containment.

The National Weather Service said the weather conditions would last for several days because of high pressure centered over the state. Heat advisories were in effect or pending along about three-quarters of the California coast, and many areas had poor air quality because of smoke.

Numerous studies in recent years have linked bigger wildfires in America to global warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas, especially because climate change has made California much drier. A drier California means plants are more flammable.

The massive blazes are also becoming harder to fight and on Wednesday, officials said wind-whipped flames led two firefighters to deploy the emergency fire shelters they carry.

The firefighters were assigned to the Glass fire in Napa County on Sunday when gusty off-shore winds fanned the fire, prompting them to deploy their fire shelters after flames overwhelmed them.

The firefighters covered themselves on the ground with the emergency shelters that look like space blankets if they are in imminent danger from flames. They were not injured, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

It’s the third time that fire crews have had to deploy their fire shelters this fire season — a last-resort effort to save their lives that was once uncommon. On Sept. 8, 14 firefighters deployed emergency shelters as flames overtook them and destroyed the fire station they were defending in the Los Padres National Forest. Three firefighters were hospitalized and later released. A day later, a crew fighting a deadly blaze in Butte County was overrun by flames when winds shifted and its members escaped with only minor injuries after deploying emergency shelters.

About 150 miles (241 kilometers) to the north, the Zogg Fire, which also erupted during Sunday’s high winds and grew quickly, has killed four people, Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini said.

A man evacuated with severe burns Sunday died at a hospital of his injuries Tuesday Magrini said. Three others died Sunday.

The deadly blaze that spread to neighboring Tehama County has burned 81 square miles (210 square kilometers) and destroyed 146 buildings, about half of them homes. It was 7% contained.

The Glass and Zogg fires are among nearly 30 wildfires burning in California. Fire-related deaths total 30.


Rodriguez reported from San Francisco.


What to Expect for Apple Deals During Prime Day

The Apple family of products has long been associated with quality, but its name lends an air of… expensiveness… to its products. Whether the “Apple tax” is worth it to you is entirely subjective, but the good news is Amazon Prime Day 2020 is nearly upon us, and that means opportunities to save.What, exactly, we might see on sale is a tough call this year. With Prime Day coming so late in the season, nipping at the heels of Black Friday, it’s quite possible we’ll see savings on Apple products rivaling Black Friday deals. In fact, I’d bet on it. You can already save a few bucks on the brand-new 10.2″ iPad, so older models will almost certainly be on sale.

Will MacBooks Be on Sale for Prime Day?

I would be surprised if we didn’t see some sort of deal on MacBook Pro, MacBooks, and MacBook Air during Amazon Prime Day 2020. The thing about Amazon Apple deals, though, is they sell so many different variations and generations of MacBooks, sometimes a great deal is on an older model you might not want to bother with.

That being said, those older models often see the best deals, so if you don’t mind an older processor, definitely keep an eye out for deals. Also keep an eye on refurbished MacBook deals. They’re often the best way to get a newer, or even latest-gen, MacBook without having to pay full price.

Generally, latest-gen MacBook products on sale at Amazon only see modest savings, so if there are any latest-gen MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air deals, don’t expect to see massive discounts.

Will Air Pods Be on Sale for Prime Day?

Now this is something I’m certain will be discounted. Air Pods have been dropping in price regulary, going on sale for far less than their introductory MSRP. The Air Pod Pro, once an ironclad stalwart against the ebbing tides of price drops, has also had price drops fairly regularly as of late. Don’t be surprised to see some great deals on Apple Air Pods for Amazon Prime Day. Will we see the return of the $119 Black Friday deal from last year? I hope so.

iPad Amazon Prime Day Deals

The iPad is a great device, one which I personally and enthusiastically recommend. If you primarily use a laptop to surf the internet or stream shows and movies, throw it in the trash and get yourself an iPad instead. OK, just kidding, but if you aren’t looking for heavy-gaming or something like video editing productivity, an iPad will suit your needs so nicely. The great news is Amazon’s been having some really great iPad deals, so it’s a lock we’ll see at least something on sale for Amazon Prime Day 2020. Like I said earlier, the latest models are already marked down (albeit just 6%), but a deal’s a deal, right?

Will Apple Watch Be on Sale for Prime Day?

This is another item I think we’ll see some serious deals for on Prime Day. The question is, which versions will be on sale? The Apple Watch Series 3 has been available for quite some time now for $169.99 or less, and it’s a great little device. But the newer versions have also seen deals, so chances are you’ll be able to find an Apple Watch deal for Prime Day to suit your needs.

Prime Day Deals

Of course, there will be lots more than just Apple deals on Prime Day. We’ve already started speculating on the best Prime Day video game deals, chances to save on 4KTVs, and more. And Amazon has already started some early Prime Day deals on its own devices.Source

Crash Bandicoot 4 Dev on Making the Biggest Crash Game Ever

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time is a direct follow-up to the original, Naughty Dog-developed trilogy that was released on the original PlayStation. But with decades having gone by since their release, Crash 4 developer Toys for Bob had the chance to make something ambitious in size and scope that just couldn’t be done back then.Speaking to IGN ahead of Crash 4’s launch, Toys for Bob studio head Paul Yan elaborated on the scope and ambitions of Crash 4 from the team behind the Spyro Reignited Trilogy.

“…We did set out from the very beginning to make this the biggest Crash game ever,” Yan said, noting that the recently released demo, which has already led to some impressive speedruns, was meant to give longtime fans a sense that scope didn’t literally just mean the longest levels ever, but something much more all-encompassing.

“That was part of the motivation for releasing the demo, to help more people get their hands on it and get a feel for just how much bigger and massive the levels are. When you think about how we compare to the previous games, it’s not just the length of the levels, but also just how densely packed the activities are. Some levels like Snow Way Out asks you to explore open areas in limited ways, and it’s not entirely linear in the same way that you could compare it to the original the trilogy.”

But Yan emphasized that, even as the scope of the game grew with new gameplay additions, additional modes like the N. Verted mirror mode, playable characters, and more, grounding it in the classic Crash platforming experience returning players know was a key aspect of the development process.

Crash Bandicoot 4: ‘Akano Screenshots

“We developed the tool set of new abilities and we knew that the masks and their new powers were going to be a part of what we wanted to do to layer on top of the core Crash classic gameplay. And the balance of it is something we were really sensitive about all the way through,” he said. “There’s new masks. There’s new locomotion tricks. There’s new alternate heroes. But we want to make sure that you’re coming to this game presumably to play as Crash. And we don’t want this to be a string of disparate experiences where it felt like…all kinds of other things outside that may give variety, but might overpower what that core experience is.

“So when we looked at the original trilogy, many of us looked at Crash 2 [as] a really great example of hitting the right balance,” Yan explained, noting that the team doesn’t see Crash 4 as something to directly compare solely to Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, but merely that striking a balance was key to a great Crash experience.

“That was a lens which we applied and said, ‘Hey, everything that we’re putting into this and the way that we’re distributing it and pacing it out, does this compliment on-foot, core platforming gameplay?’ Because if it doesn’t, let’s get it out and make sure that we make Crash the center of this game.”

For more on Crash ahead of its launch this week on PS4 and Xbox One, check out the first details on Crash Bandicoot 4’s local co-op and competitive multiplayer, learn more about the fourth Quantum Mask, and stay tuned to IGN for more from Yan on Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time.

Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior News Editor, and host of Podcast Beyond!. Talk to him on twitter @jmdornbush.Source

Wisconsin DOJ releases Kenosha officers’ training records

The Wisconsin Department of Justice has released the training records for the three Kenosha police officers involved in last month’s shooting of Jacob Blake, which sparked several nights of unrest

Officers Ryan Sheskey, Brittany Meronek and Vincent Arenas responded to a domestic disturbance on Aug. 23. Sheskey ended up shooting Blake seven times in the back, leaving him paralyzed. Blake is Black. Sheskey is white.

Some of the protests following the shooting turned violent. Prosecutors have charged 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch, Illinois, with shooting two people to death and wounding another during one of the demonstrations.

Sheskey’s records show he attended multiple classes since he became a Kenosha officer in 2013, including courses on bike patrol, a 2017 class on the 2012 mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek and a 2017 class on how to interact with citizens and a 2019 course on crisis intervention.

Meronek’s records indicate she joined the Kenosha Police Department in January and had just finished her basic training in May.

Arenas’ records indicate he joined the department in February 2019. He noted in a letter to the department that he previous served as a U.S. Capitol police officer in Washington, D.C.

The Justice Department redacted the officers’ birth dates, Social Security numbers, drivers’ license numbers, military service records, educational records as juveniles and the the results of their criminal background searches.