Sunday report

Secret trial jails Chinese rights lawyer for ‘subversion’
— Prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang was sentenced on Monday to four and a half years in prison for state subversion, a northern Chinese court said.
— Wang, 42, who defended political activists and victims of land seizures, disappeared in a 2015 sweep — known as the “709” crackdown — aimed at courtroom critics of Communist authorities.
— Charged in January 2016 with alleged state subversion, Wang had been the last of more than 200 lawyers and activists arrested in the 709 crackdown to be tried or released.
— Wang was “found guilty of subverting state power, sentenced to four years and six months in prison, and deprived of political rights for five years,” the Tianjin Second Intermediate People’s Court said in a statement.
— After more than two years of being in legal limbo — detained without a trial date — Wang’s court hearing took place behind closed doors in Tianjin on December 26.

Prosecutor: Here’s why Roger Stone’s a time bomb
Raw Story

— The email and text evidence laid out in excruciating detail in the indictment is not open to interpretation,” he detailed. “And if that were not enough—and believe me, it is—the case will be tried in D.C. There is a facile critique that liberals are soft on crime. That can be true where the defendants are perceived to be from a disadvantaged minority. But have pity on an arrogant, white-collar defendant who is in cahoots with a despised Republican president; you will witness righteous fury.”

After national embarrassment, Zuckerberg Hospital
slashes bike crash victim’s bill by 99%
(Presumably, other patients in similar situations remain royally screwed.)
— The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which oversees the hospital, now plans to hold hearings on Zuckerberg General’s billing practices as well.
— “While we as a city should absolutely seek reimbursement from private insurers, we should not be placing the burden of exorbitant bills on patients — who deserve the highest quality care, not the highest possible costs,” said Gordon Mar, the supervisor who chairs the board’s government audit and oversight committee.

Nina Dang, who was left with the $20,243 emergency room bill after an ambulance brought her to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital last April.

Real-life version of Hitchcock’s “The Birds” in Idaho
— By day the birds scavenge for food in farmland that surrounds Nampa. By night they flock to the city to roost — gathering in large groups to sleep — on power lines and in grocery store parking lots.
— More than just the eerie sense of dread out of an Edgar Allen Poe poem, city officials say the birds, known collectively as a murder, are creating a public health hazard, due to their droppings. Sometimes tree branches snap under their combined weight.

Foreign troops to leave Afghanistan in 18 months, Taliban says
— Taliban officials said U.S. negotiators on Saturday agreed a draft peace deal setting out the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan within 18 months, potentially ending the United States’ longest war.
— According to the sources, the hardline Islamic group gave assurances that Afghanistan will not be allowed to be used by al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants to attack the United States and its allies — a key early demand of Washington.

State of the Union? Not just yet, says Pelosi
USA Today

Nazi had a blueprint for eliminating Jews from North America
The Guardian
— Published in 1944 by the German researcher and linguist Heinz Kloss, Statistics, Media, and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada is a disturbingly thorough catalogue of Jewish residents in the two countries and reflects Nazi plans in the event they gained control over the continent.

Road rage outrage: Dude holds on to hood of speeding car for 3 miles

A sideswipe 20 miles outside of Boston led to a crazy road rage incident that didn’t end until someone pulled out a gun. After a minor traffic accident, there was lots of arguing and 37-year-old Mark Fitzgerald apparently had enough. He tried to drive away but that’s when Richard Kamrowski, 65, jumped onto the hood of the white SUV. Fitzgerald then seemed to think the best thing to do was just to keep driving with the 65-year-old hanging onto his hood.

One St. Louis cop kills another (supposedly) during Russian Roulette
Riverfront Times
alix-stlouis-police— A male St Louis police officer has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly shooting a female college during a game of Russian roulette.
— Nathaniel Hendren, 29, shot fellow officer Katlyn Alix, 24, at an apartment in the early hours of Thursday morning, according to a St Louis Police Department statement.
— A probable cause statement from the force, provided by St Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office, offered an account of the deadly game that allegedly led to her death.
>>> So sad but there’s a backstory here. What’s a married officer doing meeting up with two other guys at 1 AM at one of their places?
— Retired police officer and private investigator Richard Paloma, commenting on Twitter

Can the government force you to unlock your phone?
Pacific Standard
— It’s an argument that grows out of the 5th Amendment protection again self-incrimination.

“It looks like we may have a killer with a medical license and access to fentanyl on the loose.”
ABC Ohio
— The number of patients who received excessive and potentially lethal doses of pain medications ordered by a Mount Carmel doctor has risen to at least 34 after the hospital said Thursday, they identified an additional seven people.
— Dr. William Husel, who was fired by the hospital after an investigation, is accused of overdosing patients and causing their deaths. Several families have filed a wrongful death lawsuit, while others are working with lawyers to prepare them.

How the smartphone morphed, pathetically, from Job’s vision
NY Times opinion via RealNews paywall skipper
— We’ve become so used to the constant companion model over the past decade that it’s easy to forget its novelty. As a computer scientist who also writes about the impact of technology on culture, I think it’s important to highlight the magnitude of this shift, as it seems increasingly clear to me that Mr. Jobs probably got it right the first time: Many of us would be better off returning to his original minimalist vision for our phones.

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