Defense Minister of Kyrgyzstan Taalaibek Omuraliev met with head of the OSCE Program Office in Bishkek Alexei Rogov to discuss topical issues and cooperation, Trend reports citing Kabar.
According to the press service of the Ministry of Defense, following the meeting, an agreement was signed between the Ministry of Defense of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on the implementation of a regional project for the disposal of liquid rocket fuel components.
Ahead of President Biden’s summit on Wednesday with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in an 18th-century villa, Republicans in Congress and conservative media outlets like Fox News have coalesced around a succinct line of attack: Mr. Biden is weak when it comes to dealing with the Russian leader.
Some of Mr. Biden’s most prominent critics, however, neglect to mention their backing of President J. Donald Trump as he spent four years seeking to befriend Mr. Putin, dismissing Russia’s aggressive behavior and complaining that a “Deep State” and other Washington actors were preventing him from striking deals with Moscow.
On Tuesday, shortly before Mr. Biden departed on Air Force One from Brussels for Geneva, where he will meet with Mr. Putin for the first time in more than a decade, the website of Fox News published an opinion essay by Mike Pompeo, who served as secretary of state under Mr. Trump, arguing that Mr. Biden “shows up with a self-dealt weak hand.”
The idea that Mr. Biden is no match for the Russian has been a regular theme on the network’s programming in recent weeks.
On his prime-time program Monday night, the Fox host Sean Hannity declared that Mr. Putin “will see firsthand how weak Joe is,” adding that “Putin loves a weak America and a weak American president.”
During the Trump years, both men — along with many other prominent conservatives — to varying degrees defended or excused Mr. Trump’s approach to Mr. Putin, whom U.S. intelligence concluded had ordered a campaign to interfere in the 2016 American election.
“We are the toughest administration ever on Russia,” Mr. Pompeo insisted during Senate testimony last July, citing sanctions that were imposed on Moscow, often with Mr. Trump’s grudging approval at best.
In recent weeks, many other Republicans, not all of whom defended Mr. Trump’s approach, have charged that Mr. Biden has been soft on Russia. Many have cited Mr. Biden’s decision last month to waive Congressional sanctions on the Russian company behind the Nord Stream 2 oil and gas pipeline and the company’s German chief executive.
Opponents of the pipeline say that it gives Mr. Putin needed new revenues and dangerous control over Europe’s energy supplies. Mr. Biden had opposed the pipeline, but in the end gave in to the arguments of supporters, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who contend that the risks are overblown.
The pipeline, mostly built during the Trump era, was about 95 percent complete by the time Mr. Biden took office, and it was unclear whether he could have stopped it even if he tried. In explaining his decision, Mr. Biden said that imposing the sanctions would be “counterproductive in terms of our European relations.”
“We’re rewarding Putin with a summit? Instead of treating Putin like a gangster who fears his own people, we’re giving him his treasured Nord Stream 2 pipeline and legitimizing his actions with a summit,” Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, said in a May 25 statement. Mr. Sasse was a harsh critic of Mr. Trump.
But his critique reflected wide sentiment within the Republican Party and among allies of Mr. Trump.
“Biden is weak. Putin knows it,” Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, tweeted on June 2.
The White House rejects the notion that the meeting with Mr. Putin amounts to a concession, and privately officials say the problem with Mr. Trump’s meetings with the Russian leader was not that they took place but what they said was Mr. Trump’s obsequious approach.
In a briefing this month, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said that Mr. Biden “is never one to hold back on areas where he has concern, areas where he feels the actions of the Russian government or Russian leadership are hurting the United States. And he certainly has no intention of holding back during this meeting, publicly or privately.”
“Sometimes you can’t save someone from themselves,” Greenberg wrote on Twitter this week, “no matter how hard you try.”
NEW YORK — Editor’s Note: The video above is from September 2020.
Jailed R&B singer R. Kelly wants to shake up his legal defense team two months before he is set to go on trial in New York on federal racketeering charges.
His top two attorneys, Steve Greenberg and Michael Leonard, of Chicago, filed a motion this week seeking to withdraw from the long-delayed case, saying it would be “impossible” for them “to properly represent Mr. Kelly under the current circumstances.”
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly did not immediately grant the motion, requesting more details about the apparent falling out among Kelly’s team of lawyers.
“Sometimes you can’t save someone from themselves,” Greenberg wrote on Twitter this week, “no matter how hard you try.”
A request for comment was sent Thursday to Greenberg and Leonard.
Two other attorneys for Kelly, Thomas A. Farinella and Nicole Becker Blank, told the judge the shakeup won’t affect Kelly’s Aug. 9 trial date in Brooklyn federal court. They said Kelly fired Greenberg and Leonard.
Kelly, 54, is accused of leading an enterprise made up of his managers, bodyguards and other employees who helped him recruit women and girls for sex. Federal prosecutors say the group selected victims at concerns and other venues and arranged for them to travel to see Kelly.
The Grammy Award-winning singer denies ever abusing anyone.
Kelly also faces numerous sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota and is scheduled to stand trial in September in Chicago federal court.
Mr Pope said: “My best estimate is that the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) will adopt a similar strategy to the Department of Defense’s approach to the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), and will try to spin this as being about next-generation aerospace and weapon threats, mainly from aircraft, missiles and drones.
“In particular, I predict a strong focus on the dangers posed by drones, drone swarms, and AI-controlled drone swarms.
“That said, my understanding is that there are different views in the US military and the intelligence community on the true nature of the phenomenon, and factions struggling for control of the narrative.”
Mr Pope, who has been called the British Fox Mulder, has been closely following the situation for months now.
A police lieutenant in Virginia lost his job this week after he contributed $ 25 to a legal-defense fund and expressed praise for Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged with killing two people last year during protests in Kenosha, Wis., officials said.
The lieutenant, William Kelly, a member of the Norfolk Police Department for nearly 19 years, was relieved of his duties on Tuesday by city officials, who said his conduct had violated the department’s policies and undermined the public’s faith in law enforcement.
The decision came just four days after Lieutenant Kelly was placed on administrative duty by the Police Department amid reports by the British newspaper The Guardian and other media outlets that he had given money last September to support Mr. Rittenhouse’s defense through GiveSendGo, a Christian crowdfunding website that was breached by hackers.
Mr. Rittenhouse has become a cause célèbre for some conservatives since he was charged with shooting three people, two of whom died, last summer as the streets of Kenosha erupted in protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, by a police officer.
Lieutenant Kelly, 41, became an executive officer for internal affairs of the Norfolk Police Department last month, according to his LinkedIn profile.
His name appeared on a list of donors obtained by Distributed Denial of Secrets, a watchdog group that said in a Twitter direct message on Wednesday night that it had received the list from an external source. It shared the material with The New York Times.
On the GiveSendGo crowdfunding site, Lieutenant Kelly checked that he wished to remain anonymous, but appeared to use his Norfolk city email address for the donation, which included a message of encouragement for Mr. Rittenhouse.
“God bless,” the message said. “Thank you for your courage. Keep your head up. You’ve done nothing wrong. Every rank and file police officer supports you. Don’t be discouraged by actions of the political class of law enforcement leadership.”
Chip Filer, the city manager of Norfolk, said in a statement on Tuesday that he had accepted the recommendation of the police chief to relieve Lieutenant Kelly of his duties and that Lieutenant Kelly had the right to appeal the decision.
“His egregious comments erode the trust between the Norfolk Police Department and those they are sworn to serve,” Mr. Filer said. “The City of Norfolk has a standard of behavior for all employees, and we will hold staff accountable.”
Larry D. Boone, the city’s police chief, said in a statement on Tuesday that Lieutenant Kelly’s actions were not consistent with the department’s values.
“A police department cannot do its job when the public loses trust with those whose duty is to serve and protect them,” Chief Boone said. “We do not want perceptions of any individual officer to undermine the relations between the Norfolk Police Department and the community.”
Lieutenant Kelly did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment that were left on Wednesday night at a phone number listed for him. It was not clear if he had a lawyer.
Norfolk officials did not elaborate on which of the Police Department’s policies Lieutenant Kelly had violated, nor did they immediately respond to requests for comment about his status on Wednesday night.
While Lieutenant Kelly is not a member of the local police union because of his rank, the head of the Norfolk Police Union IBPO Local 412, in an interview with The Virginian-Pilot newspaper of Norfolk, defended Lieutenant Kelly and said the investigation into his actions had been conducted “so hastily.”
“We were hoping for a full, transparent investigation,” the union’s head, Clay Messick, told the newspaper on Tuesday. “But after 72 hours, I do not believe that is what we got. It is hard to call this fair.”
Small donors and deep-pocketed conservative celebrities have donated money to Mr. Rittenhouse, who lionized the police. His defenders contend that he was acting in self-defense and had been trying to protect the city from destruction by patrolling the streets with a military-style rifle.
Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow and an ally of former President Donald J. Trump, made donations that put Mr. Rittenhouse’s bail fund “over the top,” L. Lin Wood, a lawyer for Mr. Rittenhouse, wrote last fall on Twitter.
More recently, Mr. Rittenhouse’s less-famous financial backers have had their identities unmasked as a result of hacking episodes. In Utah, a paramedic drew scrutiny this month after it emerged that he had given his government email address on a $ 10 donation to Mr. Rittenhouse’s defense, ABC4 News reported.
A representative for GiveSendGo declined to comment on Wednesday night.
Although Derek Chauvin has opted not to testify in his defense against charges that he murdered George Floyd, police officers have taken the stand in their own defense. The results have been mixed. Here are a few examples:
Jason Van Dyke, on trial in Chicago in 2018 for the murder of Laquan McDonald, gave testimony that some said dehumanized the victim. “His face had no expression,” Mr. Van Dyke said of Mr. McDonald. “His eyes were just bugging out of his head. He had these huge white eyes just staring right through me.”
His account contradicted the video. “The video doesn’t show my perspective,” he told the jury.
Outcome: Convicted of murder, sentenced to nearly 7 years.
Mohamed Noor, on trial in Minneapolis in 2019 for the murder of Justine Ruszczyk, who had called 911 to report hearing a potential sexual assault, described his anguish after learning that he had shot an unarmed resident. “It felt like my whole world came crashing down,” he said.
On cross-examination, he was forced to admit that he had never seen Ms. Ruszczyk’s hands. “I had to make a split-second decision,” he said.
Outcome: Convicted of murder, sentenced to 12 years.
Michael Slager, on trial in Charleston, S.C., in 2016 for the murder of Walter L. Scott as he fled from a traffic stop, told the jury that he had nightmares after the shooting. “I fired until the threat was stopped, like I’m trained to do,” he said.
Outcome: Hung jury. Mr. Slager pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights violation and was sentenced to 20 years.
Betty Jo Shelby, on trial in Tulsa, Okla., in 2017 for the shooting death of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed driver, said she did what she was trained to do if she believed someone had a gun.
“I have all the indications that he has a gun,” she said. “I do not pull a Taser out, which is less lethal. I meet a gun with a gun.”
Jeronimo Yanez, on trial in St. Paul, Minn., in 2017 for the shooting death of a motorist, Philando Castile, said he feared for his life.
“I had no other choice. I was forced to engage Mr. Castile. He was not complying with my directions,” Mr. Yanez said. Mr. Yanez was on the lookout for suspects in an armed robbery, and said that Mr. Castile “gave me a deer-in-the-headlights look. It’s a trigger.”
Shaila Dewan and Tim Arango
This article originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News
MINNEAPOLIS — A police officer approached a car with George Floyd in the front seat, and Mr. Floyd started to panic. While officers ordered him to spit out a pill he was trying to swallow, he repeatedly begged them not to shoot him.
Within seconds, one of the officers had his gun drawn and Mr. Floyd was being pulled out of the car and handcuffed.
The body-worn camera video of that scene was shown for the first time on Tuesday to jurors in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with murdering Mr. Floyd. The episode was strikingly similar to the day Mr. Floyd died. But it had been taken a year before.
As the defense began its case after 11 days of testimony against Mr. Chauvin, the video was the first exhibit introduced and signaled a key strategy: shifting the jurors’ focus to Mr. Floyd’s use of illicit drugs.
Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, presented the video of the May 2019 arrest and questioned the paramedic who treated Mr. Floyd that day. He asked a woman who was with him the day he died about how Mr. Floyd fell asleep in the car and was difficult to rouse. He reviewed the signs of excited delirium, a condition often attributed to using stimulants.
Other planks of the defense emerged as well, including suggestions that the bystanders who tried to intervene were threatening and that Mr. Chauvin’s behavior was reasonable in the circumstances.
A Minneapolis Park Police officer who responded to the scene on May 25, 2020, the day Mr. Floyd died, testified that the bystanders were aggressive enough to make him fear for the other officers’ safety. A policing expert said the period of time when Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck was not only justified but did not even qualify as force. Each line of questioning was designed not so much to persuade the jury, but to sow the seeds of reasonable doubt.
The judge, Peter A. Cahill, has tried to bar a common defense tactic, blaming the victim. He has strictly limited testimony about Mr. Floyd, saying that his past acts and state of mind were not relevant to the case.
But the defense has tried to expose jurors to Mr. Floyd’s history of involvement with the police, and arguments over how much of the May 2019 arrest jurors would see began well before the trial.
Mr. Nelson said that arrest showed a pattern of behavior in which Mr. Floyd responded to the police by panicking, implying that he faked his response.
“This goes to the very nature of this case and why public perception is what it is,” Mr. Nelson said in court a few weeks ago. “The things that he is saying. ‘I can’t breathe.’ ‘I’m claustrophobic.’ Calling out for his Mama.”
The judge did not buy that argument, and initially barred any mention of the incident. He changed his mind after a second search, in January, of the squad car used on the day Mr. Floyd died turned up half-chewed pills of methamphetamine with Mr. Floyd’s DNA and saliva on them. He said that showed similarities between the two arrests, but he allowed the jury to see only about 90 seconds of the 2019 video.
“This evidence is being admitted solely for the limited purpose of showing what effects the ingestion of opioids may or may not have had on the physical well-being of George Floyd,” Judge Cahill told the jury on Tuesday before the video was shown. “This evidence is not to be used as evidence of the character of George Floyd.”
The video showed Mr. Floyd being slow to respond to commands from the police, and the officer who wore the body camera reaching to put Mr. Floyd’s hand on the dashboard. “It escalated real quick,” said the officer, Scott Creighton, who is now retired and who was the day’s first witness.
The prosecution has tried to engender empathy for Mr. Floyd’s struggle with opioid addiction, presenting testimony that he had tried to stop using. On Tuesday, the paramedic who was called to the precinct to treat Mr. Floyd in 2019 said he told her that not only had he taken an opioid painkiller as the officer approached the car, but that he had been taking them every 20 minutes.
Dan Herbert, a defense lawyer in Chicago who specializes in representing police officers, said the defense accomplished its goals in presenting the 2019 arrest. “What Nelson needs to do is show a side of George Floyd that is different from the poor individual that suffocated before everyone’s eyes on video,” he said. “He was lucky and didn’t die in that incident in 2019 — he wasn’t as lucky in 2020, that’s the strategy there.”
But the evidence could backfire because it showed an aggressive, profanity-laden approach by the police officers, and because unlike in 2020, Mr. Floyd was given medical assistance and survived the encounter.
“I don’t think Nelson scored a point at all,” said Albert Goins, a retired Minneapolis defense lawyer who represented the family of Jamar Clark, a Black man killed by the Minneapolis police in 2015. “Not only did Nelson’s use of the 2019 incident not land any blows, it raised the issue of the arbitrary practice and history of the Minneapolis Police Department in stopping its Black citizens.”
The defense spent the most time on Tuesday on testimony from Barry Brodd, the first witness to explicitly defend Mr. Chauvin’s actions.
Mr. Brodd, a former police officer and expert on self-defense, said that putting Mr. Floyd handcuffed in the prone position on the street did not qualify as force because no pain was inflicted.
“I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, and was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement, in his interactions with Mr. Floyd,” he said.
Mr. Brodd made statements that have been used before to defend officers accused of killing a Black man. He mentioned Mr. Floyd’s size and muscular build, and said that some suspects who are high on drugs “don’t feel pain” and can exhibit “superhuman strength,” said to be a sign of a condition called excited delirium that is often used to explain deaths in police custody.
On cross-examination, Steve Schleicher, one of the prosecutors, got Mr. Brodd to acknowledge that under Minneapolis Police Department policy a restraint is considered a use of force, and that a reasonable officer would abide by department policies.
Mr. Brodd acknowledged that he had listened to the videos in which Mr. Floyd expressed pain, saying, “Everything hurts.” But, Mr. Brodd said, he didn’t “note it.”
While Mr. Brodd challenged days of testimony on accepted police practices presented by the prosecution, not all the witnesses on Tuesday were friendly to the defense. Shawanda Hill, another witness, made it plain through her facial expressions that it was not her choice to testify.
Ms. Hill ran into Mr. Floyd at Cup Foods, the convenience store where he spent the $ 20 bill that was reported to the police as counterfeit, and he offered her a ride. Once they were in the parked car, she said, Mr. Floyd kept falling asleep and was difficult to rouse. When police officers approached the car, she said, she woke him.
“He instantly grabbed the wheel and he said, ‘Please, please don’t kill me,’” she said.
Another witness was Peter Chang, a Minneapolis Park Police officer who responded to the scene and was asked to watch Mr. Floyd’s car. As he did that, he said, he became concerned for the safety of the officers who were interacting with Mr. Floyd. “The crowd was becoming more loud and aggressive,” he said.
Officer Chang’s body camera video showed long minutes during which Ms. Hill and another of Mr. Floyd’s associates, Morries Lester Hall, waited on the sidewalk, unable to see what was happening to Mr. Floyd. When the ambulance carrying Mr. Floyd began to pull away, they asked if they could retrieve his phone from the car.
“He’s already gone,” Mr. Chang told them. “He doesn’t need his phone.”
Shaila Dewan and Tim Arango
This article originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News
Howard Weitzman, an entertainment lawyer whose client list bristled with the names of some of the nation’s most famous, and infamous, celebrities — including Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber and, for two days, O.J. Simpson — died on Wednesday at his home in the Pacific Palisades section of Los Angeles. He was 81.
The cause was cancer, said Diana Baron, a spokeswoman for his wife, Margaret Weitzman.
In a career spanning five decades, Mr. Weitzman was the lead attorney in more than 300 civil and criminal jury trials, representing more than 1,000 people. His client list read like a Who’s Who of the last half-century’s superstars, among them Marlon Brando, Magic Johnson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Justin Bieber, Ozzy Osbourne, Morgan Freeman and Britney Spears.
He also represented major motion picture studios as well as the powerhouse talent agencies William Morris, ICM and CAA, giving him a 360-degree view of the inner workings of the entertainment industry and a Rolodex of top-level connections that enhanced his reputation as a fixer. He was often ranked as one of the most influential lawyers in the country.
“A renowned trial lawyer and deal-maker, Howard skillfully handled some of the most famous cases in Hollywood,” his law firm, Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert, said in a statement.
A master practitioner of the courthouse-steps news conference, Mr. Weitzman shot to national fame with his defense of John DeLorean, the flamboyant automobile executive who was accused of cocaine trafficking. In a 1984 trial during which the jury heard audiotapes of Mr. DeLorean making incriminating statements, Mr. Weitzman demolished the credibility of a key informant, argued that the F.B.I. had entrapped his client and won an acquittal.
With cable television in its infancy, Mr. Weitzman was one of the first lawyers to face round-the-clock television coverage of a big trial. He quickly turned it to his advantage, addressing the news media — and the court of public opinion — from the front of the courthouse.
“Part of my reasoning for talking to the media at all was to try and even the scales,” Mr. Weitzman told Southern California Super Lawyers magazine in a lengthy interview in 2008. “I learned then that on TV they tend to take three words from the 10 sentences you spoke. You learn pretty quickly to speak in sound bites if possible.”
Reporters found him helpful, congenial and entertaining, The Washington Post reported during the DeLorean trial. He gave them insights into his legal strategy, the paper said, as well as “a steady supply of his own humorous asides and highly quotable denunciations of the government and its informer.”
Although he was best known for his celebrity criminal cases, Mr. Weitzman also had extensive experience in business litigation and making deals. As aggressive as he could be in court, he came to prefer settling cases out of court.
Many of the lawsuits against his clients had a habit of disappearing. After a 14-year-old boy accused Mr. Jackson of sexually molesting him, Mr. Weitzman and Johnnie Cochran Jr., another superstar defense lawyer, helped short-circuit the boy’s civil suit by having Mr. Jackson pay him a sum believed to be in the millions of dollars.
When a young fan accused Justin Bieber of fathering her child in 2011, she demanded that he take a DNA test. Mr. Weitzman, representing Mr. Bieber, said that his client would submit to such a test — and at the same time threatened to countersue the woman, saying she was making a bogus claim. She dropped her suit.
He also represented Mr. Bieber when he was sued by his former bodyguard, who said Mr. Bieber had punched him in 2012. Just before the trial was to begin, Mr. Weitzman announced that the two had reached an agreement, and the suit was dropped.
Mr. Weitzman referred to his celebrity clients as “people of profile.” He said he believed they suffered in the criminal justice system because judges liked to make an example of them. He made this point in 2007 while representing Paris Hilton, who was caught driving without her license, which had been suspended after a drunk-driving conviction.
She was sentenced to 45 days in jail.
An outraged Mr. Weitzman told reporters that the sentence should have been much lower. “It’s clear she was selectively prosecuted because of who she is,” he said. “Shame on the system and shame on the city attorney for bringing this case.”
The city attorney disputed Mr. Weitzman’s interpretation, saying the judge was simply showing that no one was above the law.
Howard Lloyd Weitzman was born on Sept. 21, 1939, in Los Angeles, where his parents, Wilfred and Billie Weitzman, ran a grocery store. Working there on occasion, he developed an ability to converse with a wide variety of people.
He studied at Los Angeles City College before transferring to the University of Southern California, from which he graduated in 1962 with a degree in physical education. He loved baseball and hoped to make a career of it, but when that didn’t materialize, a friend suggested he try law school.
He took the LSAT but didn’t score high enough to be admitted to U.S.C.’s law school, according to Southern California Super Lawyers. At that point, the magazine said, his baseball coach, Rod Dedeaux, called the dean of the law school, who found a spot for Mr. Weitzman. Mr. Weitzman received his degree in 1965 and began to practice criminal law.
He said later that his experience at Universal helped him better evaluate whether to take a case to trial. “I was always more inclined to draw lines in the sand earlier in my career,” he said. “Now I try to avoid the actual trial and resolve it short of litigation.”
In addition to his wife, Mr. Weitzman is survived by two sons, Armen and Jed, and two grandchildren. His first marriage, to Stacey Cooper Furstman, ended in divorce.
For all his showmanship in the courtroom, Mr. Weitzman opted out of what the media called the trial of the century: the case against O.J. Simpson, who was accused of the 1994 murders of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Mr. Weitzman had accompanied Mr. Simpson to a police interview after the murders. But in less than 48 hours, he dropped out, saying he was too busy.
After the sensational trial, during which much of the nation had ground to a halt waiting for the verdict — not guilty — Mr. Weitzman took the unusual step of saying that the jury had reached the wrong conclusion. “That is my opinion,” he told Super Lawyers, “based on time spent with him before the incident occurred, time spent with him after the murders occurred, and observing at arm’s length the facts brought out during the trial.”
He said he had no regrets about not participating in the spectacle. “Being in the eye of the storm,” he said, “is not something I needed.”