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In First Week of Animal Rights Trial, Judge Blocks Evidence of Animal Cruelty, and Crown Failed to Provide Crucial Disclosure

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Excelsior 4 Trial Enters Second Week Against Three Remaining Activists Who Exposed Animal Cruelty at Abbotsford Hog Farm
ABBOTSFORD, BC – Last week, the Crown began its case in a four-week jury trial against three animal rights activists—Roy Sasano, Amy Soranno, and Nick Schafer—who are charged with a total of 14 indictable offences of Break and Enter and Criminal Mischief for their role in exposing animal cruelty at Excelsior Hog Farm in 2019. A fourth activist, Geoff Regier, had his charges dropped in May, after a pretrial hearing. Together, the four activists have been dubbed the Excelsior 4. In a Wednesday ruling, presiding BC Supreme Court Justice Frits Verhoeven, known for his controversial Fairy Creek injunction, prevented the defence from arguing that Excelsior had engaged in unlawful animal abuse, thereby foreclosing on testimony from planned expert defence witnesses. Justice Verhoeven’s ruling also forbids the defence from showing the jury any video footage of animal cruelty at Excelsior, including the footage the activists are being tried for exposing.After the activists were denied their chosen defence, and without any hope of explaining to the jury why they took the actions they did, Amy Soranno’s defence lawyer, Leo Salloum, responded to Justice Verhoeven’s ruling on Thursday by saying he was now unlikely to submit any more evidence on her behalf. “Not having the ability to play that video cuts the legs out from under several of the defences that we had been planning to raise,” said Salloum.Soranno further stated that, “By preventing us from putting on a defence and forbidding us from explaining to the jury why it was necessary to hold Excelsior Hog Farm accountable for their criminal abuse of animals, the legal and moral deck is stacked against us.”In another major revelation, defence lawyers discovered on Thursday that the Crown had failed in its obligation to disclose large volumes of additional evidence, some of which appears exculpatory for at least one of the defendants. Justice Verhoeven gave the defence the weekend to review evidence that should have been provided years ago.“At the start of this case three years ago, the police claimed to lose hours of animal cruelty evidence, then last week Justice Verhoeven denied us the ability to show the jury any animal cruelty evidence,” said Roy Sasano, another Excelsior 4 defendant. “Now, we discover that for years the Crown failed to disclose additional volumes of evidence we needed to prepare for trial. The animal agriculture industry, law enforcement, and the courts appear more interested in criminalizing activists than getting at the truth.”Two owners of the hog farm, Calvin and Jeff Binnenedyk, were called by the Crown to testify over multiple days. On cross-examination, Calvin Binnendyk revealed he was completely unfamiliar with the laws pertaining to the treatment of farmed animals, such as the Criminal Code and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Sasano’s defence lawyer, Joe Killoran, asked Binnendyk how he would even know whether he was legally compliant if he was unfamiliar with the law. However, Justice Verhoeven cut short the line of questioning, saying that the hog farm is not the party on trial. Calvin Binnendyk’s lack of knowledge about animal cruelty laws was especially alarming to the defence, given his brother Ray’s position as director of the BC Pork Producers Association. Ray is expected to take the witness stand this week. Supporters expressed solidarity with the Excelsior 4 by hanging large banners from a Highway 1 overpass in Abbotsford on Wednesday that read, “Stop Criminalizing Animal Activists” and “Abbotsford Hog Farm Guilty of Animal Cruelty.”
The Crown’s case will continue this week, but the trial may now be shortened from its anticipated four weeks, as a result of the restrictions that Justice Verhoeven placed on the defence strategy last week. The Excelsior 4 trial comes more than three years after the exposure of animal cruelty at the Abbotsford hog farm, yet Excelsior Hog Farm has never had to answer for the video footage clearly depicting animal abuse. To learn more about the Excelsior 4 case—how industry has avoided accountability, how the police have mishandled evidence, and how the Crown is criminalizing activists—see this 7-minute video: https://youtu.be/FJGAI02SWzw. Additional information can also be found at the Excelsior 4 website: https://excelsior4.org.

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Zimbabwean lecturer develops low-cost sun cream set to help people with Albinism

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Harare, Zimbabwe- Dr. Joey Chifamba, a University of Zimbabwe (UZ) chartered industrial chemist and pharmaceutical nanotechnology expert has developed a low-cost sun cream which is set to help people with Albinism.

According to Dr. Chifamba, the sun cream harnesses zinc and titanium from natural sources as well as indigenous trees and was made using 5th generation emerging technologies including nanotechnology and biotechnology.

Speaking to a local publication, The Herald, Dr. Chifamba said his ground-breaking sun cream will help people living with Albinism who suffer from actinic (solar-induced) skin damage, freckles, sunburn as well as other various skin cancers.

“No product has ever been developed to protect Albinistic persons from actinic damage. The sunscreens that are given to them are designed for white-skinned people and do not take into consideration specific conditions and differences found on Albinistic skins.

This makes them not very effective and not very suitable especially for all-day everyday wear since Albinism is a lifelong condition.

We employ nanosized metallic oxides sunblocks conjugated together with nano-optimized indigenous herbs with antibacterial, antifungal and wound healing effects to create aesthetically pleasing cosmeceutical products for every day all day use by Albinistic persons.

In our innovation we have developed ground-breaking cosmeceuticals which are not only sunscreens but complete actinic damage retarding treatments that consider Albinistic skin differences and deal with various symptoms of actinic damage including wrinkles, premature aging, inflammation, bacterial and fungal infections,” said Dr. Chifamba.

Furthermore, Dr. Chifamba said the products which were developed in consultation with the Albino charity organization of Zimbabwe and other Albino welfare groups, are already available to people living with Albinism who are registered with the charity organization.

People with Albinism have skin that is very sensitive to light and sun exposure. Sunburn is one of the most serious complications associated with Albinism because it can increase the risk of developing skin cancer and sun damage-related thickening of the skin.

Albinism is a rare genetic condition caused by mutations of certain genes that affect the amount of melanin your body produces. Albinism can affect people of all races and all ethnic groups

For most types of Albinism, both parents must carry the gene in order for their child to develop the condition. Most people with Albinism have parents who are only carriers of the gene and don’t have symptoms of the condition.

Other types of Albinism, including one that only affects the eyes, mostly occur when a birthing parent passes the gene for albinism on to a child assigned male at birth.

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Donald Trump loyalist, Alex Jones ordered to pay US$49 million in punitive damages

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Donald Trump loyalist, Alex Jones ordered to pay US$49 million in punitive damages

Austin, United States of America (USA)- A jury in Texas on Friday ordered Alex Jones, a loyalist to former US President Donald Trump, to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a child who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012.

The jury announced its decision a day after awarding the parents more than U$4.1 million in compensatory damages and after testimony on Friday that Jones and Free Speech Systems, the parent company of his media outlet, Infowars, were worth US$135 million to US$270 million.

Prior to Friday’s Court proceedings, Jones told his audience that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax and that the grieving parents of those who died were actors.

The total of US$49.3 million is less than the US$150 million sought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 children and six educators killed in the deadliest classroom shooting in US history.

“He stood up to the bully Adam Lanza and saved nine of his classmates’ lives. I hope that I did that incredible courage justice when I was able to confront Alex Jones, who is also a bully. I hope that inspires other people to do the same. This is an important day for truth, for justice, and I couldn’t be happier,” said Lewis.

Before the jurors began deliberating about the punitive damages, Wesley Todd Ball, a lawyer for the family, told the jury that it had the ability to send a message for everyone in the country and perhaps this world to hear.

“We ask that you send a very, very simple message, and that is, Stop Alex Jones. Stop the monetization of misinformation and lies. Please,” said Ball.

Jones, who has portrayed the lawsuit as an attack on his First Amendment rights, conceded during the trial that the attack was 100 percent real and that he was wrong to have lied about it, but Heslin and Lewis told jurors that an apology wouldn’t suffice and called on them to make Jones pay for the years of suffering he has put them and other Sandy Hook families through.

The parents told jurors about how they have endured a decade of trauma, inflicted first by the murder of their son and what followed, gunshots fired at the home, online and phone threats, and harassment on the street by strangers. They said the threats and harassment were all fueled by Jones and his conspiracy theory spread to his followers via Infowars.

Jones who was in the courtroom briefly on Friday but not there for the verdict still faces two other defamation lawsuits from Sandy Hook families in Texas and Connecticut.

Nevertheless, Jones has also claimed, among things, that the Pentagon was using chemical warfare to turn people Gay, that COVID-19 is not real and that September 11 was an inside job perpetrated by the government.

 

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FBI still worried of another attack from Afghan rebel groups

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Washington D.C, United States of America (USA)- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), head, Christopher Wray has expressed grave concerns over another attack from Afghanistan rebel groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS.

His comments come just days after the US killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan via drone strike.

“I am worried about the possibility that we will see al Qaeda reconstitute, ISIS-K potentially taking advantage of the deteriorating security environment, and I am worried about terrorists, including here in the United States, being inspired by what they see over there,” said the FBI director during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Al-Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike, ending a years-long manhunt which placed al-Zawahiri near the top of the FBI’s most-wanted list. The 71-year-old Egyptian national headed up the group after the death of terrorist kingpin Osama Bin Laden in an American raid in 2011 and is thought to have helped plan the 9/11 attacks.

The Department of State also cited it believes there is a higher potential for anti-American violence given the death of al-Zawahiri.

Meanwhile, the FBI is investigating a possible assassination plot against Iranian-American journalist, Masih Alinejad.

According to US news sources, a man was arrested carrying a loaded AK-47 rifle in a possible plot to assassinate her.

Alinejad herself shared security camera footage of the suspect at her front door on Twitter on Sunday, saying, “My crime is giving voice to voiceless people. The US administration must be tough on terror.”

The arrested man was taken in by Police after a traffic stop. They said he ran a stop sign and when they checked his vehicle, they found a gun in the backseat, according to the complaint filed by the FBI.

He was charged with possessing a firearm without a proper serial number. At his Friday (last week) hearing, the Judge ordered him to be held without bail.

The suspect initially claimed that he knew nothing about the weapon and said he was just in the area looking for an apartment, but later he told the investigators that he owned the gun and that he was looking for someone in Brooklyn.

In July last year, US prosecutors charged four Iranian spies with trying to kidnap Alinejad from her home in Brooklyn and taking her to Venezuela. Investigators said that they had also tried to lure her to the Middle East before that.

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