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Brooklyn Subway Attack Was ‘Entirely Premeditated,’ Prosecutors Argue

A federal judge ordered Frank R. James to be detained until trial, after prosecutors said he carried out an “entirely premeditated” shooting that left at least 30 injured.

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Frank R. James was held without bail on Thursday after prosecutors said he posed a continued threat in the wake of a violent and premeditated attack on New York’s subway. His lawyers, who said their client had called a tip line to surrender, asked a federal judge to ensure Mr. James received psychiatric care in jail.

Mr. James’s brief initial court appearance marked a new stage in a case that shocked a city already on edge about subway crime. At once, the attack turned a morning train ride into a scene of chaos, injuring at least 30 people, according to prosecutors. It was the bloodiest crime in New York’s public transit system in nearly four decades, and came as many residents were wading cautiously back into the routines of prepandemic life.

To some, the shooting underscored challenges facing Mayor Eric Adams, who has said that high-profile crimes have elevated public anxiety over safety to some of their highest levels in recent years — and that addressing those fears is essential to the city’s recovery. On Thursday, prosecutors said that the attack inflicted significant damage and disruption and that it could have ended in a massacre.

They described each methodical step they say Mr. James, 62, took: from setting off a smoke bomb on a crowded subway car to unleashing a barrage of bullets and stripping off a disguise as he made his escape.

“The defendant terrifyingly opened fire on passengers on a crowded subway train, interrupting their morning commute in a way this city hasn’t seen in more than 20 years,” Sara K. Winik, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in court. “The defendant’s attack was premeditated; it was carefully planned; and it caused terror among the victims and our entire city.”

Mr. James, who is charged with carrying out a terrorist attack on a mass transit system and faces up to life in prison if convicted, said little on Thursday, often responding to the federal judge’s questions with a hushed “Yes.” Because it was only his initial appearance, and he has not been indicted, Mr. James has not yet entered a plea.

Outside the courthouse on Thursday, Mia Eisner-Grynberg, one of his court-appointed lawyers, said that her client deserved a fair trial, warning that “initial reports” from the police and news outlets “can be inaccurate.”

“We are all still learning about what happened on that train, and we caution against a rush to judgment,” she said. “What we do know is this: Yesterday, Mr. James saw his photograph on the news. He called Crime Stoppers to help. He told them where he was.”

The court appearance came as local and state officials have been attempting to reassure riders that transit systems remain safe, emphasizing that city life remains far less dangerous than it was decades ago and encouraging New Yorkers to continue taking the trains.

Subway ridership, still below 60 percent of its prepandemic averages most of last month, fell in the attack’s immediate aftermath. But Wednesday’s preliminary data offered a hopeful sign: The numbers were up by about 75,000 customers over Tuesday — for about around 3.1 million total. They still remained under last week’s figures by about 159,000, a possible indication of lingering concerns.

Still, it can be challenging to identify a single cause of fluctuating ridership, and the lower figures came on a day with pleasant weather, when fewer people want to travel underground.
“We’re starting to see ridership come back,” Janno Lieber, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said at a news conference on Thursday. “Even after the incredibly disturbing news that we all saw this week.”

While the broad details of Tuesday morning’s attack have been well-established, prosecutors have not described a potential motive for the violence. It remained unclear why a train line that cuts through immigrant-heavy neighborhoods in Brooklyn, like Sunset Park, a home to many people from Asian and Latin American countries, became the target of a brutal shooting.
But federal prosecutors wrote in their court filing Thursday that while Mr. James’s lengthy arrest record — nearly a dozen low-level offenses, including reckless endangerment, larceny and trespassing — might seem “unremarkable,” it paints “a picture of a person with a penchant for defying authority and who is unable or unwilling to conform his conduct to law.”

In their filing, prosecutors said Mr. James entered the subway system Tuesday morning in disguise, wearing a yellow hard hat and an orange workman’s jacket with reflective tape.
On the train, as it neared the 36th Street station in Sunset Park, he fired “approximately 33 rounds in cold blood at terrified passengers who had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide,” federal prosecutors wrote.

Details about Mr. James’s life were still being pieced together: He had worked at Amazon for six months before his role ended about a year ago, according to a company spokeswoman, who declined to detail how or why.

Law enforcement agencies are scrutinizing hours of clues to his state of mind that he offered in disturbing videos posted for months on a YouTube channel and other social media accounts.
The videos depicted a troubled recluse, often frustrated by issues of race, current events and global affairs, matters on which he often delivered extended tirades. They also revealed a man who could sometimes become fascinated by violent ideas, once offering viewers instructions for making a Molotov cocktail, according to federal prosecutors.

He mused at least once about mayhem in New York’s subway system. Other times, he questioned whether Mr. Adams could prevent lawbreaking there. “He can’t stop no crime in no subways,” Mr. James said. “He may slow it down, but he ain’t stopping it.”

Federal prosecutors asked Thursday that Mr. James be detained until his trial, arguing that his “mere presence outside federal custody presents a serious risk of danger to the community.”
After the shooting, the police discovered ammunition and other weapons in a storage unit and apartment rented by Mr. James, prosecutors noted. The authorities also recovered an array of belongings from the train, including a Glock 9-millimeter handgun, three ammunition magazines and a credit card with Mr. James’s name on it.

Among the collection was a key to a U-Haul van that he had rented, which investigators later found about five miles from the station with a propane tank inside, prosecutors said.
Mr. James was eventually captured by the authorities on Wednesday afternoon, near a McDonald’s in the East Village, about 29 hours into an expansive manhunt that featured several federal and state agencies and hundreds of officers.

On Thursday, Mr. James’s lawyers said they did not object to his detention, but asked the magistrate judge to ensure that he received a psychiatric evaluation and other medical care at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, where he is being held, about seven blocks from the train station in Sunset Park where the attack took place.

Michael Gold, Sean Piccoli and Ashley Southall contributed reporting.


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Your pollen allergies are overwhelming? This might be why

Pollen has exploded to eye-watering levels this spring in some parts of the country after warm weather pushed plants out of their winter slumber much earlier than normal.

In Atlanta, the pollen count sky rocketed to “extremely high” in early March and stayed high through much of April, according to the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma physicians practice. Farther north in Washington, DC, allergy sufferers have been dreading the lime-green film of pollen covering that covers windshields and porches and piles up on streets and sidewalks.

But these aren’t isolated trends. As the planet warms, researchers say allergy season is starting earlier and lasting longer. And a study from the journal Nature published last year found that pollen count is projected to increase by 200% by the end of the century if planet-warming pollution continues to rise.

Climate Central, a nonprofit focused on climate news and research, recently analyzed how warmer temperatures have affected allergy season in 203 US cities since 1970.

It found that on average, the growing season – the period between the last freeze in spring to the first freeze of fall – is lasting 16 days longer in the Southeast, 15 days longer in the Northeast and 14 days longer in the South.

In the West, growing season is 27 days longer on average, Climate Central reported. Reno, Nevada, for example, has seen a shocking increase of 99 days.

And a longer growing season means a longer allergy season.

Because of climate change, we’re now seeing an earlier and longer growing season for plants, which of course make pollen, which is the enemy of many Americans that suffer from pollen allergies – and mold allergies as well,” Lauren Casey, a meteorologist with Climate Central, told CNN. “Pollen can also trigger an asthma attack, which of course is much more serious for people that suffer from asthma.”

When plants reproduce, typically during the spring, many release tiny pollen grains that are carried by wind. The pollen grains are small enough to be inhaled, and some people’s immune systems react very poorly to the miniscule particles.

More than 24 million people in the US have pollen-induced respiratory allergies like hay fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The center’s data shows that more than one in four adults suffered from seasonal allergies in 2021.

A longer and earlier start to pollen season could trigger a public health emergency, researchers say. As temperatures get warmer in the South and drought plagues the Southwest, pollen from plants like ragweed or poaceae – a plant that typically grows in grasslands or salt-marshes – is projected to be higher across those regions than in the North.

Wind-driven pollen, which plays an important role in plant fertilization, is closely tied to temperature and precipitation changes. So, as spring seasons get warmer earlier due to climate change, plants could pollinate much earlier and for a longer period of time than they currently do.

Mold allergens on the rise
Plant pollen isn’t the only trigger of seasonal allergies. Mold, a type of fungi that reproduces with tiny airborne spores, can also be allergenic for some people and can exacerbate seasonal allergies, according to the report.

While outdoor mold is not as well-studied as pollen, according to the report, one thing is clear: Warmer and wetter weather – conditions that many locations are seeing more of amid the climate crisis – is favorable for mold development.


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The Facebook Papers may be the biggest crisis in the company’s history

Facebook has confronted whistleblowers, PR firestorms and Congressional inquiries in recent years. But now it faces a combination of all three at once in what could be the most intense and wide-ranging crisis in the company’s 17-year history.

On Friday, a consortium of 17 US news organizations began publishing a series of stories — collectively called “The Facebook Papers” — based on a trove of hundreds of internal company documents which were included in disclosures made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in redacted form by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s legal counsel. The consortium, which includes CNN, reviewed the redacted versions received by Congress.

CNN’s coverage includes stories about how coordinated groups on Facebook (FB) sow discord and violence, including on January 6, as well as Facebook (FB)’s challenges moderating content in some non-English-speaking countries, and how human traffickers have used its platforms to exploit people.

The reports from CNN, and the other outlets that are part of the consortium, follow a month of intense scrutiny for the company. The Wall Street Journal previously published a series of stories based on tens of thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents leaked by Haugen. (The consortium’s work is based on many of the same documents.)

The publication of the Journal’s “Facebook Files,” which raised concerns about the impact of Instagram on teen girls, among other issues, prompted a Senate subcomittee hearing with Facebook head of global safety Antigone Davis. Haugen herself then testified before the Senate subcommittee, during which she said she believes that “Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy.”

There’s currently no end in sight for Facebook’s troubles. Members of the subcommittee have called for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify. And on Friday, another former Facebook employee anonymously filed a complaint against the company to the SEC, with allegations similar to Haugen’s.

Facebook has dealt with scandals over its approach to data privacy, content moderation and competitors before. But the vast trove of documents, and the many stories surely still to come from it, touch on concerns and problems across seemingly every part of its business: its approach to combatting hate speech and misinformation, managing international growth, protecting younger users on its platform and even its ability to accurately measure the size of its massive audience.

All of this raises an uncomfortable question for the company: Is Facebook actually capable of managing the potential for real-world harms from its staggeringly large platforms, or has the social media giant become too big not to fail?

Facebook tries to turn the page
Facebook, for its part, has repeatedly tried to discredit Haugen, and said her testimony and reports on the documents mischaracterize its actions and efforts.

“At the heart of these stories is a premise which is false,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to CNN. “Yes, we’re a business and we make profit, but the idea that we do so at the expense of people’s safety or wellbeing misunderstands where our own commercial interests lie.”

In a tweet thread last week, the company’s Vice President of Communications, John Pinette, called the Facebook Papers a “curated selection out of millions of documents at Facebook” which “can in no way be used to draw fair conclusions about us.” But even that response is telling –— if Facebook has more documents that would tell a fuller story, why not release them? (During her Senate testimony Facebook’s Davis said Facebook is “looking for ways to release more research.”)

Instead, Facebook is now reportedly planning to rebrand itself under a new name as early as this week, as the wave of critical coverage continues. (Facebook previously declined to comment on this report.) The move appears to be a clear attempt to turn the page, but a fresh coat of paint won’t fix the underlying issues outlined in the documents — only Facebook, or whatever it may soon be called, can do that.

Take the example of a report published by the Journal on September 16 that highlighted internal Facebook research about a violent Mexican drug cartel, known as Cartél Jalisco Nueva Generación. The cartel was said to be using the platform to post violent content and recruit new members using the acronym “CJNG,” even though it had been designated internally as one of the “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” whose content should be removed. Facebook told the Journal at the time that it was investing in artificial intelligence to bolster its enforcement against such groups.

Despite the Journal’s report last month,  last week identified disturbing content linked to the group on Instagram, including photos of guns, and photo and video posts in which people appear to have been shot or beheaded. After  asked Facebook about the posts, a spokesperson confirmed that multiple videos  flagged were removed for violating the company’s policies, and at least one post had a warning added.

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setting Boston Bruins blow 3-1 series lead, eliminated by Florida Panthers from NHL playoffs

The President’s Trophy curse will continue for at least another year as the Boston Bruins fell to the Florida Panthers 4-3 Sunday in an electric Game 7 of the first round of the NHL playoffs.

The Panthers got out to a quick start, going up 2-0. The high-powered Bruins came storming back, scoring three unanswered goals to take the lead.

With a minute left in the third period and the fans at TD Garden in Boston going wild, the Panthers’ Brandon Montour scored to tie the game and send it to overtime, silencing the home crowd.

fter a couple of scoring chances in the overtime period for both teams, Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe scored to eliminate the Bruins from the playoffs.

Florida completed an improbable comeback, from being down 3-1 in the series to winning three straight games to advance to the next round.

The Bruins, who broke the NHL record for most wins (65) and most points (135) in a single season, join a list of teams who took home the President’s Trophy and did not win the Stanley Cup. The President’s Trophy is awarded to the team that finishes the regular season with the most points.

The last team to win the award and the Cup in the same year was the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2012-2013 season. The Bruins, who have won the Trophy two other times in the last 10 years, were eliminated both times in the second round of the playoffs (2013-2014, 2019-2020).

The Panthers will face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round.


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