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Prosecutors in the United States claim that Honduras’ president assisted in drug trafficking.

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Prosecutors in the United States claim that Honduras' president assisted in drug trafficking.

Prosecutors in the United States claim that Honduras' president assisted in drug trafficking.

 

According to federal prosecutors in New York, an accountant observed meetings between Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and a drug trafficker in which they planned the trafficking of cocaine to the United States.

During his opening statement at the trial of accused Honduran drug trafficker Geovanny Fuentes Ramrez, Assistant US Attorney Jacob Gutwillig said the accountant was present when Hernández allegedly said he wanted to “shove the drugs right up the noses of the gringos.”

The president and Fuentes Ramrez conspired to give as much cocaine as possible to the United States, according to Gutwillig.

Fuentes Ramrez was arrested in Florida in March 2020. He is accused of drug trafficking and possessing guns.

However, much of the prosecutors’ firepower seems to be directed at Hernández, who they allege, along with other high-ranking officials, assisted Fuentes Ramrez in drug trafficking.

Hernández has previously denied any link to drug smugglers. He has not been charged with anything.

“His business prospered as a result of his contacts. Mayors, congressmen, generals in the military, police chiefs, and even Honduras’ current president,” Gutwillig said. “All of them were bribed by the defendant.”

According to Gutwillig, the meetings took place in 2013 and 2014. The accountant, José Sánchez, ran a rice company from which Fuentes Ramrez allegedly laundered drug profits, according to prosecutors. According to the lawyer, Sánchez will testify at the trial.

Sánchez’s “shock, fear” when he saw Fuentes Ramrez meeting with the president, according to Gutwillig. Sánchez wasn’t reliable, according to one of Fuentes Ramrez’s defense lawyers, who said the US would accept his asylum application in return for his testimony.

Prosecutors previously said that Fuentes Ramrez paid Hernández $25,000 in exchange for the freedom to transport drugs around the country without being stopped.

Eylan Schulman, a defense attorney, said, “Apparently $25,000 is all it takes to bribe the president.”

Federal prosecutors in the Fuentes Ramrez case filed motions in January alleging that Hernández took money from drug dealers and had the country’s armed forces secure a cocaine laboratory and shipments to the United States.

According to the papers, Hernández, who is identified as co-conspirator 4, intended to “shove the drugs right up the gringos’ noses” by flooding the United States with cocaine.

In the trial that led to the conviction of one of his brothers, Juan Antonio Hernández, in 2019, the president made an appearance. At that trial, the president was accused of taking more than $1 million from Mexican drug lord Joaqun “El Chapo” Guzmán, an allegation that has been echoed in the latest motions.

Prosecutors in the Fuentes Ramrez case filed another document last month that seemed to indicate for the first time that Hernández was being investigated by US authorities.

Hernández has long denied cooperating with drug dealers or benefiting from their activities. Prosecutors claim that money from drug cartels fuelled much of his political rise from Congress president to president, in return for immunity and the avoidance of security forces interfering.

In a Twitter thread on Monday, Hernández reiterated that he had declared war on drug trafficking, not helped it. He claims that the accusations against him are made by drug dealers seeking vengeance and a reduction in their sentences.

“The international alliance (against drug trafficking) will crumble with Honduras, then with different countries,” he wrote, if drug dealers are rewarded for lying.

The first witness in the trial was Drug Enforcement Administration agent Brian Fairbanks, who testified that Hernández’s phone number and gmail account were among the details contained in Fuentes Ramrez’s cell phone.

Fairbanks also recognized Hernández smiling in photos with Fuentes Ramrez’s son and brother.

However, Fairbanks, who arrested Fuentes Ramrez, said that he was unable to locate any calls or text messages between the accused and the president.

Prosecutors showed the names of people Fuentes Ramrez had on his computer, including senators, cops, and high-ranking military officers.

Democrats filed a bill last month demanding that President Joe Biden enforce sanctions on Hernández and decide if he is a “specially named drug trafficker.”

The bill calls for the cessation of security assistance to Honduras, prohibits the sale of products like tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets to Honduran security forces, and urges the US to reject multilateral development bank loans to those forces.

It also urges the Honduran government to approach the UN about setting up an anti-corruption mission. A similar mission backed by the Organization of American States was not revived under Hernández after it started to implicate some federal legislators.

Devis Leonel Rivera Maradiaga, the former chief of the Cachiros cartel, who has confessed to involvement in 78 murders, will be one of the prosecution’s primary witnesses. The lawyers for Fuentes Ramrez chastised the US government for accusing him based on Rivera Maradiaga’s confessions.

Schulman characterized Fuentes Ramrez as a good father of four children who ran a lumber company, saying, “His testimony would make you sick to your stomach.” Since Honduras is a dangerous country, he said Fuentes Ramrez had guns and bodyguards.

Rivera Maradiaga’s niece is married to one of Fuentes Ramrez’s sons.

My self Eswar, I am Creative Head at RecentlyHeard. I Will cover informative content related to political and local news from the United Nations and Canada.

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Retrospective celebrates 30 years of James Sewell Ballet

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Retrospective celebrates 30 years of James Sewell Ballet

Twin Cities dance stalwart James Sewell Ballet has been on its toes for three decades.

In an anniversary showcase celebration Oct. 16-17, performers will revisit favorites from the past along with new hits. The program will also feature a new piece from Da’Rius Malone, who was recently named resident choreographer of the James Sewell Ballet for the 2021-2022 season.

Live musicians will accompany select works.

Details: The Cowles Center – Goodale Theater, 528 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; $30-$25;  612-206-3600 or thecowlescenter.org.

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Source: DA seeking to indict Robert Durst in ex-wife’s death

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Source: DA seeking to indict Robert Durst in ex-wife’s death

NEW YORK — A New York prosecutor will seek an indictment in the coming weeks against millionaire real estate scion Robert Durst for the death of his former wife, Kathie Durst, who disappeared in 1982, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Friday.

Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah decided in recent days to take the case to a grand jury in the next week or two, according to the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and did so on condition of anonymity. The grand jury process is expected to take about a month, the person said.

The news was first reported Friday by News 12 in Westchester.

Kathie Durst’s disappearance has shadowed Robert Durst, 78, for years, highlighted in an HBO documentary in which he appeared to admit killing people and culminating last month in his conviction in California for murdering a confidante whom prosecutors say helped him cover up Kathie Durst’s killing.

A message seeking comment was left Friday with the Westchester district attorney’s office, which previously said that it reopened the investigation into Kathie Durst’s death. In a statement issued after Durst’s conviction last month, a spokesperson for Rocah’s office said its investigation was ongoing.

Durst’s lawyer, David Chesnoff, said: “I don’t respond to rumors.”

Robert Durst is jailed in Los Angeles and scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 14 for the 2000 killing of his friend, Susan Berman. His first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Durst, the eccentric heir to a family of New York City developers, is now sick and frail. He sat throughout the trial in a wheelchair, spoke slowly in a strained, raspy voice when he testified in his own defense and read his lawyer’s questions from a tablet giving live transcriptions because he struggles with hearing.

Los Angeles prosecutors say Durst shot Berman at her Los Angeles home in December 2000 as she was preparing to tell police about her involvement in Kathie Durst’s death. She had told friends she provided a phony alibi for him after his wife vanished, prosecutors said.

“He’s a narcissistic psychopath. He killed his wife and then he had to keep killing to cover it up,“ Deputy District Attorney John Lewin said after Durst’s conviction in the Los Angeles case.

Kathie Durst was 29 and in her final months of medical school when she vanished on Jan. 31, 1982. She and Robert Durst, who was 38 at the time, had been married nearly nine years and were living in South Salem, near the Connecticut border. Her body was never found. At the request of her family, she was declared legally dead in 2017.

Robert Durst claimed to police that on the night of her disappearance, he’d put her on a train to New York City, had a drink with a neighbor and then spoke with Kathie Durst by telephone while she stayed at their Manhattan apartment. They’d been fighting earlier in the evening, he said. A few weeks before that, Kathie Durst went to the hospital with facial injuries she said were caused by Robert Durst.

In the 2015 HBO documentary “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” he admitted he made up the details about seeing his neighbor and talking to Kathie Durst by phone, saying he did so because he was “hoping that would just make everything go away.”

In the same documentary, after filmmakers confronted Durst with evidence linking him to Berman’s killing, he stepped off camera and muttered to himself on a live microphone in the bathroom: “Killed them all, of course.”

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Texas clinics cancel abortions after court reinstates ban

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Texas clinics cancel abortions after court reinstates ban

By PAUL J. WEBER

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas abortion clinics on Saturday canceled appointments they had booked during a 48-hour reprieve from the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S., which was back in effect as weary providers again turn their sights to the Supreme Court.

The Biden administration, which sued Texas over the law known as Senate Bill 8, has yet to say whether it will go that route after a federal appeals court reinstated it late Friday. The law bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks, before some women know they are pregnant. It makes no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

The White House had no immediate comment Saturday.

But for now at least, the law is in the hands of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which allowed the restrictions to resume pending further arguments. In the meantime, Texas abortions providers and patients are right back to where they’ve been for most of the last six weeks.

Out-of-state clinics already inundated with Texas patients seeking abortions were again the closest option for many women. Providers say others are being forced to carry pregnancies to term, or waiting in hopes that courts will strike down the law that took effect on Sept. 1.

There are also new questions — including whether anti-abortion advocates will try punishing Texas physicians who performed abortions during the brief window the law was paused from late Wednesday to late Friday. Texas leaves enforcement solely in the hands of private citizens who can collect $10,000 or more in damages if they successfully sue abortion providers who flout the restrictions.

Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, created a tip line to receive reports of violators. About a dozen calls came in after U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman suspended the law, said John Seago, the group’s legislative director.

Although some Texas clinics acknowledged they had briefly resumed abortions on patients who were beyond six weeks, Seago said his group had no lawsuits in the works. He said the clinics’ public statements did not “match up with what we saw on the ground,” which he says include a network of observers and crisis pregnancy centers.

“I don’t have any credible evidence at the moment of litigation that we would we would bring forward,” Seago said Saturday.

Texas had roughly two dozen abortion clinics before the law took effect. At least six clinics resumed performing abortions after six weeks of pregnancy during the reprieve, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

At Whole Woman’s Health, which has four abortion clinics in Texas, president and CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller said she did not have the number of abortions her locations performed for patients beyond six weeks but put it at “quite a few.” She said her clinics were again complying with the law and acknowledged the risks her physicians and staff had taken.

“Of course we are all worried,” she said. “But we also feel a deep commitment to providing abortion care when it is legal to do so, we did.”

Pitman, the federal judge who halted the Texas law Wednesday in a blistering 113-page opinion, was appointed by President Barack Obama. He called the law an “offensive deprivation” of the constitutional right to an abortion, but his ruling was swiftly set aside in a one-page order by the 5th Circuit.

That same appeals court previously allowed the Texas restrictions to take effect in September, in a separate lawsuit brought by abortion providers. This time, the court gave the Justice Department until 5 p.m. Tuesday to respond.

Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, urged the Supreme Court to “step in and stop this madness.” Last month, the Supreme Court allowed the law to move forward in a 5-4 decision, although it did so without ruling on the law’s constitutionality.

A 1992 decision by the Supreme Court prevented states from banning abortion before viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks of pregnancy. But Texas’ version has outmaneuvered courts due to its novel enforcement mechanism that leaves enforcement to private citizens and not prosecutors, which critics say amounts to a bounty.

The Biden administration could bring the case back to the Supreme Court and ask it to quickly restore Pitman’s order, although it is unclear whether they will do so.

“I’m not very optimistic about what could happen at the Supreme Court,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, about the Justice Department’s chances.

“But there’s not much downside either, right?” he said. “The question is, what’s changed since the last time they saw it? There is this full opinion, this full hearing before the judge and the record. So that may be enough.”

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Taliban say they won’t work with U.S. to contain Islamic State

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Taliban say they won’t work with U.S. to contain Islamic State

ISLAMABAD — The Taliban on Saturday ruled out cooperation with the United States to contain extremist groups in Afghanistan, staking out an uncompromising position on a key issue ahead of the first direct talks between the former foes since America withdrew from the country in August.

Senior Taliban officials and U.S. representatives are to meet Saturday and Sunday in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Officials from both sides have said issues include reining in extremist groups and the evacuation of foreign citizens and Afghans from the country. The Taliban have signaled flexibility on evacuations.

However, Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen told The Associated Press there would be no cooperation with Washington on containing the increasingly active Islamic State group in Afghanistan. IS has taken responsibility for a number of recent attacks, including a suicide bombing Friday that killed 46 minority Shiite Muslims and wounded dozens as they prayed in a mosque in the northern city of Kunduz.

“We are able to tackle Daesh independently,” Shaheen said, when asked whether the Taliban would work with the U.S. to contain the Islamic State affiliate. He used an Arabic acronym for IS.

IS has carried out relentless assaults on the country’s Shiites since emerging in eastern Afghanistan in 2014. It is also seen as the terror group that poses the greatest threat to the United States for its potential to stage attacks on American targets.

The weekend meetings in Doha are the first since U.S. forces withdrew from Afghanistan in late August, ending a 20-year military presence as the Taliban overran the country. The U.S. has made it clear the talks are not a preamble to recognition.

The talks also come on the heels of two days of difficult discussions between Pakistani officials and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Islamabad that focused on Afghanistan. Pakistani officials urged the U.S. to engage with Afghanistan’s new rulers and release billions of dollars in international funds to stave off an economic meltdown.

Pakistan also had a message for the Taliban, urging them to become more inclusive and pay attention to human rights and minority ethnic and religious groups.

Afghanistan’s Shiite clerics assailed the Taliban rulers following Friday’s attack, demanding greater protection at their places of worship. The IS affiliate claimed responsibility and identified the bomber as a Uyghur Muslim. The claim said the attack targeted both Shiites and the Taliban for their purported willingness to expel Uyghurs to meet demands from China. It was the deadliest attack since U.S. and NATO troops left Afghanistan on Aug. 30.

Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the U.S.-based Wilson Center, said Friday’s attack could be a harbinger of more violence. Most of the Uyghur militants belong to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which has found a safe haven in the border regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan for decades.

“If the (IS) claim is true, China’s concerns about terrorism in (Afghanistan)–to which the Taliban claims to be receptive—will increase,” he tweeted following the attack.

Meanwhile, the Taliban began busing Afghans who had fled from the insurgents’ blitz takeover in August and were living in tents in a Kabul park back to their homes in the country’s north, where threats from IS are mounting following the Kunduz attack.

A Taliban official in charge of refugees, Mohammed Arsa Kharoti, said there are up to 1.3 million Afghans displaced from past wars and that the Taliban lack funds to organize the return home for all. He said the Taliban have organized the return of 1,005 displaced families to their homes so far.

Shokria Khanm, who had spent several weeks in one of the tents in the park and was waiting Saturday to board the Taliban-organized bus back home to Kunduz, said she isn’t concerned about the growing IS threat in the northern province.

“At least there we have four walls,” she said but added that she was nervous about the future after fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government troops had destroyed her house.

“Winter is on the way. There is no firewood. We need water and food,” she said.

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High school soccer notebook: Dedham High girls chasing TVL Small title

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High school soccer notebook: Dedham High girls chasing TVL Small title

When Dedham High made the jump from the Bay State Conference to the Tri-Valley League in 2017, it was with an eye toward creating a more competitive atmosphere for its teams against schools of similar size.

One Marauder program that never needed a boost in the BSC was girls soccer, which won eight Herget titles in a 14-year span from 1999 to 2012 despite being the smallest school in the division.

That dominance hadn’t translated in their transition to the TVL until this fall as Dedham is the last unbeaten team in a stacked league, entering the weekend at 6-0-5 and bidding for their first TVL Small title.

“I know people think we have a good league, but I don’t think people realize just how good it is,” said veteran Dedham coach Don Savi of the TVL. “This year you have at least 10 teams that should make the tournament, and the league is doing well in the new rating system because we have done well out of the league. There is definitely no drop-off from the Bay State Conference.”

A big key for the Marauders this year has been consistency as they have given themselves a chance to win each time out. Dedham sits one point behind defending champion Dover-Sherborn in the Small as it prepares for is second trip through the division, and has gone 3-0-2 so far against the Large side.

With strength of schedule paramount this year, Dedham aggressively booked two quality Division 1 squads out of the BSC for nonleague contests. The Marauders battled Natick to a 1-1 tie earlier and had Newton North on Saturday.

“I just think we have been focused every game and ready to play,” said Savi. “Word gets out quickly that you have a pretty good team so we get everyone’s best shot and in turn we have to be ready to play every game, so we have done a nice job of showing up every day.”

The catalyst for that attitude is senior Abbey Finn, a Providence-bound center midfielder who is the heartbeat of the attack. Finn is in her third season with the Marauders as she spent her freshman year with an academy team, making her unable to play for Dedham.

“At the time, it didn’t seem like a difficult decision, but now that I have played three years I wish that I could have played freshman year so I could have had the freshman experience I guess,” said Finn. “Club and high school are so different. It’s a super cool experience to be able to play with my friends and be able to have fun with the game and not stress as much.”

Finn has registered five goals and three assists through 11 games, but her influence is felt far beyond the numbers.

“When we got her back it raised our skill level and the people around her,” said Savi. “She plays endline to endline and doesn’t take anything off, so when you see your best player doing that, they say I have to give 100 percent, too.”

Finn comes from a soccer family. Her father, John Finn, was boys soccer coach at Catholic Memorial for several years and instrumental in her development.

Younger sister Ava Finn is a freshman with the Marauder varsity, stepping immediately into a crucial role for the Dedham defense as starting center back. The Marauders have not surrendered more than one goal in a game this year despite having a sophomore making her varsity debut in net, Chea Michaelidis, who has recorded six shutouts.

The elder Finn is part of a talented senior class that has four other starters it leans on heavily in forwards Jamie McDonough — Dedham’s leading scorer with seven goals — and Alyssa Keane, midfielder Catherine Morse, and defender Kate Dooley.

“We have a really good group of leaders on this team,” said Finn. “The senior class is super close and we just make a really good, positive environment for the rest of the team.”

But the player that comes closest to matching Finn in impact is junior Lily Roslonek, her partner in the middle of the field that has a penchant for making things happen.

“She is just relentless,” said Savi. “She has a motor that just doesn’t quit.”

Dedham has enjoyed plenty of postseason success under Savi, winning South sectional titles in both Div. 2 and 3. The Marauders landed at No. 5 in Div. 3 when the MIAA released the first edition of the girls soccer ratings and could be primed for another deep tournament run.

“We will see how the draw goes, but we will come to play,” said Savi. “We are excited for it. With the new format we will see how it plays out, but there are a lot of good teams there. It won’t be easy.”

Ratings review

The much-anticipated soccer ratings that will be used for seeding in the new statewide tournament format this fall hit the MIAA site on Monday, and for the most part the system seemed to work as designed by rewarding teams for their full body of work.

The ratings should increase in accuracy as the season progress and their may be some bugs early on, but here are some things of note in the first look:

• Expect plenty of prelims — The new tournament format guarantees a berth for the top 32 teams by rating in each of the five divisions, but also any that have a .500 record or better. Initially, it looks like there will be several teams that will qualify outside of the top 32 in all divisions, including some fields that project to be particularly crowded. Div. 3 girls, for instance, would have 46 of the 67 teams eligible, creating 14 preliminary round contests.
• Strength of schedule matters — The days of garnering a high seed by beating up on a soft slate are over. For example, a 6-0-1 record only earns Essex Tech the No. 23 spot in the Div. 3 boys draw while an 8-0-2 mark has Lynn Classical all the way down at No. 44 in Div. 1 girls.
• Hingham at the head of the class — Harbormen squads nearly topped both Div. 1 ranks as the boys took the top spots and the girls were second behind Bishop Feehan. The South Shore did particularly well when it comes to placing both boys and girls squads with Plymouth North in Div. 2 (boys No. 4/girls No. 1), Norwell in Div. 3 (boys No. 4/girls No. 6) and Cohasset in Div. 4 (boys No. 3/girls No. 4).

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Boston Marathon bomber faces revived death sentence in high court

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Boston Marathon bomber faces revived death sentence in high court

Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s case will come before the U.S. Supreme Court this week as his attorneys try to spare the convicted terrorist’s life.

Biden administration lawyers will pitch their arguments on Wednesday — two days after this year’s delayed Boston Marathon goes ahead — as to why the nation’s top court should reinstate the death penalty for Tsarnaev after an appeals court overturned it last year.

Tsarnaev’s guilt in the deaths of three people in the shocking bombing near the finish line of the marathon in 2013 is not at issue in the case the justices will hear Wednesday. He’ll never see freedom again — at issue now is just whether he should be sentenced to life in prison, or death.

Nor is the court likely to ponder the administration’s aggressive pursuit of a capital sentence for Tsarnaev even as it has halted federal executions and President Biden has called for an end to the federal death penalty.

Instead, the main focus will be on evidence that Tsarnaev’s lawyers wanted the jury to hear that supported their argument that his older brother, Tamerlan, was the mastermind of the attack and that the impressionable younger brother was somehow less responsible. The evidence implicated Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a triple killing in Waltham on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The federal appeals court in Boston ruled last year that the trial judge made a mistake in excluding the evidence and threw out Tsarnaev’s death sentence. There’s a second issue in the case: whether the trial judge did enough to question jurors about their exposure to extensive news coverage of the bombing.

The Trump administration, which carried out 13 executions in its last six months, quickly appealed. When the new administration didn’t indicate any change of view, the court agreed to review the case.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers have never contested that he and his brother set off the two bombs near the marathon finish line on April 15, 2013. Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China; Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager from Medford; and 8-year-old Martin Richard, who had gone to watch the marathon with his family, were killed. More than 260 people were injured.

During a four-day manhunt for the bombers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Police Officer Sean Collier was shot dead in his car. Boston Police Officer Dennis Simmonds also died a year after he was wounded in a confrontation with the bombers.

Police captured a bloodied and wounded Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Watertown, where he was hiding in a boat parked in a backyard, hours after his brother died. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, had been in a gunfight with police and was run over by his brother as he fled.

Tsarnaev, now 28, was convicted of all 30 charges against him, including conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction and the killing of Collier during the Tsarnaev brothers’ getaway attempt. The appeals court upheld all but a few of his convictions.

A convicted murderer who is pleading with a jury to lock him up for life, rather than vote for his execution, has wide leeway to present evidence that he thinks would make a death sentence less likely.

The 2011 killings, defense lawyers said, went to the heart of their argument that Tsarnaev was deeply influenced and radicalized by his revered brother, who already had shown a capacity for extreme violence. The younger sibling was less responsible for the marathon mayhem, they said.

“The evidence thus made it vastly more likely that Dzhokhar acted under Tamerlan’s radicalizing influence and that Tamerlan led the bombings,” Ginger Anders, Tsarnaev’s leading Supreme Court lawyer, wrote in a high-court filing.

For its part, the administration contends that it does not contest the older brother’s leadership role, and that defense lawyers were able to make that case. Still, the jury sentenced Tsarnaev to death, acting Solicitor General Brian Fletcher wrote.

Tsarnaev “made the choice to commit a terrorist attack against children and other innocent spectators at the marathon, and the jury held him accountable for that choice,” Fletcher wrote.

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At flooded restaurant near Bangkok, the special is a splash

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At flooded restaurant near Bangkok, the special is a splash

NONTHABURI, Thailand — A flood-hit riverside restaurant in Thailand has become an unlikely dining hotspot after fun-loving foodies began flocking to its waterlogged deck to eat amid the lapping tide.

Now, instead of empty chairs and vacant tables, the Chaopraya Antique Café is as full as ever, offering an experience the canny owner calls “hot-pot surfing.”

If you like your food washed down with plenty of water, this is the place for you.

Shortly after the water tops the parapet, the first diners arrive. Before long, the deck is crammed with carefree customers happily tucking in as if dining in a deluge is the norm.

The wait staff — some clad in rubber boots — step gingerly through the swirl that quickly rises to more than 50 centimeters (20 inches).

The restaurant, in Nonthaburi near Bangkok, opened in February in a riverside location that perfectly complements its antique architecture and décor.

But a recent severe tropical storm and heavy monsoon rains combined to raise the river’s water level. Add in the tides and the result has been daily inundation.

Coming straight after a monthslong coronavirus shutdown, it could have spelled disaster. Instead — boosted by publicity in the Thai media — it’s now so popular that customers need to make reservations.

“This is a great atmosphere. During this flood crisis this has became the restaurant’s signature attraction. So I wanted to challenge myself and try out this new experience,” 24-year-old Siripoj Wai-inta said as he munched his food with the water creeping up his shins.

The owner has dubbed the experience “hot-pot surfing.” When a passenger boat motors past you find out why. The delighted scramble to avoid a soaking from the wave is the moment everyone waits for, and with one passing every 15 minutes, no one goes home disappointed.

It’s TV presenter Titiporn Jutimanon’s first restaurant venture. He says he was worried what would happen when the floods came.

“It turns out the customers have a great reaction. They are happy. We can see the atmosphere of customers enjoying the experience of eating in the water. So a crisis has turned into an opportunity. It encourages us to keep the restaurant open and keep customers happy.”

Best of all, he says, it means he can keep his staff happy by keeping them employed. So, even amid harsh economic times, the only thing that needs a bailout is the restaurant itself.

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For Karla Hult, a new beginning after so many goodbyes

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For Karla Hult, a new beginning after so many goodbyes

The first sign that something was wrong came after Bob Hult’s shoulder surgery at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park in 2010.

While under the influence of pain medication, Hult, the father of KARE-11 reporter Karla Hult, became delusional and inarticulate. “He thought it was a conspiracy — that we and the hospital staff were trying to keep him there,” Karla Hult said. “He was really mad, very frustrated and irritable. He would lash out and try to get away.”

That episode foreshadowed what was to come later that year: a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

For nine years, Bob Hult, of Forest Lake, lived with the disease that robbed him of the ability to walk, talk and think. He died on March 28, 2019, at the age of 80.

Hult’s wife, Marlys, and his three daughters initially cared for him at the couple’s home on Clear Lake. Later, at-home caregivers were hired to help. In 2017, Bob Hult moved to a nearby memory-care facility.

Karla Hult likens dealing with her father’s Alzheimer’s disease to running a marathon, a race her father used to run. “We were overwhelmed by the hidden grief and practical decisions we had to make,” she said. “It’s a cruel disease.”

In June, Hult, who lives in Minneapolis, started a business devoted to mentoring families dealing with Alzheimer’s. The business, So Many Goodbyes, also offers workshops for long-term care centers to help bridge the communication divide between families and caregivers.

“I don’t want other families to go through what we went through,” she said. “I want people to know they’re not alone.”

Hult said she relies on her reporting skills to research options and local resources to help families. “That could be anything from Memory Cafe meetings to cleaning services,” she said. “I had one man whom I’m mentoring share with me how lonely it is to slowly lose his partner. He broke down crying and said he didn’t realize how much he needed to talk about what he was going through. That was pretty affirming for me.”

Caregivers are encouraged to “look for the person beyond the disease,” she said. “That that will help them connect with the person, honor the person and make their work more rewarding.”

Hult also speaks publicly about Alzheimer’s, regularly emceeing events for the Alzheimer’s Association and speaking at conferences. “Anything to help people understand more about this disease that, sadly, touches all of us — as family members, friends or simply taxpayers,” she said.

‘CLASSIC MINNESOTA DAD’

Bob Hult grew up on St. Paul’s East Side, the grandson of Swedish immigrants. He and his twin brother, Bill, were hockey, baseball and golf standouts at Johnson High School, graduating in 1956.

The Hult twins — William and Robert — grew up on St. Paul’s East Side and attended Johnson High School, where they played hockey, baseball and golf. Both men died of complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. (Courtesy of Karla Hult)

The Hult twins — two of five siblings — loved spending time at their grandparents’ cabin on Clear Lake. “He was pretty much the classic Minnesota dad,” Karla Hult said. “He loved the lake and loved his state and his community, and absolutely loved his family.”

Bob Hult graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1960 with a business and engineering degree and spent most of his career at 3M Co., where he was a manager of inter-systems and data processing.

In 1962, he went on a blind date with Marlys Nelson, who lived in Minneapolis. They double-dated with Bill Hult and his wife, Jane, who was Marlys’ cousin. The couples met in the parking lot of Schwietz Saloon on Payne Avenue and went to a baseball game in Somerset, Wis., where “Bill was the pitcher, and Bob was the catcher,” Marlys Hult said.

“I was dating someone else, but by the next day, I was thinking, ‘Well, I think I’m going to break up with the other guy and stick with him,’ ” she said.

The couple married in 1964 at Brookdale Covenant Church in Minneapolis. They lived in Roseville and had three daughters, Kim, Kari and Karla.

A year after Karla was born, Bob Hult found a house for sale on Clear Lake. “He bought it before my mom even saw it,” Karla Hult said. “She had just finished decorating the house in Roseville to exactly the way she wanted it.”

Bob Hult loved to boat and fish, play golf and run marathons. He also was active at First Covenant Church in St. Paul, serving as director of the church’s refugee-resettlement program.

After he retired from 3M, at the age of 58, Hult devoted himself to helping others. He supported Hmong immigrants, helped seniors in Washington County with their tax returns and worked to preserve the Rice Creek Watershed District.

“He had a servant’s heart,” Marlys Hult said.

THE FIRST SIGNS

In the fall of 2010, about six months after Bob Hult’s episode at Methodist Hospital, he traveled with Karla Hult and her husband, Gary Frenkel, and their 5-month-old daughter, Grace, to Morocco to visit Kim Hult and family, who were on sabbatical. Marlys Hult had traveled ahead of them to spend more time with her eldest daughter.

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Karla Hult and her father, Bob, on Karla’s wedding day, Jan. 5, 2008. (Courtesy of Karla Hult)

“All that summer, I had had suspicions that something was wrong, but they started ramping up during that trip,” Karla Hult said.

Bob Hult was unable to navigate the security line and passport checks at the various airports, she said. “He was completely incapable of knowing how to present his passport to be checked,” she said. “It was like traveling with a child. I’d have to say, ‘This is where you show your passport. This is where you show your ID.’ ”

Bob and Marlys Hult traveled home together, and Bob Hult was convinced that the graphic on the seatback TV screen showing the airplane’s progress showed that the “plane was going down into the ocean,” Karla Hult said. “He became so agitated and concerned that he was talking to the flight attendants about it, and they had to reassure him. It was very alarming for my mom.”

That incident and concerns raised by other family members led Karla Hult to contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s Help Line in November 2010. The next day, acting on the association’s advice, she called her father’s primary-care physician to share the family’s concerns. “I asked him to bring it up with him,” she said. “I said, ‘Can you request that he see a neurologist? Can you request that he get the scans?’ ”

Bob Hult was diagnosed a few weeks later. “I’ll never forget when my dad then called me and shared what he thought was a revelation, that he had Alzheimer’s, but, of course, I knew,” she said. “I had been suspecting and working behind the scenes for months for him to come to that realization.”

A PUBLIC LIFE

Karla Hult, 49, graduated in 1991 from Forest Lake High School, where she was captain of the track and tennis teams, served on the student council, competed on the speech team and was crowned homecoming queen.

“I loved Forest Lake,” she said. “I loved my community there. I still feel very attached both to the community and my childhood friends.”

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Karla Hult, right, and her mother, Marlys, plant flowers at Bob Hult’s gravesite at Union Cemetery in St. Paul, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. Bob Hult died after nearly a decade of living with Alzheimer’s. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

Hult majored in English and political science at St. Olaf College in Northfield, graduating in 1995. She then took a reporting internship at States News Service in Washington, D.C.; worked as a reporter at the Journal newspapers in Virginia; worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service; and was a freelance reporter and substitute teacher in Juneau, Alaska.

While working on her master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University in New York, she took a couple of journalism classes.

“I went from Manhattan to Mankato,” she said, referring to her first broadcast journalism job, at KEYC-TV. “It doesn’t matter what kind of degrees you have; you need to start in a small market and pay your dues and really learn the job from a basic level. As one person once described to me, ‘Make fewer mistakes in front of a smaller audience.’ ”

Hult worked at KAAL-TV in Austin, Minn., WNWO-TV in Toledo and WCCO-TV before taking the job at KARE in 2007. She went part-time in 2013, just a year after her second daughter, Isabella, was born.

Her new work schedule also allowed her to spend more time with her father. She helped hire caregivers to care for him — some of whom became lifelong family friends. But others were the cause of much heartache, including one who stole Bob Hult’s wedding ring and another who left him walking alone on U.S. Highway 61 in Forest Lake at rush hour when her shift ended.

Hult publicly shared information about her father’s illness on social media and with viewers of KARE. In an Instagram post on March 23, 2017, she wrote about moving Bob Hult into Cherrywood Pointe of Forest Lake.

“I lost count of the times my Dad helped me move: Washington, D.C., Alaska, Ohio, back to Minnesota …,” she wrote. “But last week and for the first time, I moved him. Moved him from the home that overlooked his beloved lake. Moved him from the home where he’d raised his three strong daughters. Moved him from the home he’d shared with his wife of 53 years. It was a move he didn’t want … nor did we. Worse yet, he doesn’t understand. He looks for the familiar — finds only pictures of faces he may recognize, but can’t name. He’s lonely and confused, and he struggles.”

SAYING GOODBYE

Two years later, she shared that her father didn’t have long to live.

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Marlys and Bob Hult pose with their three daughters, Kim, Kari and Karla, in this undated photo. (Courtesy of Karla Hult)

“I thought we knew the course, but it turns out, neither one of us has run this marathon before,” she wrote in a Facebook post on March 26, 2019. “We’re stumbling forward now, falling. I’m supposed to help pick him up. Lessen his pain. Give him water. But now I remember. He always carried me. Even these last years, he was still carrying me. Without words. Unknowing. Just by being. And so I’m falling. And the water I offer, he can no longer drink. And the finish line — once so in focus — now fades away. We’re at Mile 26. I’m stumbling. And shattered. And so lost.”

Two days later, Bob Hult died. Marlys and their three daughters were there, along with Hannah Price, the caregiver who had cared for Bob at the house and then was hired by the family to help him at Cherrywood Pointe.

“I hoped that it would be a peaceful passing, but it wasn’t,” Karla Hult said. “It was so hard for me to see him go, but yet I wanted him to know that he could go. I was sitting on the bed with him saying, ‘You can go. You’ve done a good job. We love you so much.’ He would take a breath, and then we’d wait, and then he’d take another breath.”

After he died, Hult said she fell onto his chest and sobbed. “I expected to feel complete relief,” she said. “I expected to feel gratitude that he was at peace, and he was in heaven. Logically and objectively, I could feel happy for him, but I just missed my dad. I didn’t realize then how much still having him physically present gave me comfort. Holding his hand, even if he doesn’t know you as his daughter, it makes a difference.”

A documentary she produced about her father and the disease, “So Many Goodbyes: The Alzheimer’s Journey,” aired on KARE in September 2020. The series won two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and a local Emmy.

Bob Hult is buried at Union Cemetery in Maplewood, right next to Bill Hult, who died last year of complications related to Alzheimer’s. “I guess it was inevitable … that in sharing each other’s genes, they’d also share the Alzheimer’s diagnosis,” Karla Hult wrote in an Instagram post in 2019. The twins’ father, their older brother and older sister all died of complications related to Alzheimer’s, she said.

A FATHER’S LESSON

During a trip to the cemetery last week, Marlys and Karla Hult decorated Bob Hult’s gravestone with red, yellow and purple mums. As Karla dug in the dirt, Marlys directed their placement. “Move that one to the left just a bit,” Marlys Hult said. “Now you can see it. You couldn’t see where it was before, honey. That’s so much better. It shows everything now.”

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Karla Hult brushes dirt from the headstone as she plants flowers at her father Bob Hult’s gravesite at Union Cemetery in St. Paul, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. Bob Hult died in 2019 after nearly a decade of living with Alzheimer’s.  (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

The gravestone, designed by Marlys Hult, lies flat in the ground in a site she selected under what she calls a “storybook tree.”

“It’s for the kids,” she said. “I wanted them to have a place to come to.”

As she wiped dirt off the red-granite gravestone, Karla Hult said her father taught her to work hard, be humble and pay her blessings forward.

“In his toast to my husband and me at our wedding, he said, ‘Three things, especially in marriage — and in life, are important: The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind.’

“He honored that,” she said. “He lived that. I hope I’m doing the same.”

TO KNOW MORE

For more information about So Many Goodbyes and Karla Hult’s work to end Alzheimer’s disease, go to somanygoodbyes.com.

 

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Jungle, History, Ten Thousand Things theaters return to the stage

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Jungle, History, Ten Thousand Things theaters return to the stage

It’s curtain time for more Twin Cities theaters, with shows opening from History Theatre, the Jungle and Ten Thousand Things.

History Theatre’s “Not in Our Neighborhood!”

Opens Oct. 14: When Nellie and William Francis decided to move into St. Paul’s Groveland Park in 1924, the couple knew that their presence in a previously all-white neighborhood would create a stir. They perhaps didn’t anticipate the marches in front of their home, the cross burnings in their yard and the threatening phone calls and letters. This new script from Tom Fabel and Eric Wood tells the true-life tale at the History Theatre, with Erin Farste and Darius Dotch as Nellie and William. Through Oct. 24; 30 E.10th St., St. Paul; $48-$30; 651-292-4323 or historytheatre.com.

Ten Thousand Things’ “The Comedy of Errors”

Opens Oct. 14: Mistaken identities! Twins! Shipwrecks! Shakespeare pulls these comedic tricks and more out of his metaphorical hat. Shenanigans, of course, ensue. Katie Bradley, Cristina Florencia Castro, Nubia Monks, Will Sturdivant, Danielle Troiano and Sally Wingert are featured in a Ten Thousand Things Theatre Company production helmed by Marcela Lorca. Through Nov. 21; Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis; $35; 612-203-9502 or tenthousandthings.org.

Jungle Theater’s “Every Brilliant Thing”

Opens Oct. 16: In response to their mother’s attempted suicide, our narrator starts a list of things to live for … a list that runs from “ice cream” to “the alphabet” and beyond, Playwright Duncan Macmillan (with Jonny Donahoe, the British comedian who starred in the original one-person show) shines a light on the sometimes-dark corners of the human condition. The Jungle Theater production features JuCoby Johnson, with Joy Dolo stepping in for Thursday performances. Through Nov. 14; 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis; suggested ticket price $45; 612-822-7063 or jungletheater.org.

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Curling 101: St. Croix Curling Center offers ‘Learn to Curl’ sessions

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Curling 101: St. Croix Curling Center offers ‘Learn to Curl’ sessions

The St. Croix Curling Center is offering a “Learn to Curl” session at 7 p.m. Oct. 29 and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 31 at the St. Mary’s Point Arena, just north of Afton.

Equipment will be provided; the cost is $20. Participants should wear tennis shoes, loose-fitting clothing and a jacket.

This is the fourth year that the St. Croix Curling Center has been open, said Jim Honsvall, the club’s president.

Honsvall said there has been renewed interest in curling since John Schuster and his team from Duluth won the gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

“With the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing coming up in a few short months, the sport will get another burst of visibility,” he said. “We are pleased to offer people in the east metro and western Wisconsin a chance to try this great life-time sport.”

The club’s four leagues — two meet on Friday night, two on Sunday afternoon — start Nov. 5 and Nov. 7. The cost is $290.

Online registration is required. For more information, call 715-410-5858 or go to stcroixcurlingcenter.org.

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