Issue XCVI

21 OCT 2016



Riders rescued from Six Flags roller coaster


Upper Marlboro, Maryland -

Authorities say 24 people stranded on a roller coaster have been rescued from near the top of the ride at Six Flags America in Maryland.

Prince George's County Fire officials say it took about five hours on Sunday to rescue 17 adults and seven children from The Joker's Jinx roller coaster.

Assistant Fire Chief Paul Gomez says the riders were sitting upright. A few had cramps, back pain and dehydration, but there were no major injuries.

A Six Flags America spokesman said in a statement that it is not yet clear what caused the ride to stop, but that it has a computerised safety system that “performed as it is designed to”.

Six Flags' website says the ride goes as fast as 96km/h and turns upside down four times.

Rollercoaster breaks down mid air leaving terrified thrill seekers stranded at top

Seven children and 17 adults are being delivered food, water and umbrellas by rescuers More than 20 people are stranded 45 foot up after a rollercoaster ride broke down in mid air. Around 50 police, firefighters and paramedics are on the scene at the Six Flags America amusement park in Maryland, America, as terrified thrill seekers hang in the air. CBS Baltimore are reporting that 17 adults and seven children are sitting upright near the top of the ride. Firefighters are delivering food and water to the people stranded in the Joker's Jinx ride's six four-person cars, while umbrellas are also being handed over to shield them from the blazing sun. Officer Paul Gomez told the Washington Post that his team were able to climb onto the ride and speak to the riders – and are now trying to devise the best strategy to bring them safely down to earth. See also: Equity market in mixed performance No one is injured but Officer Gomez admitted the rescue will not happen quickly. “We’re not going to have people walking off the track,” he said. "We're trying to “make sure we’re doing it safer rather than faster.”


'No evidence' cold case murder suspect John Bittrolff tied to Gilgo Beach case, cops say


A Manorville man will be in court Tuesday to face second-degree murder charges in connection with the beating and strangulation deaths of two women more than 20 years ago, Suffolk police said.

Asked if investigators believe the suspect, John Bittrolff, 48, might be tied to the Gilgo Beach murders -- one of the largest and most baffling homicide cases ever in Suffolk County -- police issued a statement saying: "At this time there is no evidence that these crimes or this defendant is connected to any of the remains found in the vicinity of Gilgo Beach. The investigation into those murders is continuing."

Police declined immediate comment on whether investigators have ruled out any connection -- or are still investigating any possible connection -- between Bittrolff and the discovery of human remains found at Gilgo Beach in 2010 and 2011.

Bittrolff, of 167 Silas Carter Rd., was arrested Monday and charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the killings of Rita Tangredi, 31, who had no known address at the time of her death, and Colleen McNamee, 20, of Holbrook, Suffolk police said.

Detectives at the original crime scenes, in 1993 and 1994, recovered DNA evidence linking the cases, police said. Some time this year, detectives with the Homicide Squad "recovered DNA evidence which linked Bittrolff to these cold cases."

Bittrolff was being held overnight at the Fifth Precinct and will appear in First District Court for arraignment Tuesday, police said.

His arrest comes more than 20 years after the nude bodies of both women were found within three months of each other in wooded areas of East Patchogue and Shirley. Investigators at the time suspected the two killings were linked and did not rule out the possibility they were the work of a serial killer.

Both victims were known in the East Patchogue area and had been arrested in connection with prostitution charges a few months before their deaths.

In the Gilgo Beach case, a search for a missing woman led to the discovery beginning in December 2010 of 10 sets of remains off Ocean Parkway, including that of a toddler, a man dressed in women's clothing, and body parts belonging to remains found in Manorville in 2000 and 2003. Half of the remains found in the Gilgo case have been identified. All five were young women working in the sex trade. An 11th set of remains was found in nearby Oak Beach.

In the cases of Tangredi and McNamee, both women had been strangled and...

Man arrested in decades-old murder case


Cops busted a Long Island man for a pair of unsolved, two-decade-old murders, authorities said Tuesday.

DNA evidence linked John Bittrolff, a 48-year-old Manorville resident, to the two cold-case slayings, according to Suffolk County police.

Both victims had prior arrests for prostitution, both were beaten, stripped of their clothes and strangled before their bodies were discovered in wooded areas.

The partially buried body of Rita Tangredi, 31, was found off of Esplanade Drive in East Patchogue on Nov. 2, 1993. She had last been seen hitchhiking on Montauk Highway in East Patchogue.

Colleen McNamee, 20, was discovered near Express Drive South and the William Floyd Parkway in Shirley on Jan. 30, 1994.

McNamee was an outpatient at the South Shore Treatment Center in Islandia and was last seen on Jan. 5 of that year jumping into a small blue car in front of the Blue Dawn Diner in Islandia.

According to Newsday, police said in a statement that detectives at the original crime scenes in 1993 and 1994 recovered DNA evidence linking them. This year, police said detectives recovered DNA evidence linking Bittrolff to the cold cases.

Bittrolff was arrested on Monday and he’s scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on two counts of second degree murder, officials said.


Shots Fired At Pro-Israel Rally in Los Angeles


What was meant to be a peaceful rally to support Israel in Los Angeles on Sunday erupted in chaos when a group of men waving Palestinian flags reportedly attacked demonstrators with long wooden sticks, reports Jewish Journal.

Approximately 1,200 people attended the pro-Israel rally, which took place in front of the Federal Building in Westwood. The event was said to have been peaceful until three or four men  -- who were presumably partaking in a pro-Palestinian rally with about 200 others held across the street -- reportedly drove past in a truck displaying Palestinian flags. After a pro-Israeli protester allegedly snatched a flag away, the pro-Palestinian protesters tried to get their flag back – which spurred the violence the followed, reports NBC Los Angeles.

Several pro-Israel attendees claim they were attacked with pointy long wooden sticks, though there were no reports of injuries. When police stepped in to break up the violence, the men carrying flags reportedly fled back to their truck and drove off. As they did so, witnesses say a Department of Homeland Security officer fired a gun in the direction of their truck.

The men are all thought to be Palestinians living in Anaheim, according to Hany Rafai, who was riding in the truck but reportedly got out of it before police apprehended the men. The men could be charged with felony assault.

This weekend’s pro-Israeli rally was one of the largest that ever took place in Los Angeles. It was organized by StandWithUs, IAC, and several pro-Israel organizations.

Police open fire on Palestine solidarity activists at Los Angeles rally for Israel


An officer with the Department of Homeland Security opened fire on Palestine solidarity activists as they drove away from a pro-Israel rally in front of the Federal Building in Westwood in Los Angeles on Sunday. The activists have also complained that they were attacked by Israel supporters.

The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah was attacked by Los Angeles police in the same area while filming a pro-Israel rally last week.  

After being shot at, the men were detained by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and then smeared by various media outlets as violent members of Hamas. 

The first to report on the incident was the Jewish Journal, which unquestioningly parroted claims by the rally’s organizers that “three or four men wielding Palestinian flags arrived carrying long wooden sticks and allegedly attacked the pro-Israel demonstrators.”

As “evidence,” the website posted grainy footage, allegedly from the rally, claiming it showed pro-Israel demonstrators being attacked. But it’s unclear what is happening in the video aside from people shouting at cars. Nevertheless, reporters from other outlets can be seen in the comments section on YouTube requesting permission to use the footage.

The Jewish Journal added that the rally, which was a demonstration of solidarity with Israel’s ongoing slaughter of over 170 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, was organized by pro-Israel organizations like StandWithUS, a rightwing Zionist group that works closely with the Israeli government to suppress Palestine solidarity efforts in the United States, often through smear campaigns.  

Another rally organizer was rightwing Islamophobe and “philanthropist” Adam Milstein, who was recently exposed for donating money to student government candidates at the University of California in exchange for their loyalty to Israel and a commitment to fight the increasingly popular campaign to divest student funds from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. 

Anti-Arab attitudes were not limited to the organizers, as demonstrated by rally attendee Rabbi Yonah, who after leading the crowd in prayers, took to Twitter to complain about the “virulent anti-Israel Arab population” of “hoodlums” in Orange County. 

Soon after the Jewish Journal’s report, CBS Los Angeles published its...


Scientists struggle to figure out why ground is shaking in heartland


WASHINGTON — Months after the prairie began to shake, scientists still struggle to explain a surge in Kansas earthquakes that appears connected to increased fracking.

The Kansas quakes are part of a major escalation in earthquakes that have struck the nation’s heartland in the wake of the oil and gas boom. The epidemic has hit places in Texas and especially Oklahoma where earthquakes used to almost never happen, with scientists increasingly pointing the finger at deep underground injection of drilling waste that effectively lubricates and weakens fault lines.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback appointed a task force in February to study the earthquakes in his state and the U.S. Geological Survey started investigating. But the task force is moving slowly and the USGS is lacking information on the area’s oil and gas activity.

The Kansas Corporation Commission, the state agency that regulates oil and gas, collects wastewater injection data once a year, in March, said Justin Rubinstein, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey who has been working on the mystery prairie quakes.

“Unless we get the data sooner it will be very difficult to say anything about whether there is any connection from wastewater wells to the earthquakes until next March,” he said.

Rubinstein said potential causes for the quakes include the wastewater injection wells, the fracking process itself, or simply the hand of nature.

“Everything is still on the table at this point,” he said.

There is circumstantial evidence, including the fact that the Kansas earthquake surge corresponds to increased oil and gas activity in the area.

There’s also the fact that scientists have already linked deep injection of drilling waste to earthquakes just over the border in Oklahoma, which is seeing a massive spike in seismic activity. Oklahoma experienced 145 earthquakes greater than 3.0 magnitude between January and May. That compares to a state long term average that used to be just two such quakes in an entire year.

“There have been a number of papers that have indicated at least a majority of these earthquakes appear to be induced. They appear to be related to wastewater injection,” Rubinstein said.

Getting stronger

Scientists warn that the shaking could get stronger. The USGS and the Oklahoma Geological Survey said the intense seismic activity is increasing the likelihood that Central Oklahoma is going to experience damaging earthquakes...

Oklahoma Earthquake Epidemic Linked to Fracking Operations


A sharp rise in earthquakes hitting the U.S. state of Oklahoma has been triggered by oil and gas extraction activity in the area, a new study finds

Ever since there has been an increase in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Oklahoma over the past decade, the U.S. state has been hit by a sharp rise in seismic activity. More than 240 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or higher have struck Oklahoma already this year - making the state the earthquake capital of the United States.

A scientific study, published in Science this week, attributed this sharp, unnatural and potentially hazardous rise in the number of earthquakes to the injection of wastewater into the ground, a common practice in oil and gas operations that use fracking to extract energy from shale rock.

Fracking wastewater, which stems from a mixture of water, chemicals and sand which is pumped underground at very high pressure to crack open shale rock and unlock oil and gas trapped inside, is toxic and difficult to treat. Energy companies therefore often pump the wastewater back underground into separate disposal wells. This process, however, increases the pressure in cracks along existing faults in the rock - making rock slippages and earthquakes much more likely.

The new scientific study, led by Cornell University's Katie Keranen, analyzed seismic data recorded in Oklahoma and correlated it with the location of more than 10,000 disposal wells in the area. The researchers concluded that 89 wells were likely to be responsible for most of the 40-fold increase in the number of quakes recorded between 2008-2013.

"Once we had the earthquake locations and the fluid pressure increases in space and time, we were able to correlate those two together and figure out how much fluid pressure went up at each earthquake location from those wells," Keranen said. "And what we were able to find is that the fluid pressure at the earthquakes went up enough to trigger the earthquakes in basically each case."

As with most energy regulators in U.S. states and many countries abroad, the Oklahoma regulator has no rules limiting the pressure or volume of fracking waste that can be pumped into such disposal wells.

Admitting that the wastewater disposal process which inevitably comes with fracking operations is "problematic" and "still new", Keranen said that there were stil "a lot of questions that we are trying to address."

Around the...