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Ohio police unit that arrested Stormy Daniels disbands after officer charged with kidnap and rape

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Last July, porn star Stephanie Clifford, better known by her stage name Stormy Daniels, was arrested at a Columbus strip club by three undercover vice officers, and charged with three counts of illegal touching of a patron. She was shortly released after the city prosecutor concluded she had not committed any crime.

Now, according to The New York Times, the vice unit that arrested her is being disbanded, shortly after one of its detectives, Andrew Mitchell, was arrested on federal charges of kidnap and rape:

His tenure was almost immediately greeted by scandal, when, last week, federal prosecutors announced that Mr. Mitchell had been arrested on charges that he kidnapped two women under the guise of arrest and forced them to have sex with him to gain their freedom. Mr. Mitchell kidnapped one woman in July 2017 and forced her to perform oral sex on him, according to the indictment handed down by a grand jury on March 7; on two separate occasions, in September 2017 and in the summer of 2018, he forced a second woman to have sex with him, it said.

The indictment also said that when Mr. Mitchell learned he was being investigated, he tried to tamper with witnesses and obstruct the investigation and also lied to federal prosecutors about having sex with prostitutes.

“While today’s decision is not a reflection on all the officers assigned to vice, it has become clear there’s a better method of addressing the community’s needs when to it comes to the enforcement of prostitution, alcohol and gambling,” said interim Columbus police chief Thomas Quinlan in a video uploaded to Twitter on Tuesday night. “Soon I am meeting with the deputy chiefs to develop a new model for enforcement. Following this meeting, I will share the division’s plans with the community.”

What happened in Columbus, while particularly egregious, was not an isolated incident. The potential for police officers enforcing prostitution offenses to assault women under the color of law, either through physical violence or through coercing sex workers into giving “freebies,” is enormous. A 2007 study found that in Chicago, street prostitutes were more frequently made to perform sexual acts on police officers than were arrested by them, and another study in 2012 found that among some categories of sex workers in some parts of America, police officers are the main source of violence.

Stormy Daniels gained national attention due to President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion, and campaign finance violations for buying Daniels’ silence about an affair with Trump ahead of the 2016 election. Her arrest in Columbus sparked speculation that the police were targeting her politically, something the department denies, but that emails suggest may have occurred.

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Sailing among the stars: Here’s how photons could revolutionize space flight

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A few days from now, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will lift off from Florida, carrying a satellite the size of a loaf of bread with nothing to power it but a huge polyester "solar sail."

It's been the stuff of scientists' dreams for decades but has only very recently become a reality.

The idea might sounds crazy: propelling a craft through the vacuum of space with no engine, no fuel, and no solar panels, but instead harnessing the momentum of packets of light energy known as photons -- in this case from our Sun.

The spacecraft to be launched on Monday, called LightSail 2, was developed by the Planetary Society, a US organization that promotes space exploration which was co-founded by the legendary astronomer Carl Sagan in 1980.

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Russians to prod Putin on poverty and his personal life as his ratings tank

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Russians are set to ask President Vladimir Putin about growing poverty at home and tensions abroad during an annual televised phone-in Thursday, which comes following a fall in his approval ratings.

The leader is also likely to face a degree of grilling on his personal life, according to questions submitted by the public online ahead of the live show.

Set to be held for the 17th time since Putin came to power in 1999, the show starts at 0900 GMT and usually lasts several hours.

Ahead of the carefully choreographed show, more than one million questions had been submitted, organisers told Russian news agencies.

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Trump could turn on Hope Hicks just like Michael Cohen: Trump family biographer warns

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Trump family biographer Emily Jane Fox explained that she didn't think that the president would turn on long-time aide Hope Hicks, but then again, it was the same thought about Michael Cohen as well.

In a panel discussion about Hicks' testimony during MSNBC's Brian Williams' Wednesday show, Fox recalled that Micahel Cohen once said that he would take a bullet for the president. Once it appeared that Trump would throw him under the bus, Cohen began looking for a way out.

The same scenario seems to be happening with Hicks now.

"She works at new Fox, which is a company run by a Murdoch son," Fox said. "It's a company that's brand new. She's the head of communications there. And there are shareholders who would take issue with the fact that a senior member of this company is being put in this situation and being thrust on the world stage."

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