As a contact tracer, Teresa Ayala-Castillo is sometimes asked whether herbal teas and Vicks VapoRub can treat COVID-19. These therapies aren’t exactly official health guidance, but Ayala-Castillo isn’t fazed. She listens and then suggests other ideas — like getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids.“I don’t want to call them old wives’ tales, but these remedies are things that I’m 100% familiar with because my mom used them on me,” said Ayala-Castillo, a bilingual first-generation Ecuadorian American who works for the city of Long Beach, California.Health departments across the U.S. are worki...
The Department of Justice has two new investigatory avenues to pursue after indicting eleven Trump supporters for seditious conspiracy for their alleged roles in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
"The most interesting aspect of the recent indictments of 11 people accused of involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on charges of seditious conspiracy isn’t who has been charged — but who might be charged next," former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade wrote for MSNBC.
The former U.S. Attorney wrote that it is "likely that prosecutors aren’t done yet."
McQuade explained that the indictments help prosecutors move up to the higher people behind Jan. 6 and may result in cooperation agreements.
"Working up the chain of organized criminal conduct is part of the standard Justice Department playbook. Lower-level offenders can provide leads to higher-level offenders in two ways. One way is through the investigation of simpler crimes. For example, prosecutors may find ample evidence that a particular subject unlawfully entered the Capitol on Jan. 6. If prosecutors can also demonstrate probable cause that the person used his cellphone as a so-called instrumentality to commit the crime, a search warrant can be obtained for the contents of his physical device. A phone may contain evidence of criminal conduct, and it can also provide links to other offenders. Access to phones is particularly valuable in cases in which, as here, the defendants are alleged to have used encrypted messaging applications, such as Signal, to communicate, making it impossible for investigators to obtain the content of incriminating text messages through the normal route — from the service providers," McQuade wrote.
She also explained the indictments may make it more likely suspects with "flip" and testify against other co-conspirators.
"Another way lower-level offenders can lead to evidence against more serious offenders is through cooperation. Defendants who are charged with crimes and are likely to face conviction can often help themselves by sitting down with prosecutors and providing debriefings of everything they know. Prosecutors refer to this process as 'flipping' a defendant from the defense side to the prosecution team. If that information is valuable, prosecutors will ask the court to reduce the cooperator’s sentence. Cooperators can provide verbal testimony, as well as point investigators to documents and other witnesses who can corroborate their stories. Cooperators can even voluntarily share the contents of their cellphones, providing access to encrypted messages that prosecutors may have been unable to obtain in the absence of probable cause that they used the phones as instrumentalities for the crime," she explained.
The evidence obtained from this methodical approach can be "devastating."
"The recent charges indicate that this methodical approach has yielded results. The indictment includes verbatim quotations from encrypted text messages among the Oath Keeper defendants, and they are devastating," she wrote. "The content of other text messages appears throughout the indictment. No evidence is more powerful than the incriminating words of a defendant himself."
Read the full analysis.
In an interview with host Molly Jong-Fast on the Daily Beast podcast "The New Normal," former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara explained that, to the best of his knowledge, Donald Trump and those closest to him have not been approached by the House committee investigating the Jan 6th insurrection -- but then explained how the public will know when the pressure may be truly on.
According to the former Justice Department official, the committee has gathered a tremendous amount of information and testimony, but to all appearances have yet to approach the former president or members of his family.
“It’s odd to have allowed all this testimony to be collected, all these documents to be subpoenaed and compiled, and they don’t look like they’ve done any of these interviews. And maybe there’s some reason that I’m not aware of that I can’t think of,” he told the host before adding "I don’t know why that hasn’t happened.”
He did note that Trump, and those close to him, have a distinct habit they fall back on when the pressure gets to them and they panic.
"When you go and you approach people you want to interview about what you might expect them to have done, people who are very mouthy like the Trump folks, they get up in arms, they send letters, they try to quash, they get very upset and they blab about it," he added.
You can listen here.
Controversial spyware was deployed against political opponents the previous government in Israel, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
"Israeli police have used NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to remotely access, control and extract information from cellphones belonging to Israeli citizens, including leaders of a protest movement against former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to an investigation published Tuesday in the Israeli outlet Calcalist," the newspaper reported. "The military-grade software developed by the private Israeli company NSO was also used to target a number of people who were not suspected of involvement in a crime, including mayors, former governmental employees and at least one person close to a senior politician, according to the report."
The company refused to comment and Israeli police denied the report.
"The Calcalist investigation said that police began using the software in 2020 to remotely surveil the phones of prominent activists of the “Black Flag” protest, which amid a surge of coronavirus cases, an economic crisis and a ongoing corruption trial against Netanyahu called for the prime minister’s ouster," the newspaper reported. "The report said NSO spyware was used to collect data on citizens to be used as leverage if they became subjects of an interrogation at a later date."
Read the full report.