MILWAUKEE — Underwater noise and powerful water jets are among the $275 million worth of new defenses the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposes building at an Illinois navigation lock on the Des Plaines River to prevent invasive Asian Carp from reaching the Great Lakes.
After several months of delay from President Donald Trump’s administration, the Corps on Monday released its recommended plan for equipping the Brandon Road lock and dam near Joliet, Ill., with several technological measures to block the voracious Asian carp from moving into the lakes.
An electrical barrier downstream of the lock coupled with underwater noises would help deter the invaders, under the Corps plan.
Water jets would be installed along the bottom of a specially designed channel leading into the lock to remove any fish entrained in barges.
Since bighead and silver carp can grow up to 100 pounds and eat 20 percent of their body weight in plankton each day, scientists and environmental advocates fear they could devastate a Great Lakes fishery worth billions of dollars.
Freshwater biologists say the carp likely would establish large populations in warmer, shallower bays, such as Green Bay.
In June, a single 2-foot-long Asian carp was pulled from the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal approximately 9 miles from the shores of Lake Michigan. That location is above an existing electric barrier system operated by the Corps.
The system has a history of power outages and critics charge it does not operate at a strength to repel even small fish.
The proposed electric barrier at the Brandon Road lock is several miles closer to Lake Michigan than the existing barriers.
The Corps of Engineers is accepting public comments on the Brandon Road lock plan until Sept. 21.
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Man said to be godson of ‘El Chapo’ is indicted on drug charges in San Diego
SAN DIEGO — A man believed to be the godson of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who turned himself in to U.S. authorities amid an escalating power struggle over the Sinaloa cartel, was indicted on drug smuggling charges in San Diego federal court Monday.
Damaso Lopez-Serrano, also known as “Mini Lic,” and an associate identified as Nahum Abraham Sicairos-Montalvo, who goes by “Kinceanero,” are accused of doling out pounds of drugs to smugglers and smuggling drugs into the United States themselves from about May 2005 to August 2016.
Court documents don’t specify the exact amount of drugs the two are accused of funneling into the country, but state it was more than a pound of methamphetamine, more than two pounds of heroin and more than 11 pounds of cocaine.
The men are also suspected of laundering money into the United States “with the intent to promote … the distribution of controlled substances,” court records said.
Lopez-Serrano pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin intended for importation, conspiracy to import meth, cocaine and heroin, and conspiracy to launder money. Sicairos-Montalvo faces those same charges.
Lopez-Serrano is the son of — and got his nickname from — Damaso Lopez Nunez, who goes by “El Licenciado” or the Graduate. The father was reportedly one of Guzman’s top leaders in the Sinaloa Cartel.
Lopez-Serrano surrendered to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers July 27 at the border crossing in Calexico, officials said.
—The San Diego Union-Tribune
Minnesota judge calls FBI search unconstitutional in global porn probe
MINNEAPOLIS — A worldwide FBI search of hundreds of computers purportedly used to access a secretive child pornography website was unconstitutional, Minnesota’s chief federal judge wrote on Monday.
But the judge refused to throw out evidence that resulted from the search and was used to prosecute a man from Coleraine, Minn., after finding no signs of FBI misconduct in the probe.
U.S. District Judge John Tunheim rejected a magistrate judge’s recommendation to suppress evidence and statements made by Terry Lee Carlson during the FBI’s controversial investigation into Playpen, a “dark web” child pornography network that once counted 150,000 users.
Carlson, who is awaiting trial on 11 child pornography counts, became one of more than 900 people arrested around the world in a takedown that has produced dozens of court challenges.
Tunheim noted that a three-judge panel in the 8th Circuit reversed an Iowa judge’s decision to throw out evidence in a case that also stemmed from the FBI’s “Operation Pacifier.”
Tunheim’s decision mirrored numerous other federal court rulings in concluding that agents unconstitutionally exceeded the scope of a Virginia search warrant. The FBI deployed a “network investigative technique (NIT),” described by some as a form of malware, to gather IP addresses and other information on users of the porn website, which formed the backbone of federal criminal cases like Carlson’s and those of at least three other Minnesotans.
But, citing a Supreme Court precedent, Tunheim wrote that because the FBI “acted in good faith and generally followed proper procedures in requesting and executing the warrant,” evidence gathered against Carlson can stand.
The FBI arrested the operator of Playpen in 2015 and seized the website’s server. But it kept a copy of the website running while deploying its NIT to target hundreds of users around the country based on a search warrant signed by a Virginia magistrate judge.
In his March opinion recommending that Tunheim strike evidence from a pair of searches in 2015 and 2016 and statements Carlson made to agents, U.S. Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel also questioned the FBI’s decision to keep a copy of Playpen running, writing that “in essence, the FBI facilitated the victimization of minor children and furthered the commission of a more serious crime.”
A federal prosecutor in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol Kayser, responded a month later by calling any suggestion of FBI misconduct “untenable” and defended the searches of so many suspected child pornography offenders as “a troubling indication of how prevalent these crimes are in our society.”
Agents arrested Carlson last November after a second search of his home and after he confessed to producing child pornography in a subsequent interview with law enforcement.
—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Zuma faces secret ballot in South African no-confidence vote
CAPE TOWN, South Africa — South Africa’s parliament will vote by secret ballot Tuesday on a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said.
“I have considered the environment and heard voices expressing doubt in the integrity and values of our 20-year-old constitution,” she told reporters in Cape Town. “We therefore have to use this opportunity to show responsiveness to our people.”
The no-confidence motion requires the backing of a majority of the 400 lawmakers to pass. A secret vote increases the chances of Zuma’s ouster because members of the ruling party can vote him out without risking losing their jobs. Zuma, 75, who’s due to step down as leader of the African National Congress in December and as president in 2019, has defeated several previous attempts to oust him.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance filed the no-confidence motion in April after Zuma’s decision to fire Pravin Gordhan as finance minister prompted two ratings companies to downgrade the nation’s debt to junk. The opposition argued that since parliament elects the president by secret ballot, it should be able to use the same process to remove him. The nation’s top court ruled that the speaker should determine the voting procedure.
The Economic Freedom Fighters, the third-largest party, had said there was no rational reason for denying a secret ballot and threatened to file a new lawsuit to force Mbete’s hand if necessary — a move that could have potentially delayed the debate.
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