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Feb. 6 2016 1:29 PM

Police Kill Transgender Man With Asperger’s Who Was Suicidal

Police in Arizona knew they’d be dealing with someone who may not be in the right frame of mind when they arrived at the home of 24-year-old Kayden Clarke. Friends had called police fearing Clarke, a transgender man, was suicidal. When police arrived Clarke allegedly charged at two officers with a knife and at least one of them opened fire, reports the Arizona Republic.  

Police identified the person they killed as Danielle Jacobs, although friends said they knew him as Kayden Clarke. Clarke had been struggling to find support to transition from female to male and chronicled the frustrating obstacles in a series of YouTube videos. “Arizona has the worst mental health system across the United States,” he says in a video posted less than a month ago.

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In December, Clarke had posted a video in which he announced that his insurance would pay for his sex reassignment surgery. "I'm so happy," he said.  

Clarke gained worldwide attention last year after posting a video in which his service dog Samson provides comfort during a mental breakdown. “This is what having Asperger’s like,” Clarke wrote alongside the video that had since been made private. “When I have a meltdown, I often have self-injurious behavior and I often self-harm,” Clarke told the Huffington Post.

“Before the police arrived she wasn’t posing a threat to the community at all,” Clarke’s mother, who refers to Clarke as her daughter, told the New York Daily News. “And the police came into her own place. They shot and killed a 24-year-old autistic, mentally ill individual whom they had been familiar with and aware of her special needs.”

Feb. 6 2016 11:20 AM

Democratic Party Officials Recognize Errors in Iowa Caucus Count

The caucus results are shifting. So far there’s no sign that the final outcome will flip but Democratic Party officials have found some discrepancies in the results of the Iowa caucus and the final tally is being corrected, reports the Des Moines Register. The change in the final tally comes days after Democratic Party officials had said there wouldn’t be a review of the caucus results despite the claims of discrepancies and Hillary Clinton’s tiny margin of victory over Bernie Sanders.

"Both the Sanders and Clinton campaigns have flagged a very small number of concerns for us, and we are looking at them all on a case-by-case basis," Iowa Democratic Party spokesman Sam Lau said.

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The confirmation that counts were being reviewed came shortly after the Des Moines Register’s editorial board joined the calls to carry out a full audit of the caucus results. Calling the caucuses “a debacle,” the paper’s editorial board said the Democratic Party needs to figure out what went wrong and make sure it never happens again.

The Register says it has received “numerous reports” that the results announced at precincts did not match the official tally. Clinton’s camp insists the whole thing though amounts to making a mountain out of a molehill because even if Sanders were to win all of the questioned caucus sites, it wouldn’t be enough to flip the result.

Feb. 6 2016 11:04 AM

Watch Bill Maher Mock Climate Change Skeptics With Attack Ad Against Punxsutawney Phil

Bill Maher is no stranger to making fun of Republicans for their penchant to deny climate change. On Friday night he took that mockery a step further by releasing a mock attack ad, noting that the Iowa caucuses fell on the same day as Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring. “Naturally, the conservatives now think that Punxsutawney Phil is in the tank with the liberals on global warming,” Maher said. “They’re crazy about this issue.”

The ad describes Punxsutawney Phil as “just another scientist” who is “another climate alarmist.” He “doesn’t just hug trees, he lives under one,” notes the ad.

Feb. 6 2016 9:16 AM

Rescuers Race to Find Survivors After Taiwan Quake Kills More Than 12

More than 100 people remain missing after a powerful 6.4 earthquake shook southern Taiwan early in the morning and caused a high-rise apartment building to collapse in Tainan. At least 11 of the dead and 30 of the missing were from the 17-floor apartment building that had 256 registered residents, although authorities think more people could have been inside due to upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations.

The apartment building "first starting shaking horizontally, then up and down, then a big shake right to left," Tainan resident Lin Bao-gui, who lives across the street, told the Associated Press. "I stayed in my bed but jumped up when I heard the big bang that was the sound of the building falling.”

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Rescue personnel work at the site of a collapsed building in the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan on February 6, 2016 following a strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake.

Photo by SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images

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Although Taiwan is used to earthquakes, lying in the seismically active area known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” this one was particularly shallow meaning its effects were felt more strongly. There have been at least five aftershocks.

“This was strong enough to not only be felt here in the [Taiwanese] capital city of Taipei but also in the southern provinces of China,” Elise Hu, an NPR correspondent who was in Taipei, told CNN. “Taiwan is very used to earthquakes and tremors, but this is far more significant than the island has seen in quite a while.”

While rescuers continued to try to find survivors, many immediately began raising questions about whether poor construction was to blame for the collapse of the building. The government vowed to investigate.

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A survivor is lifted from a collapsed building on February 6, 2016 in Tainan, Taiwan.

Photo by Ashley Pon/Getty Images

Feb. 5 2016 5:23 PM

The Friday Slatest Newsletter

Only one fatality and two minor injuries were reported after a terrorist tried to blow up a plane leaving Somalia this week—and it turns out that the man who died was the one who detonated the bomb, who was blown sideways into the sky through the plane's fuselage and hopefully lived long enough to realize how badly he had failed.

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Feb. 5 2016 5:13 PM

This Week’s 2016 Twitter Power Rankings

Rectangles are sized by number of retweets. Click on a candidate to zoom in.
Interactive by Andrew Kahn

Hello and welcome to Slatest’s 2016 Twitter Power Rankings. Above, you’ll find our handy interactive of the past week’s worth of candidate tweets: how many each White House hopeful sent and how often they were retweeted and favorited, along with how each fared in the 140-character fight with their political rivals on both sides of the aisle. (Click to zoom in on a particular candidate, and click again to see the content of each tweet.)

Below, meanwhile, you’ll find our tried-and-true method of ranking each candidate’s single most successful tweet of the past seven days. Together, the two offer a helpful snapshot of which topics dominated the political conversation online and also give us some insight into which contenders are winning the campaign Twitter wars and why.

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The ground rules again:

  • For the rankings below, we’re defining a candidate’s most successful tweet as the one that receives the most retweets.
  • Tweets that include a direct request for a retweet are ineligible for the traditional rankings because that’s cheating. RT if you agree! (Retweet-begging tweets, though, will still appear in the interactive at the top.)
  • Only tweets from the past seven days are eligible. Since we’ll publish the weekly rankings every Friday, that means any tweet sent in the seven days prior to when we hit the big red button at around 10 a.m. to cull all the data.

Without further ado:

1.) Donald Trump (Last week: 1)

2.) Bernie Sanders (2)

3.) Hillary Clinton (3)

4.) Ben Carson (7) 

5.) Marco Rubio (5)

6.) Ted Cruz (8)

7.) Jim Gilmore (15)

8.) Carly Fiorina (9)

9.) Jeb Bush (4)

10.) John Kasich (14)

11.) Chris Christie (13)

Dropped Out: Mike Huckabee (6), Rand Paul (10), Martin O'Malley (11), and Rick Santorum (12)

Overall and RT Winner: Donald Trump

Trump didn't win Iowa, but Twitter has always been much friendlier territory for his staccato bursts of anger than the Hawkeye State ever was. This marks the third week in a row that Trump's pulled the double, and he's the odds-on favorite to repeat again next week given his fans seem to like spreading his message regardless of whether he's winning—or complaining that he isn't:

Democratic Spat of the Week: The Definition of Progressive

Slate's Jamelle Bouie has much more on the political battle over an ideological label that is far from precise. But for posterity's sake, here was Hillary's response to Bernie's most popular tweet:

Gilmore-mentum!: Jim Gilmore

Let's take one more momentum to appreciate Gilmore's top tweet:

I look forward to the former governor declaring himself the GOP runner-up this summer when he's one of only two candidates still in the race at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Feb. 5 2016 5:06 PM

Worst Terrorist Ever Blows Self Sideways out of Plane Without Killing Anyone Else

Passengers on a Daallo Airlines flight leaving from Mogadishu were subjected to just about the most terrifying experience imaginable on Tuesday as a bomb exploded in the plane's passenger cabin somewhere above 12,000 feet. The bomb only created a relatively small hole in the plane's fuselage, however, and the aircraft was able to return to Mogadishu and land safely. Somali authorities now believe that they know who carried the bomb onto the plane and detonated it: A man who was then sucked out of the hole in the fuselage and became the attack's only fatality. (Only two minor injuries were reported among other passengers and crew.) From CNN:

The man sucked out of a Somali airliner after an inflight explosion has been identified as Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh, an elderly Somali national, Somalia officials said Friday.
Investigators suspect he carried a laptop computer with a bomb concealed onto the plane, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
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One can only hope that Borleh, who is believed to have been acting in affiliation with the al-Shabaab jihadist terror group, was conscious for long enough to understand just how ironically his attempt to murder more than 70 people had gone wrong.

Feb. 5 2016 3:21 PM

What to Expect From Saturday’s Republican Debate

Much of the Republican presidential field will face off Saturday for their first debate since Monday’s Iowa caucus and the final one before Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie will step foot on the ABC News stage at around 8 p.m. ET, and it could very well be the last time we see several of those men in a debate this year. (We’ve already likely seen the last of Carly Fiorina and Jim Gilmore, neither of whom qualified for this one.) Here’s what to watch for on Saturday night:

He’s Baaaack!

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Trump returns to the debate stage after boycotting last week’s Fox News–hosted affair in Iowa, ostensibly because of a stupid feud with the network. Plenty has changed in those nine days: Trump, who once seemed invincible, now looks wounded. His second-place finish in Iowa would have been impressive in a vacuum—he won nearly a quarter of the vote in less-than-friendly territory, and garnered more total votes than either of the two previous GOP caucus-winners—but instead got him branded a loser because of his blustery predictions of complete and total victory.

Trump will want to use his spot in the center of the stage on Saturday to reassert himself at the center of the Republican conversation. That will be easier said than done since Cruz’s Iowa victory and Rubio’s media-fueled momentum will allow them to suck up much of the oxygen in the room. Still, Trump’s performance at the most recent debate he attended suggests that he’s growing more comfortable with the format. As he loves to remind people, he’s better on the counterattack than he is on the straight-out offensive—and he’s likely to get the chance to put those talents to good use given many of his Republican rivals would love to try to deliver a knockout blow before the billionaire can rebound with a potentially race-altering victory in New Hampshire.

Buckle Up, Marco

Trump is likely to draw some of Saturday’s fire, but it’s Rubio who should brace himself for an onslaught of attacks. The Florida senator left Iowa riding high thanks to his better-than-expected performance and the perception that he’s finally consolidating the establishment vote. At long last, he’s finally passed Jeb in the endorsement race, and he may soon have the insider lane all to himself if he can best Bush, Kasich, and Christie in second-place by a comfortable enough margin in New Hampshire. Of course, those three men know that any path they have to the nomination now runs straight through Rubio (whose own path is narrower than many think). They’ve been hitting Marco for weeks, but Bush and Christie in particular have taken the attacks to nasty levels in recent days, with the former suggesting Rubio isn’t ready to be president and the latter calling him “the boy in the bubble” every chance he gets.

Rubio, though, needs to worry about more than just his party-approved rivals attacking him. Cruz benefits the longer the establishment heat remains contested, and he’s also likely to take more than a few swipes—immigration-themed and otherwise—at Rubio, as he has in previous debates. (The Texas senator will also be eager to get noticed at a time when, somewhat unexpectedly, he’s being a bit overlooked.) And then, of course, there’s Trump. Rubio and Trump have largely stayed out of each other’s way this year, but that could end this weekend. Trump knows that a loss in New Hampshire would do much more damage to his winners-win brand than his Iowa defeat did. And of his rivals currently fighting for second place in the Granite State, Rubio is perhaps the only one with a semi-realistic chance of surging the entire way to victory in the final days before the primary.

Now or Never

Kasich, Christie, and Bush are running out of time to make their mark in the GOP race. A strong performance by Rubio would increase the pressure from their establishment-aligned allies and donors for them to drop out of the race and allow Marco to consolidate the support of those voters who don’t like Trump or Cruz. Kasich has conceded that a poor performance in New Hampshire would mean an end to his campaign. Christie claims he’ll press on regardless—but it’s hard to imagine he’d be able to succeed in South Carolina if he comes up short in New England. It’s also unclear if the New Jersey governor has the resources to even try. He raised only $3 million in the final three months of last year and began 2016 with only $1.1 million in the bank.

Jeb’s future is less certain. Party power brokers have made it clear they don’t want him continuing to attack Rubio if he becomes the establishment’s only hope, but Bush has the resources to keep fighting if he wants to and there’s little anyone can do about it. He also seems to believe that New Hampshire is not his final shot at glory. On Friday, his super PAC began airing a new commercial in South Carolina featuring George W. Bush, and the former president is also expected to hit the campaign trail in the Palmetto State later this month to campaign for his younger brother. Toss in an endorsement from South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham last month, and Jeb will be tempted to soldier on through the Feb. 20 primary, if not beyond.

Carson’s Vendetta

So far this campaign, Carson has been more likely to be mistaken for being asleep on the debate stage than he is to say something interesting. I don’t necessarily think that will change on Saturday—though there are at least a few signs it might. Carson is said to be furious that Cruz’s campaign spread rumors on caucus night that he was dropping out, which at least creates the possibility of prime-time conflict. “Dr. Carson feels absolutely robbed, violated," confidante Armstrong Williams told Politico this week. "He realizes, the Democrats are not his enemies trying to malign him. It’s people who smile in his face, shake his hand, go out to dinner with him—and yet, they’re trying to destroy him behind his back.” We’ll have to wait and see whether the neurosurgeon is willing to break his political Hippocratic oath and finally do some harm to a rival. Regardless, expect to see him wearing a fresh set of clothes.

Feb. 5 2016 2:22 PM

Family Wants Manziel to Enter Rehab After Report He Hit, Threatened Ex

Johnny Manziel has refused to enter rehab and may be suicidal, his father told the Dallas Morning News on Friday after the publication of a disturbing report that says Manziel's ex-girlfriend told police he assaulted and threatened to kill her.

The report by a Dallas ABC affiliate says the ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley, told police that Manziel had dragged, restrained, and hit her early on the morning of Jan. 30:

She says she thought he was on drugs or maybe having a psychotic break. She told police she then began telling him she loved him.
She says at that time Manziel "started laughing" and then reportedly yelled at her to "shut up or I'll kill us both."
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Crowley did not follow through with a criminal complaint against Manziel—he was not arrested—but reportedly may apply for a restraining order against him. Manziel denied to TMZ that he had hit or threatened Crowley, who also told an Ohio police officer that Manziel had hit her when the pair's vehicle was pulled over in October 2015. (Manziel played last season for the Cleveland Browns but is expected to be cut from the team.) Manziel was not arrested or charged in that incident either.

"I truly believe if they can't get him help, he won't live to see his 24th birthday," Manziel's father, Paul, told the Morning News, saying that family members made two unsuccessful attempts to enroll the former Texas A&M star at rehab centers in the past week. The younger Manziel spent two months in a rehab facility in early 2015. (He did not disclose what issues he sought treatment for.)

Manziel's agent, Erik Burkhardt, announced Friday morning in a statement that he will no longer represent the quarterback professionally. "His family and I have gone to great lengths to outline the steps we feel he must take to get his life in order," Burkhardt wrote. "I truly wish the best for Johnny and sincerely hope he can, and will, find the kind of peace and happiness he deserves."

Feb. 5 2016 12:10 PM

The California Jailbreak Fugitives Were Captured at Whole Foods

The three fugitives who escaped from an Orange County jail in late January are all accused of violent crimes, and while they were on the lam one of them apparently planned to kill a 71-year-old cab driver they'd kidnapped, so this isn't, overall, a funny or uplifting story per se. But two of the fugitives were ultimately found at a San Francisco Whole Foods, which is a little funny, and it turns out that the cab driver was ultimately freed because one of the escapees (who'd bought him cigarettes and a shirt while he was being held) argued for his life and drove him back to Southern California from San Jose. 

From the New York Times:

After five days on the run, two of the three inmates who had broken out of an Orange County jail came to blows as they argued over whether to kill a taxi driver they had kidnapped in Southern California and taken with them to San Jose.
One escaped inmate, Hossein Nayeri, 37, apparently wanted to kill the taxi driver and bury his body, law enforcement officials said. But another escapee, Bac Duong, 43, objected, and the two fought inside the motel room where they were hiding on Wednesday.
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After Nayeri and the third escapee left the motel room, Duong drove cab driver Long Hoang Ma south from San Jose to Santa Ana, the city in Orange County from which he and the others had escaped, and turned himself in. Nayeri and the other fugitive were found soon after in the parking lot of the Whole Foods.

This is what Duong, a convicted meth dealer who is accused of attempted murder, looks like:

screen_shot_20160205_at_12.08.08_pm

Orange County Sheriff's Department/Handout/Reuters

You never know what kindness lurks in the hearts of men, I guess.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Ma, who is Vietnamese and says he is divorced and estranged from his four children, is already back to work.

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