A 40-year-old Providence woman, Berkley Vallone, was arrested Tuesday morning and is facing multiple counts of theft and fraud totaling nearly $122,000. Wanted by Arizona authorities, Vallone worked as an interior designer where she allegedly spent the money fraudulently on unaccepted personal uses, leaving the projects incomplete. Vallone refused to waive extradition, and police will seek a Governor’s Warrant to have her brought back to Arizona to face charges.
The Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals removed roughly 24 dogs from a Smithfield home on Tuesday, March 20. A truck was brought in to cart away hundreds of snakes and rats, and the house was condemned. Michael Williams, 34, and Michael Noel Ramos, 35, were taken out of the house in handcuffs and now face animal cruelty charges. Four separate Rhode Island Animal Control departments assisted with the removal of the dogs. The hundreds of snakes that were confiscated are possibly worth tens of thousands of dollars, and will be held in safekeeping by Pure Paradise Pets in Johnston until the men have their due process.
For undisclosed reasons, FBI agents searched the home and office of a Woonsocket psychiatrist who specializes in addiction. Officers had warrants to search Dr. Stuart Gitlow’s property as part of an ongoing investigation, but could not comment on why.
Law enforcement officers in Round Rock, Texas have identified a potential suspect in the series of package bombings targeting black community members. 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt detonated an explosive device inside his vehicle as officers closed in on him, effectively blowing up the vehicle and killing Conditt. Authorities have not determined a motive and are not referring to the incidents as terrorism at this time. The possibility of accomplices has not been ruled out and officials caution that other explosives could have been planted prior to Conditt’s death.
John Brennan, former director of central intelligence, told MSNBC in reference to alleged Russian collusion that the Russians “may have something on him [Trump] personally.” Brennan served as CIA Director when a dossier claiming Russians are in possession of compromising information on Trump surfaced in 2016. After Trump tweeted his excitement over the termination of FBI deputy director Andrew G. McCabe, Brennan responded saying, “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.” The special counsel investigation into election meddling is still ongoing, and has since expanded to include inquiries into Trump’s aides and personal business deals.
On Tuesday, March 20, United Airlines announced it will suspend transporting pets in the planes’ cargo holds as part of its PetSafe travel program. The announcement came after a series of recent mishaps including the death of a dog stored in an overhead bin, a mix-up resulting in International travel for two dogs and a flight diversion after a dog had been placed on the wrong flight. The airline will honor all previously booked PetSafe reservations, as well as work with customers who wish to cancel their reservations. The suspension does not apply to the airline’s in-cabin policy and a review—slated to be completed by May—will investigate the fault of the airline and propose more secure safety features for traveling pets.
While celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year, on Wednesday, March 21, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in front of the Ali Abad Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing 31 people and leaving 65 wounded. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing through a report on its website. Over the past year, Shiites in the Afghan capital have been repeatedly targeted, including a mosque bombing that killed 10 people earlier in the month. Reports indicated that the bomber had originally tried, but failed, to reach an even larger crowd in front of a nearby Shiite shrine in Kart-e Saskhi.
In Ottawa, Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has proposed legislation to restore record-keeping requirements for rifle and shotgun sales, as well as expanding background checks for all gun owners. A similar bill that required a national registry of all rifles and shotguns was appealed six years ago, but Trudeau argues that the newly proposed legislation is not the long-gun registry. Trudeau hopes to find common ground for gun owners and anti-gun individuals, seeing as a majority of the guns in Canada are either rifles or shotguns. Trudeau tweeted, “We’re taking action for common-sense gun control, better background checks, and safer communities—while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”
Iraq is currently detaining over 19,000 people accused of ties to the Islamic State or other terror organizations, over 3,000 of which have been sentenced to death. The mass incarceration raises concerns for wrongful imprisonment and potential judicial miscarriages. Member of Iraq’s parliament-appointed human rights commission, Fadhel al-Gharwari, explains that in the midst of this overcrowding, Iraq needs significantly more investigators and judges to resolve the issue. American military were detaining the largest group of suspects for a much longer period of time, but only a portion were sent to Iraqi courts and the rest were released with unknown discretion. The International Red Cross warns that mass incarcerations often trigger future cycles of violence.