- Richard Pusey, a 42-year-old Australian man, was sentenced to 10 months in jail Wednesday for “outraging public decency” after filming and taunting four dying Victoria police officers.
- Pusey was pulled over for speeding down a highway in his Porsche last April, and as officers prepared his arrest, the driver of a semi-trailer swerved out of its lane and struck all of them.
- Pusey reportedly avoided injury because he had been urinating behind roadside bushes at the time, but he made no attempts to assist the officers. In profanity-ridden video he took, he zoomed in on their injuries and made remarks like, “absolutely amazing” and “beautiful.”
- While many called his punishment too lenient, a court reporter for the Herald Sun explained the sentencing and noted that “being a downright despicable scumbag devoid of any redeeming features unfortunately isn’t an offence.”
“Most Hated Man in Australia” Gets 10 Month Sentence
Several people across Australia have expressed outrage over the recent sentencing of 42-year-old Richard Pusey, who is often referred to by local media as the “most hated man in Australia.”
Pusey was sentenced to 10 months in jail Wednesday for “outraging public decency” after filming and taunting four dying Victoria police officers.
He was reportedly pulled over for speeding down a highway in his Porsche last April.
As four Victoria police officers prepared his arrest, the driver of a semi-trailer swerved out of its lane and struck all of them.
According to The New York Times, Pusey avoided injury because he had been urinating behind roadside bushes at the time. However, he remained on the scene of the accident for several minutes to film the officers who had been hit.
All four officers were killed, though experts believe one, who was pinned under the semi-trailer, was likely still alive as Pusey began filming.
For around three minutes, he wound his way through the crash, zoomed in on injuries, and mocked the officers on video. His commentary included profanity and remarks like “he’s smashed,” “justice,” “absolutely amazing,” and “beautiful.”
When a bystander came to aid the officers and asked Pusey to help, he replied, “They’re dead,” and continued filming.
He reportedly made no attempts to assist them, then left the scene and drove home.
After his arrest, police discovered the footage on his phone and learned that he had shared it with other people.
Pusey later pled guilty to the outraging public decency charge, along with drug possession and a speeding offense. On top of his 10-month sentenced, he was also ordered to pay $1,000 fine and had his driver’s license suspended for two years.
Responses To Sentencing
Pusey’s conviction is fairly interesting because it marks the first time an outraging public decency charge has been prosecuted in the state since 1963.
The sentencing judge, Trevor Wraight, said his conduct was “heartless, cruel and disgraceful,” though he noted that Pusey had a personality disorder, which might explain some of his behavior.
Pusey had already spent nearly 300 days behind bars when the sentence was ordered, but The New York Times claims he is likely to remain in custody for unrelated matters.
Still, families of the slain officers, and much of the general public, were furious over the sentencing, with many on social media calling it too lenient.
Chief of the Victoria Police Association Wayne Gatt even said Pusey “is a worthless individual that lacks any human trait.”
“Each and every one of us will face our mortality one day. When his day comes, I hope that he faces the same coldness and the same callousness which he provided my members when they faced theirs,” he added.
Others, however, pointed to a piece by Rebekah Cavanagh, a court reporter for the Herald Sun, which explained the sentencing and noted that “being a downright despicable scumbag devoid of any redeeming features unfortunately isn’t an offence.”
As far as the driver of the truck, Mohinder Singh, he had allegedly been impaired by drugs and sleep-deprived when his vehicle hit the officers. He was sentenced to 22-years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of culpable driving causing death, three charges of drug trafficking, and one count of possessing illicit drugs.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (BBC) (The Daily Dot)
U.K. Court Rules Julian Assange Can Be Extradited to U.S.
The judgment overrules a lower court decision that blocked the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition on the grounds that his mental health was not stable enough to weather harsh conditions in the American prison system if convicted.
New Developments in Assange Extradition Battle
A British court ruled Friday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to the United States to face charges of violating the Espionage Act that could land him in prison for decades.
Prosecutors in the U.S. have accused Assange of conspiring with former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010 to hack into a Department of Defense computer network and access thousands of military and diplomatic records on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The information obtained in the hack was later published by WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011, a move U.S. authorities allege put lives in danger.
In addition to a charge of computer misuse, Assange has also been indicted on 17 espionage charges. Collectively, the charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 175 years.
The Friday decision from the High Court overturns a lower court ruling in January, which found that Assange’s mental health was too fragile for the harsh environment he could face in the U.S. prison system if convicted.
Notably, the January ruling did not determine whether or not Assange was guilty. In fact, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser explicitly rejected the defense’s arguments that the charges against him were politically motivated and that he should be protected under freedom of press.
However, she agreed that the defense had provided compelling evidence that Assange suffers from severe depression and that the conditions he could face in the U.S. prison system were “such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America.”
The U.S. appealed the ruling, arguing that Assange’s mental health should not be a barrier to extradition and that the psychiatrist who examined him had been biased.
In October, the Biden administration vowed that if Assange were to be convicted, he would not be placed in the highest-security U.S. prison or immediately sent to solitary confinement. Officials also said that the native Australian would be eligible to serve his sentence in his home country.
High Court Ruling
The High Court agreed with the administration’s arguments in its ruling, arguing that the American’s assurances regarding the conditions of Assange’s potential incarceration were “sufficient.”
“There is no reason why this court should not accept the assurances as meaning what they say,” the ruling stated. “There is no basis for assuming that the USA has not given the assurances in good faith.”
Assange’s fiancé, Stella Moris, said in a statement that his legal team would appeal the decision to the British Supreme Court at the “earliest possible moment,” referring to the judgment as a “grave miscarriage of justice.”
The Supreme Court will now decide whether or not to hear the case based on if it believes the matter involves a point of law “of general public importance.” That decision may take weeks or even months.
If the U.K. Supreme Court court objects to hearing Assange’s appeal, he could ask the European Court of Human Rights to stay the extradition — a move that could set in motion another lengthy legal battle in the already drawn-out process.
Assange and his supporters claim he was acting as an investigative journalist when he published the classified military cables. They argue that the possibility of his extradition and prosecution represent serious threats to press freedoms in the U.S.
U.S. prosecutors dispute that Assange acted as a journalist, claiming that he encouraged illegal hacking for personal reasons.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)
Early Data Indicates Omicron is More Transmissible But Less Severe
The studies come as Pfizer and BioNTech claim that preliminary research shows a third shot of their COVID vaccine appears to provide sufficient protection against the new variant, but two doses alone may not.
More Information About Omicron
Several preliminary studies published in recent days appear to show that the new omicron COVID-19 variant may be more transmissible but less severe than previous strains.
One recent, un-peer-reviewed study by a Japanese scientist who advises the country’s health ministry found that omicron is four times more transmissible in its initial stage than delta was.
Preliminary information in countries hit hard by omicron also indicates high transmissibility. In South Africa — where the variant was first detected and is already the dominant strain — new COVID cases have more than doubled over the last week.
Health officials in the U.K. said omicron cases are doubling every two or three days, and they expect the strain to become dominant in the country in a matter of weeks.
In a statement Wednesday, World Health Organization Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while early data does seem to show high transmissibility, it also indicates that omicron causes more mild cases than delta.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevent Director Rochelle Walensky echoed that sentiment, telling reporters that of the 40 known omicron cases in the U.S. as of Wednesday, nearly all of them were mild. One person has been hospitalized so far and none have died.
Studies on Vaccine Efficacy
Other recent studies have shown that current COVID vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness and death in omicron patients, and boosters provide at least some added protection.
On Wednesday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that laboratory tests have shown a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine appears to provide sufficient protection against the omicron variant, though two doses may not.
According to the companies, researchers saw a 25-fold reduction in neutralizing antibodies for omicron compared to other strains of the virus for people who had just two Pfizer doses.
By contrast, samples from people one month after they had received a Pfizer booster presented neutralizing antibodies against omicron that were comparable to those seen against previous variants after two doses.
Still, Pfizer’s chief executive also told reporters later in the day that omicron could increase the likelihood that people might need a fourth dose earlier than previously expected, which he had initially said was 12 months after the third shot.
Notably, the Pfizer research has not yet been peer-reviewed, and it remains unclear how omicron will operate outside a lab, but other studies have had similar findings.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Bloomberg) (NBC News)
40 Camels Disqualified From Beauty Contest After Breeders Inject Their Faces With Botox
The animals were barred from competing for $66 million in prizes at this year’s King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Saudi Arabia.
Camels Booted From Beauty Contest
More than 40 camels were disqualified from a beauty contest in Saudi Arabia this week after judges found artificial enhancements in their faces, marking the biggest crackdown on contestants in the competition to date.
The animals were competing for $66 million in prizes at the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, a month-long event that is estimated to include around 33,000 camels.
However, according to The Guardian, they were forced out of the contest when authorities found that breeders had “stretched out the lips and noses of the camels, used hormones to boost the animals’ muscles, injected heads and lips with Botox to make them bigger, inflated body parts with rubber bands, and used fillers to relax their faces.”
Those types of alterations are banned since judges look at the contestant’s heads, necks, humps, posture, and other features when evaluating them.
An announcement from the state-linked Saudi Press Agency said officials used “specialized and advanced” technology to detect tampering.
“The club is keen to halt all acts of tampering and deception in the beautification of camels,” the SPA report added before warning that organizers would “impose strict penalties on manipulators.”
While it’s unclear what that actually entails, this isn’t the first time people have tried to cheat in this way.
In 2018, 12 camels were similarly disqualified from the competition for injections in their noses, lips, and jaw.