New York inmate’s golf drawings lead to exoneration in murder

A US convict whose talent for art caught the eye of a prison warden, ultimately leading to a review of his case, has been exonerated of murder.

Valentino Dixon’s colour pencil drawings of golf courses were featured in Golf Digest – prompting advocates to uncover flawed evidence in the case.

Mr Dixon, 48, had maintained his innocence during 27 years behind bars for a shooting in Buffalo, New York.

He walked free after another man formally confessed to the murder.

The golf drawings
Mr Dixon had served nearly two decades at a notorious prison in upstate New York when his artistic flair attracted the notice of correctional authorities.

The warden gave him a photograph of the famed Augusta National’s 12th hole in the US state of Georgia, and asked if he would draw it for him.

Image copyrightGOLF DIGEST
“After 19 years in Attica Correctional Facility, the look of a golf hole spoke to me,” said Mr Dixon.

“It seemed peaceful. I imagine playing it would be a lot like fishing.”

Using colouring pencils, he began to create meticulous, lush drawings of various links and fairways.

“I didn’t know anything about golf. I’m from the ‘hood,” he told local media.

Image copyrightGOLF DIGEST
His sketches impressed the editors at Golf Digest, which featured his artwork and a profile of the prisoner in 2012.

“Maybe one day I’ll get to play the game I’ve only imagined,” Mr Dixon said in the article, describing how he drew landscapes he has never seen.

The magazine’s coverage spurred wrongful-conviction advocates to look into the matter. Georgetown University law students championed his case.

The conviction
Mr Dixon was handed a minimum 38-year-to-life sentence for killing 17-year-old Torriano Jackson one night in August 1991, after an argument over a girl.

He acknowledged being at the crime scene, but said he was at a nearby shop buying beer when the gunshots rang out.

Mr Dixon said multiple witnesses could have testified he did not fire the gun.

But his trial lawyer did not call any of them as several had been accused of perjury.

Unusually, the investigating homicide detective did not testify during the trial either.

But a more serious flaw in the case was uncovered by Georgetown University’s Prisons and Justice Initiative.

Prosecutors had omitted to reveal to Mr Dixon’s defence attorney that a gunpowder test on his client’s clothes had come back negative.

The real killer
Perhaps even more egregiously, another man, Lamarr Scott, admitted to local media only days after the murder that he shot Torriano Jackson.

Scott told a WGRZ-TV reporter: “I do

n’t want my friend [Mr Dixon] to take the rap for something that I did.”

 

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Brexit: May urges EU leaders to consider ‘serious’ UK plans

Theresa May has urged EU leaders to focus their minds on getting a Brexit deal in the next two months, saying negotiations will not be extended.

At a dinner in Salzburg, she told her 27 counterparts her priorities are maintaining economic ties and ensuring promises to Northern Ireland are kept.

There are suggestions the UK will put forward new ideas for regulatory checks to address the current Irish deadlock.

It comes as the PM insisted the EU must also rethink its stance on the border.

In her speech, Mrs May stressed her “serious” proposals for future co-operation between the UK and EU would ensure a “shared close relationship”.

The informal gathering of EU leaders in the Austrian city was the first opportunity the prime minister has had to make the case for her Chequers blueprint to other leaders collectively.

In Mrs May’s absence on Thursday, the 27 other EU leaders will discuss issues including the UK’s future relationship with the EU and how to resolve the problems around the Irish border.

Kuenssberg: The sound of “no, no, no”
EU must ‘evolve’ Irish plans, insists May
At-a-glance: The UK’s four Brexit options
Brexit will have ‘worse economic impact on UK than EU’


Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, two EU leaders said they hoped the UK would hold another referendum on Brexit, in the hope of reversing the 2016 result.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said most of his counterparts would like the “almost impossible” to happen.

Andrej Babis, the Czech Republic‘s prime minister, added he hoped the British people might change their minds.

Campaign group People’s Vote is also calling for another referendum, arguing there should be a choice for voters between leaving with, or without, a deal or staying on current terms.

Negotiations over the terms of the UK’s exit and future relations are at a critical stage, with about six months to go before the UK is scheduled to leave on 29 March 2019.

‘Brexit cliff-edge’
Mrs May’s proposal for the UK to sign up to a common rule book for trade in goods and a combined customs territory is unpopular with many in her own party, who believe it will erode British sovereignty and is not what people voted for when they backed Brexit in the 2016 poll.

In a further sign of how difficult it might be for her to persuade the UK parliament to back the plans, former minister Sir Mike Penning, who worked under Mrs May at the Home Office and backed her for Conservative leader, told the Daily Telegraph they were “as dead as a dodo” and that he could not back them.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said Mrs May must delay Brexit beyond next March if there is not a detailed agreement on future trading arrangements.

Ms Sturgeon told the BBC that it would be completely reckless to leave the EU without establishing a future relationship.

She said that taking the UK off the “Brexit cliff edge” without an agreement “would be the most irresponsible thing any PM has done in a very, very long time”.

What did May tell EU leaders?

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China hits back at Trump with tariffs on $60bn of US goods

China has hit back at President Donald Trump by announcing new trade tariffs on $60bn of US goods.

It comes after the US slapped duties on $200bn of Chinese imports to take effect from next Monday, escalating its trade war with Beijing.

China will target goods such as liquefied natural gas, produced in states loyal to the US president.

However, in a tweet, Mr Trump warned Beijing against seeking to influence the upcoming US midterm elections.

“There will be great and fast economic retaliation against China if our farmers, ranchers and/or industrial workers are targeted!” he said.

Aircraft, computers and textiles
Earlier he had suggested that this would mean further US tariffs on another $267bn worth of Chinese products. Such a move would mean roughly all of China’s exports to the US would be subject to new duties.

The Chinese commerce ministry said it would impose its tariffs from 24 September – the date the US duties come into effect – but at lower rates than previously expected.

It will place an additional 5% in duty on US products including smaller aircraft, computers and textiles, and an extra 10% on goods such as chemicals, meat, wheat and wine.

By contrast, the US duties will apply to almost 6,000 items, making them the biggest round of trade tariffs yet from Washington.

They will affect handbags, rice and textiles, although some items such as smart watches and high chairs have been exempted.

They will start at 10% and increase to 25% from the start of next year unless the two countries agree a deal.

China and trade: Playing dirty or misunderstood victim?
Trade wars, tariffs and protectionism explained
The early victims of Trump’s trade war
Trade row: What has happened so far?
Six ways China could retaliate in a trade war
On Monday Mr Trump said the latest round of tariffs was in response to China’s “unfair trade practices”.

“We have been very clear about the type of changes that need to be made, and we have given China every opportunity to treat us more fairly. But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices,” he said.

Hasn’t the US already imposed tariffs on China?
Yes. In fact, the latest round of US duties marks the third set of tariffs put into motion so far this year.

In July, the White House increased charges on $34bn worth of Chinese products. Then last month, the escalating trade war moved up a gear when the US brought in a 25% tax on a second wave of goods worth $16bn.

This latest round means that about half of all Chinese imports to the US are now subject to the new duties.

Unlike the earlier rounds, the list also targets consumer goods such as luggage and furniture.

That means households may start to feel the impact from higher prices.

US companies have already said they are worried about the effect of higher costs on their businesses and warned of the risk of job cuts.

Trump tariffs will hurt global growth, IMF warns
Will Trump’s tariffs stop Chinese espionage?
What items have been targeted?
Many everyday items such as suitcases, handbags, toilet paper and wool are included in this latest round of tariffs.

The list also includes food items from frozen cuts of meat, to almost all types of fish, soybeans, various types of fruit and cereal and rice.

Why are smart watches and high chairs exempt?

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‘I lost my entire family to a cult’: How one woman escaped Grace Road

A South Korean church which believes global famine is imminent has set up base in Fiji, where it’s gained considerable influence but faced growing allegations of abuse. One woman who fled what she believes is a cult told the BBC’s Yvette Tan she lost her family in the process – but has no regrets.

Seoyeon Lee had one chance to escape and she took it, running down the road in Fiji in her pyjamas and flip-flops.

“I was crying and I looked hysterical,” she told the BBC.

The then 21-year-old was being pursued by members of Grace Road – including her own mother – who she says had tricked her into going to the Pacific island nation.

“I would have killed myself if they’d made me stay,” she says.

‘I think it’s a cult’
A year earlier, in 2013, Seoyeon had come home to South Korea from the US, where she was studying, for the summer. Her mum was suffering from uterine cancer but had refused treatment.

She told Seoyeon she would only seek treatment if she went with her to Grace Road Church.

“It was very bizarre,” said Seoyeon. “There were people screaming, crying, speaking in tongues and the sermon was about how the end times were coming.

“I told my mum, I think it’s a cult but she didn’t believe me.”

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image caption
Fiji looks like paradise on earth to many, but not for Seoyeon
Once back at university, she found her mother had still not sought treatment and would only do so on one condition – that Seoyeon quit school and went back to South Korea.

Seoyeon, whose father had died of cancer, took leave and went home.

After her mother went through surgery, she told Seoyeon that she wanted to move to Fiji to recover – and insisted that she go along with her. Eventually, Seoyeon agreed to go for two weeks to help her adjust.

“At that point, I didn’t know it was an elaborate ruse,” she said.

“But when I got to Fiji and saw we were driving to a commune… I was like, how could I have been so stupid?”

The ‘great famine’
South Korea has a significant Christian population, and in recent decades many small, fringe churches have sprung up, some of them developing cult-like characteristics.

Grace Road, which insists it is not a cult, started out small in 2002, but now numbers about 1,000 followers, according to Prof Tark Ji-il of Busan Presbyterian University, who has closely studied Korean cults.

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North Korea agrees to shut down missile site, says Moon

Kim Jong-un has agreed to shut down one of North Korea’s main missile testing and launch sites, says South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in.

After meeting in Pyongyang, the two leaders “agreed on a way to achieve denuclearisation,” said Mr Moon.

The agreement was described by Mr Kim as a “leap forward” towards military peace on the peninsula.

Mr Kim also said he hoped to “visit Seoul in the near future” – he would be the first North Korean leader to do so.

Summit results: Denuclearisation
The main focus of the summit was the issue of denuclearisation. While the US and North Korea agreed in broad terms earlier this year to work towards that goal, negotiations have stalled.

Pyongyang has now sought to reconfirm its commitment.

Media captionThe war that never officially ended
Mr Moon said Mr Kim had “agreed to permanently close the Tongchang-ri missile engine test site and missile launch facility” and, crucially, that this would be done “in the presence of experts from relevant nations“.

The BBC’s Seoul correspondent Laura Bicker said allowing independent inspectors to see the dismantling of the Tongchang-ri site was “a major step forward”.

She added that satellite images had suggested that Tongchang-ri was “in the process” of being destroyed, but that the declaration would “allow inspectors to verify the process”.

Tongchang-ri has been North Korea’s main satellite launch facility since 2012, according to monitoring group 38 North.
It has also been used for testing engines for North Korean missiles capable of reaching the US.
Read more on North Korea’s missile and nuclear programme
He said Mr Kim had also agreed to shut down the Yongbyon nuclear facility – where North Korea is believed to have produced the material used in its nuclear tests – but only if the US took some reciprocal action. The details of that were not specified.

North Korea blew up its main nuclear testing site at Punggye-ri shortly before Mr Kim’s meeting with US President Donald Trump in June.

“The outcome is a big win for Moon Jae-in, who has managed to extract a series of positive headlines from Kim Jong-un related to denuclearisation,” Ankit Panda, editor of The Diplomat, told the BBC.

“None of the concessions are truly costly to Kim and won’t help move North Korea toward short-term disarmament, but provide a further basis for confidence building on which US-North Korea talks can move forward.”

Summit results: North and South relations
The two countries also made advances on inter-Korean ties, announcing plans to link up their railways, allow more reunions for families separated by war and co-operate on health care.

Moon: Caught between Trump and Kim
North Korea’s sidelined human rights crisis
North Korea crisis in 300 words
Mr Moon invited the North Korean leader to Seoul, suggesting the visit should take place before the end of this year.

They will also seek to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics.

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The bones of great writers are your brushes, in the School of Heaven

Li Bai

PARTING AT A WINE-SHOP IN NANJING

A wind, bringing willow-cotton, sweetens the shop,

And a girl from Wu, pouring wine, urges me to share it

With my comrades of the city who are here to see me off;

And as each of them drains his cup, I say to him in parting,

Oh, go and ask this river running to the east

If it can travel farther than a friend’s love!


Li Bai

A FAREWELL TO SECRETARY SHUYUN

AT THE XIETIAO VILLA IN XUANZHOU

Since yesterday had to throw me and bolt,

Today has hurt my heart even more.

The autumn wildgeese have a long wind for escort

As I face them from this villa, drinking my wine.

The bones of great writers are your brushes, in the School of Heaven,

And I am a Lesser Xie growing up by your side.

We both are exalted to distant thought,

Aspiring to the sky and the bright moon.

But since water still flows, though we cut it with our swords,

And sorrows return, though we drown them with wine,

Since the world can in no way answer our craving,

I will loosen my hair tomorrow and take to a fishingboat.


Cen Can

A SONG OF RUNNING-HORSE RIVER IN FAREWELL

TO GENERAL FENG OF THE WESTERN EXPEDITION

Look how swift to the snowy sea races Running-Horse River! —

And sand, up from the desert, flies yellow into heaven.

This Ninth-month night is blowing cold at Wheel Tower,

And valleys, like peck measures, fill with the broken boulders

That downward, headlong, follow the wind.

…In spite of grey grasses, Tartar horses are plump;

West of the Hill of Gold, smoke and dust gather.

O General of the Chinese troops, start your campaign!

Keep your iron armour on all night long,

Send your soldiers forward with a clattering of weapons!

…While the sharp wind’s point cuts the face like a knife,

And snowy sweat steams on the horses’ backs,

Freezing a pattern of five-flower coins,

Your challenge from camp, from an inkstand of ice,

Has chilled the barbarian chieftain’s heart.

You will have no more need of an actual battle! —

We await the news of victory, here at the western pass!

 

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But Yueh people talk about Heavenly Mother Mountain

 

Li Bai

TIANMU MOUNTAIN ASCENDED IN A DREAM

A seafaring visitor will talk about Japan,

Which waters and mists conceal beyond approach;

But Yueh people talk about Heavenly Mother Mountain,

Still seen through its varying deeps of cloud.

In a straight line to heaven, its summit enters heaven,

Tops the five Holy Peaks, and casts a shadow through China

With the hundred-mile length of the Heavenly Terrace Range,

Which, just at this point, begins turning southeast.

…My heart and my dreams are in Wu and Yueh

And they cross Mirror Lake all night in the moon.

And the moon lights my shadow

And me to Yan River —

With the hermitage of Xie still there

And the monkeys calling clearly over ripples of green water.

I wear his pegged boots

Up a ladder of blue cloud,

Sunny ocean half-way,

Holy cock-crow in space,

Myriad peaks and more valleys and nowhere a road.

Flowers lure me, rocks ease me. Day suddenly ends.

Bears, dragons, tempestuous on mountain and river,

Startle the forest and make the heights tremble.

Clouds darken with darkness of rain,

Streams pale with pallor of mist.

The Gods of Thunder and Lightning

Shatter the whole range.

The stone gate breaks asunder

Venting in the pit of heaven,

An impenetrable shadow.

…But now the sun and moon illumine a gold and silver terrace,

And, clad in rainbow garments, riding on the wind,

Come the queens of all the clouds, descending one by one,

With tigers for their lute-players and phoenixes for dancers.

Row upon row, like fields of hemp, range thefairy figures.

I move, my soul goes flying,

I wake with a long sigh,

My pillow and my matting

Are the lost clouds I was in.

…And this is the way it always is with human joy:

Ten thousand things run for ever like water toward the east.

And so I take my leave of you, not knowing for how long.

…But let me, on my green slope, raise a white deer

And ride to you, great mountain, when I have need of you.

Oh, how can I gravely bow and scrape to men of high rank and men of high office

Who never will suffer being shown an honest-hearted face!

bailuhu.net

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I hear people at the fishing-town stumble aboard the ferry

 

Li Qi

ON HEARING AN WANSHAN PLAY THE REED-PIPE

Bamboo from the southern hills was used to make this pipe.

And its music, that was introduced from Persia first of all,

Has taken on new magic through later use in China.

And now the Tartar from Liangzhou, blowing it for me,

Drawing a sigh from whosoever hears it,

Is bringing to a wanderer’s eyes homesick tears….

Many like to listen; but few understand.

To and fro at will there’s a long wind flying,

Dry mulberry-trees, old cypresses, trembling in its chill.

There are nine baby phoenixes, outcrying one another;

A dragon and a tiger spring up at the same moment;

Then in a hundred waterfalls ten thousand songs of autumn

Are suddenly changing to The Yuyang Lament;

And when yellow clouds grow thin and the white sun darkens,

They are changing still again to Spring in the Willow Trees.

Like Imperial Garden flowers, brightening the eye with beauty,

Are the high-hall candles we have lighted this cold night,

And with every cup of wine goes another round of music.


Meng Haoran

RETURNING AT NIGHT TO LUMEN MOUNTAIN

 

A bell in the mountain-temple sounds the coming of night.

I hear people at the fishing-town stumble aboard the ferry,

While others follow the sand-bank to their homes along the river.

…I also take a boat and am bound for Lumen Mountain —

And soon the Lumen moonlight is piercing misty trees.

I have come, before I know it, upon an ancient hermitage,

The thatch door, the piney path, the solitude, the quiet,

Where a hermit lives and moves, never needing a companion.


Li Bai

A SONG OF LU MOUNTAIN TO CENSOR LU XUZHOU

I am the madman of the Chu country

Who sang a mad song disputing Confucius.

…Holding in my hand a staff of green jade,

I have crossed, since morning at the Yellow Crane Terrace,

All five Holy Mountains, without a thought of distance,

According to the one constant habit of my life.

Lu Mountain stands beside the Southern Dipper

In clouds reaching silken like a nine-panelled screen,

With its shadows in a crystal lake deepening the green water.

The Golden Gate opens into two mountain-ranges.

A silver stream is hanging down to three stone bridges

Within sight of the mighty Tripod Falls.

Ledges of cliff and winding trails lead to blue sky

And a flush of cloud in the morning sun,

Whence no flight of birds could be blown into Wu.

…I climb to the top. I survey the whole world.

I see the long river that runs beyond return,

Yellow clouds that winds have driven hundreds of miles

And a snow-peak whitely circled by the swirl of a ninefold stream.

And so I am singing a song of Lu Mountain,

A song that is born of the breath of Lu Mountain.

…Where the Stone Mirror makes the heart’s purity purer

And green moss has buried the footsteps of Xie,

I have eaten the immortal pellet and, rid of the world’s troubles,

Before the lute’s third playing have achieved my element.

Far away I watch the angels riding coloured clouds

Toward heaven’s Jade City, with hibiscus in their hands.

And so, when I have traversed the nine sections of the world,

I will follow Saint Luao up the Great Purit

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Toward the moon that whitens the city-wall, black crows are flying

 

Li Qi

A LUTE SONG

Our host, providing abundant wine to make the night mellow,

Asks his guest from Yangzhou to play for us on the lute.

Toward the moon that whitens the city-wall, black crows are flying,

Frost is on ten thousand trees, and the wind blows through our clothes;

But a copper stove has added its light to that of flowery candles,

And the lute plays The Green Water, and then The Queen of Chu.

Once it has begun to play, there is no other sound:

A spell is on the banquet, while the stars grow thin….

But three hundred miles from here, in Huai, official duties await him,

And so it’s farewell, and the road again, under cloudy mountains.


Li Qi

ON HEARING DONG PLAY THE FLAGEOLET

A POEM TO PALACE-ATTENDANT FANG

When this melody for the flageolet was made by Lady Cai,

When long ago one by one she sang its eighteen stanzas,

Even the Tartars were shedding tears into the border grasses,

And the envoy of China was heart-broken, turning back home with his escort.

…Cold fires now of old battles are grey on ancient forts,

And the wilderness is shadowed with white new-flying snow.

…When the player first brushes the Shang string and the Jue and then the Yu,

Autumn-leaves in all four quarters are shaken with a murmur.

Dong, the master,

Must have been taught in heaven.

Demons come from the deep pine-wood and stealthily listen

To music slow, then quick, following his hand,

Now far away, now near again, according to his heart.

A hundred birds from an empty mountain scatter and return;

Three thousand miles of floating clouds darken and lighten;

A wildgoose fledgling, left behind, cries for its flock,

And a Tartar child for the mother he loves.

Then river waves are calmed

And birds are mute that were singing,

And Wuzu tribes are homesick for their distant land,

And out of the dust of Siberian steppes rises a plaintive sorrow.

…Suddenly the low sound leaps to a freer tune,

Like a long wind swaying a forest, a downpour brea king tiles,

A cascade through the air, flying over tree-tops.

…A wild deer calls to his fellows. He is running among the mansions

In the corner of the capital by the Eastern Palace wall….

Phoenix Lake lies opposite the Gate of Green Jade;

But how can fame and profit concern a man of genius?

Day and night I long for him to bring his lute again.

www.bailuhu.net

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Why laugh when they fall asleep drunk on the sand

I find you alone under falling petals.

 

Wang Changling
IN HER QUIET WINDOW
Too young to have learned what sorrow means,
Attired for spring, she climbs to her high chamber….
The new green of the street-willows is wounding her heart —
Just for a title she sent him to war.


Wang Changling
A SONG OF THE SPRING PALACE
Last night, while a gust blew peach-petals open
And the moon shone high on the Palace Beyond Time,
The Emperor gave Pingyang, for her dancing,
Brocades against the cold spring-wind.


Wang Han
A SONG OF LIANGZHOU
They sing, they drain their cups of jade,
They strum on horseback their guitars.
…Why laugh when they fall asleep drunk on the sand ? —
How many soldiers ever come home?


Li Bai
A FAREWELL TO MENG HAORAN
ON HIS WAY TO YANGZHOU
You have left me behind, old friend, at the Yellow Crane Terrace,
On your way to visit Yangzhou in the misty month of flowers;
Your sail, a single shadow, becomes one with the blue sky,
Till now I see only the river, on its way to heaven.


Li Bai
THROUGH THE YANGZI GORGES
From the walls of Baidi high in the coloured dawn
To Jiangling by night-fall is three hundred miles,
Yet monkeys are still calling on both banks behind me
To my boat these ten thousand mountains away.


Cen Can
ON MEETING A MESSENGER TO THE CAPITAL
It’s a long way home, a long way east.
I am old and my sleeve is wet with tears.
We meet on horseback. I have no means of writing.
Tell them three words: “He is safe.”


Du Fu
ON MEETING LI GUINIAN DOWN THE RIVER
I met you often when you were visiting princes
And when you were playing in noblemen’s halls.
…Spring passes…. Far down the river now,
I find you alone under falling petals.


Wei Yingwu
AT CHUZHOU ON THE WESTERN STREAM
Where tender grasses rim the stream
And deep boughs trill with mango-birds,
On the spring flood of last night’s rain
The ferry-boat moves as though someone were poling.


Zhang Ji
A NIGHT-MOORING NEAR MAPLE BRIDGE
While I watch the moon go down, a crow caws through the frost;
Under the shadows of maple-trees a fisherman moves with his torch;
And I hear, from beyond Suzhou, from the temple on Cold Mountain,
Ringing for me, here in my boat, the midnight bell.


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